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Well that's an insanely cute picture of Artemesia. If you write a goat book, you should use that on the cover.
Comment by Heather Thu Oct 30 10:41:01 2014
T --- Do your goats look round first thing in the morning? (Or maybe you don't shut them in at night with nothing to eat? Do you give them hay to nibble on if they wake early?)
Comment by anna Thu Oct 30 10:28:19 2014

Round and round. With the temps going down, even here in florida, the goats should always have that roundness to them. Given the chance my goats will always have that look. The rumen will empty a bit when they go to relax and digest, but then in no time it's back to filling it up. They should never have that caved in look to them. The rumen should Always be full. It's where the warmth comes from,and where the food sits the longest. (this is on a diet of little or no grain! If you feed grains you need to watch out for bloating! If you are heavy on grains you atually want them to look a bit "empty". this is mostly for dairy goats.)

Comment by T Thu Oct 30 10:05:00 2014

Eric - Interesting! I have noticed lately that Abigail wants to go back to the coop around 4 pm even if there's more honeysuckle left to eat. (Actually, 4 pm might be pushing it --- she seems done a little earlier than that.) So maybe I should listen to her and stick to a seven hour buffet.

Out of curiosity, what do you do if it's raining? Leave them in and feed them hay?

Comment by anna Thu Oct 30 08:17:56 2014

Since my goats are not dairy goats and their only function is to eat weeds and make manure, I just picket them. When they have mown down the weeds around their picket, I move them. They are picketed from 8am to 1pm, and then I take them back to their yard. Then they lick their salt, and lay down to chew cud in the sun.

They get upset if I vary that routine, unless it is raining. And they seem to be pretty healthy and happy.

But I don't think that would work so well on dairy or pregnant animals.

Comment by Eric in Japan Thu Oct 30 00:06:43 2014
Let them eat as much as they want of greenery / weeds but STRICTLY limit the amount of corn /grain they get they will die eating too much grain , a couple of carrots each or a single smallish turnip , do not over feed alfalfa that upsets the rumen If they get too much , weeds and not great quality hay ,they will be fine.
Comment by diogenese Wed Oct 29 21:44:50 2014
Great blog! We started with two yearling heifers in the spring and I stumbled on your blog while researching feeding swede and carrot to cows. You say use have a mechanical chopper. I don't suppose they are still being made. On the hunt!
Comment by Dave Wed Oct 29 12:31:26 2014
Anna, I've been paying attention to your goodreads page and when I saw this on there the other day I added it to my "to-reads". I was hoping you would have more to say about it over here on your blog! Didn't expect a chance to win a copy, though. Thanks!
Comment by Marc Tue Oct 28 14:31:17 2014
Marlyn --- Thanks for your kind words and for reading daily! If you haven't already, be sure to use the widget in the post to enter the contest since I'll be letting it automatically select the winner.
Comment by anna Tue Oct 28 13:03:48 2014
I happen to be an aspiring voice over artist. So if you every decide to move forward with audiobooks, let me know! I'd love to do a reading for it. :-) I know what you mean about the pictures though, words just can't do some things justice.
Comment by Bear Tue Oct 28 10:32:15 2014

I have followed your blog for two years now, daily faithfully and when I saw this book I was excited because I thought it was written by you. A little disappointed because I have learned a hundred fold from you and Mark. Sometimes you two have me in stitches as to the things you are doing, but a whole other post. All said I would love to read this book.Please put my name in the ballot.


