Goat Cleared Hillside

I am amazed! We put our 2 wethers (Dos & Basil) and our new buck (Warrior) in the new pen we built out on the hillside. This pen was built out of recycled materials, fence we salvaged from old dog kennels that confined German Shepherds. We may have spent a few dollars in screws and wire. The rest was what we had on hand. I had heard of goat rental services to clear brush, and now see why someone would rent a bunch of goats to clear a hillside. Wow, these boys have seriously impressed me with their skills.

And this is what it looked like the day before we put them in there.

So yeah, they are very good at their job and we really want to give them more of the hillside to nibble on. We are welcoming any fence donations to expand their forage area. We would love woven wire for cattle, at least 4′ tall, with this tougher fencing we could even run the pig out in these paddocks from time to time. If you have some fencing you’d like to get rid of and are local to Versailles, we could come take it down and haul it away if you have unwanted fencing. Also we have a paypal you can donate to if you want to help, but don’t have any unwanted fencing, payable to paypal@earthenstewards.com, Thanks!

2016-05-09 Garden Pictures

Grabbed the camera and went for a walk around my beautiful gardens and snapped pictures of what grabbed my eye. I just love how our place is creatively evolving โค

 

 

The Goat Barn: Start to Finish

Well, we aren’t quite finished yet, but the barn is functional and in use. Milkyway (our very pregnant doe- first time) is enjoying her cozy stall. We have some painting yet to finish, already used a gallon of paint on it, and probably need at least another 1/2 gallon to finish. Then there is the trim around the big picture window, we need to build the milk station, and some shelving inside for storage. I love this barn, it’s well insulated (for a barn) and built perfect for my tiny goats and I. ๐Ÿ™‚

We used 45 free pallets to build the walls of the barn and stall. We used free 4โ€x12โ€s for the floor, and big free 8×8โ€™s for the posts to keep the floor up off the ground, free plywood as siding and free metal for the roof. So including concrete for setting the posts, screws, nails, lag bolts, paint, hinges and latches, we are into this thing less than $100. Oh yeah! Iโ€™m amazed at what we can build for almost nothing, and this barn will last many years.

So now for the photos of the project, from start to where we are now.


Day 1 โ€“ Setting the posts for the floor. 2016-03-06 โ€“ we put up the framingโ€ฆ this was SO HARD, as these timbers were very heavy, awkward and hard to get nails or screws through.

 


Day 2 โ€“ 2016-03-09 โ€“ Center support and posts, put in lag bolts securing the frame to the posts. Laid the boards in place and nailed them down. Ouch! lol


Day 3 โ€“ 2016-03-10 โ€“ We ran out of nails before we could get all of them done, so here we are, nailing some more.


Day 4 โ€“ 2016-03-11 โ€“ Pallet prep dayโ€ฆ ugh, this was tedious, and hurt Timโ€™s back, but he got it done! More than 40 pallets, made uniform for the walls.


Day 5 โ€“ 2016-03-13 โ€“ Making corners with the Pallets, and starting the walls.


Day 6 โ€“ 2016-03-16 โ€“ More wall building, and framing in the doors.


Day 7 โ€“ 2016-03-17 โ€“ Finishing building the walls, and put up the stall.


Scabs โ€“ this is how we attached the bottom level of wall pallets to the upper layers.


Day 8 โ€“ 2016-03-19 –ย  Started putting up the pen.

IMG_7862a.jpg


Day 9 โ€“ 2016-03-20 โ€“ Framing the roof.


Day 10 โ€“ 2016-03-22 โ€“ Insulating the walls where the stall is, to keep goat kids draft free, and then siding!


Day 11 โ€“ 2016-03-23 โ€“ Roof on, siding up, stall functional.


Day 12 โ€“ 2016-03-29 โ€“ Paint

 

So we have a little ways to go yet. So Iโ€™ll update the post as we go. Thanks for reading, and looking.

Rabbit Colonies: Colony V

Now we are excited! Today we got the colony out in the yard ready for rabbits to live in, and we moved in our Mother of all breeders and two of her granddaughters into it! Today was the first time her cute little feet have touched the earth! It feels so good to finally have her out of a cage, she has sure earned it. We are calling this one ‘Colony V’, because the doe of whom I speak is named Violet, and ‘V’ is my nickname for her. Her granddaughters are Poppy, and Rowan. This is a big step for us, moving the breeders out of hanging cages into these super fun colonies where they can have happier lives.

