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Showing posts from April, 2019

Soil Building Experiment #3: Hay Growing

Last year I started a series of blog posts on building better soil. Some of you may recall my map.

I've blogged about building soil in our permanent pastures (in pink):
Soil Building Experiment #2: PasturesDeveloping a Pasture Rotation Plan, Part 1
For hay and other field crops (in blue), we're doing something different. We're alternating green manure crops with harvest crops.

In mid-April I broadcast a mixture of sorgham-sudan grass, crimson clover, and cowpeas. Then Dan mowed the winter's growth to cover the seed. The last thing we did was to cover this with a layer of old hay. This was an idea we picked up from a Greg Judy video (which now I can't find) as a way to quickly build soil.

The freshly cut grass and clover will provide nitrogen for plant growth, while the hay will provide carbon to feed soil microorganisms. These are key to building soil. (See Carbon: What I Didn't Know)

We had discussed buying hay for this purpose, but didn't actually do it until D…

Growing Up is Hard to Do

Especially if you're an intact buckling!

For those not familiar with livestock lingo, "intact" means not neutered. Neutering is a choice that has to be made about the males, with usually only those considered "breeding quality" left intact while the others are neutered (wethered in the case of goats). Neutered bucklings can be left with the does, but those with the breeding goods intact become capable of breeding when they are a couple of months old. By the time they're three months of age they need to be separated. Unfortunately, this is before they want to give up their mother's milk.

My preferred way to wean bucklings is to send them to their new homes when it's time. That doesn't always work out, however, so they have to be separated from their mothers while they're still here. They are brokenhearted when this happens and spend most of their first days and nights hollering to go back to the doe barn.

Some people put their little guys right …

Saving the Wheat

I didn't know whether to call this blog post "Saving the Wheat" or "More Adventures in Haylofting." Why? Because of what happened to our beautiful stand of winter wheat.

It was doing wonderfully until we got a series of heavy rains which flattened it. Last year some of our wheat lodged and while the kernels still dried, they also mildewed. With more thunderstorms on the way we decided to cut it. The kernels were still immature; in the milk stage with soft berries that squeeze out milk-like moisture. Because of that we decided to use it for hay.

Vetch is hard to cut with the scythe, so Dan used the sickle mower instead. We let it dry for two days and then with rain due again we raked it up. It amounted to two trailer loads, which were stored in the carport until the next round of rain was over. Then we had to figure out how to get it into the hayloft. We've somewhat "perfected" (I use that term loosely!) getting large round bales up there, but loose …

Trying Again for Year Around Milk

A year around supply of fresh goat milk has been one of my self-reliance goals. I know some folks like to take a break from milking, but for our chosen diet, I need fresh milk all year long. This is mostly for my kefir grains, which need milk to stay alive. If I don't have my own source, then I have to buy milk. Seems better to always have my own available!

There are two ways to accomplish year around milk. I've blogged about these before, so I won't go into a long explanation (see "Year Around Milk" and "Dry Days Ahead"). For me, the best option is to breed at opposite times of the year: in the fall for spring kidding and in the spring for fall kidding.

Standard size dairy goats can't do this because they are seasonal breeders, but Kinders are aseasonal breeders. Even though they are half Nubian, they inherit the ability to breed in any season from their Pygmy genetics. This is one of the reasons I chose the breed, and one of the reasons I think they…

Spring Chores: Trees

One of the spring projects on Dan's seasonal to-do list is our trees. His list included:
the falling pines in our woodsoverhanging branches along pasture fencelinesletting in sunlight for an upcoming solar projectfirewood
From time to time, I've shown you photos of the pine trees in our woods. Of our five acres, about half is wooded with mature pines and young hardwoods. In the past couple of years the pines have been giving way to the hardwoods. This is ecological succession and can't be helped, but woe to humans who want to fence it in!

Some of these pines simply uproot.

Others simply break off anywhere along the trunk.

Some of these are alive, but some dead. Dan tries to get the worst ones down before they fall on their own. Either way, it seems to create a lot of waste and is why he invested in his sawmill. As sad as it is to see those trees come down, they have been the source of timber and lumber for our barn and carport renovation.

The other bonus is that once the pines a…

Kid Proofing the Hayloft

When we built our barn, Dan installed a gate at the bottom of the hay loft ladder to keep the goats out.


Besides crawling between the steps, they also slip between the ladder and the wall on the right.

Yesterday morning I found this ...

That was it! It was time to install a kid deterrent! I cast about for some ideas and finally came up with this...

It's a scrap of beadboard paneling leftover from our kitchen bathroom remodel several years ago. It slips in and out easily, and so far so good!

Unfortunately, it will probably deter the cats too.

But some things can't be helped.

Kid Proofing the Hay Loft© April 2019 by Leighat