Goat Kids 2014

We’re still alive here at Riversdell. I know we haven’t blogged for 3 years, but sometimes life just gets in the way. The goat-raising has taken a back seat to other priorities, but we are getting back to it this year.

So, with no further ado, the first round of 2014 goat kids.

Hecate [HECK-uh-tee]  (in front), b. 1/30, Miyumkin [me-YUM-kin] b. 2/2, both girls

Hecate [HECK-uh-tee] (in front), b. 1/30, Miyumkin [me-YUM-kin] b. 2/2, both girls

Boy Per [PEAR] b. 2/4

Boy Per [PEAR] b. 2/4:

Adelle (daughter of Anette), b. 2/8, with Bersheba always ready to help

Adelle (daughter of Anette), b. 2/8, with Bersheba always ready to help

View from the Veranda

This post will give you a flavor of what our farm looks like from our upper veranda. All of these pictures embiggen when you click ’em (be sure to click on the resultant picture to really embiggen it if your browser has resized it to fit the screen — you’ll need to scroll left and right to see it all.) All of these panoramas were created with drag-n-drop ease using the free Microsoft ICE photo-stitching software.

This picture is a 250-degree view taken today during the first snow of the season.

This is a similar view from back in October. This one goes a bit farther to the left — note the hammock. This blog’s masthead is a version of this image.

And, finally, here’s a slightly narrower vista from March after some fairly torrential Spring rain. The river is up in its banks to where it is clearly visible from the veranda. This is also the height where Cacapon River Road — a part of which you can see on the left — floods several miles downstream. Note, too, how wet several portions of our pasture are.

Snowmageddon II

Yesterday, Eric slogged down to the billy pen, dragging a bale of hay using a small tarp as a sledge. Here are the anxious billies who were quite grateful for the feed. Amazingly and happily, their shipping-pallet hut with 2×4 rafters is withstanding the snowload.

Snowmageddon II [Continued]

Snow PathWell, true to our suspicions, a few minutes after the post below went up, our power went out, and stayed out for 3 days. As for snow totals, it is hard to get a precise measurement, but we have 26+” in the clear areas with drifting up to 3 feet or so against fences and rises. I amused myself by hand-shoveling 230 feet of trails to the woodshed, to the chickens, to the goats/dog/barn-cat, and to the driveway. Unfortunately, they are now partially re-filled with snow from the six additional inches we got since yesterday and the 30 mph winds we are now experiencing.

Barn Life

I hae me hay, I hae me dog, life is good.

Chick Peeps

Our new chicken peeps arrived yesterday — 15 Light Brahma pullets and 2 cockerels. (Click here for a glossary of poultry terms.) This breed is large and docile and versatile. We got a couple dozen 3 years ago and have been very pleased with them. Their large size means they cannot fly over our fences so they stay in the pastures where we want them to be. They are also the most docile chickens we have ever had; we were very pleasantly surprised at how well they accepted the day-old muscovy duck peeps that one of our duck hens hatched about a month ago. So this year we are trying something new with the peeps: rather than raise them in a separate area fior a month as we have done in the past, we are starting them in a corner of the poultry shed. We hope that in a week or two we will be able to let them mingle with the adults. The cardboard you see in the picture is to keep out drafts from the spaces between the wall boards, and since it is summer, the light is a regular 100W bulb rather than a heat lamp.

Goat Kids

For various reasons, we decided to only breed a few goats this year. Here we have moms Oona (the white one) and Queen Bee (the brown one) with their little ones. Oona kidded on the 4th, one boy, one girl, and Queen Bee went the next day with this girl (plus one kid that did not make it.)

Farm Chores

Been quite busy here of late. We have had a handful of large tasks building up, including spreading a several-ton pile of gravel, cleaning out the goat shed, and putting up round bales of hay for next winter. Our tractor is an old and small, but cheap and useful, Yanmar 1300D 16HP 4WD. It has served us well for mowing, post-hole digging, and lime spreading, but there have been times when it’s power was somewhat lacking, and it does not seem worth it to get a front end loader put on it. We briefly looked at buying a new, somewhat bigger compact tractor with a front end loader, but the price tag scared us off — it is around $15K-$16K for either a new 24HP HP Mahindra 2415 HST with ML105 Loader, or a new Kubota 26HP 2630HSD with a LA403 Front Loader.

