Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Need To Pick Your Brain

 I hope a don't get a lot of zombies reading my blog with a title like that. hehehe...... Anyway, I have been reevaluating the farm and it's contents, mostly the critters.  And,I am thinking about selling the goats.  I know, the goats have been a big part of the farm but there comes a time when you realize what's working and what's not.  The goats are not.  Don't get me wrong, I love my goats but I'm not doing them justice.  They need to be moved to different pastures.  And to do that, I would have to put at least $1500 into fencing so that they can't get out.  Oh, and believe me, they will get out.  I don't have the $1500 to put into fencing right now(or anytime soon), so I'm going to have to sell them.

Plus, is you have ever had goats, you know that they have a way of (how can I say this nicely) being a pain in the butt!  Every time I go out to feed I wonder what I'm going to see next.  Who is limping for no known reason, who is stuck in the fence, who got OUT of the fence, and so on.  I swear they went two whole weeks acting like they were starving to death whenever I went out to feed.  They were even losing weight.  I was wondering if they were having a worm issue so I wormed them and kept a good eye on them. Then I noticed that they weren't eating their hay.  We have a feeder that holds a round bale of hay for them to eat.  I went down to look at it thinking maybe it was a bad bale.  Those sweet (stupid) goats came running like I was the best thing ever.  They plunged into that bale of hay (that they had eaten out of before) like it was candy.  Those sweet (stupid) goats had FORGOT that there was hay there.  This is what I contend with EVERY DAY.  So, instead of worrying about what's going to happen next, I'm just going to sell them.  They haven't really been earning their keep on the farm anyway.  Well, other than comedy relief.

The rabbits?  Well, lets just say that they are on probation.  For some reason I can't get them to breed.  I've even changed bucks.  I'm wondering if they are just too old.  Maybe I need to start with younger rabbits.  Although 2 yrs isn't too old for breeding rabbits.  I just don't really know what the problem is. Good thing I don't have too much money in them.  I won't feel so bad if I have to sell them too.  The bad thing is, I have clients who want the rabbits!  I just can't get them to breed!!!!! Maybe I should hire a sex therapist for them. hehehe

The chickens?  I'm down to 4 hens and 3 pullets and 1 rooster. (Thanks to Jack.)  I'm getting 1 to 2 eggs a day.  I understand it's winter and they don't lay as many eggs in the winter.  I'm thinking I need to get some more young hens to add to the flock.  Although we didn't get the new coop done this past summer, it's on the TOP of the list of things to do when the weather breaks.  I'm going to keep my chickens.  Those are the only things that were actually making me money by selling their eggs.  If only I had more.

The cattle?  Well, we have one cow, two heifers (young female cows who haven't had a calf), a baby bull, and another small bull that we have on loan from a friend to try and breed the cows. They are as wild as deer right now.  No matter what, they will NOT come close to us, even when we have sweet feed. They take one look at us, throw their head in the air and run.  I have a feeling when it's butchering time for the little bull, we are going to have to be like the Indians and run it down like buffalo.  Could be interesting, I'll keep you posted. :0)

So now you know about our animals.  We only have a barn for hay and a shed off of the barn for the horses and cows to get in. (Oh, by the way, the horses are just pasture ornaments.  We don't do anything with them. I guess we could if we wanted, but we don't ride anymore. They just help eat down the grass and with around 50 acres, we need something to help with keeping the pasture eaten down.)   The fence around these acres is 5 strands of close barb wire.  The goats' have their own pen with woven wire fence.  Not really big enough for them.  They have little goat huts, small three sided buildings. These huts are eight by eight square and just big enough for me to bend over to go in.  Perfect for goats we have quite a few of these.  We actually have more of the huts than we have goats.

My problem is now that I'm going to sell my goats, I'm still going to have to have something to help eat pasture and hay.  If not, we will have to bush hog the whole place so that it won't grow up and turn into a mess.  It can happen really quickly.  If I would have won that huge lottery, I wouldn't have this problem.  I would just hire a couple farm hands and they would fix new fence, build me a couple barns, a garage, and we would be set.  But, that didn't happen, so I'm gonna have to figure out how to do this on a VERY tight budget.  Any ideas?  What would YOU do if you had 50 acres of barb wired fenced land? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

So until next time,

Small Farm Girl, clueless.


Carolyn said...

I don't blame you in the least for getting rid of the goats. I sometimes (ok, daily) wonder why we have ours. Chickens would be a definite keeper for me. Better bang for your feed-buck.

Could you have the pasture cut on shares? Could you board someone else's horse(s) to help with the "lawn mowing"?

Anonymous said...

Howdy there lady,

I've got 10 acres. The west fence is woven, the neighbor has nags. The east and north fences are four stand barbed in poor condition. That neighbor has cows. The south fence is new, by me, but there is a 30 yard gap not yet done.

I have goats, sheep, and one bull (for now) calf all together in a 1/4 acre well fenced field. I am working on fences as fast as I can, but it will be a while.

