Monday, February 24, 2014

Deep Litter Method: Goats

When I read this post from Lil Bit Farm, I had to commiserate. We use the deep litter method. For those of you who don't know what that means, I'll give you a brief explanation. Basically, instead of cleaning the stalls each day, (like we do spring, summer, and fall) in the winter, we pile fresh hay bedding on top of the soiled hay bedding, layer upon layer, all. winter. long. The benefits of doing this is that the bottom layers begin to break down into compost over time and that produces heat. Heat is a good thing in Maine during the bitterly cold winter months, especially this year when we had steady weeks where the temperature failed to break the zero degree mark. Another benefit, in all honestly, is NOT having to chip away soiled, frozen waste and then wrestle to remove said waste through mounds of snow, several feet deep in below zero temperatures to add it to the compost pile on a daily or weekly basis.

While the "Deep Litter" Method of dealing with animal waste works, we pay for it come spring in the form of screaming muscles and the sweat of our brows- (In all honesty, there was no "we". It was Sean's brow, but you get the point). We have enjoyed a string of days well above the freezing mark, culminating in temperatures yesterday hitting 42 degrees. How did we celebrate? That's right... mucking. Sean worked for 6 hours straight pulling roughly a foot deep of compacted, soiled hay from both doe stalls. Each of these stalls are 10 feet square. That makes roughly 200 cubic feet of waste to remove by hand and shovel. Not to mention the smell! Covering the soiled hay daily prevents the smell from being offensive over the winter. Once you start digging into the rotting layers, let's just say, "offensive" doesn't come close to describing it. Sean is Superman.

The stalls look fantastic covered with a fresh layer of pine shavings. If the weather stays around the freezing mark or higher, we will be able to resume mucking the stalls regularly. Without heat, the barn stays a good deal warmer than the air outside when the doors are closed and the animals are inside- comfy, cozy for the animal inhabitants. 23 days until spring. We are in the home stretch now!

While Sean was shoveling away, I kept him company and played with the goats. Of course, I couldn't resist more videos and images of the growing barn gang.

Please, notice the "before" and "after" images of the bedding, won't you? I try to show how much I appreciate all the work Sean does around here to help keep us running. You can help me. Why not take a minute to comment? How cool would it be for Sean to return home from work today and see his efforts have been noticed not only by his wife and animals, but by our neighbors near and far, too. He might call me silly, but I bet it'll make him feel good. ♥

 Jesse ♥

Snuggles with Elisha. 

Totes Ma Goats. ;)

 One of our resident barn roos, Simon, was feeling his oats. He kept dancing for the girls and crowing for attention. Silly boy. All the girls ignored his show completely.

Simon slept outside one night last week instead of going into the barn or coop. Sean found him roosting in the bed of his truck in the morning. Consequently, Simon's waddles are recovering from frost bite. We have been keeping an eye on them for infection, but they seem to be healing on their own. We'll keep a good watch on them because an infection can be lethal.
Miss Leghorn has resumed laying white eggs for us. Her nesting place of choice is in the pig stall.
Rachel loves scratches under her chin. She is such an affectionate girl. Sean paused in shoveling to give her an ear scratch. Rachel reciprocated by licking his forearm repeatedly and rubbing against him. Just look at that face! You can just about see the love shining from those eyes. ♥

Asher was quite interested in these new little bucklings. Once the first doe stall was cleaned, we opened the door to allow the does to take a walk into the snowy pasture if they wanted and their kids to meet the rest of the herd. I was close by in case of any rough introductions, but for the most part, everyone sniffed and tussled playfully. Leah kept good watch on her young lads, too. She is really a good mother.

This week, I am working on a post regarding introducing Molly to the goats, chickens, and Jasmine. We have been working with her every day and Molly is learning a lot!

Still no news on the kidding front. Everyone is doing well right now. I'll be sure to update as soon as the rest of the kids decide to be born. :)

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, friends. I am so thankful you are here.
~Sonja ♥


  1. Sean did do a great job!!!!!!!!!!!!! i know from having chickens we did the same thing as you thru winter. I can tell you that mucking in the spring is NASTY but looks soooo good when it is finished!! Great pics. everyone looks great.

  2. Seany Sean you did an excellent job on those stalls!!!

  3. Sean, the barn looks so inviting with the new bedding!! Your furry farm family have the best parents:) Sonja, I loved the video and the photos. I'm still trying to get to know all of their names. I think I need a family tree to see who belongs to who. I've just started reading your blogs and am really enjoying them. Of course, I love the jewelry that I've ordered. Absolutely adore the scent shots and am a new fan of your goat's milk soap (it leaves us feeling so soft!)

  4. Sean You did an awesome job. The kids looked a little confused though. Kept jumping on the hay against the wall. "Hey where did our tall hay playground go? This new stuff is not quite so soft."

  5. There are few important things around the farm and the most important person on the farm is YOU at Lally Broch! I know exactly how hard cleaning those stalls out can be!