Since constructing our Mini Dairy Goat Barn last fall, we have certainly gotten some use out of it! We have added three new does and Karen is due to kid next month. While we got it constructed and set up "good enough" to get us through the winter, we have have taken the past several months to work on the finer details. Because it's mini, I have to maximize every bit of space I can for storage and to allow me to be more efficient...but still have room to move around. I have to walk a fine line between storage and efficiency, and making it over cluttered Since my last post, additional stalls have been built, shelving put up, sliding doors added, and a milk stand constructed.
Aside from some finishing trim work, adding a roof extension/canopy, and running electricity (aside from my ghetto extension cord) down and installing some outlets, I am calling it "done". I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can do a lot in a small space with a well thought out design! I am more than happy with how this has turned out, and the girls seem more than content in their new digs.
I have been milking Audrey loyally everyday, three times a day now for about a month. We have developed a nice little routine that I truly enjoy and look forward to. I bounce out of bed first thing anxious to get down to the barn, and am chomping at the bit to get started in the evening. It may lose that new feeling after a while, but that whole fresh milk everyday part will never get old.
When you first start milking a new dairy goat or cow, it can be stressful. You may have issues with them being uncooperative, or you fear did I milk them enough? Am I taking the proper precautions? You don't want to inadvertently cause production to drop by not emptying their udder, and of course mastitis is always a concern. Because we drink our milk raw, sanitation in the process is of the upmost importance because I don't have pasteurization as a safeguard. I have to prevent it from getting into the process in the first place, and this is where a routine comes in very handy. If you take the necessary steps and precautions everyday, two or three times a day, it becomes muscle memory and eventually you don't even have to think about what you're doing. The routine becomes second nature, and I take comfort knowing I can safely drink my raw milk, while doing everything possible to keep up maximum production and Audrey healthy.
When you live on a farm or homestead especially with animals you have good days and bad days. Thankfully, we have mostly good days here which I really attribute to quality feed, care, and attentiveness. But, bad days do creep in and today was a really bad day. Today, I had to say goodbye to my gander Hank.
A little more than a year ago I was was anxiously waiting for the post office to call and inform me that my fuzzy peeping goslings had arrived. I couldn't wait to bring them home, snuggle them, bond with them, and watch them grow up to become guardians of our flock of laying hens.
With the exception of our dairy goats and obviously Annie, every animal we keep has an expiration date. For the meat chickens and turkeys it's six months or less, pigs it's around the seven-eight month mark, and laying hens around four years or when their production drastically drops. We are a small farm and homestead with self sufficiency as our primary goal. Because of this, every animal has a purpose and some stick around longer than others.
As far as the geese go, their purpose was to be guardians for our flock of hens. Eggs are a bonus, but this is not their primary job or meat for that matter. They can guard whether they're six months or six years old. Because of this, they weren't organized into the "I'm going to eat you" compartment of my mind that the meat chickens, turkeys, pigs, and laying hens go into. So, I allowed myself to get attached and care for them. Making today's decision all the more difficult.
The time of year has come where my seasonal depression rears its ugly head and stops in to say "hey I'm here!". I'm sick of being cold, the gray, the mud, putting on jackets and hats, the lack of green, etc. We have gotten a few "teaser days" of spring where the temps warmed up (even into the 50's a couple times) and I could frolic in the sun and pretend I was accomplishing things outside. Thinking of these days make it torturous when winter smacks us back to reality, ergo the seasonal depression. But, these quiet and antsy times give me time to not only reflect on everything accomplished in 2017, but plan, draw, and make my to do lists for 2018! It gives me hope! Check out what we have in store.
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