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Homesteading and Livestock
Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Purchasing Land for Self-Sufficiency? Here are a Few Considerations

Backyard Garden Central Florida 

If you're considering purchasing land which supports a self-sufficient lifestyle, there are many details which can make the process seem very overwhelming. But slowing down and doing the necessary homework up-front can land you closer to homestead happiness a lot sooner. Obviously, location should be considered when purchasing a homestead property, but here's a few points which may not be so obvious.

 

Zoning. For better self-sustainability, search for land that is zoned agricultural, rather than residential. Agricultural property permits you to grow plants & maintain livestock. Check local zoning regulations for additional restrictions which may affect your self-sustainable goals and plans.

 

Planning.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Check the county’s and municipalities’ proposed plans for not only your property’s immediate area but for a radius around it. Think about how the Master Plan or other long-range planning document may affect your property and your own long-term vision for it.

 

Building codes. Before building structures, check the local building and planning commission requirements to determine which permits are needed. If you build without a required permit, your  future homestead may include fines or be forced to tear down unpermitted structures. Some structures do not require a permit. Know which ones are required. If you build anything, make sure to follow your local building codes. Building codes protect you and those around you, now and in the future.

 

Utilities.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Check zoning. Utility restrictions may apply. Some areas restrict owner supplied utilities.

 

Easements. Often a 25-foot access clearance (easement) is needed along property sides to allow emergency vehicle access in emergencies. Check zoning for any easements required.

 

Access to property.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Make sure there's year-round road access. Some properties are accessible in good to fair weather, but inaccessible in poor or snowy conditions.

 

Survey. Get a survey to determine true property lines. Without this vital information, you'll start and end with planning or layout inaccuracies. You may even cheat yourself out of valuable land space. You won't know where setback clearances start (how far to "set back" the house from the road) for placing structures. Some zoning requires leaving a 100-foot "structure-free" set-back clearance across the front of property.

 

Soil testing.幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 Soil tests determine acid or alkaline levels of soil and whether soil amendments are needed for plants.

 

Wind effects. Windy conditions of certain areas can contribute to soil erosion. When top layers of soil are dry and loose, soil erosion can occur by the strong winds removing the top layers, adversely affecting plants. Water, trees, and structures can help address this problem by keeping the soil moist, weighted and protected, leaving plants intact. Container gardens, raised beds, potted plants and trees may be an alternative in poor soil conditions. Know the prevailing wind directions over the property for best placement of wind turbines or structures for cross ventilation.

 

Crops and animals. Determine primary, secondary and tertiary goals for self-sustainability. Consider the maintenance needs of each. Rotational crops will need more water, compost, tilling, harvesting and planting than single crops. For animals, will you keep pets or livestock or both? Check your areas local zoning for possible restrictions.

 

Yellow Chicken In Wood Shed

 

Feed and supplies for animals. Know the feed, water, supplement and supply needs of each animal and their monthly cost. Establish multiple sources of reliable feed suppliers and write down the distance in time to each source. Determine if you can supply some or all of the feed yourself with the property and how important that prospect will be for your opearation.

 

Shelter for animals. Safe, protective "predator-proof" shelter is the goal. Many animals can be easily preyed upon without adequate fortification. This also include adequate space for animals. Is there enough land space for animals to roam and graze? Experts recommend a minimum 1 acre per cow. Chicken and rabbits require less space, leaving more usable land. Also, consider fishing in nearby waters on and off property or a fish farm on premises.

 

Trees come with pros and cons. They can provide benefits to a self-sustainable homestead. Shaded areas help with energy efficiency in warmer areas. But too many trees require more maintenance, can pose as storm and fire hazards, create obstructions, and potentially pest increase insect and vermin populations. If your sights are set on woodlot management, forestry experts recommend a healthy mix of old and young trees.

 

Land features. Learn the topography; the grades, pitches and angles of the land. Know the high- and low-lying areas of the property and whether each is sunny or shaded. High areas can be drier and provide drainage. Low areas retain soil moisture and may collect natural water runoff. All of which may be beneficial or detrimental to certain plants. Know the areas that best support each crop. Note each area's approximate square footage for potential crop yield. Planning and working with the land's topography may also save on fill dirt for leveling, drainage, etc.

