Sunday, December 19

Flickering lights, loose neutral, unbalanced power

I post this in hopes that it's indexed into the interwebs by Google and the like and it might be found by someone else who needs the information.

Over the last several days the power in the house had been flickering when appliances came on.  We had gotten used to the slight momentary dimming when the furnace or the fridge came on.  On Friday it got much worse.  The lights would get dim and really bright, sometimes rapidly for seconds at a time.  At one point it was like the house lights were like a strobe light going dim then bright repeatedly for 10 seconds or so.

I did my best to test and debug.  I did some research on the internet and dreamt of the problem all Friday night (when I actually could sleep).  On Saturday I put a couple other projects to the side so I could concentrate on the power.  I had to run to town to get a new volt meter, the last cheapy I bought stopped working.  I was shutting off various circuits to see if I could isolate if a single appliance was causing the problem.  I shut off the circuits to the water heater, the furnace, the refrigerator, the deep freeze, in various permutations but the problem continued.

I called a friend who has done some electrical work for us recently (that's another story, remember: cable rated for direct burial doesn't mean it's rated for rock), but he couldn't make it until Saturday afternoon.  I went on with other projects having exhausted my knowledge.

When John did arrive, he did his best to test it all out.  We were seeing unbalanced power in the breaker box of the house. We were expecting to see about 125 volts from each phase of the hot wire compared to the neutral, but we were seeing wide and changing ranges.

We moved to the main breaker under the meter on the pole.  We opened it up and saw the neutral lug was literally glowing hot!  We shut the power off immediately, the area around the lug had started to discolor and a mounting screw had welded it self to the fixture.  We let it cool and shut off various circuits in the house and the barn to try and determine what was going on.  During our testing we were seeing that there was 10 volts from the box to the neutral.  You should expect to see no voltage between the box and the neutral.  In laymens terms, the box it self had a charge and could shock you...  not good.

John tested the voltage on each leg of the hot wires and saw that each phase was moving from at lowest 13 volts to 130 plus at the highest.  Also not good.  We consulted with his trade-school electrician teacher and some research I had done on the internet and it pointed to a loose neutral on the power company's side of the equation.

After about 3 hours of waiting in the dark with no heat the on-call line crew of Southwest Electric Co-op showed up and fixed the problem.  They replaced the neutral from meter to the box and tightened everything down.

The lights no longer dim even when a space heater or the furnace is turned on.

Jennifer and I slept so much better last night.

Doc


Doc died Friday.  Words from our friend Carrie describe him and our feelings well:

I found out this morning that Doc, one of the dogs I got to know so well at Harmony Hill, was hit by a car today and killed. 

Anyone who met him could immediately discern a few things about Doc. One, that despite his size, he was still a puppy, and still stupid from it. And two, that he didn't have a mean bone in his body, and that he really, truly, wanted to please you. Even if he couldn't pay attention long enough to make that happen. 

He wasn't a good fit on the farm, because he really didn't listen well, he thought with his nose, and he was constantly getting into stuff, or running off, or chewing up things, or climbing on the bed, or racing circles around the yard. He reminded me of a three-year old boy - of my little brother, when he was small - in that the only time he was ever still was when he was asleep. He drove us up a wall, and got yelled at maybe more often than he strictly deserved, but underneath that he was really growing into a good dog. He would've been a perfect pet for a little kid - he loved kids. 

He liked to chase cars, because they went fast and Doc was sure he could go faster ... and I guess a car finally caught him, today.

Damn. I kept going about my day, making cookies, reading, doing whatever, and then I'd think, "Shit. Doc." And things would get just a little grayer, and my heart would squeeze in my chest, and I'd find myself frowning. 

No matter how I look at it, it just bloody well sucks. 

But I tell myself that his spirit is free now, to chase all the rabbits and foxes and cars he wants, and free to eat chicken eggs to his heart's content with no one to complain about the resulting smells, and free to race the wind, as he so obviously was meant to do.

Rest in peace, Doc-amus. We'll miss you.
Aaron and I put him to rest in the field where he loved to romp and play.

Night night Doc Doc.

Sunday, November 14

Tuesday, September 28

Show line up


This summer flew by.  I have been taking snapshots throughout the summer with the intent on blogging about goings-on but more activities have been going on and cutting into the time and energy that's usually reserved for blogging. I'll be parsing through the photos over the next few days to catch everyone up and to try to get back into a routine of updating this thing.

The photo above was taken at the Ozark Empire Fair.  The three goats on the left are ours and they took 3rd and 4th out of a class of 14, which we were very happy with.  Princess (on the far left) placed 3rd.  I got a laugh when watching the line up because she was the only goat chewing her cud.  For the uninitiated, cud chewing is a sign of contentment and relaxation.  All the other goats were more high strung and stimulated by the strange things going on around them.  Not princess... she just stood there with this non-nonchalant "are we done yet" attitude.  Apparently others noticed this as well as one guy said on the way out she was the only "bomb-proof" doe out there, and tried to buy her.  Jennifer promptly responded there wasn't a check big enough to buy her.  Princess is Jennifer's baby, in fact one of our first bottle babies we ever raised.

At the fair we had a chance to socialize with the other goat breeders and do a bit of networking which was pretty fun.  We met some really great folks.  That being said, we still thought it better to keep an eye out on the goats overnight so I decided to stay at the fair and slept on a cot in the goat/sheep barn.  That was definitely a one of a kind experience for me.  Mostly I remember how hot it was, even late into the night with box fans strategically placed around me.

In other news, we've had another WWOOF volunteer with us for the past few weeks and the next few more.  It's been great having Carrie around and I think we're learning from her as much (if not more) than she is from us.  Carrie is planning a trek cross-country and is taking a break from school where she studied like two dozen subjects she likes to boil down to just "history."  She's extended her original plan to stay with us through part of our kidding season.  We're all excited to see some new arrivals!

Sunday, July 18

Still Kicking

The summer has been a busy one, sorry for the lack of blogging updates.  I recieved an update on the previously mentioned WWOOFers and link to their blog, WWOOFing Green Summer 2010.  Ken and Amiee are pictured in the photo above.

The heat in our neck of the Ozarks has been stifling for the past few weeks.  I felt like I had jumped in a warm lake with my clothes on just doing chores this morning, not exactly a challenging physical feat.  What is a challenging physical feat, however, is cycling across the country.  Our next set of WWOOFers and new friends Melissa and Brooke passed through our area last week on their way westward.  Apparently our town of Walnut Grove is located near the TransAmerican trail for biking across the country.  I always wondered why there were so many cyclist on Hwy BB, a very hilly and narrow road near our home.  

