Coco and Lucy, our Pygmy Goats, are by far the clowns of the barnyard. They are not only entertaining to watch but to interact with as well. You can not spend any time with these girls with out laughing. They make the simplest tasks a true delight, from cleaning out their house to water changes. I dare you to bring the wheelbarrow in without snickering a bit. It never fails as I try to clean the straw and toss it in, these girls jump in thinking its time to play. As I bend to grab the pitch fork from the ground Coco jumps onto my back. She jumps from me to the wheelbarrow and back again. Scott tries to bring in a new bale of straw they spring into his arms. Like a bale of straw is not heavy enough lets add a goat to it or maybe two? He begins to fill the hay feeder and Coco jumps in, looks at him, and lays down. She gives him this look like wait, let me get comfortable, as she begins to eat the fresh hay that she lays upon. Lucy looks on from the top of her pallet fortress side jumping from one level to another. The youngest member of the barnyard family comes in to join the fun. Baby Kitty comes to get in on all the action, as he snuggles into a mound of hay that fell on the ground. He waits for the perfect moment stalking his prey. Lucy runs past he jumps and pounces on her back. She tries to shake him from her back, he jumps off, and begins to chase her. She stops stands on just her back two legs he scampers off back to the safety of the other side of the fence. And what is Miss Coco doing while all is taking place? Laying in the manger enjoying all the new feed like she is a human with popcorn watching a movie. Now who needs TV when there is true live entertainment to be watched?
Author: Carrie Miller
Repurposing is a essential part of raising animals and having a farm no matter the size. Money doesn't grow on trees and animals cost a lot of money to raise. We are firm believers that one mans trash is another mans treasure. We will repurpose just about anything from wood to fencing to buildings and more. We weren't always this way I will be the first to admit the ten years we lived in the city we tossed everything. When perfectly good things were taken from our garbage we thought well why would someone want that? Let me just add we were in our early twenties, financially stupid, and knew everything. After moving back to the country where there is no quick trip to a big box store, we learned to be inventive out of necessity at first. We've learned many things over the past few years but I must say we have a few favorites. One duct tape can fix almost anything, it has become our best friend. If by chance duct tape can't fix try zip ties or JB weld if none of these work it might be time to throw it away. The most reused items around here seems to be lumber, fencing, and hardware. We seem to repurpose animal housing a lot depending on what we need housing for at the time. We also repurpose the little stuff feed bags become totes, Ice cream containers make great waterproof storage for animal treats, and why buy new jars for canning? When you can use mayo, pickle, pepper rings, or relish jars. Ninety percent of all lumber we use on the farm has been repurposed from somewhere. No matter if it was a friends deck that was torn down or a strangers ad on online. If it was free or we could barter we kindly accepted. We have even gotten a free shed that was in need of major repair given to us.
For us repurposing isn't a choice it's a way of life. When you are able to start seeing things not for what they are but for what they could be you have it mastered. Why spend thousands of dollars when you can simply reuse items? With a little work and creativity almost anything can be as beautiful as its first day on the show room floor. When you take the time to repurpose you often find that when your done your project turned out better, stronger, and prettier than had you bought it new. Now with that being said you must be careful not to bring to much stuff home or you end up with stuff laying everywhere. That's against the rules here all materials must be kept nice, neat, and put away.
Author: Carrie Miller
CHICKENS.........A DRUG? As I am sure many can attest to, chickens are the gateway drug of many homesteaders these days. You will not read about it in the newspaper or hear the evening news discuss chickens as a drug, nor should you, but chickens seem to be leading the way for a culture trying to get back to its roots.
Many people across the United States and throughout the world have dreams of owning some land, building a house, planting gardens, and raising some livestock. They are yearning for that simple life and want to raise their own food for themselves. Unfortunately, many new homesteaders have no previous experience with many of the daily chores that are associated with homesteading. What experienced homesteaders and farmers already know, living off the land is very hard work and failures will happen but can be the best teacher.
So how are chickens the gateway drug? What is the first livestock animal that nearly all homesteaders start with......chickens! Why you might ask? Chickens are usually the first livestock animal on a homestead because they readily available, inexpensive to start, easy to raise, and have a relatively learning curve on how to care for these lovable creatures. If you ask many homesteaders what the first thing they did on their homestead, besides buying the land or building the house, most will tell you they bought chickens. Even before they planted a garden or had any type of housing ready for the chickens. The reason behind this is many of our local feed supply stores have baby chicks days in the early spring and these baby chicks are irresistible to any new homesteader. Without a second thought, we purchase the baby chicks, some food, and a heat lamp and rush back to the homestead. As many of us know, we get the chickens home and think "What did I do?" We have no housing and were not quite ready for these yet but there is no choice but to build a chicken coop. A simple trip to the feed supply store turns into your first livestock animal on your homestead.
