Monday, February 23, 2015

Nigerian Goat Kids are Born on “One Fine Acre Farm”

 

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Spring is around the corner so that means…. babies! In this case my family got to experience watching Nigerian Dwarf babies (known as kids) as they pranced and jumped around. They were a sight to behold. We did get to hold them which catapulted a discussion of possible goat names. My personal opinion is that we should stick to having a category for the names we choose. We tend to stick with royal names when it comes to our animals, but I think the goats should be named after spices. Ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, and maybe even dill just seems so very appealing when you think about it. I think the name “Cocoa” would even be a good fit for the goat pictured above. With friends we even tossed around the name “Powder Puff” or “Cocoa Puff.” I think we should take a vote for the final decision.

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Two Nigerian Dwarf goats had been birthed on the day of our arrival. The recommended time for breeding Nigerian Dwarfs is either in Fall so they kid in Spring or breed them in Spring so they kid in the fall. You should not breed in the Winter or Summer which would have them kid in the heat or cold. A Nigerian Dwarf doe can have between 1 – 7 kids at a time with twins and triplets being the most common. That is a lot of weight to carry around!

Does generally have easy kidding so there isn’t too much fuss in the process, but being there just in case is a good idea if complications do come up. The gestation period is 145 days for Nigerian Dwarfs. A Doe giving birth up to 10 days before the due date is considered safe. The labor can last about 5 hours and the baby will weigh about 2 – 4 pounds when it is born.  It is necessary for a doe to have a kid if you intend to milk her. If you want to wean the baby wait until it is at least 6 weeks old, but if you are bottle feeding wait 4 – 5 weeks. 

A video of a Doe giving birth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZvjK_G8EB0&safe=active

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The goats were taking a pleasant nap until we entered the scene. They were ready to show of their jumping skills once we got all settled in.

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And with a burst of energy he jumps! If you are a bunny enthusiast you probably have heard the term, “binky.” I learned the concept from my brother who cares for our rabbits. When a rabbit binkies, it will jump into the air and twist its head and body in opposite directions before landing on the ground. Some call it the “happy bunny dance.” It is an expression of great joy and a high level of happiness. I discovered that baby goats can binky as well. Below is a video of the baby goats and their binkies are at the end.

 

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As all babies do, the goats starting crying for their mommy.

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After showing off a nap was well deserved for the little fellows.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Urban Living Meets Chicken Raising


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Maybe you’ve heard that raising chickens is only for people out in the country. Well, the goal of my article is to convince you that that is a myth. The laws surrounding raising chickens have succumbed to the winds of change. Plenty of books and articles tackle the topic of raising chickens in urban areas. If you are seriously considering raising chickens in your area check out your local ordinances and laws.  Search ordinances for your city. Here is a link that lists some state laws. http://thecitychicken.com/chickenlaws.html 

With that in mind let’s dive into the joys of raising chickens. There are some things you should consider before diving in. I’ll be sharing pictures from a urban farm from last year’s Coup d’ Tour in the Raleigh area to kick start some ideas.

Read about the chicken coup featured in this blog entry on Chicken D’ Coop’s website.  http://www.tourdcoop.com/coops/2014/19.html

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First thing to consider is if you have the space and materials. This coop has a roosting house and a fenced in play area. The advantage of raising your own chickens is you know that they are receiving proper care and nourishment versus being cooped up in a inhumane living place. Also, think about what your plans for winter will be. How are you going to keep them warm when the heavens pour down a sheet of snow? Our chicken coop is covered with plastic and we even keep a heater in there. As I write my window gives me a view of a winter wonderland and our chickens look to be tolerating the weather.

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To give the chickens more freedom you can create a bigger fenced in area in addition to the coop. Chickens like to hunt down bugs.

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Other things to consider:

1. After figuring out space, think about what you want to feed your chickens. Do you want to feed them just grain? Do you want to feed them vegetable scraps and grain? What quality food will you buy? The cost of the feed often reflects the quality. Paying a little more for good quality will be better in the long run.

2. Next you will need to decide if you want to use antibiotics or not. I’m all for doing things organically, but we had to choose between using antibiotics or possibly losing our chickens. Do your research on diseases and solutions when buying chickens.

