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Posts tagged ‘diary-goats’

It is Always Three O’Clock in the Morning

Yesterday, it was easier to get up in the {very} early morning. The excitement of the day (Willow’s labor) was still pumping through me and I was eager to check on the new babies. This morning, not so much. But I’m up and the challenge now might be going back to sleep so I’m not completely exhausted all day. Setting in front of the bright computer screen probably doesn’t help, but there it is.

When I went out to the barn the little ones had started to stir and everyone was eager to get their bellies full. The littlest one – the little black buckling – suckles indiscriminately and wildly at any of the nanny’s teats that are offered to him. I think he’s got some catching up to do. Two of the others were just as eager, although preferred the comfort of their own mother, and two appeared to be annoyed that I awoke them from their slumber.

For me, it’s back to bed for a couple hours, then onto the hamster wheel. Good night morning.

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Eggs, Eggs Everywhere {And Other Summer Happenings}

What a whirlwind this summer has been. I can’t believe that it’s September. The air is starting to cool and the leaves are leisurely turning an impressive palette of crimson, gold and burnt orange. This is always a favorite time of year for me, but I can’t help but feel a little melancholy thinking that Old Man Winter will awaken soon and slap me in the face with what The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting to be another cold, brutal winter.

Most of my “to-do list” remains uncrossed as free time eludes me between full-time work and tending to the littles. Even so, I wanted to do quick update about what’s been happened this summer.

My garden boxes have actually produced some vegetables this year. From the start, I intended them to be a learning experience, so I was happy with anything they produced. We are still getting some peppers and tomatoes and harvested quite a few squash and cucumbers before powdery mold killed those boxes off. The tomatoe plants are falling over with fruit but none of it seems to want to ripen; I’m thinking that this has something to do with it being so shady. At this point, the large garden is still producing more than enough for all our households, so I’ve left the boxes to the goats and chickens. Next gardening season I think I will move the boxes to the larger garden plot since they are just to shaded at my house and with the animals roaming freely around the property I would need to invest in some fencing to protect it, which probably just isn’t worth it.

The goats are doing well. Our plan to fence in our entire three-acre plot is still on the fence (ha, ha, right?). Once our budget permits we will tackle this improvement, which will most likely be in the spring. Until then, they are living in the temporary enclosure, which they don’t seem to mind. Although it’s heavily wooden and doesn’t have pasture, the goats are allowed to free range most days and enjoy the fresh grasses and brush on our neighbor’s property, who has graciously granted us access to his field. All five of this season’s kids are growing, most coming in at 65+ pounds. We have decided to keep the doelings (Gwen, Ginger and Walnut) and have the two bucklings listed for sale as room necessitates that they find a new home.

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And finally, the chickens! They are very happily free ranging all over the place, and after about five months, we are getting our first eggs. Only problem is the chickens are laying all over the place. We have found eggs in the brush pile, the goat barn and even in Cora’s stroller. We have tried keeping them confined until mid-morning and putting golf balls in the nesting boxes to no avail. So, until further notice, we’ll continue the daily egg hunt. I do have to say, frustration aside, my preschooler thinks it’s a blast to hunt for eggs every morning.

As the seasons transition once again there is so much to do and look forward too. Hopefully, Old Man Winter will be kind and spare us a harsh winter. Until then, here’s to fall!

Seed to Feed with Barley Fodder {Do-It-Yourself Fodder System}

I’ve been digging around on the web lately, looking into do-it-yourself fodder systems. Fodder systems can be pretty expensive, but with a little research you will find tons of information on do-it-yourself systems that can fit the needs of smaller homesteads.

Fodder systems convert grains and seeds into living fodder that can then be feed to animals to improve their food quality and help cut feed costs. Folks use a variety of feed grains but in my research I have found that most people have the best luck with barley.

Fodder is so appealing to me as a way to provide fresh mircogreens to our chickens and especially our diary goats, which currently don’t have access to pasture. Providing fodder will enrich their diets and make for healthier goats that product higher quality milk.  It also will also allow us to stretch our buck a little further, potentially turning what we pay for 50 pounds of feed barley into 300 pounds of fresh barley fodder.

My first attempt at sprouting barley fodder went ok. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have the super thick grass and root mat that I have seen others rolling up like carpet at the end of day six of seven. Nonetheless, the whole process was pretty neat and both our goats and chickens were pretty fond of the end results.

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Winter Blessings and A New Year

The last couple of months have been a wonderful fog as we welcomed our daughter into the world in early November. She is an absolute delight and completes our small family.

As winter hits full steam, things around the homestead have quieted, but nonetheless, many of us are busy with our day jobs working in the local ski tourism industry. Mother Nature has brought a weird mix of weather, from blinding snow and unrelenting wind to several balmy days in the high 50s.

West Virginia Winter

We have made progress on many of our smaller endeavors over the last few months. After curing for weeks, we are now enjoying our first batch of handmade lye soap. The idea of making soap from scratch was a bit daunting, but once Amy and I dove into the project it was as simple as following a recipe. The result was a delightful smelling batch of gardener’s soap with an exceptional lather and fresh citrus and patchouli fragrance. Read more

Winter Preparations For Our Small Herd

Typically this time of year, the vast expanse of the Allegheny Mountains transforms into a breathtaking vista of amber, burnt orange, and crimson and this autumn is no exception.

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The crisp air and dropping mercury, signals the start of winter preparations around our mini-homestead. We are breeding our four Nubian diary goats for the first time and will be spending a fair amount of time and energy putting together preps for tending to pregnant does and over-wintering in general.

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