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 http://quietinthechaos.com/best-dating-service-for-seniors/. 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!

Not Back to {Home}school-first day memories

August 16 was our first day “back to homeschool”, but it looked nothing like what most people would consider a school day. The joy of homeschool?- it doesn’t have to! We spent the day finishing the de-stemming process of this year’s elderberries, and then turned them into elderberry syrup.( I can share that recipe, soon!)

I’m not a super fun crafty mama that makes all the fun things, or plans events for the first day of homeschool.

Like most things we do around here- we try to keep it simple. We have a homestead, and there is a lot to get done this time of year (which is also why I usually school year round and take a short break in August for harvesting. But this year was just a bit different).

Most years we enjoy box day a week or 2 before school begins- this is the day that we open all our homeschool orders, and peruse the books, games, and curricula we will explore together for the next year.

Homeschool Box Day 2021

Then I get everything organized and put away for our first day. This includes organizing our Sonlight core books, tearing apart workbooks to be organized by weeks, and making everyone’s laminated weekly routines so they know what to cover each day.

The first day of our routine is usually just a school day. Our box day gets my kids pretty excited for the new school year, so we don’t typically have problems starting our homeschool days. But there are always small growing pains (mostly for me) as we get the routine down, especially on years we add a new student to the mix.

We have a rhythm that works well most days:

  • 530/600 Mama has coffee and Jesus time cause this gig requires a lot of Jesus 😉
  • 700 everyone out of bed- bedroom & farm chores
  • 730 breakfast and get baby up
  • Then I walk (or workout) while the kids play first thing, or do something farm related like massage a goat’s bloated rumen until she is better, or put up tomatoes for the freezer because they’re everywhere, or chase cows down because they escaped.
  • Then we all meet back for morning basket together
  • From there we move to table work
  • after that is lunch (usually about 1130/12:00)

Morning basket can take us a while, we do a lot of reading. Like. A lot. But that’s just how we roll; we love books and our core curriculum is literature based, so it just takes a while to get through it all. My kids color while we read and they could sit for hours to listen and discuss, I think.

This year our first “homeschool routine day” was on a Tuesday, so we met daddy for Taco Tuesday after work, and took our first day of school pics with nice clothes on 😆 normally it would just be pajamas…

We are all excited for the school year, learning new things, and reading all the books! The Kindergartener is especially enthusiastic for the start of her first real school year.

What is your first day of homeschool tradition(s)?




 

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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!

3 Simple Activities for Kids

Ensuring that your children are happy and living a full life can feel overwhelming, especially when we compare our lives to other’s. But raising healthy, happy kids doesn’t have to be complicated, or create a “busy life” when a slower pace is what we wish for.

If kids have someone to love and relate to, and something they can do with their talents, you can build a beautiful foundation for your child. We like to focus on church, playdates, and relationships with Jesus and each other in our home. But when time allows, we like to add in “extra” activities.

Here are a few ideas if you’re looking for some productive, quality things that can fill your child’s (especially an extroverted child) days.

Activities for Kids

Pic – CCO Licence

Sports

There are many great reasons to encourage your children to get into sports- it’s opportunity to get healthy and move their bodies in hard ways. It’s also true that engaging in sports helps children understand social interactions, good sportsmanship, and respect, all things that will be used for the rest of their life. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, as long as they feel interested in trying it. Helping them get excited about the sport and understanding the basics before hand is always helpful. That could include finding indoor soccer uniforms, practice swinging different sized bats, practicing throwing the ball with them, or letting them practice shooting hoops. There is always drama, gymnastics, volley ball, and track. Karate also focuses on respect and self control. We really enjoy baseball and golf in our home.

 

Arts & Crafts

Allowing children to be creative will help them develop many qualities and skills that are useful throughout life-crafting requires patience, carefulness, attention to detail, and following directions carefully (think: sewing, leather working, and embroidery). It really is a joy to be creative, and if you find that your children express even a vague interest in that direction, absolutely consider trying to make the most of it by encouraging them to join some kind of arts and crafts group. These are often offered through children’s museums, a local art museum, and even the library. Check our your local crafting stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc) for crafting classes with kids.

 

Activities for Kids

Pic – CCO Licence

Nature

Everyone benefits from being outside- it improves our mood, provides vitamins we can’t get sitting inside, and encourages play. Children (and adults …) need movement and play outdoors! Get the kids outside for a walk daily if you can; walking in the woods, down the street, to the park, or around the corner to the grocery store are all easy ways to get in a walk.

Allow time on the walk for “piddling.” Looking at animals, bugs, leaves, flowers, and snowflakes while walking bring joy and curiosity to our days, providing a foundation for learning.

So- get those kiddos moving, creating, and outside!

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!

Perfect Hobbies for Kids

When young children adopt new hobbies, they discover all sorts of new skills and learn some important life lessons. Through hobbies, children can find what lights them up and excites them at a young age, as opposed to doing it later on when they feel it’s ‘too late’ to do anything about it.

My husband and I are both huge hobby lovers- crafting, journaling, sewing, embroidery, painting, woodworking, gardening, leather work, and animal husbandry … the list goes on! We have enjoy distilling a love for handicrafts and hobbies in our children, and watching them grow in their skills.

