Homesteading Forum banner
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As you guys can probably tell I am a total newbie here and I have so many "stupid" homesteading questions that all on every subject that I'm just going to post in this forum. My husband and I are both in our late 20's with 3 children (4, 3, 7 mos, and another due in mid June) My husband is a teacher and the pastor of our small country church, I am a stay at home mom. In about six weeks we will be moving to our own 2.5 acres to finally live our dream of our own homestead. We plan on having chickens for meat and eggs, a couple of dairy goats, possibly a feeder pig and a huge garden (FINALLY somewhere with actual fertile soil instead of red clay)

Goats
1.)We were planning on using pygmy's for milk, and raise any male kids as wethers for the freezer. But then I read in someones post on here that pygmy's are not good milk goats. Why?? What I have researched online is that they were origionally bred in Africa for dual purpose, meat and milk. I'm not planning on selling it, just for our own personal use.

2.) When we first get the goats, I want to have them in the barn at night (barn already on new property, I'm sooooo excited) and on generous picket lines during the day but only when I'm there to keep and eye on them (which is just about all day every day) We have a good bit of brush to clear (good goat eating) and I would like to be able to move them from place to place until its cleared and then build a permenant goat pen. Of course, in inclement weather or when I can't be on hand to protect them they will be in the barn with plenty of hay and goat toys. Is this okay?

Chickens
1.) Is TSC a good place to get day old chicks? (again, dual purpose, for eggs and meat, maybe RIR or Buff Orps). I'm a little skittish about using a hatchery that sends them through the mail.

Garden
1.) What can I be doing now to get ready? I am in zone 7b (just moving a few miles down the road) When do I need to start tomatos, peppers, etc indoors. How about early spring things like cabbage, broccoli. etc?? I've been raising what I can in raised beds for years but I'm serious about it now that we have good soil and the room. I'm talking sauerkraut, tomato sauce, pickles etc. I grew up helping my grandmother can from their expansive garden so I am experienced in that area)

Any answers from you wiser ones would be very appreciated.

Amber, helpmeet to one, mom to 6 (2 in heaven, 3 in my arms, one still in my belly), and future homesteader.:help:
 

·
Original recipe!
Joined
·
14,044 Posts
Hi.
Welcome.
And congratulations!

Well, I would start with the County Extension office.
I would ask them the planting questions etc... they have good pamphlets and a master gardener hanging around. I would start laying out the beds how you want them, get a soil test done and start a compost bin. Spend you evenings curled in a chair with a pen and paper and seed catalogs.

I would also ask about a good feed store. They should ahve chicks coming in. However.. just know that the chicks TSC and the feed stores are selling just came through the mail from the same hatcheries that everyone else uses. My feed store gets their's from Ideal.
Your call as to whether or not you want the feed store to care for them for a day or two before you buy them. You could post a note in the feed store asking for local chicks or look in the paper/craigslist for some full grown birds too.

Good luck and keep us posted as to how everything is going.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,388 Posts
Welcome! I agree - either get your chicks through the mail or get them locally from someone who raises them.

For the garden, you'll need to know your average last frost date, then plan your planting and seed-starting times around that. I got out a dozen sheets of notebook paper, labelled each of them with a month across the top, divided them into fourths and made each fourth a week of the month. Then I dug through a gardening book and figured out when to plant and when to start seeds, and made notes on my sheets of paper. A great gardening book is Ed Woods' Vegetable Gardener's Bible
http://www.amazon.com/Vegetable-Gar...bs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229450945&sr=8-1

