Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Hog Barn

We have an old hog barn on the farm, that is vacant (except for Davie and Alex, our border collies) and in need of some re-working.  The boards on the backside were falling off and rotting.  This side borders one of our pastures, so we had to patch holes, so none of the small animals could get out.  Shane decided to put up net fence all the way across the back side.  The picture below, is what it looked like while the demolition was in process.
It is called the hog barn because Shane's grandpa had hogs back in the day.  He had a concrete slab poured at an angle to where it could be washed and all of the "muck" would wash down the backside of the hill.  It probably was a really nice setup, but he didn't stay in the hog business very long, so we didn't get so see it in use.
This is the finished backside with the net fence.  We're not sure what this barn will be used for.  Shane and I are in disagreement with what we should do.....He plans on making it a working area for the goats, and I think it would be a perfect place to put rocking chairs.  I guess you would have to see the view from up top.  Behind the hog barn is a steep hill and a stream cuts through.  I could just imagine us sitting in our rocking chairs sipping on some sweet tea watching the goats, cows, horses.  In reality though, Shane will probably end up with his idea happening.  It's more practical.....I mean really, we don't have time to sit in rocking chairs and sip on sweet tea that often.  Besides, his idea would get us out of working goats in the sun in those HOT summers.  One thing I forgot to mention was that the roof of the hog barn is insulated with styrofoam, and it really makes a big difference in the temps during the summer!  Anyway, here is what the back looks like completed.


I also wanted to put some photos of our border collies working the goats. Davie, the oldest, was trained by Shane two years ago. Alex, Davie's daughter, is getting a little training. We have this spot of rye grass/clover mix that hasn't been grazed. Shane started letting the does go in and graze for about 2 hours. Then he lets the border collies round them up and push them back to their pasture. It never gets old watching those does do their work.....I can remember a time when it was just Shane and I on foot trying to round them up and push them to a new location. If you know anything about goats, that was super-duper hard work.   They do not move like cattle.  Those goats whipped our tails. Now they don't stand a chance with the Davie or Alex!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dumor Goat Blocks

In my last post I mentioned that we were feeding a peanut feed to our replacement calves to try to keep them growing and maintaining good body condition.  I thought in this post I would show what we provide our goats with. 

We generally have great forage, and feed is not necessary for the goats, or cattle for that matter.  Last year's winter and this year's winter has caused us a few challenges.  Last year we ended up with no winter grasses for our does to graze and only fed them poor quality hay.  They kidded during this time, and we had one of the worst kidding season ever.  I truly do believe a lot of it was due to the poor nutrition and the below normal temps.  We did provide a loose mineral, but the hay didn't provide what they needed to raise healthy kids in freezing temperatures. 

This year, Shane purchased hay that had been tested out to have 8% protein.  Once again rye grass was planted for winter grazing, but with our crazy weather this year, no real results with it.  Our does have eaten all of the brush left over from summer and we have been putting a bale of hay out for them.  Shane decided to try out a goat block that is formulated for goats that are on a pasture diet.  He found it at our local Tractor Supply. 
I took some photos of the ingredients and nutrient contents so you can see what it contains.  We have only been using it for 1-2 months,  but it seems to be working out okay.  It is recommended to have 1 block for 12-15 goats.

When they are first put out, you have to limit their consumption.  But after a few days it can be offered at free choice.  You also have to be sure not to let it run out.  We have, and when trying to put it out again, they  "attacked" them.  We keep them scattered out with good distance around the pasture in plastic tubs.  

Hopefully when our does start kidding, the clover will be up enough for them to graze!  I'm hoping it will be a great kidding season.  We will be getting kids out of Rooster, Pistol Pete, and Gold Digger!  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Down to 12

After the sale Monday at the stockyard we are down to 12 cows.  We started out with 40 head in the beginning which makes it look like we have no cows.  There are 10 yearlings that have been kept as replacements from some of our good momma cows. 
We have been feeding the replacements to try to keep up their body condition through the winter.  This is the first time we have ever kept any of our calves.  It is much easier to buy one that is already bred that will give you a calf soon.  With the yearlings you have to let them mature and then breed.  It takes 2 years before you can get a calf,  that is if everything goes right.

 2 adorable on-lookers
I hope we can manage to build our herd back up this year.  The weather the past 2 years has really made it a challenge around here.  I am crossing my fingers for a great spring and summer season. 

This is a feed that Shane found that is made of peanut by-products.  It was guaranteed to have 9-12% protein.  The yearlings didn't want to touch it at first, but have started eating it up.  It smells just like peanuts....and take it from tastes just like a raw peanut.  Yep.......we tried it out.  Couldn't resist it.  It just smelled so good and  peanut-y.  I know, I can't believe we did it either. 
Hope we get many good years from her

And her too!

