Spring time is grand. Not only do we have baby greens to tend, but we have baby goats and baby cows and unfortunately, hungry coyotes. I remember in the Fall of 2007, when I bought Travis- 18 months old, ½ Great Pyrenees, ½ Anatolian Shepherd, and ½ my monthly salary. Travis had spent his first two summers trailing after his mother, watching over sheep in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. I felt sure he was just the dog to watch over our chickens and goats…even if our neighbors smirked (and Jamie steamed). This spring, Travis has proven his worth. Earlier in the spring, we took him out of the chicken pasture because we expected one of our goats to kid, but hadn’t managed to corral her into a pen (so she was loose in the chicken pasture and we didn’t want Travis bothering her). Lo and behold, the next morning, (note, the only morning Travis has ever been gone), I glanced out the bedroom window, and there’s a coyote sniffing around the fence of the chicken pasture, trying to find a way in. Luckily, the fence held! Let’s see, that’s 300 chickens X $10.00/bird = $3000.00 that Travis has been protecting. A few weeks later, I glanced out the living room window and saw a coyote snooping around the meat chickens. Although the meat chickens are surrounded by an electric fence, it was Travis’s barking that convinced the coyote to move on. O.K., that’s 300 meat chickens at $3.00/ lbs (average 4.5 lbs) = $4050.00, safe and sound, thanks to Travis. Last week we moved our weed-eating goats and their kids down to the canyon. We thought they were safe surrounded by electric fencing at 6000 volts. Yesterday, Jamie went down to check on them, and one kid was dead and another one missing. We were devastated. Our neighbor, Lori, a veterinarian pathologist, examined the carcass and determined coyote(s) as culprit. It probably jumped the fence, got away with one of the kids, and was zapped by the fence escaping with the second kid. Tonight, we took Travis down to the canyon to stay with the goats. I like to think that the goats were relieved to see Travis, and Travis was happy to see his goat friends. Not sure that’s what is going through their minds… Needless to say, Travis has proven his worth. Tonight, Jamie and I can sleep, our minds at rest. And hey, my neighbors aren’t smirking anymore!
Benton City, Washington)
Wholesome By Nature[ Member listing ]
12 May · Tue 2009
Posted by Stephanie @ 11:09 PM PDT
21 Apr · Tue 2009
Here in eastern Washington we get less rainfall than Phoenix, Arizona. Irrigation is vital! (Jamie calls it “irritation”). Once the district gets water into the canals (it comes from Cascade Mt. snow pack via the Yakima River), we get busy setting up all our systems. We’ve got sprinklers, a big gun sprinkler, a center pivot and drip irrigation systems. Jamie races around laying out our drip and sprinkler lines (they’re over wintered in the barn), opening and shutting values, adjusting pressure, getting rid of air locks, repairing broken sprinkler heads…. Yup, irritation system is an apt name!
Posted by Stephanie @ 11:42 AM PDT
09 Apr · Thu 2009
Here I am camping out in the goat barn. I decided to train two of the new goat kids to be pack goats. What a great excuse to hit the trails hiking...gotta train the goats! From what I read, goat kids need to imprint on humans to make good pack animals. The first 48 hours are critical. They don't need to be bottle fed, but they need to have as much human contact as possible. My task? Sit in a lawn chair and cuddle kids. We're now into the 4th hour of life for my two little boys. I need to give them names. Oh no, one of the other goats has gotten into the maternity ward. Gotta go!
Posted by Stephanie @ 05:26 PM PDT
24 Mar · Tue 2009
Our 300 meat chicks are growing like crazy. The cornish cross chicken breed is used almost 100% for meat in the United States. It's been breed to eat and eat and eat, which results in a harvestable bird at 8 weeks. Good for the farmer's bottom line, but not good for the actual birds. They grow so fast that their hearts and legs have trouble keeping up. Unfortunately, this big breasted breed is what people expect when they think "chicken". Jamie and I decided we are going to introduce our customers to slow growing heritage chicken breeds this Fall. They are every bit as tasty and are better adapted to run around our pastures. Who needs big breasted birds anyway? So far two of our goats have had kids. Only five more to go! Goat kids have got to be one of the cutest creatures on earth. Travis, our livestock guardian dog is the perfect baby sitter. He lays close to the kids, especially when Mom wanders out for a bite to eat. The kids scamper on top of him and he just lays there with a goofy grin. We have been sowing seed like crazy. Now is the time to get in the early spring greens like mizuna, spinach and arugula, plus lettuce. The race is on to have produce for the opening day of the Prosser Farmer's Market!
Posted by Stephanie @ 05:30 PM PDT [ Comments  ]
17 Mar · Tue 2009
In a few days we'll be officially launching the "Chicken RV" with the arrival of 300 day-old cornish cross chickens. Jamie had the brilliant idea of rennovating an old travel trailer into the perfect mobile chicken unit. She ripped out the interior, put down a new floor, and waterproofed everything. When the chicks arrive, we'll brood them directly in the RV. Once they are large enough, we'll start pulling the trailer around the pasture every night. Each morning the chickens will walk the gang plank, down into fresh clean grass, where they can eat and drink and be chickens. The RV will even provide shade. Clean, healthy, happy chickens are going to make good eating! Now if I can only convince Jamie to let me paint the RV an attractive color....maybe purple?
Posted by Stephanie @ 10:36 AM PDT