Saturday, December 29, 2012

Learning Fodder and a Chicken Coop

Three days into the fodder experiment I forgot to water the seeds and left the soaking seeds soaking for 48 hours not 24.  Since then I have been very good about getting enough water on the seeds and we bought a grow light to help the fodder turn green. The night we fed the tray of fodder with the seeds that soaked an extra day; it was slimy and not all the seeds sprouted so the animals got some pretty yucky fodder.  So soaking 48 hours is not advised!  I also think I may be keeping the trays too wet.  When I put the holes in the trays I put them in the bottom of the trays it is more difficult because the bottom of the trays have little channels in them, Darling Husband pokes the holes into the side as close to the bottom as possible but the channels never empty – it seems the trays with the holes on the sides do not sprout as well.  We are learning.

This Christmas we made a chicken coop for our oldest daughter and gave her 5 chickens and a miniature rooster.  Maybe in spring she will have enough eggs to share with us.  The person who gave us the chickens has offered to give us more.  He knows a lot of local poultry people, I am hoping he may be a connection for getting some Red Bourbon Turkeys in the spring.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fodder Part 3

The yellow is from when I had them stacked on top of each other.    
We bought a plastic shelf and a grow lamp to put in the shower until we get the cargo container for the fodder.  In the reading I have done light isn’t supposed to be a big deal for the fodder BUT since adding the light everything seems to be growing faster.  
The seeds and roots seem to be a little thick using 3 cups of seeds so we have cut it down to  2 ½ cups in each tray – I have trouble getting the seeds even with just 2 ½ cups of seed but I will get better.  Also growing for 9 days instead of 8 seems to work better for us but we will see how having the light changes things. 

Christmas Eve we gave the animals the fodder for the first time.  3 of the sheep just turned their noses at it but Blackwell wolfed it down as fast as she could.  Magic was not interested in it but our neighbor’s horse who shares a pasture with Magic LOVED it, the second day we gave it to Magic he ate it after his hay was gone.  
  The cattle prefer their hay but when the hay is gone they eat the fodder.  We only are doing 1, 11 x 20 inch tray every day so the sheep are getting a handful, Magic gets a handful, and the cattle get most of it.  As soon as we have the cargo container and shelving in it I will start doing 3 trays a day and see how it goes.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Truck VS Fence: We All Win!

The driveway my girls park their cars on is next to one of the pastures we put the new High Tinsel Fencing on.  We had a lot of rain last weekend.  During one of the heaviest rains Oldest Daughter’s truck slid off of the driveway and hit the wire fence with the side of her truck.  She was able to drive away without any damage done to her truck or the fence.  How many fences can you drive into without causing damage?  I guess Darling Husband over built it for a reason.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fodder Part 2

The day Darling Husband picked up the seeds and on his way home a friend called saying we may have a great opportunity to get a cargo container.  So instead of making shelving we had to figure out where we would put the cargo container, try to find a shipping company to move it at a reasonable price….
The next day the trays from arrived! Normal people would not start growing the seed until they are ready.  We started growing them in the shower!  Just one tray a day to see how it would grow.  It is surprising how fast a few trays of seeds fills up a shower.  
Yes, it is an ice cream tub I am soaking the seeds in!
Saturday doesn’t count we started 3 cups of barley seeds soaking.  Sunday is the first day we started seeds in their tray.  Tuesday I forgot all about the seeds and didn’t even water them.  Wednesday the first seed tray sprouted – Yay I didn’t kill them when I forgot to water them.  Friday the first sprouts are starting to turn green.  Our first tray of fodder will be ready to feed the cattle on Monday but how am I going to keep them stacked and watered nicely until then?  
The first sprouts.  I will take more pictures later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fodder Part 1

