We kicked off Saturday by completing a project, which is always rewarding! We finished hanging a “people gate” into the North pasture fence, directly in front of the goat barn. Just before the snow started falling last winter, John cut out a space in the fence so that we could carry buckets of water from the shop to the goat barn without having to walk way around to either of the existing gates to the far right or left.
Most of the time we refill the goats’ water buckets from the geothermal well just outside the barn, but on really cold winter mornings they appreciate a bucket of warm water, and I can’t say I blame them.
We also finished building and installing the second mineral/baking soda box for the goats. Because the goat barn is comprised of two stalls, everything happens in pairs. A word about these boxes:
Did you know that goats have four stomachs? They do, so you can imagine the odds for an upset tummy. Somewhere, a wise goat keeper figured out that if given free access to baking soda, goats can regulate their own digestion.
They are also pretty smart about their mineral intake. Goats need a special balance of minerals that includes copper. Given free choice, they will eat only as much as they need.
They are not so smart about taking good care of their equipment. First, we built a tray, supported with braces and attached to the wall, into which we cut two holes shaped to hold bread pans, which we bought at Goodwill. In theory, it was a great idea, because we could pop those bread pans out and clean them as needed. The goats, however, thought it was a fun platform to stand on, and it was only a few months before it came crashing down.
Next we tried a smaller thick plastic container with two compartments. It is designed for pigs and comes predrilled with holes to attach it to the wall, so we figured it would work. We figured wrong. It took the three adult goats less than a week to destroy theirs, and the two little goats took about ten days.
I remember having seen sturdy boxes made of heavy wood in the barn of the folks we bought our goats from, and thinking, “Isn’t that a bit of overkill?” Well, no. We always have scrap wood around, so we cut 2x6s for the sides and divider, 3/4 inch plywood for the base, and 2x4s for the braces. The finished product looks like this:
The big goats have had theirs for a week or so, and the little one got theirs last night. So far, so good.
Here is another lesson we learned the hard way: the boxes have to be installed above tail level. Otherwise, they somehow back up to the boxes and poop in them. ??? So, you can see a stump for the little ones to stand on so they can reach the inside.
We had a dead tree at one corner of the South pasture that we needed to remove. Unfortunately, because of the way it was positioned, and the fact that there was a healthy tree next to it, we had to fell it in such a way that it hit our fence. So, fence repair was on the list. It landed across the corner, and fortunately it only pulled out the bottom four boards without breaking them. So, we only had to replace the top boards and reattach the bottom ones. I think John’s mitered corners on the top look much better than the way the bottom boards are attached, don’t you?
I made progress on the pine cone raking project– check out our yard! I am growing a bit concerned that parts of our lawn did not survive the brutal heat and smoke of last summer, but maybe the grass is just slow in pushing through the ground. A girl can hope.
As for the chicken coop, we cut a hole for and installed a vent on the north wall. These vents are critical to keeping air flowing at all times so that ammonia from the composting manure does not gas the chickens. We also laid the metal roofing in place! We will secure it with screws next week. I am a stickler for all of our outbuildings being matchy-matchy, and John indulges me by custom ordering our roofing from Badger Building supply, a local company. I also think it is important to buy local as much as possible.
And we cleared a few more downed trees, two small ones and one large one, to be exact. Our goal is to have all of our wood for next winter cut and stacked by the end of June.
The weather has been unbelievably gorgeous this week! May can be cool and rainy, but we have had a week of sun and highs in the sixties, for which we are most grateful.