In any case I think Brooke was ready to sell the bikes and take up goat ranching with us.  In the end they decided to continue on their adventure across the country.  They are chronicling their journey on their blog The Road Beneath Us.  It's always funny to see people's reaction to goats for the first time as their is such a negative stereotype surrounding goats.
Jennifer is a “goat lady”. A self-proclaimed and awesome goat lady. When Melissa and I rolled our bikes up to Harmony Hill, she was in the pasture, with her goats. Immediately she began introducing us to “the ladies”. She pointed to one and said, “that’s Etsu. Come here, Etsu.” She just hithered a goat. I had my doubts. I’ve never been around goats and thought to myself, there is no way that goat is coming over here. And then it stood up, and waltzed it’s way over to Jennifer. All these goats know there names! They are smart and extremely lovable, too.
We're hoping they "land" some place cool when they finish their ride so we can for a visit.  If not they can both return and lend a hand at milking.  They both need a little practice though. :)



Saturday, June 12

Bummer


It was bound to happen.  The plastic I used on the greenhouse I bought off craigslist.  The guy said it was greenhouse plastic which is specifically designed to hold up to abuse it will take on a greenhouse, such as a UV protection, but I had my doubts.  There were no brand names on the box, no logos on the plastic.  One day this week Jennifer came home to find it had failed.  It split along one of the creases from when it was folded and the wind did the rest.  The good news is we had shut down the use of it for the summer so there were no losses of plants.  I did have to quickly weatherize things as you can see the fan boxes have tarps secured to them and various other things have been sealed individually from the elements. 

Now I need to take the old plastic off and replace it with the right stuff.  This time I'll buy something with UV protection, a warranty, and enough to do a double layer for extra insulation.  Since we don't plan on using it until late August I'm tempted to wait until then to make the purchase but it's a bit of an eyesore without the plastic on it, so it will probably happen relatively soon.

I spent a good part of this last week in Chicago attending the Internet Retailer Conference and Expo (for my day job).  As I stood in the crowded airport waiting for my luggage on the way home I kept thinking about how nice it will be to get home, to peace and quiet.  It's fun to travel occasionally, but it's good to be home.

Sunday, June 6

Baby goats


Sometimes I wish I could just hang out and nap like the little one's pictured here.  We've had a ton going on lately.  Most recently we hosted two WWOOFers for a couple of weeks.  I've mentioned having WWOOF volunteers before, but for those that don't know it's a network of organic farmers (WWOOF host farms) and those interested in learning about organic farming (WWOOFers).  The WWOOFers volunteer their time and energy in exchange for a learning opportunity as well as room and board.  I understand we're on the luxurious end of the accommodations (we have an extra private bedroom and bath in our home) as some just provide tent space.

Ken and Amy, our WWOOFERS, are doing a summer of WWOOFing. They left yesterday after a two week stay.  They helped us get a ton of little extra projects done.  My lovely wife Jennifer said it best after a day of projects with the WWOOFers and my cousin Aaron helping out that we got more done that just the "have-tos" that we usually get done with a typical weekend.  Some of the projects marked off the checklist include:
  • taking down the old barn tin
  • cleaning out the old barn
  • creating two large compost piles out of the bedding from the barn
  • rebuilding fence around that barn
  • tearing down an old compost bin and building a nicer one in a different spot
  • planting lots of ornamental plants and trees
  • mulching
  • building new raised beds
  • moving hay to the new barn
  • cleaning out the chicken house
I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the things we accomplished.  The place looks great as a result and we learned a lot and had fun with our guests, I think they would say the same.  Amy is a second year vet student and got a nice introduction into the world of goats.  Jennifer and I laughed when she said her favorite goat was Etsu, because she's "so outrageous."  Jennifer also arranged for Amy to meet our local vet and she spent three days riding and helping Dr. Mozier.  Ken is a recent grad with a degree in history, he's looking to get into urban planning and I hope his experience on our little farm helps him along that journey.  They plan on blogging their experience and I'm waiting for a URL to link to.  

We have another set of WWOOFers scheduled for sometime in July, they're biking across the country.  They only plan on staying for a few days and we're looking forward to their visit.

Tuesday, May 11

Lost dog


It's been four days since we last saw Gelleon, and I'm starting to loose hope that he'll come back.  He always had a bad habbit for sneaking off the farm, but he usually came home within a few hours.  He's never met a stranger and anyone willing to acknowledge him was instantly his best friend.

I never knew exactly where he went or why, some of our neighbors had reported seeing him in the past but it was never that far away.  This time though I'm afraid he has gone to far.  I like to think that some family found him and decided to keep him since he's so friendly and love-able and he always managed to loose his collar but I'm sick to think what else could have happened to him.

Another neighbor told us that someone else recently lost a dog, that it was just gone one day.  Someone else in the community told us a sickening rumor that some local punks were shooting "stray" dogs.  If I ever learned who these future serial killers might be....  I'm not sure I would be able to contain my needs for justice.

I keep hoping that he'll return home.  I miss my boy.

Update: Gelleon is home, safe, and healthy.  The story of his absence and return is complicated and unpleasant, however.  Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and positive thoughts!

Sunday, May 9

Hay storage

I counted wrong, and will have to make another trip to the big box hardware store for more 1x4s to complete the project pictured.  Having goats and only 10 acres means handling hay, and since we don't own a tractor to move round bales easily (we do own a bale spike trailer, more on that in another blog post), we rely on "square" bales.  

The bales aren't really square, technically, I guess they're a rectangular prism if I remember my elementary school geometry lesson.  If done right they're about 1 1/2' by 1 1/2' by 3' in length.  I say "right" because the length can vary based on the settings of the baler used.  With the dimensions I mentioned as "right" they'll stack nicely in layers running 90 degrees to the layer below it and squarely fit on top of each other.  

In any case, having square bales means a proper place to store them.  What that has meant up until now is any dry location we could find (the old barn and the shop building) was game for storing hay.  We would throw pallets down and devise a way to keep the animals out and use that for hay storage.  The pallets served to keep the hay off the ground and allow some airflow under them.  Unfortunately it made for inefficient stacking as the ground we placed the pallets on was never level and no matter how hard we tried to stack them it was always a little haphazard especially after you started pulling some off the stack.

