If you have a barn it's a pretty good assumption that you have a barn cat or two, or in our case three. They serve a fundamental role in homesteading, farming, or simply country life. Ollie Wallie, Mo Mo, and Baby Kitty definitely pitch in around here and earn their keep. They each came to us under unique circumstances. Ollie moved with us from our last home his mom was a stray that showed up at the door pregnant and hungry. We took her and her babies in and found them all homes except Ollie who stayed with us. Mo Mo showed up at our new house the week we moved in and he simply never left. Baby Kitty found my husband and son in the middle of the woods while they were out hunting. The cats help in many aspects with a few standing out above the rest. They keep the mice population down in all the out buildings, protecting the property and livestock from unwanted predators, and serve as amazing companion animals. For all they do for us we must be diligent in taking care of their health.
I feel the most important thing you can do for your cats is to spay or neuter them. We get this done as soon as a new cat decides to make this his home. There are a lot of great organizations out there to help with low cost spaying and neutering for stray, feral, or barn cats. It helps to deter the males from wondering off, fighting, and acquiring diseases. Spaying your female cats cuts down on unwanted litters and also disease control. We always have the cat either tattooed or their ear cropped so if they leave organizations will know they have already been fixed. We don't want to add to the cat population problem at $15 a cat we will fix everyone that shows up. opportunity
It is of the upmost importance that you keep them healthy. Their rabies shots need updated and treat them routinely for both round worms and tapeworms. We also look over our cats often to watch for ticks that may need removed. We choose to use flea control during the summer months as an extra precaution. Simply knowing your cats personality will help you spot when somethings not right. Wether a simple splinter in the paw, abscess, or a cold it's a good idea to keep a few things in the kitty section of the animal medicine cabinet. We keep peroxide, bitter animal wrap, tweezers, and syringe with no needle for wound care. opportunity
We call our cats in each night before we head to bed. It gives them a chance to sleep in the garage or outbuildings if they chose to. We find this especially important in the winter months. It gives a great opportunity to see they are ok and that no one is missing. Even though they scavenge for lots of food its essential to give them a good quality cat food as well. It helps them maintain high protein, vitamins, and minerals they need to survive a long healthy life. Giving access to fresh clean water at all times is imparative. Most of all love them, show them gratitude for all the hard work they put in to the farm.
If you own backyard chicken at some point you will be asking what killed my chicken? I hear this question a lot there are a few clues that can help to determine the culprit. With chickens being easy prey you will deal with a few of these predators along the way. Each predator will leave its own mark, wether a smell, a print, or a simple clue very few can leave without a trace. If you notice the entire chicken has gone missing and your left with only feathers or no signs at all you're dealing with a hawk, fox, or coyote. If you find a mangled or decapitated bird it's a pretty good guess its and owl. Bite marks or removal of the breast, thighs, and abdomen should point you towards opossum, skunk, or raccoon. The skunk may leave behind its all telling odor to help you in your quest for truth. Small bites taken from neck, body, and back of the neck is an indication you're dealing with a mink or weasel. The mink is known to leave behind a very distant musky smell. When baby chicks go missing your best bet is the snake, cat, or rat. Did you stumble upon one that had its rear end eaten or the intestines pulled out? You're more than likely dealing with a martin. If you know the predators that are common in your area this alone will help you narrow down your choices. Prevention is the best means to fighting off these predators. Keeping a clean dry coop will help to fight many of the culprits. Having a secure coop will save more than just a few chickens. During heavy times of migration chose to keep your birds in a safety run where the hawks can't get to them. Making sure your chickens are locked up tight each evening before dark is maybe the most important preventative. One of the biggest mistakes I see is the use of chicken wire. Chicken wire should be used to keep chickens in, not expected to keep other animals out. It is simply not strong enough to fight of most predators you are better off to use a heave gage welded wire. Even then don't expect it to keep all predators out, it will only help minimize the risk. There will always be loss but you can minimize the devastation with these few tips.
In this article we will break down key terms you need to know for raising goats. Wether you are new or an aspiring goat parent this list is sure to give you a leg up. Some terms may seem self explanatory and others a bit more confusing. We hope by the end of this article you will have better understanding of your new furry friends. When there is so much to learn its hard to know just where to start. Always feel free to start with us.
Have a question that's not answered here contact us through our contact page.
Baking Soda: This mineral is to be given free choice to your goats, to help prevent bloat and other rumen problems.
Bloat: An accumulation of gas in the rumen and reticulum, this requires medical attention asap.
Buck (Billy): A full grown sexually matured male goat.
Buckling: A young male goat who is not sexually mature.
CDT:Vaccination given to build up antibodies against Enterotoxemia type C and D. and tetanus vaccination.
Cud: Partly digested food returned from the first stomach (Rumen) to the mouth for further chewing.
Dehorned: A goat who has their horns removed.
Deworming: The process of removing intestinal worms by use of medication.
Doe (Nanny): A full grown sexually matured female goat.
Doeling: A young female goat who is not sexually mature.
Free choice (Ad Libitum): Feed or supplements made available at all times so they can eat whenever and as much as it chooses.
Freshen: When a doe gives birth and begins to produce milk.
Gestation: The period in which a doe is pregnant (average 150 days).
Heat (Estrus): The period in which the doe is ready more mating.
