Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time to make plans

So it is the middle of February and the planning has begun. How to make the garden better this year, getting the soap shop up and running, new animals, etc. etc.
I am planning on raising turkeys this year, just a small number to start with, but that means building a roost and deciding where to put it. They can't be with the chickens, so that means in the field with the goats somewhere. I have grand plans for a roost, Bryan of course thinks I'm crazy. We made a big lumber purchase from our local lumber mill. Where we get our lumber from is like the Walton's lumber mill. It is a Father and Son operation, very small and very friendly. We can get rough cut lumber to our specs at a good cost and we are shopping local. Win Win all around. The down side this time is that the lumber is still damp and froze in the weather, so it is heavy and wet, not that we are doing any building yet, but it is really heavy to move.
I would also like to get ducks this spring, but must decide whether they will go in with the chickens or get their own home. Again another building project for me, one I haven't shared with Bryan yet. The ducks can be close to the chickens so it may just be an annex to the chicken house. The turkeys and ducks will come from our local feed store, so I am not sure of the variety yet, I only know that there will be no hybrids.
And of course there is the plan for sheep. I am still investigating types of sheep to add to compliment the goats and their mohair. They will graze with the goats for now and may eventually be separated, but their upkeep is much less demanding than the goats. At first I was not thrilled with sheep, after all they are dirty and smelly. But the more I look into it, the less dirty and smelly they become. I have also found out that mohair is best blended with wool, so there we go.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow (finally)

Yes, finally we got snow. While our family in De and RI have been hit with huge snow storms, we have missed the great white stuff. Last night and into today we finally got some. Not much by their standards, but enough for a snow day. I love snow days, I got the barn chores done early and the chickens even came out for a bit in the snow. The rest of the day was spent knitting, sleeping and taking pictures of the birds in the snow. Nothing is more beautiful than a male cardinal in the snow.
I had a chance to let the goats out yesterday for a little while. Everyone went semi willingly. Cedar and Castor just couldn't get it, so back into their pen they went.
The rest of the gang spent a couple of hours frolicking and running around. It is nice when they can get out, it is a long winter stuck in the barn.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Goat coats

Yes that is right, Goats wearing coats. Dr. Seuss would have loved it. This is our first year with our Angora's and i was lucky enough to get a recommendation for a shearer. They are harder to find than you think. The only problem was he could only shear in January. As everyone tells me, 'You can't shear goats in the winter, it is too cold.'
It was either shear now, or not until the fall, which is a no no also. So January 30 dawns cold and clear. The shearing area is ready and so are the coats. My mother and I made 7 polar fleece coats for the goats. The shearer came and stripped my poor babies naked. They shrunk by 2/3s in size and just looked miserable.
We quickly put the coats on them, they didn't look any happier.
New heavy weight coats are in the works.
Bryan has been home for a few extra days so it has been busy. There is more hay in the barn, more wood chopped and stacked and a new clearing for the new household compost pile. We compost as much as we can, 95% of all kitchen scraps, all garden scraps, used hay from the barn, chicken house etc all go into compost. Our household compost has been a corner of the garden, however it never lasts to actually compost. The chickens view this as the daily buffet. During the winter this is not a problem, but spring is really around the corner and soon the chickens will not be welcome in the garden, so it is time to move the buffet. Because the chickens eat the large majority of what goes into the pile, we don't need to actually make a bin, it just gets tossed into a pile. So now a portion of hedgerow is cleared and we will see how the chickens like the new set up.
I was able to clean out the chicken house a bit also. I am amazed at how much dust chickens generate.
We are expecting a batch of new chicks at the beginning of March, and I need to build a broody box. This year it will go in the chicken house not the porch.
We may not be able to see it, but Spring will be coming soon.