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Winter Break

Posted on November 18, 2012 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The chickens are officially on their winter break. :( We've not had an egg in a week. Deep breath... That just means they will have longer and healthier laying lives, right? Maybe I'll put a light out there next week...


Fall 2012 Breeding

Posted on November 18, 2012 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I have a hate-hate relationship with buck smell. I'm not exaggerating here, I HATE the smell of goat bucks! Makes me gag. I have to go inside, strip completely down and put the clothes directly in the washer, and immeidately shower to wash my entire body and hair, any time I have to enter the buck pen.

So, I vehemently refused to have a buck for our goats. I was going to find a stud, take my does there for a month, and bring them home pregnant and happy; and give them a bath to make them smell all sweet and clean again. So, I spent more than the past month emailing every goat owner and/or breeder within a 50 mile radius, looking for that elusive buck that can both throw good milkers and is in my budget. I was told they didn't have a buck, had a great buck but it would cost me nearly $300 to breed my 3 does, and even that I had unrealistic expectations regarding what makes a good milker and therefore she didn't think she'd better work with me. Ok...

As Tiny went into heat last month, and out again, I began to despair. At this rate I would be milk-less still in July next year! So, I looked at my options. I could pay $300 for breeding for this year, or, I could suck it up and get a buck for a month. Worst-case I could eat him or give him away, right? I only needed him for a month, that's really not that long to have to hold your breath every time you walk out your front door...

So, because I'm an amazing animal-deal-finder, I found the second goat deal of the century. I found an ADGA registered, proven, tri-color, Kaapio Acres' son for a steal a couple of weeks back. Short story long, he's in my goat pen right now.

The very first day he did a wonderful job catching Summer in heat, I believe. I suppose we'll find out in a month, eh? While the other 2 goats are not so much interested in him (Tiny spends most of her day hiding underneath the hay rack to escape his, ehem, loving advances, poor thing) , he's still doing his best to entice them all day long. I'm confident that sooner than later, he'll have them bred (and then he can GO! Stinky pain-in-the-butt), and we'll have milk at some point in April and/or May. Hooray!

Our first Michigan Beekepers Association meeting

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Julian and I began dreaming of bees almost 5 years ago, when we lived in Delta Township, in the city of Lansing. We read Beekeeping for Dummies, and we knew what we wanted and how we would do it. Then I called the township to make sure it was allowed and our hopes were dashed. No bees in delta township.

However, when we knew we were moving back to the country this year, and we would have animals again, one of the animals on our list was bees, of course!

For almost a year now Julian and I have been trying to make a meeting of the Michigan Beekeepers. Last Monday we finally made it. I was interested, Julian was mostly bored but loved the info about making beeswax candles, and we learned that they'll be placing a bulk order for nucs soon! We're so excited! It looks like it's finally going to happen. Wish us luck!


Building a Free Pallet Goat House

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

When we bought the goats from the farmer no longer able to bend at the waist, I mentioned that if he wanted to sell his hog panels I would be more than willing to buy them. He had them stapled to his barn wall, so we agreed that if he were able to get his son to come and remove them he would call me. This week I got a call that he had them off and I could have them all for $35! We went to get them yesterday, and the goaties now have their own pen!

But this meant they also needed their own house...

Because our budget is TINY (like, non-existent), and pallets are free, we tend to use them as often as we can. I thought I might put a pictoral story below of myself and my 11 yr old son building a goat house out of free junk pallets, and a hog panel and a tarp that we already had lying around here.


Disassembly


Assembly


Fully Assembled Side


Fully Assembled Front (before putting on the wind-break)


Fully Assembled (including wind-break)




Voila! Goats enjoying their new pen and house


We have clean goats! YAY!

Posted on November 6, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Dona from Caprice Acres came last week to assist with my blood draw and deliver my specimens to DCPAH. Got the results today and everyone is disease free! Yay! Down side, the only farm I REALLY want to breed them to costs way too much for their buck. :( Not sure how I'm going to get them all bred, but we'll come up with something. My kids just HAVE to have fresh raw milk next year...