Can't help you with the goats, sorry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,511 Posts
Let me inform you that a stupid queation is one that isn't asked. Have a great time asking queations. IF there is something that I can answer for you I will. The queation that I have is where do the chicks come from to Tractor supply? They are mailed to them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
320 Posts
Welcome :) i am also a new comer and just starting out. got about 19 chickens, thru the mail (well i had quite a bit more than that, but due to some misfortune, and some careful pruning i have narrowed my numbers lol) i have 3 goats (i was told the 2 females are preggers when the guy gave them to me, but alas i've had them for about 5 months and no babies) they are pygmys and i plan on milking them when and if i ever get babies, and 3 rabbits for starting a good little eatery lol. I wish you all the luck, and i agree the only stupid question is one that goes unasked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,825 Posts
pygmy question. yes pygmys were originally raised for meat and milk, just as toy dogs were originally working dogs. they are now pets. keep in mind also that a bit of milk in sub saharan africa is a treat. the original breeders weren't putting milk on their cereal every morning and making creamy potato soup :). pygmys will not produce a significant amount of milk in comparison to a dairy breed (think 1 quart max from a pygmy to a gallon plus on a good working dairy goat), and they are difficult to hand milk because their teats are so tiny. for meat production purposes they really aren't that bad especialy because they are very parasite resistant in comparison to many other breeds. you could raise a few dairy goats and cross them with a meat buck and eat the kids. generally the better the meat characteristics are of the goat the worse dairy producer they are. you can get mediocre in both regards but I would stick with good milker. you can eat the kids tehy just won't be as meaty.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
pygmy question. yes pygmys were originally raised for meat and milk, just as toy dogs were originally working dogs. they are now pets. keep in mind also that a bit of milk in sub saharan africa is a treat. the original breeders weren't putting milk on their cereal every morning and making creamy potato soup :). pygmys will not produce a significant amount of milk in comparison to a dairy breed (think 1 quart max from a pygmy to a gallon plus on a good working dairy goat), and they are difficult to hand milk because their teats are so tiny. for meat production purposes they really aren't that bad especialy because they are very parasite resistant in comparison to many other breeds. you could raise a few dairy goats and cross them with a meat buck and eat the kids. generally the better the meat characteristics are of the goat the worse dairy producer they are. you can get mediocre in both regards but I would stick with good milker. you can eat the kids tehy just won't be as meaty.
Thanks for the info. So, I'm going to have 2.5 acres to work with, some of that alloted to house, garden, chickens, etc. I will be able to milk twice a day or three if needed (can you even do that much) I am interested in making cheese, butter, yogurt, etc on top of using the milk for cooking and drinking. So what do I need to go for if not pygmies? I am not going to have a buck on the premises, will be taking the ladies to be serviced as needed. Plan on letting the kids be dam raised and sharing the milk. Would having a Dexter heifer and calf be a better choice for our needs? Or can I keep 2 Nubians on that small of the acreage? Would love to have a mini Jersey but are WAY out of our price range and would produce too much.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,745 Posts
Thanks for the info. So, I'm going to have 2.5 acres to work with, some of that alloted to house, garden, chickens, etc. I will be able to milk twice a day or three if needed (can you even do that much) I am interested in making cheese, butter, yogurt, etc on top of using the milk for cooking and drinking. So what do I need to go for if not pygmies? I am not going to have a buck on the premises, will be taking the ladies to be serviced as needed. Plan on letting the kids be dam raised and sharing the milk. Would having a Dexter heifer and calf be a better choice for our needs? Or can I keep 2 Nubians on that small of the acreage? Would love to have a mini Jersey but are WAY out of our price range and would produce too much.
You have enough space on an acre to have several goats. you will need to buy a little hay in the winter but dont worry about ath, they dont really eat that much hay. Also two milkings 12 hours apart per day is the best route in my experience, just be sure not to miss one of them. :)
I would go with french alpines, but nubians arent all bad, if you dont mind the goaty taste, sannans are also fair milkers, great producers, but the one I had gave nothing away, you had to fight with her for every drop. I would definately NOT recommend leaving the kids on the does, its not good for the udders if you are looking for long term dairy production, and it cuts way down on the production of the doe during her current lactation. Milk your does, and feed the kids on bottles. Its a bit more labor, but well worth the effort. Again if you are planning on keeping this herd for the long haul, a good buck is half your herd, and careful breeding records are an absolute must. Another hint is acquiring your stock, buy known producers only, papers do not put one drop of milk in a bucket, good genes do. Again, you may find it difficult to find good breeding stock, most serious breeders wont part with anything but the ones they are culling and its very difficult to "up breed" a herd, genetics are funny that way, it takes lots of generations to produce quality genes, and only one to wipe them out. buy good stock, be very picky about breeding and you can do well. Large boulders and old cable spools make great goat toys, they do love to be "UP". As to preparing now? I would not disturb the soil when its wet, you end up with bricks for three years getting them broken down again. You can start collecting your organic matter though and let it be composting. Large animal manure is best for this, leaves, old hay and other organics are good, but you want that manure for the nitrogen in new soil. It all needs to compost and now is the time to get that part started. (late last summer would have been even better) I would plan on at least two inches of compost on my planting areas, so you will need a goodly amount so it will be ready to be spread when you are. For quick fertility, chicken and rabbit droppings are both excellent, but be careful, they are very "hot" compared to larger animals products. a little goes a long way. Other preps would include serious workouts, get that body in shape for some heavy duty exercise come spring! You dont want to get caught off gaurd with all that work to be done, and find you are not ready for the task. Welcome aboard! good luck and hope you enjoy your homesteading experiences as much as I have mine. :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,706 Posts
I agree that a dairy goat would be a better choice for your homestead. I disagree that you can't get a good goat from a serious breeder. A breeder who is good at what they do, will soon be in the predicament of having to sell some very nice does just to keep the herd size manageable. As one breeder put it "A cull from that breeder is the best goat in the barn somewhere else".

