Frugally Feeding Farm Animals {supplementing goats}

originally Published on: Sep 7, 2018

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If you’re a naturally minded, homesteader or farm-girl wanna be like me, then you’re probably here to learn more about something you already love- saving money and caring for your animals.

There are definitely ways to frugally feed your farm animals, and I want to share what I have learned, with you. I have been learning as I go since we got our first chickens in 2011, and I’ve never looked back! This will be a series of several posts about how/what to feed farm animals while saving money and keeping them in top-health, as naturally as possible!

Weeds

If you have flowerbeds, there is nothing better to do with your weeds than feed them back to your animals!

Goats *love* weeds, as they are foragers, not grazers.

Goats eat some of the things cows do and most of the plants they don’t-trees, leaves, bark, roses, shrubs, poison ivy, and weeds to name a few of their favorites. Please be careful with shrubs and some weeds, as there are several plants toxic to goats that are commonly found in yards. Goats, when given a large variety, will often overlook toxic pants. But when given a wheel barrow full of treats, or when allowed to eat in a new area, they will likely eat anything they can get their mouths on.

About 6 weeks ago I weeded the back yard flowerbed, placing all the weeds in a wheelbarrow as I went. When I was done, I simply wheeled the weeds to the goat corral and let them go to town eating!

They loved the treat, climbing in the wheelbarrow, and oddly enough- left the grass I pulled! They devoured the weeds and pruned roses, but didn’t eat the lumps of grass. I should have known!

Trees

About once every 4-8weeks my husband will cut a dead or downed tree on the property and haul it into the goat paddock. The goats and the Dexters go crazy, climbing, eating leaves, and pulling off bark.

Another favorite is hedge apples that have fallen from the orange osage trees; I smash them (usually with a stomp of my boot) to make it easier for the goats to eat them. Did you know goats have oddly small mouth openings? It is very odd …

These are our favorite ways to supplement for our goats. We don’t typically give hand treats; the farm I bought my goats from made a great point- feeding treats outside of feed times can quickly turn your goats into rude, pushy, petting-zoo type goats. You know the ones where you can’t walk, move, or be near them without getting jumped on, pushed over, or head butted for food? Yea, those. We don’t want rude, pushy goats. We want sweet, docile, snuggle, “ooooh, someone looove on me,” goats.

We have given occasional watermelon rhines this summer, but not often (those usually go to the ducks and chickens).

 

Clearing Tree Lines

Our goats really enjoy clearing our tree lines, walking on a lead and clearing weeds around fences, the barn doors, the kids’ trampoline, the chicken coop … the list goes on! My husband set up some runners along our north tree line and the goats love going out there to eat weeds and clean it up for us.  They get poison ivy to munch on, among other yummy weeds, and we get some free weed eating done!

Friday on the Farm {Babies Galore!}

We have been so blessed this year with babies on the farm. Everyone was delivered easily, born healthy, and the mamas are all good mamas.

 

It started on Mother’s Day, with Ginny giving us a buckling.  We weren’t 100% certain she was bred, but I checked her ligaments that morning, and they were gone. I thought to myself, “well, she’s probably bred…” about 2 hours later during breakfast, I looked out and a something was laying in the barn yard. Hank (an LGD) was standing over it looking and smelling. I knew a raccoon or something didn’t get in, so I ran out.  Sure enough it was a baby goat. Lady ran out and got the mama, we got them to the stall, and they’ve been prefect since.

The following day we were waiting on Wendy to kid, when we looked up and Jolene, the Hereford, was standing over her calf! He must have just hit the ground; Jolene was already doing her mama thing. He is huge, perfect, and so sweet.

That evening, Wendy had 2 bucklings (it’s a buckling year?!). Perfectly healthy, and mostly white and gray/brown. No moon spots…

40 Acre Wood: Kids on the Farm- Wendy Twins

And finally, Lucy had 2 boys, each with moon spots. Their coloring is beautiful, but I don’t have pics yet.

