Thursday, December 11, 2014

Belly Deep

The snow was belly deep to a goat this morning.  The boys weren't quite sure what to make of it, so I opened the gate to let them go explore a bit.  Blackberry did the initial recon, but Strawberry is the one who led the charge to the other side of the  pathway, where the
boys enjoyed a nice snack of tree branches until the snow came down in their faces.  It didn't take much prodding to get them to go back into the barn.
Blackberry is not impressed.

Checking it out.
Leading the way.
Single file across the path.

Snow?! Where'd that come from?
There's a goat under there somewhere.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Winter Has Arrived

This morning, compared with this afternoon.
I think winter has finally hit for real.  Even though we had snow a few days ago, it's been warm enough outside that the kids and I have still been running around in bare feet.  That all changed today.  The boys don't seem to mind it too much, but I'm sure they'll be happy for the warm barn later tonight.

It's beginning to look a lot like Winter.

Can we come out to play?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Road Trip!

Kids in The Back
Putting a goat in the back of a car is never going to stop being funny.  This afternoon the girls and I took Eiar on a trip north to Capsand Creamery, where she'll spend a couple of weeks on vacation.  With any luck, she'll come home bred, and we'll have some baby goats in the fall.

It's actually sort of surprising how well the animals ride in the cargo compartment of our Escape.  We put a tarp down, add some hay, and they stay nice and content until we arrive at our destination.  It probably helped that the girls were occasionally sneaking saltines to the goat while I wasn't looking.

Friday, November 14, 2014

First Snow!

We've had a few flurries in the air, but nothing that has stuck to the ground until this morning.  Just as the sun was coming up, everyone in the house started to realize the news:  The first snow had arrived!

Most of it had melted by afternoon, but there are still flakes in the air from time to time.  It won't be long before we're carrying water buckets through the drifts down to the barn!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Joys of Winter Preparation

`Tis the season for preparing for the coming of snow.  It's been many, many years since I've had to put wood in for the winter.  The last few places where I've lived have all had either electric or oil heating.  My in-laws, however, have a good old-fashioned wood-fired boiler in the basement.

My father-in-law and I have slowly been moving chunks of wood from the giant wood pile by the driveway, down to the basement near the boiler.  The forecast is finally calling for a bit of snow tomorrow, so I'm chipping away at the pile a bit more today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When One Door Closes...

A nice warm interior.
We have doors!  My wife was able to help me hang the second door this evening.  Our goats now have a nice snug barn to live in tor the winter!

I had to piece bits of the second door together, so a 3rd cross-bar was needed to cover the seams.  When I find another suitable piece of scrap, I'll add one to the first door as well, just so they match.

With the doors closed, and the windows in, the barn is noticeably warmer than the pen outside.  I'm feeling much better about winter coming now.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Another Door

Time to close up the opening.
The weather continues to get chillier, so I'm making more of an effort to get the barn closed up to keep the animals warm.  The winter windows were put in last week, and the first barn door was put up a few days ago.  Today I had a chance to work on the 2nd door.  The supply of barn board was running low, so I ended up piecing some bits together, but the door itself came out nice and sturdy.  I'm hoping to have it hung within the next day or so.
Lounging in the sun.

Door two is complete.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A New Door

A new door!
There were a few boards left from when we worked on the outer wall.  In fact, there were just enough left to allow me to build a couple of new doors for the north end of the barn.

I was only able to complete one today, but even this will help keep the barn a bit warmer for the goats.  The old hardware that we're using needs a bit more tweaking to get the door to slide properly, however I'm pretty happy with the setup so far.

The goats also seamed to enjoy supervising.  Despite other goat-owners saying that goats don't eat everything, they do try to sample everything, including circular saws, nails, electrical cords...

Laying out the boards.
Eair samples the nails.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little More Garden Work

Late Fall gardening fun.
The days are getting colder, but Elaina still insists on going outside barefoot.  Today we worked a bit on the garden, digging it down to get it ready for next spring.  At least she decided to wear socks for a change.

We also got the qajaqs put away for the winter.  Since we moved, I've had them stored in the workshop area of the barn, where they take up about 20' of useable space.  This afternoon I moved them to the other side of the barn, tucking them up in the rafters above the animals.

Our hand-built skin-on-frame qajaqs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Arrival

Kitten love.
A few days ago one of the cats, a large grey one name Skizitz, went missing.  He was outside while we were putting wood into the basement, but never came inside like he usually does at night.

The missing cat brought up discussions about getting a new cat.  We checked out the website of the local animal shelter, and found a few that looked like they would be good for us.  Yesterday we went for a visit.

A few of the adult cats were friendly and got along well with the kids.  Just as we were about to leave, though, we spotted a dusty grey kitten in one of the cages.  We hadn't planned on getting a kitten, but Truffle, as the shelter was calling him, decided that he should come home with us.

We resisted, and left the shelter with a few photos of possible cat additions to the family.  When we returned home, the kids, my wife, and in-laws talked things over.  The next thing I knew, we were headed back to the shelter to pick up the kitten.