Additional Notes for Would-Be Landowners

 

Note any adverse land feature's effect on livestock with respect to terrain, vegetation and obstructions to space needed. Work with the land and its features, so that you don't spend a fortune & a lifetime working against it.

 

Note average weather conditions for the area. Average rainfall, temperatures & any drought conditions for the location, is vital in planning for crop success. Note any forecasts or seasonal weather extremes that may adversely affect crops. Plan accordingly.

 

Observe natural lighting幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 in both day and night conditions. The information provides valuable insight for placing & orienting structures, solar panels, landscaping and other features on the property. For general landscaping, try using existing plants, where possible. Observe what's growing best in shaded, partial or full sun locations. Low- maintenance or drought tolerant plants can help reduce cost, labor, and reduce plant & animal ecosystem disruption.

 

Lastly, do not rush! 幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Resist the urge to come in and start clearing everything away. Take time to learn how you interact with the property and its many features, some of which may not be obvious in your first year. The time investment up-front, prevents costly mistakes, making for a happier, self-sustained homestead well into the future.

Monica White is a freelance writer, member of the Georgia Air National Guard, and an avid runner and cyclist who loves the great outdoors and all things DIY. She divides her time between Tampa and her central Florida property, where she's growing a self-sufficient homestead. Connect with Monica on her , on , and . Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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I Used to Be a Beekeeper

For I knew she was telling the bees of one / Gone on the journey we all must go!

From the poem Telling the Bees by John Greenleaf Whittier

I used to be a beekeeper.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I still look at my world through a beekeeper's eyes. It's late winter and the elm and maple tree buds are plump with the pollen that used to feed newly hatching larvae. Dead nettle and other cool-weather wildflowers that once lured out the first foragers of the year are beginning to bloom. Now their efforts, as mine, have grown useless in the lifecycle of the honeybee.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I had just hit my stride as a beekeeper when the end started. After years of learning and building up my apiaries, I had almost more hives than I could handle. The spring air hummed with the sound of bees coming and going from their hives. It took me all summer and fall to market all of the extra honey the bees produced. The rest of the year was filled with repairing woodenware, cleaning out old frames, and driving to, mowing around, and caring for hives in the apiaries maintained away from my farm.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站In the early years, it seems all I did was look for mites. I did sugar rolls to count Varroa mites. I dissected bee trachea and counted tracheal mites under my microscope. I spent years, choosing mite-resistant queens to make new hives from and built my bee yards slowly and without chemicals. I was rewarded with healthy hives that produced strong nucleus hives that were in demand by other beekeepers trying to build mite-resistant stock.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The bees were strong and were good foragers, needing no help from me. Without being fed sugar syrup, they foraged on the abundance of wildflowers and produced pure honey that reminded my customers of "what honey used to taste like."

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站And then after years of very few hive losses, I began to lose 30 to 50 percent of my hives each year. Even with making new hives from the survivors, this level of loss becomes unsustainable in a few years. What happened?

The "experts" spout whatever opinion they get paid to spout, but I know what changed for me: Big Ag. Before the losses started, all of the land around my farm was in pasture and none in row crops. Within one year's time, three farms around me sold, and the new owners all rented out part of their land to row cropping and exposure to all the chemicals that come with it: pre-emergent spraying, chemical burn downs and desiccants, pesticides, and even the crops themselves that have to be regulated as pesticides and antibiotics because of the way they are genetically engineered.

So springtime is a little quieter without the honeybees, and I turn my attention to what I can control — planting and caring for an organic garden, watching this year's goat kids play king on the mountain as their mothers clean up my fence rows, and learning to appreciate the insects that still live around me and their importance to our welfare.

Part of me still listens for the bees, hopes to see them again. Part of me hopes that humans will do what they have never done before: stop themselves before they do the irreparable damage, stop making poison and calling it food, stop destroying all that is here to nourish us.

When I think of the honeybees, I recall how they are one of the very few creatures that I know of that feeds itself without harming anyone or anything. On the contrary, in the act of harvesting pollen and nectar for their food, the bees cause the plants to fruit and to produce even more! I am thankful that I got to know something of these amazing creatures before they were gone.