The cattle are eating everything much faster than we thought they would and had read that they would.  So far every pasture we have put them in is cleaned out in 1-2 weeks AND pasture rotation doesn’t work if new grass has not grown in the pasture that is resting.  I imagine rainfall has a lot to do with how many acres a cow need to live, and our lack of rainfall = no grass growth so we would need more acres per cattle.  Bummer!  I have been searching for a way to feed our cattle and sheep and not have a $350 or more feed bill per month. 
In my internet searches and looking through farming catalogs I keep reading about fodder systems.  They are expensive but seem to be a great way to give the animals the nutrition they need.  Then we started looking into making our own fodder system.  Quartz Ridge Ranch has done an incredible job of showing how they made their fodder system.  Darling Husband and I decided to put shelves next to his shop that way they would be easy to cover if we decide we need to but temporarily we can just protect the area with a tarp.  We ordered trays to put the seeds in.  Then we started searching for Barley Seed.  Our local stores didn’t carry any but I could order it.  In internet stores many were out, many who had barley seeds at reasonable prices it wanted to charge insane amounts for shipping, others had the seed but higher prices than I wanted to pay.  I spent hours searching then I thought to put California in the search for barley seed. WALLAAAAA! On the top of the second page I searched was an organic seed company near my husband’s work!  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Card Picture

This weekend we took our annual Christmas Card Picture!  Every year we try to be creative and show something new we have done on the property.  Many years ago our oldest daughter decided she no longer lived with us so she wouldn’t be a part of this holiday chaos.  Darling Husband always comes up with a fun idea.  This year his idea was going to be a lot of work and when we were running out of time I saw an idea on another websight using the sheep.  Taking a picture with 4 kids is hard enough but we decided to add the sheep. 
Sunday morning we got the kids up, put them in plaid shirts, and got the sheep.  We chose a spot that wouldn’t show too much junk.  We grabbed a small amount of hay that would hopefully keep the sheep that were not on leads near us.  The 2 sheep that were on leads were held by the kids.   Darling Husband used the camera and I used the picture thing on my phone.  We would just keep taking as many pictures as we could while the kids and sheep posed for us. 
Some not so great pictures....I forgot about the blog and deleted the really bad ones.
After we finished and hoped we had a good picture we discovered the camera didn’t have it’s memory card.  UGG there go ½ the pictures.  
Our final picture!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Goat

I am not a fan of goats.  I know there are a lot of goat lovers out there but I am not one of them.  When researching what animals to start with I read a lot of articles on how goats were hard on fencing, mischievous, and comparing goats to devils.  Sheep on the other hand, while they are not very smart, they really are sweet, great followers. 
Our friends were moving and needed a safe place for their pigmy goat while they were moving.  We thought no problem we will put it in with our sheep for a few days.  Friday afternoon they arrived with the goat.  It’s cute.  The owner says if we want it we can keep it. 
Darling Husband says how cute it is and maybe we should keep it.
 I say NO, I did my research and decided against goats! 
He says well maybe.
 It is cute but no!
 We put a rope halter on the goat and made the walk to the sheep’s enclosure.  The goat fights us the whole way but it isn’t used to being on a halter.  Put it in with our sheep and right away BAM BAM BAM the goat starts head butting my sweet kind sheep.  We watched for a few minutes with the sheep huddled in the corner and decided it wasn’t going to get better while we watched so we walked away.  As we walked away it started making these maaing noises that are terribly nasally and nasty.  Sheep have nice baaing noises compared to the goat.  
Every time we checked the sheep were huddled in a corner and the goat was standing in front every once in a while charging them.  At 10:pm we checked on everyone for the last time and watched the goat give one last charge and head but to the sheep.  Darling Husband said “THAT’S IT! The goat will not abuse our sheep anymore!” and we took the goat to the old sheep enclosure.  It was by itself, our sheep are safe, the goat is safe. 

