No matter how small the farm there is still work to do, some jobs are even bigger because the farm is small.
Take getting feed, for instance. A really large operation will have bulk feeders that are filled by a truck sent from the feed store. Some farmers buy feed in sacks by the pallet. The farmer will pick up the pallet in his truck or trailer, the feed store employee will use a forklift to load it on. Once home, the farmer will use a tractor with forks on the front to unload it into the barn where the pallet will keep it off the ground. On a small farm where there is only human labor, feed in large quantities can be a challenge.
You might wonder why we would want to buy in large quantities on a small farm. The main reason- aside from less trips to the feed store being a good thing- is cost. A 50 lb bag of 12% sweet feed is going for 14.50 right now. We can buy 14% creep feed with corn mixed in for $16.50/100 lbs. As you can see, this is a significant savings and with a higher protein content. To buy in bulk, you must have containers. We use 55 gallon drums with lids that clamp on. Each drum holds roughly 300 lbs of feed. The feed store has a minimum requirement of 500 lb purchase- so this means that we get at least two drums filled at a time. Transporting the empty drums and getting them filled at the feed store is easy enough. The challenge comes when we get the filled drums home- how do we get them out of the truck and into the barn.
This was the challenge we faced on Sunday. Cheyenne and I picked the feed up on Saturday but decided to wait on Tony to get home since he is the one with all the muscles. Frankly, if you have enough strength on board the unloading isn’t such a problem. We decided to use a set of ramps and roll the drums down. Then we rolled the drums over to the proper spot in the barn- now the drums had to be set upright. It took all of Tony, Cheyenne, and Jonathan’s strength for the last part but over all it went well.
Today’s job was pretty big also. It was time to clip hooves and worm the goats. Generally, this isn’t too hard- just time consuming. If you live in an area with a lot of rocks or gravel the hooves don’t get too bad. However, we have a lot of loam and that soft soil doesn’t file anything off the hooves. Once the goats are on the stand we keep them busy with feed. As long as there is food, they don’t care too much as to what we are up to with the feet. The only difficult thing when trimming hooves is if you clip the hoof too short. The hoof will bleed if you cut down too far. Most of the time this happens it is because the goat decided to jerk their leg right as you squeezed the clippers. In case of this, I have blood stop powder to put on the hoof. The dogs stay close by eating up all the hoof trimmings. It may seem disgusting, but hooves are mostly calcium so it is actually a really healthy snack.
Jonathan helped out today and wormed his first goat. That is also a pretty simple task, as long as you get the syringe far back in the jaw so that they can’t spit the wormer back out at you. And never ever put your finger a goat’s mouth- they don’t have teeth but the hard plate that they use to eat berry vines and briars will smash your finger and have you saying ugly words.
I will usually dread the goat chores, but once I get down there I enjoy myself. Not only does it feel good to tend to my goats health but it also gives me time in the barn with Savannah and that is a good thing. Plenty of time to talk and keep up with what is on her mind. I know to enjoy every moment because this time next year she will be a full time college student. When we started with the goats she was 10 now she is 17, we have made a lot of memories in the barn.
Dinner was a simple taco salad and now for a little Mentalist on tv. Then, we will have to go out and separate the chickens. I have listed 15 hens for sale on craigslist and I want those separated out for simplicity. I don’t know if you have ever tried to catch a chicken, but that is worse than a wild goose chase. There is a small pen for this sort of purpose. I sold 3 chickens this morning and I have already had several calls which tells me that the hens won’t be in that pen for long. The flock numbers had gotten too large with a dozen chicks in the brooder house and my sister incubating another 3 dozen eggs. The sale of 15 hens will leave me with a mature flock of 15 layers.
I also bumped a couple hundred seedlings to 4 inch cups and now have 6 trays of herbs seeds germinating on the top of the freezer and fridge. There is a lot of work to be done in the greenhouse and I will be working in there daily from now till the middle of summer. I love having an herb farm. It may be cold outside, but inside the greenhouse I have the month of May!