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 singapore expats dating. 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 {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!

 

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Saying Goodbye to our LGD- Huck the Gentle Giant

We didn’t get to say goodbye to our Huck, but he knew we loved him. He had not been eating well the last week, so we had a vet appointment scheduled. I wasn’t too concerned. The day before he was running and playing with Flossie (the wire-haired pointing griffon) and I saw him coming out of the shop eating a bit.

Friday about 4pm, we went for a family walk in the woods to see the creek while it was full. Huck followed along, but was lagging behind, needing to take breaks, and looked like he felt terrible. I called the vet to move our appointment sooner, but they were booked. So I called another vet we have used in the past, to get an appointment for the next morning.

He was laying under his favorite tree during the late afternoon, and I loved on him, prayed over him. I continued checking on him, he would raise his head so I thought maybe he was just worn out from the walk and we would make it to the vet Saturday.

But about 11:30 Friday night I went to check on him, he was under our son’s window. He hadn’t been dead for very long, but was for certain gone.

We’ve shed so many tears, mainly me, over Huck. He was truly the very best friend, companion, and protector we could’ve asked for.  He was so young, only 3.5 (born October 24, 2017). We don’t know what happened; he was on heart worm medicine and flea and tick medicine. I know those things are 100% though… so it could’ve been that, it could’ve been a heart problem, it couldn’t been a gastro issue. We really don’t know.

So he is buried pup front in the pasture. Saturday morning our son made a cross and his daddy helped him hammer it into the ground.

Ive been struggling with the guilt- guilt of not getting him to the vet sooner, of not noticing things were that bad sooner, of not being there when he died. But I know he knew we loved him, and I know he loved us. We were so blessed to have had him.

There is no way to replace Huck, he was perfect. And I miss him so much, all day and every night. There are no more Huck barks or howls, no wet dog slobber in the morning. There are still lots of tears.

But we do need another LGD that can stay with the chickens and kids on the property. So we are going to try to train one of Huck’s puppies that we kept, to stick around the house. He is a very timid boy, and also gentle and submissive to us, and especially our 8yo son. So we will see how it goes.  If it doesn’t work out, I am sure a puppy is in our future.

 

 

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Imminent labor Signs in Cows {and Huey the Hereford}

We are excited to introduce: Huey the Hereford! (Huey, as in Huey’s restaurants in memphis)Huey the Hereford

Huey was born on Monday, March 1, 2021.

We got to watch Dolly at the beginning of her labor because the kids were playing outside and she chose to lay in the barn yard. She did move to the barn, where she was more comfortable. It’s amazing how different cows and goats are-she didn’t make a sound, not a grunt or a moo. Goats are so dramatic.

When we began watching Dolly for labor, I searched the internet high and low for all the signs we needed to look for. She had them all!

  • tail hanging to the side, due to loss of ligaments
  • tail head looked flat, almost as flat as her back
  • vulva swollen (springing)
  • that morning she lost a lot of mucus plus, but was having discharge about 2-3 days prior
  • her udder was *swollen*
  • teats were full and sticking out (strutting)
  • belly looked low/less wide
  • right before pushing she was laying on her side, letting the calf get into position, within 30 minutes she was pushing

We had a few bumps getting Huey to nurse, because mama was so full, and she became frustrated after his first failed attempts. Our friends helped us get everything started, and there’s been no problems since.

We are still waiting on Jolene to calve, she has zero signs of calving anytime soon.

Signs of Calving Huey the Hereford

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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.

 

 

 

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Going Green at Home and Homestead is Easy

Whether your home is a farm, a homeschool for your children, or a typical family dwelling, you can save money and energy by going green at home. Adopting eco-friendly habits at home is sure to improve the life of our families and did I mention save money? 😉

Aside from enhancing physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the environment, it feels good to save money, prevent waste (of resources and $$) and live simply. What can we do to go greener without breaking the bank?

Going Green at Home and Homestead is Easy

Upgrade Building Features

Building energy-efficiency ratings have a huge impact on our carbon footprint and thus utility bills. Thicker/new windows and improved roofing insulation will reduce energy waste through lost heating. Choosing the right materials should be high on the agenda when building a new home, or improving an existing building- features such as shake siding, updating insulation in windows, attics, and garages, and using recycled items can upgrade the home in every sense.

(We plan to update windows in our home, insulation, paint the exterior brick, and add shake shingle siding eventually.) We enclosed our garage and made sure the new addition space was filled with insulation.

Making improvement can include everything from identifying water leaks and possible mold growth, to stopping drafts. The longer it is left, the more costly the repairs for damage and our health becomes anyway. So fixing those drafty windows, doors, and water leaks offers a big pay out!

Using The Garden

Gardens and other outside spaces are naturally great places to invest in eco-friendly upgrades. Whether it’s growing fruits and veggies, farming, composting, or worm farming, it saves resources and money for your family! Plus, all those things are fun and great ways to spend time as a family.

Simply spending more time outdoors is likely to improve our overall well being, too! It can be  a lifestyle change for some families, but it is 100% worth it. Set some goals for getting outside if your family isn’t used to it- an hour a day, 2- 20 minute walks, looking for bugs in the spring, nature journaling as a family, etc. 

\You can find so many different nature activity calendars out there- do a quick duckduckgo.com search for a free printable. A patio area, BBQ or fire pit, small container vegetable garden, or simple hanging baskets of flowers are a great start to a greener outside space.