Pens that work for sheep do not work for goats.  The sweet sheep lived in that pen for months without a problem.  The goat lived in it a few days and banged out the sides the last straw was twice it got its head and horns stuck one time Teen Son and I were able to get it unstuck the second time I called it’s owners because I couldn’t get the horns back through the fence.  We will not become goat owners any time soon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Corner Pasture

We finished the fencing.  The next step was to put the cattle in a trailer and back the trailer as far across the bridge as we could.  Open the trailer and pray the cattle continue across the bridge into the new pasture without spooking.  Sounds so simple.  Except the Dexter Cattle had not been easy to get in the trailer when we bought them so the day before we moved them we gave them ½ the hay we had been normally feeding them.  As the sun came up Darling Husband took the solar charger off of their electric fence and set it up at the new pasture.  Then I grabbed a flake of hay and walked through the pasture and into the trailer.  Our cattle may be small but imagine walking with 6; 200 to 800 lb hungry dogs chasing you.  All the cattle followed me into the trailer without any problems.  Well one problem; I had given Stick Boy my phone to take pictures then wanted Darling Husband to take pictures of me and the cattle in the trailer but DH just told me to get out of the trailer.  He didn't like his wife and 6 cattle in a 3 horse trailer – I thought it would make a great picture – He doesn't understand my need for pictures of our craziness.   

Darling husband backed up the trailer to the bridge with the idea being he would back part way across except as he was backing up we realized he made the bridge 6 inches to narrow.  AAK.  So we open the doors and hope the cattle will see the fresh food and come out easily and happily - and they did.  
Onyx our Lowline Angus had to be the first to come out.
Happy cows enjoying the new pasture.
These pictures make the pasture look bigger than it is.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


We can’t let the sheep free range any more until we finish fencing the property.  They keep visiting the neighbors.  It isn't safe for the sheep.  I don’t mind them eating my roses since they do such a good job trimming everything up but my neighbors may not feel the same, and I am amazed how fast they wander now.  The day before Thanksgiving we moved the sheep’s daytime area.  The youngest 3 and I moved 200 feet of their fencing in 1 hour.  I think that’s a record for us.  Yay Team!!!

Thanksgiving morning I got up thinking I would take care of the animals and let everyone sleep in.  Gave the cattle hay no problem.  Then I went to take care of the sheep.  They have 5 feet to walk between the new daytime area and their bedroom.  If I hold the door open in one hand and the gate open with the other hand and stand between them.  The sheep have about 1 foot of free space so I SHOULD be able to do this on my own.  So I stood their holding the gate and door and Blackwell looks at me confused.  I’m blocking the way to their daytime area!  So she pushes right past me and runs to the area that they used to be fenced in at.  The other 3 run following her.  I try a few times to catch them but they are having a great time enjoying their freedom.  Now instead of giving the rest of the family a relaxing morning it’s “Wake up, Get dressed, Help me CATCH THE SHEEP!” For the next 45 minutes, Darling Husband, the kids, and I chase sheep. 
After breakfast we started working went back to working on the fencing on the bottom of the property to give the cattle a new pasture.  Darling Husband and Teen Son worked on cutting some big dead limbs out of an ancient oak tree.  Pre Teen Daughter helped me work with the Hi Tinsel Wire; pulling the wire, crimping the ends, and cutting the ends.  Stick Boy helped hammer all the staples into the posts after I got them started.  We worked this way until we were due to be at Thanksgiving Dinner in 2 hours then we rushed to make the food we were taking, brushed the sticks out of our hair, changed into acceptable clothes, and left to enjoy the rest of our day with amazing friends.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Little Post

Family togetherness at sunset.
Mothers nature wonder - a palm tree growing out of another tree.

