Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More updates!

Plum tree confusion - it's spring, right?? It sure feels like spring.

We've had a couple of spring-like days lately (following an unusually warm winter), so it's forcing us to kind of take stock of where we are and where we plan to go this year. Since my last major update post, we've made some small progress.

We cross-fenced our goat area and moved the goats to the non-muddy side for the winter. Then we reseeded the other side. The warm weather and sun over the past week has finally sprouted the grass and with any luck, it'll keep growing even though winter weather has kind of returned. This new cross fencing basically puts the goat shed on the dividing line between each area, so that when it's time to switch, we just move one cattle panel and the shed will now be accessable from the other side. We also added an overhang to the goat shed. We wanted to do something more permanent, but considering that we are still planning on building a barn, we opted for a quick fix. My husband sunk two 4x4 posts in front of the shed and then we extended a tarp between them and the front of the shed above the door/opening. This gives the goats a little more protection from rain besides just hanging out inside the shed. I'll take pictures this weekend.

Speaking of sheds and a new barn - we've formed a plan. We purchased plans for a saltbox type shed from a book we bought and we are going to build it this spring. This new shed will then house our gardening supplies that are currently in the rundown shed that came with the property. Once we can move everything over, we will shore up the old shed to be housing for meat chickens (assuming we can get all this done in time). This works out really well because the old shed is smack in the middle of our 'orchard' which is great place to range meat birds. Additionally, building this shed from plans by ourselves will give us the practice we need because our ultimate goal is to build our own barn. So far, we haven't found the perfect barn design yet (it needs to be small but versitile), but we have time. We are also talking about how to set up a mini solar PV system (complete with batteries and an inverter) to power the shed/greenhouse and again, as practice so that we can do our own work to power the house one day (or, to at least speak with some experience when we hire someone).

On the animal front: we do plan on raising meat birds eventually. Additionally, we are now raising 5 more laying chickens - any cockrels of which will be meat as well - for eggs. We are painting the new chicken coop (we needed more space) and I will have pictures of that to share this weekend. We are also currently without goat milk. We dried off Sass late this past fall and we did not breed her. When she finally went into estreus when we were around to observe it, we were too late. The local family who had the buck we used last time had already sold him! In some ways, I think this was probably not a bad thing for us. We've been debating switching to a smaller breed (Nigerian Dwarf) goat and this might be our opportunity. I don't know what we'll do with Sass. I know of a couple of local farmers that might be interested in her, so that's a possiblity. We also might just keep her around - we've gotten kind of attached to her. We'll see. It is clear that our property really is better suited to the little goats, particularly if we hope to one day be fully self-sustaining.

Lastly, I received a new camera for my birthday! I'm so excited because I was really getting tired of fighting with my old point and shoot to get even passable photos for this blog. The new one is great - totally automatic or totally manual with tons of options. It's weakness is low light conditions but it does have an on-board flash. It also has a decent video capability, so I will try to capture short clips for the blog when appropriate. I finally got a good sized memory card on order because I'm dying to capture Maggie and Cooper 'fighting' together - it's great fun to watch!

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