That's where the project in the photo above comes in.  I've constructed this in the south west corner of our new barn, I'm calling it the hay deck.  It's positioned right next to the 10' wide door which should allow us to back the flat bed right in next to the hay deck for unloading and stacking.  If you've ever hauled hay you know that it's a dirty dusty business that no one enjoys.  In the past it would involve us throwing the bales off the trailer on the ground then picking them up and moving them to the stack.  With this set up it should make it less of a chore.  With a nice level surface we should be able to tightly stack 150 bales in this space.

I think the hay deck will work pretty well and as an added benefit I finally get the entire shop as actual workshop space when the hay has it's final home.  I'm looking forward to that, as I've collected quite a set of tools (and the skills to use them) over the years.  I remember 9 or 10 years ago buying my first cordless drill (when I bought my first home).  I had no idea back then the path I would be on now. In today's project I made use of several of these tools including:

  • tool belt - I use this on every project, I just load it up with the hand tools I'll be using on the project and it's always right with me.  I've blogged about my tool belt before.
  • hammer
  • 3' level
  • line level
  • chalk line
  • cordless drill
  • air compressor - now that there is power in all the outbuildings, this is coming in real handy for:
    • air nailer - it makes quick work of fastening things together
    • impact driver - I used it to drive 1/2" by 6" long lag bolts through the ledger board into the 6x6 posts of the barn
  • tri-vise lumber lok - I got this today and thought I would try it out, it indeed made on person board cutting much safer and effective.

So far in the barn I've also wired up exterior lights but it still needs stalls, interior overhead lights, stall lights, and ultimately a concrete pad under a new feed room.  There's always plenty to do on the weekends, and plenty of ways to use my toys, er, tools...


Sunday, May 2

Less blogging, more doing

When the weather gets nice it's hard for me to carve out time to write blog posts, but I know I'll be sorry if I don't attempt to document progress as we go along.  I took this photo from the deck while I relaxed for a brief moment.  The backfilling is complete though we still have a pile of excess sand.  The guy that was doing our dirt work said sand is too expensive just to spread around and I should try to find a use for it.  It just so happens I'll be building some walk way soon so I'll try to use it then.

You can see the completed green house in the photo, our new goose-neck trailer for hauling goats around, the F350 for pulling said trailer and other trailers, the new barn, our trusty explorer, the pedal car, and one of our portable goat barns (that is still half-painted).

The greenhouse is working great, we've sold quite a few heirloom tomato plants with an ad on craigslist.  The only thing I'm not happy with in the greenhouse is the thermostat.  It seems to turn the fans on at the right temperature but it will never shut them off even when the ambient temperature cools below the on point.  I think the amount of current that I am drawing through the thermostat is too much. It's a simple attic-fan thermostat and it seems to be generating it's own heat which throws off the measurement.  I need to find something better and soon.

The horse trailer was a recent acquisition.  Jennifer did some trading and we got rid of a cargo trailer that we hadn't used for over a year.  Now we have our own trailer to haul the goats around and don't have to bother the neighbors.  The week Jennifer bought it she took 3 of our goats to a two-day goat show in Sedalia, MO.  She won three second place ribbons and one first place ribbon.  I hope to go with her in the near future to a show and help out.

The barn now has it's sand floor and I've already started on the inside.  I wired up exterior lighting this weekend and this week (after work) I plan on sinking posts for the hay "deck."  We will use one corner of the barn to store hay but I don't want to mess with pallets to store the hay on and keep it off the ground so I'll build a deck of sorts to have a nice level surface to tightly pack square bales.  In another corner of the barn we'll pour a concrete pad for a feed room.  I also plan on visiting the habitat for humanity "reStore" to see if I can find some inexpensive lights to put to use in the barn.

All and all there's quite a bit of progress shaping up.  I was telling a friend the other day that we finally have the infrastructure in place to make chores fast and projects easier...  Things like having power in all the outbuildings removes a huge psychological barrier for me such that I can get started and finish projects much quicker.


Sunday, April 25

Farmer's markets

I created a little calendar widget that lists farmer's markets near me (or somewhere close to my daily weekday commute).  It looks like I can get fresh local food nearly every day of the week.  Sunday and Monday don't have a local market scheduled but having one every other day of the week should cut down on my excuses for not buying locally grown veggies (when we don't have our own) and locally raised meat.

Wednesday, April 21

Food, Inc.

Jennifer and I just caught the tail end of "Food, Inc" on PBS and she wanted (and I had already planned) to post about it.  There are some graphic scenes and some definite food for thought (pun unintended) on the state of our country's food supply.  Find this documentary and watch it.





A link to buy it from Amazon:


Monday, April 19

LGD Update


The vote is unanimous: Jack is worth his weight in gold!  He's surely kept the coyote's at bay each night by responding to their yipping with his low rumble of a bark.  He's also chased off a fox on a couple different occasions. We've had to divide the herd into three different groups due to various feeding and breeding requirements.  Unfortunately that means Jack's presence and protection of the herd is divided by gates.

His most recent action came this last weekend when we heard a ruckus with the chickens.  I watched in shock as a fox scattered the flock of chickens in the pasture.  The commotion did not go unnoticed by Jack, he was throwing a fit on the other side of the gate.  I ran as fast as I could to let him through but by the time I landed off the deck Jack was already on the other side of the gate.  I'm still not sure how he scaled it but he did and he gave quick chase to the fox.

We praised him for doing a good job, of course.  It seemed like the chickens appreciated it as well, I swear they're usual "cluck cluck cluck" noises were interspersed with "Jack Jack Jack."


Friday, April 16

Creep feeding for goats


Creep feeding your baby goats is important to get them growing well, for that you'll need a creep feeder of some sort.  A creep is barrier that allows young animals in but keeps older ones out.  The feeder is a way to deliver an free choice feed to the babies.  Some time ago we bought two pig feeders off craigslist (for $10 each).  They're made of galvanized metal and needed new skids put on them (in the form of treated 4x4 posts) but otherwise were in good working order.  They work great for goat kid creep feeders and if you can find these cheaply, snatch them up! 

