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!

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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 ❤

 

 

Gram’s Garden: Raised Beds using Tires 2

https://earthenstewards.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/grams-garden-raised-beds-using-tractor-tires/

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.

 

Gram’s Garden: Raised Beds using Tractor Tires

Here is our progress on Gram’s Garden so far. We have some time yet to finish filling the bed with our constant flow of rabbit manure, goat manure and compost before the weather is ripe for planting.

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!

Cold Frame Cluster

So last fall I told Timmy that I wanted a cold frame, at the time we didn’t have the materials to do so… lately the materials seem to be magnetized to us so he built me 4 😀

Just wow!

Just wow!

Here is Timmy rounding the edges of the bordering logs... I just love how my man wields his chainsaw while shmokin his pipe :)

Here is Timmy rounding the edges of the bordering logs… I just love how my man wields his chainsaw while shmokin his pipe 🙂

Our neighbors let us have some old sliding door windows a few weeks ago, which motivated Tim into building the cold frames.  The log border is just beautiful.

Our neighbors let us have some old sliding door windows a few weeks ago, which motivated Tim into building the cold frames.
The log border is just beautiful.

Tim has outdone himself, this bed has evolved into such an amazing garden bed! I can’t wait to see these working this next winter giving us abundant greens during the coldest months of the year 🙂

This Spring we plan to use them as hotbeds to grow some seedlings.

Update*

The bed is pretty much finished now, we have it all ready to go. Now we just need to get some horse manure to put in the cold frames to use them as hotbeds this Spring for seedlings, and plant a whole bunch of strawberry plants around the cold frames. Yay!

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.

 

 

Our $11 Greenhouse from start to finish

Ecstatic! Tim built me a little greenhouse to grow fodder in, and of course so we can get ahead in Springtime planting. It’s so cute! We put this together with mostly free material that we scavenged or that others gave us, the only thing we had to buy was mortar and screws.

Fodder: Refining my system – Update

Continuing to learn and change things. Using the screen trays is a no-go. The little rootlets get stuck and make it a nightmare to harvest. So I’m switching to my solid bottom trays. Still hoping to get a sprouting room up and running before winter hits.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Fodder: Refining my system… I need shelves and a sprout room

Free Ranging Chickens & fermenting their feed

Recently we’ve finally been able to let the chickens free range. They are all laying in their nest boxes, and have been for a month or so, so out they go! They love foraging, and picking through the manure under the rabbit cages, so many worms in there. This should also help with feed costs, not to mention they are getting greater diversity in their diet 🙂

Since we are on the subject of diet, I have recently began supplementing their food by fermenting a good deal of it. This has huge health benefits for them, and can save us tons on the feed bill.

Will write more about it after I get us fed.

 

IMG_4827web

Fodder: Making the most out of our grains

Fodder

I have been reading a lot about Fodder, and the benefits of sprouting grains for feeding animals. Some of them being sprouting makes more nutrients, enzymes and vitamins bio-available, it increases protein, fiber and lots of goodness within the grain that are inhibited by anti-nutrients prior to being sprouted,  improving digestion and immunity. Then there is the fact that you can turn 1 lbs of grains into 4 lbs of feed by sprouting for 7-10 days saving costs on feed. All great reasons to grow fodder for my herd. Last winter I sprouted some wheat seeds for our pet rabbit, Brownee.

Fodder 2013

 

I didn’t know what I was doing last winter, as you can see I put some potting soil in some container lids to sprout the grains, and then cut the grass every day or so. All spring, summer and fall the kids and I would go out foraging for her, picking her plantains, grasses, and other herbs from the forest and off the side of our small country road. I had been sprouting these wheat berries for the kids, they love them, and once or twice I let them go a day or so too long and the sprouts became grass and so slightly less sweet and more bitter, I thought “hey I could give those to the rabbit for some homemade forage treats”. She loved them, I kept them going for a few weeks, just trimming them every couple days and giving her the grass. Until the grass started showing signs of not doing well, then I just gave her the dishes and let her tear them apart. Now that we have a whole herd of rabbits (30+ in our herd) and I have read a few things about fodder I plan to have this as an ongoing thing for my herd.

Early Fall Forage

A beautiful early fall day, I went to harvest pawpaws but found none. Not even a squished one fallen from the tree. I even shook each pawpaw tree in hopes one would fall from the branches. Better luck next year… and I’m having Timmy plant me a few pawpaw trees up closer this Spring by golly! It was a lovely walk anyway, I always enjoy walking through the wild Ozark forest this time of year. So many fungi, autumn colors starting to show, and apparently turtle love! hehehe!

I am very happy with the fungi I found. The Bearded Tooth is supposed to have a mild sea food flavor. Looking forward to tasting it. Then my prize, the Reishi, so happy to have these fruiting wild on our land!

Rocky Hollow Rabbitry: Growth & Plans

We are growing!

Tim has added a new structure downslope from our original rabbitry structure, but it is twice as big. Each of the 3 equal sections of both buildings holds up to 8 cages. We have 2 of the 3 sections filled with cages, so we just need to get the wire and other materials to build the remaining 8 cages and we will be finished with construction on our rabbitry. Once finished that will be 24 rabbit cages. Weee-doggies! Haha!

Due to recent health issues with our New Zealand Whites (see the “snuffles post”), we have decided to buy some crossbred Californian/New Zealand Whites from a trusted breeder to add to our herd, as we have read that the crossbreed rabbits tend to have better immune systems then the purebreds.