Betty Taylor is a gardener and former beekeeper who keeps chickens, guinea fowl, and myotonic “fainting” goats on her 12-acre Tennessee farm. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Considerations for Electric Goat Fencing, Part 2

 

In Part 1, we learned that there are two things a goat rental professional must have, to contain the goats on a work site: fencing and a working energizer. Depending upon the size of your goat rental business, you may need more than four fences. The Barnyard Weed Warriors haul 75 goats that will eat about 1/2 acre a day. Generally, you want the animals in the smallest area, to get the best clearing幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站. Still, moving fences daily can be tiring, especially if it is rough terrain or thick brush.

How much fencing do you need?  

 Premier1Supplies.com has an excellent catalog with a diagram that shows you how to figure the number of fences you will need. But you still need to make a decision on how much you should have on hand. One square acre is 208.71 feet per side. The different lengths of fencing available varies from 80 up to 164 feet in length. So, for one square acre, you will need about five 164-foot-long fences. (208.71 X 4=834.84 feet,  Divide 834.84 by 164'= 5.09 fences).  

 

Solar electric fence charger

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I usually put up 5 to 6 fences and let my 75 goats work on the area for two days. While they are getting near the end of the foliage to eat, I start setting up another section of fencing, if we have more than an acre to manage. Since I have 15 fences (I do up to 5 to 10 acres at some sites), I simply put up another section of fence and then when the goats are done, I open up a corner and let them into the new area, close the fence and take up 3/4 of the first set of fencing, basically leap-frogging the fences as we move along.

Fence clips on pigtails.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Fencing along creeks can be a challenge. If there is a wide and deep enough stream of water and no trees lying across the creek, I fence directly to the water, using the water as one side of the fencing. I don't have any goats that are into swimming, so I don't worry as long as the water is deep and wide. I did make a mistake one time and didn't get clear to the water and one of my problem goats found it and led the rest down along the edge of the river. 

Fencing in areas where there are people can be a liability. You really need to have warning signs up along the fence and if there is a way to keep the area taped off, I recommend setting up warning tape at least five feet outside of the fence. Believe it or not, there is always that one person who has to challenge the fence and will grab it, just to see if it is hot. With the warning signs up, you shouldn't have to warn them yourself.  

The fencing is for controlling both the goats, people, predators and people with yappy dogs that 'won't hurt a fly'. If you have guardian dogs or herding dogs, make sure you put warnings up along the fence stating the working dogs are on duty and to keep other dogs and pets away. That fence is protection, make it a boundary that no one can cross.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The only time the fence is not hot is when I am doing an educational talk, so people can line up along the fence, to hear me. They will always touch the fence, so I make sure that it is off only during those times.

Mary Powell is a goat rental business owner and agricultural educator with 30 years’ experience working on ranches, farms and feedyards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University with an emphasis in Livestock Production Management. Follow Mary and her many misadventures with the goats on Facebook at  and  or on her  website.  If you have questions for her about her goats or Border Collies, email Mary at barnyardweedwarriors@yahoo.com. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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5 Rare Chicken Breeds You Need in Your Backyard

Chicken 

Brahma chicken. Photo by Achim Bongard

Keeping chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience. An important part of beginning your chicken-keeping hobby is choosing which breed of bird to house in your backyard coop.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Important factors to consider when choosing a chicken breed include the bird’s size, temperament, noise level, and egg-laying capabilities. While you may be inclined to begin your chicken-keeping hobby with a more common bird, such as an Australorp or Rhode Island Red, there are many more rare and unique breeds that make equally wonderful or even better birds for your backyard chicken coop.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Here are five of the most uncommon and distinctive chicken breeds you need in your backyard.

#1: The Brahma Chicken

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The Brahma chicken (photo above) is a rare breed that originated in China and is named after the Brahmaputra River that flows through China, Bangladesh, and India.

These birds are often referred to as the “gentle giants of the poultry world,” according to  because of their large size and friendly disposition. Aside from their size, this breed is best recognized by its feathered legs and toes, and can come in a variety of colorations such as light, dark, or buff.

Part of what makes the Brahma chicken unique is its friendly temperament. These chickens are easy to handle and extremely gentle, making them a great backyard breed for families with young children—although their size may intimidate children at first. The Brahma chicken typically lays three to four eggs a week and oftentimes lays eggs throughout the winter, while most chickens do not do.

#2: The Dominique Chicken

The Dominique chicken is a bird with a long and rich history. This breed originated in the South of England, specifically the county of Sussex, and arrived in America along with the pilgrims in the 18th century. Until recently, this breed of chicken was in danger of going extinct, but breeders have managed to bring the Dominique chicken back from the brink; however, this breed is still quite rare today.