We tore out the fence along part of the front of the property where we are putting the new pasture.  Then over several evenings we dug the post holes and installed the posts.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I am married to a super capable guy.  The problem with being married to such a capable guy is when he can’t do something I get upset or when it takes him days to do something that I think can be slapped together I get frustrated.  I also am a make due or jury rig type of person and Darling Husband is a do it right person.  This also leads to disagreements but, often I make due while Darling Husband does what is his priority the right way. 
The ceiling of my laundry room fell down several years ago and I know when we get around to it DH will fix it right, every time DH walks into the Laundry Room he says to me “How can you stand working in here?  I need to fix this.”  We have other priorities but it has been on the top 100 of our priority list for about 4 years….Except we have company coming and they will sleep in the laundry room so it is moving up on the priority list to number 4 or 5. 
The sheep going into the Sheep Mahal.  
Munching on hay.

Sheep Mahal is another example of how Darling Husband and I do things differently.  I would have probably used zip ties or bailing wire to put together the new coyote proof sheep enclosure and then had to do repairs on it as the weeks, months, and years go by.  Darling Husband spent a whole weekend designing, welding, screwing, hammering, and a whole bunch else I am sure.  He brought it home and, well, I didn’t look as impressed as I should have.  I mean the man did the impossible job of building a bridge in a weekend and the sheep enclosure took longer?  It is done right, no coyotes or even bears (if they ever come here) will get into it! The sheep are safe and we may never have to repair it so Darling Husband’s way is right – please don’t tell him.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Beautiful Morning

Blackwell and Deer in front.
This morning I got up before anyone else, threw the ball for our dog as I fed the cattle, started watering the lawn, put frozen Hash-browns in the oven, and put the dog back in his crate.  Pre Teen Daughter got up but saw I was working and didn't want to start on her chores so she went back to bed.  I decided this morning was the day to worm the sheep.  I have had the wormer for about a month but Procrastination always has had me put the wormer away when I had lots of help.  What made me decide to do it on this cool cloudy peaceful morning by myself?  You Tube Videos!  I guess it isn't only teen boys that get great ideas off of You Tube.  Sheep shearers flip the sheep up into a sitting position and the sheep get scared and go limp.  Then it’s smooth and easy to do what you want to the sheep – should go for putting wormer in their mouth too – right?  I grabbed Blackwell our biggest sheep also the friendliest sheep and she let me squirt the wormer in her mouth easy peasy.  Yay this looked like it would be easy!  Next I grab Juanita Deer who is our second biggest and most skittish sheep, she wasn't happy started kicking at me I had trouble flipping her but finally succeeded in flipping her on her butt she calmed down like magic.  It was amazing.  I went to put the wormer in her mouth and guess what the limp body doesn't include a limp mouth!  So there I was trying to balance Deer’s back between my legs, hold her head and pry her mouth open with one hand and squeeze the wormer in her mouth with the other hand.  I am sorry I don’t have a video or even pictures of this to show you but thankful no one saw me looking so foolish. Finally Deer opened her mouth and I had success.  
Dot and Maxwell were easy after I figured it out with Deer and they both opened their mouths easily.  I let the sheep out of the pen to wander around eating for the day.  As I walked down to the house a Snowy Egret floated over my head down to the pond.  What a glorious way to start my morning.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Darling Husband doesn't know how to install chain link fence.  How can this be? We have a lot of chain link fencing lying around, so over a year ago we started putting in the posts to install the fencing.  We dislike chain link but we need to finish this fencing.  So we decided to hire someone to install the almost 300 feet of chain link fencing we decided we need.  Let me say WOW having to buy fencing parts and having someone do it is expensive.  We will not install any more chain link.  It may not look great having different kinds of fencing but I hate chain link and it's expense and it's looks.  We have installed the fencing on this part of the property line but the sheep are very aware we do not have the gate up yet so they went to visit our neighbors and ate her roses.  The other neighbor wanted me to leave the sheep eating all the weeds on the bank (who cares about the roses?).  

 The bridge to nowhere is up but we still have not taken care of fencing the area.  Teen Boy and I worked at tearing down the old fencing along the road so when Darling Husband came home he would see how far we got on his next project.  A lot of the wood was so rotten we just pulled the posts out of the dirt.  Many of the staples holding the wire on the fence just fell out but some were very difficult.  We were able to remove all the old fencing except the stuff along the ditch.  I am not sure how we are going to make that part of it work.  