 

Rabbit Colonies: Inhabited: Orchard Colony

How super exciting for us! We just moved 2 bucks into their new homes today, both of them seem to like the change.

Such a beautiful day to spend in the orchard building rabbit colonies with my hubby, and kids. The girls enjoyed painting together while we worked on this project.

 

Rabbit Colony: Orchard Cluster 2

Today’s progress. So happy to have the girls in their new home. This is such a fun project.

Rabbit Colony: Orchard Cluster

 

We hoped to get this colony finished before any of the does in our other colony kindle, we hoped that we could finish up today so we could move 3 of the 6 into this one. So tomorrow we are determined to get this colony done, and possibly the buck box next to it.

We are using 1/2″x 1/2″ welded wire to secure the perimeter walls, and 1″ chicken wire lining the bottom to prevent digging out. Tomorrow we’ll build a frame for the top, put the welded wire on it to enclose the run. This way the rabbits can enjoy outside anytime they want, day or night. We are excited to get our entire herd moved out into these cute little colonies.

Colonizing Rabbits: Colonly Cottage 2

Here is today’s progress. The run area is temporary, we plan to build a much better enclosed run so the rabbits can go in and out of the cottage day or night. We just needed to get this temporary run in place to accommodate the rabbits we bought from another rabbiteer recently.

Rabbits Colonizing: Colony Cottages

Colony Cottage Collage

We are in the process of building our second small colony, we plan to locate this one out in or orchard. Here is the little doe house we built out of free pallet boxes. We’ll put a big enclosed run off the front of this once we carry it out there, dig into the hillside to make a level spot. Here is how far we have gotten. We are calling these Colony Cottages!

We are planning to build a cluster of these colony cottages with enclosed pensย  in several locations. We hope to convert our entire rabbitry to colonies… this is where it starts.

Off-grid Chick Brooder

(Update: 2 October 2015) A friend of ours raises meat chickens and got us a super deal on 25 chicks that were just a few hours old (fresh from the incubator)- just couldn’t pass it up, so we built another off grid chick brooder made to house 20 chicks. We brought them home 29 September 2015, and so far so good. They are strong little buggers, and are doing great with out a heat lamp. In the morning we bring them out to the orchard in the warm morning sun and let them out into their run, to play, eat and drink all day. In the evening when the fall temperatures begin to plummet, we shoo them into the enclosed nest box and bring them in the house for the night. Repeating each day. We are amazed at how tough these chicks are, at night in their little nest box we have a thermometer, it stays around 75F all night, and in the morning they are bright eyed and ready to play outside. This experience is inspiring us to make permanently placed brooders out on our south facing slope so we can raise our own layers from chicks starting early spring. We’ll see how this experiment progresses.

Here are some pictures of the brooders and our cute little chicks.

(Posted: 27 September 2015) This is our off grid chick brooder.

In about a week or so we’ll be getting 10 meat chicks that are one day old, and will need to keep them warm. Most people now days (in America at least) just put chicks under a warming light for at least the first week or so till the chicks are able to keep their own temperatures on their own. Being off grid poses a challenge, as heat lamps are energy hogs and take around 16 or so amps per hour to run, that would deplete our batteries in no time. Tim found some info online on how to make a box brooder. Here is the link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/aq628e/aq628e.pdf

So we made this brooder with materials handy onsite, it isn’t exactly what is depicted in the pdf above, but close and made with what we had on-hand.

We built it out of ply wood, used wire screen for the bottoms, and top of the run box. Made an insulated lid for the nest box, then lined the nest box with pink insulation board, we plan to put hay in the bottom before the chicks go in. Painted the whole thing black to help with heat absorbtion, and also to keep the plywood from rotting too fast. Next we plan to get some little hinges to attach the run lid, and some little latches to keep the nestbox lid from coming off, and also little latches to attach the nestbox itself to the run so it can’t be knocked over by a critter. So this is an experiment, we’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck!

Update from August 22nd to September 3rd, so much to post about!