This bird is medium in size and is best known for the unique black and white barring pattern of its feathers. The Dominique chicken can tolerate a variety of climates, deals well with confinement, and is known for being extremely friendly. This particular breed is also quite tolerant of being held and cuddled.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站This chicken lays around three eggs per week and is a great breed of chicken for the backyard because it is very quiet.

#3: The Faverolles Chicken

The Faverolles chicken is a rare breed that originated in France during the 19th century. It is named after the French town of Faverolles located near Paris. Interestingly, the exact origins of this breed of chicken are highly speculated, as it was developed from crossing a variety of different breeds of chickens.

These birds are medium in size, have fluffy feathers including a beard, muff, and feathered legs, and have five toes instead of the standard four. They can come in two color varieties—white and brown, or the more uncommon salmon and brown.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Faverolles chickens are very curious, friendly, and enjoy being held. They also are known for being talkative but are quiet enough that they will not disturb neighbors if they are kept in the backyard. This breed is accustomed to a variety of temperatures and climates and is used to confinement, laying around four eggs per week and oftentimes laying eggs throughout the winter as well.

#4: The Silkie Chicken

The Silkie chicken is a unique breed that originated in Asia. While it’s exact country of origin is contested, notes that the famous Italian explorer Marco Polo had cited encountering a furry chicken while he was in China during the 13th century.

The Silkie chicken is medium in size and is best recognized by its unusual fur-like feathers, which can come in several different color varieties, as well as its black skin and organs—the result of a melanotic gene called . Additionally, this breed has five toes instead of the typical four.

These birds are especially friendly and cuddly, serving as a popular bird for families. They do well with confinement, but do not fare well with cold climates. In fact, many Silkie chicken owners will bring their birds indoors during the winter, as they make wonderful indoor pets as well as outdoor ones.

Although the Silkie chicken can lay up to three eggs a week, they are more so used for decorative purposes or as pets.

#5: The Barnevelders Chicken

The Barnevelders chicken originated in Holland between the 12th and the 13th centuries, making it one of the most ancient chicken breeds. These birds are quite rare and therefore not as widely available as more common breeds, meaning locating a breeder may require a bit more effort.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站The Barnevelders chicken is medium in size and comes in two color varieties—dark brown or black. Females, however, have feathers that are light brown and often exhibit a red laced pattern on their feathers.

This bird is extremely mellow, has a friendly disposition, and is quite talkative; however, like the Faverolles breed, they are quiet enough that they will not bother neighbors. Barnevelders chickens tolerate confinement well but enjoy free ranging when possible and will lay around four brown eggs per week.

Summary

Hens

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels 

Keeping a rare breed of chicken in your backyard can enrich your chicken-keeping experience. While at first it may seem more appealing to purchase a more common breed of chicken for your backyard coop, these rare breeds undoubtedly have richer and more unique histories, more eye-catching appearances, and distinctive personalities and temperaments.

If you choose to purchase a rare breed of chicken such as those listed above, you may have to dedicate more time to locating a breeder and you may even need to make special arrangements for your backyard coop in order to accommodate for these birds’ needs.

However, despite requiring perhaps a bit more effort, these rare and remarkable chickens will transform your standard and typical backyard coop into a personal collection of both history and eye-candy.

David Woods is a carpenter, outdoorsman, and author with more than 30 years of professional woodworking experience. He is the author of best-seller How to Build a Log Home and has educated more than half a million people on how to build a log cabin via his blog, . Connect with him on .


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Will a Pandemic Bring Us Closer to Home(steading)?

Couple at their Homestead

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站As we embark another week of staying home during the Pandemic of 2020, I want to ask a question. Not just of you, the reader, but of myself. It’s a question I’ve heard asked in various ways as people explore how it this pandemic has impacted us as individuals and as a global society. 

But I want to ask it of you, a MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader, and me — an aspiring homesteader.

What do you want to take with you from this experience?

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Asked differently, what changes have you been forced to make during this challenging time that you actually think might be good for you in the long run? What will your “new normal” look like after restrictions are lifted and you can choose how you want to live your life again?

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks. 

