C&D Farming..oh what a life!

Duckfarmerpa1

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Hi there...since threads can go on for ever, I’m going to take my time explaining how we became hobby farmers. My husban has farming in his background, but he didn’t enjoy the cruel part. I was raised in the wealthy suburbs south of Pgh and always wanted many animals. Always wanted to do 4h...but apparently they don’t let mutts in the fair. :). I married young and had IVF treatment to conceive my son. I broke my back in four places giving birth, due to an unknown spinal disorde. My ex left me. My parents had retired to NW PA and I needed their help. I was in a wheelchair at that point with a baby. Things gradually got a bit better, but I wore a leg brace for 10 years...let’s back up. I met this wonderful man, Chris...when not even my relatives thought Id ever find love. My back never got better, and other parts of my health got worse. My shi tzu became my service dog for seizures. I had tremors bad, and seizures at least four a day...full blown epilepsy. Other health stuff too. I had an inHome health aide for a couple months so Chris could leave my side a bit. But, then i got on medication and things started to turn around! We were Having a lot of fun in the garden...we sell our produce in our own farm market at the end of our driveway. I always needed a cane, but it was ok. We were out raking apples and I hurt my ankle. Bad. After months of drs..it turned out I tore my perineal tendon. Had surgery. But..it turned out to be a gift from God! You see, I had 7 mths of intense PT...they didn’t only work my ankle, but my whole leg...which was my bad leg from years ago. I became stronger than ever! During my PT, Chris knew my love of animals and, we gradually started up the farm, one type at a time. And now we have rabbits, chickens, roosters, ducks, goose, pot belly pigs, Hampshire pig goats and three wonderful dogs! I gained 20 lbs... I was 105 and a wreck of bones...now I’m strong, I feel better than I have in 25 years...and couldn’t have done any of it without my husband, who knew what I wanted and gave it all to me, and God.

My son, Ben is now 21, a junior at Slippery Rock University. He's majoring in sports medicine and is interning for the football team this second term also as their strength and conditioning coach. He is a fitness fanatic. He has his own website for training. He works out at least 2 1/2 hrs a day plus running several miles. He ran his first marathon in Aug. 4hrs 11 min. He runs an ultra marathon...which is 59 miles near Niagara Falls in February! He’s nuts! he also continues to makes deans list and got a 4.89 last term! I’m very proud!

I taught Sunday school for 16 years and it was a great Blessing in my life to know all those wonderful children. Chris is a retired contractor, Blessed to retire at 40. We own 35 apartment units and an old movie theater that he turned into space for car storage. Vehicles are his passion. He builds them from the frame up...until we started farming...now he just tinkers with them, but once more of my buildings are done, I won’t need his help. I do the farm work, he’s does the building.

As of today we have 13 chickens, 18 pullets, 4 cockerels, 1 rooster. 20 rabbits and 6 baby bunnies that are sooo cute! One bunny pulling fur! 27 ducks...and 14 eggs...two ducks are going broody or about to...they keep running back to check them...I haven’t quite decided if Im going to let them set. But, I’m leaning towards yes. I’m a sucker for ducks. Plus, we’re coming up on the time when people will be buying ducklings, so maybe I’ll sell some? We have 1 goose. Had two. I’ll tell that story soon. We have two adorable pot belly pigs. Portly and Jumbo, and they came by their names honestly! :). They are very clean pigs and smart. I let them free range much or the day when it’s warm and they like to follow me around. I have two goats..one Pygmy mix, Stormy. One Nigerian Dwarf mix, Busty. Chris named them..lol. They are both pregnant and I am wayyyy too nervous. But, admittedly I have reading too much and overthinking everything. But they are very sweet goats and I just love them to bits. I’m both scared and excited for their kidding...Jan 28 and Feb 1. And then 3 dogs..one shi tzu..Muggs , a French Bulldog, Grover and English Bulldog, Ruby. They are qui funny...skittish, fun-loving and fat, all in that order!

We have 35 acres up in Kane, PA...my Dad loves to call it a farmette, just to tease. Our house looks like a giant barn...it was a barn at one point...Chris torn down the barn..kept part of the foundation and built way up around it. So now our house has garage..then barn, then house, with more garages and basement underneath, all in one building. We have a giant S shaped pond that Chris dug out with his backhoe for our last name. I just think that is sooo cool. Oh, almost forgot ano cool thing..we have a full sized..1/4 mile race track! He went to our local race track and got the exact specs....then came home and built it. It has high lines and low lines...meaning steep banks, and flat spots with embankments that, if going fast enough, you could fly over! It’s a blast! The guys have had many races with up to 5 cars at a time. Chris and I just go together. But, dirt track racing is much different than most think, and 45 mph is very fast...took me a long time to get up that fast! Heck.. I don’t go that fast on the real roads! :)

ok, that’s it for today..that’s our background, so maybe some more of what I add will make sense? :lol: per not, but I’ll do my best!
 

