Friday, January 28, 2011

Stock Management II

GOATS! The proverbial escape artists and autists among the animals!
We had changed the first layout to give them some more grazing space. Unfortunately the loss of routine was combined with breaches in fence security and for the past week I've been trying to keep the goats safe and happy and myself moderately sane. We've had late night escapes with hoof clattering on our deck and me charging out with torch and nuts to lure them back to their shed. I've even started to dream so vividly that last night I woke up, grabbed torch and feed, and ran out in my PJ's to find them snoozily looking at me in the dark.

What has changed? I've had them tethered on a mobile 'stake', a small concrete block, not too heavy to stop them from moving around, but heavy enough to take off in a hurry and go all over the place in 5 secs flat. And I've started back on the routine. So every morning after they have had their nuts in the shed, and been groomed and handled, they get tied up in a different part of the section and graze around. The only major hassle is water supply for them, and the fact they seem to like tying the rope around the tub and then pull it over. But as I check every 90 - 120 minutes, to make sure none is too tangled up in bushes etc, that is not a life threatening situation.

Also, we've decided to use up the 'old' wood for making a 3 tiered fence, which will make it hopefully very unattractive for them to escape. i have used up all the 200 m's of electric tape to do a 3 tier electric fence for the moment, and hoping to reduce that to a 1 strand one, once the wooden part is complete. That would give me then enough tape to fence them in for mobile grazing and I wouldn't have to tether them anymore. I REALLY don't like to do that, but at the moment it's the only way to keep every one safe and give them an opportunity for free grazing.

So, today, after a day of mixed weather, sun in the morning, and alternating sun and rain for the rest of the day, I went down to my lovely girls, who were happy to be free to run and jump around and happy to run for their shelter when it poured. They had sniffed the fence, and after 3 days of charging there must have been enough charge for them not even to try! We had goat cuddles, and a good chat, and a cut-up melon of course as an evening treat, and I'm happy to say: " I LOVE my girls."

Monday, January 24, 2011


I just found out that water pipe is NOT suitable for making cheeses. During the cheese making process the liquids are acidic, and  during the pipes production a lead based grease is used, which leeches out when in contact with acids!

Other food grade plastics are fine, I just have to go and find something in the right size, etc.

take care, and don't be cheap, good health is irretrievable.


And here some more pics of the almost finished 'piece de resistance':
I cannot wait to taste this little beauty, well I hope it's a beauty.

More chicks and more....

Hah, I knew one hen was AWOL! This morning I step out and hear a different pitch in all the clucking, quacking, whistling: three little chickies. I have no idea how many she was sitting on, just happy enough for her not to have been a casualty to the feral cats here.
Pleased I'm not into proper breeding, I would have to keep them under lock and key to prevent random matings and hatchings.

Gearing up to the butchering process now: bunnies to be sold and kept sorted out. I've got 6 do. Un-/ fortunately I have had to feed them medicated pellets, which means I won't get to do them while the kids are still at home, due to withholding period for the meat.  Don't want to have my first go while the kids can watch me, just in case I turn into a blubbering mess.

Yesterday we used a break in the weather to put some plastic sheet on two sides of the bunny Hilton: we're expecting to get more bad weather on the weekend and need to make it a bit more wind and rain proof.

Today I'll try putting the goats into the other paddock again, this time Miss Escapee on a mobile tether ( HEAVY piece of cast iron on the leash) and hope that Miss Docile will hang close by. The sun charging the battery for the electric fence should help too! And I'll be painting their new drinking trough, an old concrete double tub. We've put it up in front of one of the barn walls and it looks like it has been an integral part of the set-up.

And the Welcome swallows are having a high all time with a major family reunion taking place at our place! At the moment we've got between 10 - 14 flitting in and out! They are soo beautiful, I just wish they'd all shit in one place!! Our courtyard and deck need regular water blasting to get rid of the flight patterns.

And our ducklings cannot be called ducklings anymore: they have grown so big, I reckon they'd make a bigger roast than our chickens!! One is definitely quacking, while the other five are still "whistling". I hope that is a sign for at least one female duck!!! I've got to wait another three months to be able to separate them by their feathers. Patience, not one of my strongest character traits.