Got our goat!

Made it down to the butcher to pick up the rest of the cut and wrapped goat carcasses.  Between organs, bones, heads, and standard cuts, we got about 90lbs of meat, and we got the hides if we want to do anything with them (probably not!).

Final expenses for the goats were about 725 dollars, including their share of the hay/minerals and their share of the water bill and of course purchase cost and butchering fees.

Goat meat is hard to find, it runs about 9-10/lb by the cut when I can find any. Having said that, however, we do live down the street from a goat man with many delicious goats that party in his yard and the next time we are interested in goat meat, we will see if he will sell us a whole goat for a flat rate.  Specialization is a beautiful thing.

The sheep are doing ok, Shaft’s scur is healing.  The bunk feeder finally arrived and indeed there is less wastage.

Time to get some more hay out before total dark!

 

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The goats have journeyed to freezer camp

I just drove them up to a local butcher that provides onsite kill service and they took care of the goats on the spot.  I didn’t understand that with live kill, I could have just taken the carcasses+organs+hides all in one day, so I only brought enough containers for the organs and hides.  Next week it’s off to pick up the cut and wrapped carcasses.

It was very quick, they did fast, clean work.

And yes, despite all the horrible trouble they gave I kinda miss the goats running around the yard bleating furiously and scampering.  I hope they taste good!

 

 

Homesteading Diary, Monday December 2

Husband and I: Husband is doing better, I am still pretty tired from the poor weather though.

Goats: still on track to go to freezer camp in a couple more days.  The two wethers are getting almost as big as the doe, so at least 100lbs of offal/cuts/heads is probable.

Sheep:  The ewes are looking ok to my untrained eye.  They don’t look scrawny, like it’s all going to the lamb(s), but they also don’t look like they’re getting overfat (no signs of back fat or other overconditioning according to my lambing books’ drawings).  Despite the wastage, we’re going through about a bale a week and that seems to be adequate and likely to remain the eating rate after the goats are gone. And the ram lambs look ok as they pass out of lambhood.  Icelandics are relentless grazers, it’s really stunning to watch.  One can barely tell our pasture was overgrown this summer.

The little golden ewe looks a lot more pregnant, but still like it’s a just a single lamb.  Oh well, that’s typical for a first lambing.

Still no bunk feeder, putting a screen on won’t work with the manger, but they are wasting less hay as the grass gets less available and just eating quicker instead of being a bit leisurely as they were in early November.

Ducks: It was sleeting like crazy today and the ducks didn’t even care, they were as happy as anything in this crazy weather.  So we will continue to watch and wait on moving them into the barn since they seem quite happy in their run.  Did get them onto fresh new grass finally, so that’s off our backs for a week.

Kids: Busting out the light box (a form of therapy for SAD, which is rampant up here) has helped both of them with moodiness.  My oldest wanted to party in the sleet and didn’t understand why I was agin’ it until she heard the sound through an open window.

Thanksgiving was delicious and we used the long weekend to catch up on holiday shopping.

It’s been an ok few days.

Homesteading Diary, Tuesday November 26

Husband and I: still working through a series of health problems.  It’s all the bare minimum to get to the next day right now.

Goats: the goats were contained with our last fencing efforts, but two of them got unhappy and now just crawl under the fence, careless of the shocks.  Hunting season has slacked off, so one of the local butchers said they did have freezer space next week, so hopefully we can just go with that option, since the health stuff has really made it impossible to set a date to do it ourselves, even though the weather is really great for it.  The escapee goats have started nibbling a neighbor’s trees, so it’s time for freezer camp.

Sheep:  Unlike the goats, Bucky and Shaft are perfectly contained and happy to hang out eating hay and grass with the ewes and don’t even try to test the fence now.  So once the goats (even the sole non-escapee, little tame Taco) are turned into deliciousness, there should be no further misfortunes with stray livestock eating the wrong trees in the wrong yard.

Three of the ewes look pretty pregnant and one looks maybe sorta pregnant.  I am beginning to think we might actually have an out of season conception on our hands, but things will be more obvious around Christmastime.  Getting the sheep to notice where we put the minerals has been hard, they’ve only eaten a little and I worry about that one and have to hope the hay and alfalfa treats are good enough.  I still have the expectation that seven lambs are most likely if the ewes carry to term successfully and nothing about their growing size suggests fewer or more right now.

The hay situation is miserable, our homemade manger leads to spilled hay like whoa and the only reduction in lossage is by giving 1/5 or less of a bale at a time and “fluffing” the hay in the manger a few hours later so the fresh bits are back on top.  We ordered a bunk feeder, but it’s backordered and who knows when it will turn up with the holiday.  Until then, small amounts and lots of fluffing and sighing at all the hay on the ground.  The goats jumping into the manger doesn’t help.  I am writing this post so I will remember to try putting a screen on top in the next day or so and see if that helps reduce the lossage.

Ducks: Down to 2 eggs a day the last couple of days, if we stay on the mend, we’ll probably move them at long last into the barn this weekend.  They have ridden the frosty mornings and nights out like gangbusters, happy as anything even when their swimming water is frozen and their waterer is crusted over with ice.  Due to the health stuff, they haven’t been moved like they should have been and are down to mostly bare earth, so I am going to give it a try with my little arms today or tomorrow.  I’ve been keeping them on 2 quarts of feed, 1 in the am and 1 in the pm.

Kids: Not sick as far as we can tell, just a little stir crazy with the cold and rain.  It’s been warmer and sunnier this week, so we’ll get them both out more.