While the kids and I worked on the fence, Darling Husband was building Sheep Taj Mahal, I mean the new sheep enclosure.  It is 8x12 and really huge for our 4 small sheep so, I am hoping to get Turkeys in the spring and maybe it can hold both.  I wonder how sheep and turkey get along.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anniversary and a Waterfall

My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary the day after the election.  It was a rough morning, I had trouble getting up.  My youngest 2 wanted me to pay for not seeing them at all the day before.  Stick Boy wanted to snuggle in bed and gave me a lot of attitude about getting up.  Pre-Teen was mad, just mad but didn’t want to talk about it.  I had bought hay the day before the election but D-something Husband said he would do it later.  So there I am ready to feed the cattle and what do I discover when I pull back the tarp? NO HAY! 
Stick Boy and I move DH’s truck to the spot we keep the hay in and my 50 pound son starts helping me move and lift hay bales that are as heavy as he is.  Pre-Teen Daughter decided we were not doing things the way we should so she yelled a few choice words at us and ran away from us.  Stick Boy and I stacked 3 bales of hay, moved the sheep to their daytime area, and finished getting ready for school, and Daughter comes back I hand her a bagel and we leave. 
My gift to Darling Husband was to call him and let him know how helpful Stick Boy was and not to scream about not unloading the hay for me.

Darling Husband and I have been having a dispute.  9 years ago, when we moved here one of the first fun improvements we did was to put a waterfall where we pump water into the pond.  It was wonderful having the waterfall sound going into the pond when we are filling it.  Over the years the rocks and pipes making the waterfall have sunk.  Darling Husband wants the water in the pond higher than the pipes going into the pond.  If we are paying to pump the water into the pond I want to be able to hear it falling into the pond.  Also it helps aerate the water if it gathers oxygen as it falls into the pond – so clearly I am right! 
Darling Wonderful Husband decided to redo the waterfall so it sounds wonderful as we fill the pond.  We still are arguing about how high the pond should be, now, I want the kids to be able to paddle under the bridge without lying down in the boat but that new dispute will be settled at a later date.  
The new pipe water will flow through.
Setting rocks so we do not see the ugly pipe.
Now that's my beautiful waterfall!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Working the Election

I had the privilege of working at my local polling place this election.  I have to say it was an incredible experience.  Poll workers take a  90 minute classroom class unless they have a special job then they take more, also take a 2 hour online class.  Then the night before the election they set up the facility.  The day of the election they are there at 5:30 am and get 2, 45 minute, breaks and are not done until 10 pm the night of the election.  We get paid anything from $0 to $150 depending on our job.  I am proud and blessed to be a part of a nation that every citizen has the right to vote (with a few exceptions), BUT I after working the polls I had to wonder why there isn’t some kind of test a person must take before they get to use the privilege of voting. 
We had one man furious; I mean red in the face angry that we had our Primary Election in June.  “We are voting for President how much more Important can it get!  This should be the Primary”.  How do you explain to someone in the short time we have that US’s Primary election is for each party (Democrats and Republicans) to decide who will run for president? 
One lady came in with her husband’s and her ballots for this election and the Primary election confused as to why the names were different and if we voted in June why did we need to do it again?  Did she vote in June?  Why couldn’t we tell her?  She was so confused and upset it was hard not to laugh, we tried to help her understand but how do you give civics lessons at a polling place?
We had a lot of citizens angry that we do not ask for Identification.  Some were polite and showed it as their way of quietly protesting, Thank You.  Others angry because they could give us any name and address and if it was on our roster we would let them vote.   Voter ID laws and if they are constitutional have been all over the news lately.  Many states are in lawsuits because some citizens believe it is unfair and unconstitutional. As a Poll Worker I can’t even discuss the issues with you.  I had one friend come in and ask me my opinion and when we said I couldn’t give it I walked 100 feet away from our polling place and told him it was the one issue I didn’t vote on because I saw bad on both sides.   
I met the man across the street who’s dogs keep getting out and got his phone number so I can call next time they are out, and another man with a boy Stick Boy’s age that lives walking distance from me.  The neighbor who was DWI Horse came to vote bedecked in jewelry, cowboy hat, and jeans that looked like his horse had drug him through the dirt.  One husband and wife got into an argument about how to vote.  Someone complained that we were looking at the ballots as we slid them in the box. 
This year was the first year my teen daughter was able to vote.  My son reminded me that I will have a child voting for their first presidential election for the next 3 time we vote for president.  Hopefully they will show up at their polls knowing what election they are voting for, why they are voting, and appreciative of their civic duty.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cool Morning