Because we both have jobs outside of the home, my husband and I often dream about what it will be like when we can retire (or partially retire) and spend more time on our 3-acre homestead.  With our work schedules, our kids are either in school or at an after-school program most days, even though we bought this property with dreams and visions of them exploring the woods and fields.  We’re part-time homesteaders and we haven’t figured out a way to change that yet.

Little did we know the opportunity to have that fully at-home experience would come much sooner than we anticipated.

Family Planting a Tree

During this pandemic, we are both working from home as best we can. Our school teachers are providing a lot of support for at-home learning, but we're also engaging our kids in home-based learning of the outdoor, self-reliant variety.  We are home 24-7. And while we haven’t retired, we have cut a lot of things out of our life that otherwise take us away from home. 

And thus the question has become: which of these things that we cut out will we bring back, and which will we eliminate (or greatly reduce) more permanently?

Here are some of the things we’ve been thinking about.

How much Outside Employment do we really need?

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I used to have a full-time, professional level job in a field in which I had a PhD.  It was, in some ways, the thing that defined me.  But over the years, I found that it was also the thing that drained me.  I didn’t want to be at that job.  Before this pandemic ever began, I had already started on a new path in a job that is more in line with how I want to spend my time.  It’s creative and serves the common good, and is – frankly – less demanding. 

For a while, I kept thinking I needed to make that part-time job into something full-time in order to meet our financial challenges.  But now I am reconsidering.  Now I am thinking about how we can cut back on our financial demands so that a part-time job will suffice. 

At the same time, I have been exploring how to create income from our homestead, so that the work we do and love here can also support our financial needs.  This pandemic, and the reduction in demands from my “outside” job allowed me to do things like expanding my and taking my more seriously. 

This stuff is kinda scary.  The idea of changing from someone defined by their professional life to someone who defines their own profession based on what kind of life they want – that takes some bravery.  This pandemic has allowed me to push past my fear and ask, “Could I really do it?” 

And, gulp, the answer might be “yes.”

kids in woods 

How much childcare do we want to hire out?

This one is scary too.  I have never seen myself as a stay-at-home mom, and the idea of homeschooling has always brought a little bit of fear to my heart.  But this pandemic has forced us to be home with our kids all day, every day, and to even take on the role of “teacher” in partnership with our school.  I’ll be honest, the results have surprised me.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Being at home with our kids has not been all puppy dogs and rainbows but we are all learning to do it better.  The kids are having longer spans of self-directed time (without our interference).  They are playing with each other without always breaking out into a fight.  They are wandering in the woods without us having to force them to do so.   Yes, they are fighting, and wanting to spend too much time on tech, and talking back.  But the balance is slowly shifting.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站What miracle is occurring here?

It’s kind of simple, really.  We have created space and time that isn’t pre-determined, scheduled, or regimented and our kids are forced to do creative things together because there just aren’t other options.  

Seeing my kids run around outside on our property like a couple of country kids in the 1980s has sparked joy in me like I dreamed it would when we bought this land.

So, when the e-mail came to register for next year’s after school program, we thought twice.  Did we need afterschool care if I wasn’t working as much?  Did our kids need more unsupervised, undirected time at home than they were getting before?  Could we retain some of this shift in the balance? 

I might regret it, but we only signed the kids up for 2 days of afterschool care instead of 4 for this coming fall (baby steps).  We haven’t signed them up for summer camps.  We’re crossing our fingers that this journey toward learning how to “be” without direction will continue to evolve. 

Maybe, just maybe, our kids will learn how to fend for themselves, how to be kind to one and other, how to come up with their own ideas for entertainment, and how to be more patient. 

 homemade bread

Do we really need to run that errand or buy that thing?

The effort to stay away from public places has helped us to realize just how many times we went to the grocery store on a weekly basis.  It has made us realize how much shopping we did that, perhaps, wasn’t as necessary as it seemed.  Never before have we gone almost a month between shopping trips.  Never before have we questioned our purchases to the extent that we are doing so now.

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站And you know what, we’ve been absolutely fine!

When the milk runs out, we drink water.  We make our own bread, yogurt, granola, and chocolate instead of buying it at the store.  We’re doing a better job at using all of the canned goods and frozen bags of veggies we stocked up on last summer.  We’ve saved money on groceries by .   These things aren’t new to us, but the idea of doing them consistently and without the option to just run to the store, that is new. 

