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Archive for the ‘Animal Husbandry’ Category

Tanglewood Farm is growing! Well, kind of.

I have two young horses over at the farm down the road where I run my lesson program and they are best friends. Declan and Breallen are the cutest buddies! They spend countless hours nibbling each other, scratching each other and even napping side-by-side.

Declan is 3 years old and Brea is just over a year. While Declan is well started under saddle, he’s technically not doing much for the lesson program right now and Brea, being so young, is obviously not doing much other than eating and pooping. After doing some number crunching I’ve decided it will be considerably less expensive to bring the two to my home farm and then they can help the sheep mow down the rest of the field, since they’re unable to keep up with the grass growth.

Declan in his adorable little hunt saddle!

 

Unfortunately I’ve been sick this past week (with coldmageddeon!), while I was supposed to be putting up fences to divide off a section of the field! I plan to keep them on a small spot of land for now so that they don’t eat too much grass at once. It’s important to ease horses slowly onto new pasture or they can colic (which for horses can be deadly). Anyway, I managed to get the step-in posts up this afternoon briefly and all that’s left to do now is string up the electric tape and connect the charger!

… and patch the water trough, and install the hay feeders… and walk the field checking the footing, and clear the barn for horse-hay-storage, and stack the hay and…

It’ll definitely be more work, but I can’t wait until I get to wake up to see the cutest little faces I know, every morning!

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It’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted here at NDiN, a really long time, probably over a year, maybe more (so sorry). You may have been wondering if I fell off the face of the earth. That didn’t happen, but I did buy a place in Maine, meanwhile, we fixed up our home in Ohio, then we moved to Maine, sold our place in Ohio and proceeded to spend every waking moment catching up on work (we’re self-employed). While I was able to keep my main blog Chiot’s Run and podcast (Cultivate Simple) going, most everything else fell by the wayside. How is my life different after being gone for a year?
Welcome 2
I have a HUGE garden. After being limited to about a quarter of an acre in Ohio, I now live on 153 acres in Maine. Most of it is wooded, but about 10 acres are cleared. My edible garden space consists of about 6,000 sq feet. YIKES, that’s a lot of weeding!
Welcome (1)
I have chickens, and guineas, and ducks, and more chickens, oh yeah, and a couple of pigs. Keeping chickens was always on my wish list, in our small lake community in Ohio they were viewed as “livestock” and too agrarian for the posh lake lifestyle of our neighbors. When we purchased this place it came with an instant flock of 12 chickens and a rooster. We’ve lost a few and added a few. We currently have a flock of 15 laying hens with a beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster. We also have 17 meat birds on the front lawn. Three guineas were added to the mix a few months ago, they hatched out 15 keets a few weeks ago.
Welcome
We bartered maple syrup for some Muscovy ducks last fall, a few were eaten by foxes (along with a few of our chickens), the rest graced our table. We have one pair that remains, and she just hatched out 9 beautiful ducklings. These little guys will hopefully build up to become a decent flock, providing fowl for our table in the coming years. They’re so much easier than chickens if you’re interested in meat birds.
Welcome 1
This spring, we took the plunge and got some pigs. Crazy – I know. Two piggies were introduced to help us clear the garden of weeds and to help keep the undergrowth in the woodlot under control. So far pigs have become our most favorite barnyard animal. What will we ever do with that much bacon? Not sure, we’re thinking that we can use the extra pork to barter with other goods from our neighbors.
Welcome 3
It’s been a crazy busy ride, things will hopefully settle down this winter. Lucky for us we’re full of youthful energy still and are highly motivated to get things done. We have dreams bigger than our budgets and time, but don’t we all. Life is really all about trying to find a balance, working hard but still finding time to enjoy what you’re working so hard for.

What have you been doing over the past year?

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This is the second in our repostings of Jen’s wonderful posts on monthly planning. Originally posted in 2011, here’s what to do in the traditional dead of winter.

February can be one of the last chances to get indoor projects completed before the spring thaw arrives. Gardeners are getting excited and it won’t be long before the first of this year’s farm babies are here! Spring is really just around the corner, so start wrapping things up inside and get ready to head back outdoors.

Indoors:

  • Check basement or crawl space for leakage during thaws.
  • Check bathroom caulking for re-sealing needs. While you’re in there, check your pipes for leaks.
  • Freshen your kitchen sinks by pouring a mixture of 3 cups hot water and 1/4 cup vinegar (or the juice of one lemon) down each drain.
  • Keep an eye out for cracks in your drywall caused by settling during thaws and freezes. There are expandable putties and spackles available for problem areas. While you’re at it, you may want to mark outdoor masonry to be repaired. Plan to complete this project after the last hard freeze and once your biggest worries of the house settling are past.
  • If you don’t have a cold frame or greenhouse, set up an area to start seeds for your garden. Few seeds need light to germinate (be sure to read the directions) so you may be able to get by without any lights other than a window for the first few weeks. (Check out chiotsrun seedstarting 101 guide).
  • Research and prepare for any animal purchases for the year.
  • Keep a tray of water and spray bottle near indoor plants to adjust humidity levels, especially if you have central air. Running the heater can dry them out quickly and cover leaves with dust.

Outdoors/Garden/Wildlife:

  • Keep fresh water available and free of ice for birds and wildlife.
  • It’s National Bird Feeding Month. Keep feeding those birdies! Seed, dried berries, and suet are great meals for our feathered pals.
  • If you live in a climate with mild winters, this month may be a good time to dig new beds. You may also want to repair or build new composting bins to be prepared for this year’s cleanup.
  • Southerners could get away with planting bare root trees on warm days.
  • Keep driveways and walks free of snow and ice. Have shovels, plows, and salt/brine accessible and stocked.
  • Watch gutters and roofs for ice dams.
  • XAN EDIT: if you’re in a short-season zone (5 and up) start long season seeds like onions and leeks indoors
  • If you didn’t get to it during fall, now would be a great time to oil and sharpen garden tools.

Animal Husbandry

  • Be prepared for early birthing. Have any equipment you’ll need ready and accessible.
  • Nights are still very cold in most parts of the country. Keep your critters warm with fresh hay, heat lamps, or blankets, but be sure to avoid fire hazards.
  • If you’ve been leaving a light on for your chickens you can begin weaning them off of it. The sun is setting noticeably later and your gals should begin laying more regularly soon.

You can also find Jennifer in archive at Unearthing This Life where she used to blog (or as she called it “blarg”) a bit about good food, home schooling, raising chickens, and being a suburban Yankee transplant in a rural southern town. She’s not writing right now, but her wonderful posts are well worth scrolling through.

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The following information is important for all pet owners to read, so i hope you will forgive this re-post from Pocket Pause.
Today’s post is a very important message to all the skin-parents out there. A friend of mine recently sent me an email warning me about using essential oils on Pocket. As i posted recently, i have blended an essential oil mixture to use on Pocket to prevent fleas, ticks and mosquitos without relying on those nasty chemical treatments. I’ve been using it with good success, as an occasional neck drip but mostly as a “rub it around on her belly and tail feathers” barrier when we go hiking. She’s had no problems, but i was also careful to dilute the essential oils i used with a lot of jojoba oil. It’s very important to remember that essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before use, for humans and pets alike. There are a few exceptions that can be used undiluted on occasion, but as a general rule you should water down your essential oils in oil, vodka or witch hazel.
In my friend’s case, she was using a brand name treatment that is available in stores and across the internet. Please read her warning below and weigh your options carefully when choosing a flea treatment for your pet:
Be very, very careful when using essential oils on Pocket. I honestly wouldn’t recommended it at all.
I used Sentry brand “Natural Defense Flea & Tick” squeeze-on treatment, as well as the same name carpet powder. The ingredients are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil and thyme oil.
Within one day of treating Tres, he was having severe difficulty breathing. I wondered if it was the flea treatment, but thought that it would be strange if any of those ingredients caused him harm, as I thought they were safe (which is why I used it, as opposed to a chemical treatment). Well, three vets and four days later, we finally found a vet who had seen this before and read studies on it and, yes, essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats. Their bodies metabolize them differently than ours. Tres’ rapid breathing was caused by his body being so acidic that it was toxic from the oils. His body was trying to get lots of oxygen to help his liver and kidneys eliminate the toxins. It has been nine days and his breathing is still not quite normal. But it is better. He wouldn’t eat, he could barely walk and he sounded like he was hyperventilating. It was HORRIBLE. I would just lay in his kennel with him and sob. The vet said we are lucky that he is still alive.
The only thing we could do to treat him was wash him with dish washing detergent (4x) make sure he had plenty of clean water, high quality protein (he would barely eat though) and lots of rest. And 12 mg of Benadryl twice daily. We go to the vet next week to do blood work to see if there has been any permanent organ damage. We’re hoping and praying that there isn’t any.
I’ve called the company and they refuse to acknowledge that their product could have done this. I find that interesting, considering that I found 200 complaints about their products killing/harming dogs and cats at the Consumer Affairs website and there is a Facebook page of people with similar experiences who are gathering up in order to file a class action lawsuit against the company.
It is going to cost $400 to get our area rugs cleaned (I used the powder on them) and we’ve incurred a few hundred dollars in vet bills so far. Sentry says that they will do an investigation and “possibly” refund us for costs incurred.
PLEASE pass the word on to all of your friends and family with beloved cats and dogs. Products with essential oils are even more harmful to cats, as they clean themselves and ingest them. The best flea treatment to use is Frontline Plus.
Josh made up a new slogan for Sentry: “Works so well it kills your pet, too!” :(
Scary stuff! Please be careful when using any medication on yourself or your pets, natural or chemical. Also avoid clove oil like the plague: it is intensely volatile and dangerous even to humans if undiluted. Use it on your gums, carefully, but keep it away from the pups! Prevention is always the best policy: plant flea and mosquito preventing plants in your landscaping like pennyroyal and catmint, brush and pick over your pet often to see if fleas are even a problem and always be careful when using a new product on your pets as they may respond differently than you’d expect. I like to mix a carpet powder for home use that should be safe for everyone involved: a blend of 60% baking soda and 40% diatomaceous earth plus a few drops of essential oils for the scent. The b.s. freshens the house and the d.e. helps kill unwanted pests. I’ve also heard from a reader that you can shake salt all over your house and let it sit for a day before vacuuming…. that sounds a little messy but very safe.
Be careful out there, everybody! -Miranda & Pocket

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Yes, i’m just 30 years old and a new grandma….

to a little baby chick! Although we moved away from our Austin homestead in June and had to sell or give away each of our 4 pet hens, we’re luckily still in contact with some of the lovely people who re-homed them, and even get happy updates from them on occasion. I’m so excited to share one recent piece of news: a birth announcement!

BB and her second egg, proud mamas us both

BB and her second egg, proud mamas us both

BB was our broodiest hen: a partridge colored Chanteclar hen (Chanteclars are an endangered breed from Canada). We lovingly called her our ‘football chicken’ because she was the smallest of our flock, but her size didn’t prevent her from being head hen, or as we also called her the “mob boss” (because Soot thought she was head hen, but was really just the “thug” of the group.) BB layed funny, tiny little eggs that often had grooves on them and was prone to broodiness (sitting on the eggs to try and hatch them). If you visited us, you might find a “chicken in the house” to try and encourage her to leave her nonexistent brood and get over the habit.

Broody BB catches some AC and Pocket wonders why there's a chicken in the house

I’d hoped to find her a new home with a Chanteclar rooster in order to procreate the breed, but was unable to find one. I did find an amazing chicken-oriented woman south of town with 5 acres and many happy chickens. BB settled in great right away, and now after about 9 months she’s hatched her very own egg.

Congrats, BB: it finally happened!

You can find more from Miranda at her blog, Pocket Pause.

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Since my husband and I decided we would switch our corgi, Pocket to a raw diet, we’ve done quite a bit of meat shopping. I’ve never been much of a meat eater, so the whole process is new to me, and much easier when i can find a local farmer who can give me advice and whom i can feel confident buying from. It’s especially nice when i get to see a flock of happy Boer goats watching me drive up the lane. We paid a visit to a local farm last week to pick up some meaty bones for Pocket, and some goat meat for us. Winn’s Livestock and Hatchery just north of Corvallis has affordable meat raised by a 4th generation farmer and his very friendly wife. April chatted back and forth with me via email to decide what was best for us to purchase, and we ended up with a freezer full of bones for Pock, a pound of ground goat meat for us plus a shoulder steak that i’ll cut up into stew meat in the next week or two.

