From dream to reality

Welcome...we invite you to follow our journey to build our dream farm/homestead, God's Blessing Farm. From where we were, to the birth of the dream,to the search for land, to the land purchase,building the infrastructure and each step along the way.We invite you to watch comment and advise. If you are new to the blog you might want to start at the begining post. Be blessed and enjoy the ride with us







Saturday, July 30, 2011

Five months in...hits and misses









OK so its been 5 months into our journey. We have made great progress and we have made rookie mistakes. Maybe its time to asses a few of them.





But before I go any farther I want to make sure I don't ever "Demi Moore" this blog. Years ago on the heals of her first pregnancy Demi Moore decided that she needed to be functionally naked on the cover of a national woman's magazine. Demi gushed on and on about the wonders of pregnancy to an audience that she apparently felt had no point of reference for the state and nature of pregnancy. That is Demi seemed to be saying that she was the first woman in the whole wide world to be pregnant but she was willing and kind enough to share how it felt (and apparently show us how it looked) with an unsuspecting public. Looking back I don't know why Demi felt this way.This was long before Brangelina and Madonna proved the most efficient way for Hollywood stars to obtain children (and the one requiring the least plastic surgery) was to go to third world countries and buy babies or at least trade for them using branded merchandise and second hand designer clothes.Back in the era of Demis article even Hollywood celebrities subjected themselves to the 9 month gestation method of obtaining children. However this did not deter Demi from her foray into pregnancy orientation. I could only surmise that in Demis natural excitement in finally entering the gene pool coupled with her perspective from the center of the universe led her to act this way. Kind of you know..."Gee Demi nobody was ever pregnant before you...tell us more"


With that in mind I will apologize in advance to those of you who have traveled the road we are on. We often babble a lot about each of our experiences. But I know many have gone before us and I hope or little attempts to trace our trail doesn't imply we don't realize that.Hopefully you can chuckle in advance as we travel along making mistakes you could see coming before we did.






So here we go.......with no apologies to Demi Moore





Goats:



Hits: I can think of no farm animal that is more perfectly suited to the homestead nor more publicly underrated than the goat. I was thinking today there is no description using the word goat that has a positive connotation. Think about it. A golf course in poor condition is a "goat ranch". Ask most Americans if they have eaten goat and you would think you asked them if they had eaten dog food. I don't think outside of a men's locker room "horny goat" brings many positive images to mind. And it goes on and on.




But goats rock!!



Goats can provide milk,cheese meat and even fibers such as cashmere.And worldwide more goat milk and goat meat is consumed than beef. And with good reason. The meat is incredible. As much protein as beef with half the fat.More flavorful than lamb ,with way more iron and at half the cost on the hoof. The goat can thrive on minimum pasture and on terrain unsuitable for other dairy animals. It takes less grain and premium hay per gallon than a dairy cow and goats can typically produce anywhere from a quart to a gallon and a half of milk with higher butterfat than a cow goat milk helps with vitamin absorption can assist with joint pain and is almost medicinal in its qualities.Plus it tastes great.That "goaty" flavor you may have experienced in store bought goat products is really a product of a few selected breeds of goats.Our Alpines produce sweet milk with no "goaty "flavor. And the efficiency even includes their manure.Goat manure does not have to compost before it can be put on your garden.Goat bedding is safe to because their urine has such a low urea content.We found out this year that goat bedding is actually steroids for tomatoes. Oh and the whey which is a by-product of the cheese process can be a fertilizer or a feed for livestock.

And they are such great animals. Our little goat herd has grown and morphed from our initial 3 Nubians. Today we have french alpines ,American alpines,Nigerian dwarfs and one nubian/? mix. All told counting inbounds we have 3 bucks ,3 milking does , 2 pregnant does and 4 doelings. That's 12 to 16 goats depending on pregnancy results(sorry no Demi pictures here). TLA will tell you the tiny Nigerians don't count . If you buy that you can knock off 6 to 10 from that total.




The goats are personable and TLA adores them.Sometimes she looks like the pied piper of the herd as they follow her around the pasture like puppies.




Misses: We only still have one of our first five goats. Actually only one is still in the herd.Two are in the freezer. Before you fire off an e-mail please understand this is a working homestead project. Our goats are purpose livestock. And one of those purposes is meat. Its hypocritical to decry the use of our livestock as food while you eat a burger at McDonald's.



