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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Incubating Eggs, part 4: The Hatch!

Incubating Eggs, part 4: The Hatch!

Hatch Day is officially over!

Everyone who is going to hatch is hatched.

We have 18 more baby chicks!

*Of the eggs we had left at day 18, only one didn’t hatch. It never broke the shell, so I candled it and there was no movement at all. It pipped into the air sack, but never made it to the shell.*

I noticed the first little pips in the shells Wednesday afternoon and by 11:45pm that night we had our first little chick.

We had 3 chicks when we woke up Thursday, and I frantically checked on them and hovered all day watching the rest hatch.

When we went to bed Thursday, we had 12 little fluffs nestled in their brooder and 7 eggs left in the incubator. I told Vince I would be utterly amazed if any of those 7 hatched. One had broken a dime size hole in the shell by lunch time, but hadn’t done any more in hours.

Well, we woke up to 4 more chicks in the incubator!

So there were only three eggs left: the non-pipped one, the dime hole one, and another that was hatching.

We had to go to town for a playdate, and I told Vince if the one with the hole was still alive when we got back, I might break down and “help” it a bit.

Sure enough it was still alive and the other one still hadn’t finished hatching.

The membrane around the hole was dried and hard, so I broke off a few small pieces of shell to see if it could do the rest. Sure enough it started to work at hatching once those pieces were loose. I had told myself I wouldn’t help them at all, I figured it was natures way of culling the weak, but this little chick was still fighting. It did the hard work itself and while weak seems to be okay. I am still a bit hesitant to make any future plans for that chick, but now it at least has a chance.

As soon as that chick was free and cheeping around the incubator, the other chick still hatching perked up and hatched. It was like it was waiting for a friend to encourage it.

I would have been happy if any of the chicks hatched, so I am overjoyed we have so many little fluffy chicks pecking around.

Now for the next batch! Since we will not be using the Minorca eggs and we sold the Rhode Island Red/Barred Rock hens, we had to by eggs to fill the incubator. Hopefully they will do as well as these and we can get a better hatch rate.

Below are our numbers from this first hatch:

Ameraucana: 11 placed in incubator, 10 fertile, 9 hatched = 82% hatch rate

Minorca: 19 placed in incubator, 1 fertile, 1 hatched = 5% hatch rate

RIR/Barred Rock: 11 placed in incubator, 10 fertile, 2 lost to cracks, so 8 viable, 8 hatched = 73% hatch rate

Thanks to the 18 Minorca eggs that weren’t fertile it looks like we have a terrible hatch rate:18/41 or about 44%.

Incubating Eggs, part 2

Incubating Eggs, part 2

Today is day 7!

This is a big day because we get to see how the eggs are doing, and because I have patiently waited this long. Yay, me!

So far, so good.

Most of the eggs are showing veins and a tiny baby chick, and the air sack looks about the right size.

The eggs that aren’t developing are all from the Minorcas, and it makes me wonder if it is more of a fertility issue than an incubating issue. Out of 19 Minorca eggs only 1 showed any signs of development. All the eggs have been handled the same since collection, so something is off.

From the Ameraucanas, 10 out of 11 eggs are showing development. From the Rhode Island Red/ Barred Rock crosses all the eggs showed development, but two of them were somehow cracked, so we pulled them from the incubator.

I left all the non-developed eggs in the incubator for now and plan to recheck those in a couple days, just incase they are extremely late bloomers.

A few of the eggs were light enough you could see the baby chick squirming around, which was super exciting.

I am a bit frustrated about the two cracked eggs because I thought I made sure none of the eggs were cracked. But we did use them as a learning experience. Instead of just tossing the eggs, we opened them to see how they looked at this stage of development. It is truly amazing how quickly they develop.

***Below is a photo if you are curious, or if it’s too much, stop reading here.***

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Below you can see all the veins connecting embryo to the yoke (its food source) and the giant eye in the tiny embryo.

Introductions seem in order. 

Introductions seem in order. 

 

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I am Elle. Yeah, thats all I can think to say about myself. If I really had to dig deep and talk about myself, I will tell you I am a wife and mother. I live on a farm in Mississippi, bona terra farm.  I enjoy knitting and reading, but don’t have nearly enough time to do those things. I also enjoy cooking and canning and since those are vital, I make time for them. I am writing this for us, so that years down the line we can look back on everything we have done. If others find it interesting or useful, that is an added bonus. I tend to learn things the hard way and make many errors along the way, so maybe someone can read what we did wrong and learn from it. I have no delusions of being perfect or even close to “normal.” But I’ve been told the craziness is entertaining to watch.

The other residents on the farm include:

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My wonderful husband, Vince. I can’t describe how amazing he is. He saw the craziness and still married the craziness. Sometimes that makes me question his sanity, since no sane person would have married me, but I don’t dwell on it too long incase he comes to his senses. We both studied Classics in college, and met in a Latin class. In the very little spare time he gets, he plays chess and reads old classics and books on history. Yep, we are those type of nerds.

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Our wild little boy, Isaac. He thinks he’s a dog, and the dogs think he is one of them, so it all works out. He recently acquired the skill of hugging the cats without them running away. He also thinks it’s completely normal to have chickens and goats. He copies and “helps” us with all our projects and I love to watch him learn and explore.

There are also the dogs, Isis and Cleo. I grew up with a love of all things Ancient Egyptian, so to clarify, Isis is named after the Goddess Isis and Cleo is named after Cleopatra. The more I write the more I realize how nerdy I am.

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Godric the ferret should be mentioned, he is very old for a ferret. So I am preparing myself the best I can for the inevitable. But look how cute he was when he was a baby!!

The chickens we have now all have names, as they were the backyard flock that led us down the rabbit hole of farming. There is Coco, Poulet, Fluffy, Bunny, Penguin, Daisy, Rosie, and Perceval the Rooster. There I go again with weird names.

Since we moved we adopted the cats Missy and Sophia. As my vet said, “I love how you always adopt the animals no one else will take.” Yep, thats me… but in all seriousness we got them all fixed up and they love being able to roam and explore the farm.

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We also have Millie and Penny twin Nigerian Dwarf goats. We also had Trixie, but she recently passed and we are still waiting for answers about why she passed.

This is the current residents at bona terra farm, but who knows who will join us in the next few months and years.