Saturday, December 27, 2008

First Hay Purchase, Strike One

Well, went through the bale of hay that Hugh gave me when I picked up the goats.. So headed to the feed store.. What they had was less then spectacular.. Sort of green on the inside but rather yellow on the outside.. Didn't smell sweet like really fresh hay.. But didn't smell really rank either.. Didn't look moldy or excessively dusty so I guess it's ok.. The girls ate it fine but I think wasted most of the first flake..

Then we decided to check a tack store that is only a couple minutes away from us.. (The feed store is a good half an hour drive..) They had a tractor trailer with its doors open and the bales inside it looked nice and green.. So we went inside and bought a bale.. It was the same price as the bales at the feed store.. When we got outside the girl said the hay we bought (coastal) was around the back.. So apparently the hay we were looking at was something else and probably more expensive.. Turns out the coastal hay they had was brown, not even yellow, and a smaller bale then the one we got from the feed store.. It doesn't smell rank, but I'm sure if I open it, it's going to be dusty as all get out.. I figure I'll just use it for bedding in their shelter or something..

I hope this is just because of the time of the season.. Hugh always makes sure to get decent hay for his goats and I want to do the same.. Besides the fact that bad hay can really mess a goat up.. The bale he gave me was nice and green and sweet smelling.. That's what I'm looking for.. Hopefully I'll have better luck next time..

Sunday, December 21, 2008

He Won!

Well, he got layed off on a Friday, took his work shirts back Monday, got called Monday afternoon about some positions their parent company had, got an email Tuesday from the parent company wanting him to come in to fill out an application, did that Wednesday, took it back Thursday, and got a call Friday saying he starts orientation on the 29th.. So we will not be selling our house and all projects will be resuming after the first of the year..

As for projects, the veggie garden is growing but not quite like I'd hoped.. Knitting is going slowly at the moment because with him being home we've been play a lot of World of Warcraft.. Goats are doing well.. Everybody's poo is normal and they're eating away.. Slowly getting them used to eating alfalfa pellets.. I'd like to get them to a half a scoop of grain and a half of alfalfa pellets.. Almost there.. Prima will eat anything so she was the first to dig into them.. Need to do some repairs on the fence but luckily isn't just the part going from their pen to their yard.. Fed them some oak branches which they absolutely devoured.. Found out from Pam that those can be toxic and cause liver damage if fed too much.. So I'll have to find something else to feed them as treats.. They'll have plenty to eat in the spring when the willow trees in their yard sprout leaves again.. I'm also thinking of getting a bag of black oil sunflower seeds and plant a whole bunch of them.. They're supposed to be really good for a lot of livestock.. But in moderation because they are high in fat..

Oh, and our border collie mix dog had puppies.. We've had her for 2 years and she's never been pregnant.. I'd finally figured she'd been fixed before we got her.. Apparently not.. Something else to get done after the first of the year.. The puppies are about 3 weeks old now and starting to open their eyes and climb out of the dog house.. I'm thinking of putting the dog house in the goat yard.. I brought Dixie in there and she pretty much ignored the goats.. She might make a decent livestock guardian after all.. But I need to observe her some more first.. I can't have chickens around her though because she'll kill them.. I'd like to get a shock collar and train her to leave them alone.. Yes, I know they're kinda cruel, but I've heard of people having great results with training their dogs to leave livestock alone.. I don't know how else to get it through her thick head that chickens are not brought here for her personal snacking.. Besides, those shock collars are expensive..

Anyway, it's really late here and I need to get some sleep.. Yes, I know I tend to do most of my entries late at nite.. But its one of the few times that I have time to think.. lol

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All Projects On Hold

Hubby got layed off his job yesterday.. I don't really know what will happen from here.. Hopefully he'll be able to find a really fantastic job really fast.. Doubt it though.. Hopefully he at least finds something soon.. I should probably look for something too.. Whoever finds a full time job first wins?