It’s the first cold rainy morning since we have gotten the animals.  It really isn't that cold 50 degrees and not that much rain (it isn't measurable) but it’s the first for us.  The cats are not happy to be out of the house, but the kittens followed us as we took care of giving the cattle hay and walked the sheep from the night enclosure to the day grassy/leafy area.  The kittens were walking slowly so Deer ran up and nosed one of the kittens.  Oh those Crazy animals!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Bridge

Life has been crazy.  Our community has it’s houses far apart and so our community does a lot of activities for Halloween.  Instead of “Trick or Treating” we “Trunk or Treat”.  When you “Trunk or Treat” you park your cars in a circle and some of us decorate your cars or trucks just like some houses are more decorated.  The kids put on their costumes and go to the cars and say “Trunk or Treat” and we hand them candy.  Unlike towns that have Trick or Treating on Halloween, we seem to need to have Cub Scout Trunk or Treating, Girl Scout Trunk or Treating, Community Church Trunk or Treating, and so on.  We also have our schools largest fundraiser the Halloween Carnival; band, Boy Scouts, individual classes, and Girl Scouts all hope for volunteers.  It’s a crazy busy time of year.  So what does Darling Husband decide we need to do?  Build a bridge! 

The cattle have eaten all the grass in the pasture we made for them and we need to fence in another area of the property.  We have 2 more areas that will make nice pastures.  One is along the top of our property, we have 5 different neighbors up there with lots of different fencing most not in good condition, one neighbor with a beautiful expensive fence who will let us attach our electric fence to his, and the other neighbor will not allow us (or other neighbors) to touch their fencing.  We will need to install several gates up there.  The other section in a triangle shaped  area that we have never used and rarely even been on it is cut off from the rest of the property by a ditch that becomes a raging river when it rains, the bottom is along the street, and the other side is a neighbors fence that looks in good condition.  We decided this will be the easiest area to prepare for the cattle. 
Darling Husband decided building a bridge and taking the cattle across it will be better than putting a gate at the street.  He found an I beam and cut it in half and welded it so the bridge will be about 10 feet wide, 16 feet long, and strong enough to drive a Mack truck across.
Teen Boy is putting nuts on the bolts while DH drills the holes through the wood.  Then I pound the bolt through the hole.  
My Posers checking out the bridge!  
  Then he got a lot of reclaimed 4 x 6’s and 4 x 12’s and we bought a few also.  Then we use ½ inch bolts and drilled through the wood and beams and metal straps.   This bridge is massive. 

We also moved the sheep’s day time area up around a few of the citrus trees and oaks and ficus tree type trees that all need to be trimmed.  We will let the sheep trim the bottoms and fertilize the plants for a few weeks.  
When I am home we let the sheep roam around and mow the lawn and eat other weeds around the house and where ever they want.  This worked great at first!  They were afraid to come close to the house, now they are eating my flowers out of the planters around the house.  I may have to rethink things – letting the sheep roam, or what I plant hmmm.  
I asked Stick Boy to walk the dog and he comes back an hour later with a skate board and 10 sticks.