Monday, April 23, 2012

Pallet Fence Finished!

We got super lucky and happened upon big stacks of pallets a couple of times, so we were able to finish our buck pen yesterday.
 It seems to stretch on forever, but it was actually about 116 feet.  Little Charlie looks so small in this big new pen.  To the right, you can see their original line, so it's not a whole lot bigger.  For Nigerians though, it is plenty.  We are thinking of dividing this pen to rotate through, and then adding one more to be sure they can pasture all season.

In this side, we used baling twine to tie at the top and bottom.  The whole thing is a little wobbly if you shake it back and forth, but it is not going to break or fall over, so it works.  This side, which was 49 pallets, cost us nothing but the gas money to get them.  We just started taking the pickup every time we went to town so we could be prepared.  Worked out well!
 The pattern is the same for this side and works out well.  We did two upright, followed by one on its side to provide stability.  The first pallet you see in the pic above is different, because we're using that one for a gate.
 They have an added bonus of providing shade in an otherwise flat, treeless pen.  The boys can go into their shelter in the barn, but it doesn't have much airflow so it gets stifling in the heat.  Everyone was overheated today because we had a 30 degree increase in just two days - to 86 today!  I'm not complaining, but it is quite the adjustment.

Finally, here is another pic of our two new Satin Angora does, Mallory and Marty.  They are so beautiful!  After the sun went down, Mallory got down on the ground and did this weird hopping thing.  It looked like she was kicking up her heels while she ran in circles.  I don't know if she was happy or getting rid of a bug, but it was entertaining to watch.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A New Toy

You have to give kids something to do.  All kids.  We have this play thing whatchamacallit in the yard that the two-legged kids never play with, so we drug it back out to the four-legged kids today.  These kids have never seen it, so it was fun to watch them figure it out.  By the way, if you want one of these for your kids, check out Craigslist or yard sales.  They are dirt cheap and abundant, and make excellent toys for goats.
 Lorelai was inspecting the setup to make sure it met her rigorous standards.

 Everyone came to check it out, but the kids weren't sure what to think.
 Rob, who pretends not to like the goats, was thoughtful enough to come up with a way for the kids to get up and inside, all by himself!  He's our hero.

 Honey decided to check it out, but then moved on to some hay.

 Coffee, followed by a gaggle of kids, braved the great unknown next.  You can see the kids scurrying away in fear.  Plastic bites, you know!

 Surveying her queendom.

 Some of them decided to give it a try, with Coffee, who apparently redefines "nanny" goat by being the designated babysitter.  None of those are her kids - she's not due for two months!

 Pow-wowing while discussing the intricacies of sliding on one's feet.

 Lookin' large, Marge.

 What'cha got there?

 They're all being chicken now...except for the chickens.  They're brave and stuff.

 Told her to smile.  None of my kids listen to me!  I just get these cheesy looks instead.

 She fell down and great evil was being plotted.  Fortunately, Daddy stepped in before she became the new slide.  See?  Told you he's our hero!

 They decided the first place we put it was too far away, so we moved it next to their feeder.  Figured the moms would let them go play that close.

 Once again looking out for his four-legged kids with a stepping block.

 Coffee always gives me good camera fodder.  I think it's the ears.  She is just a big kid at heart and makes me laugh every time I go hang with the goats.

 Everyone getting their nerve up to check it all out again, with Sissy overseeing it all.

 Whoa!  This thing makes me slide!

 Can I break it?  I should stop here to tell you that the plywood wall of the tack room has Coffee claw marks in it because she knows if the door isn't latched she can hit it to pop it open.  I just noticed dozens of marks there...probably from that rainy day when they broke in to destroy everything.

 Being the only full size goat in a group of Nigerians sure makes Coffee look like a ridiculous giant.  Her boobs are bigger than one of those kids!

