Gracie and the Getaway

First, let me introduce you to my freakishly adorable and hopefully pregnant Nigerian Dwarf goat, Gracie.

I am a little biased, but her two toned horns did me in from the moment I met her. I mean could you ever look at those sweet little ears and curious head tilt and feel anything but happiness?  I am here to tell you yes, yes you could.

 

 

Gracie is our escape goat.  Even though we greatly reinforced our goat fencing from when we first had our goats,  Gracie is in the habit of simply squeezing under our electric fence without so much as a flinch.  Some would say to build a better fence (but who has a couple extra thousand sitting around on a homestead?) instead we decided to utilize our farm dogs.

Although when Jackson actually catches up to the goat he just stops in startled confusion and looks around with a “what now?” face, he is our goat herding savior!  Now, even when Jackson is inside we can simply call “Jackson, get the goat!” and gracie ducks back into the confines of the fence.  Not a permanent solution, but definitely an entertaining one!

Jackson smiling to a chorus of “good boy!” even though his little brother is licking his face.

Folly is still a little… slow… on the goat herding.  His most recent tactic “stare at the goat adorably” has not proven very effective.  Hopefully he learns to be a better herding dog from Jackson soon!

Afternoon on the farm

       I have an awesome job.  Not only do I feel valued as an employee, get to work with awesome people, have a great work environment, AND it is in a field that I am passionate about. but when I tell manager that my goat Gracie has escaped the fence (calls from neighbors I never thought I would get) she doesn’t hesitate to laugh before letting me off to go chase her down.  I f you have never checked out Astral’s stuff, give it a look!  After a fun hour of shaking grain at the goat and cursing under my breath, she was returned home.  Michael got home shortly after and we got to celebrate that we were both home together before the sun set!

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This little girl is literally only preserved by her own cuteness

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I have embraced the fact that I am now a crazy goat lady
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All of the rain has gifted our pigs with mud
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Babs reminds me of a cartoon character, do you see her little smile?

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A reward after a long day
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Everyday is an adventure and I couldn’t be happier to spend it with this handsome man

Entertained and Contained; Our Goat Playground

After our first goats escaped, I read everything I could about goat containment.  One of the tidbits I gleaned is that bored goats are more likely to escape.  After learning this factoid (well, mostly just because it is really cute to watch them jump around) I started dreaming up our goat playground.  With scrap wood from our own projects as well as from a local engineering school our current playground was built, and so far it has been a hit!

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Michael examining our creation.

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Hazel enjoys being Queen of the playground.

I am typically a very stingy person but when our hose blew and it was time for an upgrade, I was ecstatic.  I had been dreaming of building a rope bridge of sorts for our goats to play on but needed a hose to hold the planks together.  It was the day after I had found our seven week old bottle baby goat, Dory, had not made it to the morning and I was in desperate need of a distraction.  So I took on the project! I gathered all of our spare/scrap 2x4s  we had laying around and cut them into approximately 18 inch sections.  I then spaced them an inch and a half apart and screwed in the old busted hose along the backside.

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Inch and a half spacing was more of a suggestion, who needs to measure?

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Folly “helping” me by chewing on every tool not currently in my hand

I asked Michael to take pictures (he is a very talented photographer) but evidently that translated to not being able to help me carry my creation over the electric fence.

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We screwed the excess hose on either side into some platforms we had built from found pallets.

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I had to force Michael to put down the camera and help at this point!

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Ginger being curious about the new addition

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Hazel was unsure and so initially tried to jump the entire gap

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Michael and Hazel discussing modifications

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A happy herd

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Hazel timidly going for another try

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She stayed splayed and unsure for about a minute

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And then made the leap!

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Babs seemed to approve of the addition to the farmyard (but that could have had something to do with the hay we bribed them with). And so now Folly Farms has its own swinging rope, er… I mean hose bridge and a few very happy goats because of it.

10 New Goals for the New Year.

Our Goals for this New Year.

#1 Get internet – After three months of going to McDonald’s every time we needed to use the internet (seems a little counterproductive to what we are trying to do with food) we tried to get AT&T to hook us up.  Unfortunately, the service man came out only to tell us that we lived too far away for the internet to work.  Needless to say, order cancelled. We may have to get creative!

As penance for our sins, we promise to perfect a farm to table McNugget once things getting rollling.

#2 Milk our goat – Due to Ginger’s lack of widening over the last few months we are fairly certain she is not pregnant.  We haven’t noticed her coming into heat though either, so we could be surprised!  Gracie on the other hand is showing all of the tell-tale signs of carrying a kid so hopefully on March 1st we will be getting our first sip of goat’s milk!

#3 Mealworms – We are hoping to start a mini mealworm farm to help feed our chickens.  With the addition of 39 chicks in December we are going to need all of the wormies we can get!

#4 Outdoor lighting – We currently have no outdoor lighting.  Our Front porch light was broken within a week of our moving in and we have been using flashlights and lanterns ever since.  Seems like such a simple task to prioritize, but after putting out the daily fires associated with farm life it is easy to forget!

#5 Hatch our own eggs – We are hoping to be able to hatch our own eggs for our new Ameraucanas, Cochins, Buff Orpingtons, RIRs, and silkies!  We will have to see how our straight run chicks develop and try to supplement with more hens and roos as needed.

#6 Meat Birds – After a good friend let us borrow Joel Salitan’s book Pastured Poultry for Profits (a highly recommended read!) I felt empowered to make the leap.  We are already doing research on how we want to start 50 birds for our personal use and hopefully take orders to raise birds for our friends and neighbors!

