Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Barn Building 2013: Video

Here it is, the video of all the barn building work that happened at the homestead over the summer.

You know our philosophy of only building as we can afford to, of not putting ourselves into debt. Well, I confess we adapted- just a bitsy. We did end up needing a small loan to finish our work for the year. And, there are Pros and Cons to this. On the Pro side: we are living like it is 2016, the barn is soooo ahead of schedule. This frees our time and minds to work on smaller projects, no less important; like expanding the turkey yard and getting the gardens put to bed for the winter, ready for the new Spring. I love driving into the yard and seeing that "Big 'Ole Barn" waiting for me, knowing all the goats have good shelter for the winter to come. I imagine the loft filled with sweet smelling hay. In the Con column: we have an outstanding loan and owe nearly $2,000 for barn materials. Over the last 2 years, we built a solid 20x30, two-story, metal roofed barn, all told, for about $5,000. Could we have done it for less? Of course. But, doing so would have taken a couple more years for us to find all the dirt cheap or donated supplies we needed. Consider the time involved finding and obtaining those supplies and the work involved making them ready for use. Consider the yard space needed to store the supplies until we had enough on hand to continue the work. In the meantime, the barn would have been usable, but it would have leaked some, not be nearly as nice to gaze upon and it probably would not have been so solidly put together. I think we made the right choice. We reused everything we could, accepted donations of windows (Thank you, Ryan & Kimmy and Brad & Debbie!) and Typar (Thanks, Dad!) and purchased new where we needed.

We still need to finish building the doors between the stalls and pasture and upstairs in the hay loft. We need to finish wrapping in Typar to protect the OSB from the weather. And, those things will be done this year.

Next year, when the weather breaks, we'll begin the work of siding the barn permanently and painting it. Barn Red, of course.

I have to say how appreciative we are for our family's support and help and that of our friends. Daddy Dale was here most days working on the barn, with Sean or I, or alone. Momma Twombly made some fantastic meals for us, took on shipping out the jewelry ordered from out-of-state this summer, and helped me at the Belfast Art Market each Friday. Justin and Caitlin pitched in to lend a hand on projects or around the homestead. Kristen and Meaghan helped with keeping the house tidy. Sonja's Dad, John donated the Typar to finish wrapping the barn. Ryan and Kimmy donated the new windows for the kidding stall area. Brad and Debbie donated the new upstairs windows. Keith and Nancy loaned us their ladders. Uncle Alan loaned us his nail gun. The list is pretty extensive and I apologize if I have overlooked anyone. We appreciate all of your kindness and support. ♥

Thanks for visiting today, friends. See you soon!
Sonja ♥

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Naomi Joins the Herd

One of the services Sean and I provide is that of a "goat school" for some of our neighbors, newer to keeping goats and full of the same questions Sean and I had when we began. For a flat fee (based on the number of goats in the herd) Sean and I call on our students at their homesteads at the beginning of each month. During our visit, we show our students how to check over their goats for potential issues. We look at the goat's weight, posture, postern, hooves, eyelid color, coat, etc. We discuss things like; how much and what kind of feed to provide, how often to worm, and how and when to trim hooves. We help our students to get used to keeping good records about the health of their herd. Depending on what topic is of interest during the visit, we print out reference sheets from reputable internet sources for our students to add to their "farm binder".
Our goal is for our students to feel more comfortable in providing routine care for their herd, which can mean a healthier herd. Of course, since neither Sean nor I are veterinary doctors and do not pretend to know everything there is to know about goats, we always refer our students to a licensed, reputable Vet if a medical need arises. But, the reality is many homesteaders and hobby farmers treat routine issues without calling on the services of their Vet: things like, worming, trimming hooves, treating mild cases of scouring, kidding, and the like. We learned from trial and error, asking advice from other goat keepers, and lots and lots of research when things cropped up over the years. I remember vividly the panic I felt the first time Leah began scouring and I didn't know what to do. Scouring is still a serious concern to be addressed, but how much more comfortable I am in my knowledge of how to treat it now!

It was on such a visit earlier this month that we met the little Nigerian Dwarf doe that would come home with us for Zacchaeus (when he gets bigger). Originally, our only plan for Zacchaeus was to employ him as our farm's embassador, as cute, good-natured and small as he is. But, after looking over our student's newly acquired (and soon to be sold) herd of 6 Nigerian Dwarf goats, I had an epiphany: the lovely red doe was 2 years old and was supposed to be about 2 1/2 months pregnant. Neither she nor any potential doelings would be related to Zacchaeus. Best case scenario, little red would have at least one doe kid which would give us two Nigerian Dwarf does available for breeding in coming years. Worst case scenario, little red was not pregnant, but she could be bred to Zacchaeus next year and we'd have additional milk and kids to sell. With these thoughts in mind, we made an offer for her.

