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Posts Tagged ‘mules’

Periodically, we have to take inventory of what we have and where we want the farm to go.  This always results in some difficult decisions, because the heart and the head are not always aligned.

We have come to the conclusion, that we are primarily a meat goat and dairy goat farm, with pigs and pork as our secondary livestock and product.

We will continue to raise chickens for eggs, but as mentioned in an earlier post, we are out of the broiler business.  It is not profitable and not sustainable.  We’ll still do a few turkeys every year.

Beef is a difficult one.  We will stick with our two Dexter cows to provide us some meat and some cows milk for cheese.  Our mixed breed heifer will be processed this fall and our bull calf will be processed next year.  We don’t have enough quality pasture to raise large feeder steers for either ourselves or customers.

So, having thought this through, and sitting in my chair praying for wisdom, we are going to make some outstanding animals available for sale.

1.  Our two beautiful Belgian Draft Mules, Laverne and Shirley.  These girls are awesome, but just too much animal for our little place.  They need to go to someone who can work them in harness or ride them.  They are green broke and will need an experienced hand to get them back in practice, but they love attention, stand well for the farrier and load easily. They must go together as they have never been separated.  We paid a handsome price for them, but would let them go for $2,5oo total.  That’s a steal.

2. We are getting out of rabbits.  We have two breeding pair of registered American Chinchilla bunnies.  These are heritage rabbits, barely a year old.  They are worth a great deal and will produce outstanding offspring.  We’ll part with them for $100 a pair.  Again, I know we can get more, but we want to move them.

3. We have some super Nigerian Dwarf Goats we need to sell to make room for bigger goats.  We have some babies, some older girls and even some does in milk.  The milk is awesome, BTW.  We have a couple males as well, one of which has horns, but is positively gorgeous.  If you’re just getting into goats, or have a small place, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the perfect breed. Prices vary according to age, gender and blood line.

4. We have a one year old pair of Black Spanish turkeys.  These two birds are delightful.  They hatched 14 live poults this spring.  They are good parents and pretty well mannered.  Our place is too near busy roads, though, and they are good fliers, so they need a home somewhere more remote.  They have always been free range.  Call me crazy, but I’ll let them go as a pair for $60 and we get more than that for a Thanksgiving bird.

5.  We have a yearling female Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig.  She is a fantastic mother and had no trouble birthing.  Patty probably weighs a little over 100 lbs. She’s a little bit wild, but if you can catch her, you can have her for $50.

We have three or 4 two year old Buff Orpington hens that can go for $15 each.  They will lay for another year or would make great stewing hens now.  If they don’t sell, we’ll put them in the crock pot ourselves.

I think that’s it.  Our miniature donkeys are not for sale at any price, so no need to ask.  They are expecting a foal again this winter, but we will be keeping it to train in harness.

An opportunity like this will probably never happen again from our farm.  These are quality animals at crazy bargain prices.  Our sacrifice is your gain.  Let us know if you’re interested or pass the word along to someone you know who might be.

 

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All around the world, children of all ages are beginning to get amped up for the big day. Christmas is not merely, ‘right around the corner’, we’ve made the turn and it’s staring us down.  That’s pretty exciting…for some.

B and I haven’t had much time to think about Christmas yet. Oh, we’ve mailed some cards and sent some gifts, but right now, we have no time to ‘settle down for a long winter’s nap’. Between our bad timing and Mother Nature’s little temper tantrums, we have a lot of work to do.

First, the bad timing. We have pregnant goats everywhere. Except for the two that have already given birth, that is. We wanted to arrange for all our goats to freshen in Feb/March, and several will. In one of life’s little twists, because of a fence problem requiring us to move our billy goats earlier than we had hoped, we have several who are already in the maternity pen.  So, we have to keep a watchful eye.

We’ve had no problem with goats and breeding this year. Rabbits, on the other hand, have all gone celibate on us. It’s the end of December and we haven’t had a single litter yet. Weird. The calendar says we do need, though, to put nest boxes in with the girls, as it’s getting close to time for them to give birth, if in fact the breedings we think are in place, have taken.  No one looks pregnant, that’s for sure.

Mother Nature is also keeping us way too busy right now. We’ve had some torrential rains that have left the pastures a mess.  There is a ton of clean up. We have to move some shelters because the rains were so bad water ran under and the animals are standing in ankle deep mud.

With the cold weather coming behind this storm front, we need to make sure the mules have an escape path, since everyone else does, so we’re putting up a portable shelter today and will build a nice run in shed in Mid January.

Oh, and goat hormones are forcing us to move another shelter. It seems our randy little Nigerian buck, Meshak, can’t stay away from our new Kiko girls, Venus and Serena.  He climbs up on the shelter in his pasture, which is up against a fence, and hops over it onto the pig shelter in the other pasture, then down onto the ground.  It’s pretty creative, except Achilles, our Kiko herd sire, isn’t interested in suitors coming to court his ladies. He out weighs Meshak by 15 or 20 lbs (soon it will be by about 200) and has horns. It’s no contest.  Their last testosterone spike left Meshak with some pretty good scrapes and cuts. For several days, he pouted and nursed his obvious headache, while B tended to his wounds.

He’s healed and love is in the air. B found him back in the other pasture again yesterday.  He’s doing his best to woo Serena (who should be pregnant, anyway). Achilles, ever the vigilant, jealous protector, is not letting Meshak get close enough to do any mischief.

The torrential rains, forced them all into the barn. When we went to check on them last night, Achilles had his girls and two of the pregnant Nigerians in the large stall, while Meshak was relegated to a smaller one which he shared with a dozen laying hens.  He tried several times to make his way into the big stall, but Achilles was having none of it. Meshak, not being totally blinded by lust, wants no part of those Kiko horns, so he would slink back to his stall and wait for an opportunity to try again. I give him credit, he’s no quitter.

