A few weeks ago we brought home our first Nigerian Dwarf goats. We planned on purchasing a few doelings and at some point to purchase a pregnant doe. A few days prior to picking them up, a very pregnant mama needed a new home so we picked her up on the same day as our doelings.
We got the goats as a way to become more self-sufficient in terms of food production. We’ve honed in on what was most important to us and made concessions I never thought I’d make.
Like getting goats.
I’m really not a goat person. Goats are these larger than life creatures even if compact in size and they’re just always in your business. They’re very affectionate and super sweet, yet demanding and will show displeasure when something is out of place. It’s enough to drain the energy right out of me. It doesn’t really have anything to do with goats…it’s me that’s the problem.
But I love them.
They’re hilarious in small doses. I knew after we got them I would feel that way. I had hoped it would change but I know me and chose a long time ago to not lie to myself about anything.
The goal here is to have milk and even meat from them. I wasn’t interested in the color of their coats, markings, or eye color. I am most interested in having robust animals with good genetics for milking. We don’t plan on having more than five total, but we all know how goat math goes!
So even though I’m not fond of goats, it doesn’t stop me from caring for them properly. Dom absolutely adores them so he’s super excited to get outside every morning to let them out of their little houses and spend time with them.
Currently, we are waiting for our mama, Tuffnut, to kid. She’s due any moment now. Dom set up the heat lamp in her little house and gave her extra straw to make her comfortable. We put together a kidding kit and extra bottles and nipples in case she does have more than three kids.
Tuffnut belonged to my friend Amber. When she told me the goat’s name was Tuffnut, I cracked up laughing at such a quirky name. She said she named her that because she throws three kids.
Yes, so we could easily go from having only three goats, to have six or more by the time Tuffnut kids.
Tuffnut has doubled in size since coming to live here. We have been watching closely for signs that she could be close. I often catch her looking off in the distance and I can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking about.
So how many kids do you think are in that swollen belly of hers?
Every day she gets a little wider.
I think she has at least four littles in there.
The area they’re in isn’t their permanent home. It’s temporary and over this next year we’ll be getting their area ready for them.
We decided to build a larger area for them and our future sheep behind our coffee roastery. We’re putting a commercial kitchen in the roastery, so it made sense to bring our dairy animals there as well.
We’re aiming to get a few Icelandic sheep in 2022 for milk, fibers, and meat. I’m very fond of sheep, especially Icelandics. I love that they just want to be left alone.
Their new area will have a barn, small milking parlor, and very rocky steep hilly terrain. The area they’re in now will become the final destination for our ducks and geese.
Outside the goat pen is the 60’x60′ market garden area. This area was a hot mess! Yesterday Dom and Noah cleared it, leveled it out a bit, and in the next few weeks it’ll be ready to plant.
Another major concession I made (I kind of hate myself for it) was to use landscape fabric in this area.
After observing the area and the kinds of weeds we have here and my time constraints, I realized that I needed a weed barrier. I work full time AND will be farming full time (I’m not sure how that will happen!) so I knew that I would not have the time to be pulling weeds and obsessing over those kinds of time sucks.
Our focus is on establishing perennials and annuals in this space. We’ll be adding 60 fruit trees and 60 berrry bushes, perennial vegetables, and of course your standard fare of fruits and veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, root crops, etc.
We purchased our first six fruit trees a few weeks ago. The largest challenge right now is finding affordable fruit trees. They’re either very expensive or sold out.
I’ve been trying to get my hands on apricot trees and I found only one place online to purchase them.
I remember a time when bare root fruit trees were so plentiful they were practically giving them away. It would seem that is a thing of the past now.
We’ll be building some cold frames for the area and a Post Harvest station for processing fruits and veggies.
Dom and Noah will also be adding tall posts and electric wire to prevent the deer from jumping into the area. We’ll be installing a 3-D fence around the outer perimeter of the market garden as well. This will cause the deer and elk to not be able to negotiate their ability to clear the height of the fence. It’s an effective strategy. Someone said to add peanut butter or some other sticky food they love on the electric wire and it will condition the animals to stay away after they get an unpleasant shock from the hot wire.
We might try it.
For irrigation, we’ll be using drip tape. But before that can happen the irrigation pipe needs to be repaired. Dom believes there is a crack in the pipe because when I watered the garden last year, the water would be brown. This only happened in the garden. It drove me insane because the sediment that was coming out of was clogging the hoses and sprinklers. It took a few months to figure out there was a problem with the irrigation pipes.
I’ll be ordering the landscape fabric, drip tape, and landscape fabric next week.
Here are more photos of our lives in spring…
Simmi name this sweet girl Milkyway.
This one is Honeybun.
Our goats names will be the theme of any offspring born to them. For Milkyway, her babies will be named after star constellations or candy bars. For Honeybun, her babies will be named after sweet dessert treats. And Tuffnut’s babies will be named after some sort of nut.
The year 2020 was an over the top sensational year for us as a family. We kicked ass and took names! While the world was busy being distracted by a disease that was never isolated or identified, we continued to move forward as a family, building, repairing, organizing, and recommitting our lives to becoming more sustainable.