Now, you may be wondering why someone would acquire goats and then immediately sell them. Basically, our student had it in mind to keep Nigerian Dwarfs. The breed is popular for many reasons, among them: they remain small, eat less than full sized breeds, have delicious milk, and are often good tempered. This group of Nigerians were lovely, small, and probably would have delicious milk, but they were not friendly with other goats. In fact, though nearly half the size of their full-sized compatriots, these Nigerian Dwarfs had no problem violently ramming the others often and without provocation. After a week of this and in fear of damage to their other goats, our student found them a new home without any other goats to bother. 

And now, you may be wondering, why on Earth would you want one of these goats in our herd of docile and loveable goats. Well, here was my thinking on that. Adding a single goat to a herd is not usually recommended. Herds have a dominance order, like most animals and they establish this order with verbal cues and by feigning head butting and if that doesn't get the message across, actual ramming. It is usually better to add new goats in pairs because many people (us included) believe that the newer goats get accepted better into the herd that way. No one goat is being picked on overmuch when there are two new ones added and the new goats have each other to hang with and snuggle at night. Adding a single goat who thinks she is dominant into a herd of goats who have a differing opinion can go one of two ways. Either the dominant thinking goat is right and she shows all the other goats that immediately and they usually settle in. Or, the dominant thinking goat is wrong and she finds out that the rest of the herd won't stand for the bad behavior. In either of these cases, the new doe is accepted into the herd within a little time. Now, sometimes, the dominant goat never learns and actual fighting breaks out within the herd. In cases like this, we feel it is best to remove the aggressive doe for everyone's safety. Since our student was not selling the other Nigerians until the end of the week, we took the red home on a trial basis, hopeful that she would settle in.
And, that is what happened. We named little red, "Naomi."

Naomi (2 years old and full grown) with Keren (born March 2013)
They are very nearly the same size.

The first night, we decided to introduce Naomi to the doe kids because they were currently the same size and in our experience kids seem to be more accepting of new additions and changes to their routine. A little sniffing of each other, a feigned head butting from Naomi and everyone went back to their resting places to chew their cud and/or sleep. It was quite uneventful, really.

In the morning, after we milked the does and fed everyone, we let the kids and Miss Naomi into the main pasture. The older does nosed about the new addition. Some of them went on alert with their tails straight up, but within a few minutes, it was business as usual in the yard. Sean left for work and I kept watch on the does for a while, but other than their normal romping, eating, and playing, there was nothing to be concerned about.

Naomi sunning herself in the front pasture. The fencing to the wooded back
pasture is open, but the goats generally remain in the front in the morning and
then, in the heat of the afternoon, retire to browse the shrubs and trees.
And, so Naomi has joined us at the farm. It is difficult for us to tell if she is pregnant or not, but we'll start looking for the signs of kidding in November. I prefer to kid in the spring, but I am not entirely displeased at the thought of a new 2 pound baby to love. ♥

Thanks for visiting today, Friends. I am sure glad you came.
Sonja ♥

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barn Building: Part 6 The 2nd Story and Roof!

Wow. Someone is building a Big Ole' Barn. And, it is just that. Big. Wonderfully large and roomy with stalls for the critters, a milking room for me, and wood storage for Sean. I preparation for this post, I took a little time to review the progress we are making and all I can say is, "Wow."

Part One April 2012
Part Two April 2012
Part Three October 2012
Part Four October 2012
Part Five November 2012

Leveling the barn in the fall of 2012. Can you spot Ellie? 

Jedi checking the work.
Before we could continue building the 2nd story of the barn, our foundation had settled over the winter and needed leveling again, badly. Gravel was delivered and Sean and Daddy Dale began the delicate balancing act of raising the front wall about 8 inches. Jacking the barn into position was time consuming, especially when you add a nosey buck into the mix. Jedi kept a close eye on what was happening- ready to step in should the need arise.
Once the first floor was properly level, new 2x6 floor supports were installed and CDX laid. Then, it was time to frame the 4 foot kick wall.
After Daddy Dale installed the kick wall, Sean and he began assembling the gambrel roof trusses. Our plans called for securing the trusses together at the proper angle with gussets. That was the easy part. Attaching them to the ridge board became a 5 person job. Caitlin, Justin and I all pitched in to help steady and hold beams in place as Daddy Dale directed things while he and Sean nailed it all together.

 Since the roof is 16 feet above the second story floor, the step ladder did not cut it. Undeterred, Daddy Dale came up with a creative solution. He screwed two 8 foot pallets together top and bottom into a make-shift ladder, dubbed "The Widow Maker."

The first section of the ridge beam and trusses in place.

A quick break for a cool drink and it is back to work. Justin and Sean hold the beam in place at both ends while Daddy Dale uses the nail gun to secure each 2x6.

 When we framed, sheathed, and temporarily roofed the barn for winter last year, we used screws to fasten everything. It was much faster than the alternative of hammering nails. What a blessing it is to have borrowed Uncle Alan's nail gun for this phase of the building. I confess, I was a little worried about someone getting a nail shot where it shouldn't. That fear aside, using the nail gun saved us sooooo much time.

Thank you, Uncle Alan!

