DIY Milking Stand

DIY Milking Stand

When we finally decided to breed the goats, it became necessary to build a milking stand to get the girls used to standing and eating on it.

This will be a test run on milking, so I didn’t want to spend much money on the materials, and we are avoiding leaving the farm if necessary, I searched the shed and took stock of the scrap wood we had. Turns out we are hoarders when it comes to wood, so the whole stand was made from left over materials. 

img_7897

It was slighting overcast, so kids and I loaded up their wagon with scrap wood, and brought it all up to the front porch in case of rain. I have “overly helpful” tiny people who had to help, so I sent them inside to play while I cut all the pieces, then allowed them back out to help assemble the stand.

img_7899First up was the base for the flooring. Make sure your corners are square, also using straight boards is great, mine were not, but they were free. The base measures about 23″ by 36″

For the flooring, I used left over cedar fence picketing, which is very flimsy, so I added a middle support. If you used thicker flooring, this might be unnecessary, but it wouldn’t hurt.

img_7900 Next, we added the 17″ legs, they are tall because our goats are short. The 4×4 legs are a bit overkill for the size of our goats and could be replaced with 2x4s. I used the 4x4s because we had a ton left over from our fence cluttering up our shed.

img_7902

Next came the flooring. I saw many people online use siding, or plywood. I almost used left over siding from a chicken coop, the only reason I chose the cedar fence pickets was that the siding was big enough pieces and was worth saving, the cedar pickets were just taking up space in the shed.

img_7903

I saw a few different ways to make the head trapper, I honestly don’t know the official name. I chose to use this method because it seemed to require less cutting and screws, but also I can always make it taller for standard size goats if I ever need. The vertical supports are 36″ 2x4s.

img_7905

Next I added the bottom support flush with the bottom of the vertical supports. The middle supports are positioned 17.25″ up from the bottom of the vertical 2x4s. The bottom support will have to be removed to add the neck pieces, but I went ahead and screwed it in to double check position.

img_7907

The neck pieces slide in between the horizontal supports. The oval for the neck starts at 17.5″ from bottom of 2x4s and measures 10.25″ tall and 3.5″ wide. Also the bottom (not visible) of the movable neck piece is angled 45 degrees and secured using a single screw to allow it to move. The stationary neck piece is secured using 2 screws.

The food bowl is attached to the horizontal supports.

