Goats do not love snow

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In the past week we have gotten over 30 inches of snow from 3 weather systems.

Goats do not love snow and so we need to make sure that they have access to their water, places to run and shelters.

By giving them paths and access outside, this helps to not have waste accumulate in their housing.

Jim used our very large Cub Cadet snowblower to create paths to our various pens and pastures for the ease of the humans. However, inside he created paths making life for the goats so much nicer!

The Guinea Hogs had made their own paths with a little help from a snowblower path part way into their enclosure. As you can see, it is very deep for them.

Goat Kidding

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We have had several births this year, our first full year of raising goats. We have a post about preparing for kidding, but we were hoping we were truly prepared. While our first two mommas gave birth during the night, the last one was a mid day affair, and it turned out to be a very good thing!

sashimi in labor

Sashimi, on the left in labor, is being attended to by her mom and her sister. It was very cool to see how they wanted to keep an eye on her and seemed to be encouraging her in the process. At this point in the deliver, I was not too worried, and feeling pretty relaxed about being a labor and delivery nurse for a goat.

sashimi - baby crowning

When the baby started to come out, we (my bride – Mrs. Blue Barnyard) realized there was a problem. She said the head and hoof were not lined up correctly and she needed to “go in” and fix things. Ok – so now I am not feeling so good about the whole goat nurse thing. I was convinced that nature was cool and would handle it, but she said it was time to glove up and help her out! I held the goat and kept saying nice soothing things to her to calm her down, at least that was my intent.

new baby

After the intervention, things went smoothly and a little beauty was born. Momma took care of her and it was pretty amazing to witness. Later, after speaking with our vet and describing the process, he confirmed that if Jess had not intervened, we would have likely lost the mom and both of her twin babies. I was quite proud of all the research and the cool calm and collected way she handled this.


This photo shows our youngest girl, her new momma and her grandma, all in one picture. It is so neat to see them all care for each other!

baby and roo

Adrienne was the assistant nurse with me, and was helping care for the babies through the process.

Building Goat Enclosures

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20150211_170542When we got our Nigerian Dwarf goats, we had to build a shelter quickly, and they ended up with a small 4×8 shelter that has served us very well. We were able to pick up the house and move it to their larger pasture on the forks of our tractor and despite the moving and shifting, it has worked out very well.

Now however, we have been able to build a larger barn and plan to over winter our goats there, to facilitate the kidding process and simplify chores. We have attached paddock areas for the goats to get outdoor play time complete with climbing toys, but the objective inside the barn was to have separate birthing stalls and a means to contain them while in the barn.

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You can see in these (admittedly messy construction time) photos some of the details we built into the project. The coolest part of this build, it that we used oak board, harvest from our trees we removed to make way for the barn. We used a local sawmill and it was a good feeling to see the full circle for this lumber.

20150919_091501Each of our girls have their own stall, though as often as not they all pile in together. We will be adding stall gates to isolate them for the birthing. We are also planning to remove one of the wall boards to create feeding stanchions to better control what they are eating individually, but right now we manage that with buckets. The hay and straw rack on top is a handy addition that we use for storage as well as feed to keep things contained.

Lessons learned here include the fact that even little goats can climb! Note the photo of our buck on top of the wall. Overall we are happy with the result, but we will be making some updates in the coming months after we get a bit more time in to see what else we can improve.

Pig Cut List

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In a prior post, I referenced the cut list that we were putting together as well as the source of our planning numbers. Please check that out for some background.

Here is a link to our Cut List as a PDF file. This list is for our pigs. At this point, we will ask that you save it to your computer and print it out, fill out your preferences and then email it back to us.

If you do not have a scanner, please feel free to take a photo with a camera phone and send that or simply mail the form back via USPS. In the future, we hope to have this available to fill out online, but for the next couple of cycles, we hope to work out any issues with this more manual approach.



Is it a pet?

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The question “Is this a pet or a farm animal?” was posed to my husband as he sat with our Nigerian Dwarf doe, Sushi last fall.  Why does this question even register as something to consider, exemplifies the learning curve he and I have been on as we began the our small farm.

A pet, is defined as a domestic or tamed animal kept for companionship. Well,  our goats live in a pen or pasture outdoors, we provide for all of their needs and we decided that they are to be treated as a farm animal. According to the online Free Dictionary, a farm animal is any animal kept for profit or use. In fact, the accompanying graphic shows a goat.

We hope to sell their milk, products made from their milk and offspring.

So as my dear farm guy sat with our frightened doe in the waiting room surrounded by large, snorting, drooling pigs on leashes someone else called their pet, he replied, “she’s a farm animal.” The vet suggested that her limp was the result of a strain or simple injury, recommended against intervening and suggested that she would baby it till healed.

Crisis averted. No lame Herd Queen. Phew! So as we proceed with our farming venture, it will be observed that some decisions we make in regards to the health and wellness of our livestock might not mesh with how others treat their animals. I think it might boil down to how they view their farm animals.  Is it a pet or a farm animal? Prior to going this route you have to decide or you can quickly find yourself down the rabbit hole of costly treatments. Yes, Sushi could have received injections in her joint to relieve pain for multiple days. She also could reinjure herself or worsen the condition by not feeling the injury and going about her daily goat activities of frolicking, jumping and head-butting.   As it was, she spent 3 quiet days watching from the sidelines, basking in the afternoon sun in her favorite spot and enjoying extra ear scratches from all of us.

Others peoples’ trash

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We have used many items on our farm in a repurposed fashion. Large spools from a local antennae company for our goats, pallets under sheds to make relocating easier, IBC totes as shelters, spent grain from a brewery to augment our feed for all animals and junk apples off the ground to fatten our pigs. There are many other things that we are doing and using daily that contribute to our goal of sustainability but today my thought is about an event happening soon, we will be sending our pigs to be butchered. A local farm sits empty with a neighbor as the caretaker. The apples in the orchard have not been treated in 16 years. We have benefited from his desire to not mow around apples since he takes them into the bucket of his Kubota and brings them here. My neighbor is in his 80’s and prefers to not sit idly watching life go by. He and his wife of over 60 years came to see our pigs this last week, along with the remaining apples for the season. She had never seen a pig in person. I fed the crisp ones to the alpacas and llama to her amusement.

What a gift these apples have turned out to be. I’ve been brought closer to these lovely folks, shared some typical-to-me experiences with them and gave them some fodder for dinner conversation.

Categories: Animals Pigs