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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: hay

We have almost five acres. It is a nice sized piece of land. Getting the right combination of animals for the space has been a mix and match challenge. It is not enough space to have cows or a lot of other large animals, but it can accommodate a good number of small to medium sized livestock.

On one side of our house, we keep our fowl pens. There is a 10′ x 10′ pen with 2 ducks, a 5′ x 10′ pen with 2 turkeys, a cage with 2 Japanese (coturnix) quail and a homing pigeon, 3 bantam chicken cages, a chick grow out cage and the main standard chicken coop.

Our horse and pony have a double pasture out front. That set of large animals works well. The recent rain storms keep passing over our area, so we have a round bale scheduled for pickup today, but normally during the warm weather, the grass grows at about the same pace as their grazing.

The three dogs all stay inside now. And they have a fenced area in the back to run around in. That is also where our herd is. We have four mini goats. And now there is Charlie.

Charlie

This is our new lamb. He is very quiet and shy. I think that Charlie is an Oxford sheep. They are used for both meat and wool. We won’t be eating Charlie, but a scarf would be nice. Actually, I have a friend that weaves, so she will most likely be getting a surprise package when we shave him.

The goats have been ignoring him, except for Luna. Luna is our little black goat that loves to play all day. She taunts the dogs. She jabs me lightly in the calves with her little horns if I’m not quick enough at feed time. Luna has been torturing Charlie. But Charlie barely feels her pushing him around. His fleece serves as a bouncy, thick layer of protection.

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Goats are fairly easy to care for. They need a sturdy, dry shelter and constant access to water. If in a fenced area with limited foliage, just drop in a bale of hay and give them stock feed twice a day. Those are all of the necessities.

Our Little Goat Herd

You can do more for them if you’d like to. Goats like to play, especially the kids. They love to climb and jump. Right now they use the arm chairs on the deck and our outdoor dog’s house for fun. I have been keeping my eye out for some toddler play ground equipment to salvage.

Olivia, Billy the Kid, Luna (up close) and Abigail

We decided to sell our Breeding Billy. “Billy Bob” was getting too hard for me to handle. Between my neck injury and being female, my upper body strength was no match for him. Even though he only weighed in at 50 pounds, he could pull himself out of my grip. I began to tire of the little bruises from his horn poking antics.

We are keeping the Billy Kid. He is actually no longer a Billy. “Billy the Kid” is now a Wether. This means that he is a neutered male. This was done by banding. There is a little contraption you can purchase at the farm supply store. It is shaped a lot like pliers. If you are male, you may want to stop reading here.

You put special rubber bands in it and tie off the testicles. You can also use them to tie off wattles. The blood supply is cut off. After about two weeks, they simply fall off.

I wonder why this technique is not used on dogs. It is easy to do and inexpensive. The kid was playing as usual within an hour. I’m sure that complications can arise. All procedures of this nature have their risks. You must choose one that you are comfortable with.

The great thing about this is that he will remain calm and easy to handle. Without testosterone flowing through his body, there should be no aggression. The boys make better brush clearing machines, so he will have a job. And our son just loves his sweet personality, so he will be a pet too.

We have a mini Billy reserved for the Fall. The herd sire of his family is about 25 pounds and has small horns. He is also not territorial. Hopefully these traits will be passed on. If not, we’ll sell him off after breeding season.

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We have been the proud owners of a 2001 Toyota Tacoma, 4-cylinder, 2-wheel drive, truck for 9 years now. It is a tough little vehicle. It has a towing capacity of 5000 pounds and can pull our 2 horse trailer filled with 2 horses. Our little truck can also carry a round bale.

The Farm Friendly Vehicle

The key is dryness. The truck cannot pull the trailer across mud. If it is really muddy it can’t even pull itself. The same applies to a round bale. If the bale is moist, you’ll need a tractor with a forklift contraption to move it around. But, if it is dry, and especially if it is placed in the bed of your truck so that it looks like a big wheel from the side, it can be rolled out.

Having two people helps a lot. My niece, Vicky-Marie, was here overnight after getting stuck at Charlotte International Airport due to fog. She was rewarded by helping me move the latest round bale.

I climbed up in the back of the truck. Then I turned so that my back is to the cab of the truck. I have zero upper body strength, especially with my neck damage, but my legs are strong and they can get a bale moving.

My niece used her arms. Youth has a way of giving you a surprising amount of upper body strength, even if you are a girl. And it doesn’t hurt that she is in vet school and has to deal with farm-style physical tasks.

Our property is slanted front to back and left to right. This gets difficult to deal with at times, but is a blessing in disguise for hay. We take advantage of the slope in that the front of the truck is higher than the back when we unload it.

If all else fails, you can get strong rope (we use leftovers from the electric horse area) and loop it around the round bale and then around a tree. Drive your vehicle away from the tree. The bale will magically end up on the ground.

If our bills weren’t eating us alive, we’d get a tractor. The older ones in working condition can be found pretty easily. They look like classic old cars, but are a very reasonable price. Eventually we’ll squeeze the money out, but for now, basic physics does the job.

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There is nothing like a new round bale. The horse and pony are always happy to see one. There is now no limiting their passion for eating 24/7.

Round Bale

When only square bales are available, they don’t have constant access. Square bales (they are actually rectangular) are much smaller and easier to manage/store, but the round bales are less expensive and once we get one out of the back of the pickup, we don’t have to bother with hay for 3 weeks.

We have a limited amount of pasture and need to supplement with hay, even in the warm weather. There are a few farmers that sell hay. And, kind of like a convenience store, the Feed n’ Seed store sells hay (at a higher price).

In the pic, our horse, Big Man, is blocked by the large bale. This gives you and idea of just how big it is. They have an average size of 4′ x 5′ and weigh in at 750 lbs.

Yes, horses, even small ones eat a lot. They also get grain once a day this time of year, twice in the Winter. Horses can positively eat you out of house and home, so these two will be our limit unless we hit the lottery. They are so lovely though. To get up in the morning and look out at them in the field is positively priceless.

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