My father inlaw said if it comes down to it we could sell the house.. Yes, he does have the authority to say that since they bought out our mortgage.. Bad idea in my opinion since our mortgage is essentially paid for, even though we do need to start paying them back some day.. But if we sell the house then we'd have to rent something and we were barely making ends meet with what he WAS making.. The trucking company has an unemployment package waiting for him, at least, when he goes to take in his work shirts.. And if things pick up they'll hire him back.. But that's an if we can't wait for..

Of course, if it does come down to selling the house, then the farm idea is over.. I'll have to take the goats back, of course.. I'm not going to be able to get the rabbits like planned, even though the breeder never gave me a call last month like she was supposed to, to let me know they'd been born.. The incubator certainly isn't going to be built..

Ironically, we're keeping in good humor.. Some shock and depression at first.. And probably not the last of it.. But we're keeping each other laughing, and that's a very good thing.. Kind of like laughing in the face of adversity..

I guess the only projects that will keep going right now are the knitting/crocheting and the veggie garden.. I have all the supplies I need for now with the knitting/crocheting.. And I've got seeds and soil for the veggie garden.. All I need else for that is sun and water.. Got several things sprouting in the veggies.. Hopefully he'll have a job before its time to harvest them.. Unemployment has a job assistance things I believe to help you get a job.. Hopefully he'll be able to get something that way at least.. Hopefully..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ok, So Learning to Knit Isn't THAT Easy..

But its not hard either..

Ok, so I put a post on the local freecycle that I was looking for knitting and crocheting supplies.. A lady responded saying she had some yarn.. I think ok, couple of skeins or something.. THIS is what she gave me..
buttload of yarn

I am absolutely blown away.. It is going to take me forever to use all of that.. And I love the colors even though some of them don't come through in the pic that well.. Apparently the lady crochets baby booties and sells them on ebay.. I'll pimp her link here since she was so absolutely generous with the yarn.. And I'm sure that's just probably her "extra".. And she said they just moved and haven't unpacked everything so she may have MORE!
Baby Bear Boutique
Really cute booties and blankets..

So after I pick up the big garbage bag of yarn, I head to the local Joann's.. I wasn't sure what size needles I should start with so I bought some assortment packages.. The knitting needles are sizes 6, 7, and 8.. The crochet hooks are D-K.. I also got a couple yarn needles and a cablestitch holder..
knitting and crochet supplies
All needles and hooks are the metal ones since that's what the assortments came in..

And here is my first knitting attempt! (That yarn is actually yellow, not white..)
first knitting attempt
Not perfect, but I'm getting the hang of it.. I got the cast on pretty quickly.. Had a little trouble getting the first couple knit stitches but I'm doing better.. A note to anybody learning to knit, don't be stingy with that working yarn or you'll end up with really tight stitches and won't be able to work with them when you come back around to the first stitch again..

So far I've only done the cast on and the knit stitch.. Going to keep on with the knit stitch until I'm sure I've got it down good and then I'll try the purl stitch.. My hands are a little sore from trying to hold the needles and everything.. But my hands are a little stiff anyway from when I was a dog groomer..

I can't decide if I'm going to go to bed now or if I'm going to try some more stitches.. I think sleep is going to win out..

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ooooohhhh!!!! Now I REALLY Want to Knit.....

And crochet.. This site listed below has some really neat knitted and crochet toy patterns.. I want to make them so badly.. They're so adorable! My plan would be to make them throughout the year and then give them to a church or something at the end of the year for kids without toys.. Of course, the first couple I make will get claimed by my own kids..
P.S. - Oops, forgot to include the link.. = )
Really Neat Toy Patterns

They're Home!!!

I finally brought my girls home today! They are settling in well and are loving their new home.. I ended up bringing them home in my little hatchback.. Had to make two trips.. First Velvet and Prima, then Blue Bell with a bale of hay..

This is Blue Bell, the nubian/mini-alpine cross.. She's almost 3 yrs and a sweetheart..
Blue Bell

Velvet, american nubian.. Almost 2yrs.. I love her markings around her legs and underbelly along with her overall color..
Velvet
Velvet

Prima, american nubian.. Almost 2 yrs.. She's the only one that has already freshened.. She had a beautiful single buckling last year.. This isn't the best pic of her since I was trying to take it before she moved..
Prima

Hanging out in their shelter..
Prima, Velvet, Blue Bell

Staring out at all the green to chew on..
Prima, Velvet, Blue Bell

Going for a stroll..
Velvet, Prima, Blue Bell

Meeting the locals..
Meeting the locals

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting Crafty

Well, I've been bitten again by the craft bug.. Before the craft was cross stitch.. But a little while ago somebody posted a pic of the sweaters they had made for their goat kids.. I was hooked! = )

Somebody on another site posted the link to http://www.knittinghelp.com/ .. A very nice site with videos on how to knit.. Now I'm very eager to do that too.. It looks so easy.. I've already got SO many ideas.. But since I'd have to buy supplies for those first, I am doing something else while I wait for the time and money to go to the craft store.. I'd gotten a latch rug kit a while ago and for some reason only hardly started it and then stopped.. So I'm doing the latch rug for now to satisfy the crafting itch..

This is what it's going to look like..
bunny latch rug

This is what I have so far.. What I'd done before with just a little more of the blue done..
bunny latch rug

While doing the rug, it was nice and sunny outside so I turned off the ceiling fan light and opened some windows.. When I took the blanket off the window in the living room (yes, I have a toddler blanket covering my window) this is what I saw..
juvenile cooper's hawk
It's a beautiful Cooper's hawk.. (I looked it up..) It was sitting on the post eating a little mouse or something it had caught.. The kids and I watched it until it finished its meal and flew off.. I also got a video of it but it's kind of shaky because I was leaning over the tv while we watched it..

Friday, December 5, 2008

Finished!

Ok, now the goat shelter is really done! Shavings, food buckets, water bucket, makeshift hay rack.. Going to make a mineral feeder out of an old milk jug.. But the hardest part of that will be figuring out where to put it and how to attach it..
goat shelter shavings

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Kinder goats

If you'd like to know more about kinder goats go to www.kindergoats.com.. Here is a good page to start with.. http://kindergoats.com/faq.htm

Goats

Ok, now for the goats post.. I'd always had a passing interest with goats.. I mean, they're animals.. Of course I'm going to be interested.. My interest took on a new life when I realized I could do the mini farm thing.. I then started researching breeds and found the kinders which are a meat and milk breed.. There's the multipurpose thing I love so much..

Of course, I didn't have $300 for a really nice doe.. The kinder website suggests maybe leasing or borrowing a doe.. So on a whim I put on a local goat forum that I was looking to exchange the use of a doe for some farm work.. I'd never worked on a farm but figured this would be the perfect way to get some hands on experience which is the way I learn the best.. A lady about a half an hour responded saying she didn't have a doe I could use but she'd pay me for my work.. Good enough.. That would help pay some of the bills around here..

After a couple of weeks working there they offered me Blue Bell.. (Click on the pic for a bigger image..) Bluebell She's half mini-nubian and half purebred nubian.. Wouldn't work for my kinder herd but would be a good start on providing milk for the family.. Only thing was that she'd never been bred before so they didn't know how well she'd milk.. But her mom had milked well and her dad had excellent milkers in his background so she should provide us with plenty of milk..

As the months went on and the economy got worse, they informed me that they could no longer pay me but offered me two american nubian does instead in exchange for my work.. Primadonna Prima and Blue VelvetVelvet.. I was of course delighted.. Not only something to start my kinder herd with but my own does.. The only problem was that the two does are CAE positive and I really want to start my kinder herd without that.. So all three does have been bred to a couple of their spotted bucks that I'd admired.. And the two bucks are sweethearts so that's always a big plus.. Blue Bell was bred to Leprechaun and the other two were bred to Patrick.. Patrick and Leprechaun were born on St. Patrick's Day.. = )

So anyway, I'm going to have nubian babies to start with.. I'll bottle raise them on CAE free or pasturized or even cow's milk from the store.. Then I'll pick a couple of the nicest doelings out of Prima's and Velvet's babies (hopefully with spots) and sell or butcher the rest.. If I get a really really excellent buckling I might keep him too.. But that's a slim chance I'll get something that outstanding.. But Prima and Velvet are beautiful girls and the spotted bucks are awesome purebreds.. So you never know..