I guess the "creep" part of the feeder is the wire panels that surround it that keep the bigger goats out of it.  The 2x6's you see are set up so they sandwich the wire panel with nuts and bolts and large washers.  The section between the boards is open (I just cut the panel with bolt cutters).  This allows me to increase or decrease the size of the opening by loosening the bolts and moving the boards one way or another then tightening it back down.  I actually had to change the configuration a bit since some of the bucklings were getting as big as some of our smaller yearling does and couldn't get in.  I don't have a photo but now there's only pair of boards running horizontally but lowered so only the babies can crawl under it.  Since then we've separated the bucklings into the weaning pen where they have access to the second feeder without the need for a creep since they are the only ones in the pen with the feeder.


In this photo (taken when the feeder was in another section of pasture where a carefully propped open gate acted as the creep) you can see why these hog feeders work so well for baby goats. The center area is where you pour the feed and it supplies a trough on each side of the feeder under the slopes.  One of the biggest things you have to manage when you have goats is parasites.  One of the fastest ways your babies can get a heavy parasite load is to let them get their feet in their feed, which they will if they can.  Goats are very curious and love to climb things.  If they can get their feet in it (whether it holds food or not) they will. With these pig feeders they can just barely get their heads to the feed and as they grow they have to get on their knees to get in there, preventing them from contaminating their feed supply with parasites from their feet.  It works pretty well!

Thursday, April 15

More recycled pallet goodness

 
I winged together a table made from the 12' pallets I've mentioned before (first was kidding stalls from recycled pallets, then shelves out of recycled pallets for starting seeds).  I have quite a few pallets left and access to more, I plan on lining most of the walls of our 48' greenhouse with these tables to keep the plants off the floor and provide working surfaces.  I think the fact that they have slats will work well for draining away excess water.

As soon as it's all presentable I'll do a full write up on the greenhouse.  It's been a long time coming.  I mentioned acquiring the parts for the greenhouse in early 2008.  The level pad for the greenhouse didn't get created until late 2008.  In 2009 I talked a buddy into welding the greenhouse hoops to the posts I had driven.  It's now approaching mid 2010 and I might actually call it complete.  I guess I just really need to hang the door to call the structure done, but now all the fun of it's operation begins.  It just shows that persistence pays off!

Wednesday, April 14

Goat feeding

I mentioned before we are scheming a better way to feed the goats where the feeding person can stay on one side of a fence and have all the goats get access to the feed simultaneously. Why this is important is demonstrated in the following video.  Before you watch, a couple things to keep in mind:
  • The barn in the background was the only barn close to usuable for animals when we bought the place.  It was originally a shed style barn (closed on three sides open on one).
  • My wife has a proven history of buying animals first then giving me an extremely tight deadline in which to construct adequate shelter for them (usually before impending weather, etc).  Other examples of hastily built things to solve animal related "challenges" include:
    • My post "fowl play" which led to, "Poultry Housing,"
    • Acquiring horses (which we have since sold) lead to modifying the previously mentioned barn with a hay bunk
    • Our first kidding season brought the need to close up the barn in the background (rapidly), I mentioned this need in a post titled "Kids!"
  • Frugality is a necessity on the farm; you make due with what you have.
  • This is on the "back side" of our property, and can't be seen from the road
  • I will be taking this hodge-podge of materials down and doing it "right" before this winter.
The point I'm trying to make is, I know the barn in the background is ugly, and someday soon I'll fix it right.  For now it works.  We try very hard to keep our place tidy and neat and I'm always embarrassed by the sight of this barn.  I don't want to enforce the stereotype that goats, and people with goats, have to be dirty and have an unkempt place.

That said, enjoy the video of my feeding of the goats.  Notice I start with a slight juke towards the far feeders before dumping in the near one and I've perfected the spin move out of traffic (twice in this feeding)!  This was actually a pretty tame feeding.  Jennifer and I have managed not to fall down (yet) during such a feeding, but I'd like to avoid it by building that system I mentioned before (if I can figure out how it was built).

Monday, April 12

It's all done but the cryin' (and the payin')

 

The barn was officially completed today.  And in conjunction, there is power to the greenhouse as well.  I only have to hang the door and begin building benches and tables in the greenhouse.  This last weekend Aaron and I finished mounting all the fans and louvers and wiring all up to a thermostat, it all worked on the first try, I was so proud!

There's a bit of backfill work left to do and in the barn, aka the goat palace/Taj Mahal, I will start work on building kidding stalls and wiring up circuits for heat lamps and a couple overhead lights.  There will be some delay (as we gather the finances) before we pour a concrete pad for the feed room and milking area.  In the interior of the barn against the wall that you see under the shed area will be the stalls.  On the opposite wall will be hay storage and a future spot for a concrete pad to build a feed room and milking area.  Under the shed area itself I am planning on building a feeding system I saw once in a video on the internet, I have since not been able to find it.  It allowed the people to stay on one side while distributing the grain evenly into half a large PVC pipe rotated towards the person.  The video demonstration show that when all the grain is ready the pipe is rotated towards the goats which allows them all simultaneous access. I'll explain why this important in a future post, but rest assured, how we do it now is organized chaos at best.


Wednesday, April 7

Heat wave


Wow, our farm projects are dragging on but there's a solid chance the barn will be complete THIS weekend, and the greenhouse will be completely functional.  There's still no doors on the greenhouse and it's getting over 100 degrees during the day, today the thermometer maxed out past the 120 degree mark.  I'm not so sure about the accuracy of this thermometer, but it is indeed noticeably hotter in the greenhouse than the 80's we've been experiencing. At night, with the doors open it's been consitently 10 to 15 degrees warmer in the greenhouse.  If I can get the exhaust fans going this weekend I think I can keep the temperature at a productive level.  Before fall comes I can add the additional heat storage in the form of 55 gallon drums of water.

Today I had to leave work early to take care of some construction missteps.  The first and most pressing was running new buried cable to the well house from the pole.  Our dirt work guy accidentally cut one leg of the 220 volt line.  It wasn't buried very deep by the previous homeowners and he was just doing some finish work for us on top of the soil, so I can't really blame him.  Running water is a very important thing on a farm with animals, they simply cannot be without.

The second semi emergency was patching where some nicks were created in the new buried power lines going to the barn (and by this weekend, the greenhouse).  We started this project back in January when the trenching was done.  We laid in the power and water but had to quickly cover the water lines to avoid a freeze that was coming, which meant burying the cable, and the water before it was run to it's final destination.  When we started the project back up they had to dig to find the water line and the cable, and in the process put some gashes in the heavy duty 100 amp cable.  We're going to have the line buried for the last time in the next few days but we had to repair the gashes before then.