Using Efficient Appliances

Inside the home, selecting updated appliances will bring significant benefits. Whether it’s a water filter like the Berkey (we have this one),  water-efficient toilets and dishwashers, the infamous HE washing machines, or a new refrigerator, you can see savings and improved health pretty quickly.

Our Berkey filters out chemicals, bacteria, and has antimicrobial properties in the filters. We have well water so my doctor recommended we get a Berkey to filter out all the cancer-causing and endocrine disrupting chemicals/pesticides in the ground water. It tastes so much better than before and we have definitely seen improvement in my hormone levels and how we feel.

The technologies used in appliances today have evolved at a rapid rate. While making products last longer is usually a good thing, persisting with outdated tech is not. Something I noticed when we moved to our last home- we went from an older (1990s?), perfectly fine fridge, to a brand new fridge- and we immediately started saving money! All of our produce and dairy products started lasting longer in the new refrigerator! So not only was it more efficient for our utility bill, but it saved money in the grocery department.

 

Change Simple Habits

One of the biggest principles in homesteading is reusing what you can- It can mean reviving wooden spoons and kitchenware or turning old toys and furniture into child bedroom decorations. (We’ve all seen the baby cribs or box springs turned into reading nooks and planters.) Embracing the habit of reusing can produce changes that last a long time and keep “stuff and thangs” out of landfills, thus taking a small step towards helping the environment.

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Perfect Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe

I have scavenged the internet and cookbooks alike for a perfect gluten free sourdough bread loaf.

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

Needless to say, it wasn’t easy … and NO ONE seemed to have what I was looking for. Lots of recipes called for added yeast, no sourdough starter at all, lots of different flours, gums, and additives. There were many that used gluten free flours that I don’t keep on hand, or recipes that weren’t for a bread loaf.

But alas, I have done it! After at least a year of messing with recipes, I’ve mixed, matched, and played with it until we finally have a perfect gluten free bread loaf recipe!

For best results, use a gluten free starter like this one, and an all purpose gluten free baking mix

You will need to start feeding your starter the day before you plan to bake bread. For example, if I want to make bread on Wednesday, I will feed my starter on Tuesday, and make the dough that night. It will ferment overnight, and then I will do the short second rise Wednesday morning, then bake.

If you want to make it for an evening meal, just do the fermentation during the day, short second rise, then bake.

**Tip- I feed my starter and put it in the oven, with the light on, to keep it warm. I keep our house pretty cool, so it would take a while for it to really ferment on my counter.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe! The steps are short and I promise they are simple- much easier than it looks at first. After you make this the first time, you will have no problem making it again and again!

Perfect Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe

See Detailed Nutrition Info on

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free sourdough starter FED
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 TB melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 TB honey
  • 2.5 cups all purpose gluten free flour mix/baking mix
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, eggs, butter, milk, and honey.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined
  4. Then beat the mixture on medium/high for 3 minutes
  5. With damp fingers or wet spatula, smooth the surface of the dough flat.
  6. Spray the top with oil/Pam (we use coconut oil Pam)
  7. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, and let ferment for at least 4 hours, up to over night (I do overnight)
  8. Oil a 9x5 loaf pan, sprinkle with flour, and with a damp spatula pour the dough into the pan. It will be less of a dough and more like a pancake batter consistency.
  9. Smooth out the top of the bread and, spray the top with Pam again, cover loosely and let rise for about an hour, up to 90 minutes. It should reach the top of the pan.
  10. Preheat oven to 400degrees
  11. Remove plastic wrap and place pan in the oven- turn down temperature to 350 degrees, and bake about 50-55 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
  12. I tried removing the bread at 40 and 45 minutes but it was not done all the way. I took it out at 50 minutes and let it cool. It was just about done. Another minute or 2 and it would have been perfect.
  13. The middle of the bread should be 200 degrees if you have a meat thermometer handy.

 

When you are done using the 1 cup of starter, you can feed your “mother” starter, and place it back in the fridge to live happily until the next baking day. I often go ahead and feed mine again for sourdough pancakes, while I have it out.

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!

Gluten Free Sourdough Pancake Recipe {starter + flour}

I wanted to share a gluten free sourdough pancake recipe, using your starter and flour at home. I have 2 recipes that I’ve modified for our family (from non starter recipes using yeast packets)- one uses only starter (the next post), and another uses starter and flour. That’s this recipe.

I typically use the starter + flour recipe, because I don’t always have enough starter for the other version.

We do double this recipe; as with most sourdough recipes, it does best with a well established, fed starter. So plan to feed starter the night or early morning before. =)

 

Sourdough Pancake Recipes {with flour version}

Number of servings: 8

See Detailed Nutrition Info on

Sourdough Pancake Recipes {with flour version}

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (we use all purpose gluten free flour)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TB sugar (we use coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp pink salt
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk of choice (we use fresh goat milk or almond milk, as we have cow milk intolerances)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 TB oil-refined (no flavor) coconut works well

Instructions

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients
  2. Mix together the oil, egg, milk and starter
  3. Heat cast iron skillet, griddle, or ceramic non stick pan
  4. using 1/4c measuring cup to pour batter on skillet
  5. **The secret to perfect pancakes is to wait for the edges to bubble and brown. The center will usually bubble and puff also. But the pancakes are NOT ready to flip until the edges are a beautiful golden brown.
  6. Cook pancakes through and enjoy with REAL maple syrup!


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!

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