 

Add rain for 2 months, and that’s been spring on the farm so far.

 

 

 

 

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Friday on the Farm {LGD getting comfortable}

LGD on the Farm

After losing Huck, we decided to bring Bear out of the goat pen and into the yard with the family and chickens. At first he just hung around the gate to the goats, and slept under the chicken coop.

But after about 2 weeks he really started feeling at home. And by week 3, Bear is a pro at protecting all things chicken and child. His bark at night is so reassuring, and he loves the kids. He follows along on my walks each day, and is such a sweet boy.

We are thankful for having kept 2 of Huck’s puppies, and it sure has me wanting to have some more!

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Retained Placenta in Cows Wordless Wednesday {with a few words}

You may have seen the picture on our social media- This is what homeschooling with 5 kids on a farm looks like some days. This is Dolly, headed to the vet for a retained placenta. This was my first time driving a trailer, but it went okay, since I didn’t have to back up. ? I did come home and practice after we unloaded Dolly.

Retained Placenta in Cows

 

The vet cleaned her out, which was really crazy. Cows have a *lot* of placenta, and goo that comes along with it. Much more than people or goats. Anyway, because Dolly’s cervix had begun losing, the vet could only get her fingers in to hook around the tissue, she couldn’t reach in. But, with constant pressure and time, she got everything out. Then she bolused Dolly, and we came home.

She is doing good, enjoying the pasture with her calf, Huey.

There are several different schools of thought on retained placenta- the most common is that it is caused by a lack of minerals needed during pregnancy. We didn’t have these cows then, so we don’t know exactly what access they had to minerals. But they were very well cared for, so I’m sure minerals were offered.

The vet suggested this as well, after day 3 you can tie a jug about 1/4 way full of water to the hanging placenta tissue. This creates constant pressure/pulling, which helps the placenta eventually all come out. When you find the jug on the ground you can tell if it has the whole placenta, or if cleaning out is needed. This is essentially what the vet did with her hand-a constant, gentler, slow pressure. The difference is your risk introducing infection every time you go into the cow, but that is also a low risk if you sanitize properly.

hopefully we will have a head gate set up soon, so we can do more of this on our own on the farm. I did enjoy learning from our vet, she is really great. We are blessed to have her and her team so close by.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Keeping Laying Hens {an easy how-to guide}

Keeping Chickens

Image Credit Pixabay License CC0

You may have read the benefits of raising healthy, free range laying hens-those eggs can be pricey, so raising your own chickens is a great option. You don’t need a great deal of space to keep chickens; a few square feet per chicken in the coop, double that for a run, and you have plenty of space! Owning your own chickens could be a very achievable dream. 

Where To Get Your Chickens

One of the best places to look for chickens will be local farms-you can find these on craigslist, and even facebook marketplace. You will find plenty of people selling chickens of all different ages that are suitable for your needs. Animal rescues will come across chickens for rehoming, as well, so keep your eye out.

Wherever you choose to buy your chickens, you should always look them over first to ensure they are healthy. You especially don’t want to take an unhealthy bird home if you have others in the coop already. Look to make sure their eyes and nostrils are clear, that the scales on their legs are smooth, their feet aren’t crooked or infected on the bottom, and that their beak is straight and closes. You also want to check feathers, and look for any mites that may be living under the downy. Having a safe place to quarantine for 2-3 weeks before introducing to an established flock is recommended to prevent the spread of any illnesses.

Where To Keep Your Chickens

You will need to be aware that your chickens will look like a tasty treat for any local foxes or vermin. With that in mind, you will need to make sure that no predators will be able to get inside your chicken coop. Make sure there are no gaps in the structure; when using wire for the run, a most suggest hardwire mesh, because chicken wire is flimsy and easy for owls, raccoons, and other predators to tear through.