Sustainability is one of those red flag words used by large corporations to greenwash their products. That’s not the sustainability I’m talking about. Some might call it “primitive” living but that’s a red flag word as well! When we think of primitive, our minds conjure images of living on a dirt floor with no electricity or running water.
Is that really what primitive means? How about technologies from the 1700s? Are they primitive? Dom and I have watched one of our favorite youtube channels for years called Townsends and I love how they have been able to reenact and bring to life American History from the 1700-1800s. Now, I’m not a fan of reenacting and trying to recreate anything historic, however, I’m thankful to those who find it thrilling to geek out when they find obscure historic texts hidden in books long forgotten and then POOF! they bring it to life.
Such, I think is the case with the Townsends. I SWOON over the kitchen they created (pictured below). Not because it rejects modern life, but because it is a truly sustainable kitchen. Would we go without a modernish stove? Nope, we plan on utilizing a stove that was built in the era prior to obsolescence. That’s about how modern I wish to remain.
It’s a melding of different ways of doing things to reach our own specific goals and outcomes.
That’s all we can do really in this life. We have no desire to live fully in some romanticized historical past OR future.
We’re moving forward our way and we’re not interested in maintaining the status quo or just going along with the program. The program sucks and just as the “elite” (I call them bottom feeders) want to push for some great Reset, I would caution against thinking that this is a great idea. Remember it is the World Economic Forum (again, bottom feeders) calling for this reset because they FAILED. They are the biggest failure EVER and yet because most worship money, they think the Klaus Schawb holds the key to a new forged future. No. Just no. He, the biggest bottom feeder of them all has failed so much so that he’s crying for a do-over while blaming the little guy for all the problems. Anyway, the World Economic Forum’s plan I don’t consent to.
But I digress!
Back to my Happy New Year…
We managed to thrive in 2020 emotionally, physically, and even financially. We kicked off last new year with a baby skunk getting to our house, our water heater busting, our toilet needing to be repaired, and some pretty wicked colds. That was just January!
Here’s a recap of our year…
This beautiful little spotted skunk mama kicked off our 2020 New Year with sadness and resolve to save her baby that had died in a trap we had set. The baby, no more than maybe 6 inches from nose to tail found his way into the house and died. Dom buried him out back and she found his little body in a burlap bag and refused to leave the dead baby. She wouldn’t eat or drink and died within three days of exposure to the extreme cold. We heard rustling about a month later only to discover that the baby skunk had a sibling. This little guy thought he was a part of the family. He would come in and out of the pallet walls looking for food or just to sit and watch us go about our business.
We finally caught him and released him a few miles away from our land. That ended the skunk saga of 2020. Haha
With our bathroom out of commission because of a busted temporary water heater and a busted toilet line, it became an opportune time to put walls in, sand and finish the floor, install the new tub, and put in a much-needed window. The windows we found under some garbage that was left on the property.
We started collecting more pallets for future projects. With the price of lumber going through the roof we began to reuse pallets rather than pay through the nose for dimensional lumber, only purchasing it when absolutely necessary. Once insulation, drywall, and exterior siding is installed, does it really matter what the inner wall is made of? Sure we look like hobos for awhile while it is all coming together, but in the end we save thousands of dollars and we get an even stronger structure than if it was just a conventional stick-built building.
This year we will be building out of pallets, a storage shed, a greenhouse, and a large office space off the side of my coffee roastery for my second business, Status Select Professional Services.
Dom started carving spoons. It was something he has wanted to do for years. 2020 was The Year of the Spoon for him. 😉
Our son Noah came home to build his own cabin, save money, buy a car, and go to school to become an EMT and Paramedic. So far, he moved into his cabin not too long ago, and now he’s saving for his car. School starts in the spring! He’s doing fantastic.
The beginnings of the chicken coop was built. However, part of the way through building it, we realized that Noah really needed his cabin first. There wasn’t a reason I could imagine where a bunch of chickens should have a home before my son. So we switched gears and Noah and Dom started building his cabin. See photos of the process below:
We got a very small but productive garden going as well. We didn’t start until LATE, but still, it was good to have my hands back in the soil. Farming and caring for animals is a part of my calling, so to finally be able to grow food again felt like a huge return to my values. We were on such a crazy odyssey over the last five years that no matter where we went, farming was on my mind but it broke my heart that I couldn’t spend the time growing food or raising animals.
We can now! When we first started farming ten years ago, we went all in and bought seed, bought trees, bought animals, and we did so without any infrastructure in place. That meant that we spent a huge amount of our valuable time spinning our wheels getting makeshift housing ready for animals, trying to jerry-rig watering systems, and really didn’t have a full plan in place. Even so, we had a very productive CSA with lots of members as well as retail stores purchasing our produce.
I can’t in good conscience do that to us again. We’ll celebrate our second year on the land in April, and even though we are still putting infrastructure in place, it has been worth the wait!
Below was our tiny experimental garden. I wasn’t expecting much since it was really the first time I was really growing anything on this piece of land, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of food produced. We plan on making this little garden area the new Blueberry Sancutary.
