Thursday, March 19, 2015

2015 CSA Share Information and Barn Plans

Moved upstairs until they can return outside.
This post was started more then 2 weeks ago and got pushed to the background as new kids were born. At the risk of giving you all whiplash, I am posting it anyway...

It is very much like the game of getting the fox, chicken and the grain across the stream intact. Sean is working at changing the goats about in preparation of business of real kidding season to begin now that pre-season has run its course with two successful kiddings.

We begin to milk tomorrow morning. In order to get the milk stands set up and ready, the turkeys needed to be moved upstairs in the barn this week- which meant that upstairs had to be cleaned up from supplies, shelves, and the other useful bits that had accumulated over the winter and were in need of some serious sorting. Tonight, the kids all need to be separated into one stall together and away from their Mommas for the overnight. And here is where the logistics become interesting.

Asher cannot be housed with the other young bucks while the doors are still kept closed (most of the time) to keep in the heat. He can be housed with Jane, so she is moving back there. Lilly and Bailey need to be moved from a stall without doors, to one where kidding can be more comfortable and fully accessible. The best spot would be living with Abigail and her kids, Sarah and Levi. But, we can't just throw them in there and hope for the best. So, while Sean deconstructs the wall between Jane and Abigail, Lilly and Bailey can chill in the milk room. Ellie, Cassie, and Jem will be moved to live with Leah, Rachel, and Keziah in the main doe stall so that Keren and Naomi can vacate the stall with Abigail and move in with Haddie and Meme in the 2nd kidding stall. They are all due to kid next month, are the same age and grew up as kids together and should get on well. Once all this shuffling takes place, Sean will reintroduce Lilly and Bailey to Abigail while he deconstructs the temporary wall which kept Abigail and Jane apart and use that lumber to create an overnight kid pen all the while watching for any trouble between Lilly, Bailey, and Abigail. Dizzy yet? When all is said and done- for the next 6 weeks- during the daytime hours:
* Asher will live with Jane and their twins on one side of the buck stall
* Jesse, Judah, and Eli will live together on the other side of the buck stall
* Ellie, Cassie, Jem, Leah, Rachel, and Keziah will share a 10x10 stall
* Abigail and her kids, Sarah and Levi, Lilly, and Bailey will share a 10x10 stall
* Meme, Haddie, Keren, and Naomi will share a 10x10 stall

Once the weather breaks and Keren kids, she, her kids, and Jesse will all move to their new forever home to start a brand new herd and provide milk for their new family. The doors to the pasture will be reopened. All three 10x10 doe stalls will have their dividing doors open to allow free access during the day. The wall separating our three bucks will be removed and they will also enjoy free access to their stall and pasture. Once the weather breaks. Boy, that has a nice ring to it!

*************** Back to the Drawing Board*****************

Our make-shift plan doesn't work.

1. Lilly & Bailey began aggressively butting heads with Abigail and the kids upon introduction. While the goats in other stalls gave a few token pushes and feigns while they settled in to who is in charge, the sisters tried using their much larger size to run Abigail outside and not let her back into the barn- over and over and over. *Sigh* Seriously.

2. In Jane's absence, Asher decided he likes having a bachelor pad and tried to pick a shoving match with Jane's kids. Unlike Jedi who was sweetness itself with kids, Asher immediately tried to show his dominance. That lasted all of one minute before Asher was granted his wish to have his own stall, again.

We considered letting Jane and her twins live in the milk room with Ebony, the pig. This will not work. Both bouncy kids tried climbing the stairs already and that is a recipe for disaster! So, for overnight tonight, we'll move Abby to the milk room alone. Jane will sleep in with Asher and all the kids will have a sleep over together in a stall to themselves. In the morning, after we milk, we'll pick up more wood and make some changes.

*********** Success! (Or, a close approximation of it, anyway.) ************

It is not the best solution to our dilemma, but it works for the moment. We pray daily for the weather to finally break. These animals are stir crazy from being cooped up all day and who can blame them? Not I.