Comment by marlyn Tue Oct 28 09:47:48 2014
I have the same problem with my duck eggs. I don't understand how your box works. Can you explain, please?
Comment by Kay Mon Oct 27 19:36:10 2014
I don't blame her, but that's pretty funny that she has a preference and Artemesia doesn't care - so it's not necessarily a 'goat thing.' Even when there's delicious forage on the other side. Looks like you'll have to make some adjustments so Her Highness can get to the wetter areas (lay down some boards?). Thanks for the smile!
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Mon Oct 27 10:49:47 2014
Curious-what is the waste of food like? To clarify are they able to flick the grain out? We made a home made treadle feeder and like the look and that it is hard for them to poop into, but found that they can scoop a lot of the feed out. Before I try another option, just want to double check about the down side of it. What do you think can be improved upon? Thx so much.
Comment by Christine Watson Sun Oct 26 20:33:18 2014

I happened on your site because I was trying to figure out how many batteries I could charge with a 220 watt panel. However the maths involved is way beyond me. I like the look of where you live, I see you are spoilt by having an open sky to capture as much sun as possible. I'm in a wooded place where I get good sun when the sun is high but winter can be difficult. I've been living off grid for thirty years and it is now second nature to turn off the light once you find what you're looking for.

It has long been clear to me that solar power is not for anyone who wants to live a "normal" life but for those who can accept living off grid without feeling hard done by, it is fine. I started my system with 5 45 watt panels with a 30 amp regulator and a 600 watt converter. I make toys and I have a few electric tools which work fine through the day, even for a couple of hours in winter.

What I wanted to mention was just a little thing which you do not seem to have touched on, second hand stuff. I recently bought 3/220 watt panels for €400 which I think is about the same in dollars, which is almost the list price for a similar "new" panel. Mine were actually new, and they came from a fire sale of a bankrupt dealer.

What I want to do is fix a panel onto the roof of a truck and I was curious about how many batteries I could hitch to it.

It was a great pleasure to read your opening statement where you said that your plan was to buy your panels and batteries when you had the money. The experts hand you a form on which you list all your appliances etc then they will propose a system to suit, they don't care too much for people like us.

Comment by enochered Sun Oct 26 14:06:49 2014

Have you resolved you water heating issue? We made a very basic donkey boiler (no welding) and it works perfectly. If you are interested I can give you the details.

Comment by Kelly Sun Oct 26 01:24:07 2014
Being in zone 4 means much of this is already done, though I did just pick what I think will be the last tomatoes to get reddish, and bring in the fig as the last leaf only just fell off. Some years we've had snow by now!
Comment by Ghislaine Sat Oct 25 22:31:36 2014

clean gutters turn and empty all compost bins into garden beds (this is likely implicit in your prepping of garden beds) I need empty bins going into hard winter for enough space over the whole winter so this might be specific to urban living.

buy and store bulk grain from local organic mill (barley, wheat, corn, etc.) fall is the best time to get it fresh - this only applies to those who eat grains or beans (our local mill stocks a range of organic beans also)

flush and test furnace (city house issue)

pull out window inserts and wash (aka twin wall polycarbonate sheets cut to window size)

plant bulbs

swap summer bikes for winter bikes (outside storage space is at a premium) again this is an urban thing

steal neighbor's leaves for mulching (they never seem to mind) ;)

Comment by c. Sat Oct 25 11:48:05 2014
Too bad about the calendar. I will have to keep this one just to be reminded on the things to do list every month. Maybe 2016 will be in the future!!
Comment by Donna Sat Oct 25 10:11:37 2014
I love dogs but owners never know or understand that the dog does not act the same when alone and away from the owner. I run on wooded trails in parks. Running as seen by dog means pursue when they are alone off leash. Dog as minimal interrupts run at worst attempts bite. Owners if around when they show up "now Rex why are you... he normally never...". I've taken to running with a 3/4 PVC Baton. I've never used it but better to have and not need than to need and not have. Further though not used dog owners react perturbed at seeing such and are very quick to call their dog in.
Comment by jim Sat Oct 25 08:09:17 2014
I've had the unpleasant experience of having stray/abandoned dogs kill or maim livestock. When a strange dog appears, I initially try to catch it. If it is collared, I make a string attempt to catch or corral it. But if its not collared and goes after my livestock, then it gets shot dead. Period.
Comment by Su Ba Sat Oct 25 00:56:19 2014

Your goats are super cute, and totally filling in since you started the spoiling. Living vicariously from the dry state...

