Milk Goats On A Small Farm

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We are getting milk goats!!

Over the past few years our family has been milking a friends goats a few times a year. Well, they have offered us their goats and all the supplies!

These are pictures from this past spring; when the goats we are getting had these kids.

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Our daughter, Artist, adores goats and owning them is part of her dream. She is the happiest, as you can see, when she is taking care of goats.

Who: Brie and Iris; these goats are Nubian and Alpine, one of each, they cycle about every 21 days and milk out about 1/2 gallon each, each day

What: Milking supplies; we will be getting, along with the goats, 2 stanchions, 2 milking buckets, filter and funnel, herbs including garlic for flies and kelp, jars for the milk, a non working chest freezer to hold the feed, mineral supplements, I think that may be it 🙂

When: Mid December; I believe we will be getting these goats after they are breed and that would be in about 21 days or 18 days if they short cycle

Where: Our Small Farm; our barn is now redesigned for goats and ducks combined and we have a fenced in acre that was for our sheep (which we no longer have)

How: ?? not sure yet how they are getting here, the owners will be helping in this part of the process as they transport the goats for breeding anyway

 

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These goats kid (give birth) normally in the spring and will be kept with their kids for about 3 month before the kids are sold. The moms will continue to give lots of milk until they are breed again and by changing it up a bit and having the goats on different breeding schedules we are able to have milk throughout the year. We put them on a breeding schedule mainly because during the time after they kid the milk goes all to the new babies and only one goat gives us milk. We are a family of 8 and we go through a lot of milk.

The goats go through 1 bag of milk goat grain every 2 weeks or so, more in the winter here than in the summer. They also use about 1 square bale of hay every 2 days. We also will use coarser hay for bedding. This is going to add up to a lot of cash but with buying about a gallon of milk every day to day and a half; and milk costing around $5.00 a gallon it should even out.

Other costs: vet bills for vaccines, worming, etc; mineral and herb supplements; filter paper

Will update when there is more info.

Pros and Cons of Rural Living

100_1635 Now, this is my list and I am sure others will disagree with me but here goes..

Pros of Rural Living:

  • We get to have all the animals that we had only seen on visits to petting zoos. We now have chickens, ducks, and cats. We have had a horse, pigs, turkeys, geese, rabbits, a goat for a week, sheep, and dogs. It has been wonderful for the children. The first time I saw my little girls sitting with the chickens and talking with them it just melted my heart.
  • We are able to plant fruit trees and eat our own home grown fruit.

Apple picking on our small farm.

  • Raising our own animals for food. It has been a real learning experience but yummy also. The first year we raised meat birds it ended up costing us about $4.50 total for a 5.5lb bird. These also tasted delicious and was an interesting anatomy lesson too.
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Gallop eviscerating chickens.

  • Construction projects we can do ourselves. We now have the land to build things we would like. We have built chicken coops, chicken tractors, clubhouses, forts, duck housing, sheds, etc. Some for fun and some out of necessity.
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Collector, Pilot, Artist, and Tech on the shed/chicken coop roof. Director below.

  • So much more room to move around inside and outside of the house. We got so much more house and land for the money by buying in a rural area. With eight kiddos this has been a huge blessing, pun intended.
  • Peace and quiet. Once you get used to the farmers mixing the silage with skid steers, shooting at rats in the barn, and harvesting the corn at night. All that at night takes some getting used to. The coy dogs can be rather loud also, but all this we have gotten used to.
  • Friendly neighbors. We have a neighbor that plows our driveway when the snow is very heavy – for free. We have come home to a free load of firewood in the driveway. We have needed a neighbors help and had no problem just asking. We know all our neighbors by name and by sight and wave when they drive by.