Sunday, April 4


I bought this little mix/max thermometer from Hummert to satisfy my curiousity on the temperature swings in the greenhouse. This photo above was taken this morning. The overnight low according to NOAA was in the mid forties and the greenhouse only got down into the mid fifties even with no doors and large openings where the fans should be mounted.

I was only able to make a litte progress on the rest of the greenhouse list today. There were too many other priorities today to tackle first. My cousin Aaron and I had some fence to build and a gate to install. The new barn has a loafing shed off one end that opens to our east pasture so we cut the fence there to allow access for the goats. This was a good time to add a much needed drive through gate. The position on the existing gates where poorly chosen I learned after some time. Oh well, live and learn.

I plan on documenting the temperatures each day (min and max of the greenhouse as well as the rest of the local environment) in a spreadsheet. Eventually I'd like to have this done by some sort of automated system. The data should help me determine impact of various changes. For example I plan on lining the north wall with black drums of water as a large thermal mass to level off the temperature drops at night. I have a feeling the rock base is already providing some of that benefit now, as well as providing good drainage.

Saturday, April 3

And Cue the Hallelujah Music


The plastic is on!  There are still a few things yet left to do, but this is huge.  More to come tomorrow I hope.

Tuesday, March 30

End of the Daily Shuffle

The plants survived the daily shuffle.  I was up to the point of three different "shifts" of plants under the lights, plus I had some tomato plants that grew so big that they could no longer fit under my lights.  The greenhouse is painfully close to completion (crossing my fingers for this weekend) but the weather has warmed up enough the plants can all stay outside (at least for the next few days).  Jennifer placed them all on the deck and put up the shade cloth to protect them from the full sun until they've hardened off.

I've had visitors to the blog announce themselves, welcome to everyone!  I'm glad to know people are either learning from or at least being entertained from my toiling around on the farm and this blog.  Other bloggers know that the interactivity with other folks is what makes this fun, the more the merrier as the saying goes.  

And just for fun, here's a random goat video.  Etsu (one of our bottle baby goats) is playing on a bale of hay my cousin Aaron is unrolling.  Aiko, the other bottle baby, unsuccessfully tries to join her.


Barn Construction Update



Progress!  I love progress.  I'm hopeful that I can see some metal on this bad boy tomorrow.  Then I can begin customizing the interior for our needs.  We have a loose plan that involves some stalls, some hay storage, a feed room, and an area for milking.  Our long term plans include having hot and cold water (it will have cold water to start) so we can do our bottle mixing for the calves and our milking dishes in the barn.  Then maybe we can have our kitchen back for people food!

We've never built, or rather, had anything built on this scale before.  The construction business is a stressful one.  We've had several people comment that this barn is being built right, which is a good thing to hear.  The retired civil engineer from down the road commented that it is very well built, with 6x6 posts set at the right distance and more trusses than the typical pole barn package.  He said he's seen many packages erected to find out they don't meet code.  We happen to live in a county that has no building codes but he said this one meets or exceeds all the codes he knows of.





Thursday, March 25

Green greenhouse - clean goats


We've got the first coat of paint on the greenhouse now...  So it'll be a green greenhouse when all is said and done.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow as I sit at my desk (or more likely a conference table) for several hours.  The weather folks are predicting rain this weekend so that means I'll have to find something other than the greenhouse to work on.  It'll be the perfect time to finish up the three new calf stalls.  We have converted the last of the hay storage area in the old barn to bedding area for the goats.  Part of that area will house three new calf or kidding stalls similar to the ones I built before.  We've got the other six stalls occupied with a couple Jersey calves and some other calves that belong to a neighbor.  Jennifer has gotten quite the reputation for working with animals in this area.  Because of that we've worked out a trade of sorts for her to raise four Holstein calves for them.  We've got them all bucket trained now so it's not as much work as bottle feeding them.  

Several people have commented to us "bottle calves are too much work" or that there is "not enough money in them."  We've found that it's not really all that much work and that we actually made decent money on the last round.  I guess when you consider what most people do after their day job hours it might be quite a bit of work, but such is farm life, and it's considerably more rewarding for us to see a good job done versus keeping up with a TV series (for example).

In other news the rain and snow of the past 60 to 90 days is taking a toll on the usual stomping grounds of the goats.  One thing I've learned that I don't think most people realize is goats prefer not to get dirty if at all possible.  The area where we feed the goats has become a muddy mess, so for our sake and the goat's sake I laid down some 2x8's to walk on.  I shot this video of me calling the goats through the muddy area.  Watch as they carefully walk the planks to avoid the worst part of the mud.  Oh, and please excuse the volume, pitch, and general annoying noise that I make.  It's the call our goats are used to hearing but it always sounds much better when my wife does it!







Lately my analytics show a steady increasing stream of traffic.  Who are all you folks, be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think, what you'd like to see more of (or less of), and if you've got a blog I should have on my list!

Wednesday, March 24

Greenhouse update


Yay for progress.  I took 2 days off from work this week expecting to have 4 full days to devote to the greenhouse project.  Instead we got 3 to 4 inches of snow and a covering of ice on Saturday and Sunday.  We actually lost power for a few hours on Sunday due to the weather.  Once again mother nature did not cooperate with my plans for completing the greenhouse.  However, mother nature did come through on Monday and Tuesday with some beautiful springtime weather in the Ozarks.

Pictured above is the greenhouse with the solid west wall up, the clear plastic east wall and the kick wall on each long side.  The wood walls have their coat of primer in preparation for the green paint that will match the metal of the new barn.  I was able to get the wiggle wire track installed as well.  Now all that's left is:
  • move the water hydrant that was installed outside to inside (ugh, don't get me started on how that happened)
  • run power from the new barn (which has it's posts set and several rafters up)
  • install the "skin" of plastic
  • install the doors
  • install the fans
  • install the louvers
  • install the thermostat for the fans and louvers
  • install the heater and new propane tank
  • level off the dirt work
The list seems like a lot but it was much longer before this week.  The fans will be installed on the far (east) end and will pull air through the louvers.  The louvers are also thermostatically controlled and (if I wire it right) should open up when the fans kick on.  This takes advantage of the prevailing winds on our place which blow mostly out of the west.

