A Sad Day

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Sad news. A little while ago, Remus escaped and we’ve been unable to find him. I first noticed early in the morning when I went to feed them, and only Vanilla came out to greet me.

Some of the fencing in the back was ripped down, by what was probably a bear. I actually haven’t seen any bears on the property since we started keeping goats, so I thought perhaps the sound of the goats were keeping them away, but I guess not.

That morning, I took a walk around looking for Remus, and kept a bale of hay outside to try and lure him back, but still no sign of him. We called animal control in case he’s spotted, but our property borders a large state park, so he probably would have wandered into the deep woods.

It is odd though, because Remus is our little escape artist and usually gets out on about a monthly basis. Typically whenever he escapes he likes to come to our front porch and try to get into the house, but I guess this time since he was scared, he just ran off into the woods and couldn’t find a way back.

Vanilla has been taking it well, I think she’s still waiting for him to come back. I checked the nearby Barnyard Animal Sanctuary about adopting a goat to keep her company, but all the goats they have available have horns, which seems like it might be unsafe around my curious toddler.

I’m also not sure I want to put down big money on a dairy goat, which seems to be the only ones I really see for sale. Since Vanilla seems okay for now, I think I might wait until I see some de-horned goats for adoption.

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How To Keep Goats Out Of Your Chicken Feed

When we first got our chickens a few months ago, we were so excited. But after a while we noticed we weren’t getting nearly as much eggs as you would expect from seven chickens. We were getting just over a dozen a week. In the beginning I thought that maybe the stress of being moved temporarily affected their laying, until I caught Remus eating up all of their feed. So began our months long journey to set up a chicken feeding system that the goats wouldn’t be able to get into.

First we set up a chicken feeder made up of 4 inch pvc pipe, thinking the the opening would be too narrow for the goats to fit their mouths into.. wrong! So after seeing the goats ability to get into the feeder, we just kept it closed during the day and open it at night when it was time to lock them into the coop. But since it was right before bed, I feared they weren’t getting enough food.

So step two, I removed the 4 inch pvc pipe and replaced it with a 3 inch pvc pipe, the smallest they had at Home Depot.

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Unfortunately 3 inches still didn’t cut it.

At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. No matter what I did, the goats could gobble up their food way faster than the chickens could.

Then I realized I could utilize the chicken run that Matt started building last year and never finished. It was just a wood frame, but I put the feeder inside the run and covered the run in wire. I cut a couple of 5 in x 9 in holes which I figured would be just big enough for the chickens to fit through.

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Except, Remus, ever the escape artist managed to fit through the tiny holes.

At this point, I wasn’t sure that there was any hole big enough for a chicken but too small for a goat! I tried a slightly smaller hole at 5 in x 8 in and that seemed to do the trick. Remus was able stick his head through pretty far, but not able to completely climb in like before.

Now the chickens have access to their feed more consistently and we’re getting about 6 eggs a day. Unfortunately I have caught feral cats eating their feed, but there’s nothing I could do to keep cats out, and at least they’re not going after the chickens!

 

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 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!