Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo Phriday: Pasture

Goat tractor -- from concept to full execution in like two weeks!

Thanks, Sarah!

And I did tell you that the Princesses were well-schooled in the ballet, did I not?

BTW, they've earned the non-fairy-princess names of Patsy and Edina.

The 100 McNuggets, the four Cartmans, and the replacement layers have moved out of the barn and onto "range." AKA, the very legume-heavy patch of pasture just south of the barn.

The fence is electro-net. Its main purpose is not to keep the birds in, but to keep everyone who thinks they taste like chicken out. Later, if the birds figure out about going home to roost in the evening, I'll open it up during the day and only charge it and close it up at night. The lump on the right is an over-engineered range shelter/chicken tractor, which I haven't actually used yet. Their main shelter is the easily-moved 10x10 picnic canopy. Since taking the picture, I've dropped it as low as it can go.

I thought the birds would be frightened by the move into the big wide open, but not a bit! They immediately checked out their perimeter.

And went to work emulating wild jungle fowl. They eat a lot of grass and clover. Feed consumption has been just about halved in the few days they've been out.

At night they make a chicken carpet.

They don't seem to get the concept of getting under cover at night, and just plop down in a mass at some random spot. We've moved the canopy to them, which worked, but is kind of stupid. The weather has been fine, the electro-net is good ground security, but we worry about owls.

Last night we heard a shrieking and carrying-on outside, probably about three in the morning. The dogs went straight to DEFCON 1. I jumped up and ran to the chicken pen -- the three English shepherds all charged down into the buttcrack. (Spike and Sophia sleep in crates at night, so they weren't there for the charge out the door, and I didn't go back up to let them out.)

The chooks were fine -- miffed at me for waking them up. The shrieking was raccoons down by our creek. Pip and Rosie stayed down there barking at them -- at getting shrieked at -- for some time. Moe came up and patrolled around the duck house, then the barnyard, then waited with me on the deck for the girls to come up.

I didn't call them in for some time, since it was obvious they had the coons treed, and I figure a thorough hazing would get our point across. We have a lot of foxes on the farm, but I've never seen raccoon sign. Our little spring-fed creek is too small for fish or crayfish, so there isn't a lot to draw them out of the valley lower down. They may be here going after turkey eggs, since we have a lot of wild turkeys, and they'll be laying now.

If they've come for our chickens, they are in for a shock.


  1. So, I've been off line for at least a couple of weeks and came here first. I really shouldn't even be reading any blogs since I need to update my website and write an update to my own blog.

    My significant other is just laughing at me 'cause I'm so excited to have been helpful that I have an ear-to-ear grin going on. =) Yay goat tractor!

    And the propensity for eating what is on the other side of the fence is why you want the holes in the panels to be large enough for their heads to fit through.

    Welcome to goat ownership! Also, a tip- right now is the time you have the best chance of getting those girls friendly. If goats don't find out how wonderfully nice people are when they are young, they pretty much won't ever. So handle them as much as you possibly can now- treat them sort of like a rescue dog. Sit quietly with some sweet feed on your knee or something, and let them come to you. Bring a book. Let them climb on you without trying to pet them. Once they've discovered you are fun/climbable, then you can start trying to touch.

    Are you planning on breeding the girls?

  2. Once again, thanks Sarah!

    It's really funny seeing the pattern left behind when I move the tractor -- inside perimeter trampled, outside perimeter grazed down, and a little hill of barely touched grass/browse in the middle.

    They are getting very friendly very fast; they tame up faster than unhandled puppies, that's for sure. They yell for attention and nudge for petting.

    I'll breed the girls this fall if they make weight by November, otherwise we'll wait until next year. I do want at least one goat to milk.

    We've got a friend who is planning to buy a new, high-quality Saanen buck, so that's convenient!

  3. Heather where did you get your e-fence? None of the livestock/feed stores or farm supply places around here offer them.

  4. Most places they have never heard of electronet, which I find beyond weird. They sell all kinds of wire, tape, cable, etc. but deny the existence of the netting.

    One can order it from Premier fencing (where I got mine) or Kencove.

    Both have free shipping. Kencove is in PA. I am told that quality is just about identical.

    I really like the New Zealand-made charger I got from Premiere -- it can run off a 12 volt battery, a solar kit, or plug in. Very versatile.

    The big pain with movable electric fence is putting the the ground rods all over the damned place, or else running wire from the charger WAAAY out to the fence. There are good permanent double ground rods in two locations on our farm, and I've whacked in another one down by the duck house. (Get a t-post driver if you don't already have one. Sledgehammers suck. I use the driver for all my post-bashing needs now.)

    I'll be expanding the Princesses digs with the other roll of electronet this week. I don't mind shifting the small tractor frequently, but don't think the goats have enough room to kick up their heels as youngsters should. They are already trained to it.

  5. Thanks for the info. I had seen Premier but had not heard of the other one. I like the specs on the charger, the ones in the offing here either have to run on AC or Battery. And this is rural Maryland for chrissakes.

    I love my T-post driver! I have had one for about a decade now, with dogs and pups, temporary fencing is always going up somewheres.


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