3. What in the world are you going to do with all that poop?! Chicken manure is great for gardens, but you are going to need to compost it. Below are pictures of economical ways to do that.

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These composters are attached to stakes making it easier to turn them. Black barrels helps with the hot composting method. We used wood pallets to make our composters. I add leaves to mine to cover the chicken manure and decrease the smell.

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A source of water is important for raising life stock and a maintaining a garden. More than just being important it is crucial. Water = life. No water = no life. It is that simple. Craigslist is a great source for finding barrels and other items that can be recycled.

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Urban farming can be beautiful. Get creative and figure out clever ways to recycle materials. There are plenty of materials you can recycle whether building a coop or decorating your property

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Once you start raising chickens and get into sustainable living, you may find that a dominoes effect takes place. One thing leads to another and soon another animal joins the herd, a garden takes shape, and organic foods stock the refrigerator shelves. Sustainable living takes commitment, but it is a lifestyle that you won’t regret. Taking care of God’s creation shows good stewardship and respect. We only have one earth. Are you ready to take action?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Nigerian Dwarf Goats on “One Fine Acre” Farm

 

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Whether you are a homesteader, farmer, into animal husbandry, or just want the excitement of raising animals goats are one you should take into consideration. The does provide fresh milk which can be made into cheese, soap, or enjoyed simply as milk. Harvesting your own milk is the way to go considering that it costs 2 – 3 times as much as cow milk! The stars of this blog entry are Nigerian Dwarf goats. Their milk production is about 2 1/2 pounds (little over one quart) per day. They are 1/3 the size of regular dairy goats making them good for families with limited space.

My family has our own farm called “SHAPE Eco Farm” https://www.facebook.com/SHAPEInt . We decided to add goats to our happy rabbits and chickens. To get started we went to tour the Brown family’s  “One Fine Acre” Nigerian Goat Farm. They started out with raising goats on one acre and then moved to a property with five acres. What started out as wanting goats to keep the wooded area managed, developed into showing goats and then breeding them. They’ve taken their goats to Mountain State Fair in Asheville, The NC State Fair, and others which resulted in now owning champion goats. If you want to get goats in North Carolina that are well loved visit their website to learn more. http://onefineacre.com/index.html 

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I quickly discovered that goats are very photogenic. This one grinned for me. In the pictures to follow you will see they have a humorous side as well other various attitudes.

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Some prefer to eat from their food bin…

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While others prefer to stand in it.

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The brown family converts storage bins and laundry baskets into food bins which is a big money saver considering all the goats they have. If you decide to go that route, just make sure to make the holes big enough, keep it dry, and don't put the lid on lest you might end up with a goat sitting on top of the lid!

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These two male bucks are ready for some tackle football.

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Hmmm.. This goat has an intense glare. I would too if a stranger was taking a picture of me without consent.

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The kid goats are so cute.

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If you get goats you must get at least two or you will have a moody goat on your hands. They like to be protected from the weather. They are browsers and will eat a variety of saplings, grain, tree prunings and vegetable scraps. They have a remarkable taste for sweet gum saplings. Beware of toxic plants like rhododendron, azealea, yew, and laurels.

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The Brown family’s dog makes a great companion for the goats.

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From left to right is me, my brother, and sister in front of a giant stack of hay. Thank you for visiting my blog! Hope you learned a thing or two. If you have any goat raising tips please leave me a comment.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Trees of Rare Form at Architectural Trees Farm

 

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John Monroe is the owner of Architectural Trees Farm. It was during the 9th annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour that my family was able to get a very informative tour of the unique and ornamental trees that make the farm a one of a kind place. John Monroe is a dedicated tree farmer that has turned a hundred year old tobacco farmstead into a micro-nursery where incredible ornamental trees are able to take root and flourish before being bought by customers. His passion for what he does was evident and made this tour my favorite. The trees are wonderful additions to landscape designs. Every tree had a story and a personality it seemed. Weeping forms of trees allowed the onlooker to feel sorrow and the whimsical trees took my imagination into a story book destination.

http://www.archtrees.com/ 

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Hundreds of trees cover 5 acres of the 38 acre property.