Following are pictures from as far back as 8/22, lots of farm critter pictures, and then pictures of our family visiting (they arrived the evening of 8/24)! We were spoiled with Grandpa Steve and Grandma Sandi, they drove out their super cozy and new RV and camped in our driveway for 10 whole days! We had a wonderful time with ya’ll, and miss you two so much! The same evening that the grandparents got here, Tim’s brother, Tom and his wife Katie and their two adorable munchkins (Hannah & Tiberius) got here too. Tom and Katie stayed in a motel the first and second night close by so they spent much of the first couple days with us, then they went to explore Ohio and go to Cedar Point. I’m thankful we got to see them, it was so nice to see their faces and get some good hugs, even if the time spent together was so very brief. I felt like we got to really spend quality time with Steve and Sandi, it was so wonderful having them blend in with our daily life, help us with chores and Steve even helped Tim build another awesome spacious rabbit cage, completing our 4 phase grow-out Rabbitat!

Getting Adjusted with Goats

This is what I get to enjoy everyday now, they are the CUTEST! All are eating well, and growing fast. I was so nervous in the days before we brought them home, hoping the transition would go smoothly, hoping that changing from the milk andย  milk-replacer they were getting at their original home to the milk I was going to give them would be an easy switch and wouldn’t cause health issues. Luckily the breeder I bought them from was kind enough to give us 3 quarts of her goat milk to make the transition easier. So thankful, as I feel that helped greatly smooth the transition from her milk-replacer to the milk-replacer I got.

For the first days feeding, the youngest goat (Dos) I fed strait goat milk, 1/2 the milk I got from my breeder, and 1/2 of the goat milk I bought from our grocery store, then I switched him to what the other two were getting.ย  The other two (Basil & Milkyway) got 1/2 replacer, 1/4 breeder goat milk, 1/4 store bought goat milk. I would also add in a generous splash of milk kefir. I gave kefir to add in some healthy probiotics to help their guts be colonized by good bacteria.

For the first few days they all had a soft poo, which indicated slight diarrhea, and I didn’t want to see this get worse so I went to my herbs. I made an infusion of dry Echinacea (I foraged last summer) and dry catnip (harvested from my herb garden last summer)- Put a good size handful of each dry herb in a 2 quart jar, and then filled the jar with just boiling water. Then I let it sit out on my counter overnight. I poured off the herbs and the resulting tea is what I used to mix the replacer with instead of plain water.

Echinacea makes a wonderful immunity boost, and my go-to herb for darn near everything.

Echinacea in the Ozarks

Catnip is a wonderful herb forย diarrhea and cramps and I felt would work well here.

Catnip

I would have used Blackberry leaves or even Raspberry leaves but didn’t have enough in stores, so I’m glad I had so much Catnip on hand.

So after a few days on this they are doing super fantastic! They are poo’ing perfect healthy little goat berries, and are growing well. I’m so happy they are thriving! So far so good ๐Ÿ™‚

Multilevel Pallet Goat House! Oh yeah!

So, being that we live on steeply sloping land, we are big on putting darn near everything on stilts in order to make level floors for our structures, and the goat house is no exception! Our Nigerian Dwarves will only get around 23″ tall at most, and so we built this “2-story” goat house with that in mind. Above will be the slumber loft, where it stays nice and cozy warm, with pallet platforms leading up to the entrance, so even going to bed involves their favorite activity… JUMPING! lol! Below the loft is the “barn” area, we will enclose 3 sides (North, South & West) to keep drafts minimal, and here we will put their feeders, water and minerals so they stay dry underneath. Then we plan to use 2″x4″ welded wire fencing to enclose a large area for them to frolic and play. This is where we are so far…

Pictures taken 2015/03/11 on our progress for what I am lovingly calling the Goat Hut. Coming right along, this whole structure was built using free pallets, recycled lumber, & timber from our property. The only thing we had to buy for the hut is the screws and nails. Now we just have to put some tar paper on the roof, then some sheet metal, build a set of steps so the goats can climb in and fence it. We also got some super huge tractor tires today from our neighbor to put in the goat pen as fun objects for them to jump on. Without further adoo, here are today’s pictures of our progress on the Goat Hut.