Now they all want to slide together!  Turns out it's not so bad, after all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pallet Fence for Goats

Being short on money, short on time, and short on pasture, we decided to try our hand at a pallet fence for the goats.  The bucks are currently in a pen that is about 100' x 100', and we wanted to extend it out to our mound septic system, which has to be fenced off anyway.  After scouring the Internet for ideas on how to make it stable, we used a modified system similar to many we saw.  Today, over a couple of hours of me mostly watching because I had the baby in a sling and Rob screwing and drilling, we put in 116' of pallet fence:

 This is the fence we are replacing.  It is saggy field fence that was only hand tight because we didn't have corner braces.  Our full size milk goat bent the crap out of the wire reaching over to eat, so it was in danger of collapsing and letting everyone free.

 You can see how the fence is bent if you look closely.  In the distance is our green barn.  It is something like 20'x20', so very small, but enough to house the hay, goats and a tack room.  When I had horses, two fit in one side with enough hay for the winter in the other.  I like this use for it better. :)

 Logan is king of the pallet pile, and he flashed a cheesy grin after insisting I take a picture of him.  For 116' of pallet fence, we used 33 pallets.  Five pallets, with four standing up and one laid sideways for a brace, make 14' of fence.

 It's hard to see much detail in this photo, but here is the 116' of fence, with a 16' cattle panel as a gate.  We drive in this side to unload hay in the barn, so we wanted a big access gate and had panels on hand.

Our pattern to make it sturdy was this: two upright pallets, followed by one laid sideways to help support the fence from tipping back and forth, and another two upright pallets after that.  The two upright and one sideways alternate the entire length of the fence.  We started at one end with a t-post driven in to provide stability, and used two t-posts for the pallets at the gate, and finished with a t-post at the other end.  Otherwise, using the sideways pallets provides enough support and no posts are needed to keep it upright.

To connect the pallets, we screwed 3" deck screws into the top.  We started out using them top and bottom, but it turned out that they stayed just as stable with only one screw in the top of each side.  Pallets are made of hardwood for the most part, so you have to drill a pilot hole first or fight fight fight to get the screws in.

We used all of the pallets we had available, so we're waiting for more to complete the other side.  We need close to 40 more to complete the other side, which is also 116' even though we didn't plan it out at all.

The bucks are so preoccupied with the does on the other side of the fence by the barn that they hardly even venture out to this side.  I expect the 4' height of the pallets will be enough for Nigerian Dwarf goats to stay in.  I wouldn't use these on the fence between bucks and does, because I would worry that they might get to thinking about how easy it would be to climb over.  For the fence between, I will use cattle panels and plenty of t-posts.

We finished this entire side of the pallet fence in about three hours.  It would have gone much quicker if I could have actually helped, but doing nothing while the colicky baby sleeps is a much better idea.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oral Sulmet Dose for Rabbits

I spent way longer than I wanted searching around for this information today, so if you need to know how to treat a case of coccidiosis in rabbits using an oral Sulmet dose, let me tell you the results of my searches.

I want to preface this by saying I have not used this before so I can't vouch for its total accuracy, but it kind of goes in line with Fiasco Farm's oral Sulmet dose for goats, so it seems to be right.  Use at your own risk.

First, I found a site with an oral dose for preventing coccidiosis, which is 1/10 cc per pound of rabbit.  It seems that wouldn't be enough to treat an active case of coccidiosis, so I asked on a Facebook goat group and found someone who also raises rabbits.  They suggested the following oral Sulmet dose for rabbits:

.5cc per pound for the first day, and .2cc per pound for days 2-5

This five day treatment would be used only when you have an active case of coccidiosis.  If you want to prevent coccidiosis by dosing rabbits with Sulmet in water, the general consensus seems to be follow the instructions for dosing chickens, which is found on a bottle of Sulmet 12.5% solution.

When would you need to treat?  If your rabbit exhibits the clinical signs of coccidiosis: 
  • weakness
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
These symptoms are pretty common in other rabbit ailments, so not all cases of rabbit sickness will be coccidiosis.  Check with a mentor or join a community you can talk to if you aren't sure when to treat for coccidiosis.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter at Little Avalon

We had a wonderful day piddling around the farm.  We took advantage of some beautiful weather -- the first of the season, it seems -- to get some updated photos of the crew.  You can see them on the Goats page.  Here are some others from around our little haven:

 Finally, some sun for sliding!  You don't just have to go down on your butt, you know.

 The boys were busy showing off for the girls.  They barely even noticed us.  They weren't very serious about it all, but it was entertaining to watch.