Given the situation you face and given the personality of goats I think your best shot for now is to sell them. You need stock that are less demanding. Sheep are easy on fences, but they need more protection than barbed. I think your best best is to get more cattle.

Now, until the one I now have I had never had cattle ever because they are just so darned big and you must use care with them because even the friendly ones can hurt you mortally without even trying. But they are likely your best shot to keep the grass under control and give you a return down the road.

I've done rabbits and think they are over rated. I would not raise them again for meat.

By the way, I've read your blog and Phelan's for a long time now. I am a long time homesteader...since the 60's. I'm in California, way up north.


Sunnybrook Farm said...

Wow you are close to what we have been through. We started with goats but they were destructive and just plain worked against me at every opportunity. I could not fence them or tether them, they wouldn't eat the weeds that needed to be eaten. I finally sold some and gave others away and though they were entertaining, the day the last one left was a happy day, I have never missed them. Our chickens have become old and we need new ones but the price of feed more than doubled so we can't see buying more as things stand. We have 2 steers that will be of age to butcher next year and a draft horse that eats enough for 4 steers. And still the weeds grow in the pastures. Nothing will eat the weeds. I am getting a used sickle bar mower for the tractor and will work on the problem with that. Unless you spray or bush hog there is no easy answer. I can't afford to do either.

small farm girl said...

I feel your goat pain Carolyn. As for boarding other peoples horses? I don't think so. I don't want the responsibility for someone else's animals.

small farm girl said...

Well "Hi!" right back attcha Winston!!!!!! Glad to have ya reading about my mess!!! :-)
We have had more cattle before, after being charged by a bull, well, that's when I wanted to get into goats. Now, not so sure. I do know we are planning on getting more cattle. They are the least amount of work for a bigger return. But, I'm wanting to get them when they are young so they aren't wild like the ones we have now. I have thought about getting some fiber animals but I know nothing about them so we shall see.
Thanks for commenting!

small farm girl said...

I have been feelin guilty about getting rid of the goats. I really like them! But, like you said, they work against you.
My chickens, when they are laying, pay for themselves with the eggs that I sell.
Thanks for the comment!

Rapid Falls Farm said...

Ahh it's interesting to read this .. I think every farmer feels frustration with there critters and threatens to sell them all! Lol!! I had to laugh at the goats forgetting there hay... They can be so stupid! We raise goats for milk & meat and we live on only 1 acre so for us it HAS to work bc there our only option in the milk department! I would keep them.. Funny that you say that about rabbits bc we plan on getting some come spring for meat. We raised Cornish crosses last spring and started with 50 and when it was time to slaughter we had NINE. The rest died it was AWFUL. They had everything they needed! There was no reason for them to die like that so randomly :( so we thought meat rabbits this year ... Guess we wil just have to see! And chickens... We have 10 and they stopped laying in may. They will be 2 in February. I thought they were hiding them as they are free range but I fenced them in and no eggs!!!! Good for nothing lazy u know what's :) sorry if I wasn't any help you... I guess if we switched roles id say keep the goats and get rid of the chickens LOL!

small farm girl said...

But the chickens are the only thing that was paying for themselves. :-)

Anonymous said...

If it was me, I'd get rid of pasture ornaments first, replaced with a few sheep that could at least bring in some cash. I'd keep two goats for milk, I'd try and find out why rabbits won't breed (that is the strangest thing). Two years is not that old for a female. It could be something as simple as there being too much noise around, spooking them. If they were living in the wild, they would be in deep burrows, so nice big cages with lots of hay, perhaps? And the females get put in the cage with the male to get bred, not the other way around. Hope this helps.

Lamb said...

I would swoon in delight if we had 50 acres! Oh the things I would do!
We are on a little less than 1 acre and we have goats, alpacas, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and peafowl.
We used to have rabbits but the darn things were really more trouble than they were worth!
Love my goats! We use them for milk...and I make cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cajeta and other goodies from their milk.My goats are all very docile and sweet natured. I am there at every kidding, and besides their mama, the first thing they see is me! I handle the goats every day. It is a necessity with dairy goats, even when you aren't milking. Love my chickens, too! Yes, named them all, lol! Mine are still laying, even in this cold weather.
Maybe you can go to and look at some of the breeds there and get some ideas?

small farm girl said...

Well, I wished things were that simple. The horses have sentimental values. Plus with one being extremely old, it's not going to be long for him.
Now the rabbits, I was raised on a rabbit farm where at one time we had 150 breeders. I'm not doing anything different from what is use to do. Hhmmmmm.

small farm girl said...

Lamb, we have had our dear milk goat now for 3 years and I do believe she is the most aggravating goat in the world! Lol. If there is trouble to be had, she is right in the middle of it. Now don't get me wrong, she is also the most loving. But both Hubby and I don't really care for goat milk products. I can drink the milk fresh, but the butter and the cheeses we are not fond of. We have tried different types done by different people. We also don't like goat meat. Well, at least the ones we have tried. So the goats, even though I love them Are just expensive pets......
Thanks for the link! I'm gonna try different kind this coming year. Although I think my problem is my chickens are too old or too young. No happy mediums. :-).
Thanks for your comment!!!!!!