You can build build a structure from scratch, or you could repurpose an existing shed that you may have. Consider the number of hens you will be homing; the more space you can provide for them, the better the quality of life they will have. Cramming lots of birds into a small space can lead to poor health and some very unhappy animals- this can stress them out causing illness. They also won’t lay when stressed.

What To Feed Your Chickens

You will want to make sure that your birds are healthy by providing natural ingredients in their core feed (find more information from companies such as naturafeed). The average hen will need around 100g per day. Be sure to feed morning and night in a sturdy feeder that won’t be knocked over easily, check water pans or waterers (keep them clean!), and don’t forget the treats-aka table scraps! Chickens love cold cabbage, watermelon, and other garden goodies on hot summer days!

Cleaning Out The Coop

Depending on your setup, you will need to make sure to give the coop a full clean out every two weeks or so to protect against red mites. You can choose to don a deep litter method, which is what I do. You still need to keep droppings cleaned up from inside and nest boxes cleaned out, but instead of deep cleaning every few weeks, just add more litter. This is great in the winter to provide warmth.

General Health

To keep your hens healthy, you will need to allow them lots of free time out of the run. Don’t keep them cooped up all of the time-let them roam in your yard, and enjoy watching them! They’re funny. If you have happy chickens, you will have healthy chickens!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Gaining Independence and Responsibility

Gaining Independence and Responsibility

We have BIG jobs as parents; not only do we need to nurture and care for our children, it’s our job to guide them, teach them responsibility, and how to grow into productive adults later in life. One way we can do this is to teach them responsibility when they’re young through age appropriate chores, so as they grow it’s something that comes naturally to them.

Here are a few ways we nurture responsibility and work ethic in our home:

Family Pet

A pet is a fantastic way for children to learn responsibility. There’s work involved but there’s also reward- the fun times and love returned from a pet helps children to know work is worth it. Caring for animals is a great way to build a sense of responsibility and nurturing in our children for others.

A smaller pet like a rabbit is a great place to start; after acquiring a hutch, food and hay bales for them, children can then take on the responsibility of feeding the pet, playing with it, and cleaning out the pen/hutch as needed.

If your home is suitable for a dog, children can be responsible for walking, practicing training, and teaching commands, depending on the child’s age. Our kids are in charge of feeding animals, filling water pans, brushing, and changing litter/bedding on the farm (some jobs with help). Start by showing your child how to take care of the animal, and then slowly wean them onto doing the chores themself. 

Assign Chores

As adults we’re aware there are things we need to get done in life- Going to work, paying bills, running errands and keeping house; we do them because we have to, not because we necessarily enjoy them. Learning from a young age that there are tasks to be done can help when children get older and have more responsibility. Assign age appropriate chores to children and make it a habit. Simple acts like making the bed, setting the table or loading/unloading the dishwasher are a few examples.

We do a lot of tidying and cleaning up in our home through out the day-maybe not the brilliant lego tower, or the perfectly arranged doll setup, but the piles of books, random toys spread around, clothing, and shoes, etc are tidied throughout our daily routine.

Let kids be kids and have fun, of course- but it’s no bad thing to get them used to life skills. In our home responsibility is part of being in a family, living well, and being good stewards of our blessings.

Teach Budgeting Skills

Finally, teaching kids about money and budgeting skills can be useful. Kids dont understand the concept of money and can find it ‘unfair’ when mom and dad say no. Understanding how money is hard earned and finite in quantity can be really useful from a young age. Let them earn allowance by doing extra chores, helping a loved one around their home, and teach them how to divide it up- savings, spending, and “bills” if necessary. They’ll quickly learn that once it’s gone it’s gone, and how saving for the things you really want can be incredibly satisfying. 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Garage Conversion Remodel

The remodel on the garage is going great! (I am back dating this post, but we just finished painting the walls, electrician comes today, then floors, trim, and sinks/fixtures).

I am so excited! I couldn’t decide on a paint color; I truly wanted a blue gray, but settled with a warm gray that will blend nicely into the rest of the house. I may actually end up using this color in the living room and dining; I love the color we have, but in winter and in certain light it becomes a really weird color (east/west facing room with big windows on either side).