Its hard to tell in the photo, but I forgot we had a jig saw and messed up the neck oval. Once I remembered/found the jig saw, it made life easier, but the damage had been done.  Instead of fixing it right now, I decided to just wrap the opening with an old fleece blanket. Our girls have never used a stand before and the extra cushion was probably a good thing.

~~~

Please note that all measurements are based on Nigerian Dwarf goats and would need to be adjusted for standard size goats.

Altogether it took us about 3 hours to build the stand.

Tools:

  • Miter saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Drill
  • 2 1/2″ screws

Cut List:

Legs: (4) 4x4s or 2x4s – 17″

Long Side: (2) 2x4s – 36″

Short Sides: (3) 2x4s – 20″

Floor: (4) cedar fencing – 36″

Vertical supports: (2) 2x4s – 36″

 Horizontal supports: (3) 2x4s – 23″

Head pieces: (2) 2x4s – 36″ – One cut at 45 degrees at bottom

If you do buy the lumber, you can get away with (4) 2″x4″x8′ boards and (1) 4″x4″x6′ board, plus (2) 6′ cedar picket fence boards. Which, based on current prices, will run you about $30. Goat Milking Stand cut list

Venturing into Goat Breeding

When we first purchased our goats, the intention had been to breed them and milk them.  By the time they were old/big enough to breed, they would have been due to kid the same time Vivienne would be born. I was not prepared for that so we put it off, and put it off, and put it off. Then earlier this year we finally decided that we would plan to breed the girls this fall and have them kid next spring. But it was not a firm decision, and we kept wavering.

img_1844

Then Covid-19 hit and our plans changed. Milk became hard to find, and as I stood in the kitchen wondering if the store had milk or not, I watched our freeloading DAIRY goats play. Why on earth did I have dairy goats and no milk?!

So now my decision to breed the goats was firm and more immediate. Vince was still wavering.

img_4156

First we had to rehome the two goats we had acquired last summer. They were very sweet girls, but they had horn issues and quite frankly I didn’t want to breed them. Within hours they were off to their new home, with a man who was prepared to deal with the horn issues.

Then I began my search for a male. It was harder than I thought, and I widened my search to find an already bred female. I was getting desperate for milk.

I finally found the perfect male. He was close, cheap and super cute. Vince agreed and I dragged his allergy miserable self to get the goat. Since I am pregnant enough to not be able to catch a skittish goat, Vince caught the goat and we were on our way.

Now here is the funny part, and I only tell this because its just our luck and neither of us is blaming the other, he turned out to be a she… yeah.

I never got close to the goat till we were home, and by then I was trying to give it space so it would calm down. Vince had never thought to check whether the goat was male or female because he assumed I had things under control and he was just plain miserable trying to hold a skittish goat.

Vince wanted to give up and move to Maine. I instead started looking for a new male.

acs_0324

At this point the virus is causing more and more places to issue shelter in place orders and I wanted a male on our property when/if that happened. I also wanted to persuade Vince to keep the new female who was very cute and starting to calm down.

I searched every goat group Facebook page within drivable distance, all the bucks I found were either sold or more than I wanted to spend. I messaged seller after seller with no luck. Just as I had given up hope, I woke up to a response. The buck I asked about was sold, but she had one left and she attached a photo. I saw the photo and fell in love, he was the cutest buck I had seen in all my searching. I asked age and price, assuming he would be another dead end due to price. She quickly responded and I was sold.

Now to sell Vince on the idea. I waited patiently for him to wake up, I wanted him well rested and in a good mood. Allergy season is in full force so persuading him to get another goat after the he/she incident when he is already miserable was going to take some work. While he was not thrilled by the idea, he agreed, on the terms that if this one was a girl, we were done.

acs_0322

It was a bit of the drive to get this little boy, and I’m fairly certain Vince was regretting that he let me do this, but baby goats make things better. Especially cute baby goats with the correct genitalia.

So now we just have to wait and hopefully we will have several baby goats to play with this fall.

Elle

The Way Plans Change

IMG_0540We had big plans for this little farm when we moved in. Over the last few year the plans have changed and expanded. We also experimented and learned.

We have learned a lot about our land and have had to rethink how we house animals and where we can plant certain plants and trees.

img_4767This year we decided to scale back a bit and refocus our plans, refocus them closer to the original plans. We had always dreamed this farm would be mostly self reliant, at this point it is far from self reliant.

Yes, we have our own eggs, and we still have pork and whole chickens from those experiments, but we still have to buy most of our food.

