Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Home-made Warming Oven for Goats and Sheep

Finally, a couple weeks ago our first doe kidded. We ran out of frozen milk and had to buy from the store. That is painful and tasteless. I had tried to get a couple goats pregnant in the early fall but alas, no luck. Okay, that sounded bad. Rather I had taken the does when they were in heat to the buck but alas nothing. Since the does cycled last summer and, I hope they do again this summer, I will try then instead of early fall. Hopefully it will be a strong enough cycle for one doe to take and freshen in the winter time. I want fresh milk 12 months of the year which means kidding at different times. In the winter is when I have the most time to make products from the milk and it just makes sense to have at least one doe freshen then. Summer is such a crazy busy time with the huge area we have to keep mowed and the garden.

I have started making buttermilk with store milk. Wow, what a taste let down, bland, bland in comparison to the fresh goat milk buttermilk that makes pancakes and biscuits divine. I was making the buttermilk from frozen goat milk. With such a rushed fall I did not get any milk canned. My goal was to try making buttermilk with canned milk. Alas, it did not happen as I just used up the few bottles of canned milk I had cooking. Definitely lessons learned. 

With a penny crunch going on around this household, I need to gear up to make far more dairy products. Sour cream and butter will be a must along with the present yogurt and buttermilk. How will I ever have the strength and time I don't know but I will move forward in faith, and pray that the Lord strengthens me like he did the Israelites under Pharaoh during the time of Moses.

One area I could save time and money on if I was a bit smarter would be the doelings. If I knew which ones to keep and which to sell before I put a years worth of feed into them. If little two week old Hanna had an udder forming then I would have a better idea if she would be a keeper. I want to replace Hanna's mom, Meagan, as she is a bit nervous and this effects her milk supply along with making her not as nice to handle. My husband was concerned about Hanna's crooked legs but I assured him they would strengthen with exercise and straighten they have.
With wanting to have babies in the winter one must prepare. I want to make little coats for the kids when they are larger. When they are just born and for the first week if it is cold then this is one of the coolest things. Our friends built a warmer just like this one and when we moved, I vowed we would make one too. It is a plastic 50 gallon drum made into a warming oven. Heat lamps and livestock are a dangerous thing. Your goats or sheep touch the hot light bulb with their noses burning them and the wet nose and hot lamp combination breaks it shattering sharp shards of glass all over. Or... the heat lamp gets bumped and it falls into the bedding starting a fire. With this method the heating lamp is not accessible to the mothers. It is enclosed high above the kids or lambs and the sides of the drum hold in the heat making it much warmer. When the kids were not inside warming themselves in the then chilly weather, our cat, Duke was. Nights were in the 20's farenheight when these kids were born. Not severe but I do like to make sure they get a good start.
The area fits all three kids comfy. I don't have to worry about cold temperatures and the babies chilling nor their mom causing problems.
Don't be confused by the yellow flashlight on the top of the barrel. The barrel has a tendency to become a shelf when I am feeding babies and tending mom.
Besides an opening cut in the side of the drum with a saw for the goats to enter, hubby drilled a hole in the drum's top, right in the center. We strung the heat lamp cord up through the hole from the inside. Another much smaller hole was drilled in the rim of the lid of the drum. With a wire strung through this hole in the rim and wound tight around the cord, the lamp is held safely in place in the center of the drum. The electric cords are outside the pen so they can't cause an emergency either.
With a rope snug around the barrel and tied to a wood post, it is about as safe as it gets. A corner works best for this set up as the 90 degree angle helps holds the barrel in place.
We have used this set up for two years and LOVE it! Give it a try and tell me what you think.
Oh yeah, I put the babies in the barrel just once to let them know where it is and how good it feels soon after they are born. They will seek it on their own after that unless they are really, really dumb. Just one more recycling project.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Home Again, Home Again

 My planner looks like a intarsia sweater full of color work. Each person has a color assigned to them because of the mass amount of writing on each day's space. It keeps me from being utterly confused of who's going where, when, and what event I promised to attend. The amount of field trips in May for just two of our four grand daughters staying with us is insane. The oldest has nary a one poor girl. 
I had to take out my spinning wheel for a while today to restore some sanity after being at the school for our fourth grader's rendezvous. They panned for gold, churned butter, guessed animal tracks and much more making it a full days events. I only attended for a few hours with our four year old. She was the only one that figured out the frog tracks. Now how did she do that? There were 90 some students participating.
The crowning event was the trading time where the students brought at least ten home-made rendezvous period type items that they had made. I giggled when our 9 year old grand daughter brought home banana bread. How many mountain men do you think had bananas to make bread with? That was a stretch but I'm sure the little girl enjoyed making it and our grand daughter enjoyed eating it. They learned a little and laughed a lot and what could be better?
(Our 7 year old bringing the gang home.)
All this crafting and running around has us going a bit crazy. At this same time we are having a bit of a fencing problem. The goats went through the lay-down fence of our neighbors. We need to tighten it but they still will probably go through. Most of our land remains unfenced and the pasture is getting eaten down. Not to the damaged stage but to the less desirable than the neighbor's stage.  We'd never heard of a lay down fence before we moved here. The fence literally lays down. There are a few wood posts down the fence line to which the fence that lays down attaches in the summer standing it upright. We have deep snow most winters and it will literally pound a metal t-post all the way into the ground. It does a number on the wood ones too. With the fence laying down it minimizes mending fence.
The gulley next to the fence gets a good 10 to 15 feet of snow in an average winter. The north side of our property has a permanent 3 to 4 foot drift all winter.
To solve the problem we put the goats up higher nearer the house to and they began going through the fence on the north side. We put cow panels up along the pen area with the five strands of existing wire and told the does STAY!!! The bucks go out with the steer in the day time as they won't go far from the does. At night we put them inside a shed locked tight. Wolves were roaming by a few weeks ago and killed a calf nearby so I'm sure they would just love goat meat too. Oh the joys of living in the country where bears, wolves, mountain lion, coyotes, and fox roam.
We had hoped to get the garden fencing done because I tried trenching a few pathways and marking 3 permanent raised bed but the chickens came in immediately and smoothed everything out. So frustrating and so much for planting as I now know for sure they will just dig it up or eat the seeds. We lost most of our last years garden to them.The chickens flew over the previous owners fencing and helped themselves. We found out that 12 chickens are one thing in a BIG garden but 22 are something quite destructive.
We badly need that garden with the increase of mouths to feed. My onions have arrived and with the warmer weather I could be planting BUT.... This weekend I hope we can get the garden fence done and I get started planting.
So many projects and so little time.