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Baymule

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You know what I like about you? You face reality head on. You started with your head in the clouds, all rainbows and little white ponies. You thought you could have a Disney movie farm where all the animals love each other, abandon their own natural behaviors and gather around the camp fire holding paws and singing Kum-bah-ya.

Then here came reality. When reality slapped you upside the head, you didn't wring your hands whining and wondering what was WRONG with all your sweet little animals. No, you didn't. Despite you saying that you lack confidence, I don't believe that. You are a strong lady, you have more in you than you realize.

You started educating yourself. You are still educating yourself. You come here and ask, you think out loud, you ask again. And you learn.
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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You have certainly had your downs and your ups. How wonderful that your health has returned and that you are enjoying life with all your animals and your loving husband. Dreams do come true.
I don’t see it as downs...I see it all as making me a better person! I wouldn’t be HERE if I wasn’t there...you know? My son says his life goal is to be better each day than he was the day before...and he’s the one doing it all! I only mentioned my past so people could understand how Blessed we are! But, yes...dreams do come true..and he is loving! I’m not too bad myself...:lol:
 

Duckfarmerpa1

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So here’s how our farm blew up..... I was know in our area...as the Crazy duck lady..by that I mean..people would no longer want their ducks..so I would take them..at one point I had 51 ducks! So, the guy at the feed store..just where we buy veggies and plants...knows this. So, this other guy called him about ducklings who were falling through floor boards of this dumpy duck house. The guy was caring for animals on a farm for a friend who went to jail for neglect of those animals!! The ducklings were about a day or two. So the feed store guy gave Lou my name. We went up to the farm and got the ducklings, of course. While we were there we saw the horrible wreck of a 1 acre,steep hillside..not what you’d ever call a farm. Broken hutches for tons of caged up animals...it was awful. Lou had just released 30 rabbits from hutches....ugh!! They were too much to care for and he thought they’d be better of...ugh. We saw a bunch dead on the roads. :(. Plus there were many cats around. Plus, there were babies he let loose. But, anyways, he didn’t know...he s we could catch them and take those too. We spent a few hours trying. We caught 3 that day..and a lot of bruises. During this, we saw that the farmer was a terrible hoarder...and he had a lot of discarded materials for farm stuff. He also a had a car sized stack of pop bottle that he intended to take to NY and get $0.05 apiece...hmmm. Anyways..Lou said we should talk to the children about taking the adult ducks, and any other animals be at get guy was going to be in jail for 2 years and he is broke. So, we did. The animals had never had human contact. Much to my surprise..Chris wanted the goats and pot belly pigs!! I was thrilled!! We also took 13 chickens and Spike...hmmm. There were 6 peacocks in a 4x6 cage...so stressed that their feathers were picked terrible. There were 14 beagles. Poop never cleaned. We got the adult ducks. One had no foot from getting stuck between the broken floor boards. One had a prolapsed dinger...I helped that and he is fine..all three needed serious nail trimming immediately...which I’ve never seen on ducks. But the pen was so tiny, they couldn’t walk. We got 3 more rabbits that day too. There were pheasants and giunea hens...sooo much I can’t remember. Lou said the house inside was a hoarder mess and had a part missing a leg. We went home and took that week to build a farm...wow did we work!! It wasn’t perfect when we got the animals, but it was safe, and it was a start. They were going to be cared for and loved and fed and have clean water, and no more worms, etc!! There were 7 ducklings..2 died...they were call ducks...that was tough. I nursed the one..the other just died in the cage. Apparently they are very fragile. But that is the story of how..our little farm exploded!! And it’s grown bigger even more since...but not so fast...just at a normal pace..:lol: The animals are happy now. You should’ve seen when we went to get the goats and pigs! The guys had to use ropes and boards...Chris put the pigs on a sled, since the hill was sooo steep, and they were not walking! It was really hard work with the goats. Stormy is still a little skittish, but we’re getting there. When she came..we’ll, they both had harnesses on. She had grown into hers. It was digging into her face. It’s still left a mark there, but the hair is slowly growing back. :). jumbo’s tusks were growing into his face! Chris had to use a hacksaw...I know , I know...not the best way to do it...but it was urgent...he took 2” off the left and 3” off the right!
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Duckfarmerpa1

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Here’s a fun story about how I met Chris... a long long time ago I was getting my nails done and this great looking guy came in.....I eyed him up...he eyed me up. At the time, Ben, my son was a baby..and there was NO way I was dating!! But it was nice to have a flirtation. He was doing repairs at the salon because he owned it, and, he was casually dating my nail lady...:lol: Years later..I was in the dog food isle of Walmart...and this guy, randomly starts talking to me...it was him!! Now, I had a cane and a leg brace...I was no catch...:lol: We went to Wendy’s and talked four 4 hours. That was it...never apart from that moment! He was rough, I was fancy, he wasn’t Godly, I taught Sunday school, he didn’t want kids..I have one! And we just blended perfectly together! Our friends tease now that we’ve been together too long...we say never...

