Category Archives: Farm Animals

Goats on Pasture

The Goats are almost three months old now and fully weaned, its time they go to pasture and be trained on the line.
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Part of the purpose of our goats is weed control and sustainable grazing. Grazing animals can be very destructive to the land if their grazing isn’t focused and managed.  On the flip side, land that isn’t grazed by herbivores will become over grown and unhealthy, quickly pulling more from the soil then adding back.  They synergy between the grasslands and its herbivores is slowly becoming recognized and honored.
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When a herbivore eats the grass the roots of the grass die back a little, leaving organic matter and open channels in the soil for beneficial microbes to feast on and water to run down.  Then there is a flush of new grown, invigorating the grass, making it stronger and producing more roots to break up the soil and provide for those microbes I love so much.  In turn the herbivore leaves its manure, full of nutrients and seeds to further bless the land.  A pasture can be easily over grazed, if animals are kept on it continually with out a rest period, it becomes distressed and can’t sustain new growth. That is where management comes in.  We no longer have vast prairies with massive herds of buffalo and birds doing the job, we now have to facilitate the process, by using rotational grazing and letting the pasture rest in between grazing.
IMG_6694Here on our farm we don’t have vast pastures, we have small meadows and paddocks, but that same principle applies, just on a smaller scale.  We set the goats out daily to graze, watching carefully so as not to over tax the land and then move our animals so the plot can rest and rejuvenate, making it more fertile and productive.

Spring Babies

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We all love the babies here on the farm and the last of the spring babies have arrived!  Rabbits can be bred all year long, but they tend to struggle in the heat and a pregnancy only adds to the difficulty, so we take a break in the heat of the summer. We also take a break in the cold of the winter, not because it hard on the rabbits, they love the cold, but it is a bit more difficult to manage kits in the freezing weather, they need to be kept very warm and it is easy for a kit to chill and die very quickly. So here we are the very last litter of the spring birthing season, they get to hang out in the house with us during the heat of the day and in the evening they get to go be with mom until morning.  Rabbits only feed their babies once or twice a day and spend the rest of the time ignoring them.  It is a survival instinct, by only visiting the nest once a day they don’t attract predators to their babies. Once the baby’s eyes open, at about ten days, they will become adventurous and follow mom around.  When the babies are six weeks old they are separated by sex and moved into big grow out pens to wait until they are big enough to process.

How do I feel about processing our own meat. I don’t love it, and the day I do will be the day I quit eating meat. Rabbits are prey animals, they are meant to be eaten to fulfill the measure of their creation.  Our rabbits are very much loved and cared for and when the time is right humanly dispatched and processed, then eaten with much honor and thanksgiving.

Goats

Guest Post by
Kit 

On May 28, we had some new additions to the farm, three little baby goats. At only a month old, they had never been away from their mother, we had to become their moms. First we named them, we took a family vote. We all decided on Dolly for the girl, she is the most stubborn, and she gets her way. We have to hold her the most and get her used to us handling her because we will be milking her in the future. Then there is Jeb, he is the one with big black patches on him, he has the biggest horns and just likes to play. Lastly we have the runt, Jethro, he looks just like Dolly, but he is the littlest and just likes to be around us.

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Dolly the little girl

They totally depend on us just like they had with their mother. So we had to get them used to us so they thought of us as family, and they would trust us so we can feed and milk them. We got them and we just played with them, all the little kids were holding them. They really loved all the attention. we got little harnesses for them, so we can let them graze and can control where they go. Then we showed them their house and the yard they would stay in and graze.