 Fern, our Rottweiler mix, looking regal behind the tree.

 The new boys are enjoying some sunshine, too.  I had to be sneaky, because Dapper Dan is evidently very camera shy.  Got him, though!

 More slide fun.  We have been so anxious to get out of the house.  What a beautiful, blessed day!

 I love the sight of diapers drying on the line.  They are so cheerful and colorful, and symbolic of all we do here, and I don't mean catching ****.  :P
 I love the view from my back yard.  I want to always be surrounded by the mountains and their beauty.

Fern again, more visible.  She is a wonderful family dog, and we're lucky to have her.

Happy Easter!

Settling In

I spent some time brushing both of the boys out today.  What a relaxing, meditative experience!  I love hanging with the rabbits, and brushing them is even more relaxing.  I have named the chestnut Dapper Dan, and I already told you the chocolate torte is named Samuel (Sammy).  

Dan was in much better shape than Sammy after an overnight with straw bedding and alfalfa hay to eat.  I had to spend a lot of time getting hay out of Sammy's coat, but I think once they are getting regularly brushed, hay shouldn't be as much of an issue. 

Here's Sammy figuring out what to do with that green stuff at his feet:

Dan says, "You can't find me!"  He was really good while being brushed, but felt much safer going right back up on the platform.  He'll relax soon enough, but for now he can have his space and do what makes him feel comfortable.

Isn't Sammy a handsome boy?  Such a big fluff ball.  His fur was blowing in the breeze, and you could really see the striping.  This is such a fun experience!

Do you remember Popples from the 80s?  He looks so much like one here that I had to remember.  Now to just roll him up into a little ball...

While our rabbits may not come from eggs, they sure are a great way to celebrate an Easter day.  I hope you and yours have enjoyed this day of peace and celebration.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Welcome our Newest Additions

I was so excited last night I could hardly sleep.  For over a year now, I have been really wishing for my own fiber rabbits so I could learn to spin and make things with my own yarn.  I also wanted something that would provide meat for the dogs, so these are a perfect fit.  The only question is whether or not they will do alright in the tractors with all that fur.  We will see!

 Logan helping mix the feed.  I use a custom mix of two parts whole oats, two parts rolled barley and one part black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS).  In addition to this, my rabbits get free choice alfalfa, free choice mineral (I am going to experiment with loose minerals this year) and pasture during the summer.

 Rob putting the tarp on to provide shade and protection from the weather.  We used this tractor last year, so it just needed a little touching up to be ready for its new occupants.

 And here they are!  Thanks to my good friend Sue at Daisy Hill Fiber Farm, I have two beautiful pedigreed Satin Angora bucks.  The does will come out of litters due this weekend, so that gives me plenty of time to get to know these two and get them used to being brushed and handled before I have more to care for.

 This is Samuel checking out the ramp.  I have found that it takes rabbits a while to learn that they can jump, so we give them a ramp up and down.  They quit using it after they figure things out, but it's a nice help when they first move in.

 This guy doesn't have a name yet, but it will come to me.  I almost passed him over, and Samuel was without question one I wanted to bring home, but now I think this little chestnut guy is my favorite.  He's not as tame, but he sure is a looker!

 See how pretty he is?  He needs a distinguished name.  We once had a cat named Dapper Dan, and I'm thinking that might work for this guy, too.  He is definitely dapper!

 They seemed to really enjoy checking out their new home.  In a couple of days, they'll be all over the place, but right now they're content to hang out on their platform, which is about 2x4 feet.

 "You go first."  "No, you go first!"  We put a big plastic storage tote where they're standing.  Last year's rabbits loved to have that box to go hide in.  There is a big hole on one end for them to jump in, and we drilled several ventilation holes around the top so it doesn't get too hot.  We keep the lid on so it's a safe hidey hole, but in the heat of summer, we'll take it off again to keep things cooler.

These are from two separate litters, so this is their first time being together.  Didn't take long for them to be completely comfortable with each other.  When I went to check on them tonight, they were snuggled together in the box.

I'm so happy to finally get my fiber rabbits, and I can't wait to go out and spend more time with them tomorrow.  Thanks, Sue!