But getting back to the miss. Our first 5 goats were Nubians and Nubian crosses (or grades) that came from a goat breeder that owned a dairy. You will see we referred to her as a "goat whisperer" in earlier posts. Turns out the whispering was more like the guy on the corner who opens his trench coat to try to sell you knockoff Rolex's. TLA had read that you have to be very careful buying goats from dairies.It makes sense .In a working dairy the adult goats they are willing to part with are typically the herd "culls". It turned out that is what we got even though we paid for prime milking goats.The first two Nubians produced a paltry quart of milk a day each.Now these were goats that had kidded or "freshened" twice. The breeder new they didn't produce enough milk to even maintain two kids.The other milking doe had a great udder adequate production of a half gallon a day (even though she was sold as a "gallon milker") but hideous milk stand manners.Sometimes refusing to be milked requiring that she be dragged across the barnyard and physically wrestled on to the milk stand. And the Nubian breed was not a good fit for TLA either.They are loud,needy and have terrible herd manners. They eat like horses and this bunch didn't produce enough milk as compared to other more docile full sized dairy breeds.All goats go through a little head butting when new goats are introduced to the herd.But these Nubians carried out a war of terror on any new goats not only head butting but udder butting which could have led to permanent damage. Fortunately we were able to find a pet home for the two mini milkers (at a price less than half of what we paid for them).But the other goat and one of the doelings had such bad manners we couldn't in good conscience sell them as milkers. They were best turned to the freezer and removed from the gene pool.The last doeling has been retained.If she freshens well she could play a pivotal role in TLA's "Homestead Goat" breeding plane because of her hardiness. Lessons learned.



Cheese:
3 wheels of hard cheese ready for the wine cooler



Hits: Normally you would talk about cheese with the goats.But our little homestead has become a cheese factory thanks to TLA. Where most people would have dabbled in a little Chev re cheese TLA has moved on to bigger things.Mozzarella,Ricotta,Hard Cheddar,Camembert,Brie, and a whole host of soft hard and "molded" cheeses have already graced our table. But TLA gets about 2 1/2 gallons of raw goats milk a day so she is now the cheese queen . When she started to do the hard cheeses they require cool conditions (not cold) to cure in.Stumped at first I bought a two temperature zone wine cooler and its working out great.

The early stage of the cheese making process





" Psssst... got any cheese,whey extra milk..Help a pig out"



Misses: Occasionally one of the molded cheeses gets too scary to eat but then "pig" cashes in.She also feasts on any extra milk or whey.






Gardens:


Hits: Goat manure is crazy good for vegetables. We will in our first year produce enough tomatoes for our first years food (due to TLA's canning for the winter program). Peppers,green beans,okra,and tomatillios are all producing beyond our wildest dreams. Our garden has also produced potatoes,carrots ,feed corn, sunflowers, onions and a musk melon or two.







Misses: We made the typical rookie mistakes.Too big,too spread out with inadequate water in many cases. The gardens we planted on the lower section came under my supervision.But a full time job meant they got neglected and in most cases inadequately watered. Alas my sweet corn was stunted and then decimated by the squirrels. When I did irrigate adequately crows have taken out most of my watermelons and musk melons. Even where we did water and maintain adequately (TLA's upper garden) we were unprepared for the rapid and amazing growth brought on by the goat bedding. Our Tomato plants exploded and we didn't have the stakes or cages to manage them.We will suffer a smaller crop due to blight and sunscald brought on by uncontrolled and unsupported growth. Our late start meant we couldn't stagger the planting so when the vegetables started coming they all showed up at once.Poor TLA has been canning as fast as she can


Ponds:
Hits: Our lower,smaller pond went flawlessly.Its now filled and full of Catfish.





Misses: Our upper pond has been plagued by leaks. Now after literally tons of hand applied bentonite it is stuck at about 1/3 full.I am regrouping and will try to git er done this fall.But at least its full of catfish too.




Wild Bounty:
Some wild blackberries mixed with some blueberry's


Hits: We are blessed by what seems the perfect property for our lifestyle goals. Multiple springs, a great well, two home sites which give us water almost throughout the plantable acreage.In addition to that we have a bounty of wild crops including blackberries and persimmons. There is plenty of game to add to our meat supply. Rabbits are tasty as we work to refine our meat rabbit program.Couple that with almost total privacy a lifetime supply of firewood and terrain that will support our goat herd growth and it is truly "God's Blessing Farm"



Misses: Coyotes.Yes these beasts have exacted a toll on us. We have lost over 14 guinea hens and several chickens to broad daylight attacks.I know its Coyotes because I have seen them. I even got of a few shots at one about 10 days ago.I only had a 22 pistol with me.Don't know if I scored a hit but there have been no attacks since.I know better however this isn't over yet.Next week I am picking up 3 livestock guardian dogs to help protect our remaining livestock.



Miscellaneous: Pigs cozy little shelter




Hits: Our little double wide is proving to be a cozy home. Our barns and outbuildings are well designed and serving us well. I love my raggedy John Deere Gator I found on Craigs List. I built a little tent shelter for pig and that's working out great





Unfortunately ...goats + tents = A bad idea





Misses: Our llama was a bust.When your livestock guardian tries to stomp your livestock you have a problem.Alas while Lila would tolerate adult goats kids were another issue.So she was sent packing. I also built a tent shelter for the goats but its not working out as well as pigs.What can I say... pigs don't climb


Lifestyle:

No misses just a hit.Lots of work.Plenty of rookie mistakes.But no regrets. We now spend less at the grocery store in a month than we used to spend in a week.And after only 5 months at this.


Its better than we imagined.


A true blessing.


And the journey continues......

1 comment:

  1. What a great adventure so far, can't wait to see what else is waiting, there's even blessings in the lessons learned. I always LOL when I read your blog, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete