Monday, February 23, 2015

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



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.


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:

34-preparing for jump

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.


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.


38-playing 2  40-playing 3


41-playing 4


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


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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Urban Living Meets Chicken Raising


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. 

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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?