Do make sure that your goats come from good milk lines - lots of milk with large orifices and a good let-down reflex makes hand milking soooo easy. Nubians have more butterfat, generally less milk, shorter lactations. Saanens have lots and lots of milk with long lactations. These are generalizations - a poor Saanen is going to produce less than a good Nubian.

Do make sure that you get healthy stock - tested Negative for CAE, negative for CL (spend some time on the goat forum - read a LOT. Visit Dairygoatinfo.com. They now have a post in Goatkeeping 101 for new owners/purchasers).

At first, try to find a nice Boer buck to breed your dairy girls to - the kids will be meatier and you will get both milk and meat. Remember that a good dairy goat (or two) will provide you with enough milk for the house, for cheese, and extra for feeding to the chickens, the pigs, etc.

Congratulations! What a great way for your children to grow up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
I plan on getting meat/dairy cross bred to have the best from both sides. As for chickens, I ordered 50 day old chicks last June. It worked out about even for us, The hens are beautiful, we get about 18 eggs a day from 21 hens. The roosters on the other end took a long time and alot of food to grow and even now still seem thin to us, not much breast meat but really nice legs. They have been in a stall so it's not like they have alot of room to roam around keeping them thin. I would recommend ordering your day old hens and some meat birds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
Amber, I agree with the above regarding dairy goats, milking a pygmy would be just no fun at all for the small amount you'd get.
My reaction when reading your original post is, are you superwoman or what?? Having goats that need milked (2x daily) plus a huge garden that needs planted, weeded, watered, picked, processed, etc. plus chickens that need care daily, plus washing the eggs, and so on.....when I had just two toddlers, let alone a newborn plus, it would have been too much for me. Go slow, especially since your precious little ones will only be little for a very short time (I know, it seems like forever, but turn around and they'll be grown up and gone). Perhaps try a small garden at first, maybe a few hens, then work your way up. Of course, if you have lots of help (mom, sibling, hubby?) then "nevermind" to everything I just said. I remember being newly married and living in town (yuck) and the excitement of finally finding a place in the country, so I share your anticipation and joy. But remember to give yourself time for you, and time even to rest once in a while, and the country life will be a lot more fun.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,478 Posts
If you like the ideal of the smaller goats,you might check out the Nigerian Dwarfs. They are bred to be miniature milkers. On a small acrerage smaller sometimes means being able to have more. Don't forget to to throw in some Americanna chickens for a variety of egg colors! I planted dwarf apples only two years ago and got my first good harvest this year!, Just think small and you will come out big! Welcome to the fascinating world of homesteading and ask all the questions you want. Have a Merry Christmas too!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,519 Posts
1.)I bow to others experienced with goats....:bow:

2.)I don't know how well a goat would respond to a tether. I would think they would tangle themselves up pretty good. How about portable fencing - cattle/sheep panels that are 4'X16 feet long and hard wire? Get 4-6 of them and some T posts and move them around often.

Chickens
1.) I get chicks through the mail every year - the only chick I had die was quickly credited to my account. Others love TSC too. ONly I wonder if the last kid that picked up the chick put it back in the right bin.

Garden
1.) Will you need a fence around it? You can do that now. If there is bermuda grass growing where you want to garden, you can scrape that off and push it into a pile to compost - if the soil isn't too wet. Driving on wet soil packs it down and makes it harder for plants to grow on it. Start collecting mulch and soil ammendments - leaves, straw, pine needles, etc. Build a compost bin. In mid-late Feb, throw some rye grass seed out there and let it grow a bit. Plan on tilling it under before it reseeds. Start looking for garden seeds. If you don't know how to start seeds - that would be a good thing to learn. Have a soil test done and see what you are going to need to add to get the pH corrected and how much of each plant nutrient you will need.

Congratulations on your new place. Don't start with too much too soon. Get the chicks going in Feb. Then the garden. Maybe start with baby goats this year so it will be a while before you have to milk every day. In fact, if you don't have some good dependable help, I would wait on the goats. If Dh is kicking in with that - go for it.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,981 Posts
I would start with a batch of chicks, mail order. I've done both, and I prefer those that came directly to my house. They are probably under less stress going right into the dog crate rather than being in a drafty store and being moved around. Buy a dual purpose breed that is known for good foraging. Orpingtons are very nice if you are going to keep them, nice and gentle, but they take longer to grow up. Rhode Island Reds mature faster and you can butcher the roosters and get a nice roast. Learn to care for chickens before getting other livestock. As mentioned above, you are soon going to have two babies to care for, as well as two bigger little guys. Your older child will be able to bring grain to the chickens every morning.

Goats are known escape artists, many people start with sheep, and once they can keep the sheep behind fencing, move on to goats. This is what I would advise you to do. Get some portable electric fencing for poultry (so you can use it with poultry as well as goats- it's 4' high), a charger, and learn how to use it. Buy three ewe lambs and learn to deal with them over the summer. In the fall, have them butchered at your local meat processor/slaughterhouse/packing house. Once you've dealt with the lambs, you'll have a better idea of whether or not you want to deal with goats. This gives you one summer of having to worry about four legged critters without dealing with goat maternity issues or milking twice a day. In the mean time, learn what you can about goats and look for someone local who can sell you good milkers and perhaps act as a mentor.

Merry Christmas!
 

·
agmantoo
Joined
·
10,852 Posts
amber, what do you fine objectionable with this red clay? I live in zone 7. The garden soil is what you make it to be and all soils can be improved. I like the red clay. It is very productive and will not readily dry out in times of drought. The color has changed a bit as I have improved the soil. At one time it was brick red and I live in a major brick producing area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
187 Posts
You might try getting in touch with the local 4-H Club for good goat breeders in your area. Also, we have local flea markets weekly and HUGE Amish auctions a couple of times a year. They have chickens of every age and breed you can imagine.

If you can get any old manure from stables would be good to put on your garden spot. We dump just about any organice matter we have on our garden spot throughout the winter and till it in in the spring.

