Monday 22 April 2024

It's been a LONG April and it's not done yet

Star and Honey (previously called Flossie) enjoying grass

SO, ........ Goats. Phew.

It's been three weeks of learning/practising milking and dairy procedures between supervising outside time for mischievous goats who really want to eat chicken food, so I have to have no chicken food out while the goats are out, which meant that the chickens were getting fed twice a day(and bothering me the rest of the time) instead of me just filling their feeder every few days........ and I wasn't sleeping well on top of it all.

Here's the garlic I had to put an electric fence around to keep the goats from eating it. Unfortunately the electric fence is only about 50 ft long so it it NOT big enough to fence the goats for even one day. I do have an electric fence coming for the goats but it won't be here until some point on the 23rd.


They technically COULD stay in the barn for the whole time (and will be the next few days) BUT I haven't finished the ventilation so it gets stinky if the door is closed the whole time and that's not fair to them and I have so many trees for them to eat, but if they're stuck inside they're only eating hay and also bored out of their skulls so they dash for the door at every chance..... you get the picture.

They're usually pretty well behaved and if I'm walking one on a leash, they don't even bug for treats much... But I can't turn my back for a minute.

All you can eat salad bar?The runaways were happy to see me

When I was rearranging some of the stuff in the barn and restocking the hay in the loft, Star decided she'd help herself to the bales in the truck, AND when I went inside for a bit Sunday, they decided that the trails through the woods held no interest but the driveway looked great, and I had to hustle down to the neighbour's place (usually a 5 min walk) to fetch them back. That's why they're staying inside until the fence comes. They won't co-operate with being put back in the barn in the middle of the day but I'm good at KEEPING them in there.

After all this complaining I do want to say that I really like them. They're interesting critters and I'm happy they're here....... I just guess I wish I had been less reckless in getting them before I had everything set up.... But that said, I didn't realize half of what I'd need/want to do before I got to know them.

For example, the current barn floorplan is not set up to house goats AND chickens at the same time. I'm gonna be buildling a wall to separate the back third of the barn for the chickens. I'll put a chicken door in the back wall and the new wall will have a human door so I can clean out the space as well as a couple chicken sized holes so they can hang out with the goats if they want to for warmth or whatever, but the goats can't get in the chicken area. The top of the new wall will be wire fencing for air flow. 

I'm also going to set up a basic water tank and drain so I can refill and wash the watering bowls more easily. To this end a neighbour helpfully donated and old tub from a camper he tore apart. I can wash anything in that, probably including a goat. :-)

(nts = not to scale)

I did a bunch of shovelling and got 1/3 of the greenhouse beds finished. The bottom half is cheap soil, sticks, and stuff. The top half is the nice potting soil mix. Nothing planted yet because I got busy with the goats and cheese making and such. The sunny days are about 25-30C in there. Night time is still down at 5C so it's not safe for frost tender plants yet.

I got the CUTEST little brush set so I could clean the milk gear and funnels and such very very well. The base holds them up and you can separate the drip cup so it's easy to clean. Makes me smile to see it on the windowsill.

For two whole weeks I was back and forth-ing with the solar tech support because the monitoring device wasn't configured correctly and wasn't getting any info from the solar panels on the roof. Everything was working. The power company was registering incoming power..... But I had no real-time data so I had no way to know if any of the panels break or anything.

These were from April 5th

On April 19th at about 1pm the device started recording data from the panels micro-converters properly so now I can show you some stats. :-) It was cloudy and raining on the 20th and the heaters were still on, so that's a good baseline for late April. Minimal sun, maximum usage.

So as you can see, even with the heaters on and a rainy/cloudy day, the panels still covered 1/4 of the usage. I'll find a nice sunny day to show you soon as well. In the mean time, here's some trees with a blue-jay on top for a nice interlude.

I've been doing a lot of kitchen experiments with the milk we've been getting from Star. A couple rounds of farmers cheese(aka drypressed cottage curds) and I made quark for the first time as well.

The farmer's cheese slices well and is kinda dry and crumbly like feta but is also firm and stands up well to heat. The quark is similar to very slightly tangy cream cheese.

I've also been working with the cream separator to figure out the best settings and process to get a good quantity of decently thick cream without over heating the milk as heat is one of the things that causes a "goaty" flavour to develop. 

I don't want to run the separator every day because the main separation core has to be disassembled into it's 21 components, washed, dried, air dried to make sure it's 100% dry, and then reassembled before putting it away. That's not even counting the other parts of the machine like the bowl and output arms.