#6 More Pigs – Michael has become quite the hog farmer and I am so proud by all of the work he has put into them.  He hopes to have 10 pigs next round and I am hoping to have 6.  We will see where the compromise is!  I have no room to complain since he carries the heavy buckets of feed every morning and night, fills their water, and scratches their ears, all while I sit in the warmth of the house watching.  There seems to be quite a bit of interest in this first round of happy hogs, so the plan is to scale up a bit!

#7 Our Garden – Our current pigs have been tilling and fertilizing our garden for us all fall and I am getting excited about the harvest we will be seeing in a few months!  Last year our garden was destroyed by a gang of heartless thugs (also known as groundhogs) so we will be taking extensive preventative measures this year.  We have ordered a fat envelope full of heirloom, non-GMO, organic seeds that I am excited to put in the ground.

#8 Rabbits – Michael is itching for additional meat sources to help push us on our way to sustainability.  With rabbits propensity for quick reproduction and development of lean meat, a breeding trio can actually produce more meat in a year than a steer would.  I am struggling a little bit with fluffy tails and cute twitching noses, but I have been promised to be spared from the butchering process until I feel more comfortable.

#9 Be generous – We are hoping to create enough food to be able to share! Once we’re getting some delicious return from this project we’ll be able to build some baskets throughout the season to spread the love with some folks. I think that the hard work we put into developing the sustainability of our practices is incredibly important. With that being said, I believe that sharing our food and our story is even more important when it comes to effecting the way that we, and hopefully others, connect to the food we eat.

#10 Get Married – Michael is the love of my life.  I could go on for pages with mushy feelings about his hard working spirit, his passion, his dedication, his wonderful hugs, how good he looks in overalls, and his sweet smile, but I will spare you!  Although getting married to your fiancé seems like a silly goal, as homesteaders (which double as fire fighters since there are always fires that need putting out) taking the time and money to separate yourself from your farming ventures requires effort.  We have already been engaged for 4 months with minimal planning and since Michael doesn’t want to budge on his dream date of September 2017, we have our work cut out for us!  I can’t wait for the day when we stand with only our immediate family in a beautiful outdoor location to pledge our lives to each other.

We would love to hear about your goals or resolutions for the coming year!  Comment below or send us a message to share, we would love to chat about it.

My 5 Favorite Things About Homesteading

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Some days I sit back in awe of everything we have been blessed with and am amazed by what our labor has created so far, other days I need to be reminded of all of the wonderful things around me.  This morning before work I managed to step in every kind of animal poop that exists on our farm – and of course I wan’t wearing my rubber boots.  That all too familiar little slide in your step when your weight bears down on a fresh pile of dung repeated itself about four times from the door of the chicken coop to the door of our car.  This morning was a morning that I needed to be reminded.

Here is a brief reminder of some of the amazing things I enjoy on our homestead.

 

#1 – My Partner

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I bet you didn’t know Michael was also a male homesteading model did you? I’m joking, but I am truly blessed to call this handsome, hardworking, goofy man mine.  Homesteading is hard and tests your fortitude in the face of unbelievable self-inflicted stress.  Through it all, this wonderful bearded, beer-lover has kept me not only sane, but extremely happy with the life we have chosen.  Did I mention how cute he was?

On top of working a full time job at New Belgium Brewery, he spends his off days spoiling me and laboring on our farm.  I don’t think he has had a true “off day” in months and is still one of the most enthusiastic and loving people you will ever have the privilege of meeting.

 

 

#2 The Opportunity to Share

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One of my favorite things is being able to share our farm with others!  Before doing this, Michael and I had never really even experienced a pig in real life or a goat outside of a petting zoo.  Curious about these critters?  Drop in any time to meet them, much easier to visit them than raise them!

 

 

#3 – Fluffy Butts and Fresh Eggs

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With the goats scheduled to kid in January (the coldest part of the year, whose poor planning was that?) and the pigs graduating to the freezer in late February, the chickens have thus far been the only return on all of our hard work. Thanks to these lovely hens, we have not one, but TWO dozen eggs in our fridge!  I believe we will have some farm fresh quiche tonight.  I’m not sure if their productivity has filtered my sight of them, but they get cuter and cuter with every egg they lay.  The cuteness of the original eight may have been all of the influence we needed to go forward with another 36 chicks that are currently brooding in our basement… and the 25 broilers scheduled to come in February. Why not go all out?

 

#4 – Better Than Netflix Entertainment

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There is never a dull moment on the farm.  Even after all of the chores end (not because of lack of chores but because of lack of daylight) there is so much movement and noise that I don’t think the phrase “I’m bored” has been uttered since the acquisition of our first hen.  Seriously y’all, goats climbing their playground, chickens in dust baths, and pigs running around squealing is way more interactive than Netflix.  Which is a good thing since we STILL haven’t set up internet at our house… AT&T came out to set us up and claimed that could provide speeds almost as fast as dial up! We decided to pass.

 

 

#5 A Growing Intimacy With My Food

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Since starting out on this endeavor, our appreciation of food has completely changed.   It changes your perspective when you can literally look outside and see the source of your sustenance.  Now, meat does not ever have a chance to “go bad” because it was forgotten in the fridge.  As a matter of fact, we eat significantly less meat. Knowing that meat was more than a tray at the grocery gives it a much higher value than it ever had before.  When our chickens decide they are going to revolt and hide their eggs from us, forcing us to buy eggs from the store, we buy the $5 eggs that we know come from happy, free range chickens.  Seeing the joy that comes from watching our hens scratching around the yard has deepened my conviction against supporting companies that keep their animals in inhumane conditions.

What are the things that you are most grateful for on the homestead?