Hoping to get to visit my local friend with goats next week!

Comment by Jay Sat Oct 25 00:25:21 2014

Maggie and Alice --- You're right, there do seem to be some very scary dogs out there! I seem to give people and dogs the same benefit of the doubt --- assume they're good until proven otherwise --- but I probably do need to be a bit more careful.

Eric --- I appreciate you sharing your experience. That would be hard for me to do, but I think it is the right decision, like killing our own chickens, if you're confident in your abilities to euthanize a dying pet instantly. Luckily, that's another bridge we haven't had to cross yet.

Comment by anna Fri Oct 24 18:30:26 2014

About four years ago, I had to put down a pet. A sheltie that had withered away, and one morning couldn't stand. I petted him, carried him to a wooded patch near our house and put a .22 to the base of the back of his head. He died instantly in the comfort of a familiar hand, smell and voice. Why should I have taken off work, driven to a vet's office, and paid them to inject him? So the animal could be stressed at death?

I posted this on my Facebook, and recieved some "HOW COULD YOU?" comments. My reply is how could I NOT? Sure, I could have also spent thousands of dollars on vet bills to treat whatever he had (likely some form of cancer) that caused the withering away and extended his life another few months too... Instead we saw that he wasn't in any real pain, gave him comfort and left him in the company of his yard mates, and humanely ended his life at the appropriate time.

I think you went above and beyond with that stray animal. I am a hunter, and a dog owner, and have hunted birds with dogs, but never deer or coons, and the deer/coon hunters in my experience treat their dogs like garbage! Keep them chained to a barrel 10 months a year, treat them rough, and half abandon them. I need to get off my soapbox..

Comment by Eric Rylander Fri Oct 24 17:21:18 2014
Carri --- I think I did follow you --- that's a great solution! I'd love to see a photo at if you felt like snapping one, but don't feel obliged.
Comment by anna Fri Oct 24 10:32:00 2014

Julie --- You can tell me that again! I only pay attention now when I hear Abigail say something --- I just block Artemesia's endless chatter out. :-)

Kathleen --- Aren't you never supposed to pick favorites? Artemesia is like a lap dog, so I suspect Mark and I both have a soft spot in our hearts for her. But Abigail is a hard-working lady, which is just what our farm needs.

Donna --- Thanks for saying that! I'm glad I haven't bored everyone to tears with goat posts yet. On the calendar front --- unfortunately, we didn't quite break even last year, so no go on calendars this year. :-/

Comment by anna Fri Oct 24 10:31:00 2014
Last week a woman and her two dogs were attacked in the NC National Forest by a pack of bear hunting hounds. It seems that the owners of hunting dogs in North Carolina are not subject to rules about aggressive dogs that that other dog owners are. These hunters came to the woman's rescue after she held them off for 45 minutes, helped her to her car, but then left without offering any further help or their names. One of her dogs was very seriously injured. She had several bites. Packs of dogs can be very dangerous.
Comment by Alice Fri Oct 24 10:22:59 2014

You really got me now. I read your blog everyday . But now!!!! I can't wait to get on your blog just so I can see what the goats are up to.

by the way. any chance of a 2015 calendar this year?????

Comment by Donna Fri Oct 24 09:28:41 2014

Anna, I deeply respect an animals right to life.

Having said that, i would like to add that I have personally been involved with "lovable pet" dogs who have attacked, and almost killed, a child, when they travelled during the day as a pack. They were beloved pets in their other lives, returning home from the pack hunting by day, to full food bowels and cuddles at night. Animals are not people, and do not operate by our rules.

I am glad that your experience turned out in such a positive way.