I also added a couple pictures of our coop progress, the comfrey is coming in nicely, the rainbarrel system works great, and we are now getting on average 22 eggs per day from our ladies.

Rocky Hollow Pallet Chicken Coop

 

UPDATE! We are almost ready, with just over a week to go. We go to the SWAP to pick up our chickens on June 5th.

IMG_3895 (800x600)

 

Getting this one up, pallets are fun to build with.

Where we left off today, we stacked rocks around the back and sides where there was any gaps between the bottom of the skids and the ground. Then in a spot in the back where the water would run down the hill, and would end up running under the coop we piled up a bunch of clay, dirt and some rocks to divert water around the side of the structure.

2014-04-18 Progress as of yesterday afternoon, Timmy has put on another siding panel since then.

Updated: Rocky Hallow Rabbitry: The Humble Beginning

Today we put together our first cage for our rabbitry. We plan to breed and raise rabbits for food, and as compost/soil creators. We plan to build one more cage identical to this one for the does, and then two more a bit smaller for the bucks. I love our family projects!

*Update* 2014-04-02

Here is our progress on the rabbitry so far. We only have to make 2 more cages, and then make the watering system and install it.

The next 4 images are of 2014-03-22’s progress:

The next 7 images were taken of our progress on 2014-03-30, we got the beams up, siding and part of the roof done.

Here are more images taken 2014-03-31. We finished the roof on the rabbitry, and hung some of the cages.

And as of 2014-04-08 this is our progress, we have to install the “poop diverter”, and then the watering system, then get us some rabbits!

rabbitry

And as of today 2014-04-16 we have finished installing the watering system, and are ready now for rabbits. In fact Tim is one the phone with the gentleman we will be buying our rabbits from. Probably next Wednesday! SO EXCITED!

2014-04-17: The Rabbits are here! We spent most of the day at the awesome home of Hilltop Acres, and got to tour the grounds and see all their critters. Beautiful place, and such nice people! We came home with 3 does we named, Stellaria, Tara and, Violet. And our ginormous kind buck named Tago.  We named our rabbits after our favorite herbs that rabbits also like to eat. As I said, the buck’s name is Tago, after one of our families favorite wild herbs Plantain(Plantago spp.). Plantain is easy to find along roadsides, well trodden paths and in lawns. It’s great to use as a poultice for bug bites and stings, and is very nutritious, our rabbit, Brownie always eats Plantain leaves first when we forage for her. One of the does will be named Stellaria, for another family favorite herb Chickweed(Stellaria media). Chickweed grows to be long, juicy and succulent when growing near the base of rotting wood, it has beautiful tiny white flowers. It is delicious in salads or right off the plant. Its great for a poultice for scrapes and cuts, and is also very nutritious. Another doe will be named Violet(Viola odorata), violets grow in shady places, and the more of the delicious flowers you pick the more the plant will produce. They taste sweet and salty, and have a gentle green bean flavor. Violets are very nutritious and are great made into teas and infusions, they are a natural anti-inflammatory and makes a great immunity aid with many other benefits. Our last doe will be named Tara for my favorite Dandelion(Taraxacum officinale). The healing properties of Dandelion are legendary! Very nutritious, the whole plant is edible and medicinal. The flowers can be made into a tea, or vinegar, or even cookies! While the greens are very good as salad greens, or dried for later use in soups. The roots are highly potent healers and are known to be a great coffee replacer. The stems when broken emit a white bubbly ooze that is a healing substance when applied topically to scraps, cuts, warts, moles or bites. Well, with out any further adue here they are! Our Breeding stock!

Our Orchard Begins

We are so proud and excited about our progress toward sustainable farming, and here is a glimpse into what our Orchards will become! A Rainbow of Nutrition for Vibrant Golden Health! ❤ HOORAH!

Mullein Magik!

I’m officially in love with Mullein! I’ve been reading about it for months, and was blessed with finding a few plants here and there. Our friend from down the road, Christel had one growing in her yard and pulled the whole thing roots and all and gave it to me. So thankful for such generous neighbors!

Yesterday on our way out to Osage Beach (to pick up items needed to complete our grey water system), I saw so many Mullein plants and expressed a wish to Tim to let me pick some on the way home. Well, I found a patch on the way home of HUGE Mullein plants and pulled 3 of them out by their roots and brought them home. I feel SO BLESSED! Now it’s time to dry all my treasures and prepare them to be made into salves, oils, tinctures, vinegars and infusions! 

beautiful first year rosette of the sacred, beloved Mullein Plant!

 

http://www.naturalnews.com/033990_mullein_medicinal_herbs.html

http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html

http://www.makeitmissoula.com/2011/08/mullein-heals-the-earth/

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-mullein-verbascum-thapsus.aspx#axzz2VMGjN9QB

Boys Gone Fishin’ – Girls Day Foraging

Lovely day 🙂 The boys are out fishing so it’s just us girls at our cozy trailer this cool rainy day.. holy moley, it’s QUIET here! lol! The girls and I went for a walk around the RV park and did a bit of foraging. We found a bunch of Spring Plantain greens… we walked nice and slow as I was hoping to spot a Morel. My goodness I am obsessed with Morels! I can’t just have one, now my body craves them full time! Morels, lead me to you!!! ❤ I sure hope the boys catch a bunch of Crappies, so we can have a uber nummy fish fry dinner!

Tomorrow we are moving our travel trailer onto the land! We are so excited to be finally living on our beautiful land, the place Tim and I will live till we croak, and we plan to be buried there 🙂

I LOVE my life!