Here are just a few hobbies children of all ages could test out!

hobbies for kids

Pexels – CC0 License

Reading And Writing

Reading to children is essential for language social, emotional, and cognitive development.  Reading aloud to children will improve their listening and speaking skills, and they might even become good writers themselves, as it can help them to develop their own imagination. Once children have learned to read on their own, cultivating a love for reading is one of out biggest jobs! A child that loves to read loves to learn, and from there they will grow into unstoppable, teachable, curious adults. Loving to write often comes when a child enjoys reading, because they are driven to write their own stories.

Visiting Places of Interest

Traveling to visit a historical site, a history or pop up museum, a well loved author’s home, and other sites of interest can be a brilliant hobby for a child. As well as having fun and exploring, they will learn plenty from immersing themselves in culture. It gives them a base to build plenty of other hobbies on – writing, crafts, and reading, for example. Anything you can study in science, history, art and literature can be turned into a field trip, or family road trip. There is so much to experience no matter what your child loves to learn about-get out there and explore!

Building and Engineering

Children love to build- what they can build and create with blocks, legos, and Magnatiles is endless. From model bridges and giant towers, to cars and boats, they can have an incredible amount of fun building just about anything that takes their fancy.  Expand their possibilities by providing a child-friendly tool kit which allows them to build whatever they like-a small hammer, screw drivers, age appropriate nails, nuts, bolts, washers, screws, zip-ties, etc can be kept in an old tool box near some scrap wood, so kids can easily create!

Painting

Painting is an excellent way for children to learn to express themselves. Open ended art-meaning, no defined assignment, no rules- allows for the most creativity. If they paint the sky green, let them have a green sky. This again goes back to helping them develop their imaginations and having confidence in their abilities. You never know – you may have the next Picasso in your family! =)

Gardening

Gardening not only helps children develop an interest in nature and stay active, but it also strengthens their immune systems. Why not give them their small plot of garden to play with and grow things? You could let them grow things inside the house if space is at a premium. A plot of land, or a potted plant, either way we are cultivating a sense of responsibility and nurturing in our kids!

Cooking & Handicrafts

Cooking is an essential skill for anybody to learn – after all, everybody needs to eat! Let them cook with you from a young age, and maybe start letting them use cooking kits when they are old enough. Children of all ages can help in the kitchen-prepping oatmeal, mixing, stirring, browning meat, poor liquids, measuring ingredients. Get them involved and enjoy your time together!

hobbies for kids

Handicrafts are anything children can do with their hands- sewing, knitting, crocheting, whittling, calligraphy, cross stitching, dyeing yard, quilting, bead work, wood working, pottery, mosaics the list goes on and on and on. We do handicrafts while listening to audiobooks, while I read aloud, or while watching an art video.

Let your children find a hobby that they enjoy and you’ll notice a vast difference in their confidence. Starting them off while they are young gives kids the chance to know what excites them and can help them find their passion in life later! Most any hobby requires a skill, and those skills can mean enjoyable work later in life.

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!

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!

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!

The Harvest {2018}

We made a family goal this year- spend more time at our farm this spring and summer, working as a family to not only improve some things- but to really cultivate. Every year we have a garden, and every year when it starts coming in, the rainy season begins, and things start really growing we are gone with either trips or my husband for work.

We worked very hard this year to be sure we were here so we could take care of all the things we started in the spring.

Now, my flower beds are going haywire with weeds, I really can’t keep up! But everything else is flourishing, we are harvesting regularly, and enjoying our evenings as a family working in the garden.

This weekend’s task- Freeze tomatoes!

Last weekend I canned dill pickles for the first time, (they are awful by the way … I’m not sure what I did wrong, but man are they bad!). Unless someone shares a tried and true recipe with me, we will be making bread and butter pickles from now one. haha

My children walk around eating cucumbers whole, with cherry tomatoes by the handful.

Harvest time is good.

 

harvest July 2018

 

 

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 {Gardening & Meat Chickens}

After a looong winter, We are finally preparing to plant the garden. We are putting down a heavy plastic for weed control, and covering with hay once the plants get up a little taller. My husband is also setting up a sprinkler for the center of the garden that won’t require us to disconnect and reconnect hoses, sprinklers, etc.

This year we added a permanent fence around the garden to keep out the chickens, dogs, and cows (when they escape, which is monthly).

Putting in the Garden 2018

My husband made a steal stencil for burning holes into the plastic to help with more precise planting. It is really cool, and I am so thankful he is an engineer! He thinks of the coolest ideas.

The meat chickens were moved from the brooder out to pasture last week. The weather was iffy, and the first evening out there was pretty cold (36 degrees!) But they survived and feathered out quickly. Being in the pasture makes them sooo happy; they can spread out, eat bugs, and because we can move them they get a clean dry space every day or so. (It has been a week and they are already MUCH bigger than this picture.)

meat chickens 2018

We have planted new blackberry bushes, some elder berries (Eeee!), and a few more fruit trees. This year the garden will hopefully produce:

  • watermelons
  • cucumbers
  • egg plant
  • a bazillion peppers
  • 3 bazillion tomatoes
  • squash
  • asparagus (a perennial that is producing right now!)
  • and i can’t remember what else my husband planted …

I am already thinking about our fall garden! I can’t wait to do broccoli, cabbages, potatoes, garlic, and cauliflower again!

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