Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cow Search Begins

Holstein Bull in the distance and Rain, Rain, Rain!
Today we went on a cow search. We're hoping to find a reasonably priced small cow near us since we do not own a livestock trailer, and we've never dealt with large livestock that stands as tall as, if not taller than, us. We went on a journey to an animal rescue farm called HoofsnHorns located over in Picture Rocks. A very kind and personable lady runs the farm and she has taken in a lot of animals that really need a place to live out their lives in peace. She has goats, pigs, cows, waterfowl, chickens, dogs and a lot of other critters.

We were greeted by two happy-to-see-us dogs who walked with us to the cow pen. My husband had never been up close and personal with a standard size cow before, and I could immediately tell by the look on his face that this was a little intimidating. There were several cows there to meet, two of which were for sale, Rose and Ellie. One of the holstein mommies was very happy to get my attention and scratches. When I moved on to go to the next area, she came up behind me and bumped me to let me know she needed more scratches.

These cows were HUGE. They could look me in the eye. And they were beautiful. And I bet they make a LOT of milk. Did I mention they were HUGE? Sweet girls though.

Waiting on the porch for the rain to stop.
At that point it started to rain and then pour! We had to hurry up out of the cow area and take shelter on the porch where a lot of the rescued animals were already hiding out from mother nature. We met cute goats of many sizes and ages and a sweet deer.  It was obvious these animals are well-loved.

If you'd like to learn more about HoofsnHorns, stop by the website. Shelby sells goat milk soap and other homemade items to help support her animals. You can even sponsor an animal by donating for hay and feed.

Thank you, Shelby, for letting us meet your cows!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sheep Closeup

Braveheart, Lucky the Ram and Baby Sheep #1
Since we've had the Barbados sheep, they've been wild things, leaping to the far end of their pen in fear whenever we approach, make a sudden movement, sneeze, or breathe too loudly for their liking. Just about all the pictures we have of them when they're not being held, are taken from far away. Not even worth posting on the blog because you could hardly see them. That was simply the closest we could get.

Recently, Farmer G decided that he was going to tame those sheep.

What better bribery for tameness than grain? So each day for a couple of weeks he went in there with a handful of grain. And each day they came a little closer. He swears he can pet this little one, in the forefront, on the head for a second before she darts away. Her nickname is Braveheart. She's figured out where food comes from and also that the first one to the food gets to eat the most of it.

Lucky the Ram is the second bravest. Check out his curly horns. He's getting more masculine every time I look in there. He's doubled in size since we got him. He and Jorge were having a battle for dominance last week so it was time to move Jorge out. He's a goat after all. The sheep are much happier with only their own kind in there even though little, sweet Jorge is the gentlest guy ever.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We're Featured on Arizona Public Media!

Recently, I was interviewed by Gisela Telis of Arizona Public Media at about the goings on at the ranch. She met up with my mini farmers and I after we finished our chores. It was HOT (I know I say that a lot but it can't be emphasized enough) and we chatted about how we got started. She checked out the gigantic and test gardens and also took pics of the pumpkin patch. The goats were hamming it up for photos too. Read all about it here:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


It's done, at last!

This morning Farmer G and I put the last touches on the side unit affixed to our new hay/tool shed. The shed is conveniently located in a drive where I can back my truck in and unload the huge 70-80 pound bales of hay. I can now store at least 12 bales, probably more.

The shed does a fantastic job of keeping out the rain and elements (and rodents) so the hay will stay fresh and yummy for all the ruminants we have to feed. One other great unanticipated benefit is that all the loose bits of hay stay fresh when they fall onto the plastic floor. I keep a bucket and a broom in there so that will no longer be wasted. The prior hay storage area was three pallets and a piece of corrugated plastic. The bits fell through the pallet slats and were wasted.

My hand and gardening tools are slowly migrating to their new home. I still need to snag one of the huge shelf units from the restaurant to place against one wall. That will give me ample storage space for all the other goodies I want to keep in there.

