Hello fellow readers!

I have kept my promise and I have built something new with a few pallets. I recently came upon a great source of pallets that are in great shape. They are chemically treated, so they will last quite a while. They were used to haul cardboard so at least I know there aren’t any REALLY toxic chemicals on the wood other than what would be in regular pressure treated lumber.

12122653_10153702124083478_7960561557761858400_nSo anyway, I used about 5 pallets to build this coop. I also have a gracious neighbor who gave me two landscaping timbers to use as bottom rails. I mounted the bottom frame on cinder blocks and field stone.

I then bought some hardware cloth and stapled it across the bottom so that the chicken12115535_10153702124208478_6588436197097495638_n manure would fall right to the ground. I made sort of a lean-to roof out of 2X8 lumber I bought and left over 12107281_10153702124708478_5713115505629419724_nroofing that I STILL had leftover from my other pallet barn project. I had the roof sloping so that the west wind would not have a damaging effect should any storms come along.12049402_10153705627458478_136994185988808480_n

I cut out a small entrance door for the chickens, and a human door so we can access the inside. I also built one egg laying box. I will add two more as they all fight over getting a chance to use it. I placed it next to an area where I cut down some brush next to an 12140852_10153728626728478_4030075741522017953_novergrown field. I have a small area of that fenced in. Once I get more fencing, I will increase their forage area.

Ever since they started using it, 12074656_10153744043178478_4754959207487340399_nthey have been laying eggs MUCH better than they were. Although where they were prior wasn’t the most ideal for them, they really worked over our new garden area and turned hundreds of bags of leaves into fertilized, rich, soft soil!

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If you have read through my blog you will see a few posts on cheap but effective ways to raise animals on your own small property. One of the posts talked about an egg mobile.

Egg-Mobile 1.0

Egg-Mobile 1.0

This contraption that I built I will call Egg Mobile 1.0. It was modified from it’s original design according to the material I had on hand. I used a lot of wood which made it heavier than desired. Though its design made it relatively easy to pull along the grass for myself, it was a little more difficult for my wife.

I recently tore it down to the pressure treated base frame. I went to tractor supply and bought 2 cattle panels that were 16′ long and about 3.5′ wide. They were $20 each. I attached the bottom of one to the inside side rail, then flexed the other end over to the other side rail board and attached it also, forming a sort of hoop house shape. I made sure that the bottom edges were attached just above the bottom edge of the boards so as to not catch on the dirt and grass while being drug. You can attach the panels in whatever way works best; large staples, screws screwed in on an angle, nails bent over…etc.

Cattle panels attached.

Cattle panels attached.

Then I attached the next panel right next to the first and joined the two in the middle with zipties about every other square to firm up the panels. Then on either end I added chicken wire, also along the sides because the panel holes are large enough for the chickens to get out if they wanted.

For a door, I had saved the one from the previous build (Egg Mobile 1.0). However,

I didn’t want to add more wood for installing the door. My wife had a great idea! She asked if I just couldn’t hinge the door sideways, on the bottom, on the wooden rail. So thats what I did. I really like the way it has turned out. The only issue is that with the door turned sideways, it is difficult to get the waterer and feeder in with ease as they are taller than the opening, and heavy when full.

I then put a tarp over the top, slightly favoring one side (the west), and slid small lengths of wood across the inside corners for perching.

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0 


Hillside Pasture

I was flipping through a “Hobby Farmer” magazine the other night and realized that the whole idea of hobby framing is really aimed at those who have an expendible income. The advertisements are full of expensive “farm toys”. The articles talk about high bloodlines and innovative ideas…if you have the money to implement them. You hear stories about “When we moved from our city house to our cute farmette in the country” or “we moved from our suburban 3,000 sq ft home to our country estate/cottage to enjoy country life”. I don’t know what part of farming was done for just enjoyment. Yes, an agricultural lifestyle can be enjoyable and fulfilling…due to the hard work. But it was mostly born from necessity.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very interesting magazine and you can get many ideas from it.

I thought it was ironic though that hobby farming is basically for the “rich” these days, when in times past, that’s how the poor lived.  Making the most out of small rural acreage.  In these economically hard times, hobby farming should be aimed at doing more with less….less money that is. I can not say that I live on a farm, nor that I am a farmer. We only own less than 1.5 acres. I have a regular job that pays the bills…barely, and a side business to make extra money to fill in the gaps. We do live in a rural area but that is only because I made the choice to go to college in a rural area. It’s the first place I settled before I even had a family of my own. So we had that going for us from the beginning I guess. I don’t think we could have afforded to “move to a country lifestyle”.

That’s the whole reason that my wife and I decided to pursue raising our own food. At least as much as we could handle doing ourselves. Each year we have expanded to do a little more. We increase the garden every year, we are increasing the diversity of animals we raise as well. Each one has its own function in the process of raising healthy food. We have a garden, so compost and insect control are a must. We have chickens that take care of the bugs (and the tomatoes too unfortunately). We have goats that provide us meat, and milk will be flowing next year hopefully. The chickens also take care of mixing in the goat droppings with the grass and dirt. We take out the goat shed bedding to the compost pile since its basically hay, wood shavings, and goat droppings. The chickens provide us with eggs and an occasional chicken dinner. Hopefully in the spring we will also have two piglets to raise. They will be placed where our current garden is. Pigs do a great job mixing in compost while providing their own manure into the garden. We can fence in the current section of garden space for the pigs, then rotate the next year.