I'm excited to learn more about efficiently operating a greenhouse.  I've already started looking at software packages to help manage the operation.  There's a neat open source package that utilizes an experiment board to track several variables (temperature, humidity, etc) called Grow Manager that I will probably check out.  I'm worried I won't quite have the hang of managing the temperature in the greenhouse and we'll loose plants because of it, so I plan on doing quite a bit of measuring before we begin depending upon it.  I understand in our area of the country our biggest challenge will be keeping it from overheating in the spring and especially the summer time.

Monday, March 15

Rural Overcrowding


It never fails that my plans will need adjusting no matter how well intentioned.  This hastily shot camera-phone photo shows some of the tomatoes in their 4" pots.  Jennifer and a friend of hers transplanted several dozen into the large pots to allow them continued growth.  By now I expected to have the greenhouse done and thus have a place for all the plants as they were potted up.  I'm oh-so close to wrapping the greenhouse in it's plastic but I can't seem to string enough days off, good weather, and help together.  In the meantime I'm doing the tomato plant shuffle twice a day.  You see under each pair of shop lights I can light 288 seedlings when they're in the little 6-pack cells.  In the same space I can only fit 75 4" pots so that means one group is getting light while the other isn't.  I guess that's ok from the plant growth perspective, I'm sort of simulating day and night, but it sure is a bunch of work moving 1000 plants around twice a day!

Thursday, March 11

New Security Guard






We had a vacancy in the security guard spot on the farm.  Bert and Ernie, the llamas, were fired because they kept chasing the goats.  We had debated on our options for some time: try more llamas, a donkey, or a livestock guard dog (LGD) to patrol the pastures.  Coyotes are always yipping and howling around our place and without any sort of protection for the herd it was keeping Jennifer up at night worrying.  We have 48" tall 2" by 4" woven wire fence around the entire perimeter of the farm, so I felt some comfort that predators would be kept at bay.

One morning while feeding we encountered a coyote right in the front yard, so much for the fence keeping them at bay!  The house dogs chased him as he jumped our fences and ran straight through the barn lot where our youngest baby goats were.  We had already posted an ad on craigslist for and LGD and gotten several responses but we hadn't acted on any of them other than to ask questions.  After the coyote encounter though we made a quick decision.  I planned on picking up Jack after work and bring him home to his new job.

Jack is pictured above the first night we brought him home.  He's a Geat Pyrenees, a breed that has natural guarding tendencies. He is an absolute sweetheart.  He was pretty sheepish the first night but has really taken to both of us as well as the herd.  Jack's previous home sold off their goat herd so they were looking for a good home that could put him to use.  We kept him in the shop the first night and showed him his new territory the next morning.  He immediately went on patrol.  Jack lets the coyotes know he's there with a low bark that says "I'm gigantic, don't come here."  When he rests he strategically locates himself on high ground where he can see it all.  When it rains and the goats are in the barn he plants himself in the barn door.

We're both sleeping better knowing Jack's on duty.

Tuesday, March 9

Dazey Churn


Dazey Churn
Originally uploaded by duanekeys
I recently received an email requesting permission to publish this image in a book, in exchange I would get a copy of the book. I agreed.

The book is Homemade Living: Home Dairy, the third book in a series about local, sustainable foods. According to the author, the book will
"teach people how to make butter, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and more at home using local, organic ingredients."

I'm looking forward to getting my copy.

Monday, March 8

Organic fertilizer

For the last several months we've slowly been building a giant pile of composting goat barn bedding and manure.  A couple weekends ago we hired a local farmer with a skid steer and a grapple bucket for a morning.  My grand plan was for him to take a scoop, travel to the pasture we wanted to spread the pile and load it in our manure spreader.  While he traveled back to the pile to get another load we would pull the spreader around and spread the organic goodness on the field.  The video below shows the spreader in action.  The view is from the bed of the truck as we go round the field.



I had it all worked out in my mind, except for the part where we would stop every round so I could get underneath it and fix it.  The skid steer operator got way ahead of us, and rather than have the loader sit idle I just had him make a pile.  In the end we gave up on using the manure spreader of ours, it needed more TLC than the skid steer operator had time to wait on.  So what we accomplished really was moving the pile from one field to another...  At least it was in the right field.

Then come some neighbors to the rescue.  They brought their spreader (which is PTO-driven) and their tractor and flung composted poop and straw all over the field, just the way we wanted it!



We only had enough of a pile to spread it nicely on half of the field, I'm interested to see how well that side does compared to the other. I'll post results as they become apparent.

Wednesday, March 3

Maters



The tomatoes (aka maters) are doing quite well so far as you can see in the above pictures.  Actually all the plants are doing well, the peppers, the cabbages, the leeks, the broccoli, and we've even got some of our herbs to germinate that we had trouble with last year starting indoors.  It's about time to repot them into 3" pots and start hardening them off.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but if the weather holds up we could have our barn project done very soon.  Part of that project involves trenching power to the greenhouse from the new barn. I have framed both end walls of the greenhouse over the last couple of weekends so all that will be left is the covering and wiring up the fans and heater.  If we can get the greenhouse completed soon I won't need to spend time and materials building cold frames, everything can go into the greenhouse.

In the meantime we toil away in our basement each night watering the seedlings and adjusting the lights up.  I shot a video a few days ago showing our set up for this.


We fertilize the seedlings with fish emulsion.  Yes, it smells as disgusting as it sounds.  The stench reminds me of the area of the dock at the lake where everyone cleans their catches for the day, but it is great fertilizer.

This year we plan on doing all of our planting in raised beds.  I built a few previously with 2x8's but this year I found an excellent source pre-made raised beds and for free.  A buddy of mine works for a local window and siding company where they get all of their materials on 12' long pallets. The pallets come with siding material and each end is boxed in with a 4' by 4' box of rough sawn oak.  The pallets themselves I have mentioned before (in fact the shelves in the video are built entirely from the pallet material).  I plan on using the 4' by 4' boxes as raised beds and filling them with compost and soil.  Our ground is so rocky and the soil has been depleted by years and years over use by the previous owners that raised beds seem like our best option.

Wednesday, February 24

Free Subscription Contest

Goats in the Garden has a contest where they're giving away a free subscription to Mother Earth News, just for leaving a comment.  Just click here to get there and leave your comment.  Of course peruse around the blog while you're there.

