Friday, January 23, 2009

Homestead Development

Slowly we have been building a fenced in area that is essentially a controlled environment, set apart for most of our homestead endeavors and free from roaming cattle, which if given the opportunity get into everything, and will eat other animals' feed, fruit trees and other planted vegetation. At some point we hope to allow the cattle to free range the entire land, which would require each homestead to fence off areas they do not want to allow the cattle access. For us, the final section of fencing that we needed to close off was behind the barn, which was originally a complete fence; but I opened it up so we could drive through the woods to one of the public roads so that we didn't have to go through several other gates to get to that road. Also, we hope to put a house just behind the fence; and so, I thought we would add a couple of 12 foot gates in that opening, which together would span the road nicely and would allow for large equipment and the like to get through.

Once again, we hired our neighbor Kelly to work on this. Here are some pictures of him working on the project, and finally the gates set in place:





Once again, we thank Kelly for his work; and we are grateful to the Lord for allowing us to be able to complete the enclosing of our main homestead area.

-- David

Monday, January 19, 2009

Animal Rotation Pens Expansions

Part of our plan for our animals was to rotate them through a set of pens, which would provide various types of fertilization in an effort to revitalize, improve and maintain the efficiency of the soil. Also, with the need to separate out our male goat from the female goats to control the breeding process, I decided it was time to add a couple more pens to our current set of two pens. Our neighbor Kelly was looking for some work, so we hired him to build these for us.

Before starting on the new pens however, some work needed to be done on the previous pens to bolster the support structure of the wood posts. On a few of them I had hoped to get away with just a single post without supports. Even though I didn't stretch the fence that tightly, it still had been putting enough pressure on the posts to begin to pull out of the ground a little. And so Kelly added some "kickers" (the diagonal posts) and "dead men" support (the small posts to which the lower part of the diagonals are attached) to help with that problem. This also would set a better design precedent for the new pens. Further, in the way I designed the first two pens, I had the entry gates for each pen (which were 12 foot gates in order to allow for the driving through of the tractor and disk plows) next to each other so they would share a common post to which the opening side of the gate would latch. This was in order to try to use fewer posts. Although not perfect, this has seemed to work fairly well in being able to move animals from one pen to the other:




However, in adding the next two pens, we could use this same design between them; but if we were going to be able to move animals from pen 2 to pen 3, it would need to be done through gates that would be nearly 200 feet apart, which would probably require a pathway between those two pens. And so instead of that, Kelly added a gate to the side of pen 2 that would allow for free movement between it and pen 3:




Then he set to work on replicating pens 1 and 2 as pens 3 and 4. We plan on adding a 5th pen at some point, so he implemented the same pass-through on pen 4 that he added to pen 2:




We thank Kelly for his work, and once again for the Lord for His resources and provisions. We pray that God always guide and direct us in our decisions in how to build our homestead; and that, despite ourselves and any lack of understanding or foresight, He lead us to do the right things and to those that will work well in the future, for His glory.

-- David

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Tail of Two Puppies


When we attended the Homestead Heritage Craft Fair this last November, I had the opportunity to observe their sheepdog demonstration. Needless to say, I was impressed with their ability to round up animals. With our attempts at rounding up animals either gruelingly on foot or industrially with trucks, I thought that having sheepdog capabilities around the land would be of great benefit to all involved for all of the various animals we have to sometimes corral and/or separate. The Homestead Heritage folks had decided on Border Collies for their herding breed, and so I figured I would follow suit at some point.


Well, that some point came quicker than I had expected. Recently, an ad was placed in the local classifieds paper for registered border collie puppies. Even though they were pricey as registered dogs, I called, in case the owner had or could recommend non-registered ones which would cost less. When I talked with the owner and explained what I was looking for, it so happened she was moving and was willing to sell one or both of the remaining registered pups from the latest litter for 40% off. We thought that was just too good to pass up. At first I thought we'd only get one, but then reconsidered, given the deal she was offering, that the two dogs would have each other, and to allow us to potentially breed them; and so, we decided to get both the male and female she had left.

And here they are. We decided to give them Scottish names because Border Collies originate from the border area of England and Scotland, and we named them different sounding names to help them differentiate between themselves when being commanded. Please meet Brodey (pictured to the right above) and Nessa (pictured to the left above). They're quite playful and friendly, and we look forward to being able to train them to be functional animal members of the community:






Here is a video of them just after arriving here on the land:




The Lord is gracious in granting us these animals, especially in the way He did; and we pray for guidance in training them.

-- David

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gary the Gander Gets Gigi the Goose


When the offer from Mrs. Judy came for Gary to have a potential mate, as much as it is fun to have him hang around me, I figured it would be great if he could have his own goose; and so, we accepted her offer of bringing one down during this last Fall's Ranchfest.


At first, we didn't know what to name her. But I kept calling her "Girlie Goose", because, well, she sort of is. That led to us thinking about the first initials of that name; and so, we decided to call her Gigi, which also sounds nice with Gary's name :).

Here is a video of their introduction and other times together. At one point on intro day, they went off into the woods together; and so we had to chaperone them back. The video ends with our nightly walk back to the barn where they spend the night:




This video has Gary bringing me back from work so he can show off for and try to impress his "lady":




While Gary still follows me around if I am in the area; all of the rest of time, he sits with Gigi, mostly next to the goat pens. I am hoping he makes the switch to her at some point to make her his mate. Mrs. Judy said perhaps this might happen during her "cycle", perhaps in Spring.

There have been signs of her wanting to be around him as well, shown in a couple of ways. One has been what seems like her sometimes squawking when Gary is not visible to her. Another has been that she is often hesitant to come into the barn at night unless she knows Gary is already in there. Gary will squawk at someone making a coughing noise; and sometimes when she is undecided about whether to enter the barn or not, I will fake-cough enough to get him to squawk several times; and she will turn from where she is going and then come into the barn.

We're thankful to Mrs. Judy for giving us Gigi, and to the Lord for granting Gary hopefully a mate (even though I'll miss his company :) ).

-- David