Goat/Pig House

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Well, after going over finances last night, it turns out we are not able to build the second, bigger pen for the goats like I had hoped. They will have to over-winter with the pigs. We've been told pigs will run just fine with sheep and goats, and that pigs will eat a goat alive. Crossing fingers that our pigs can keep themselves together until after the snow recedes and we can put up the portable electric netting for the rotational grazing, as well as the new goat shed that will house the goats, birthing pens, and milk stand.

So, Julian and I spent the morning moving the goat/pig house into the center of the pen, and insulating it, in order to keep them cozy, and to hopefully reduce the liklihood that the goats will be able to escape this winter. Here are a few pics:



Looks like they like it just fine. I used 3 free pallets, two standard size and one longer. I connected them together with some outside corner brackets. I then topped the 3-sided structure with tin roofing and filled it with straw. I lined the outside on all 3 sides, and half of the front opening with straw bales (You can see Tiny on top of one of the front bales before we were finished, in the top photo). They are $2 per bale at a farm around the corner from our house, so inexpensive insulation and housing supplementation. This insulates the open slats of the pallets, but not too much, so that the goats can have the excellent ventilation that they need.

The goats sleep on top of the interior straw, the pigs underneath it, off to the side. It is sooooo freaking cute when we go outside. The goats stand up as soon as they hear the door. We approach the pen and they start walking toward us hoping we're carrying a treat. No pigs in sight. We hollar "Here pig, pig, pig, pig!" and the straw pops up! Then 2 little piggies come shuffling out of the new-found straw bumps. Adorable!

I hope it lasts them well through the winter!

Rabbits bred! (I hope)

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

We put Petunia and Delilah in with Dandy this week (Luna goes in after he's had a few days' rest). Despite the season he seemed VERY intent upon his job.

So, we are reservedly expecting bunnies in about 28 days! Wish us luck, and keep checking back for status updates and bunny news!

Goat tests

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Dona from Caprice Acres is coming next week to show me how to draw blood from the goats. Then she will help me take it in to MSU's DCPAH to test for CAE, CL, and Johnes. When they come back clean we can go ahead and get them bred! Can't wait to have lovely ND milk! :) CAN wait to teach the girls to chill on the milk stand and not kick and knock the milk pail over. :(

We've got goats!

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I have wanted Nigerian Dwarves for milk for 3 years. A local man had 2 ND does and one pygmy doe and was wanting $50 each. I emailed, gave them my story of how we had goats and the kids loved the NDs best (even gave them the goats' names), and how they are allergic to milk so we want to keep goats for milk, etc. I asked if they'd sell just the 2 NDs for $75.

 

Concerned that the 1 pygmy would be left alone (goats don't do well alone) until sold, he gave me all 3 for $75, and the pygmy was registered and has won shows! Since he would no longer need the grain, feed buckets, collars, leashes, and all the medical supplies (syringes, needles, baby bottles, etc), he gave me those, too!

 

Plus, he had a milking stand. I admired it and told him how I'd vowed that my husband wouldn't have to do anything with the animals, and that's why I'm allowed to have them, and I didn't know how I was going to get him to make me a milking stand in the spring. Would he sell me that, too? He said sure...wait for it...how about $25?! I couldn't buy the lumber for anywhere near that!

 

So, I cleared several hundred dollars worth of goats, and probably $300+ in goat equipment, for $100. I am bartering for stud service with someone else local next month, and next spring we will have our own raw goat's milk! Barring any vet visits I will save about $30 a week on driving to where we now go to get raw milk. That's almost $750 over the season. I'm STOKED!

 

He's never had them tested for anything, and they were a closed herd (just the 3 goats). So, I will be doing blood draws myself. He also hasn't been able to trim feet and such, so they're overgrown and I need to get that done today. And, he was feeding them some grain every day (they are not pregnant or nursing), so they're fat, lol. But their hair is glossy, their eyes/eyelids looked good. What I could see of teeth looked good... I'm not terribly concerned about much else. I just need them for milk, so I am not too concerned about them winning shows or anything...

I'd say I did VERY well. Not that I'm patting my own back, or anything.


 


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