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Jed learning how to use a bottle

Because we are their “moms” we have to feed them just like their mother did. It was hard to get them to take the bottle, we had to get them to open their mouths and to actually stay drinking it. It was very messy. When we first started they would hardly have anything, and they needed three ounces each feeding, three times a day. Now that they have been with us for a week and a half, they have figured it all out. We got special goat bottles that are more like what they are used to so it got easier.
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Now we just hold the bottle out and they come and know how it all works, they even follow us when we have the bottle. That’s how we get them back into the yard now, just hold out a bottle and they will go where you want them to. Dolly took the longest to figure it out, and she wasn’t eating as much as her brothers, or what she needed to at all. She just figured it all out today, things have to happen when she wants them to or not at all.
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The first night we had them, they got out! lucky they didn’t want to explore, and just went to the house. we fixed the gate so they can’t get out anymore. one day we went out for their feeding and Jethro had his head stuck in the gate. Who knows what other surprises will happen with them. One thing the goats really like is to be held, one time Dolly was sitting on my lap and she fell asleep. First day we got them, Jethro let me hold him like a baby.
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It’s really cool and funny to see how much personality they each have. Jethro really likes to nibble on our clothes, fingers, and even hair, if he can get to it. Dolly always plays “king of the hill” (or in this case log, rocks, or even our backs if we are bending over) she can pretty much climb everywhere and beats her brothers at it. Jeb is just there, he kinda does his own thing but he is the first to get the bottle when ever he can just pushes Jethro out of the way.
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Fencing

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One of our “fences”

Before we bought this property, three years ago, it had been sorely neglected and abused.  There were piles and piles of old construction waste piled all around the house and down in the pastures, old dilapidated sheds and the fencing was an array of hodge-podge materials and poor patching. Over the last three summers we have been steadily cleaning things up, making a dent in the garbage, hauling it off or organizing it to be re-purposed. Its a daunting job and we still have years of work ahead of us and about a zillion trips to the dump.
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IMG_6159In preparation for adding a small herd of goats to the farm this spring we had to replace some of the worse fencing along the property line. It is something we had been planning for the last three years, but fencing is a lot of work and can be rather expensive, however keeping goats where they need to be required that we finally get to that fence.
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This Saturday was fencing day, my brother came to lend us a hand.  As you can see he was a lot of help…. The men watched on as our fourteen year old daughter dug all the fence posts.  We are teaching them to work, right?
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After my little sassy pants daughter got all the holes dug and the fence posts in (yes she actually did all that, with supervision from her father, and they were actually building a shed for the goats so they weren’t slacking as much as it looks in the pictures) the men ran wire and stretched it tight, wiring it in place. The goat pen is ready for those little babies in a few weeks.

The difference is amazing, it makes me excited for when we get all the fencing cleaned up and replaced.

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Ducks in a Row

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We have had three ducks for a while now, and they have been very enjoyable.  There are some great benefits to have ducks, they love to eat bugs, lots and lots of bugs. They will graze on grasses, herbs and weeds without being as destructive as chickens are. They also lay wonderful eggs, my family doesn’t love eating the eggs, but using duck eggs in baking produces a superior product and we hord the duck eggs for all our baking.
IMG_6227This spring I have been talking and talking and talking about getting some more ducklings. We never actually purchased them, usually there was something more pressing that needed funds or I felt like I wasn’t set up for ducklings just yet, there were many excuses and reasons I kept putting off getting those ducklings.
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One evening I was speaking to my Dad and he mentioned that the feed store close to him had ducks for sale at a steeply discounted price. He said we was willing to run over first thing in the morning to see if any were left and bring them to me the next day.  I readly agreed, hoping that there would be two or three left, the price was so good on those birds that I couldn’t imagine they would still be there.

The next morning when he and my brother arrived at my house he asked me how I felt about twenty two ducks.  Seriously? Twenty two ducks! When he got the the store, right as it opened, there were twenty two ducks left and he asked the sales lady if he could take them all.  She told him if he would take them all that he could have them at no cost, they were that eager to have them gone.  They boxed them up and brought them to me.
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Now Quail Run Farm is home to twenty five ducks, we are so excited, we love having ducks around.  For the next little while the ducklings will live in the backyard where they have acess to a warm heat lamp, supplimental feed, grass, bugs and a kiddie pool. Happy ducks are healthy ducks!

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Spring Showers

IMG_6140The past week has been gloriously wet! Here in the high desert we love our spring showers!  On a large scale the water fills up the reservoirs in the mountains, to be used later, during the hot dry summer.  On a smaller scale, our rain barrels are running over, the swales, hugelkulturs and deep mulched beds are absorbing and storing water, small little reservoirs in their own right. And of course, the ducks just love the rain, while the chickens hide under the coop, trying to keep away from the damp, the duck revel in it, playing in the raindrops and puddles.  I enjoy watching my happy little birds.

