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Greetings from San Antonio!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by LMK17, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. Mar 24, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    Hi, all!

    We're a homeschooling family of 4. We have been *talking* about homesteading for several years now, and we're finally working mightily to get our homesteading dreams off the ground! Unfortunately, finding the right property for us has been proving more difficult than we had anticipated, so we're stuck in the suburbs for the time being with an overbearing HOA. :( We are actively looking and have put offers on 2 places so far, only to find each had issues of various kinds. So the search continues, and in the meanwhile, I'm ramping up my efforts to read and learn as much as I can before I actually get my hands in the dirt on our new place! (I have been subscribed to various homesteading and hobby farming blogs and publications for many years now, though-- Like I said, it's a long-held dream.) :)

    Here on our little 1/10 acre plot, we maintain several raised beds of fruits, veggies, and herbs. We also have a few producing fruit trees (plums and oranges, plus baby lemon and pomegranite trees in pots that'll hopefully go in the ground at our new place) and grape vines, as well as native plant landscaping/xeriscaping, which acts as a wildscape of sorts for those wild critters that have been plucky enough to survive in our densely populated neighborhood. All gardens and landscaping are grown organically, and I can't imagine doing it any other way. We also compost, brew our own kombucha and milk kefir, have dabbled in soapmaking, can/dehydrate/preserve produce, use natural or organic remedies on the family and pets when feasible, and do almost all our cooking from scratch using our own produce, when possible. In a way, we've been "homesteading" to the degree possible where we are. Still, I am really itching to get out on more land!

    My ideal homestead at this point would be 12 acres. In my mind's eye, the house, gardens, orchard, and play area for the kids would sit on 2 acres of that, and the rest would be pasture. I'd like to get into rotational grazing-- rotating paddocks as well as species-- and I picture 2-3 head of cattle (milk cow + 1-2 calves for freezer and/or to sell), a small flock of laying hens + larger flock of meat birds, 3 feeder pigs, and a couple large standard donkeys (which I'd love to train for driving and riding), and a beehive. I love the idea of animal power and would like to use it as much as possible, keeping tractors and the like to a minimum. It's a multi-year plan, of course, since I want to take on just a couple big projects a year, but I am thrilled just to think about it! My husband works in town, so fortunately we'll have his income and will have the ability to keep things on more of a hobby level for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, we won't be able to move more than about 1 hr from San Antonio due to his commute.

    Anyone else here in the San Antonio area?

    Looking forward to meeting you all on the forums!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  2. Mar 24, 2017
    animalmom

    animalmom True BYH Addict

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    Wow! Best of everything to you and your family plans. As a suggestion, consider dairy goats instead of your milk cow. Have you checked with your county Ag extension office to see what the cow/calf number per acre is in your area? Where I am, North Central, it is 1 cow/calf pair to 12 acres.

    I have absolutely nothing against milk cows in general or specific, but with human kiddos a dairy goat would be easier to handle size wise. You would need to figure out your milk consumption needs, bump it up a bit for your growing children and then see which dairy goat breed would work for you.

    I'm partial to the Nigerian Dwarf breed. It is small, 22" at the shoulder and gives us plenty of milk for our needs. The larger goats, like the LaMancha or Nubian are bigger (but not way near the size of a cow) and give more milk. Just something to consider while you are making plans... and goat meat is pretty darn tasty too.

    Dairy goats would do nicely with your pasture rotation plan!

    However your plans turn out I am glad you found us.
     
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  3. Mar 24, 2017
    CntryBoy777

    CntryBoy777 Herd Master

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    Welcome from NW Mississippi!...:frow
    Sounds like ya have started with a good plan and if it is info you are looking for you are in the right place. There are many here that started with an idea, dream, and plan not too very long ago and now are working on their land they have acquired. Sometimes it just takes a little time to find your "Nugget" that fits your needs and requirements, but it is out there waiting for ya. There is a ton of info in the existing Forums and Threads, so just browse around and make yourself at home. If ya have questions, advice, or comment just feel free to post away. There are many members from over there in the Lone Star and they will be passing thru here, probably before too long. You may wish to check out the "Where am I, Where are You" forum and look for Texas.
    Again....:welcome
     
    LMK17 likes this.
  4. Mar 24, 2017
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    Welcome from a homeschooling/ homesteading family in NH! I have to second the dairy goat idea. I have Mini Alpines and one Nigerian Dwarf goat. My daughter (4) can go in with the goats and help me with them, which is much easier and safer than cows. The milk is amazing! But, same as @animalmom I have nothing against cows, goats just work better for me.

    We also raise pigs, chickens and heritage turkeys. Working on making our garden bigger and better. I don't love gardening but I am working on it!
     
    LMK17 likes this.
  5. Mar 24, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    You know, I have considered dairy goats, and truth be told, I may try going with them, especially if the land we purchase has a lot of brush that I could put them to use clearing. However, there are two reasons I haven't gotten very into the idea of goats: fencing and milk.

