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... 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


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


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.