The days are counting down until our goats start off our 2011 kidding season.  I am so excited!  Shane is hoping for all of our goats to kid in five days.  I, on the other hand, wouldn't mind if they space it out a little.  Fifty-two does kidding in five days sounds a little crazy to me.  But hey, that's just me.....

I feel so sorry for this poor thing.  She just waddles all over the place.  I feel for sure she is going to have triplets, at least. 

My favorite doe

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Big work day

Saturday was a big work day here at our farm.  We (I use the term "we" loosely) worked all the cows and checked body conditions, and their mouths.  It was decided that all of the broke mouthed cows would be culled and sent to the stockyard on Monday. 

Shane putting in a new ear tag
Davie and Alex, the border collies, were able to get in there and get a little work done.  As you can see by the photo below, they are ready and willing to get in there to help out.
Alex and Davie
This is a picture of a cow that would be considered to be a "broke mouth" cow.  You can see that she is missing some of her teeth.  This is commonly found in older cows, and obviously causes this cow to not be able to maintain her body condition.  This is due to not being able to pull at the grass as well with those missing teeth. 
"broke mouth"
Shane believes that salt blocks causes broke teeth due to cows biting the blocks.  This of course, is just his opinion.  That's one of the reasons that he uses loose minerals for the cows. 
We had some really good help while working the animals too.  Dillon really jumped in there and worked real hard.  He got up that morning and dressed himself and was ready to go to work! 

He was the gate keeper and would open the gate and let the cows back out into the pasture after they were run through the chute.

Mallory tried to stay out of the cow's way while hanging out above the action, on the fence. 

Then we did FAMACHA checks on all of the goats.  Our does should start kidding around the end of February.  We had to take it easy on them, and not run them through the "alley" in the catch pen.  We just funneled them down to a smaller area and Shane would catch them one by one.   The checks went real well, except a few of the commercial does needed deworming.  We've had them about 6 months.  We'll have to see how they adjust to our management style.  Some have done exceptionally well where others not so much.  You can definitely tell a difference in our Kikos when compared to the commercial.  It's amazing! 
We also changed out ear tags on quite a few of the does.  We purchased a few commercial and some percentage does, so we are planning on color coding the tags to easily identify what percentage they are. 

Once again, Mr. Dillon got right in there and worked those goats like a real "goat rancher."  I think the hat did it for him.  He didn't take it off all day! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It has been soooo cold here lately.  I'm sure you folks farther up north, are much colder......but we typically don't have this cold of weather.  Last night it got down into the teens, and will be getting just as cold tonight.  It is miserable to have to get out in this bone-chilling weather.  I've put on coverall's, scarf, gloves, hat and still get cold.  The wind just cuts through you.  I feel pretty bad for the animals.  Look at their watering tub below....

Now don't you just want a good drink of ice cold water today? 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hay and Hunting Dogs

If you guessed that Shane was constructing a hay rack out of and old trampoline frame, then you guessed it right! 
We really needed something else to put the hay in for the goats.  Our other hay rack offers the goats the option of getting their head stuck between the squares...which I absolutely hate.  Some of those goats are determined to stay stuck, rather than have me help them get out.  I couldn't tell you how many of the square panels I have had to cut with wire cutters to get a goats head un-stuck!  By the time I have to do that I'm almost certain my blood pressure is up near the 200's....

Shane special ordered the panel wire used on this rack.  The squares are 4 inches which keep the goats from getting their heads stuck, and also makes less waste of hay from falling through the larger holes, like our other rack.  We've just put it to use, so we'll have to see how it works.

On another note, we have been having frequent visits on the farm from other 4-legged animals.  This year has brought more hunting dogs onto our place than any other....I think.  We have had to "rescue" some on 2 different occasions, out of the goat pastures.  Our fence line that borders the forest is only 5 strands of barbed wire with one strand of hot wire on the inside on the bottom about 12 inches off of the ground.  It keeps the goats in, but the hunter's dogs manage to get in sometimes.  Our LGD's (livestock guardian dogs)  don't take it easy on them either.  I'm sure if we hadn't gotten to the dogs, they may not have survived.  We have tried to get the word out to the hunters around here about the LGD's and that they do not let the dogs roam freely in "their" goat pasture. 

I just happened to be out in the pasture the other day, when 5 hunting dogs came running down the highway.  The dogs actually caused me to notice them.  They took off and stood guard.  I had to get a picture of this, it was so neat to see them go from friendly with me, to guardian-mode in just a matter of seconds.  I really like the picture too.  If those dogs had crossed the line, they were ready to spring into action.
It's amazing to see how alert and protective they are to their goats against anything that doesn't belong in the pasture. 

Kimba and Jael with one of their daughters
Cheyenne 7 months (far left) in training