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Posts Tagged ‘livestock’

Our Old School Horse Trailer

We added a page of history to our collection of animals and equipment over the weekend.  We have needed a way to transport animals for quite a while now.  Unfortunately, our budget and the price of trailers have not been able to connect.  In a stroke of good fortune, we saw one advertised on Craigslist that met our price range so yesterday we drove an hour over to Cedartown to have a peek at it.  It is sooo old and sooo cool.

The trailer is many decades old.  It has plenty of room for animals and feed or tack.  It weighs a mountain, but is so well balanced that Brittan and I can easily push it back or forward on level ground.  It is a nightmare to back up because of the design of the tongue, but it has a solid floor, working lights and was AFFORDABLE.

This is not just an antique, it’s genuine Old School.  Then again, so am I.

 

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This is not the year of the chicken for us.  Early this morning, Wes, one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs, got into the field with chickens and killed a number of laying hens and some of the broilers we were going to process this coming weekend.  Several other hens were injured or traumatized.  So for the time being, eggs are off the product board.  We will attempt to fill current standing orders, but casual and occasional availability will be extremely limited.

The good news is we have around 30 baby hens who will begin laying sometime around the first of the year.  Until then, please be patient.  We’ll keep you posted as to when we have eggs.  Thanks.

Also, Wes is looking for a new home.  If you know of anyone who needs a Livestock Guardian Dog, but doesn’t keep poultry, let us know.  He’s good with goats, sheep, cows and donkeys.

 

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For the last year, we’ve practiced a ‘limited’ form of rotational grazing.  We have a number of pastured fenced and move the animals every few weeks to a new field.  We’ve had mixed results with it.  Certainly, a more limited form of grazing has some time management benefits, but it also has some downsides.  The primary one has been a ‘we only eat what we like’ attitude from some of the animals.

A few weeks back we decided that we absolutely had to rotate the cows more.  The goats and sheep are fairly easy on our pastures, the cows, not so much.  Our problem is, of our 13 acres, more than half of it has no perimeter fence.  With the help of our landlord and some awesome fencing guys, we are gradually fencing off more and more of the property, but it takes time and, what’s that word again?  Oh…MONEY!

We had to figure a way to get the cows moving, without the comfort of a perimeter fence.  A simple hot wire perimeter was not going to give my bride peace of mind at all.  Especially since we had a sheep escape last summer when deep trampled the sheep netting and the critters wandered down the highway in the morning traffic.  I had to bail them out of jail with Animal Control.

In the end, we went to Tractor supply and bought big corral panels.  We connected 10 of them together to form a paddock that is just right for our three miniature cows.  The panels are about 5 feet tall and 16 feet long.  It makes a pasture large enough for 24 hours for our three.  It takes Brittan and I less time to move it around each day than it did to move the portable sheep netting.  Pulling up the step in posts, laying it out, drilling holes in the Georgia concrete, er, I mean clay, setting up the netting and hot wiring it, takes more time than you think.  The panels are a bit awkward, but after three days, we worked out a system and it now goes fairly quickly.  It takes more time to put up a shelter spot than the the set up of the paddock.

Each evening, when we go to move the cows, they are almost on dirt.  They eat everything, which they would not have done if they had access to the whole field.  I like that.  What I don’t like is that our pasture is a bit thin.We couldn’t keep  more than the three miniatures we have.  It’s fine for goats, but cows eat a ton.  After we process our two beef animals this fall, we will stick to goats for a while.  We’ll keep our Dexter heifer, but probably won’t add any others except when she has a calf with her.

I am hoping that this thoroughness of the grazing will allow some of the better grasses to grow up through the weeds.  Our GA Bermuda grass only needs a small foothold to take over and the cows do love the Bermuda.  Time will tell, but first impressions are good.  Now we just have to get some chickens behind the cows to spread the manure and sanitize the pasture.

 

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B and I returned home today from a fantastic weekend getaway to Kentucky.  We drove to Lexington on Friday.  Our day took a little longer than planned, because about 30 miles up the road, I realized neither Brittan nor I had picked up our Derby tickets.  We had awesome reserved seats for the Kentucky Derby that had set us back a pretty penny so we turned around and retrieved them.  We were so grateful that we weren’t further away before making the discovery.

Apart from that, the drive was uneventful.  We stayed in Lexington Friday and Saturday nights.  The Kentucky Derby was more fun than I can describe.  We had a fantastic view and met many wonderful people.  We can now check that one off the bucket list.

Sunday morning we went to my old home Church in Lexington, which was in itself a super adventure.  We got to visit with several old friends from my High School and College days.  Some I hadn’t seen since 1974.  Lexington really is home in more ways than I can describe.