    Honestly, fencing in goats makes me nervous! I know mileage will vary, but in general, the idea of building a goat tight fence seems daunting. Then again, if I do get goat fencing put up, it'll hold just about anything else, too, so there's that, I guess...

    Also, I have never tasted goat milk or cheese that I like! Now, I know folks say that fresh goat milk can taste like cow's milk, but I haven't had that experience. I found purchased goat's milk to taste awful, and it's all I can do to choke down the "mild" goat cheese at the farmers' market. Now, if I could find fresh, delicious goat's milk, then I might be converted. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone right now who's into dairy goats.

    Based on my research and also the experience of a ranching friend, we should figure on about 5 acres/cow if we go south or east of the city. Up north, the land is poorer, and we'd need more acreage. Also, that's for continuous grazing. I *think* that I could put slightly more pressure on the land if we spend a couple years really getting good pastures built up and carefully rotate paddocks. Also, I don't believe running donkeys and chickens with cows would put much additional pressure on the land. The donkeys wouldn't necessarily be on lush pasture most of the time, anyway, and the chickens in a chicken tractor could be moved relatively easily once they've scratched through the cow pies and before they do too much damage to the grass... Of course, I'm open to suggest and advice on all this...
     
  6. Mar 24, 2017
    NH homesteader

    NH homesteader Herd Master

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    Oh my Nigerian's milk is amazing. I had never had goat milk until I bought her in milk. It's rich and not "goaty" at all! Even my friend who always told me goat milk is disgusting (she used to farm sit for a goat farm), tried it and loved it.

    Not trying to convince you, just saying there is good goat milk! Lol
     
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  7. Mar 24, 2017
    CntryBoy777

    CntryBoy777 Herd Master

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    Something else ya need to consider is the size of the animals that you will be dealing with, because cows require more equipment in order to transport. Sure hope it never happens, but if ya have a 700-1000lb animal down in a paddock, how do ya plan on moving or burying it? Also, the pressure of feeder pigs and cows will be much greater than that of a 70-150lb goat. Yes, goats will, can, and do climb and they really like rubbing on fence....we have 3 right now, but there are things ya can do to prevent or prepare for that. If ya are planning on "Homesteading", then fencing has to be a factor of major importance. It not only keeps your animals in, but is the first line of defense against predators, too. I am not trying to steer ya in any 1 direction, but just giving ya some things to "Chew On", since ya said what ya did about fencing, cows, and goats.
     
  8. Mar 24, 2017
    norseofcourse

    norseofcourse Herd Master Golden Herd Member

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    Welcome from Ohio, and good luck with your plans. Sounds like you already have a great head start with what you're doing on a small property. I'll put in a good word for goats, too (even though I have sheep myself :) ), for all the reasons mentioned. Plus, baby goats are just really cute!
     
  9. Mar 24, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    The transportation point is a good one, and I have put some thought into it. My minivan has a tow capacity of 3500 lb, and I'm used to towing with it. (We have a travel trailer.) Depending on the weight of the animal and the weight of a small livestock trailer, we could use the minivan for general transportation for 1 larger animal or several smaller animals at a time. We have also considered getting a beater "farm truck," but that would come later. Of course, this is assuming the animal can enter the trailer under its own power. If a beast is down, then I suppose the course of action would depend on a number of factors, such as how sick/injured it is and whether it's a pet or an animal meant for food. Calling the vet is one option. My husband and I are also prepared (as much as one can be for such things) to euthanize an animal ourselves if needed. We both shoot and could use a firearm safely for such a purpose, if necessary. And disposing of a large carcass? I don't know, honestly. What do people with horses and other large animals tend to do about that?

    Honestly, one of my main concerns regarding cows-- and any meat animal larger than a chicken, honestly-- would be finding someone willing to process/butcher just a few animals at a time. Do those of you who have meat animals find that to be much of a challenge?

    I think I forgot to mention, the pigs wouldn't be in the pastures, generally. I intend to harness pig power initially to clear and till areas I want to use for gardens. Later, once that's done, I hope to have a dedicated pig pen. I might also let the pigs run from time to time in the orchard, once the trees are mature enough to stand up to a bit of rooting.
     
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  10. Mar 24, 2017
    LMK17

    LMK17 Loving the herd life

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    Goats are definitely on my radar, but like I said, I need to "try before I buy" and find a source of fresh, not goaty goat's milk... As it sits, I hate the stuff, unfortunately, so until I can prove to myself that I can enjoy goats' milk, there's no way I'd want them. Do some breeds give milder milk than others? What's the secret to producing "not goaty" milk, aside from keeping the does away from a buck?

    Also, I've never had goat meat. How would you all say it compares to lamb? I assume lamb would be the closest thing to it that I've ever tried?