Good Luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
423 Posts
Definitely go with a good dairy goat Pygmies will not be a good milking situation for you. We have Nubian's and La Mancha's and they are fantastic. Not sure why the other poster said Nubian's have "goaty" milk. Nubians have higher butterfat in there milk which in general gives the milk a much better taste. Saanens are also the heaviest milking breed, generally giving a gallon or more a day but with a bit lower fat than other goats. Generally you want to steer clear of Toggenburgs as there milk is a bit stronger tasting for cheesemaking. Some people have trouble with Alpine's too. You definitely have enough room for a couple of milkers. Goats really don't take up much space. Cattle panels are excellent for containing goats. They are easy to put up and move if necessary and plenty strong for goats antics. Spend some time researching the best way to handle the milk, what kind of container to use, what kind of cleaners to use, etc.. (or PM me and I would be happy to help) It makes a HUGE difference in the quality of your milk. Your feeding program needs to be top notch too to support a full time milker. If you only feed browse and grass hay that will not cut it. I would not get a buck on such a small acreage. Too smelly and not cost effective for a very small herd. If you can find a Boer or other meat buck in your area to cross with your dairy girls then that will give you some meaty babies you can butcher in the fall. Goat meat is excellent!

As far as the chickens, many people buy from their local store. This is an excellent way to go. The chickens are usually over the shock of being shipped and are well started on eating and drinking. Remember most hatcheries have a minimum order of 25 so if you don't need that many or are wanting to order exotic chicks the local feed store is probably a better way to go.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,056 Posts
I have dairy cross goats boer/nubian but I don't milk mine so I can't help there.
We have a pretty nice garden in this red clay! It isn't really red anymore after using it as a garden for so many years. I usually start my cabbage broccoli and such now to set out in March.I start tomatoes,peppers and warmer season crops in Feb. I will also put out some potatoes and peas in the garden in Feb. depending how wet it is.
I have never seen chicks at TSC but don't go there often. Alot of the mail order companies have been in buisness for years. you can't do that if there are problems with your product.
Good Luck!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Some TSC's and other places will let you place an order with them for your chicks, then when they come in you go there and pick them up. This is to help cut down on the shipping costs. There are pros and cons about getting them from the store (when they have them out in the aisles to pick out). Some places will still make you get 25 even when buying them like this, alot of times they don't even know for sure what they have and you could be getting something completely different than you thought you were getting, but you do get to see them to see if they look weak or sick before you take them home, but even that is not a guarentee that they are healthy. If you get them from the hatchery they usually have some type of thing setup if you have dead ones (some places up to a couple of days after you get them), that they will credit you in some way for them (this is different for different hatcheries), most of them have a meat/egg combo for cheaper prices. Now as far as breeds, if you don't mind having a few different kinds I think that a meat/egg combo would be a good choice, that way you can kind of test drive a couple of different breeds all at once and see what you like or don't like, or what works better in your area. Then next time you order chicks you could go with what worked better for you. But just remember that it takes about 6 months before you will be getting any eggs. If you have some one around in your area that raises chickens you may want to try to get some from them (of course depending on how their flock looks and everything) that way you won't have to wait as long to get eggs and you can kinda get a better idea of their temperment and how good they lay in your area and such. Sorry this is so long.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
I just got two bred Alpines. I don't know about which breed would be better to get but they were what was available in my area and I got a great deal on them. They will both be 5 next year, the woman also had a couple that were 2 yrs old. We went with the older more experienced ones because I figured at least one of us should be, I can't imagine trying to get the whole milking thing figured out and trying to train one up at the same time. Plus they were calmer and gentler than the two younger ones and better personalites. Now that being said I did like the looks of the two younger ones better, they were a little meater and I really liked the ones markings. But we went with the ones because of the reasons I stated above and that is more important to me than what they looked like, especially when my head will be that close to their legs. They will give about a gallon of milk a day each, even if they slack off a bit due to age or whatever it will still be more than enough for us. If you find some one with goats in your area visit them and interact with the animals, maybe you could even test milk them to see how they will be for you. So to sum all this up, not all breeds work the same for all people and people pick different breeds (or specific animals) for different reasons. Good luck and happy homesteading.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top