Cons of Rural Living:

  • No PIZZA delivery – now this may not bother many people but when we first moved here, over 14 years ago, I just could not believe it! Our traditional Friday pizza nights were ended just like that. No one will drive out to the middle of nowhere to deliver pizza. No matter how much you try and bribe them, they just will not do it. Terrible just terrible. Driving for a half an hour just to get pizza on Friday night it not the same.
  • Getting anywhere!! It takes such a long time to get to a grocery store. We used to take it for granted that if we ran out of milk we could run to the cheapest store in town and pick up a gallon of milk. If we want cheap milk now we have to drive 1/2 an hour to get it. Unless we don’t mind paying an arm and a leg at the convenience store in town. ON that topic… how come if the cows are mooing right next store it costs me almost $5 a gallon for milk. Seriously, it should be cheaper. I feel like walking next store and filling my gallon right from the source.. MOOO!
  • I miss the bus service. I did not realize how much I enjoyed paying just a dollar to travel to the next town and shop in the mall and have lunch and head back without having to drive myself. It took a while I thought then, not anymore. Public transportation is a blessing I did not realize until we moved here.
  • The smell of manure from the neighbors herd of cows – nuff said.
  • Well water – this can go either way. I sure do like the reliability of public water. BUT like the taste of well water without the chlorine. I hate that when we lose electricity we also lose having water. Anyway
  • Spreading of manure. Ummm not sure if you know even what I mean but when the manure spreader sprays that freshish manure in all the fields surrounding our house we RUN!! Actually we close up the house and try and breathe or we head to the big city and spend the day OUT!! Shopping and dining dreading the return home to that smell.
  • Main Street in a small town is 50+mph. Holy smokes!! No idea why they feel they need to race through town. Out here the cops are scarce and the speeding is abundant.
  • Electricians and plumbers and mechanics do not travel out this way. You better make friends with someone who is a specialist in these areas or you may never get a plumber out to your house the day the well pump stops working.

Well, that is our list for today. Next month our list may be totally different. We love rural living and would not trade it for our previous city life, no matter how many cons are on this list 🙂

What do you find to be pros and cons of living in the country? Feel free to share.

Have a great day!!

Warmth of a Wood Stove

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The heat from a wood stove is so different than from any other heat I have experienced, except a bonfire but that is something totally in its own category 🙂 I love the heat from a wood stove it warms you to the bone and feels fulfilling.

Fulfilling you ask?

Yes, fulfilling.

This wood stove is burning the wood:

  • that we chain sawed into logs from a friends lot while we enjoyed their company and laughed and talked.
  • that the young men and women in our family whacked with all their strength as they split each log into useable pieces.
  • that we talked to a friend about and were able to used this fellow church members wood splitter to split the largest logs.
  • that we collected from another friends new house building project so we would have kindling to start the fire while we talked and had a tour of their new home.
  • that many hands patiently collected and stacked into beautifully organized piles.
  • that my young boys brought this morning into the house and piled neatly beside the stove for us to use.
  • that my dh lovingly used to build this warm fire so early this morning.
  • that is giving off the warmth I feel now.

Wood stoves just have this look about them that feel like nostalgia or from days gone by. It feels like we are doing something that our forefathers had not choice but to do. It feels rustic and wonderful and warm, very warm.

Here are some pictures of our wood stoves hard at work. We have two of them due to the size of our farmhouse.

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 This is a Garrison II Wood Stove with a ceramic humidifier on top. This stove was built in 1978. They no longer make these stoves. We bought it on Craigslist many years ago for $50. Great deal for an amazing stove. This stove takes 16″ logs.

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It burns well 🙂

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This is a side loading wood stove. Not sure the name of it but it looks like an Ashley 802.

This stove holds a 24″ log and burns all night. Awesome stove.

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Great heat from this stove. It heats almost 2,000sqft of our farmhouse. The smaller stove heats the other 1,000sqft or so.

What do you enjoy most about wood stoves?

Also, a quiz… Can you name this second stove? We would love to know.

Have a great weekend!

Cats on a Small Farm

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Our cats: Mama Cat on the left and Dusky on the right.

When we moved here 14 years ago we realized how much a small farm needs a cat. The house we purchased had been empty for 2 years before we moved into it. (Something our realtor decided not to disclose btw.) Many things can come and live in a house when there are no people moving around each day. The most prevalent were mice, rats, spiders, and frogs in  and around our house.

Mama cats mother came to us one cold snowy night our first winter here. She kept meowing at the door. We would let her in and she would meow to go back out.  This happened so many time till finally I realized she had something she wanted to show us. I followed her out. There in the fluffy white snow was a tiny black fur ball of a kitten. The mother had brought it through the snow and left it next to the chimney stack. There was also its twin nearby mewing. We brought them both in the house and that mother cat came right in also. She was an excellent mother and stayed with them until they were old enough to take care of themselves and she was gone. Just gone.