Read more about John Monroe in “Our State North Carolina” magazine. http://www.ourstate.com/john-monroe/

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Covered greenhouse provide a protective barrier for the trees.

Featuring the Trees: “The Stars of the Show”

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John Monroe gave an animated description for each tree. Each tree had a story or something they reminded him of. Some of them looked like trees you would see in Dr. Suess books. Below are pictures of my favorites.

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There were even some fruit trees! Of course they had special qualities. This one smelled like roses.

Contest: Guess this tree!

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What do you think this tree is that was at the farm? Write your answer as a comment and in a couple weeks I’ll give the answer.

Answer: Redwood Tree

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Functional Free-ranging at Cypress Hall Farm

 

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Not many people have bragging rights that they have turkeys at backyard pets! During the Eastern Triangle Farm I was able to see that Cypress Hall Farm has earned that right and decided to go free-range. The definition of free range according to the wonderful research resource we call google is: “Livestock and domestic poultry permitted to graze or forage for grain, etc., rather than being confined to a feedlot or a small enclosure.” Free range animals are happier and healthier which means we will be happier and healthier if we consume them. We tend to trade healthful food for quick and snappy meals or fast food. In the long run organic food products are cheaper because we have fewer doctor visits and feel better. Paying a little more now will reap paying less for health in the future.

http://www.cypresshallfarms.com/

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Chicken tractors are nifty and are what allows pasture raised animals to be successful. They keep the chickens safe from predators and can be moved around to supply fresh grass. During various farm tours, I noticed that the turkeys liked to hang around the chicken tractors. Maybe they are just being friendly or like to stand guard of the chickens.

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Cypress Hall Farm raises heritage breeds of chicken.

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This is where the chickens are taken before being ready to sell. It is done in the most humane manner possible.

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Attempting to pet a turkey.

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My brother discovered the meat rabbits.

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Even the rabbits have their own domain. All the animals receive adequate space and quality care. I enjoyed my family’s tour of Cypress Hall Farm and recommend scheduling a visit.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Turtle Mist Farm on Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

 

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More and more people are caring about the food they eat. It is becoming more about what was used during the processing of the food than what its appearance is. An apple can be crisp and a golden color, but if it has been laden in pesticides its effect on the body will be detrimental.

The Eastern Triangle Farm Tour happens once a year and is an opportunity to see the local farmers in North Carolina who are applying sustainable and organic practices. Turtle Mist Farm was the first farm we toured. Ginger and Bob Sykes are the proud owners of the farm.  After 30 years of being in the corporate world they decided to step out in faith purchasing a farm that could be used to educate those around them about what goes into producing good wholesome food. They raise heritage breeds of animals and gave a market garden that raises unique and unusual breeds. Their animals are raised without antibiotics, hormones, or steroids and the same care is taken with the vegetables by only using organically approved pesticides and natural herbicides.

Check out their website: http://www.turtlemistfarm.com/

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The chickens at the farm are pasture raised laying hens. They have Amerucana and Cuckoo Maran chickens that lay green, tan, dark brown, and pink eggs. I was surprised to read that there are chickens that can lay pink eggs! These must make Easter a more festive occasion without needing to use dye.

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The chickens do have living quarters and below is where they can go to lay eggs.

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Chicken tractors are portable and can be moved around daily to supply fresh grass. I think “Sustainable Mowing Device” might also be a fitting title. What could be better than a mowing system that doesn’t require fossil fuels?

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Mallard and Muscovy ducks are raised on the farm.

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The picture doesn’t do these hogs justice! The big one must have weighed at least 600 pounds.

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This is a Bourbon Red turkey and the photo on the right was photographed in the middle of doing the famous “gobble” noise.

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My brother was absolutely mesmerized by the bunnies. He takes care of the bunnies we have on our own micro-farm.

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Turtle Mist Farm also has Guineas, quail, and peacocks. The other non bird animals are cows, sheep, horses, goats, and a donkey.

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Turtle Mist Farm gives pony rides.

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During the event the owner of BeeClean Soap had a booth set up. Here is a link to see them. http://www.carolinabees.com/store/beeclean-soap

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Well, that concludes the tour! I’ll be posting more farm tours in the upcoming weeks.