Keren, Piper, and Jesse will be leaving our farm to begin their new life together at their new home sometime in the next week or so. When that happens, we'll rearrange stalls slightly and it will look like this come April...

The reality is, we already need a bigger barn. While I realize that perhaps some of you might suggest keeping less goats, doing so is contrary to our reaching the goal of maintaining this lifestyle by working for ourselves. I confess, I worry about finances and whether we are making the right choices for our family, but when we weigh working for others and being away from home and our kids all day with the delight and joy our schedule has been since Sean's February lay off... well, it is not even a close call. The girls education has become more of a family focus. Working together each week in our ministry has strengthened us and brought us closer together. So many projects are getting done with time to spare for US. We are creating more of our products at a better pace in preparation for the coming season. Sean half-jokingly remarked to me that he's never worked harder, but the meals are better. It is hard work, but I don't consider that a "downside". In fact, it is really hard to find a down side. It shouldn't be so in the wake of uncertainty and the loss of a steady paycheck, but Sean, the girls, and I have never been closer or happier than we are right now, today. I understand that perhaps it won't last. Perhaps the financial bottom line will necessitate Sean's return to full-time employment elsewhere. If it does, I will choose to look on these past few months as a wonderful gift. But, how will we know for sure, unless we press forward and TRY with all our might?

Sean has been taking odd jobs as he can find them to help supplement our income until shows, craft fairs, and farmer's markets begin in earnest. We hope that one of these opportunities will become a steady 2-3 day/week employment, leaving him available for the farm the other 4-5 days/week. I am creating as fast as my fingers will allow it. And, we are working on our goal of supplying goat's milk soaps, massage melts, scent tarts, eggshell jewelry, and bee's wax wraps to 8 additional stores in Maine. We are planning for this year's CSA garden shares (Click to read.) Goat rentals (click to read.) begin April 1st. And, we have enough eggs being laid regularly to satisfy 6 of our 10 regular CSA Egg Share (Click to read.) Customers. This will increase daily with the daylight. If you are interested in signing up for any of our shares, you can use this form (Click to read.) or call to talk with Sean or myself at 207-323-4982.

Sean and I spent a couple hours this week planning on the barn expansion we'll need to frame and sheath this year. Most of the year, the does will have open access to three of the stalls and their field. Once breeding season comes in the fall, we'll be able to separate our pairs into private and semi-private kidding stalls. We've planned to create four kidding stalls (marked in light blue). If we can breed the way we did this year, with several weeks between each kidding, this will suit us perfectly. We'll increase to breed 8 does each year, alternating years so the does have plenty of time to rest and recuperate after breeding.

This is our ambitious, 2-year barn plan:

*Pour cement pad for addition
*Frame & OSB sheath 10x10 Dedicated Milking Room
*Frame & Cement Board sheath 10x5 Dedicated Milk Processing Room
*Frame 10x5 Wood Shed
*Frame and Metal Roof Addition
*Typar entire barn
*Move and install windows and doors (as necessary)
Cost of Materials Approx. $900

*Aluminum siding on entire barn
Cost of Materials ?????

When I wrote this two days ago, I felt nothing but excitement at all of the possibilities ahead of us. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, but we're up for that. Today I spent most of the day working on gathering information for a grant I want to apply for. If we are successful, we'll have the funds to expand and complete all the garden beds we want to have, a greenhouse to cover a good amount of them, and the barn expansion completed this year. It would be a HUGE jump for us and allow us to apply for our dairy license as well as more than double our CSA shares. My dream is to be able to focus part of our CSA shares towards supplying low-income and elderly families with fresh, local foods. For some reason the potential to be able to take that leap so soon leaves me feeling overwhelmed and just a little lost. It is all perception. Nothing has changed between this day and that, other than my perception and mental attitude.

I think it is time to get off this silly machine and put my hands to work. Nothing helps change an attitude so much as a little physical work help to distract the mind. I need to make another three batches of soaps to give us a fully stocked supply and there is no time like the present.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit friends.
I am glad you came.

~Sean & Sonja ♥

No comments:

Post a Comment