After the doelings I pick are big enough to breed, I'll find a nice pygmy buck (or two) to bring home.. Then the kinders start! The first 4 generations will be registered as a merit, which is recognizing them as the start of your kinder herd.. Then the fifth generation is actually registered as kinders.. I'll have to registered the kinders as mixed or experimental with the ADGA since they don't recognize kinders as an actual breed yet..

Anyway, after I worked off my girls, I worked there for another month and they paid me so I could get the fencing and stuff done.. Now everything is done and ready and we just need to get them home.. I plan on renting a Uhaul cargo van.. But of course money is stalling that.. Bills have to be paid first.. For now the fenced in goat yard is being used as an occasional dog run..

Here is what I started with for the goat shelter and yard.. pre goat shelter Yes, very overgrown and used as a junk pile.. It took a lot of work to get that all cleaned up.. We just never had much use for it before except for the junk.. Of course, now that it is cleaned off the kids have been playing basketball and such on it.. If I'd known they would do that I would have cleaned it off long ago..

And here's a shot of the back yard after we moved in here.. The black willows didn't grow in until later.. We didn't plant them.. They just appeared on their own.. backyard 2005

And here is the goat shelter and fenced area now.. goat shelter goat fencing 1

But anyway(again), I guess that's it for now on the goats.. I was hoping to have pics of them in their new home by now.. But we'll get there eventually.. Even if I have to bring them home in my little Ford Festiva hatchback.. Can you just imagine three full grown does in a little hatchback? You wouldn't believe what I've transported in that car before.. The biggest thing would probably be a couch.. We've had some trouble with her, but for the most part she just keeps on going.. Much to be said about the little economy cars that are built to just be run to death..

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaaaack!!!!

Yeah, I'm sure everyone is riveted.. Sorry, nothing to update though.. I was going to tell you about our family get together.. But you don't want to hear me complain about my relatives and it has nothing to do with the farm anyway.. Let's just say it was..... pleasant.. But I still felt like the white trash of the family.. But I don't care! I am me! Deal with it! = )

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Somebody Slap the Piss Outta Me!!!

I forgot Pam and Hugh.. I am so thankful for all the kindness, generosity, and help they've given me.. This farm idea would have never gotten anywhere if it wasn't for the time I spent working on their farm, learning, earning the beautiful does they offered me, all the supplies they gave me to help with the fencing, the last couple weeks they paid me to help me buy the fencing when they don't have a whole lot of money to spare, the milk filter and bucket Pam has waiting for me when I go to pick up my girls, the goats milk they gave us to try, the blackberry jelly they made themselves, etc etc etc.. Not to mention all the help I'm sure they'll give in the future.. They are my truly local friends and will be for many many years..

Somebody else I'd like to give personal thanks to are Michael and his wife Kelley.. I thank them for the gift cards and seeds they sent me to help get the veggie garden going.. For all the advice they gave with my younger son's behavioral problems in school.. And many other things I can't think of right now..

I will always be eternally grateful to these people for helping to make something very important to me to become a reality..

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope everybody has a good Thanksgiving.. The kids and I will be going down to south Florida to my mom's.. Well, actually we're going to a park down there for a family get together.. I'm going to see aunts, uncles, and cousins I haven't seen in a while.. That will be good and bad because there are some members missing from the family this year.. Every year we lose somebody else.. Old age and cancer suck.. But I do believe in God so I do believe they've gone on to a better place.. I'm thankful for that..