Robbyn said...

Hey! do you have ponds? I was thinking ducks and geese if so. Not that I speak from experience, as you know, but just thinking aloud! As an amateur, this is not worth a toot, but here's what I'm thinking anyway. Enough cattle on there to bring in a profit enough in a year or so that you could sell enough off to pay for that fence improvement, and make hay from any decent pastures not being used, etc. Put in some fields of something edible like cowpeas that could be forage for the animals at some point? (might no be do-able with the fence situation yet?) and get a rotation of new chicks, cull your flock hard and get the types you love the most. Get rid of the goats and see if a 4Her might want some? And as for the rabbits, bunny jacuzzi and some mood music?? heh heh

Kellie from Indiana said...

Oh, if I had the acres I would build a cabin for hubby to live in. Just kiddin, I dream of breeding sheep though. Good lawn mowers and I would love the wool to spin up into yarn I could use. Maybe after my house is full of all the wool Ive hoarded I would contemplate selling it. Or build a cabin to store more there, and hubby. Lol!

small farm girl said...

Kellie, LOL!!!!!

The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

If you'd like chickens to lay during the winter get some summer chicks ( mid-Julyish ). We had 12 this July, and they are laying like crazy!

As far as the acres of mowing, you could try a zip line attached to a goat/sheep/? Get a good stake in the ground, leash on the whatever animal and they eat around the radius. You bring them water.

Or you might be able to lease the field out to someone who will graze animals there? That is popular where we are at.

Good luck!

small farm girl said...

We did buy chickens in the late spring.... Hmmmmmm.
The tie outs won't work because of coyotes.

Pete in Texas said...

I raise goats and sheep and chickens and cows in central Texas so I have a similar problem with fencing. If you don't want goat milk for the table and cheese making, I would second your motion to get rid of the goats – at least for the immediate future. I use mine for brush cutting since some of my acreage is wooded and overgrown. I want to maintain a small breeding herd and have milk for the table so I have chosen Lamancha dairy goats. They are very intelligent, have good temperaments and are very hardy. They do however, like all goats need good fencing. I alternate three strands of high tensile electric and three strands of barbed – which maintained at 5000 volts does a good job of containing them as well as keeping out most coyotes and wild hogs. You could mimic that by running two strands of high tensile electric fence between your existing barbed wires - one at approximately 6 inches off the ground and one at goat nose level. I run my third hot wire at roughly cow nose level. High tensile fencing is relatively cheap if you can keep your segments relatively long – the cost is all in the insulators and terminations at the end of segments which require tensioning ratchets and springs.
Keep in mind that you need to keep some stock on the land to maintain your ag exemption for property taxes. I would reduce the goats to two bred milkers. These would stay in the current goat fenced area. If they eat that down I would tether them out near the house where I could bring them in every night. I would keep the cows but return the borrowed bull as soon as it appears the heifers are bred. I would use temporary electric fencing and step in fiberglass posts to partition the acreage and practice rotational mob grazing. The more contact you have with the cows the gentler they will get. You still want to remember that a cow is a big animal that can seriously hurt you and have no sense that they are inflicting pain.
If you feel strongly about getting rid of the cows and starting over with gentler stock, I would suggest that near term you consider leasing your acreage to a grazier who is looking for acreage to run stocker cattle. That will take care of your pasture maintenance problem. I would then take the lease income and invest it in 4x4 sheep and goat fencing that I would install on the existing fence posts of your perimeter fence. When I had the entire perimeter with sheep and goat fencing – I would consider terminating the lease and buy a small herd of sheep. The sheep and goat fencing will keep coyotes out to minimize your predator problems. I have found that I have to pasture sheep and cows separately cause the sheep will eat the pasture down below where the cows can get a mouthful. This problem can be solved by rotational grazing and have the sheep follow the cows. This also helps minimize your parasite problems since cows and sheep dont share the same worms.
Pete in Texas

small farm girl said...

Thanks for your comment Pete! I probably will be selling the goats, but will be keeping the cows. Maybe getting some that are younger and mingle with them a little so the aren't wild like the ones we have now. Still looking into the sheep.

Anonymous said...

I'd get rid of the goats first. Next I'd work on cross fencing your pastures. Just remember.. it's easier to move fence post on paper than to dig them up. Plan carefully. I have a small herd of 10 cows and 1 young (4 yo) bull on 18 acres. 3 acres is hay field and 5 is wooded. If you rotate your pastures you can make your hay stretch. I'm sure you can find some one to cut hay on shares if you have access. Also, Always carry a stick when going in with the cattle. I'm also planning on replacing my bull after two more breedings. He will still be young enough to bring good money at action. The older they get the more aggressive they can be. Good luck and Happy New Year. Idaho Bill