I was going to tell you all about working on the goats hooves as well but I think I'll save that for another time as this is already so very long. For now I'll just say that they were a bit over grown(which is to be expected in spring) and I'm learning a lot(no injuries on me or them).

Okay I think we're all caught up for now? My cheese-making supplies that will help me make stuff like cheddar is at customs right now so I wound up passing 14L of milk and about 5L of whey to a local farmer who we got our chicken flock from and who we get pork from in the fall. She'll put it to good use feeding the pigs and I have a place to send all the whey from making cheese. :-)

Okay I really think that's everything now. Please enjoy this photo of Shadow (previously called Peppa) and the back end of a sunset.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

It's Easter!

Chickens at Sunrise

I got busy cleaning out the barn. There was the old hay and poop of having chickens in there through the winter plus I wanted to get teh mobile coop out of there now that the winter is over. The barn wasn't stinky or anything because I had kept up with adding more bedding, but I knew stirring up the straw on the floor was going to be nasty work, so I made sure to have the proper gear on. You do NOT want dehydrated chicken poop dust in your eyes or lungs.

clean out started

Over the past month I've been slowly gathering all the gear I'd need for the goat. Things needed too milk her, trim her hooves, and otherwise simply house her, but since the weather had finally stopped with the wind & rain for a bit, it was time to get the last minute work done. Between installing the temporary goat pen, hauling straw and hay, as well as cleaning out and renovating the barn, I was worn out before she even got here.



This is the lovely lady named Star. She arrived Sunday with her milking stand and I got her set up with a proper collar and leash. She's never been trained to a collar or halter so I'll have some work ahead of me there, but she seems to be a quick learner. She needs some work on her hooves and to gain a lil weight but is otherwise in fit condition.


I had put up a small pen just to get her used to "this is home" before letting her roam. Getting her to go in the pen was an interesting exercise in goat psychology, but we did manage. She explored it a bit while I sat on the other side of the fence but .... it didn't even last 15 seconds after I walked away. I knew goats need companions but OMG she was just the neediest and hopped/clambered over that fence lickity split to follow me.


At first I thought the goats and chickens could co-habitate since goats are herbivores and wouldn't steal the eggs, but Star quickly taught me that she could not be trusted anywhere near chicken food, not even if it's up on a shelf. It's fine, it was time for the chickens to move back out to their mobile coop for the summer anyway so I'll just make sure there's a goat proof divider in the barn before next winter.

on stand


Monday morning was our first milking. I didn't realize she'd be so fussy. Seems her previous owner was just letting her loose as soon as she finished eating because she let the kids take care of the rest. About halfway through the milking at 7:30am, Star simply refused, so I packed up and went back inside for breakfast and then tried again at 10am. The second milking I was able to empty her out. The full amount of milk was about 2L.

I spent pretty much all day Sunday and all day Monday hanging out with Star to keep her from panicking. I did switch her to morning AND evening milking because she looked really full at night and I wanted her to rest comfortably. On Monday, Star spent her time as a mix of on a lead and off, which allowed me the freedom to come in the house occasionally (even though she complained at the door the whole time) or even just sit outside with my laptop. As long as we could see each other she was happy, so she didn't go too far. We even went for a little hike together. This whole week was very tiring for me so, to save my sanity and hers, I hurried the search for another goat.


Enter, Flossie. This yearling doe arrived on farm Tuesday afternoon and will be ready to be bred for the first time in about 6 months. She's a Nubian/Saanen cross with a great line of milkers before her.


As you can see, there is quite a size difference right now but Flossie should mature to be almost as big as Star over the next year or so. They're currently battling out their social standing and should be good friends by the weekend.

I knew goats need a buddy... I thought I had a week or two.... I was wrong, so very wrong. So now I'm a bit sunburned from being outside pretty much all day for three days to goat-sit Star through her herdless days.

We popped out to the shop on Tuesday and picked up some cheap chocolate because.... well because cheap chocolate, and I'm feeling so old with this shrinkflation stuff. I remember Buying a "solid 1lb chocolate rabbit" for $1.99...... On sale they were around $4 and only weighed 330g instead of 454g. The $1.99 ones were 100g.

Peppa is still her tiny precious self and enjoys sunbathing daily. One of the upsides is that the floor is one place she can stretch out and roll over without falling off something. I swear this cat has no sense of how wide a ledge is at all. lol


Well I hope you all had a good long weekend. I'm looking forward to taking the next few days to catch up on all the laundry/dishes/etc I had been neglecting, and then taking a few days to just do "nothing" (aka the minimum of feeding the humans and animals and then zoneing out in front of the tv). A belated Happy Easter to you all!