Anyway, I love the gray we chose. Really, I though I was sick of seeing gray in everyone’s house on Pinterest and the internet … but now I get why it is so popular!

Mudroom Wall Paint {garage conversion}

The pictures do NOT do the color or the room justice. It is so much bigger than it looks in the pictures; I think we are even going to put a breakfast nook/snack table in front of the window for the kids.

We are going with painted trim. I LOVE the color of the trim, and plan to paint the kitchen cabinets the same color… But part of me is mourning the wood trim. I know it isn’t trendy and people hate wood trim, but ours is actually pretty nice and it hides the farm dirt so well! Im worried we are making a mistake by painting it, but what’s done is done … so we shall see.

 

My favorite part of the room? Aside from the extra wide entry stairs and my window (which I begged for) is the pantry! The size and the barn door definitely take the cake!

Yall- look at that thing! IT IS HUGE! The picture doesn’t really show how big it is, but the barn door that slides across it had to be custom built by my husband and our friend (who has been doing the remodel) because it is so wide! They put together 2 barn doors, and husband is having the metal rack built.

In the back of the pantry will be the garage fridge, so we don’t have to have it out in the actual room. We will line the rest of the pantry space with shelves for storing bulk goods-cans, toilet paper, paper towels, appliances, my BIG stock pots and pans.

HUGE walk in pantry and fridge nook

I know my pictures are pretty terrible. Between the lighting and my amateur photography skills, I’m not doing any favors. But, you get the idea.

Custom Built Barn Door

 

Anyway, more pictures to come as the project gets finished up. Next we start on the old laundry room/master bath conversion! It won’t take nearly as long as the garage, but will definitely make a nice difference!

Happy Wednesday!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Friday on the Farm {winter 2019}

 

A lot has happened this winter on the farm- we welcomed our wirehaired pointing griffon, Flossie, to the family.

WHPGriffon puppy

Our LGDs-Yona and Huck- welcomed a litter of 11 (ELEVEN!) fat, healthy puppies. They are growing like crazy and are 2 weeks old. I just love them, and want to lay in the whelping box with 11 puppies all day … but Yona won’t let me =P

the night puppies were born, after I cleaned up our mess this was in the garage (pre remodel) because she kept wanting to have the puppies in a hole in the shop. They are now moved out to the shop and everyone is happy

LGD Puppies

We also started the remodel on our garage-it will soon be a laundry, half bath with utility sink, GIANT pantry, and maybe reading/sitting nook (the space is bigger than expected, but I’m not able to capture it well in pictures). We will gain a new master bathroom, and move our bedroom door; we’ve added a split A/C/heating unit, and we will hopefully be refinishing the stairs to the basement and opening up that area. A LOT is happening.

Friday on the Farm- remodel

And, lastly, I fell on the ice February 10th and suffered (I mean, like suffered for real, y’all) from a concussion. I’m not entirely sure why movies and tv shows make concussions seem like no big deal, I expected it to be no big deal- I was SO dizzy, nauseous, and out of my element for 2 weeks; I couldn’t drive, look up, be around bright lights or noise, and I was exhausted! This weren’t as bad the day of, it was the following day that everything set in. I seriously thought it would never end and had a break down on day 8 (which is probably kinda silly).

Now that I am feeling better, I realize just how bad I truly felt… man was I cranky, too. We are all so thankful that is over!

Later this spring we should have some baby goats arrive (end of May/early June), the remodel should be done, and we are hopefully adding to the garden.

Right now, it feels like winter will never end, so I am not sure when any of the outside work/gardening will begin =(

 

How is the weather where you are? What are your plans for the end of winter?

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Friday on the Farm {trusting our LGDs & Puppies}

Life on a little homestead farm has lots of ups and downs. We have lost chickens to exposure, ducks to cocci, and had some scares with the goats (bloat) this last year.