Most new homesteaders will master the skills of taking care of their chickens this that will give them the confidence to eventually lead to other livestock animals such as goats, sheep, or even cows. Therefore, I am convinced that chickens are the gateway drug for any new homesteader. Once you have a few chickens you will yearning for additional animals for the homestead.
Author: Scott Miller
I have tried so many different brands and types as well as homemade. I find them all to be a huge pain in my butt. Let me start with my least favorite and work down.
6. Metal ones my biggest problem with these they always seem to rust or corrode. They also are just a pain to get on right without leaking.
5. Five gallon bucket systems are constantly covered in poo from the chickens sleeping on them.
4. Cup nipples they freeze solid in the winter and tend to leak often.
3. Bottom fillers well the biggest problem I have with these are they are a pain to fill in the winter. The last thing you want to do when its cold is to get wet. Yet with these I always seem to get wet. They are slippery and I have even dropped and broke them.
2. The regular nipple systems in PVC work well for summer, but not so great in the winter. They seem to always leak a bit well.
1. Top fill poly plastic these work great no mess when changing the water, extremely durable, and super easy to clean. As well as you can use a particular brand one on their heated metal base in the winter. Which solves the heat dilemma as well.
The perfect system in my eyes would be a top fill poly plastic that had a built in heater that has a tuck away cord for the summer. Still waiting for someone to make and market it.
* I will have more information on this brand shortly*
Author: Carrie Miller
Well this year we tried something very different. We put a garden in each year and each year something goes wrong. To wet, to dry, soil not good enough, blight, there is always something. This spring we put drainage in the yard, but was still unsure if it was enough. So Scott come up with a plan to install a raised bed. I must admit I kind of rolled my eyes at the idea. But Scott being Scott did what he wanted anyhow, there is no talking this man out of anything. He went back to the lumber pile, pulled his materials, and in a half hours time he was done. I went to look at his finished product, I had one simple question where you getting the dirt to fill that? He looked at me with his evil little grin and stated he had a plan. Of course he wouldn't let me in on the plan. So later that day we loaded up in the truck and headed for town to get a few plants to get started. I was still trying to figure out what he was going to plant them in. So as we approached our destination he stops and pulls into a landscape place. OOOO I thought he's just going to buy the dirt. Nope I was wrong he bought Mushroom Compost. Having no idea about this stuff I was having a whatever moment. We then stopped at the little plant store grabbed our stuff and headed home. He got the garden all finished up that evening including planting. Within a few weeks our garden was bigger than any of our past attempts. I have picked more tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet peas, and mint in one year then all other years put together. Fall is now upon us and I am truly not ready to let the fresh veggies go. I asked my husband if we could put the little greenhouse we use for the meat chickens house up on the garden. He rolled his eyes and stated fine, I knew he was really thinking ugghhh. As always he likes to make me happy so we pulled the greenhouse across the property and put it in place. With all this being said its now almost November, and I am still picking two dozen tomatoes and peppers each week.
Best Garden we have ever had!
Author: Carrie Miller
Pumpkin season is upon us so take advantage. They are the best natural de-wormer there is. We take the opportunity this time of year to trade eggs for pumpkins, from a local farmer. We get his odd or broken pumpkins that would otherwise go to waste, so its a great deal for all involved. The chickens and the goats love them, so its easy to get them to eat as many as I can. When I get to many, I take the time to either freeze or can the extra. This way they get local natural pumpkin year round. The frozen pumpkin is an easy task, simply use ice cube trays, then when done place in freezer bags for summer treats. They love frozen pumpkin on a hot summers day. So take advantage of the neighbors decorations when they are done with them. Guaranteed otherwise they will be tossed with the garbage.
Author: Carrie Miller
As we come into fall life, things around here begin to slow. The hustle and Bustle of summer chores and to-dos are coming to an end. I sit here writing this entry finding myself starring endlessly out the window watching the leaves fall one by one. With each passing day the temps are cooler and fall is in the air. From the smell of leaves burning, wood burners smoking, and the sweet smell of canning season. Its time to sit back and take it all in. This time of year I enjoy canning, sewing, cooking, baking, and writing. The chickens are even slowing for the fall. Egg production is at a extreme low. All the girls are beginning to heal from a hard molting season. A well deserved break they are getting. They munch upon fresh pumpkins and left over tomatoes from the summer yield. The goats have started getting their fall coats. I find them staying in their barn more and more as the temps drop. They also have been enjoying the left over produce from the garden as they work on their winter weight. Wood season around here is coming to an end too, less sore wake ups in my near future.