So Vince and I spent several months deciding our priorities and what changes we wanted to make this year. With another baby due in July, we decided to downsize in certain areas and take the year to finish half-finished projects and reset so we could start fresh in 2021. We decided no new chicks, but to breed the goats in the fall for a Spring 2021 kidding. We decided no vegetable garden but to fill out the flower/herb garden and plant a few more berry bushes and fruit trees. Basically to take a break without sacrificing those long term goals.

IMG_0235

But sometimes outside forces cause you to change plans.

In the midst of remodeling our old rental for my grandparents, Vince started reading things about a virus sweeping through China. The terms epidemic and pandemic were being thrown around. Instead of using this as a forewarning, I kept going about my life as usual. Actually I did something worse, I ignored my normal preparedness mindset and  relied on already prepared foods letting ingredient stockpiles dwindle.

When the first cases were reported in the U.S. I still didn’t take it serious. By the time I realized the seriousness so had everyone else and the food shortages had hit. I normally buy certain staples in bulk, and since I hadn’t been baking/cooking much I was under the mistaken belief that we were good.

We were not.

So things needed to change.

Quickly vegetable seeds were started, a male goat was acquired, and an Azure bulk order was placed.Kids Playing on Slide at Bona Terra Farm

 

Its funny, I repeatedly told Vince I wanted to use 2020 to get back to the original plans we had for this farm, but it took a pandemic to actually get me to head in that direction.

We are still far from where I’d like to be, but we are finally taking steps to get there.

Elle

 

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019… and Puer the Pig

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019… and Puer the Pig

After the Great Pig Fiasco of 2018, I thought we were done with pig fiascos, but February arrived and so did the Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019.

When we sold off the pigs back in October, we were left with a pot belly pig, and male and female mini pig. The seller had told us both the pot belly and female mini pig were due to have piglets on Christmas. Well, Christmas came and went and no piglets. New Year’s came and went, no piglets. February arrived and no signs of piglets, so we assumed the seller lied and there would be no piglets. We also assumed that since there were no piglets or signs of piglets, that there would be no piglets, ever, as in someone was sterile.

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019. new born piglets

Then came the cold rainy morning, when Vince found piglets. It was probably the coldest day all winter, it had been raining for days so the pig pen had standing water in areas, and the female mini pig gave birth to five piglets and walked away and left them. By the time vince found them only two were still alive.

This was the last straw, I already disliked the mini pigs because they were extremely anti-human. Mini pigs are meant to be pets and these hated humans, so they were useless as pets. Then she abandons her piglets to die, I was through with her.

We took the two piglets, warmed them up as best we could and began feeding them, every two hours…

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019. black and white new born piglets

Mind you during this first week with the piglets, Isaac had his tonsils removed, so that was fun. Well, for him it actually was, he had fun playing with the piglets as he recovered.

I was worried the boy piglet wasn’t going to make it because he refused to eat, it was a huge battle to get him to eat, but then one day he started eating and never looked back. However, the girl piglet began to take a turn around a month old and she didn’t make it.

Thankfully the boy, who we called Puer (latin for boy), was thriving and playful.

Mini Pig Fiasco of 2019...Puer the Pig

The kids loved him, he ran around the kitchen and living room squealing and would chase sock feet.

But the question arose, what does one do with a mini pig?

Puer the mini Pig on blanket

As I said earlier, they are meant to be pets, but they are also pigs which means they root and tear things up. He would get big and eat a lot of food. Which means on a small farm, he would be a big waste of money. Yes, you can argue they love he brings would be worth it, but the reality is, the kids lost interest in him quickly and he got annoyed with them quickly, so I didn’t foresee years of love and affection between them.

Puer the mini pig and baby girl

So when he was weaned, we put him up for sale. I was still a little on the fence about it, I was worried he might not be bought as a pet. I didn’t want him as dinner, I wanted him to be happy and loved. The lady who ended up buying him, was the kindest lady, who had owned a mini pig in the past. Her daughter wanted another pig and she had told her once she was down with nursing school they would get one. So Puer was renamed Wilbur and went to home to make one little girl very happy.

And our kids? Vivienne didn’t mind one bit, and while Isaac was sad for a minute, he was happy Puer made someone else happy.

Elle

 

Just a Quick Update

Just a Quick Update

It’s been a long time since I have updated the blog, where have I been? Here and there, swamped by projects, and daily life.