My children had named the kittens Muffy and Fluffy. They were the cutest kittens. They grew and both had litters of kittens after about a year. While their kittens were still young Muffy was killed by a car. It was so terribly sad. BUT Fluffy came to the rescue and raised Muffys kittens and her own kittens together. That is why to this day she is called Mama Cat. Fluffy just did not seem like the right name for such an heroic cat.

So Mama Cat raised Dusky who is actually her nephew. They are wonderful cats and so useful to have around the farm. They are both amazing mousers and sometimes even catch a rat, a bird or a rabbit. We prefer they only catch the rats and mice but if it runs, they give chase.

Cats are useful in the barn and in the house. Our cats are like family and sleep in our beds. A cat seems to know when you are sick and will lay with you till you are well. At least ours do.

We are very appreciative of their mousing abilities though and not sure what we would do without them. Thanks Mama Cat and Dusky 🙂

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Ducky loves sleeping out in the snow. Funny cat.

Happy Farming!

Horses on a Small Farm

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Our farm has a wonderful companion, his name is Colby. He is a 27 year old Appendix Quarter Horse. He is owned by my daughter Gallop (hence her nickname). He is called an Appendix Quarter Horse because he is listed in the appendix section of the Thoroughbred breeders stud reference book. It means he has Thoroughbred blood running through his veins. He is a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse cross.

Colby weighs 1,200lbs and is 16 hands. He is a Chestnut Bay with a white star on his forehead. He is a gelding. He also has one white pastern (looks like a white sock on one hoof). Colby does not act his age and can gallop at 36 mph. He is always happy to see people and full of energy.

He is a wonderful horse and loves his owner very much. I will list here some helpful information about how we raise a horse on a small farm.

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Feeding:

  • he has a scoop of grain in the morning and the evening (Coarse 13% sweet feed)
  • in the winter he has Beet Pulp to keep his weight up because he doesn’t have grass in the winter here
  • he eats about one round bale of hay a month in the winter months ( a round bale weighs around 1,000lbs)
  • he eats about 2 round bales during the entire summer season
  • he always has fresh water available to him
  • he has access to 2 acres of open field to graze that is fenced in
  • salt/mineral block
  • sugar cubes for treats once in a while

Colby shares his scoop of grain with the chickens and ducks. He spreads it out with his hoof so the chickens and ducks will eat the not so tasty part and he eats the main yummy pile. He eats his round bale from the middle out which is funny to see with his head not visible while eating.

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Housing:

  • he spends most of his time outside unless the weather is severe, he likes the outside more than cooped up in a stall
  • he has a barn available to him with a box stall for when the weather is bad

Colby does not have a problem with cribbing which means he does not chew on his stall. His food is stored inside the barn also. His hay bale is outside where he stays. He did learn how to unlock and open the barn to get in and eat all the grain from the bin. We figured out a way to chain the door so he could not get in. He is a smart horse but would get colic if allowed to eat as much as he wanted of grain. Horses do not have very good self control with feeding themselves 🙂

Supplies We Use:

(affiliate links to Amazon below)

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Riding Equipment:

(affiliate links to Amazon below)

When we first got Colby he would toss his head when Gallop tried to put on his bridle. She patiently trained him to stay still for this. She used the sugar cubes for this. Each time he would do a part of the process correctly she would give him a sugar cube. He no longer tosses his head when she puts on his bridle.

Gallop got many of Colby’s supplies from yard sales and friends. She did need to buy a few items new like: lunge whip, his meds of course, the mane and tail brush, vet wrap, and her riding boots.

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Training Supplies:

(affiliate links to Amazon below)

Gallop loves to do Barrel Racing and would practice for hours with the many patterns that are required for this. She placed in her first barrel race and was so excited.

Care of:

(affiliate links to Amazon below)

      • yearly vet appointment
      • de-wormer
      • farrier every 8 weeks
      • always have banamine available in case of colic
      • Vet Wrap
      • shavings for bedding
      • Neatsfoot Oil for care of equipment

Having a good farrier is very important. A horses hooves must be kept in tip-top shape. Colby does not have shoes except when he will be barrel racing. He has his hooves trimmed every 8 weeks.