The Little Sisters

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The little sisters have finally graduted to a larger yard.  The chicken tractor had become too small for them and they needed to be able to stretch their legs and wings, but they are still too small to be with the older ladies.
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While our chickens free range 99% of the time, they do have a yard that we can pen them up in if we need to.  For example, sometimes they decided that it would be fun to lay eggs in other places and go broody on me, when that happens they will be locked up in their yard for a couple days while they remember what the nest boxes are for.  The chicken yard is divided in half with a little coop at one end, that way was can isolate a chicken if needed or keep groups seprate.
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The little sisters are in this area.  I don’t love that they are there, the ground is very bare and has been picked clean so they aren’t getting green food right now and I like my chickens to be free to eat green food and bugs, its healthier for them, but for now this is what they have.
IMG_6073In a week or so I will introduce them to their older sisters during the day and they enjoy free ranging over the meadows and fields, doing what chickens do best.

Tippy

TIPPY
Guest Post by Emma Kieffer


I’m going to tell you about our dog Tippy.  We got her from my great uncle Mark, he got her to herd cows but she was too afraid so he gave her to us.  She is a very good dog.

Tippy is a great play mate, she is black with white on the tips of her toes.  One of my favorite things to do with Tippy is play chase, we chase each other around. Another thing like to do is to take her on walks, sometimes we walk her on the road but usually we walk her around our property.  Tippy is not very good at playing fetch but she is amazing to play fetch with when she wants to.

Tippy guards our farm. She looks after our farm animals by barking at predators.  We put her by the rabbits and the chickens, so that she scares off predators.  She warns us when a coyote or a raccoon are near our animals.  The main predator she scares off is coyotes, she barks at them and that scares them away.

Tippy has trouble obeying us.  She likes to chase after our cats.  We are training her not to chase the cats.  First we put her on a leash and we tell her to sit, second we put a cat in front of her, then we tell her to stay.  If she stays she gets a treat.

I love Tippy so much, she is a great dog.  She is one of the only dogs I’m comfortable around.

 

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Spring Eggs

After a long dark winter the girls are laying again!  Hens naturally stop laying as the daylight hours decrease, it is nature’s way of making sure the birds are using energy to keep warm and not on producing eggs that can’t be hatched or if they were to hatch would have a low survival rate in the winter.  To keep hens producing through the winter months some producers and back yard chicken keepers will supplement with lighting and heat.  Here at Quail Run Farm we don’t do that, we let the hens go through a period of rest, we believe this is healthier for our birds, keeping them in their natural rhythms as much as we can. It can be a little discouraging feeding birds all winter long and only getting a couple of eggs a day, but as stewards over these animals we take on the good and the bad that comes with each animal and give them the best care we can.

That being said, I did a cheer and fist pump when my little farm boy gathered his first dozen eggs this spring! We are now, again, producing enough eggs for our needs and will soon have enough to sell.

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How Chickens Help the Farm

How Chickens Help the Farm
Guest Post By Emma Kieffer


I am going to tell you how our chickens benefit our farm. They lay colorful eggs for us.  They also give us meat.  They help us fertilize our gardens.

First I am going to tell you how they benefit our farm by laying eggs. Eggs make a delicious breakfast. Sometimes if we don’t gather the eggs they will hatch and a chick will come out. After we eat the eggs the shells go to the compost and make a great compost.

Next I am going to tell you how their meat benefits our farm. It makes a delicious Chicken Noddle Soup and Chicken Curry. We know that they are healthy and we feel more comfortable eating them because we know what they eat. After we eat the meat the bones are put in the compost. To me I like their meat more than store bought chicken.

Last but not least they help us fertilize our gardens. While they lay their eggs ,walk around and sleep they poo. Their poo is our fertilize. We first shovel out the chicken poo. Then we put the poo in the compost and let it sit, then we fill up Home Depot buckets and dump it on the flower beds.

All of these things are some ways chickens benefit our farm. They are so much fun to watch. I love to watch them free range, which means they eat whatever they want to.

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