There are times when it feels like Wally and I are just butting our heads up against a wall with this farm. Things just never seem to get easier and we can’t seem to get ahead. Yesterday, we saw light and were able to do something enjoyable for several hours.
The garden was a mess. Two of the beds were not finished and weeds had grown up along the fence line and between the beds. Also, the chickens had got into one of the beds that had been planted with peas, rutabaga, arugula and lettuce and wiped everything out. This is not the first time the chickens have destroyed an entire bed of plants.
Yesterday, we got one bed completely done so there’s only one more to go. We weeded the whole garden and laid down some more cardboard to help keep the weeds down. Then I started working on the hoops to hold covers to keep the chickens out. I cover the ends of the beds with welded wire which is a PITA to work with and by the time I did just two ends, my hands were cut and bleeding.
Wally came back to help me put a cover over one of the beds. We talked about how we were going to attach it to the hoops and no matter how we thought about doing it, having to take the cover off the bed whenever I needed to work in the bed was going to be a PITA. Damn chickens! There are times I’d love to get rid of all of the chickens and just keep ducks who are less destructive, but while the ducks lay well during the warmer months, they don’t lay all that well in the winter, a lot of people don’t like duck eggs and cleaning duck eggs is a PITA. Also, the chickens have the dual job of being manure spreaders, something that really needs to be done around here.
It was then what Wally came up with a brilliant idea … the same idea I had been throwing around in my head for a while now: make the garden fence eight feet tall using wire or netting or both that would prevent the chickens from going through the fence and getting into the garden. We have some chickens that can probably fly over an eight foot fence so we’ll have to put some aviary netting over the top of the garden to make it completely chicken-proof.
We discussed how we could do it and decided that it could likely be done relatively inexpensively. That project is now on the table for next weekend. I am glad I didn’t plant any seeds yesterday because we got another bad storm with extremely heavy wind and rain. The seeds would have likely washed away.
The other project that is getting closer to getting done is expanding the milk parlor. Now that I’m milking eight does, it is impossible to bring them all into the hitching area to wait for their turn to be milked. While the hitching area seemed like a good idea and it did work pretty well until next year, having the does in there has become increasingly difficult. They fight, run me down, yank on their chains and act like idiots. The other morning I told Wally that I needed rubber walls in the hitching area to cut down on the noise that goes on in there. They also poop and pee in there which doesn’t do much for cleanliness in the milking area. I’ve pretty much broke Gwen of pooping in the milk parlor, but the goats have not been as cooperative.
It also would be ideal to have a door in and a door out of the milk parlor and we need a dry and secure place to store the grain. We’ve talked about how we could improve the milk parlor and I think we’ve figured out what we will do. We’ll extend the so-called hitching area into the poultry pasture and put a gate leading from the goat pasture into the poultry pasture. The extension will essentially be a holding area for the goats. It will be covered on the top, but the sides will be panel and the furthest end will be completely open. The goats can mill around in the poultry pasture and if it’s raining, they can go under the cover. I’ll let two goats in at one time, milk them and then send them out the exit door where Gel can put them back into the goat pasture. We might add a third milk stand in the parlor so I can bring three goats in at once. I milk so fast now that many of the goats are not finished with their allotted amount of grain by the time I’m finished with the two goats. If I had three in there, they’d have more time to eat. The section of the hitching area where I’ve been milking Gwen will remain the same.
Yesterday turned out to be a very productive and encouraging day. It will be nice to get these two projects done so that both caring for and protecting the garden and milking the goats and Gwen will be a little bit easier and more streamlined. Until we get the extension on the milk parlor, I am going to put the goats in the poultry pasture and let them out two at a time to be milked and then put them back in the goat pasture when they are done. I don’t think they are too happy about not being allowed to be in the hitching area as I think they enjoy their rowdiness in there, but it will be a lot more peaceful for me not hearing the chain rattling, panel banging and grunting that goes on while they wait their turn. It also will be good to have the garden protected from the chickens. We still have the two bed up against the house, having to remove the covers from only two beds will be a lot easier than from ten beds. The beds up against the house have to have covers on them for winter use.
Until later …