It’s been a hard week and is likely to continue being hard for another week or two.  But we’re all still here, the animals and kids are healthy and ridiculously well fed and we don’t have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, so that stress is off our minds.  We are going with these neat people who like to source local and organic and sustainable whenever they can.  They used to be a nice local go-to for us when we were living in suburbia and they are always worth the custom.

Treats and newbie shepherding

Since I want handling the sheep to go more smoothly this weekend (earliest we can finish up hoof trimming), I’ve been going out twice a day and offering alfalfa pellets, letting the sheep (when they could push the goats aside) eat from the bucket and also scattering the pellets near me.

It’s been a few days, the sheep now come near to me with curiosity, although sudden movements when the goats mob me still make them scamper off.  But they return, which is new.  The plan is to offer treats twice a day for a few weeks, then go to once a day and then just offer a small treat daily.  Within reason (because of potential pregnancy), we’ll be probably overhandling the sheep as the winter wears on.  It’s better to err on the side of turning them into pets right now if they warm that rapidly because we don’t have a lot of sheep and it will be a long time before we have to consider being more impersonal with a flock even if things go well and we have many lamb blessings.  

 

Fancy city thinking, fancy city problems

To keep this very simple, it is pouring rain right now, we’re utterly wiped out and we didn’t get everyone’s hooves trimmed.  Still two ewes and one of the rams left to take care of.  We will probably have to try tomorrow or even have to push it out to a random day next week.

But the way hoof trimming works if you don’t try to think like a fancy city person is that goats go in stanchions and sheep are sat up on their butts, either by a second person who isn’t the trimmer, or a sort of hammock/chair thing that does it if there’s no second person available.

We put sheep in the stanchion and oh how we paid for it.  In the stanchion you have bucking, frightened sheep that you have to hold down in addition to the stanchion.  Sit a sheep down, though, and you have a calmer animal that is UNABLE to freak out enough to cause trouble and you have an opportunity for the animal to know that you aren’t a predator or a jerk so they will be easier on successive maintenance days.

For some crazy mixed up reason we thought since the stanchion works awesome for goats it would just be dandy mcdandy for sheep.  Even though I can’t recall anyone local using a stanchion for their sheep and none of the sheep books mention stanchions for basic maintenance like hoof trimming.  Yeah, when your references don’t say to do a thing you think is more “logical” and provide an alternative that is easy and fast, they know of what they speak!

We were quite foolish to think changing it up would be easier or better.

Anyway, of the goats and sheep trimmed, the goats were easy, the sheep were hard until we sat the last one down and then it was easy (last one was little bramble-filled Shaft, his hooves were in nice shape and there wasn’t much bramble left to clear, but his fleece has a few burrs in the top layer, not near the skin, that will make spring skirting an adventure).

One sheep got cut (our gray with one udder because a shearer took out the other nipple), and she also has some kind of hoof issue on her front left hoof.  It is neither red nor stinky, the twin signs of rot, but there’s a lot of random hoof badness that isn’t hoof rot, so we’ll have to include her in the roundup of the three sheep remaining and get a better look at it.  It may just be a lot of impacted material from delaying a trim so long.

So we’re not done yet and we may be stuck waiting until next Saturday to finish the job, but we will definitely try to carve some time out ASAP and then we basically have to be very treat-happy for several weeks straight to get everyone used to us, since, you know, we (possibly) knocked up the ewes already and then proceeded to spaz them out.  We really planned this one out with thought and care, you betcha.

Homesteading Diary, Monday October 28

Husband and I: completely wore ourselves out putting up fencing this weekend, eight hours of manual labor.  We also went ahead and put the hay out.  Timing was pretty good, we’re getting frost warnings this week, and my husband wanted the hay out with the first real frost or a little before.

Goats and sheep: Now that we’ve got the fencing in and electrified, neither the goats nor the sheep have tried to set themselves free.  So in all likelihood the goats will stick around until spring and lambing season.  But it’s only been a couple days, we’ll see where the week takes us.  The goats were sad, but they get to eat hay during midday while the sheep hang out in the pasture being relentless in their consumption.  The sheep eat a bit of hay in the very early morning and later in the evening.  Due to exhaustion and not knowing where the trimming shears are, we didn’t get the hoof trimming and wool trimming in, but Shaft’s wool has in fact almost all the bramble I was really worried about.

The girls are calmer around Bucky and Shaft.  Shaft has not gotten the memo that he is too immature to breed and keeps trying to make it happen.  We will have a ram pen and stricter breeding protocol next breeding season.  But it is highly unlikely that Shaft at 4mo is going to father anything this year.

Ducks: Cayuga still not laying, greatly hoping it’s not a drake.  The other three lay just fine, but cannot decide whether they should lay in their nest or in the mud, so I have to walk carefully when taking care of their food and water to avoid stepping on the egg(s) they lay in the mud before I gather them.

Kids: They enjoyed a recent visit to one of the local pumpkin patches and acquired two adorable little pumpkins.

General local stuff:  We ordered more fencing and price-shopped a little and found a better deal with a local branch of a megachain of farm stores.  Said branch also has more reliable delivery than the co-op.  We’ll still use the co-op for hay and some other things, their prices are good for a lot of basics, they just have elderly delivery truck issues right now and can’t do the big stuff deliveries we really need this year.

Also, cattle panel fencing is ugly and this makes me sad, but it would make our neighbors sad if our livestock kept getting out because we chose prettier fencing that was less reliable.

Well, off to find those shears so we can get our hoof maintenance and condition checks on.