Fortunately, we were able to borrow a tractor from our neighbor Stan — a 30HP Kubota 7800 HSD with a Woods 1008 Loader, pictured here.

[Just a quick note on tractor specs: the engine horsepower is only vaguely related to the HP available at the rear PTO, the lift capacity at the rear 3-point hitch, or the lift of the front end loader. All three of these tractors/loaders have pretty similar specs in these categories.]

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Farm Chores [Continued]

The first, long overdue task was cleaning out the goat shed. There was over 2 years worth of bedding and goat berries in varying states of compost to haul out.

In the foreground is a pile in our side garden — should be ready to till in next spring. In the background is a pile that Eric simply pushed out the back of the goat shed — it will continue to compost and what with the goats playing on it constantly, it should spread out rather nicely to help even out the somewhat steep slope there.

This picture does not do justice to size of these piles — there was about a foot of bedding in the 14 by 30 foot goat shed, so that’s roughly 420 cubic feet of material, which is the equivalent of over 3,000 gallon milk jugs!

We are, though, VERY happy to have all of this black gold, though, especially in light of a recent story out of the UK about gardens dying due a herbicide that was applied to cow pastures, and was still active 12 months later, after having passed through the cow, been composted, bagged, stored, and then sold to gardeners at their local home center. We know what is in our compost!

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Farm Chores [Continued]

Next up, we had to deal with 15 round bales of hay that we had delivered (for a decent price of $35 each.) Now, in this case, “delivered” means “pushed off the trailer to gather willy-nilly in the low spot.” These bales are 4-foot diameter by 5-foot length (called “4×5” ) and weigh about 600 pounds each. Last year we got “5×4” bales (5-foot diameter by 4-foot length) which weighed about 800 pounds, but the guy we bought from had a nifty extension trailer so he was able to place the bales where we wanted them for storage. We store at the high end of the back driveway and are able to roll them by hand — well by body, really, there’s a bit o’ rasslin’ involved — down to the goat shed one by one as we need them. But this year we wanted to get the bales up on wood rails off the ground so they will stay drier, and our little Yanmar is not powerful enough to lift these bales — it probably maxes out at around 500 pounds at the 3-point hitch, so we were delighted to borrow this tractor (loader rated at 950 pounds, 3-point hitch rated at 1600 pounds).

Anyway, (sorry to ramble!) with a little trial and error (and initial inspiration and guidance from Walter Jeffries and one of his SugarMtnFarm blog post on how he rangles hay bales), Eric came up with a system using two chains, one looped around the bottom of the far end of the bale (right half of the picture) looped through a second chain that is in turn looped around the loader mounting frame — would have been easier with one longer chain!

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Farm Chores [Continued]

Since these bales are longer than they are round, they stack well in a simple two-on-the-bottom, one-on-the-top pyramid. Was very careful when lifting the top ones into place as shown here — that 600 pounds up above the hood of the tractor really raises your center of gravity and makes you more prone to tipping over, which would be very bad!

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Farm Chores [Continued]

Behold the finished Hay Storage Project, all tarped up and ready to stay snug until we start feeding it to the goats this winter.

Don’t have any pictures of the Gravel Pile Project, but that loader sure was handy! Eric now officially has Tractor Envy!

2008 Kidding About Done

Apologies for being so far behind in posting kid pix. Until I get it all together, here is a shot of Artemis with her two kids from yesterday. An interesting two-tone coloration on one of them.

2008 Third Kidding

2nd doe to pop today was Nellie, around 4 pm. Two boys this time. About an hour and a half old in this pic. Nellie is Samanta’s mother.

2008 Kidding Continues

Samanta was our 2nd goat to kid this year. Here she is finishing cleaning up her hours old little girl this morning.