When Vince and I discussed our goals for 2019, we realized the farm and our lives were moving in one direction, while we were still trying to push them back to the direction we “thought” was the best. When we took the time to step back look at things, we realized the direction things were moving, was actually better than the direction we thought we wanted.

Changes have been made. Priorities have been shifted. So far for the better.

We have spent the last few months finishing up some big farm projects, traveling to Paris, organizing the house, finishing some house projects, and trying to update our plans for the future.

Thankfully these busy months have left me with lots of posts, now to just sit down and write.

Elle

 

 

 

Yearly Goals Printable

Yearly Goals Printable

*Edit: I added two new versions. What can I say, I got bored with the dots.

Each year I like to write down my goals for the year. I like goals more than resolutions, resolutions feel restrictive, goals seem motivational.

I try to break it down by big goals for the year, then smaller monthly goals that help achieve the larger yearly goals, this year I also have a list a projects we need to finish.

Monthly GoalsSince I’m a bit of a nut, I tend to spend a ridiculous amount much time designing the page for the goals, it’s a relaxing “me time.” This year, in order to make myself feel a bit better about the time I spent, I decided to share it.

Projects PageI hope your 2019 is as productive as you desire!

Click here to download yours!

2019 Goals - Dots2019 Goals – Dots

2019 Goals - Plants2019 Goals – Plants

2019 Goals - Flowers2019 Goals – Flowers

2019 Goals

2019 Goals

It’s that time of year again, time to set goals for the next year!

Is it just me or is anyone else trying to figure out where 2018 went?

Oh good, I’m not alone!

This year my top goal is Joy.

I’ve gotten a bit bogged down by all the projects that need to be done around here that I lost sight of why we wanted to do all this.

Right after the pig fiasco, some of Isaac’s friends came over for a play-date. Seeing his pride in his animals and the looks on their faces as they played with the animals was a wonderful reminder or why we did this.

So, this next year we are slowing down and cutting back in areas. This means we are going to finish up projects that we have been putting off, and being more efficient with the time we have. In case you are concerned about the cutting back, this means roosters and extra hens, not completely getting rid of animals. This year we plan to add far less animals to the farm and mostly through purchasing hens from a hatchery to ensure we do not have an overflow of roosters like this year.

Its funny because as I was thinking how I needed to find joy in this farm, one of my favorite bloggers, Parisienne Farmgirl, started sharing how she was focusing on Joie de Vivre. I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw her introducing her day planner and discussing Joie de Vivre and it was like she read my mind! And yes, I preordered that planner and not so patiently waited for it to arrive in the mail. It is beautiful!!! Its almost too pretty to use, which is perfect because I got it to write down all the life events and milestones from this year.

Her planner leads me to my second big goal for the year, be organized!

Last year I tested out The Happy Planner and loved it, so I had Vince get me another for Christmas and lots of fun stickers to decorate it with. I have to have routine and structure, but I also need color and whimsy. I sit down once a week and plan and decorate the upcoming week. Isaac likes to help place the stickers which is fun, with just a hint of stress to keep me on my toes. Its taken all year, but I finally found a system that works for keeping everything organized… at least in the case of my planners.

My house is the third goal of the year, it needs a major decluttering and reorganization, among other things.

We don’t have much closet space and our kitchen cabinets are useless and the attic is mostly unreachable. Yeah, I’m at a loss of what to do, but I am determined to fix that this year. I’m going to be honest, I won’t be surprised if I see this on my goals for the next ten to twenty years. I’m assuming that eventually my kids will stick me in a nursing home and then I won’t have to figure out the storage issues with the house.

I decided to join a home organization challenge that should help me get my home organized in 14 weeks… we shall see about that.

So what are your goals for 2019?

 

When All is Said and Done

When All is Said and Done

We are finally done with The Great Pig Fiasco.

We kept trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but in the end we had to step back and be done.

Nothing was as “advertised” and a complete disaster. The docile pigs who “cuddled” and “came to their names,” were so stressed out they were about as docile as an angry mama bear, and most certainly did not come to their names. On top of it some of them were in fact angry mama hogs because the seller sent moms to us while babies were still running loose at her house. She “never found” one sows piglets, so I am sad about their fate.

There was also conflicting information all around. Such as, They supposedly only got out because she was in the hospital and her helper let them out. But then she said one had been out for three weeks… two weeks before she was in the hospital.