Speaking of being thankful, here I go.. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband and great children.. I'm thankful for our family, his parents and my parents and everybody in between.. I'm thankful to have a home, food, electricity, water, etc on the other things we have to pay too much for.. I'm thankful to be able to be starting my farm.. I'm thankful for all our animals.. I'm thankful for my husband's job to be able to pay for most of that stuff.. It's not the best job in the world but it gets us by.. Hopefully now that he's trained in something else he'll be making better money.. I think that's all the major things I'm thankful for right now.. I'm sure there are other things but it's 3:30 a.m. so you'll have to give me a break if I can't remember more..

Oh crap! Forgot a big one! Please forgive me this one guys.. Hey, I could have just backspaced and nobody would have known.. But I'm just that honest.. I forgot to say I was thankful for all my online friends! And I really am.. Because honestly, you guys are my only friends.. I only have one local friend anymore and she isn't even really that local.. She's in south Florida.. But I hate saying my online friends and my real life friends because my online friends are real and alive.. Just because I've never met any of you in person doesn't make a difference to me.. Best thing about having online friends is that I don't have to clean my house when I talk to yall online.. :D

Anyway, better get back to sleep.. I will, of course, be taking my computer with me.. (I love my laptop..) But doubt I'll be online until I get back because for 1) I'll be at the park and doubt they have wifi, and 2) my mom's home network won't let me in and I ain't inclined to argue with it just to check my email.. What I need to do is get one of those broadband ethernet cards with the wireless service.. It's sort of like the wireless service for a cell phone, but its for a computer.. I can just open my computer and be online ANYWHERE!!!!!!! My next goal after that will be an IV with wifi.. Nite!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hutch Design

K, here's the basic layout of the hutch.. The grey stuff is the wire, of course, and the green stuff is the tposts.. Click on the image to see it bigger..
rabbit hutch

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rabbits

K, so meat rabbits is one thing I plan on raising.. I'd also like to get my oldest son into 4-h with them but we'll have to see about that.. He wants dutch rabbits.. But we're going to start with the meat rabbits since they are useful as more than just cute pets.. I was going to start with a breed called American Chinchillas.. I'd posted my interest on a forum months back and a breeder in Ohio said she was going to come down to Florida in October and would bring me a trio for a very decent price.. We'll that fell through because her truck broke down and she had to fly down instead of drive and couldn't bring the rabbits with her.. So not sure when I'll get my hands on American Chinchillas.. They are a heritage breed since they were developed in the US and are on the endangered list since there are so few of them.. But we shall keep trying and I shall keep looking..

While I was waiting for October to come around I built this..
rabbit cage
This is as far as I got because then hubby came home from his over-the-road truck driver training and he was out of work for about a month and a half.. If it weren't for his parents we would have been royally screwed.. But since then I've been concentrating on other projects so this one has kind of fallen to the wayside.. Besides, don't have any rabbits yet to need cages.. This one is also too small according to other rabbit people I've talked to.. A doe with kits needs at least 1/4 to 1/2 bigger.. Probably twice as big is even better..

Also while I waited for October, I admired a breed called red New Zealands.. New Zealand whites are a common meat breed.. But, of course, the red New Zealands are a lot harder to find.. When I found out the lady wouldn't be able to bring the rabbits from Ohio, I put out a feeler message on a New Zealand rabbit yahoo group.. I got a response almost right away.. A lady said she knew somebody that had red New Zealands and gave me her phone number.. Now, I prefer email because I always feel like such a dunce on the phone.. So I was hesitant to call the lady with the New Zealands.. But I really loved the color of the red New Zealands so I buckled down and made the call.. I call a voicemail so left a message.. The lady called me back later that day and we talked in length about rabbits and made plans to get them from north Florida to here in central Florida.. So in January I should have some lovely red New Zealands.. They'll be young and it'll be some months before I'll be able to breed them and have the first litter.. But I can't wait to get that part of my mini farm going..