Pig/Garden Rotation (www.cricketbread.com)

All of this is done with minimal expense.  I use old second hand items when possible. For instance, our current goat shed is the old metal shed that came with the house. I asked a farmer about a broken calf hutch one day and he said I could have it for free…in fact I got two and let my friend have one. Two lengths of our electric net fencing were basically given to us as long as I went and ripped them out from being buried under tall over grown field grass…It was literally a treasure hunt! Our neighbor graciously lets us use the steep hillside along our house to pasture the goats. I think he is just glad to have the hillside mowed and rid of multiflora rose.

If anything needs to be bought, I ask around first to see if anyone nearby has the item and aren’t using it. If I cant find it, I search for used items on the internet. My last resort is to buy  something brand new. We cant afford tractors and other large motorized farm tools, nor do we have the room to store them. Once you can afford to buy the equipment, you have to afford to build outbuildings to store them in. So our work takes longer and gives us more exercise. It also will hopefully instill in our children a good work ethic. That is the second reason why we chose to start raising as much food for ourselves as we can on a low budget.

So, I think there needs to be a magazine focused on low budget hobby farming. I am sure there is one somewhere already.


Prepping?

I have recently been made aware of a movement of sorts among some folks. These people call themselves “Preppers”. The meaning of this term “prepping” is the idea of preparing yourself for a devastating event…usually with the idea of the end times, or like Armageddon. But some would hold to the idea of being prepared for any disaster, like a severe storm, severe economic depression or anything like that.
I applaud many of the ideas that you see amongst “preppers” in that they have made themselves aware of where food really comes from, and what to do when its not available. Many propose the idea of raising/growing as much of your own as possible, and canning it or preserving it some other way. They also share useful ideas of how to store food for long periods of time, how to find water and so on. These are all important things to know anyway. It’s the same idea as homesteading, which from many of my posts you can see that I am in great favor of this type of lifestyle.

a Picture of Homesteading (http://tinyurl.com/2e83mw7)

What I have a hard time with is the common thread of being militant. Keep reading


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They always loved laying near eachother.

So far we have had two dogs. They lived with us together for a while until Cadie, our Jack Russel mix died about a year and a half ago. We actually had her put down as she was having trouble walking and wasn’t able to even go out to pee on her own. She was always a feisty and loving girl and we will miss her. Our other dog, Chubby, is about 5 years old. He s a  Chocolate Lab/ German Shorthair mix. He is everything I wanted from both breeds. He has the lean muscular body and face of a Shorthair, and the calm, loving, less high-strung personality of a lab. And he is quite the natural bird dog as well! He was called chubby by my nephews who owned his mother. He was the last one to come out and was the only chocolate one, and he was the fattest! But as you can see, he is not so chubby anymore!

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So handsome!

He loves kids and is vary patient with curious infants as they crawl on him and check his eyes, teeth, lips, and ears. He also loves where we live as there are plenty of rabbits to keep him ever wanting to go outside and run around. every now and then he goes on a excursion if we don’t keep our eye on him. His trips vary from the neighbors (which causes problems) to the fields out back looking for deer or any other animal. We have kept a tighter watch on him when he is out and we are in. Other times, if I am working outside, he will just find a nice spot to lay and watch me work.

He really is the dog I have always wanted.


This was used from www.sheepsheep.com

(The above picture was used from http://www.sheepsheep.com)

If you have been following this blog, you’ve noticed that we like to keep busy. Between two children under 3yrs old, an energetic dog and restoring an old house, we keep busy. We are either rushing to visit friends, driving downstate, working on the house, or taking time to be together as a family.

Our latest idea/project is to raise goats. We have mulled this over for some time now. We have a few friends that currently raise goats and we have made visits and talked with them about the pros and cons of raising goats. Many of our friends have a family cow and maybe a few beef grazing around. Seeing firsthand the benefits of raising such an animal is inspiring, but when you only have 1.3 acres, there’s not much you can do but continue to watch. That’s when the idea of goats seemed to just pop in my head. I found out that you can raise them for meat or for dairy, and they are quite tasty providers of both! Also their size is a lot more convenient for those without large tracts of land. We are currently looking into Nubians and Boer goats.

I must say though that we did get permission to use an adjoining 1.5 acres to our land. This has really been the green light we needed to start looking a bit more seriously. Otherwise, I’m not so sure how it would go, if at all. If you look at some of my past posts of our home, you will see that on the hill side above our house was used for steer a few years ago. It is now perfect goat pasture. Lots of brushy stuff, and lots of grass along with fully grown shade trees.

Showing the pasture behind the house.

We also have a temporary shelter for goats until I can build or purchase something more convenient. Its our old metal shed. It already sits right next to the adjoining land, so that works well.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

Our shed right next to the pasutre already.

The next thing we will need to do is work on fencing. Figuring out what kind and how much. I’ll keep you up to date as things progress!