Sunday, February 21

Using an Udderly EZ for milking goats



I mentioned previously that we purchased an Udderly EZ to milk our dairy goats.  We've been using it now for a couple weeks with good success.  We purchased our used and it turns out it needs to be reconditioned, but we've been able to borrow one from a friend of ours to use in the meantime.  I talked to the inventor of the Udderly EZ and he said he can fix ours for cheaper than it will cost to buy a new one.  The video above shows the pump in action on one of our Nubian goats.  It just takes a few pumps for the milk to start flowing.  Once it begins flowing you stop pumping.  It's really pretty simple.  While I have gotten the hang of hand milking I much prefer this method and it's allowed me to give Jennifer a break from the milking because I can do it consistently and without her assistance.

Wednesday, February 17

Good Wether

I'm tired of talking about bad weather...  ...so I give you a good wether:



This is Bugsy, aka Bugs, Bug Bug, Buggles, Mr. Bug, Chuger, Bugerific, etc. (For some reason I always give lots of nicknames to our animals.)  He is one of the two wethers we have. A wether is a castrated male goat.  Bugs and Gander came to us as bottle baby goats.  They serve no good purpose other than to entertain us and make us happy.  In turn they'll live their lives out as pets getting the best care we can afford to give while hanging out with all the girl goats and hopefully that makes them happy too.

Bugs is just as laid back as a goat comes.  In the video he's sitting, chewing his cud while wearing my ball cap; nothing phases the Bug-man.  He's got his own way about him.  He doesn't walk any where.  Instead he's got kind of a jive with his head just bobbing back and forth and a pace and rhythm that says, "it's cool man, it's cool..."  He just saunters about, to and fro, checking out this bale of hay, checking on what the other goats are doing.  He's very affection goat as well, he likes to get hugs and a good scratching and has on more than one occasion fallen asleep with his head in a one of our laps.

Tuesday, February 16

An 18 Second Tour


Last summer I finally got around to fixing a leak in the roof on the high side of the chimney.  While I was up there I shot this 360 degree view of our farm.  In the beginning I'm looking to the north east across the buck pen, you can see a few of our raised beds after that.  Where the stock trailer is sitting is where the new barn will go.  The galvanized metal building near the house at the 0:05 mark in the video is my future workshop.  At the 0:10 mark in the video is our existing loafing shed that we've retrofitted as the current goat barn.

On a completely unrelated note I think I've finally got the chickens to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes I built instead of other random places on the farm.  We actually stopped collecting eggs for a long time since we never knew where they were laying them.  If you recall I built a tunnel of fence for the chickens that allows them to "free-range."  I honestly can't tell that free range eggs taste any different, but at least now I can harvest them.  Each time I would find a cache of eggs it was always in a pile of straw or hay.  Of course there's no telling how long they were there so I always discarded them.

In the chicken house we have always used cedar shavings.  It helps to keep it smelling fresh but I just recently realized I should probably fill the nesting boxes with straw, since that's what they seem to prefer (at least over cedar shavings).  Lo and behold I've been collecting anywhere from 4 eggs to 9 eggs a day now.  I think chickens like to have some privacy when they're doing their business.  Egg inventory is now through the roof (there's 4 dozen in the fridge).  I better find some people to take em!

Monday, February 15


We've got our first seedlings of the year!  In the foreground are some cabbages and off in the blurry artistic distance are several different tomato varieties.

It seems like there's a renewed interest in gardening these days, of course no where near it once was. Consider the fact that victory gardens of World War II produced 40% of the produce for America...  That's an amazing percent and something that for many reason is saddening when compared today.  You don't need acres and acres of land to produce something healthy and nutritious and not to mention delicious.  Add to that the benefit to the personal economic difference growing some of your own food can make plus the benefit to the environment that eating locally provides it's a wonder gardening isn't more prevalent.

So what are you planning on growing in your garden this year?

Saturday, February 13

Starting Seeds

We started our seeds this last week.  In the photo Jennifer is watering the seedlings under the lights while the flats with tomatoes site atop the heat mats.  We're a little late in starting them this year and timing is getting pretty tight.  I was hoping to have the greenhouse finished by now but the weather has not cooperated with that plan (am I beginning to sound like a broken a record?).

We acquired several windows from Jennifer's brother in law, he recently replaced all the windows in their home with more energy efficient windows.  I plan on using some of these in the greenhouse end walls and the others to make some cold frames out of soon.

Did I mention I'm really tired of this weather?  I don't remember the last time we had such a wet winter.  Jennifer and I both got tired of slogging around in our El-Cheap-O rubber boots and bought a new pair for each of us from our feed store.  Jennifer purchased some Bogs and I got me a pair of Chore Boots by the Muck Boot Company.  Jennifer was amazed at how comfortable the Bogs were and that her feet stayed dry.  Unfortunately it did not last, the Bogs started leaking.  Our feed store is trying to get them fixed or replaced but in the meantime Jennifer is using a set of Chore Boots like I have.  She doesn't like them as well, she says they're not as comfortable.  I, however, think the Chore Boots are great.  It feels like wearing a slipper when compared to my old rubber boots, and my feet stay warm and dry.

Friday, February 12

WWOOF dog

Gelleon looks like I feel about now "snow, go away already."  This photo is actually a few years old but we've still got snow patches here and there that have yet to melt.  Where it has melted is a soggy, sloppy, muddy mess. Mother Nature is not cooperating with my plans for completing the barn and the greenhouse whatsoever.

Last month we had the pleasure of hosting our first WWOOF volunteers. WWOOF stands for World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers.  We don't have much going in the way of produce during this time of the year but we did get some much needed help on some other projects around the farm.  The young couple that came were great people.  They lived an urban life previous to their WWOOFing but have had some valuable experiences they hope to take back to home and share with other urbanites.  The original plan had them staying for an extended stay but due to a family emergency they had to cut the visit short.  We definitely enjoyed having them and they told us they would tell other WWOOFers that our place is a great place to learn and the accommodations where better than they were used to.  One farm they volunteered at the had a shack with a "solar shower" and coleman camping stove, versus our guest bedroom and bath.  We have some other WWOOFers interested in coming and we're working out details now.  We hope we can pass on some useful knowledge to them as well.

Wednesday, February 10

New reading

I've stumbled upon some new blogs that I've added to my blogroll link on the left.  Be sure to check them out.

The Maaaaaa of Pricilla is a cute blog written by the "spokesgoat for Happy Goats Soap."  I liked the recent post on the 10 things that make this particular goat happy:

1. grain
2. apples
3. hay
4. my studmuffin
5. grain and apples together
6. the publicist
7. the male person
8. most of the other goats on the Farm
9. new kids on the Farm
10. scratches on my tail
Our goats would have a simliar list, though we think the goats refer to Jennifer as "Mom" and me as "Food Guy" and occassionally "Dad" when I'm scratching them just right.