Moving forward, it will be hard to reject the convenience of all of the stores that are located within a 10 mile radius of our home.  Other homesteaders only shop once a month because it is an hour trip to the store.  For us, it will be my decision to work less outside of the home that forces us to shop less.  And let’s face it, I’ll be the one who has to fight the temptation most. 

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站But I have to remember that it will be worth it.  The pandemic has truly taught us that we can shop less, that we don’t need so much stuff, and that by doing so we gain so much back in time and valuable resources that can be applied elsewhere.

 

Family at our homestead

Moving Closer to our Dream

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站While I do not want to romanticize this difficult time, the truth is that this pandemic has taught us that our dream of becoming full-time homesteaders, or at least spending more time at our homestead, does not have to be so far away.  By cutting back on the things that we “outsource” – our income, childcare, groceries, etc. – we can “insource” more. 

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站We can use the time and space that would otherwise be spent commuting, working, and shopping to provide the things we need ourselves.  And we can redefine what we “need”.  We can focus on the rewards of being here on our homestead instead.  The pleasure of spending a day in the woods.  The satisfaction of harvesting our own food.  The physical rewards of hard work. 

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站For us, these things bring joy, and this pandemic has taught us how to capture that joy to an extent that we hadn’t been brave enough to explore before.  In short, being home during this pandemic has allowed us to move closer to the homesteading life we desire – closer to home – and we hope we can hold on to some of those changes even when life returns to “normal.”

What will your “new normal” be?

Carrie Williams Howe is a blogger at  and Founder of .  She works at a nonprofit by day, and is a parent and aspiring homesteader on nights and weekends. She lives in Williston, Vt., with her husband, two young children, and a rambunctious border collie. Carrie has a PhD in educational leadership and is passionate about lifelong learning. Connect with Carrie on . Read all of Carrie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Considerations for Electric Goat Fencing, Part 1

 

There are two things a goat rental professional must have, to contain the goats on a work site: fencing and a working energizer. Remember, goats need to be trained to the fence prior to taking them out on the road or you will have problems, so set it up at home first and practice setting up and letting the goats graze in a mock situation.

What type of fencing do you use? 幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Most goat rental businesses use electro-netting from Premier1Supplies.com, which is a low-impedance fence that requires low-impedance charger, or the fencing will melt. This fencing is perfect for setting up in any situation.

With my business, I use the 164-foot long ElectroStop 10/42/12 single spike. The number 10 represents the number of strands in the fence, nine hot strands and one dead bottom strand, 42 represents the height of the fencing, and the 12 is the length of fence between the single spike posts. I use single spike, because the ground in Kansas can be hard and a double spike would be a nightmare to pull out of the ground. You want to be careful putting the post in the ground and use a rubber mallet to pound the posts. The fences have pigtails on each end to clip one fence to the other. 

What kind of energizers and ground posts do you use for the fences? Energizers are also called chargers, or in some cases that “darn shocking box!” Remember they must be low-impedance chargers! There are two types of chargers that include two Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 12-volt chargers that are rated at 1-3joules that can handle five fences and an Intellishock 120 that is rated as a 1.2 joule charger. The Intellishock 120 can handle about 8 fences easily. You need ground rods for either type of charger. Many use copper ground rods but you can also get aluminum, either work well if you use them properly.

I use both copper and aluminum, using the aluminum on my Intellishock and the copper I use on the Parmaks. You also need a voltmeter, so you can check voltage, I recommend Premier1Supplies Digital Voltmeter. It is simple to use, push the short rod in the ground then clip the snap onto the fence and you get a reading.

How do you set up fences? 幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Depending on the terrain, setting up fences can be a challenge. Thick brush will require you spend time cutting a path that will prevent the fence from shorting out, so you may need to set up an initial smaller area for the goats to work while you work on a larger area.

I keep a machete and a gas-powered weed-eater on my truck for path cutting. In areas that are more open, I cut an 18-inch swath to prevent shorting out. Sometimes the customer has a privacy fence or a chain-link fence that the goats will honor, that means you just run the fence from the back of the trailer and let them into the fence. Do not ever expect your goats will stay in any fence, they will find a way out if you aren’t supervising.

Read Part 2幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站 to help answer the question How much fence do you need when renting out your goat herd for weed control?

