Spring Up!

Winter sure went by quickly! There seemed to be so much to get done before spring, but not enough time.
I started seeds for my vegetable garden (fingers crossed).

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I set up raised beds against the house for an herb garden using wood pallets.

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We planted three fruit trees (apple, plum, and peach), but it’ll probably be at least a few years before they bear fruit.

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We unfortunately lost two goats (Ellie and Romulus) and gained a cashmere goat named Vanilla.

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And we finished up the chicken coop, and bought nine chickens (but lost 2).

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The Care and Feeding of Goats

So now that we’re taking care of three wonderful goats, the most immediate question is how much should we feed them? Their previous home didn’t include much pasture for them to graze one and the owners told us they fed them about a cup of grain and one section of hay each day. I was initially surprised, because it didn’t seem like a lot of food for three dwarf goats, but after doing some research, I found out their’s not much consensus on what and how much to feed goats.

What I came away with is that they shouldn’t receive much grain (which is why they’re only given a cup among the three of them). It seems like grain is more of a junk food for them, so I’ve currently cut down how much grain they get, since they have so much pasture to graze on, and I’ll go back to giving them one cup in the winter, when they’ll  have less weeds to eat.

From my google research it seems hay is a bit more controversial. Some sites said if they’re grazing, they only need hay if you’re milking them, but others said they give them as much hay as they want to eat.

Right now it’s fall and they while they don’t have as much of a variety to graze on, I have been using the cooler temps to do some weeding.

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That’s right, they’ve been getting about four of these a week. And they seem to love it!

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Still, since winter is fast approaching, I’m going to continue feeding them the same amount of hay and see how they do in the spring.

Meet Our New Goats, Ellie, Romulus, and Remus!

After doing about a months worth of research on buying goat sheds, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to build my shed. Unlike chicken coops, there doesn’t seem to be any cheap and used goat sheds on Craig’s List and to buy a new one was way out our price range.

So the plan was to start building my goat shed towards the end of the fall, when there would be less weeds in the enclosure. That was when I saw a posting on our local 4-H Facebook page listing a few goats up for adoption with the shed and other goat supplies included. Well that was way too good a deal for me to pass up!  Now, we’re the proud owner of three goats, Ellie, Romulus, and Remus.

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Ellie is the ripe old age of 13, but Romulus and Remus are fairly young at 3 years old. I definitely want to buy some Nigerian Dwarf goats for the purpose of milking, but I’ll probably wait until spring or so.

The best part of having goats is how much my daughter loves them. She can’t get enough of feeding them. And they’re so mild-mannered they make perfect companions for a rambunctious toddler!

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How To Find the Right Chicken Coop While On a Budget

Since we’ve moved into the house, I’ve been pretty anxious to get my farm life started. Matt and I decided it would be easiest to start off with getting some chickens, so I’ve spent the past few weeks researching and pricing coops like crazy.

Whenever I want to buy anything, I usually start off with Amazon. They had some fairly cheap coops at around $250 or so, but once I started to read the comments, I realized they were all cheap for a reason. This was pretty much the case for any affordable pre-fabricated chicken coop I looked up.

According to various message boards, a handmade coops seem to be the way to go. Except we can’t really afford one of those sturdy looking Amish coops that go for around $1,000. We found some pretty good used ones on Craig’s List, at good prices, but since we don’t have a truck to transport them, that caused a whole other set of problems.

We were referred to this Amish guy, who I was told makes really good coops and his pricing is half the cost you would see them at the store and even better, he would deliver to our area (for a large fee).

I was pretty excited about finally getting a good, quality, coop, but I still wasn’t too thrilled at the price. I tried to convince Matt that I could build one myself, but he didn’t seem too confident in my skills.

Eventually I came across a used shed on Craig’s List that was previously used for chickens. It was going for just a few hundred and even better he would deliver to us for free!

IMG_0286It didn’t come with a roost or nest boxes, but it’s big enough to fit around 15 or so chickens (just in case I get chicken crazy). It still need’s a lot of work and isn’t chicken ready yet, but I think it was a pretty good deal for the price.

IMG_0287It needs a new floor, we’re planning to use some cheap Linoleum so it’s easy to clean and we won’t have to worry about the wood rotting.

IMG_0289There’s also some gaps that need to be covered to prevent predators from marching in. Matt also wants to paint it and give it a new roof. But all in all, he seems confident that we’ll be ready to get some chickens by next weekend. Yay!

Adventures in Fermentation

I love garlic… A lot. So, a few months ago, when I came across a recipe for fermenting garlic, I was all over it.

Following the recipe, I used a regular canning jar (metal lid). Except a few days after the garlic had been sitting on my counter for a few days, I did some extra research on fermenting vegetables. (cue dramatic music)

Using anything other than an air-locked lid can be dangerous as it allows the wrong types of bacteria to flourish. Good to know for next time, but not so great for the current batch. Now I’m paranoid of getting sick, but not enough to scrap a whole jar of garlic and start from scratch! I mean Learning and Yearning manged not to get botulism right?

Well the recipe suggested leaving it on the counter for two weeks and then moving it to the refrigerator. I ended up leaving it on the counter for three weeks, since I kind of forgot about it. I came home one day to the whole house smelling of garlic and in the fridge it went.

So the garlic should be ready and fully fermented after about a month in fridge, but I figured I’d leave it until I had the time and energy to do something with it. Well that was in April, so yesterday I decided now was the time to open it up and give it a taste.

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Easier said than done! Neither me nor Matt could do anything to get the lid off. I punctured a hole in the top, hoping to relieve the pressure. All the brine fizzed out, but the lid was still stuck in place! After about an hour of prying, I managed to get the rusted lid off, but was now more concerned than ever about the safety of eating this garlic.

I gave it some thought and figured I can honestly say I’ve eaten more suspicious stuff while backpacking, so I decided to dive right in! And It tasted really good! Like a garlicky pickle almost. And I can’t wait to throw them in my salad tonight.

Matt, being ever cautious, won’t even try one until after 24 hours to make sure I don’t get sick. Well it’s close to a full day and I’m feeling pretty normal so fingers crossed.

How to Prepare for Pet Chickens

Over the weekend, Matt was kind enough to do some weed whacking in our future chicken enclosure. The goal was to get enough weeds to be able to check that the fence was intact on all sides of the enclosure and to also make room for us to set up the coop.

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It might be a bit hard to tell, but there was definite progress! He wasn’t able to check the fence all around, but I’m pretty confident that it’s all intact. The only problem is a gap in the chicken wire by the entrance gate, which is something that can easily be fixed.

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And good news, under all those weeds, we found what could be used as a goat shed!

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It’s really small, but I think it might be just enough room for two Nigerian Dwarf goats for now. It’ll need a lot of work before we actually get a goat, but it’s definitely better than having to build one from scratch!