Sunday afternoon we drove up to Florence, KY where Brittan and I lived about 1o years ago.  We toured many of our old haunts and ate at our favorite pizza place.  But the highlight of the trip was meeting up with the manager of our racing partnership and going with him and his wife to see our Thoroughbred, Wilderness.  He is quite a horse.  He’s doing a good job for us, as well.

This morning, we drove home as quickly as possible, because, while we had fun, we were desperate to get back to our little farm in suburbs.  We had farm sitters,  but we wanted back to take care of things ourselves.  Our timing was exceptional.  About 3 hours from home we got a call from a neighbor saying a rabbit was loose.  When we arrived, we quickly saw that rather than one rabbit, 7 were out.

6 of them were rounded up quickly, but one could not be found.  By about 6 p.m. we had found a dead laying hen and a litter of dead baby bunnies.  Well, 6 of 8 were dead, anyway.  Several of the laying hens looked poorly, but only one was dead.  Not sure what to make of it.  Heat?  Dehydration?  Egg Bound?  It’s hard to say.  Nature is a strange force, sometimes.

There was a silver lining, though.  As I was walking over to Brittan to take possession of the dead bunnies, I spied movement near our neighbor’s wood pile and heavy machinery.  Sure enough, it was our missing white rabbit.  After I disposed of the corpses, I turned my attention to my ever resourceful wife and watched in awe as she slowly coaxed the bunny out from the wood pile with a plate of food.  Then, with a deftness that at my advanced age I could never match, she scooped up the little critter and placed him back in his Rabbit Ranger with his mother and siblings.

Our drive back to the burb from the farm was filled with mixed emotions for sure.  We’d had a splendid weekend.  We lost some cherished animals.  We recovered a prodigal.  Now it’s time for supper.  The garden will have to wait until tomorrow.

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Yikes!  My weekend disappeared.  I can’t find it.  I suspect it’s gone forever now.  Sigh.

Yes, it’s gone, but it was productive.  We got a lot of chores done including getting some watering and fertilizing in the garden.  We will spend evenings this week getting the rest of the garden planted.  At the very least, we’ll get the remaining tomatoes and peppers out.

On Saturday some future farm sitters came by to learn the ropes.  That was fun.  We had an excellent visit.  We have another pair coming this weekend.

Yesterday, after Church we raced through the feeding regime and headed up the road to Gainesville, GA to pick up some rabbits and see some Kiko Goats (More on them in a future post).  We made some new friends and came back with, oh, about 6 more rabbits than the two we intended to bring back.  With recent losses from predation and sickness, we needed some new breeding stock.  We are now back up to capacity.

The new rabbits also bring some color and fresh genetic diversity.  They are NZ/Californian hybrids.  The two does are black, while two others are spotted.  The hybrid vigor they bring is a real plus, while the color is a bonus.  This really helps us get the basis of building our own ‘breed’ as it were.  We are trying to create a large, meaty rabbit that also has the looks and personality for those who are seeking pets and breeding stock.

After getting the rabbits, we dashed over to the other side of Gainesville to visit a goat farm.  They specialize in Kiko goats.  Wow, what an eye opener.  How about 500 goats on 60 some acres to start with.  It was AWESOME.  I’ll tell you more later.  The short version is, we are working with the farmer to get some Kiko/Boer hybrids to start our own meat herd.

Well, look at that, not only is my weekend gone, but so is my morning.  I need to get ready for the office.  Shucks.

 

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Here are a few random snaps from last week, in no particular order.  For some reason I didn’t grab any pics of the rabbits or dogs.  Oh well, maybe next time.

 

B and Romeo

 

Hay Time

 

Buff Orpingtons

 

Bonding Time

 

Dixie Rainbows

 

Sun Bathing

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Right now, B and I can barely move.  We’ve had a very busy day.  Mostly it was moving animals and putting up fence.  We put the donkeys in with the goats and the sheep in with the cows.  Our laying hens went into the pastures just vacated by the grazers.  The whole arrangement looks pretty good to me.  I seem to have acquired a pretty serious sunburn for my efforts.   Maybe I should have kept my hat on longer…….

We also put 108 broilers out on pasture today.  We started 4 weeks ago with 150.  We had a very high mortality rate this round.  The silver lining is, we only paid for 1oo and got 50 as a bonus, so we are still ahead in a crazy kind of way.

It is truly a joy to watch 4 week old chicks hit the ground and start right away scratching for bugs and eating grass.  I never cease to be amazed at the natural instincts they have.

Now it’s time for a shower and a trip to the supermarket.  If I can walk, that is.  Farming is a pleasure.  Getting old is a pain!

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