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  #1  
Old 01/24/11, 12:43 PM
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Need input on 2 acre farm setup

We have 2 1/2 acres, 1 of that is woods....I'm looking for input as to how to set it up for a tiny self sufficient farm....we have a hen house with 14 hens, 1 rooster & 16 call ducks. We also have a 50 x 10 ft garden. I'd like to know what you think about raising pigs, dairy cows, rabbits etc... on such a small acreage. There is no creek or pond but we do have a well. Any input would be appreciated.

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  #2  
Old 01/24/11, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
I'd like to know what you think about raising pigs, dairy cows, rabbits etc... on such a small acreage.
I think you're asking an awful lot from a small space... Poultry you probably won't have trouble with, nor a garden.
But the rest you'll probably want to go with an either/or scenario. Ie, a couple of pigs OR a dairy cow.
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  #3  
Old 01/24/11, 01:12 PM
 
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Even if you cut down the woods and turned it to pasture, you'd be hard pressed to have enough room for a cow, IMHO. Definitely you're gonna have to buy all your hay. Probably better to trade eggs for dairy products with someone with more land to raise cows.

Expand the chickens, consider meat rabbits, and yes, pigs are quite possible, and you'd even have room ( with the woods converted ) to raise feed for the pigs so you wouldn't have to buy all of it. I'd buy a couple in the spring, supplement their feed with garden produce/pasture/etc, and slaughter in fall about the time the garden quits.

Hard to say on the garden, depends on how intensive you're using that 10x50, but that wouldn't be enough for us, personally. I'd move to expand that, or get really serious about raised beds.

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  #4  
Old 01/24/11, 02:28 PM
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First off, welcome to the forums. I hope you will enjoy and participate in many of them.

I agree with others that a cow/cows would probably not be doable, but the others would be.

You might be able to add a goat to the equation if you'd want to since it is smaller and eats what others might not.

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  #5  
Old 01/24/11, 02:46 PM
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Are you planning to use wood to heat your home? I ask because the wooded land you currently have won't last very long. If you want to heat your home with wood you will have to replant trees just to keep your supply going. And even then 1 acre of woods won't produce all the wood you need for heat.

Rabbits and chickens could certainly be raised on the feed you can grow on your property. I don't think you would have enough pasture for a cow/cows or even a pig or two unless you buy a piglet or steer to finish before butchering. A couple goats might work but you would have to buy feed and supplements for them.

To grow all the veggies and fruits you will eat each year your garden would need to be expanded and you need some fruit trees or bushes and some nut bearing trees. IMO, you would be better off to start with just the poultry and maybe a few meat rabbits and getting an orchard started before adding large livestock. You could even start growing grain for yourselves and the poultry. Some of your crop residue (corn stalks and leaves and oat, wheat, or buckwheat straw) could be fed to rabbits.

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  #6  
Old 01/24/11, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darr View Post
We have 2 1/2 acres, 1 of that is woods....I'm looking for input as to how to set it up for a tiny self sufficient farm....we have a hen house with 14 hens, 1 rooster & 16 call ducks. We also have a 50 x 10 ft garden. I'd like to know what you think about raising pigs, dairy cows, rabbits etc... on such a small acreage. There is no creek or pond but we do have a well. Any input would be appreciated.
There's a guy up in Campbellsville, Ky that will sell you pigs/sausage for very reasonable prices. Since we have been going there, we don't raise pigs anymore. His are locally raised and alot less trouble. PM me and I will give you his contact info.... As for the dairy cow, you might go with a goat if you favor their milk. Cows take up space and either that or you have to feed alot of hay..... Where are you in Ky??
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  #7  
Old 01/24/11, 02:54 PM
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Definitely consider dairy goats as opposed to a cow. You're going to have to buy hay and grain anyway with that size acreage. We don't pasture ours on the 1 acre plot we use.

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  #8  
Old 01/24/11, 03:47 PM
 
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Yep as everyone else has said cows take a lot of space and drink a lot of water. Expand your garden a little, you can get a lot out of a small space if you take care of it. Think about adding some fruit trees, grapes, blueberries etc. if you have an open spot with a lot of sunlight. Trade or barter with your fruits for the other things you need. Take it in baby steps and you will get there ! Good- luck.

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  #9  
Old 01/24/11, 03:51 PM
 
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Big garden.

Poultry.

Rabbits.

If you really want milk, you could squeeze in a couple goats, but will need to buy them feed for at least portions of the year.

No on the beef/cows. Eat you out of house & home, no room on your small acreage.

Pigs - if you don't have goats, might be room for a couple hogs instead.

Big garden & poultry is the way to go on a smaller place like that.

Bigger animals eat a lot & poop a lot, and need room to run around. Doesn't leave any place for you, your well, your septic......

--->Paul

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  #10  
Old 01/24/11, 04:04 PM
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Welcome to the forum! Congratulations on your place. There's a LOT you can do with that much land. There's a lot that you can't either. But we will think about the positives.

Goats - yes. They might even be able to graze in the woods- depending on the woods and how much you love the trees. You could do sheep partially in the woods too - just not a easily and some breeds more easily than others. with either, you would have to buy hay - maybe year round for enough pasture. Figure the cost of hay into your plan.

I'd enlarge that garden. I have 80x90 and wish I had 3x that much. Definately a small orchard and small fruits/berries. To me, fruits are more cost effective to grow than veggies. Try meat chickens - they are easy. You could also raise a sheep for meat only and not carry it over the winter to help with costs - though I always recommend having 2 of whatever animal you choose.

I hope you can find your ideal!

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  #11  
Old 01/24/11, 04:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by luvrulz View Post
There's a guy up in Campbellsville, Ky that will sell you pigs/sausage for very reasonable prices. Since we have been going there, we don't raise pigs anymore. His are locally raised and alot less trouble. PM me and I will give you his contact info.... As for the dairy cow, you might go with a goat if you favor their milk. Cows take up space and either that or you have to feed alot of hay..... Where are you in Ky??
I'd be interested in the pig man (sorry to hear ya'll don't raise them anymore) and any info you can give about what he has.
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  #12  
Old 01/24/11, 05:02 PM
 
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I've got 2 acres of good quality irrigated pasture and it will support 2 cows year round, with pasture rotation. So it depends upon what your land is like. I don't think you can raise cattle, but if you have good grass, you could probably buy a half grown steer and grow it out.

My suggestion is that you plant some fruit trees and then when the first fruit of the year is ripe, buy a couple of young pigs and feed them on fruit and grain. Great meat, very little expense, and you butcher before the weather gets bad so you don't have to deal with taking care of them in the winter. Believe me, a couple of good fruit trees will produce way more than your family can eat, dry, can, and barter away.

Pig prices are funny. Little weaners cost as much as 50 pound pigs, so I try to buy them partially grown. Home grown pork is simply amazing.

Rabbits are excellent for small holders. Lots of meat for the amount of work and expense and the meat is absolutely delicious. The rabbits are pleasant and quiet.

If you are going to keep ducks, I suggest that you switch to an egg laying breed. Unless you have a good market for baby call ducks, they are cute, but not contributing much. There are good dual purpose ducks that lay eggs and have a carcass big enough to make it worth dressing out and eating.

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  #13  
Old 01/24/11, 06:58 PM
 
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My dad, when he got old had around 2 doz beef cows he let loose on the pasture. He kept a jersey cow in the cow lot for around 20yrs. While he was still working even. He got home in the winter around dark and he didnt want to be walking all over the pasture looking for the cow. He kept it in the cow lot which was around 50ft sq. Of course he had the grain and hay to feed her where you would have to buy it, BUT, If you made your lot say 75sq, Id say you could keep a cow, and 3 pigs, and 2 doz chickens in the lot were it made hog and poultry tight. They would each compliment the other hunting the grain the others left. You could easily keep a hundred rabbits if you wished in an area 50sq.. you could keep a few turkeys also.

You could keep 2 milk cows in that lot . You could then keep the hogs in the woods where they could get some of their feed in the fallin nuts ect.

U could keep a milk cow and a beef cow for milk and meat.

You could keep a 1/2 doz goats in that area

Like I said tho, You would have to buy all your feed. Saying that, Find a place where you can buy feed loose in bulk, bought by the ton. Buying it that way should give u a bonus of around 300lbs extra. Thats the way it is here. Youll have to build a grainery shed. It could be attached either to the barn, or the tool shed. Get your barn built befor haying season and buy your hay in the field. Its cheaper that way.

As had been said. Make all the room for a garden you can. If you cannot supply the feed for your animals, you CAN supply most of the food for yourselves. Build/dig a celler to keep jars, ect. Buy a GARDEN TRACTOR, either 2 wheel or 4, and the plow, disc harrow, cultivator, to go with it. Buy yourself a GOOD tiller, and a small Mantis tiller, along with hoes, rakes, a seeder, and planter. KEEP the tractor and tillers in a shed.

Good Luck

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  #14  
Old 01/24/11, 07:01 PM
 
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I cant walk much anymore. I intend to, when I get a milk cow do the same thing as my dad, other than, when Im done milking in the morning, Ill let her loose amongst the farmstead, machinery ect. Ill gather her back up at night and leave her in the lot after milking. I have around 1/2 acre or more that she could roam around all day long gewtting grass that might go missed, or that id have to cut.

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  #15  
Old 01/24/11, 07:20 PM
 
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a couple of mini dairy goats like nigerians would live happily in the woods, youll have to supliment feed but unles you use alot of milk a few nigerian will usually produce enough milk for family use while taking up less space and feed.
you will have the problem of putting up a good fence to keep the goats in though, goats are escape artists.
they will quickly clear out brush, but might also chomp on your trees...

rabbit, chicken, and quail (cortinux) can be raised quite nicely in very little space so those are definatly good starters
and mabe a pig raised for butcher

you will be suplimenting feed no matter what you do, but in terms of space ive seen people homestead on less and do quite well it just takes a lot more managment/planning to make sure everyones got enough space, enough feed and enough enrichment.

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  #16  
Old 01/24/11, 07:38 PM
 
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Wow...i too am new to the forum and spending the first winter on our farm. I come from a development background so i tend to be systematic (maybe even too much so per the Mrs.). first off i would consider all this great input you recieved and create a plan of what you want to do. If you were to dream what your farm would look like in 10 years.? Using that as a starting point, i would create a master plan and then phase it as you certainly can't do everything at once. I can't speak to the livestock you want but i can verify that both egg and meat chickens are a great bang for the buck. They are a lot of fun for our entire family. How about this:
1. create a plan and phase it
2. Build a well built perimeter fence. Then if anything gets out of your specialty ones, they are contained. Keeps the things that need to stay in....and helps keep the other stuff out
3. Orchard/Berries / garden - Plant the orchard/berries as soon as you can. Remember that the trees can get pretty big. Plan your garden. What type: Raised beds? combination? In our own plan, we have future greenhouses.
4. Chickens/ rabbits - Includes any coop or chicken tractors you have to build.
5. Other livestock - Fencing, shelter
6. Perhaps a central barn to store hay and feed and a little shop?
7. Hottub...!

Have a great time!

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  #17  
Old 01/24/11, 08:02 PM
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Welcome to the forums Darr. You have a wonderful opportunity for creativity on your 2-1/2 acres.

I would echo what most have said in that making that small farm efficient does limit you to what you can have.

I can tell you what I would do if I were moving onto a new place with that many acres (1 acre being woodland). The necessities would be living arrangements with your septic system and a good well. I would create my edibles around that & definately not over the septic system's drainage field as some do.

The first thing I would do is mentally section off what I want where. Then I would plant fruit trees/bushes and set up whatever is needed to protect those from the wild life, i.e. deer, etc. (We put a double row of fencing 2-1/2 ft apart around each of ours until they are old enough to survive if they lose some of their leaves to deer. Then we double wrap them with that same fencing to keep the trunk safe from the same predators.)

I would plan on raising "laying" hens "with rose combs" (for all year round eggs); and even add some pidgeons over that chicken house. I would also set up a small rabbit farm (couple of does with one buck). Then I would plan on a garden that would provide for my family and have enough culled to feed the animals. If I wanted milk, I would get a "pair" of goats (doe/buck) and let them run together all the time. (No, a good buck does not change the taste of goat milk.) You can let the goats into your garden "after" you have harvested what you want and they will clean up the rest of it for you. (Just throw down some type of grass to grow between your rows of vegies and a winter "cover crop" for your goats and they will be happy during the winter and your garden area will benefit when you till that cover crop in the following spring.)

Do let us know what you decide and we always enjoy pictures. ..... hint hint .....

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  #18  
Old 01/24/11, 09:57 PM
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Here's a question for some of you (sorry to hijack your thread, darr, but maybe this will help you too?).

What about a dexter cow? cow for dairy, and a baby each year to either sell, barter or grow out? Would that fit on a small acreage?

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  #19  
Old 01/24/11, 10:13 PM
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We grow an incredible amount of veggies in our 2,500 sq foot garden area of raised beds, plenty to feed us, put up, etc... I use a modified version of Sq Ft Gardening, French Intensive, and no-till methods. I also use my chicken manure (composted) and also rabbit manure for my garden beds (our own compost, also Comfrey). We are going to get Nubian Goats for milk. Our garden area has been expanded to 3,000 sq feet (32 raised beds, now) and our fruit orchard, of 21 fruit trees (19 mature fruit bearing) is being converted to Permaculture. This will then increase my gardening space considerably. Of our 6.68 acres, 5 acres is in forest. Make sure you plant Comfrey, so you can use it for livestock feed, among its many other uses.

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  #20  
Old 01/24/11, 10:55 PM
 
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They have those cages one on top the other. The 2 bottom are higher than the one on top. You buy bsaby chicks and put them on the topWhen they have grown to where there crowded you devide them up into the 2 bottom cages. When they have gotten crowded you butcher one of the bottom pens and devide them up again, and so on. In the meantime youve got new babies growing out in the top cage, and a handy concentrated source of manure,

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  #21  
Old 01/25/11, 12:02 AM
 
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I think Gymno is on the right track with his suggestions, especially the phase approach.

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  #22  
Old 01/25/11, 06:46 AM
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The Back Yard Homestead by Carleen Madigan

This book is my favorite. SO simple to understand. Shows you how to get the most out of 1/4, 1/2, and more acres.

The Self-Sufficient Life, and How to Live It by John Seymour

This is my second favorite book. Goes a little deeper than The Back Yard Homestead.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

There is good information in this book. I do not care for it, the print is VERY small, and it reads more like a diary than an instruction manual.

Great books!!
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  #23  
Old 01/25/11, 07:23 AM
 
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I have 9 acres, but my goats and pigs and chickens and garden only occupy a couple of acres of it. I love to have them roam the entire 9 acres, but trying to keep goats and pigs fenced in is a pain+expensive. You can do a ton of wonderful stuff on two acres.

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  #24  
Old 01/25/11, 10:05 AM
 
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Gymno and Laura Zone 5 have good planning ideas. I really like the second book she mentioned. As to the livestock, goats will probably fit better with your acreage. I just wanted to suggest that if you find you need to buy hay, look into making hay on halves with a neighbor who has the standing hay to spare. Or, go 60/40 on that. You will help your neighbor and have hay for the labor instead of the money. That's the way our DS gets his for his beefers and goats. Goats have a shorter lactation period than cows. If you can invest in a large freezer, you can freeze goat milk for those months when your goats are dry. Our DDIL does that and it works out great. With a family of 3 and a herd of 6 goats, our DS and DDIL had more milk than they could use daily. I agree on expanding your garden space. Keep in mind that fruit trees need to grow before they produce. We had pear trees for 8 years before we had pears off them. Dwarf or semi-dwarf apple trees will produce sooner than standard and they still provide much more than you can use just for family. Asparagus--make sure you get the large male variaties for better production. Again, asparagus takes time to mature. Homesteaders-the Patient Gamblers!
So many good ideas in the answers to your questions. Thanks for asking. I am sure everyone following your post has benefited from it, as well as you. Thanks again!

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  #25  
Old 01/25/11, 10:07 AM
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Regarding pigs: the correct number of pigs of a suitable breed might be good for your woodlot, though as I understand it if they are in there too long they'll harm the larger trees. Try http://sugarmtnfarm.com/ and check out Walter's blog. Another source might be http://www.stockmangrassfarmer.net/. They are for commercial operations BUT there is a lot of information in there about intensive management that you could apply to your smallholding. Also check out John Seymour's Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency - he has a lot of information on proper rotation of animals and crops. And don't forget local farmers. Surely there is a way to manage the right number of chickens, goats, pigs and rabbits on your land.

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  #26  
Old 01/25/11, 10:22 AM
 
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Find a copy of "One Acre and Security" by Bradford Angier,lots of good ideas there.

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  #27  
Old 01/25/11, 10:44 AM
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my best suggestion is to use the last couple months of winter to read up on some really good books to get ideas from..My best suggestion is Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway but I'm reading right now Edible forest Gardens (vol 1 out of 2 vol) that I borrowed from the Library..Dave Jacke...and am learning a little more ..

you can find Bill Mollison's work on line for free to read if you dont' have library access..just google permaculture or bill Mollison

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  #28  
Old 01/25/11, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by TnAndy View Post
Even if you cut down the woods and turned it to pasture, you'd be hard pressed to have enough room for a cow, IMHO. Definitely you're gonna have to buy all your hay. Probably better to trade eggs for dairy products with someone with more land to raise cows.

Expand the chickens, consider meat rabbits, and yes, pigs are quite possible, and you'd even have room ( with the woods converted ) to raise feed for the pigs so you wouldn't have to buy all of it. I'd buy a couple in the spring, supplement their feed with garden produce/pasture/etc, and slaughter in fall about the time the garden quits.

Hard to say on the garden, depends on how intensive you're using that 10x50, but that wouldn't be enough for us, personally. I'd move to expand that, or get really serious about raised beds.
I had a typo.....my garden is actually 100 ft x 50 ft.
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  #29  
Old 01/25/11, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonjaze View Post
Here's a question for some of you (sorry to hijack your thread, darr, but maybe this will help you too?).

What about a dexter cow? cow for dairy, and a baby each year to either sell, barter or grow out? Would that fit on a small acreage?
I wouldn't and I had Dexters. With one full acre in woods he won't have enough grass. He would be much better off with a dairy goat or 2 living in his woods.

I think you could get a hog or 2 to feed out too if you buy them in the Spring when you have plenty of food for them and then butcher in the Fall.

There are a lot of questions here too though: what is the quality of your land, do you have good pasture? How many people in your family? What does your woods consist of?
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  #30  
Old 01/25/11, 04:03 PM
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So here's a twist in my story....after posting this, I decided to map out what my plan was for my little farm so I got out my topo photo, deeds and figured out where my boundary lines lie....as it turns out, I have 3.6 acres here....they sold it to me as 2.5.....so good for me.

Now, my land is approx 1/3 woods, which is overgrown and scattered with hardwoods and brush on a steep slope except for the two track that runs through it. The rest of the land is on top og the hill so some of it is pretty rocky but the front yard has good black dirt.

Our garden is 50 ft x 100 ft and we've cleared that out of tha rocks but are still working on amending the dirt.

We have a hen house and covered outdoor pen for the ducks and chickens thats approx 20 x 60 area. There is a small lien-to built onto the back of the hen house that I had considered using for a pig or two.

The lien-to backs up to our backyard and I had wanted to divide that area into two larger gardens so that we could put the pigs out on one side for a year and let them work up and fertilize the ground, then the following year, rotate the pigs and garden area. If we did that, I would think we wouldn't have to rototil the garden anymore. Any input on that idea?

I also have an outdoor storm shelter that has electric and had thought of using that as a milking area for a dairy cow. As for pasture, we have about an acre of open grassy yard.

I appreciate all that have and are contributing to help me bring my ideas to light

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