In the meantime, running in the background, has been our best investment for our family: our Livestock Guardian Dogs.

Huck is bonded to his chickens and stays on the farm/yard/ has freedom to run the property. He stays home and we don’t have to worry about him galavanting about. He loves his animals and his people, is a giant teddy bear with our human babies, and never lets any of his guardians out of his sight (our 4 children included).

Yona is our female, she is Huck’s to train and raise as his working partner. We had her tethered for a long time, letting her accompany us for chores, until she was trustworthy (LGD breeds are slow to mature, slow to let go of their puppy-hood, but due to their size can injure a goat, chicken, sheep, easily if they are too playful).

LGDs On The Farm

Relaxing Our Trust

Sometime in late summer/early fall we decided it was time to let Yona do more than just chores with us; we let her stay in full time with the goats and dexters.

This girl has never been happier!

I think as LGD owners, we can be too hesitant to let go and allow them to do their work in fear of losing goats, kids, chickens … but when they come from working stock and good blood (not show blood), they KNOW instinctively what to do, and with the correct exposure can be ready sooner rather than later. Oh how I wish I had given her the freedom and trust sooner! She is right where she needs to be, in that pasture with the goats and dexters.

She and our largest Dexter have the strangest relationship … he grooms her, licking, nuzzling, and rubbing on her. She leans into him and lets him do whatever it is he is doing?! Maybe it is a dominant behavior on his part? Maybe it is a loving behavior? I can’t tell.

Puppies?!

In November, Yona went into heat (you can read about the benefits of waiting to spay/neuter until they’re older via google)- we thought we made sure Huck couldn’t get to her. But that giant boy jumped through hoops, literally, to get to her. Again, we confined him and he broke out & got to her in the middle of the night. (hindsight- we should have separated her into the cattle trailer where he couldn’t get to her, instead of trying to confine him).

We are now *almost* certain she is due with puppies! It is very exciting and nerve wracking. We will see the vet to hopefully confirm if she is expecting, and then we will begin preparations for ear;y February pups! I am excited to see Yona and Huck work together to raise pups to become great LGDs one day- homes will be selected based on many factors, but specifically for personality matching, fencing, etc. I know the hardships of trying to keep an LGD home without proper fencing (thankfully we are almost done with our entire pond-pasture fencing!), they’re loud barkers, and chew everything!

I see how many of these LGD breed dogs are in shelters because they either went to homes without proper fencing, or city homes where they aren’t really meant to be, thus causing problems with chewing, barking, escaping, etc. They require huge amounts of time and dedication, do not do well with changes, and are NOT quiet. They’re smart, independent thinkers, work best in pairs, and are truly amazing workers.

I look forward to the possible puppies and new lives here on the farm. Please pray we have a safe, healthy first experience!

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

The end of Summer- Friday on the Farm

August marks the end of summer. It is time to prepare the farm for fall! This means a lot of work, all to prepare for next spring’s planting.

End of summer on the Farm 2018 {chores list}

We will spend the next several weeks:

  • Pulling out the summer’s garden plants, composting them
  • Possibly planting a fall crop, or cover crop to replace nutrients (has yet to be decided)
  • Cleaning up the corral area where the goats and cows currently live
  • Deep cleaning the barn, feed room, and feeding containers
  • Cutting firewood for winter
  • And putting in some new berry patch beds (we are adding grapes to the orchard!)

As far as the animals go, I need to:

  • copper bolus my 4 Nubian goats
  • prepare the older 2 does for breeding in the next 4 weeks by upping nutrition and herbs
  • slowly increase the Dexter steers’ alfalfa intake
  • Treat chickens with DE as preventative, up their nutrition to prepare for egg production slow down in the fall (which has already begun)

End of summer on the farm Chores

I will pull up the summer flowers in pots, and replace with mums and pansies ? we need to cut back some of the flower bed shrubs, and re-weed part of the beds. The weeds go back to the goats. They love it!

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