The last thing I want to do is hookup a rain collection barrel to the shed. It comes with almost everything needed to do so. I just need a length of hose. I may be able to use a piece of one of the hoses that burst. (We have extreme water pressure out there.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Shed on the Way

This is what the shed looks like.
For my birthday I bought myself a new shed from Costco. It's not the shed I really wanted--the huge red "barn" Tuff Shed at Home Depot, but hey, you can't always get what you want. I have to work with a budget here. It's been 14 days since I got my shed and lugged it off the bed of my truck, dropping its two massive boxes on the earth a few feet from where I want it assembled. Why the long wait? Did I mention it's Tucson and it's BURNING HOT here?

So hot that last night I mulched three quarters of the garden at 11pm by battery operated lantern and moonlight. It's simply too hot to do things like that when the sun is up. Maybe I'm a vampire gardener.

But, back to the shed. No, it's not assembled...yet. But my mini-farmers and I went to Home Depot late last night before heading out to our ranch campground and got 72 concrete pavers for the shed base. This morning before we left we played a little game of Tetris or more like Farmville plotting and laid out the base. Farmer G snapped pictures and it only took the four of us about twenty minutes to finish. It's not perfect, but it will do just fine.

Unloading each paver one by one.
I wanted the shed primarily for hay storage. When we first started we only had four dwarf goats and could get by on one bale a week. Two if I didn't want to go to the feed store so much. But then we got the Boer mixes, the sheep, the 4-H goats and well, it's about three to four bales a week now. I had built a small hay stoarge area out of used pallets and a corrugated roof, but we outgrew that!

I'd also like a better place to store my itty bitty generator, harvesting buckets, chicken feed, goat grain and whatnot. A utility table would be nice. A place to keep seeds that haven't made their way into the rows yet. A place to keep my tools instead of leaned up against the compost bin.

Hmm, I hope this shed will be big enough!

What would I do without my mini-farmers?
Almost done!

All the pavers are in place. For the record each
of us took turns getting this one just right.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Small, Round, Orange Magic

If I don't check under the leaves every day,
something magical grows when I'm not looking!

Another Unexpected Visitor

If you look closely in the middle of this photo you will see
why it's important to watch your step and wear sting-proof shoes.

Fences and Gates

Despite the scorching heat and now the melting humidity of the monsoon season, I have been slowly but surely installing new gates and fences. My plan is to have a series of pastures that I can rotate the goats and sheep in, thereby allowing vegetation to grow in the ones that are not in use. It's free food and gives them a better varied diet, and probably will keep them from getting bored when we're not there to entertain them. The goats also offer free tree trimming services which lowers the fire hazard for our land.

This is the new BIG goat pen of which all the standard size goats but Pepper will reside in. The reason Pepper can't live there is because her son is the future buck for the four big goats.

I tried having him live with his future wives, but he's still very young and smaller than all of them. They all push him around and don't share their food. He's currently residing with the sheep. He pushes them around a little, but it's fairly gentle. Maybe in a few more months when he's a taller, he can try to move in with the BIG ladies again.

Tsica has already figured out that she can ram this gate really hard with her head and knock the latch crooked (no matter how much I tighten the bolt) allowing for an easy escape. I had a length of chain and another clip that stopped her. Goats really are escape artists by design.

Chicken Tractor

A Leghorn and an Australorp hard at work.
Okay no, it's not really a chicken tractor, erm, not a fancy one anyways. It's a dog kennel that we had used to transport our dwarf goats to the ranch in. But it was just sitting there and all these weeds had grown up in the pathways, and the chickens like to eat weeds, and they told me they really wanted to pick those weeds for me while I was milking... So, who am I to argue with the chickens?

They stay in there while we do our chores and then they head back to their goat pen where Tsica, their goat leader, keeps them well protected from predators.