2015/03/12 Update – Today we built steps for the goats to hop up into their new hut, rolled huge boulders & tires into their area, put in the gate and start putting up the fence. The rocks were tough to move, but we managed it… but we are surely feeling it tonight, oy veh.

2015/03/16 – We did it! For the most part the goat hut is finished, aside from being painted and the metal roof being put on. We’ll get to that asap. As for now the goats are now living in their new habitat! We got the fence and gate up, and last night they spent their first night outside! They did great, I went and checked on them and did a perimeter check around midnight and again around 4am.

Bon Voyage on our Journey to Goatkeeping

Rocky Hollow Gardens Goat HerdWe are so blessed to be starting our very own dairy goat herd this spring just as we have been wishing too! Thanks to the incredible generosity of my sister and brother in law, Chriss & Mitch Dunham for donating the money we needed to buy a pedigreed doeling, plus two playmates for her to get us started off right in our dream of having our own sustainable farm fresh raw dairy! So far the plan is that we’ll get to bring them home by this coming weekend! Holy Smokes! Also a big thanks to the Mathiot’s, for being so kind and generous in sharing their time and experience showing me the ropes of goat care, and even taught me how to milk a goat! So I’ll be ready when MilkyWay is ๐Ÿ™‚

2015-02-19 MilkyWay front

F21 Mathiot’s Paradise A Milkyway

ย ย ย  Sire: Mathiot’s Paradise LS Armani

ย ย ย ย  Dam: SG RHV CTO Peppermint Patty 7*M

 

http://www.mathiotsparadise.com/

 

 

Thoughts & Confirmation on Fermented Chicken Feed: Eggs don’t lie

We’ve been experiencing single digit weather for the past few weeks now, which has made feeding wet fermented feed very challenging as it seems to flash freeze as we put it out for the poultry. So for the last week or so we have stopped fermenting it, and just kept the feeders full of their non-gmo dry feed. Now I am noticing a drastic difference in egg quality, the yolks have lost their luster they are no longer the vivid orange I’ve grown accustomed to. So, in light of this confirming result, I am back at fermenting their feed. I’ll just make sure and put it in a tub so I can bring it inside to thaw if need be. I prefer to throw it on the ground to encourage scratching and pecking, but don’t like how it freezes to the ground and becomes hard for the birds to eat it. I am totally convinced that fermenting it improves the poultry’s ability to digest and absorb more nutrition from the same feed. For 37 chickens I take a bucket, put in 11 cups of dry non-gmo feed, plus 8 cups of non-gmo scratch, then I pour in fresh water, mixing it in making sure it all gets wet, then I put in an extra bit of water till the water is about 1 inch above the top of the feed. Then I pour in a few tablespoons of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and mix that in. Then I let this sit out on our counter overnight. In the morning I bring it down and feed the chickens with it, then refill it right after, letting it ferment for 24 hours, this practice more than triples the weight of the feed and breaks down the anti-nutrients naturally present in the feed making it easier to digest, they get more nutrients out of it, and consume less feed.

Quarantine Poultry Coop & Pen

I nabbed this post off of my husband’s facebook page, as he says it so well.

So as I mentioned the other day we came across a deal that was to good to pass up, ten young hens and a pair of young Royal Palm turkeys for $65. So we had to jump on it! The problem was the price was all I had in available cash and as you may know you can’t just dump new poultry with your existing flock, you must have a quarantine coop and run and of course I have not set that up yet. To get the deal we had to pick up the birds today as the person we got them from is moving today and could not take them with her.

So Tuesday, Gage and I ran into town and loaded as many free pallets as we could fit in the van and trailer. Sadly, by the time I got home and ready to work I only had about an hours worth of daylight and didn’t get much done. So today, Jamie and I got right on the job this morning in hopes to complete the job before the lady called and said we HAD to come NOW, sadly, we did not. Luckily we have a couple of large cages made for large dogs that we were able to transport and keep them in while we finished the coop. Then it started raining…dabnabit!

We went and picked up the birds and went back home and jumped right back on the project. We mostly completed the coop…at least got it secure enough to put the birds in tonight just as it was getting dark (I sure miss summer daylight hours!). We had to tarp the roof until we can get some metal to finish it off and tomorrow we will fence in the new run area. Here’s some pics of what we did today. I’m so lucky I have such a great partner like Jamie, today would have been a pure failure for me without her.