My Dad is a real character...ornery as all heck! He calls me “crazy” for starting a farm. Calls Ben a communist for running marathons...:lol: who else has aDad like that? I’ll bet a bunch of you...


We got our Shi Tzu, Muggs Mayfield..from a puppy mill. It was a giant barn with one window with dogs stacked on each other. No human contact. He was one when we got him. Unfortunately, he is still skittish, but he’s sweet to me. Ben thinks he’s more like a cat. He’s sure on you when you have a morsel!
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Duckfarmerpa1

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Took some new pictures of my litt goat babies...I just love to call them that instead of kids....that makes them sound too old. :). Anyways..here are some, but remember, their heads look awful due to the disbudding..l:(. They are sooo darned cute!! There’s a lot of horse play in the barn now! The one likes to chew my hair, the other likes to climb on my head. The twins race back and forth...they are wild ones! I never thought I’d say this in a million years, but the ducks actually give me the hardest time! They don’t want to come in at night...and their part of the barn is really hard to clean out. I put four females for sale on the internet. It’s terrible I know, but, the duck eggs don’t sell at all...at this point I prefer my other animals more. I don’t want to get rid of them all..just not have sooo many. Chris will be shocked. But, I have enough work. And, they were more friendly in the summer when we could play...no it’s...inside..outside..repeat. Ok, thanks for reading...aren’t these little buggers just sooo funny? Minus the hair?
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High Desert Cowboy

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The manual refers to them as breasts and not teats? Man if I made that mix up my wife would’ve slapped me and left me a long time ago. “How was your day sweetie?” “ Oh it was great, I had to rub some breasts to stimulate oxytocin and check for milk flow.” My wife was not raised a farm girl and it’s bad enough when I use teats.
 

purplequeenvt

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@purplequeenvt ..as for the lambs...not sure of the breed yet, we were just looking, and I was going to ask all of you. Chris takes his truck seats that he rebuilds to get covered to the Amish..they said they only get $2 per sheep for the wool..so he doesn’t think the shearing is worth it. But I’ve read on here that it can be worth more...it just can also be a lot of work if you card it and ‘spin it’? I might have gotten that wording wrong..what I mean, is how you turn it into yarn? Anyways, I spoke to a guy about Hampshire lambs...they were $150. Chris said he saw some for $100...that was a great price for us, since we are just starting...but he couldn’t remember where he saw them or what kind..we searched..ugh! We don’t want registered, since they will cost more... we would mostly breed to sell..I hate to admit this, but because they bring a good price for the meat? Of course I would get attached and it would be hard, but I’m getting better at this whole deal..and realize that this is supposed to now be...well, more than just a hobby..since we are going biggg. Ok, so we are think about getting 3. I guess 1 needs to be a ram, huh...ugh. Is it like a buck goat, where I don’t bond with him, so he respects me? My goats are free range..is it possI left for sheep to be that way..or are they wanderers? I’ve read on here that they go really far...how much land would I need to fence off? Perhaps I need to start a new thread?...ok...will do...
You need to figure out what your goals are for your sheep. There are ton of different breeds out there that have their own sets of positives and negatives and every person you talk to will have their own opinion about what is best. I know that there are a lot of sheep people on here with hair sheep. Personally, I'm woolies all the way, but I'm also a spinner and knitter. Don't buy a sheep just because it's cheap, make sure that you are getting a decent animal. Lambs are going to be cheaper than adults, but with an adult, you've gotten past the fragile baby stage and you can actually see what you are getting for quality.

Hair sheep have the positive of not needing to be sheared or needing their tails docked if ease of care is super important to you. They are also advertised as "parasite resistant". Quite frankly, that is B.S. Sure, they may be more tolerant of a high parasite load than some breeds (BFLs and East Frisians come to mind), but most of the parasite tolerance comes from management.

Shearing doesn't need to be a huge hassle or expense. It can sometimes be hard to find a shearer that's willing to come shear a small backyard flock. You can totally shear your own sheep. When my family first got sheep, my sister and I sheared our 2 Romney ewes with scissors. We ended up with lots of blisters, but we got the job done. I do my own shearing now. I have fitting stand (a milking stand could work as well) so the sheep are sheared standing up and they are raised off the ground (way easier on the back). I have electric clippers, but you could use hand-shears instead.

