Day 167 – peas abloomin’

167Planting peas next to the fence made me a bit nervous at the beginning – I was 95% sure that our chickens were going to massacre the poor little pea shoots.  But I’m happy to report that this did not happen, and the peas are growing, blooming, and making peas!  We have peas in all stages, from bloom to almost ready to pick and shell.

And they are delicious (I’ve been munching on them as I do other garden work – shhh!!).

We’re planning to plant a late summer (to be harvested in the fall) crop as well.  This will be a first for me – peas are a spring crop, right?  Well, they can be planted in the late summer as well.

If you don’t think you’re a pea fan, I would really recommend trying fresh peas as they’re in season in your location..  They taste nothing like the stuff in the can – they’re sweet and slightly crunchy.  You might be surprised to find that you like peas.

 

Day 166 – goat hut

166Behold Mobile Goat Hut, version 3!  Wood frame base with swivel castor wheels, PVC supports, flexible plastic “walls” and corrugated aluminum roofing.  The silver bits are tape used to seal the corners and overlaps – keep the wind from ripping anything apart!

We put cattle panel around the whole thing, both to provide some sturdiness to the flexible plastic walls (our goats like to push on things) and to enclose the other 8×8′ half of the goat mover.

They are on the first part of their yard mowing routine, and will probably be moved every few days, depending on how big of a section we enclose.  To the right you can see we’re using corral panel with cattle panel chained to the inside – if we don’t use the cattle panel, they will slip right under the corral panel and be off on adventures.

Minnie is staying with them – they are “her herd” to protect.  But since this is a smaller area, we’ll be taking her into the big pasture (after making sure the cows are out and the gate is shut) to run around and be silly.  She loves the enclosed area – she’s usually snoozing in there during the day.

This is why we don’t mow the grass – we have 5 goats who do it for us, plus they fertilize at the same time!

 

Day 143 – honeysuckle

143We have a lot of honeysuckle around the farm.  I know a lot of people flip about “invasive plant” and whatnot, but we’ve actually discovered a use for it that we hope to practice over the next years – coppicing.  Coppicing is making fence by weaving thinner/more supple bits of vine around thicker pieces of vine.

Here’s a picture of what a coppice fence can look like, and the website I found it – if you Google “coppice fence”, you’ll see that there are many ways to make this type of fence.

Post image for How to Make a Hurdle Fence

I’m pretty sure this is going to take a lot of practice, patience, and materials.  But with as much honeysuckle as we have, getting materials won’t be a problem.

 

Day 129 – escape artist

009 - CopyRocket (shown in this picture from last summer) managed to get out of the goat pasture today by pushing a piece of cattle panel out of place.  Of course, once out, she has no idea what to do, and just stood there looking at the goats on the correct side of the fence.

Bribery of animals with food gets the job done.  I rattle a bucket of oats (which is goat crack) while Denny holds the panel out for her to run back in.  All the goats are now back together, knocking each other (and the Pyr – yes, she eats oats) around to get the oats on the ground.  We then re-attach the panel to the gate and make sure everything is tightly wrapped and chained.

This is the same goat who got stuck between the cattle panel and the line fence.  It’s always the ginger.

 

Day 19 – porta fence

What to do when you need some fence that isn’t permanent? Make it from PVC pipe, wind fence and zip ties, of course!  They can be made in any length (the wind fence has fence post pockets every few inches) and are very portable, although the larger panels are a bit bulky to move.  The […]

What to do when you 019need some fence that isn’t permanent? Make it from PVC pipe, wind fence and zip ties, of course!  They can be made in any length (the wind fence has fence post pockets every few inches) and are very portable, although the larger panels are a bit bulky to move.  The panels can be tied to t-posts and make a good fencing for chickens.  Before we put in the permanent fencing, we surrounded our garden with these panels to keep the chickens in or out, depending on the time of year.  We still use them for when the chicks are old enough to range outside the coop, but still young enough that we want to keep them contained while outside.

Day 19 – porta fence

What to do when you 019need some fence that isn’t permanent? Make it from PVC pipe, wind fence and zip ties, of course!  They can be made in any length (the wind fence has fence post pockets every few inches) and are very portable, although the larger panels are a bit bulky to move.  The panels can be tied to t-posts and make a good fencing for chickens.  Before we put in the permanent fencing, we surrounded our garden with these panels to keep the chickens in or out, depending on the time of year.  We still use them for when the chicks are old enough to range outside the coop, but still young enough that we want to keep them contained while outside.

Good rules for rounding up wayward animals

If you grow livestock, it is almost inevitable that eventually some of them will get out of the place you keep them. This problem could result from a poorly latched gate or from an animal’s desire to see if the grass is really greener on the other side of that fence. Either way, at that […] Continue reading

If you grow livestock, it is almost inevitable that eventually some of them will get out of the place you keep them. This problem could result from a poorly latched gate or from an animal’s desire to see if the grass is really greener on the other side of that fence. Either way, at that point, you’re now in the wayward animal chasing business, so here’s some advise for getting them back where they belong.

  • Always wear your boots: It is amazing the places animals will get themselves into when they’re out, and if you’re not wearing boots while you’re getting them back where they belong, you’re probably going to wish you had. As I mentioned in my “The farm uniform” post, a good pair of steel-toed boots are indispensable for farm work and doubly so when chasing animals.
  • Always carry the right stick for the right job: There’s a reason herdsmen have carried sticks for thousands of years: they work. The most basic stick is a simple walking stick (I use mine often), but you can use a shepherds crook for smaller livestock or a poultry catcher for birds.
  • Most animals will run the opposite direction you approach them from: This is an almost absolute rule. Granted, you have to approach the animal from some direction, but as much as possible, do so from opposite the direction you’re trying to get them to go. Most animals will also run for home when startled, so use that fact to your advantage.
  • Fence lines are a good way to stop forward progress: Fences stop animals from running in a particular direction and can act as a “second person” when trying to round up an animal. Use your fences to your advantage.
  • The more people you have the better: Granted, this is not always possible, but get as many people, equipped with boots and sticks, as possible to help round your animals up, especially if they are bigger animals like cattle. Consider calling neighbors if you need to.
  • Stay a leg’s length away unless you want to get kicked: Unless you want to get kicked, stay away from the kicking bits, especially with larger animals.
  • A caught animal will bite, kick, and flail to get away: If you have to catch smaller animals, be assured that it will fight back when caught.

Also, while animals getting out is almost inevitable, here are a few things you can do to make your roundup easier.

  • Interact with your animals when they are calm: As you interact with your animals more, they will get used to your presence and will not be as flighty when you need to work with them when they are stressed. This interaction is especially important for large livestock that cannot be caught and manhandled.
  • Consider a perimeter fence: One of the best ways to keep escaped animals contained is to limit how far they can run. Having a perimeter fence will help with that task.
  • Also, walk your fences regularly: Animals will find the weak points in a fence and get through them. Walk your fences regularly to make sure they are in good repair.
  • While you’re at it, use stronger fence: A lot of people use line fence because it’s cheap(er) than other kinds of fencing, but it’s not always the best option. If you have places where animals work the fence or keep getting through, consider other kinds of fence like cattle panel.
  • Have enough gates: Escaped animals are rarely cooperative, so trying to herd them toward the one gate in your fence can be a difficult task. Consider having gates at each corner of a fence and in the middle for especially long runs.

Granted, these ideas won’t keep your animals from getting out, but they will help you get them back in once they are out. Good luck and happy herding.

DLH

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