Category Archives: Animals

Guinea Fowl

Guinea fowl on the homestead

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Guinea fowl have a reputation for being loud and going where ever they feel like.   Rightly so, they are constantly making noise and refuse to go into the coop at night.  Despite that, guineas are an essential animal to have on your farm or homestead.  If Guineas are kept right by your house, their noise may be a problem.  We have a large property, so our barn is within walking distance from the house, but not right by the house.  We hear their noise in the distance, but it is just another barn yard noise.  Roosters crowing, cows bellowing and guineas calling.  

why guinea fowl should be a part of your homestead:

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Putting Farm Animals to Work

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Farm animals have an important place on the homestead.  From the backyard homesteader to the full time farmer, producing your own eggs, milk and meat is a fulfilling accomplishment.  We give our farm animals fresh food and water and the best care possible.  But could our farm animals being doing more for us in return?  We need to look at “the pigness of the pig and the chickeness of the chicken” as Joel Salatin puts it.

 

Instead of working against each farm animal’s natural instincts, why not have those instincts work for you instead?

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Getting started without permanent fencing

sheepHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

When we purchased our farm in the summer of 2014, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us.  Our farm had a lot of barns, most in disrepair.  The fencing wasn’t much better.  There was a lot of barbed wire, some of it was in good shape but most of the fence was in desperate need of repair.  There were some rotten posts, holes in parts of the fence, the entire fence down in other areas.  Despite all of this, we were eager to get started adding animals as soon as possible.  We wanted to add sheep, goats, cattle and pigs to our farm.

From the beginning we knew that we wanted to practice rotational grazing with all of our animals. Rotational grazing involves moving livestock to fresh paddocks to allow the grass in the previous paddocks to grow back. How frequently you move your livestock depends on your situation and can range from a couple of times a day, to once a week.  Electric fencing is often used in rotational grazing systems, with a permanent perimeter fence.  Electric fencing seemed like a good solution to our fencing issues.  The decision was made to use temporary electric fence exclusively until we could get some permanent fence built. 

 

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The Chicken Coop: “Coop Deville”

The Coop Deville: A mobile chicken coopHomestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
When we moved to Missouri we had to leave our mobile chicken coop, “The Eggmobile” (a la Joel Salatin) behind.   Travis had designed and built that coop, but it was just too big to move from Colorado to Missouri.  We sold the chicken coop to a good friend and decided to build another coop similar to what we had had before.  A mobile chicken coop was a requirement for us, we wanted the chickens to follow the livestock for pasture sanitation and fertilization.

 

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Goats Gone Wild!

 

goats2

Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

We have been using electric fencing to keep our Kiko goats in all spring and summer, moving them at least once a week or more often to make sure they have plenty of food to eat.  We don’t have goat proof perimeter fencing, some areas have no fencing at all.  We are working to remedy that problem, but have had pretty good luck so far.

Suddenly it was fall.  The leaves started to change colors into a beautiful world.   A beautiful world where the goat’s favorite foods (brambles and woody plants)  are losing leaves.  The goats suddenly had to be moved every other day, they would eat every edilble thing they could find, and fast!  We were watching the goats and their food supply closely, but one Wednesday afternoon when Travis and I went to move the goats, the goats were gone!

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Raising Chickens: A Kid’s Perspective

hen

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As a homesteading, homeschooling family, we try to include our kids in what’s going on around the farm.  Our son has been watching all this blog stuff with great interest.  He finally asked us if he could write his own article.  So, here is the kid version of raising chickens.  It is really quite interesting to see what things are perceived as the highlights (by this kiddo anyway).  Just to make things a bit clear, here is some background:

Chick Mobile: several years back, my husband built a brooder in the pole barn in CO.  It was roughly 4’x4′ and when he finished, he set it on a wheeled frame he used for working on arcade games.  It turned out to be handy to be able to easily move the brooder around the barn, so now our son thinks a brooder should be mobile… and hence the “chick-mobile”

Egg Mobile: we can thank Joel Salatin for this.  Joel is always so creative with his naming, so we called our first mobile coop an “eggmobile” as well.  Ever since our son can remember, we have moved our little layer flock around our property.

Scraps: all our plate scrapings and such are shared with the chickens.  Don’t worry, we provide plenty of layer feed as well. 

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Why We Love Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Why we love Nigerian Dwarf goats
Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Goats are a fun and useful addition to your homestead. They are a lot of fun to watch and the fresh goat milk is great! There are a lot of different breeds of goats to choose from, all of which can give good milk. However one breed of goat that is consistently overlooked for milk production is the Nigerian Dwarf.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are often considered pets and overlooked as a good dairy goat because of their small size. They may be smaller than a full sized goat, but to us, that is just one of the many benefits!
Here are some reasons why we love Nigerian Dwarf goats and chose to keep some in our herd.

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Thanksgiving Surprise

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a great day, filled with family, food and pie.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

On Thanksgiving morning, I went down to the barn to do my usual morning chores.  The birds were singing and it was a beautiful morning.  As I got to the barn door, it seemed that the birds were singing especially loud.  Peep!  I opened the barn door and the noise was even louder.  PEEP!  PEEP!

Now, it’s important to note that every year around Thanksgiving our hens take a “laycation”.  We allow them to, even hens deserve a break.  We’ve gotten one egg in the past week.  We’ll put some lights in the barn in January, so they will have enough daylight to start laying again.  So imagine my surprise to see a hen proudly walking around with her 2 chicks!

chicks2

Not only did she manage to sit on 2 eggs, but she did it in the goat pen!  The way the goats scuffle it’s amazing that she was able to sit on her little nest without getting squashed.  She went unnoticed until her chicks started loudly peeping.

chicks

I gave the new mama a handful of food and she told her chicks it was time to eat.  I love watching a hen with her chicks, they are very attentive mothers.  It’s been chilly at night, but the chicks have been nice and warm under their mother’s wings.  Fall probably isn’t the best time for a hen to hatch some eggs, but this hen is doing a fantastic job and I’ll take it.

 

 

 

Sprinkles the cat

When we came out to look at the farm back in April, I mentioned to our realtor that our daughter was really wanting a cat.  He happened to have some kittens and offered to give them to us when we moved to Missouri.  Our daughter has been VERY patiently waiting for her kitties.  Unfortunately, by the time the girls and I got out here, there was only 1 kitty left.

When the day finally came to go pick up the now half grown cat, my little cat lover could hardly contain herself!  Travis took her to the realtor’s office, the prearranged meeting place to pick up the cat.  The poor cat was not used to being in town or in a cage and was beyond scared.  They arrived home with the frightened cat, only to have her escape and run up a tree.  Daddy to the rescue!  Travis managed to get the cat out of the tree and back into the little dog cage.  Phew!  That was a close one!  They took the little cat down to the barn, gave her some food and hoped she would calm down.

Big brother decided to come have a look at this cat.  He apparently wanted the cat to know that he was the alpha male or something, so proceeded to growl and stomp and do all sorts of things boys do when they want to bother their younger sisters and scared cats.  In the process of all of that, the little dog cage somehow broke, and the beloved cat ran off for the second time.  I knew that she hadn’t gone far, but my daughter was heart broken.  She checked the barn nearly every hour to see if her kitty had returned.

Two days later, as Travis was getting water for the goats, he saw our little run away.  She was hiding on top of an old cattle chute that was completely covered in grape vines, and she was terrified.  We nearly caught her, but with a baby on my back, I couldn’t get into the vines and thorny honey locusts like I normally would,and after trying to catch her for quite a while we decided to try again later.  The next morning, as I was going into the barn to milk the goats, who should I just happen to sneak up on?  The runaway cat!  She apparently went back into the barn since we had left some food out, and had fallen asleep in a nesting box.  The cat tried to run away, but I was quicker.  I grabbed her and we put her in a rabbit cage, for lack of a better place to keep her.

We kept her in the rabbit cage for a couple of days, but it was more for my daughter’s peace of mind.  It turned out that our new cat, Sprinkles, was really quite tame. Sprinkles is now a very sweet, very loved, spoiled cat.

Sprinkles

The lady at the post office (post woman?) is actively looking for a small kitten for us.  Our daughter is thrilled with the idea of more kittens/cats to love.  Our son is now campaigning for a dog.  I guess that’s next on the list!  But hopefully no more runaways.