Thursday, September 29, 2011

Drying off our goat

Poppy, our dairy goat, had kids last year in mi December. It is now time to dry her (actually a few weeks late). I will follow recommendations gleaned from the Fiasco Farm website. First step, starting tonight, no more grain. Tomorrow, I will milk in the morning only, no milking at night. This will go for one to two weeks, depending on how full the udder is after one week of once a day milking. Once the udder is not as full, I will milk her every 2 days for about a week. After that, Poppy should be able to dry off.

This is our first dairy goat, we will see how that goes.
Normally, Poppy should have been bred to have kids again in December, so that she stays dry only 2 months. We decided a freezer full of milk will keep us going for a while, and breeding goats once a year is hard on them, so we will wait until we breed her again, or maybe we will breed her daughter, Achille, next year.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Farm Update

Since the last post in April, quite a few things have happened:

Ziggy the buck has been sold to our neighbor. Difficult decision, but Ziggy was getting stronger. I have no doubt he would have eventually overpowered me, and that would be dangerous. Ziggy, who was lonely with us, has a herd of ~ 10 does for him now.

The geese had two more eggs hatch, those that the hen was brooding. Unfortunately, a predator took care of all the goslings, none survived. Next year, we will have to incubate all the eggs. a goose egg turner will become a useful device.

We got a Black Spanish turkey, she is growing well, and now about twice the size of a hen. She is also pretty agile. I was fixing the barn gutter yesterday, and left the ladder against the barn roof. When I went to milk the goats, I heard the turkey, but couldn't locate her ... until I looked up. She was on the barn roof, apparently scared to move. I had to get her off the roof. I think she got there by climbing the ladder.

Our 2 acre field is now occupied. It is rented by a lady that takes care of miniature donkeys. They are mostly rescued animals, so we rent the pasture for a low rental price. The donkeys are fun, and they take care of the grass. Cutting the grass will also remove rodent habitat. So I think it is a good arrangement. We have 10 miniature donkeys, all females, in our back pasture. I can now proudly state that I am no longer the ass of the farm!

I am cutting all the unused wood I have around, for winter firewood. There is a lot of wood from the old deck that has stayed outside last winter. It is now dried, so it is a good time to gather it.

I have been looking at upgrading our 35 years old electric furnace. I can't convince myself to replace it though, because it performs well, and it is similar to the backup system of a modern heat pump. Part of the cost of buying a new heat pump would be to buy something I already have. I'd rather add to the current system. I have been looking at solar hydronic. The most cost efficient upgrade at this time would be to install a solar hot water system for this winter, and think of upgrading the heat source next year. Weather stripping and some simple zoning would also help.

Our roof needs to be replaced. We are getting ready to have a metal roof installed.

The rainwater tanks are connected to the barn roof. They are both almost full. I need to connect them to the outdoor faucets.

I have located where our bat colony (~12 individuals) enters the house: they roost in the attic, and the entry point is a gap between the roof and the masonry chimney. This winter, I will build the best bat house I can build, and mount it on the chimney, then I will conceal the entry point. When the bats will come back from winter migration, I hope they will move to the bat house. I will also build several barn owl nest boxes, as well as Kestrel nest boxes.

I have two beehives, one survivor from our terrible summer, and a new colony. No harvest this year.

Mid-October is when our milking goat needs to go dry. Until then, we are still enjoying goat milk, yoghurts and goat cheese. The freezer is full of goat milk. The cat and the dog enjoy a sip of goat milk every morning and every night.

We have one room available for rent. Monthly rental is $400, and can be paid with work, partly or entirely, if work is worth. I don't have much skills in small scale farming, so if you are bringing in those skills, that would be worth something to me! The room comes with a parking spot, plus common facilities: bathtroom, laundry room, kitchen, living room with wood stove, deck, small backyard, all shared with only one other tenant. The rented area is 1400sqft. We can also add a barn stall, a small 1/5th acre paddock and parking spaces to the rent, for a fee.