Now, we just have to put sheet metal on the roof to finish it, and a few more final touches to the run. Eventually we want to enclose the run like we did to the other coop, and then create a bigger pen for them to come out into during the day. I had to clip the turkey’s wings today too as the male tried to fly out, lol!

Rabbit Stew Recipe (So Good!)

My first Rabbit Stew was incredible! The kids were begging to have the left-overs for lunch today ๐Ÿ™‚

One 3.75 lb rabbit made a stew that will feed us 3 times, I was able to store 2 meals worth of stew in the freezer for future dinners after eating a big helping the first night.

Recipe: I started first thing in the morning, took my big stock pot, put the dressed rabbit (bones and fat intact) in the stock pot, filled the pot with water and 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar, and one coarsely chopped medium red onion and about 10 cloves of garlic, chopped and smashed. I put the flame on med-high till it began to boil, stirring occasionally. Then I turned the heat down to low and let it slow cook all day, half the day with the cover on. By early evening (around 4pm) the meat was falling off the bones nice and easy, so I picked out all the bones, added chopped carrots, celery, chopped potatoes, a cup of rice and some noodles. Then I added salt, pepper, turmeric, parsley, a pinch of rosemary and let the noodles and rice finish becoming tender. Then I threw together some from scratch biscuits.

I read many recipes for rabbit stew and all of them called for chicken stock, well I wanted to taste the rabbit, not chicken so I made the stock from the rabbit bones. DELISH! I can officially say, Rabbit Stew is my favorite! Still tastes a lot like chicken, just slightly different. Hard to put a finger on how it’s different, it just is. lol

This time of year homemade soup stock is so healing and great for the immune system, I love homegrown!

 

Here is a picture of the stew I made out of the rabbit soup.

Rabbit Stew & Dumplings

Fodder: Experimenting with Weight

From what I have read about growing fodder, is that it doubles if not quadruples in weight upon sprouting for 7-10 days. So I decided to do an experiment.

I took 1 cup of wheat berries and weighed them, then again after soaking 24 hours, then again each day, up to day 5. I didn’t go past day 5 because the sprouts draw flies, so I moved the experiment outside rather than the counter inside. This climate change seemed to adversely affect the sprouts, so I’ll have to start over again and try to make it to at least 7 days.

Here is the info I collected over the 5 days.

1 cup of dry/dormant wheat seed = 7.5 oz or 0.46 lbs

Sprouting day 1, After 24 hour soak = 12.02 oz or 0.76 lbs

Sprouting day 2 = 12.7 oz or 0.79 lbs

Sprouting day 3 = 13.8 oz or 0.86 lbs

Sprouting day 4 = 16.2 oz or 1.0125 lbs

Sprouting day 5 = 14.7 oz or 0.918 lbs

So the mat of wheat berries lost a little weight on day 5, but I hadn’t watered it yet, so that may have made a difference. Plus I don’t think the wheat liked the container I had it in. I will update this post after I have more data.

 

 

Rabbits for sale! British Spot/French Angora

http://rockyhollowrabbitry.wordpress.com/for-sale/

We have 7 โ€“ 4 week old beautiful British Spot/French Angora mixes. 3 does, 4 bucks. 3 of the bucks have angora fur, so are priced at $10, while their shorthair siblings are going for $8.

Please visit the link to see pictures of these little beauties โค

New Bunnies & Building the Free Range Chicken Pen

Here we have the 14 new additions to our herd of rabbits. Our beloved Penelope (British Spot/French Angora) & Violet (New Zealand White) gave birth to 7 healthy kits each earlier this month.

IMG_4843 (800x600) IMG_4844 (800x600)

 

Below you’ll see our newly built chicken pen. The flock was doing SO much damage in our gardens, we just can’t let them run wherever they want, as they tear up everything! So our friend up the road sold us his old fencing he was using for a cow he had. We gave them over 600 more cubic feet of space to forage, scratch and peck.

 

Here are some pictures of the damage the chickens wreaked in our gardens…. Tim just recently harvested a bunch of rabbit and chicken manure and built up the beds in the orchard and around the hugelkultur grey water beds… so aggravating how the chickens ruined all of it in just a couple of days!