goatsoup2

You can read more about my delicious ‘goat chilly’ at An Austin Homestead. You may be wondering about my choice of meat. Goat isn’t overly popular here in America. But guess what: it’s the most popular meat in the rest of the WORLD. There’s great reason for that: goats are small, able to graze on non-ideal pasture (read sticks and blackerberry brambles), have a relatively high dressing percentage to their body mass, and have some of the most nutritious meat of any livestock. This article has a lot to say about the boons of eating goat meat, as does this one. What you’ll find when studying about goat meat is that it has lower calories than beef (and even elk, venison and chicken!), less fat and cholesterol, and is guaranteed not to have any growth hormones added as the USDA has not approved their use. Goats are easier on the land than their big boned beefy counterparts, and can often thrive in areas that would otherwise require massive amounts of irrigation and pastureland to grow larger protein critters. Due to its leaner meat, goat DOES have to be cooked more slowly to avoid tough texture. Read more about the fat and calorie comparisons of goat meat to many other popular meats at www.elkusa.com.
raw

Another reason to raise goats: they’re really fun, personable and friendly. Along with my change, April came out with a 4 day old bottle baby Boer, and boy what a cutey she was! We plan on raising dairy and fiber goats, with an eye on edible breeds. Miniature Nubians have decent dressing rates, though Kinders are better. We’re only two people and a dog, so we’re less concerned with the larger amounts of meat from the bigger meat breeds. According to April some of her Boer goats can ready 300 pounds. That’s a lot of goat! Goats can be like family pets, and we can’t wait to have some around. We realize that butchering one of those cute little kids will be hard to do, but the nutritional benefits of eating homegrown and super lean meat far outweigh the sentimental drawbacks. For me at least (i’m still working on convincing the husband of that one.)

Goats!

So, with more iron, potassium and thiamine together with less sodium than other ‘traditional’ meats sold her in the USA, 50% less fat than beef, 45% less fat than lamb and 15% less fat than veal…. what reason do you have not to try goat meat for your next meal? None! Find a local farmer’s market or farm and get yourself some cabrito, chevre or goat meat. It does a body/planet good!
Read more about Miranda, Pocket and their adventures in goats and cooking at An Austin Homestead.

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Spring is truly in full swing, and I thought it would never arrive. The weather is consistently above freezing, the wild turkeys are doing their hilarious mating rituals in the woods, the thunderstorms have begun to roll in, the orchard is flooded, the horses are antsy… all the signs are there.

Wednesday night we had some intense storms and wind here in Michigan. My friends, who are expecting two foals, were waiting at the ready, making checks regularly on their broodmares as often livestock choose the funkiest weather to give birth in. Unfortunately they didn’t wake to find any little hoof beats; little did I know what would be awaiting me the following morning!

When I woke Thursday morning it was to the frantic baa-ing of our ewe who is not pregnant. She’s a very smart girl and knew something was wrong with her best friend. By the time I got to the barn I could see little toes and a nose, and within a few minutes there was a teensy tiny little lamb at my feet! I know I’m always doing livestock posts, but bear with me.

Oh my gosh! This has been a huge learning experience for me. The little lamb was strong right from the start. I couldn’t believe she was a female – and a spotted badgerface (creamy body color/black legs, head and belly) as well! She’s nursing well ever since she figured out the whole udder location thing – she was convinced mom’s face could feed her!

Now she’s running around the field wreaking havoc on the lives of the older ewes. She’s a little spitfire and her name is Brighid. :) I can’t tell you how happy I am that she’s a ewe – we had decided if we had a ram we would raise him to either sell or for meat, and after our other sheep lost her only lamb as a stillborn a few weeks ago, the thought of raising our only surviving lamb for meat was kind of depressing.

Anyway. I couldn’t help but share her with you, despite the fact that I already posted about her on my separate blog over at A Pinch of Something Nice.

She definitely has her father’s personality and her mother’s stubborn streak. Within hours of birth, she was demanding to play with both her mother and the other ewe. She would run up to them, mini-headbutt them in the face, and run away. Of course by running I mean she would scramble. Her legs are SO long and she definitely doesn’t have the hang of them yet!

Do you have any new additions to your home this spring?

Want to read more from Tanglewood Farm? Check out Emily’s blog over at A Pinch of Something Nice where she writes about her experiences with her gardens, her livestock and her leased historical home in SE Michigan.

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