As fall and winter approached, we began to shift our thinking a bit. We decided to build the fencing for our ducks and geese. The area would not be used right away for ducks, but instead, we would have dairy goats in the area to take down the weeds in the market garden area. Eventually, we would move the goats to their new area located behind the coffee roastery near where the commercial kitchen would be located.
Dom got busy building the fencing for the goats. We located a farm two hours north of us and planned on purchasing goats from them.
The only thing left to put up are the three gates. Their structure is in place. We need to build them a milking stand, although we don’t plan on breeding the new doelings until they are a year old. We will be purchasing a pregnant Nigerian Dwarf so that we will have milk this year.
Below are our new babies. They were just born a few days ago. We will be bringing them home when they are weaned from their mamas.
We purchased our first cow and helped process it. It was an amazing experience! After we build our walk-in refrigerator, we’ll start processing all our animals on the farm.
I love butchery and now I’m excited to harvest other animals as well. We already process ducks, chickens, and turkeys.
Noah got a puppy from the same people we got our goats. Her name is Zelda. She’s a border collie, blue heeler mix.
Simmi also is getting ready to move into her new bedroom.
Today I’m painting her room. Dom will be laying her carpet soon and putting trim up. We’re getting there…little by little.
Every time something new gets completed, we moved one step closer to gutting the rig. Simmi being able to have her own room is that crucial next part of the plan. It will take a bit of detailed planning to gut the rig because that will involve taking out my office equipment for a few days. I might need to set up my office in my bedroom while the rig is being remodeled.
2021 is looking brighter every day!
It feels like only yesterday that I wrote about compassion, and yet, here I am more than two months later wondering where the time has gone? I’ve written infrequently on my blog because my dance card is quite full these days. I have several projects I’m working on that are a labor of love (I cannot disclose them at this time), homeschooling Simmi has started again, I’ve been working on the backend of this website to create an updated version that will be a magazine-style layout, and we’re moving into the fall/winter mode which means working on the interior of our rig again.
Work continues on Noah’s cabin, and as he gets closer to being able to move in, I can’t help but think of finally getting Simmi into her own room. That in turn leads to us gutting the rig to make it more functional for us to be in. Which then allows us to create a proper living room and dining room space. It has to happen in that sequence. Patience is key to making the transition go smoothly.
Below are photos of progress on Noah’s cabin. He has financed everything himself and he will have a debt-free cabin when everything is finished. Having no debts for his cabin will allow him to buy a newer vehicle without a car loan, pay for school without a school loan, and provide him with greater cash flow. Why pay rent throwing money away when you can own your own home free and clear? Eventually, if he wants to remain here, he will have the opportunity to build a larger home where ever he chooses on the 14 acres. All my children will have that opportunity as well.
Dom and Noah are shooting for the end of October for him to move into his cabin. The cabin won’t be completed until probably the spring, but before then, he’ll have the exterior board and batten, insulation in the floor, walls, and ceiling, drywall up, and flooring down. Trim and finish work will come later. The goal was to get him in his own private space. He can continue to work on the interior through the winter after the walls have been mud and taped, and his loft has been stained. In the spring a covered porch will be added.
The next project after that will be to insulate and put drywall up in Simmi’s room. Currently, Noah is sleeping in Simmi’s room. We’ll be able to fix her space, move her in, and get her comfortable. Right now she’s sleeping in the main part of the rig.
We had a highly productive tiny garden this past summer. I was very surprised and delighted at all that I was able to harvest. I didn’t weigh anything this year, since it was all an experiment to see what would grow well and what would languish or not grow at all.
We’re excited to start planning for next year’s garden. I learned a lot about my region and the ebb and flow of our microclimate. It’s been a great learning experience.
Another thing we’ve been working on is the temporary goat area. I reluctantly decided to finally warm up to the idea of getting dairy goats. I’m more of a sheep person. I could probably write a whole blog post on why I prefer sheep over goats, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the animals themselves…it’s all because of my personality. Anyway, after careful thought and consideration, I made the decision to go ahead and start planning on having dairy goats.
We’ll be getting Nigerian dwarfs, mainly because that’s all I am emotionally equipped to deal with at this time in my life. Sounds weird, right? They will have a permanent home near our commercial kitchen, however, until that kitchen is completed, they will be living in the area that will eventually become the duck yard.
Dom, being very motivated by my decision to finally acquiesce to having goats, went to work straight away getting the goat area ready. He still needs to build the three gates for the different entrances, but for the most part, it’s nearly ready. We chose this area because we want the goats to eat the weeds in the market garden. They will have access to it throughout the winter months into spring before we start planting.
The fencing for this area was created using felled trees on the property and fencing from other areas. The wood planks were donated last year from a lady in our town who was getting rid of old wood fencing.
I love watching him work and execute plans that I’ve created. It’s always an unexpected treat watching him put everything together shirtless. Haha
That just about wraps up my update. Autumn came quickly and, just like that, it will be spring before I even blink! One thing is for sure, I’m looking forward to finally getting our rig gutted! I’ll try and make a more concerted effort to blog more than I have.