Kid: A goat less than one year old.
Minerals: Wether in a lick or a loose powder form a must have for all goats.
Open: A female that is not pregnant.
Polled: A goat born with a gene that make it so they will not acquire horns.
Rumen: The first compartment of a goats stomach containing microbial population that breaks down forages and roughages.
Wether: A castrated male.
Yearling: A male or female sheep or goat that is between 1 and 2 years of age.
This is by no means a complete list of goat terminology just a few of what we consider the most important..
1. Brahmas are considered a large breed dual purpose chicken. Rooster weigh in about 12lbs and the hens 9lbs. They come in three recognized colors Light, Dark, and Buff. They are gentle giants with wonderful feathered feet. They lay all winter unlike so many other breeds, you will get 3-5 large brown eggs a week. I have found the roosters to be gentle, tame, and sweet.
2. Australorps this large heritage breed is also a great dual purpose bird. They lay wonderful large light brown eggs. You can expect to get eggs all winter from these girls as well. The average egg production from these ladies is 4-6 eggs weekly.
3. Plymouth Rocks are an amazing dual breed, known for having tasty meat and large brown eggs. The Plymouth Rock's come in seven recognized colors Barred, Blue, Buff, Columbian, Partridge, Silver-penciled and White. I find them to be docile, but a little skittish, other than my rooster who is extremely affectionate.
4. Wyandottes raised for both meat and great egg production, coming in a bit smaller than my top three. They appear in many colors, the most popular being Gold Laced, Silver Laced, and Blue Laced. Wyandottes often can be seen used as show birds thanks to their gorgeous markings.
5. Orpingtons also a wonderful hardy dual purpose breed. They are know for being broody and making great moms. They are often found in the show market as well. Orpingtons produce medium to large light brown eggs 3-4 a week. Black, White, Blue, Splash, and Buff are the most common colors you find.
We have been raising chickens for quite sometime now and I have only had a handful of sick chickens over the years. Prevention is everything in keeping your flock healthy and happy. Here's some of my best tips and tricks.
Never introduce new chickens into your flock without at least a 30 day quarantine period. I don't care if they come from a stranger or your best friend you never know what they have been exposed too. I will leave them completely excluded to the point of I don't even want them to see the other flock.
A well thought out prevention plan is key.
Summer prevention prepare a few special treats. I keep pumpkin froze cubes in the freezer at all times. I also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to each gallon of water. I change and keep cool water available a few times a day in the summer. Make sure the chickens have plenty of ventilation in their coop. As well as much needed shade should be available. Another important heat tip is to add electrolytes to the water. (my homemade electrolyte recipe is available under the chicken category of the blogs page)
Winter Prevention is a little different. You need to make sure the coop is not drafty. A drafty home is easily the most dangerous to your chickens health. Ventilation would be second make sure you have enough. To little and the humidity goes up and illness will run amuck. Keeping their water unfrozen and clean is super important. On super cold days give them a warm breakfast they love oatmeal.
A clean home is a healthy home. You must keep their home clean and do deep cleanings a few times a year. Make sure to clean their food and water containers weekly. You never want them to have access to spoiled or moldy food.
4. Be a Spy
Always be on the lookout. Know your chickens if you know their personalities then you know when something is wrong. If someone is ill remove and quarantine them always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Keep them happy
Happy chickens are healthy chickens. We spoil ours they get daily treats, plenty of free range time, and a ton of fresh vegetables and fruits. We do not vaccinate or give antibiotics, we choose a all natural environment for them. They have swings, toys, and hanging treat feeders available to play and enjoy.
I have encountered a few illness's and injuries over the years. I have had one get egg bound she sadly did not make it. We had one injured from a hawk we babied her and treated her wounds and she recovered in a few weeks. We also had one get bumble foot sadly we let her enjoy her life till she looked to be uncomfortable and we euthanized her. We tried to treat the bumble foot but without success. Considering we have had 100's of chickens I feel as though we have done well with preventing illness. We have many chickens that are 8+ years old and still running around healthy and happy.
1. Drafty areas need to be caulked, spray foamed, boarded, or somehow covered. The last thing you want is you chickens to be shivering from a cold draft hitting them. This can cause all kinds of illness in your flock.
2. Proper venting is super important if you have to little the coop will become humid, high humidity can cause Upper Respiratory Infections. As well as it can cause frost bite on the chickens combs and other sensitive parts.
3. Heat? I do not heat my coops. I tried it one year and we almost caught the coop on fire never did it again. We do however use the deep litter method to add some warmth/insulation into their coop. It provides a bit of heat in a safe way.
4. Fresh Water, this becomes more difficult depending on the climate you live in. For us we freeze a lot. So we are using Harris Farms Poly Plastic Drinker on their Heated Base this year. In the past we have tried many other heating systems some worked ok some not at all. Either way we always ended up wet, cold, or worrying about if we going to burn the coop down.
5. Roost bars are essential in keeping your chickens warm and comfortable. We have learned over the years to place good sturdy roost in. We use 2x4's we place them to where they give the chickens the widest spot to stand on. This allows them to lay securely snuggled in while being able to lay upon their entire feet to keep them warm and toasty. We do have a few girls that choose not roost at night for them we have milk crates filled with straw for them to sleep in.
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