I will probably finish that cage I was building and use it for an extra or quarantine cage or something.. But for the main cages I plan on getting some tposts that have sort of hooks up the front of them.. I'm going to use the tposts as legs and use whole rolls of wire to make a sort of hutch design.. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to try some sort of temporary dividers so I can make the lengths of each cage changeable or not.. Or if I'm going to just make each cage a standard length.. I'll probably have to go with a standard length because of door and feeder locations.. Maybe make each cage 3X5' since most rolls of wire are 3X10'.. 3X5' should be plenty of space for all except the biggest breeds.. And I don't plan on getting anything bigger than the amchins and red nz's, so that shouldn't be a problem..

Anyway, I need to get some sleep.. I need to go into photoshop and make up a design for my wire hutch.. I like actually creating a design.. Helps me work out details.. My next project I'll discuss is the goats.. Don't bet on seeing that before Thanksgiving.. It's going to be a really long one since its also the one I've put the most work into so far.. But you never know.. Maybe I'll get really bored one day and I'll break down and tell you all about it.. You know, I used to be able to do blog entries in my personal blog almost every day.. But anymore I'm so occupied with actually life stuff that I just don't have the time or patience to do it anymore.. Hopefully this blog will help me to get back into it since its discussing the things I'm actually working on..

Anyway, see ya next post..

About Me

I figure I should give a background story about me and why I'm starting a mini farm.. So here goes..

Every since I was little I've wanted my own land.. Whenever we'd go visit any relatives that were out in the country, I loved it.. We lived in North Carolina for a little while and I loved the quiet and open spaces.. My trouble is that I was born and (mostly) raised in south Florida which has no quiet and open spaces except for parks and other such public places..

After my husband got let go from his internet job in 2003, our lease on our rental house expired and we stayed with my parents for a little while until we found another place.. We wanted to buy a house because we were tired of renting but everything in south Florida was way out of our current price range.. Even rental places where too much.. So I expanded my search.. My mother wasn't happy I was looking at places out of south Florida but its not like we had a whole lot of choice..

With my desire for land in mind I included acreage in my searches.. Also at the same time we looked for a job for hubby in central Florida which seemed to be our best option to find a house.. We found a job for him at a 911 center and came up for an interview and look at the area.. He got the job so we really started looking harder at this area.. We finally found our house and it had 1.73 acres with it.. I was ecstatic, of course.. We moved up here the day after Hurricane Charley hit..

Being a city girl, I thought you had to have a lot of land to have a farm.. But I figured I could at least have chickens.. That brought me to a few forums.. Backyard Chickens, Homesteading Today, a couple others.. All fed my chicken addiction.. I was interested in what else people had but of course, most people that had more than that also had more land then I did.. Then I found the Urban Sustainable Living website and Patti Moreno.. This was a woman that had veggie gardens, goats, rabbits, and chickens in the middle of Boston.. I knew if she could make all of that work inside a city and without a big yard then I could make mine work too..

So I started researching.. And researching and researching and researching.. You get the point.. I did a lot of reading.. I asked a lot of questions on forums.. The only thing that held me back was money.. How to get this thing started without gobs of money.. I'll address each obstacle with each of the things I want to incorporate into my mini farm.. The first thing I'll talk about is the rabbits since that's what I tried first.. I already had some chickens, guineas, and ducks.. But they're all gone now and were before I actually got the farm thing realized.. I do plan on doing chickens etc again, but the rabbits, goats, and veggie garden are what I'm actually working on now.. I'll do the rabbit post later today or tomorrow.. Or the next day.. I get distracted with my projects and other things in life.. Like Thanksgiving coming up.. But I'll try to sit down and at least do that rabbits post soon..

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First post.. duh!

Well, I figured since a lot of my projects for my minifarm are starting to come together that I should document my triumphs and pitfalls.. It will also provide me a place to place my ideas without having to annoy a bunch of people on forums.. But right now its almost 1 am so I need to get back to sleep (yeah right).. I'll do a nice big entry later with lots of pics about what I've done so far..