Summary:

All of this costs about $1200 a year after basic supplies are purchased. Hope this was helpful. It was helpful to us to have someone explain all this to my daughter Gallop when she went to find a horse. She was able to plan for all these expenses. It always feels better to know than not to know and be surprised by a cost.

Here is Colby goofing off. Actually he is just playing with his bit. This picture is perfect for showing his personality.

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Ducks are Dumb

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Muscovy Duck by Artist, Thank you

We have had birds for years. Fourteen years ago when we first moved to our farmhouse we started with chickens. At one point we even had 85 hens. That was a lot of eggs. We sold them by the road and to the local organic co-op. We have had Guinea Hens, which only lasted a few days. We gave them to someone else. They would not be quiet, man are they loud. We raised Meat Chickens. We have had Geese for a short time till they went after dh and bit his behind. Then we had the 3 of them for dinner. But with all our experience with birds we have never had such a dumb bird as these Muscovy Ducks.

We have had Muscovy Ducks in the past. About 6 years ago we had a pair that nicely reproduced regularly. They put meat on the table and eggs in the pan. They were quiet, docile, and normal. The ones we have now are just so dumb!

I have no idea why our current Muscovy Ducks are so lacking in intelligence. I know they are not inbred since I know where the breeder got them. I have had discussions with him about these ducks and he agrees that his are also severely lacking in intelligence.

We started out with 11 ducks. There were 10 ducklings and their mom. They all grew up and learned from each other that going onto a 50 mph road is a fun and useful endeavor. We have tried to keep them in the fencing. We have clipped their wings. Somehow they always find a way out. I almost thought, “Hey, they must be intelligent if they can figure out how to escape each time.” But they escape to stand in the road.

They will stand in the road and as the cars zoom buy they will hiss at them. They will stand on the yellow line and hiss. Now in case you don’t know, Muscovy don’t quack. They are called the quackless duck. They do make other noises but the noises are all pretty quiet. The hissing is kinda cool though. Pretty sure a tractor trailer truck coming down the road at 50 mph doesn’t really hear you hissing, my dear duck.

Last fall we lost 5 of the original 11 ducks. We had the remaining 6 going into this year. It was wonderful to have them eating mosquitos each night. Though they never stopped with walking into the road. Cars got used to them in the road and many times would slow down and let them cross. We would hear cars slowing down and run out and either shoo them back or throw out an extra scoop of food. They would come back and be content in the yard for a while and then head back into the road. This went on for months.

We looked for homes for them. We were real tired of chasing them out of the road so many times a day. Then they were hit. There was one drake and three ducks standing in the road. A friend of our knocks frantically on the door. The four of them had been hit and she thought for sure they were all dead. My dh and Tech went to help clean them out of the road. They were not dead but really hurt badly. We placed them in the “chicken tractor” we had built for meat birds a few years ago. It took them 2 months but they survived. We took them out of it once they were healed because it really was way to small a space for healthy birds. Muscovy Ducks are the size of geese.

The funny thing was that after about three weeks they disappeared. I mean really disappeared. One morning we found feathers on the front lawn and those four ducks were gone. We have no idea what happened. Maybe Coy Dogs? Maybe someone we asked finally decided to rehome them during the night, unlikely. But still months later we have no idea what happened to them.

We were left with 2 Muscovy Ducks, luckily a drake and a duck. Then September 1st we had 11 ducklings come walking out of the back field behind their mom. Now we had 13 ducks again. They were so cute and yellow and fluffy.

Muscovy Ducklings

Muscovy Ducklings

Well, the process has started again. We shoo them out of the road about 5 times a day. Yesterday we lost one of the ducklings in the road. We woke up to find it dead in the road. Still today the mother duck brings them up to the road… Ducks are dumb.

Chickens are smart. They stay away from the road. We have lost 3 chickens in the road in 14 years. Three! They just do not go that close to the road anymore. Like they know better than to stand in front of a vehicle going 50 mph.

Last weekend we brought some fencing up from my moms to try and corral the ducks again. They easily get out of most fencing but we have to try again. This afternoon the plan is to try and figure out how to double up the fencing or something to stop the escaping. We will see how that goes. Another thing about Muscovy Ducks… they like to roost in trees. Yup, that is why we has so much trouble keeping them in. But we will try again.