Since his fur color makes him look like he's rolled in a fireplace, we've dubbed him Dusty Cinderfella.  Welcome to the family Dusty!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Winter Feeder

Round bale feeder.
Today I decided to tackle another project to prepare us for winter.  The last couple of years, rather than buy small square bales of hay for the goats, we've opted to buy a large round bale to get them through the winter.  Usually we  leave it outside, covered with a tent made from a big blue tarp.  Each year we think about building a feeder to make it a little easier for the goats to get to.

This year, with the new location, we have enough space to keep the big bale inside the barn.  We've been looking at various feeder designs online all summer, but figured we could put the bale up on pallets if we needed to, just to keep it up off the ground.

The feeder pictured is based on one that both my wife and I found online on separate occasions.  I figured if it looked promising to both of us, that is was worth pursuing.

After dropping my older daughter off at school, and once morning chores were done, I starting looking around for scrap 2x4s.  I managed to gather enough to build the feeder, so I dragged them down to the barn, where I also keep my circular saw and tools.

As I set about measuring and cutting, the goats decided to help.  Like cats, curiousity tends to get the better of them, and they can't leave things alone.  While the boys worked on holding down the boards I was trying to cut, Eair made an attempt at eating the sketched plans I had drawn earlier in the morning.  After a while they realized that none of the parts were worth eating, so they went about supervising instead.

Once the feeder was built, I had to question the design.  While I'm not an engineer, I do know that triangles help hold things up, and I didn't see a single triangle in this thing.  I was afraid (and I later confirmed) that the entire feeder would just twist with any amount of weight put on it.  Given the size of round bales, I decided to add some bracing once I got the feeder into the barn.  Now that it's in place, we'll just need to figure out how to get the hay in place once we purchase it.

"Let us hold this down for you."
"Aaahhh. Sunlight."
"Are you sure these are long enough?"
"You need another nail right here."
Feeder space.
Bracing added.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wall Finishing Day!

Nearing the corner!
My father-in-law decided last night that today should be the day to finish the barn wall.  We woke up and got moving early so that we could accomplish as much as possible before he needed to leave for church.

The whole family, goats included, pitched in.  In no time at all, we had the barn wall enclosed, the window frames leveled, squared and hung, the tools and scrap cleaned up, and the interior swept of debris.

We're going to wait a bit before putting the glazing in the windows.  While the temperatures have been cooling down, we'd like to keep giving the animals as much airflow as possible until the cold really hits.

Huge thanks to my father-in-law for being the driving force behind the wall construction.  It looks awesome, and the herd will be toasty warm this winter!
Daddy on a ladder.
Fall weather.
Mommy looking coy.
Finished wall.
All cleaned up!
Nice warm interior for the new stall.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hooves and Stalls and Walls, Oh My!

Gabriella helps with stall cleanup.
We had a busy day today.  Mom was home, so she and I were able to work on trimming the goats' hoofs.  With all of the moving in the past couple of months, they had unfortunately been neglected and were in bad shape.  I did the holding while Christy did the trimming.  We managed to get all sixteen goat feet trimmed back to where they should be.  We'll now be able to get them back onto a routine care schedule.

Another task accomplished today was cleaning out the goats' stall.  The goats are fairly tidy, but changing out the shavings and straw in their stall every so often helps to keep down odors and pests.  While I raked out the stall and made a discard pile outside of the barn, Gabriella filled buckets so that we could move the pile outside of the fence.  Once everything was cleared out, we all helped put down some lime and new shavings.  The goats, who were outside of the pen eating down the brush around the barn, were very happy to come home to a clean stall.

The exterior of the barn also received some love.  My father-in-law had been working on putting up barn board along the exposed wall.  Later in the night while he was away, I was able to add some more.  The animals should have a nice warm barn before winter hits!

Base boards in place.
Outer boards in place.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kids at Play

The kids out enjoying the weather.

With another warm day, we were able to let the goats (and the girls) out to play. Days like this are why we enjoy living in Vermont.

The other kids out enjoying the weather.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall at Tarp Rock

Our Autumn view from the house.
While we've been going about our lives, Fall has surrounded us with brilliant colors and a mix of cool and warm temperatures.  I love waking up and looking out at the bright oranges and yellows of the lower meadow.

Though the cold is coming, it's still been warm enough for t-shirts and shorts,  allowing us to work outside to continue closing up the barn for winter.

Elaina enjoying bare feet in October.
Exterior of barn wall in progress.
View to the north.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Work on Stall #2

Stall #2 fence.
 We've been slowly puttering away at getting a second stall ready in the barn so that we can segregate the goats as needed once spring and kidding season come along.  Today Elaina and I worked some more on cleaning it up, and installing the interior fencing.

My father-in-law, last evening, brought home a load of barn boards and began closing in the open wall along the exterior.  He also found some old windows in the upper barn that we can use to let light in, but still close the barn off to the elements this winter.
Start of the outer wall.