I've also started following (and been visited by) the Ozark Homesteader who blogs about "frugal living, cooking, gardening, organics, and the outdoors."  Be sure to check out their extensive recipes!

Polly's Path chronicles ""a 30-something, hybrid-driving, girl-raising, husband-loving, organic-living, animal-rescuing, beach-walking, canoing, yoga-loving, outdoors-enjoying earth muffin" and her animals and family.  Jennifer and I got a good laugh (because we've been there) when reading a recent post "This Ain't Funny, Sister!"  China, one of their goats is due to kid any day, no minute, and has a sense of humor about it.

Monday, February 8

Cattle-haulin


This scene will surely play itself out again, and probably soon.  I took this picture before we departed the dairy where we get our bottle calves.  It was much too cold outside to use a stock trailer so we loaded up the three calves in a stock tank placed in the back of the explorer.  Now that's putting the Utility in "SUV."

The next round of calves is due to hit the ground any time.  Each birth brings us a 50/50 chance at getting another bottle calf (she only sells the bull calves).  This time we're ready with six stalls and all the necessary equipment (buckets, bottles, nipples, etc).

Thursday, February 4

Kid Warmer

I know I found this idea somewhere on the internet, but upon searching again I'm unable to find the link.  If this was your idea and you want to claim it, let me know, I want to give credit where it's due.



I've built several of these "kid warmers" since our first kidding season.  They're made of recycled plastic 55-gallon drums.  Our local farm supply keeps a good stock of them.  The ones I pick out are food-grade, usually holding soy sauce or bbq sauce it it's former life.  They come washed out but I like to wash em out a little further.  They are simple to construct, just use a jigsaw to cut a door opening and an opening for the can light.  There is some simple wiring to be done on the can light and you need to be sure to fasten the warmer to something sturdy, we just tie them to the wall.  Goats see anything elevated as a challenge to their climbing skills!  I use a 125 watt heat bulb which is safely recessed in the can light and a little straw in the bottom for a nice cozy retreat from the cold.

In the video are 5 of our most recent arrivals, 2 doelings and 3 bucklings.  In related news our crop from last year is maturing and turning out very nice.  We have some goats for sale on our Southwest Missouri Boer Goat site, please take a look around. We're quite proud of the quality goats we've raised!  Pictured here is one of the doelings for sale, Harmony Hill Lotus.

Tuesday, February 2

What do Groundhogs know anyway

Punxsutawney Phil predicted another 6 weeks of winter which puts off capturing images like this one for that much longer.  This photo was taken in the Spring of 2008.  That area is currently a muddy mess with a newly covered trench running right down the middle of it.  "It'll all be worth it" we keep telling ourselves while schlepping through the snowy/muddy mess to feed.  In the mean time I'll think of this image instead of what I see out there in the morning in recent days.

Tonight I brought home two new Nubian does, both in milk.  Jennifer found them on the internet with a relatively close distance.  We should have enough milk for the bottle babies and then some.  Hopefully the Udderly EZ milker comes in soon so I can help milk.  I still can't get my hands to get the right rhythm going.  Has anyone had any experience with the Udderly EZ?

Monday, February 1

Trenching and Barn Project

We just got the trenches covered up before the most recent cold snap came.  That was just in time to avoid freezing the lines to the frost-free hydrants.  We installed four new hydrants at all the usual watering points including the greenhouse and we have one more to install inside the new barn.  We also dug trenches to run electricity to the new barn, the old garage, and the greenhouse.  It's extremley nice not to have to lug around hoses to water the animals and remember to drain them before they freeze.

When we started our barn project we had plans of dividing the space partly for goats and animals and the other for a workshop leaving the old garage to use for hay storage.  The old garage is just a pole barn with two garage door sized openings.  It has a myriad of things stored in it now including hay, garden tools, power tools, the lawn mower, as well as all of the feed and related things.  Our original plan with the new barn was to move all the feed and tools into a new feed room and a new shop area and keep the old garage for hay storage.  We thought hard on this and decided instead to just make the old garage a workshop, something that pleases me greatly.  We have already installed the new electrical sub-panel in the old garage (now officially known as the "shop").  Having a place to plug in lights or recharge a tool without dragging cords around is such a relief.  As the time and the budget allows we'll start pouring a concrete pad in there to make it even more functional.

Sunday, January 31

Aiko, Calves, and Barn Construction


Aiko is one of our newest goats to join our herd. Aiko is a bottle baby that we acquired from some folks that had a doe that couldn't support all of her kids. She has quickly become the center of attention around the farm. During her first few days she stayed in the house as she was far too weak to survive the cold. Thankfully, due in no small part to Jennifer's care, Aiko and our other bottle goat Estu are doing very well and live in a makeshift pen in the shop building when it's cold. They join the herd for play time when it's warm enough outside.

2010 has started off as a busy one for us. Over the past winter Jennifer and I raised some Jersey bottle calves. The stalls we built out of recycled pallets worked out well. We were told Jersey's were very hard to raise but we had no major issues. Quite a few of the local beef farmers were quite impressed with how healthy our bottle calves were, "these are premium calves" one told us. Jennifer recently sold all six on craigslist and we have a waiting list for the next round (which should begin in February). One key part of the success was getting these calves right off the dairy where they were able to get colostrum and build their strength before coming to us. The other key to this successful endeavor is Jennifer's close watch and quick reactions to problems with all our animals.

We've got a major mess on the farm right now with the weather. We started a major construction project including trenching for frost-free hydrants and electricity as well as construction of a new 30x40 barn designed with our goats in mind. At the moment we have a few inches of snow on the ground, once it thaws I'm sure we'll have quite the mud pit. During the last brief thaw our driveway turned to a slippery mess that required four wheel drive to traverse.

Jennifer also recently brought home a Nubian goat for milking. Patches, as she's known, has been producing close to a gallon a day which is going a long way to Aiko and Etsu's growth and development. I can't get the hang of milking though, my hands won't do what I ask them. Jennifer is pretty good at it but until we either get a mechanism to milk them or I figure out how to do it Jennifer can't leave the farm but for short periods of time (milking occurs twice a day). I think we just made a deal though for an "Udderly EZ" milking kit so I can make myself useful, at least in that aspect. Hopefully it helps as it seems we're in the market for even more dairy goats!