Anyway, we have to move Meshak’s climbing frame, aka, shelter, away from the fence so he can’t use it as a launching pad for romance and warfare. That can only end poorly for him.  Eventually, we will make one pasture for Meshak and Jasper (our Alpine buck) and one for Achilles and his Kiko harem. Until then, we must make do.

Sometime this weekend I must, I do mean must, shovel mule manure. But it’s too muddy for me to get the truck down to the compost heap without tearing up the hillside.  So it must wait and remain an eyesore.

It’s time now for me to hit the publish key and actually do the work rather than just talking about it. Oh, did I mention we need hay and straw as well. Of course, I love the feed store so that’s not even a problem. Just more time away from the chestnuts and the open fire.

Talk to you later. If I don’t get back here before Sunday, Peace on Earth, friends. Jesus really is the reason for the season even if He has become politically incorrect.

 

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Here’s the deal. Our mules, Laverne and Shirley (don’t ask), need a new shelter. They are just too big for the ones we have built for the other animals. They can stoop way over and squeeze in, but it’s really uncomfortable for them. They tore the heck out of one shelter built out of cattle panels, tarps and t posts. One or both of the girls stood up inside it and pulled the whole thing out of the ground and twisted it like a pretzel. Did I mention that they are very large and very strong?

We want to build a couple of run in shelters for them, but we could use some extra hands, so we’re hoping to have an old fashioned barn raising (sounds better than run in shed raising) on Saturday, January 14. We’ll start about 9:30 a.m.  If we get a good enough group we’ll build two.  We have a couple of pastures we want to put sheds in.

All you need to do is show up and be willing to work. If you have tools, like hammer, saw, screw drivers, wrenches and pliers, feel free to bring them. They’ll come in handy. The event is gender and age neutral. If you can work and like to have fun, you’re welcome to join in.

We’ll have coffee and bottled water available. After the work, if it’s a nice day, we’ll all come back to the house for a cookout. We’ll have burgers made from our own grass fed beef.  If it’s not nice, as in January bone chilling cold, we’ll have some warming beef stew. In the case of rain, we’ll reschedule.

If you’d like to join us for some fun on the farm, just let us know.  And, thanks in advance for the help. Oh, don’t forget to tell a friend and bring a friend. The more the merrier.

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If you’ve been by the farm lately, you know that our Belgian Mules, Laverne and Shirley, pretty much dominate the skyline.  Surrounded by miniature goats, miniature cows and a miniature donkey, not to mention a handful of laying hens and 11 turkeys, the girls tower over everything like skyscrapers in Lilliput.

The mules are positively gorgeous and can be quite fun, though they do get moody from time to time and want to be left alone.  They are powerful, energetic and offer a kind of interaction you can never get from a tractor or an ATV.  We love them.

There are, however, some downsides to owning draft mules.  First, they eat like horses. Sorry, couldn’t resist.  Seriously, though, these girls can put away some grub.  The two of them go through pasture grass like a mower.  And they are chowing down a big round bale of hay about every two weeks.  That in itself is no big deal, but what goes in, must come out.  Wow, can those ladies produce manure.  We will have enough fertilizer in the spring for every organic garden in metro Atlanta.  I could spend hours every day just cleaning up after them, never mind the rest of the chores.

Another downside to owning draft mules is the cost of horse drawn farm equipment.  Frankly, we can’t afford to buy it new and haven’t found any used equipment in decent shape.  Not true, we did get one saddle from a cousin of Brittan’s.  And we did buy harnesses with the mules. There’s just nothing to hook them to. So until we can come up with the coin to get a wagon or at least a fore cart, the mules will be merely very large pasture ornaments and fertilizer factories.

Owning draft mules is cool and practical, but as you can see, the start up costs are a bit steep and the maintenance has a bit of a sweat equity price tag.  I’m not complaining, just pointing out the downside to getting started.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  B and I are pretty attached to them, but we have a favor to ask.  If you run into Santa Claus when you’re out and about,  please ask him if he could put a mule cart in his Sleigh when December gets here.  We’ve been awfully good little boys and girls….

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Mule Pics

Nothing to report, just wanted to publish a couple snaps of the girls I took last night at watering time.  Laverne on Left, Shirley on Right.


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Mules

 

Laverne

On Saturday, Brittan and I welcomed Laverne and Shirley, two absolutely gorgeous Belgian Draft mules into our world.  If donkeys are the original ATV, then mules are the original 4 x 4 pick up truck.  And that’s exactly why we got them.

The girls are 11 and 12 years old and trained to harness and saddle.  We intend to use them in both capacities. They will also serve as additional Livestock guardians.  I pity the fool coyote who comes after a chicken under the protection of L or S.

L and S are real show stoppers.  First, they are drop dead gorgeous, real head turners.  Secondly, they are enormous.  We have grown accustomed to our miniature cows and donkeys, so these girls look like Gulliver in Lilliput.  Romeo, our mini Jack donkey, was terrified of them at first, but they seem to be

Shirley

getting along now.  The goats could care less and the chickens are delighted with the extra large deposits that they can scratch through looking for bugs.  The down side for them is, that they occasionally have to dodge the dinner plate sized hooves from their new 1500 pound pasture mates.

B and I realize that we have taken a huge bite (in more ways than one) with the addition of draft mules, but it is in keeping with our commitment to sustainability and natural farming.  We are a bit nervous, since neither of us have equine experience, but we are willing and quick learners and are looking forward to farming with our new partners.  Once we get over the terror…..

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