It took a little longer than the men hoped it would to complete the roof truss installation, but by the end of the week, they were all in place and ready for the 2x4 strapping that would support the brand new metal roof. And, that is the next step.

Daddy Dale and I ordered the metal roofing material from Crescent Lumber yesterday. Not only did they have the best price, but they are a local, family-owned lumber company. They create the metal roofing themselves in 16 colors and deliver for free! Can't go wrong with that.

I cannot express how happy I am to have the roofing scheduled to be completed this weekend. I know the goats and Jasmine will appreciate it, too. With the  protective tarp removed while we frame, the stalls are getting more wet than is comfortable for any of us any time it rains.

I have been trying to catch up on this summer's happenings, but it has been slow going on the writing end. I have some upcoming posts about more ducklings hatching, getting our guinea fowl, updates on our turkeys, and more goat happenings. Thank you for your patience as I sort through all of the video and pictures. :) I appreciate it.

I am glad you stopped in for a visit with us. We love your company and comments.
Sonja ♥

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our Anniversary Gift ♥

For our 5th wedding anniversary at the beginning of August, Sean and I discussed how we wanted to celebrate. We tossed about going to the Highland Games in NH for the weekend. (I am Scots <clan Murray> and in previous years (17 of them) the games had been almost a pilgrimage of sorts, so this idea had much appeal). Reason prevailed though. With our barn in mid-construction mode and Sean's Daddy only here a few more weeks, an overnight trip was out of the question. The games would be a miss this year. So, that left us the usual options of (1) dinner and a movie or (2) a nice day trip somewhere. . . The day trip won out when we found an ad in the Uncle Henry's for ADGA Lamancha doelings living in Littleton, Maine (about 3 hours north of us).
Honey (in front)  and Delilah (in back)

Jackpot, their sire sports a
magnificent beard.
At their small and growing family farm, Udderly Blessed Goat Dairy & Homestead, we met Carla Hamilton and her family, and fell in love with her sweet herd of well cared for, friendly Lamancha goats. We met and played with all the doe kids birthed on the farm and then, met the does that birthed them and Jackpot, Carla's Lamancha buck. Many factors were involved in our decision, but meeting the sire and dams of the kids sealed it for us. Delilah and Honey were to be ours. I am very excited about adding these particular does to our herd. Friendliness counts for a lot, but so does production and breeding. If these doelings produce anywhere near the 5-7 pounds of milk their Mommas do, we will be swimming in fresh milk before too long. Side note: Sean nor I had never seen does with udders the size of these! These ladies made Ellie look small and she is a solid lass. I cannot wait to see how their kids do when their time comes for breeding and milking. ♥

The trip home was uneventful. We settled the doelings into a clean and empty stall and spent some time watching them investigate their new home.

Delilah has fuzzy pants! How cute is that?
We always recommend quarantine for new animals added to a farm and we follow that rule ourselves, usually. Despite that, we decided to introduce the doelings to our kids the next morning. To be candid, it was easier to have all the littles in one place. But, more importantly to our convenience, we were satisfied that these doelings came from a clean, closed herd recently tested negative of Johne's Disease, Caprine arthritic Encephelitis (CAE), and Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL). We introduced Honey and Delilah to our herd in the woods. After dropping a bunch of tall branches full of green leaves, we coaxed the doelings to follow us into the woods to meet the rest of the herd. Everyone was too busy munching on leaves to pay the newcomers much heed.

"Hey! Who is THAT?"
Honey ♥
Honey and Delilah are quite people friendly, but this "meeting new goats thing" was a whole new situation, so they mainly stayed with Sean and I, keeping an interested eye on the others. And, that was that. The kids born on the farm accepted the new does with a sniff and some playful romping. That night, they all piled together and slept in the kidding stall without complaint. The older does, protective of their young, will occasionally dole out a token push, but the doelings move out of their way, good naturedly. Delilah follows me around and either stands between my feet or with her head leaned on the back of my thigh. Honey is Sean's girl. She is a little skittish of the petting and loves, but she wants to be right with you- wherever you are and under your feet, if that can be managed.

We are so happy with this addition to our growing farm and have big plans for the future. This fall/winter breeding season is all about the Lamanchas. We plan on finding the perfect fella to breed Ellie for her final year. After this, Ellie will be retired and live out the rest of her days on our farm. We'll keep one of Ellie's doe kids (if she has a doe) to take her place in the milk room. Ellie's daughter, Abigail, now 18 months old, will be bred this year for the first time and we are hopeful for some fantastic kids from her. Joining Ellie and Abigail in breeding this year are Leah and Jane. Leah is scheduled for breeding again this year because we need to get her on the right breeding cycle.

Next year, it will be all about the Oberhausli line. Ruby, Salome, Hadassah, Keren, and Rachel will all be bred. Our goal is to have 6 goat does in milk each year; one year Lamanchas, the next Oberhauslis. We are on our way!

Thanks for visiting today, Friends. I am glad you stopped by.
Sonja ♥

Also shared with Farm Chit Chat