I decided to take 4 days of leave this week to spend some time working on various farm projects. While the list is never-ending, Anna and I are working hard on a few specific projects before spring gets here. I did manage to spend a few minutes with Betty and her kids outside in their pen. You can see all the pictures on the goat page, but here is one doeling getting a quick snack.
By the way, the doelings are for sale.
We spent the afternoon working on cutting down a large oak that was dying and clearing brush from the area that will become the rabbitry. Since the rabbitry has grown significantly, we have decided to move it away from the chickens and into the opposite side of the yard. Hopefully the weather will be nice enough tomorrow to allow me to finish clearing and move all the cages. I’ll add photos when it is finished.
Anna worked with Alex and Vicki to make their Valentine’s cards from scratch, and then made chocolate covered strawberries after they went to bed while I worked in the basement. I have finished building a new chick hatchery, with the exception of shelves. Once I get the shelves done tomorrow night, I’ll post pictures of the whole thing.
Some people take leave to go on vacation. I prefer to work on the farm.
In January, we added Cedars of Lebanon Betty Ford (Betty) to our goat herd. We specifically bought her because she was due to kid before any of our other does, and therefore we would resume getting milk for the family sooner.
Today, Betty had twin doelings! Both are healthy and doing well. I’ll take some better pictures tomorrow in the light. We haven’t decided on names yet. The 2 legged kids have some ideas, but I am looking for a theme for the year.
But that’s not all we did today. This morning it was snowing, and we were expecting to get about 2.5-3″ of accumulation. However, it warmed up and never even stuck to the roads. By the late afternoon, it was almost all melted.
I had another craigslist find for the weekend. I felt like I was in American Pickers when I went to a farm to look at some rabbit cages. I ended up buying a large double cage for growing young ones, a 16′ quad cage for whatever, 1 transport cage for rabbits, 2 transport cages for mid size animals (maybe young goats or pigs), and a 100 gal Rubbermaid water trough. I spent the afternoon working on one of the cages since we are getting more rabbits tomorrow.
The power was out at work this morning, so I came home at lunch. Of course, I got the call that the power came back when I was within a mile of the house. No worry, I still took the afternoon off to work with Anna on stuff around the farm. We had our lunch and once Amanda was down for a nap, we got to work outside.
Last year, the garden consisted of 3 raised beds inside a fenced in area. It was pre-existing, so we just added some compost and used it like that. Our total planting area was about 130 sqft. Today, we removed the raised beds, put down a layer of cardboard to kill grass and weeds, then added about 8″ of compost on top of the cardboard. We reused the boards from the raised beds to go around the fence and hold the soil inside the garden. We now have about 300 sqft of planting space ready to go.
After that, the kids got home, Anna went jogging, and I kept working. I built a new coop for raising young chickens. I should be able to finish it up tomorrow afternoon with another hour or so of work. Of course, I also have to get to work prepping more rabbit hutches, because we are picking up 3 more rabbits on Sunday. We anticipate 2 will be dinner in the next week or two and 1 will be retained for breeding with our New Zealand does.
Thanks to a tip I got this morning, we have decided on our Oberhasli buck. Well, sort of. We decided on a farm that has a lot of Oberhasli’s and we sent in a deposit to reserve a buckling that should be born in March. I’ll pick him up from Maryland in May when I go to DC for business.
It was in the 40s this afternoon, so Alex and I took Precious and King on a trail ride. Our basic loop from the house takes about 40 min at a walk. It’s nice to have a riding partner.
While I was the Engineer on USS Annapolis, Howard Craig was the Weapons Officer. We didn’t always agree on leadership techniques, but we were able to respect each other, and have healthy debates about life subjects. In fact, Clark Scharman (Navigator) and Matt Curitti (Supply Officer) used to join Howard and I in religious debates/discussions during private department head meetings.
Throughout my tour, Howard always said something that stuck with me. “Everyone has something to offer. You just have to figure out what it is.” His point was, make a living doing what you love. In fact, he was constantly pushing me that our horses were what we had to offer, and we should be making money on our passion.
Thanks for the inspiration Weps.
Friends frequently ask us how we do so much on the farm. I usually answer, it’s just what we do. Everyone makes choices in life on how to spend your time. We don’t watch sports. We don’t watch much tv – in fact I think most shows glorify behaviors we are opposed to. We don’t go on big vacations to resorts.
We do go outside every day. So do the kids. We teach our family about responsibility through chores. If the kids want to watch tv or play a video game, they usually have to work for the reward. Our kids understand where the chicken on their plate came from, they know rabbits in the cages, while fun to play with, will eventually be dinner. It doesn’t traumatize them; it educates them.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support everyone’s choice to live their own lives. In fact, if everyone had farms, we wouldn’t have customers. I’m just explaining our choice.
Don’t ask how we do so much. Look at what you could have done instead.
A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law Rebekah got us thinking about making bread at home. The were buying the wheat berries, grinding the wheat, and baking fresh bread. At the time we thought it was neat, but overly time consuming and cumbersome. Besides, what was wrong with the bread at the store? That was then.
Now we have containers of red wheat and white wheat berries in the kitchen. Anna grinds the wheat and bakes bread. While she doesn’t bake 100% of our bread needs, she does try to make as much as possible. Last night we had pulled pork sandwiches on fresh buns Anna cooked right before dinner. This morning, we had banana nut muffins (with chocolate chips). Earlier in the week, we had cookies. We are able to control the ingredients, and know exactly what we are feeding our family. Not to mention, fresh bread makes the house smell great and tastes better!
Thanks Rebekah for getting us started!
Thanks Anna for baking!
Amanda stole the dishwashing gloves.
Based on the mild winter, we have decided to start breeding the rabbits. We will be staggering some of the breedings so we don’t have quite so many litters at the same time. The initial breedings are 2 pure Rex does with a Rex buck and a Chinchilla cross doe with a Chinchilla buck. We will sell rabbits as pets or as fryers. Rough estimate of availability will be mid May. Email if you want to make reservations.
While we love to expand the farm, we try to do it on a budget. We have been focusing on recycling materials as much as possible. Why buy new, when you can find it used? Why buy used, if you can recycle something for free? Anna watches freecycle and I watch craigslist. Last weekend, I picked up 28 sheets of 1/2″ OSB for $100 from CL. I have found sources for 55 gal plastic barrels that just need to be washed out. There is a moving company that loves to give me a full truck load of pallets. Using pallets as the base for projects allows me to use the tractor with forks to move things around the farm. If you aren’t picky about paint colors, check the OOPS paint at Lowe’s or Home Depot for $5 gallons of exterior paint.
This 4×6 goat shelter cost me less than $10 which was the paint and 3 new 2x4s that I needed. Everything else was free (except the nails that I already had). This took about 8 hours to build. The entire series of pictures can be seen here:
Here is the main shelter for our goats. It is a 10’x10′ Shelter Logic garage. I made a floor and walls out of recycled pallets.
Finally, goats have to eat hay. Here is a hay feeder that I built using left over pieces of fence panels and a free plastic barrel.