Comment by Maggie Turner Fri Oct 24 08:42:23 2014
Do you have a favorite goat yet? I like the black one.
Comment by Kathleen Thu Oct 23 20:42:28 2014
That's the Nubian in her. Nubians are Very Vocal.
Comment by Julie Thu Oct 23 17:01:28 2014
goats are a cosin to deer they dont eat off the grond well inless they are real hungery. katodin sheep are a good way to go kinda like a goat sheep combo. hair sheep. tom
Comment by Anonymous Thu Oct 23 10:38:53 2014

Hi Anna and Mark and all,

I have read where the egg white can be measured for Brix (nutrient density).

So I am wondering if the eggs from older hens have a better mineral balance i.e.- are healthier? It would seem like that might well be true?

I suppose that depends on local soil, etc. as well.

But I bet meaningful stuff can be measured and/or discovered either by asking the right question or by making the right observations.

Comments please !!


Comment by John Thu Oct 23 10:30:17 2014

I have had the same thought about keeping chickens - they are a lot to keep up with in the winter, and the fewer that you have to overwinter, the better. This is particularly true for me, because I'm a "weekend homesteader" and in the winter I generally end up feeding chickens in the dark, before or after work. Brrr!

On the other hand, my old neighbor recently gave me a dozen eggs that would be jumbo-sized in the grocery store, and he apologized for their small size "because they're just pullet eggs." His older hens give such enormous eggs that he has to tie the cartons shut with string.

Comment by Faith T Thu Oct 23 10:00:41 2014
Thanks for the info. Do you sell your eggs? Is that why you retire them after 1.5 years? It would seem to me that if someone was just getting eggs for themselves that keeping the hens for a few more years, despite the turn down in production, would make sense, especially if they're being "tractored" and most of their feed comes from foraging. After all, most people don't eat a ton of eggs every day, especially if they have more than a couple of hens. The number of eggs produced would be overwhelming, unless they plan on selling them.
Comment by Nayan Wed Oct 22 23:31:53 2014

I agree with Nayan! There's nothing better than giving new life to throwaways.

Our homemade "root cellar" is different from yours, but also recycled. We put an old metal utility shelf unit in our crawl space (which has been dug out to make it possible to stand down there). But because we have a major field mouse problem, we had to make the storage space inaccessible to those varmints. We wrapped the unit with hardware cloth, latching it on one side so we could open it. To make it really rodent proof, we bent the top edge over the top shelf and weighted it down with heavy paint cans. On the bottom edge, we bent the hardware cloth and clamped it with binder clips. (Hard to visualize--harder to explain--but it works.) It's not as big a space as we need, but it's been adequate for potatoes and winter squash. And it really has kept the mice at bay!

Comment by Carri Wed Oct 22 22:26:00 2014
You are way mean!
Comment by Jayne Wead Wed Oct 22 14:16:43 2014
John --- I cover venting and other issues in great depth in the ebook, and in other posts here on the blog. Here and here are two relevant posts.
Comment by anna Wed Oct 22 11:02:08 2014

Nayan --- My comment above probably answers most of your questions, but I saw your comment after I posted mine, so here's a bit more. Since our chickens are livestock, not pets, we have to look at them from a cost-benefit point of view --- are they laying enough eggs to pay for their feed? A hen's second winter, she molts, which eliminates egg production for a few weeks. And, even after that, I've found that eighteen-month-old hens don't lay much their second winter. The old hens go in the freezer and turn into soups, chicken salad, etc, over the winter.

Of course, killing hens is unpleasant, so many people opt to take their hens through until they're 2.5 years old (or even older), putting up with declining egg numbers. But I'd rather have fewer hens over the winter to keep happy since that's a tough time on pastures, so if eight hens will feed us instead of sixteen, I'm willing to kill the old hens to make that happen.

Comment by anna Wed Oct 22 11:00:20 2014
Karen --- We're cold-hearted about chickens. We've found that egg-laying declines drastically the second winter, so we raise a new set of pullets each spring and retire the old ones once the pullets start to lay.
Comment by anna Wed Oct 22 09:58:15 2014