This summer we went to the Cincinnati Zoo and got the chance to talk with the bird trainer. He talked about all the birds he had trained over his 35 year experience. We said that we thought the duck was THEE dumbest bird. He said that he could top that. The dumbest bird he ever had was an Owl, yah, an Owl. He said there is no such thing as the “wise old owl”. The second on the stupidity list is Emu’s and third, drum roll please, the DUCK! He totally agreed that they were very, very dumb. So there you have it from the experts mouth. Ducks are Dumb.

Rats! in the Farmhouse

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Drawing by Artist, Thanks

Every year as the weather gets colder the rats come in the house from the fields and barn. The first year at our farmhouse was (no other word can describe it) disgusting. Now 14 years later it is still, well, disgusting. Usually the rats are not very bold. They climb through the space inside the ceilings and walls during the night. We almost never see them. Hearing the scurrying and chewing at night is the only evidence they exist. With all the work we did on the house this past year there is not much room in the walls anymore. I guess they have no choice but to be bold.

Last night my dh and I listened to a rat gnawing on the wall to our bedroom. Loud, but not unusual for this time of year. There is no trim on that wall where the floor and wall meet so I suggested dh spray bathroom spray into the crack there and see what that does. It worked! The rat ran away from that spot running along the base of the wall towards the front of the house. Oh good, it is quiet for a few minutes.

What is that? Crackle, nibble, scurry. They’re back. Dh is in the living room with indigestion. I am here alone. Man, I turn on the light. I hear it again. Crackle, nibble, scurry. They are in my bureau! I sit and look their way. There is a bag of cat food in front of my bureau. The rat peeks out of my drawer over the top of the bag at me. Those black beady eyes.. does he see me? Nope, he (or she) dives into the bag of cat food. Up again, over the top of the bag, and into my draw. Wait, there is one walking across the back of my open underwear draw on the other side of the bureau. Can it be the same one? Are they that fast? I wait.

Two pointy nosed faces pop up over the top of the bag of cat food. Staring at me or maybe just looking for movement. They are not as cute as Stuart Little. I am totally still. I will NOT move from this spot (even if I wanted to). I’m peeking over my blankets. What should I do? If the boys where down here, I would have them shoot it with a bb gun. No, wait, then I would have blood all over my clothes. What if I get dh, maybe he has an idea.

I watch and wait. The next time they both climb out of the bag and into the drawer I will jump out of bed and run into the living room and get dh. Wait, ready, go, I am off. “Hi dear, Um, there is a pair of rats in my left middle drawer eating out of the bag of cat food and walking through my underwear drawer, any ideas?” He has a plan and heads back to the bedroom. He reports back. The bag of cat food if now closed up, the drawers are shut with no rats in them, and he has placed d-con under my bureau.

Dh settles down to finish watching his movie. He wants to know why I am not heading back to bed. “It’s 3:00,” he says. But there is no way I am heading back to the room alone. We head back together and sit and watch the end of the movie with the kindle on the bed. Sleep? No way, I gotta pee and I don’t even think I can walk into the master bath. I here noises from the bathroom on my right, from the wall on my left, from the laundry room just outside my room, and near my bureau in front of me. I’m surrounded.

I get up the courage to head into the bathroom. Then I run back and climb under the covers. Sleep? I ask dh if the rats will climb on the bed while we sleep. He says no, but I know he has no idea. I have thoughts of those rats snuggling up between us to get warm. I have him flick on the light and I grab the bedspread and my pillow and head out to sleep in the living room.

I had a great night’s sleep. Dh wakes me and says, “Sure is noisy down in our room.” Still? Don’t they ever sleep?

Plans for today: 1. buy more d-con, 2. buy storage containers for cat food, chicken food, and bird food, 3. store chicken food and bird food in the barn in new containers, 4. wash clothes in my drawers, and 5. buy more d-con 🙂

Update: D-con behind the washer is empty this morning. Yes, maybe this will work. Google says it will take 15 days of baiting them to have them gone. Need lots of d-con. Really want to peacefully sleep in my comfy warm bed tonight.