I could go into more of the chaos but I am over it and don’t want to drag it back up. We learned our lesson and will not do business with her type again.

So when all was said and done, we sent three hogs to the butcher for us, kept the Potbelly (Jelly Belly) and the two micros (Lilibet and Philip,) and sold the rest.

Last Saturday was the Oxford Maker’s Market, while I was there, Vince and our buyer were at home loading up the pigs. The ease with which they loaded them up was a relief as well as a comment about the previous situation.

Since I was alone at the market, I took the time to get caught up on my Bible Study. I had gotten a couple weeks behind and apparently Someone … ahem God… had known I would need those lessons in that moment and not when they were originally scheduled. Funny how He knows just what we need and when.

When I got home, the dust had settled, and kids were asleep, Vince and I discussed the plans for the farm and what we wanted to do next.

This time we did what we should have done before the pig fiasco started, prayed … and we haven’t stopped since.

We aren’t giving up on the farm, but we are shifting our focus a little bit. We are going to step back from trying to force this into a business and focus on letting it bring joy and grow at its own pace. I’m not quite sure fully where we are headed, but this time God is guiding the way.

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

At the end of August we put a downpayment down on a ridiculous number of pigs (57 to be exact.) Several of them were pregnant and for some reason we thought this was a good idea. The plan was to pick them up at the end of September/beginning of October. Then we would try to sell off the ones we didn’t want to keep for breeding and separate the ones for meat.

Since we also decided to turn our rental house into an Airbnb, and have two kids, the pig pens were coming along slower than we hoped. But no worries, the Airbnb was finally up and running and we could spend the next week finishing everything up.

Then the baby gets sick, then I get sick, then Vince and Isaac get sick, we were struck down by a nasty stomach bug.

So here I am nursing the baby, who still doesn’t feel great, while Isaac and Vince try to get some rest after being up sick all night. Then the phone rings, Vince answers, Vince makes a confused face, “Well as I told the lady, I would pick them up at the end of September or the first week or October. We aren’t set up for them right this minute.”

Turns out the lady is in the hospital, the pigs keep getting loose, she told the sheriff’s department we had paid in full and they were ours, so we get a call from the sheriff’s department about “our” pigs getting loose and “destroying” neighbors property.

Vince gets himself up and dressed to go over there and try to figure something out, two of her neighbors help him, and in the end he comes home with three scared pigs, and a somewhat plan to get the last of the fencing done tonight and start bringing the rest of the pigs home tomorrow.

This is clearly some kind of test and all I can do is laugh and give it to God.

The best part is as I sit here and write this I glance over the tabs to see I have a Facebook notification, my mom commented on the photo of the pigs… She laughed… I mean what else to you do in this situation.

We will see how tomorrow goes, and for now I’ll be the crazy person in the corner laughing.

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 9.15.27 PM

 

 

End of Chick Season

End of Chick Season

Our last batch of chicks just hatched, and since Mama Hens (two hens are Co-parenting) will raise them it’s time to start focusing on the next farm project.

Over the past 6 months we have hatched over 100 chicks and bought 28. To some that sounds like nothing and to others it sounds like way too many!

I expected we would loose more chicks than we did, they lived. It evened out in the end because a good portion of the chicks were roosters. To give you perspective of how many roosters, out of the first 85 chicks, we only got 22 hens. Since most of our chickens are slow maturing breeds it will be a few more months before we get a final hen count.

I’ve learned a few things this chick season. The most important lesson: Mama hens are the way to go!

Give them eggs, wait 21 days, check to see cute babies, and walk away.

Mama hens have a much better hatch rate than incubators, since God, you know, made them perfect for that job. They also feed, water, and heat the chicks perfectly.

The Chicken Lady, who I’ve bought eggs from, said she gave up on incubators and just lets mama hens do their thing. Here’s to hoping we get some good mama hens!

Thankfully I’m done with the hard work of chick care and get to enjoy the fruits, or should I say eggs, of our labors. The new layers are showing off and we are getting lots of colorful eggs.

So since the chickens are settled, what’s the next farm project? Pigs, more pigs.

We learned a lot with the last group, so we felt we knew enough to purchase breeding sows and boars… did you hear the sarcasm in my voice.

For now we are putting up lots and lots of fencing for the ridiculous number of pigs, who will be joining our farm in just a few short weeks.

Goodbye, last bit of sanity I had left, fare thee well.