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 ❀

 

 

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. πŸ™‚

We used 45 free pallets to build the walls of the barn and stall. We used free 4”x12”s for the floor, and big free 8×8’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! I’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 – Setting the posts for the floor. 2016-03-06 – we put up the framing… this was SO HARD, as these timbers were very heavy, awkward and hard to get nails or screws through.

 


Day 2 – 2016-03-09 – 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 – 2016-03-10 – We ran out of nails before we could get all of them done, so here we are, nailing some more.


Day 4 – 2016-03-11 – Pallet prep day… ugh, this was tedious, and hurt Tim’s back, but he got it done! More than 40 pallets, made uniform for the walls.


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


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


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


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


Day 8 – 2016-03-19 –Β  Started putting up the pen.

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Day 9 – 2016-03-20 – Framing the roof.


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


Day 11 – 2016-03-23 – Roof on, siding up, stall functional.


Day 12 – 2016-03-29 – Paint

 

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

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.

 

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 pensΒ  in several locations. We hope to convert our entire rabbitry to colonies… this is where it starts.

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 πŸ™‚

2015-02-19 MilkyWay front

F21 Mathiot’s Paradise A Milkyway

Β Β Β  Sire: Mathiot’s Paradise LS Armani

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

 

http://www.mathiotsparadise.com/

 

 

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 πŸ˜€

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!

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!

Contouring the South Facing Slope

It’s that time of year, when it’s finally cool enough weather to get out on the hillside and clean it up. Tim made an “A-frame” contour tool and started laying out the contours to build our hugelkultur terrace swales on our newly cleared south facing slope. It’s funny, we’ve been dreading actually getting this hillside cleaned up. When you walk out there and look around it just looks like an insurmountable mess… but now that we have the first arch getting pretty tidy, the contouring is getting rather addictive…

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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!

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 πŸ™‚

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.

 

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Rocket Stove Mass Heater: Fire Food Pile

We are getting prepared for the winter, Tim is amazing at how much wood he can chop in one day. See the tire in the second picture, he loads that up with rounds and chops away with is axe and the logs stay put. Much easier than the old put a chunk of wood on top of another chunk of wood, and have to keep putting back with each chop.

*UPDATE* 2014-10-22

Tim finished chopping wood and we have us quite a pile! We even went and salvaged a bunch of trim boards in a friend’s burn pile to break up into kindling. We think we have over a cord of wood here ready for winter. The pile is the right dimensions to qualify as a cord, but I think we have more than a cord here, as Tim cut the wood MUCH smaller than most cords are cut in order to fit into the RMH feed tube, so there is much less airspace in our pile. Praying this will last through the winter. As going out and cutting wood with snow on the ground SAWKS! lol

 

Making water crocks for the rabbitry

So we spent close to $50 buying up those bunny water bottles from walmart (so far we got 13 of them at $3.69 a pop) in preparation for winter. Our plan has been that we will buy two for each hole, so we have one bottle thawing in the warm house while they have one to drink till it freezes up, and we change it out twice a day, morning and night. We have been reorganizing the rabbitry and decided to start using some of the water bottles now. Good thing too, because MOST of them don’t frikken work! Some leak like mad, and worse some of them are nearly impossible for the rabbit to get a drink from! UGH! So now we want to turn to crocks, as we don’t trust these bottles. Crocks are little heavy ceramic dishes that the buns can’t tip over and something we can easily tip the ice out of when it freezes in winter. Well, those are expensive, and we spent way too much on the stupid water bottles already. Tim and I have been in brainstorm mode to try and figure a way through this predicament. Well I think we’ve found it. This is much cheaper than buying individual crocks for 20 holes, as each crock is close to $5 a piece new. We were at… yes you guessed it, walmart and found these little metal dishes for cats for just under a buck a piece. The rabbits would definitely tip these with ease, but with a base made of concrete mortar! HA-HA!

Fodder: Day 5

Fodder Day 5I’ve been reading several different blogs on Fodder today and see that many homesteaders are getting off pellets and store bought feeds all together and feeding 90% fodder, and the remaining 10% consisting of hay, black oil sunflower seeds and a salt lick. I am inspired to also make this transition, as it will greatly lessen our feed costs for our rabbit herd and our flock of chickens. Chickens can be raised on fodder, grit and calcium like oyster shells. For the chickens I’ve begun fermenting their regular crumble feed, as I’ve been reading that this makes more nutrients available to digest and improves the health and egg laying ability of the flock.