I'd steer clear of the big meat breeds like Hampshires and Suffolks. They are big sheep, but their feed conversion isn't great. They require a lot of groceries (read: grain) to get to market size. This is because of their popularity in the show world. They've been bred to be taller and flashier to look good in the ring. Sometimes you can find ones that are more like the old type that are heavier framed and closer to the ground, but they are hard to find.

If you want a wool breed that grows a good size lamb quickly with minimal input, check out some of the long wool breeds. Border Leicester (my personal favorite) and Romney are 2 popular choices. Both breeds to well in a pasture-based system. Long wool fleeces are also very popular with fiber artists.

If you are getting purebred animals anyways, consider getting those registration papers. Having registered animals potentially opens up another market for you. You don't have to register the lambs unless they are being kept or sold as registered breeding stock.

You can do as much or as little with the wool as you want. You can throw it away, use it to mulch your garden, sell the raw fleece, or spend time and money getting it processed into roving (for spinners) or all the way into yarn. If you don't know anything about wool or fiber arts in general right now, you'd probably be best off learning how to skirt a fleece and then sell it raw to fiber artists. I haven't sold a raw fleece in ages (I hoard them all for myself), but we used to sell a well skirted Border Leicester fleece for $8-12/lb.

You are going to want at least 3. Personally, I'd start with 3 ewes. If you are buying lambs, don't bother getting a ram yet. It's usually best to wait until a ewe is over a year old before breeding for the 1st time so she's both physically and mentally more mature. You can get a ram (lamb or older) before breeding. If you don't want to keep a ram around full time, you could always buy a lamb after weaning, use him to breed your girls and then put him in your freezer.

I prefer to sell my extra ram lambs shortly after weaning to people wanting lambs to grow out themselves instead of growing them all out myself and then marketing to people who want a butchered lamb. Sure I could potentially make more selling them butchered, but then I have the added expense and risk of growing them out until the fall.

I do my best to keep my sheep contained at all times. Free-ranging anything (besides poultry) would put my anxiety over the edge. Too much risk of loss or injury. I'm sure there is a way to train them to stay near, but I don't have that kind of time or energy. My mom sent me a picture from VT today of their rams that had gotten out and ended up on the front porch.

I like woven wire fencing best because it creates a good barrier against escapees as well as predators. The fence at my new farm is 5 strand high tensile electric (only 3 of the wires #1,3, and 5 are hot). The trick to electric fence is to make sure it's always hot. They very quickly learn to go through a fence if it's off or under charged. I rotational graze my flock to better manage the pasture and parasite load. Back in VT we used step-posts and 3-4 strands of electric poly-wire to set up smaller grazing areas. I was given some used electric-netting before I moved to KY and that's what I'm using to move the sheep around my pastures.

There's a ton more that could be said, but I'm confusing myself as I stare at this screen so I'll leave it here for now.
 

lalabugs

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Nilla and Opal are both purebred Nigerian Dwarf. Both are registered. With all goats, you could have a good milker or not. I buy goats that come from milk lines (people who milk and can show what the dams are producing). I milk my does starting 12 hours after they give birth. We milk 2 times a day.

Nilla is currently giving us 3 cups am and 2 cups pm. That is with twins on her. That is not stripping her empty either. We still leave milk for her kids.

Nyx (my Lamancha doe) is currently giving us 6 cups am and pm.

The 2018 Nigerian Dwarf breed leader in milk production through ADGA milk testing produced 2190 pounds in 305 days. Roughly a little over 7 pounds a day. That's almost a gallon. With a gallon being 8 pounds. 10th place made 1440 pounds in 305 days. That's over 4 pounds a day. Say 1/2 a gallon a day. Nilla use to have tiny teats but they have plumped up a lot.

Here is the link to the ADGA breed leaders. https://adga.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/TTv-65-010820.pdf

When we start keeping milk for ourselves. Yes, I keep the milk separate and write on the jars. Right now since we're using the milk for the baby goats, we are not keeping it separate. Our first unregistered mini lamancha at her second freshening was milking almost a gallon. I currently do not have any minis in milk. I was hoping that Nyx (my purebred LaMancha) would have given me a doe, but no. I will not have a Mini in milk again until next year. I am working on having registered minis now. I have 1 registered mini doe and buck. They will be bred later this year after Kate has had time to get back into health.

Yes, the goats hips keep growing like a woman. Opal is not mature yet. Just like people, goats mature at different ages.
 
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