Homesteading

Heaven on Earth

I have wanted goats for oh, at least 5-6 years. Problem #1 – no experience with them. Problem #2 – No place to put them.

Well, we came to a point building our house where we had to step away for a while. So needing to get out of the travel trailer, found a house in the country to rent for a while. The land is beautiful. And plenty of pasture!

So Michael and I start talking about wanting goats again. We start poring over Craigslist looking at them. Deciding what breed, how many etc. You know the planning stage.

We decide 3 or 4 goats will be great. I want something small, because they are so cute and that’s how I pick most of my animals, they have to reach at least a 9 on the cute-o-meter. So we go with Nigerian Dwarfs.

I find a lady who is leaving the country for a while and needs to sell her small herd. We agree that we will take 6 (already the power of chicken math has moved over to the goat arena, somehow always coming home with more than intended LOL). We set the date to get them. Well I get a call that they need to get rid of them a week earlier….. uhhhh, we have no fence up yet! So the hubby and I and a couple of really amazing friends, put up a fence within 5 hours, still finishing it up as the goats are arriving! A little stressful… but them I saw these sweet faces! Not 6, but 8 of them! Including a baby!

This is Twinkletoe – she’s the only mix, Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf.  She is the biggest and also the nosiest!

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Here are two of the males, Floppy and Brad.  Brad is in retirement. But hopefully Floppy will be ready to be a daddy in the spring.

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Mr. Mischievious – he lives up to his name.  Also in retirement.  He is very gentle too though.

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I’ll have to get pictures of all the rest later.  I have learned how to milk them, and on my to do list is learning to make feta cheese and goat milk soap. So if anyone has a fabulous recipe they want to share or do’s/don’t’s they learned the hard way, please feel free to share! I’m a willing student!

On a sad note, during the move we lost all but one of our chickens 😦 Lucy, the Rhode Island Red survived, as did Lola the Turkey.  But the rest all had heat strokes or heart attacks.  I guess it’s from chasing them in 100 degree temps and then transporting them in the August heat. So to replace them we got these 12 Frizzle/Silkie mix chicks!  They are a 10 on the cute-o-meter with their bad hair day feathers!  So cute!

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We are REALLY on the path to farming and homesteading now…. if I can just figure out how to get the guys to drink the goat milk!

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Homesteading

Chicken Coop from Recycled Fencing

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So back in April I was ready to get back in the chicken business.  I had raised as many as 35 laying hens at one time over the past few years, but due to living in “town” at the time, my chicken dream had to be put on hold.  Moving out to the country we now have the space for lots of things and knowing how easy maintenance chickens are, not to mention the delicious flavor of the fresh eggs, my husband set to work making my wishes come true.

Now in the past I had built a precious little coop, having no knowledge of building anything, a limited college experience of using power tools. In fact my coop was at the beginning of the urban chicken craze and the local womens magazine even featured my coop in an issue!  I tell my husband (I built the coop pre-Michael) that I built it “girl style” – Oh this board is 8ft? Then this wall will be 8ft. It didn’t have a floor, it had a screen door because that was easy to attach hinges too. Nothing fancy. But it WAS turquoise and it DID have a chandelier inside for my chickens.  And it kept the critters out.

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Fast forward 4 years later, and my husband knocked my socks off with this adorable little schoolhouse coop, just in time for our chicks to arrive. Now this isn’t the latest picture of it because I decided on the spur of the moment to blog this, but I will get more pictures from the update soon.

This coop was made with almost all recycled materials – old fence posts we had from when we tore down a hot tub fence, old metal roofing we had laying around, old posts from my old coop. We bought a few new 2×4’s, wire and hinges.  That’s about it.

This little cutie has 6 nesting boxes and will easily house 2 turkeys (somehow they still squeeze in) and probably 20 grown hens if we put up more roosting poles.

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Well, we raised 30 birds from baby chicks, including 2 turkeys.  My goal was to let them free range once they got several months old, all their feathers and could take care of themselves. We butchered the 3 Cornish Cross hens (that’s a whole nother post).  Between the hawks, the raccoons and one little chicken-killing-chihuahua/shitzu mix puppy we are now down to 4 hens – 2 Easter Eggers, 1 Cuckoo Maran and 1 Rhode Island Red, and 2 turkeys, Beyonce’ and Lolita.

We ordered more of the Cornish Cross chicks in October because they are seriously the most beautiful chicken meat I’ve ever seen.  I found this great hatchery out of Oregon. They really have the best customer service PLUS they sell chicks year round, which my regular hatchery of choice doesn’t. So Jenks has a new customer for life!

We free range and use feed to supplement with no added hormones or antibiotics.  Just good yard bird.  After losing several of those chicks to the aggressive turkey pecking through the kennel at them, we are down to 13.  Michael decided the babies need their own grow out pen and I can home one day to this little Chicken Condo.

 

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In December we will butcher these babies.  I’ll share the info then.