Mary Powell is a goat rental business owner and agricultural educator with 30 years’ experience working on ranches, farms and feedyards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University with an emphasis in Livestock Production Management. Follow Mary and her many misadventures with the goats on Facebook at  and  or on her  website.  If you have questions for her about her goats or Border Collies, email Mary at . Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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Essentials for Starting a Homestead

 

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站For those thinking of taking the leap into homesteading or farming, there are some tools that can make all the difference.  I have compiled a list of some of the most used and useful objects on our homestead, ones that have a general appeal (not specific to any kind of livestock). 

Canning Supplies

Canning supplies start with a collection of canning jars.  You can add to your abilities to preserve and ferment with funnels and racks and toppers, but just starting with the jars you will find them undeniably useful.  

There are two reasons that canning jars and supplies are at the top of my list.  First of all, canning is the easiest entry into self reliant living.  Grow even one tomato or cucumber plant, can the harvest, enjoy it on a winter day: it’s a start.  Heck, you can buy your vegetables or fruits at the grocery store and can them if you want a quick introduction.  It’s just such an easy way to get started and to enjoy the simple pleasure of making food last.  All you need are the jars and your kitchen and a little bit of time.  The second reason  for a canning jar collection is that the jars are just so very useful.  We ferment cider in them, we milk into them and store milk in them, we make yogurt in them, we use them for bouquets, we can scoop feed with them, we could plant things in them, we store dry goods and seeds in them, there is just no end to the usefulness of a good canning jar.  So go out and get yourself some canning jars, try some fermentation experiments, or just start using glass as your favorite way to store all manner of things.

Good Gear

What a difference good gear makes!  I mean durable, hardworking clothing that keeps you dry, warm, safe, and allows you to move freely.  But won’t old pair of jeans do that?  Not on the farm.  If you keep livestock, or you live in a seasonal climate, or you’re doing any kind of construction or land restoration, jeans are not always going to cut it.  You’ll find yourself up to your knees in mud, working in the pouring rain, working in negative temperatures, having various animals chew on you…you get the idea.  

When I first started farming I still wanted to wear skinny jeans but I quickly changed my ways.  You need durable boots, you need coveralls that can keep you warm in winter and also allow you to remove them and go back to looking like a normal human, you need a warm hat and good gloves, and you need a good winter jacket and a good rain jacket.  It just is uncomfortable without these things. You also need breathable summer gear that is still durable.  Invest in good gear and it will make a huge difference in your day to day experience.  That being said, don’t over invest.  Buy clothes you won’t mind seeing covered in every possible animal fluid, have holes chewed in them, have holes burned in them, and generally end up stained and tired but still working.  幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站My go-to brand for gear is always Carhartt, which is affordable enough to replace if it gets damaged - but tough enough that that rarely happens.

Buckets

Buckets are like canning jars.  You cannot put a number on their uses.  I’m talking five gallon buckets with handles.  If you go to a hardware store grab a couple.  You will haul animal food and water in them, you’ll move dirt and rocks and store trees, you’ll move shavings to a brooder box or even move baby animals with them.  

Even though on our farm we have a tractor, a wheelbarrow, and several outdoor faucets for easy water access, I use five gallon buckets every day, multiple times a day.  They’re how you get the water from the faucet to trough which is never quite close enough (especially in winter when hoses can’t be used), or get the pile over the obstacle and to the tractor or wheelbarrow.  They carry pig feed out to their remote pasture.  They are endlessly useful and having a few on hand has saved the day on more than one occasion.  Bonus: they also make an excellent seat should you need a rest after a long day.

Good Wheelbarrow

Like buckets, a good wheelbarrow will be used for transporting any number of heavy objects from point A to point B.  A wheelbarrow can carry more than a bucket, of course, and it’s easier to move heavier things.  And a wheelbarrow can be wheeled in to smaller spaces and more difficult terrain than a tractor.  

If you keep any kind of livestock a wheelbarrow is an absolute must for cleaning stalls.  Any wheelbarrow is going to be helpful, but I personally would recommend a two-wheeled design.  They are usually bigger, and so can transport more; but most importantly they are more stable.  That stability and maneuverability makes all the difference.  As with gear, I think it is also important to spring for the best built wheelbarrows, if at all possible.  Spending extra on a very durable model will mean you never have to purchase one again.  

Digging Bar

幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站I cannot tell you how often I reach for the simple digging bar on our farm.  A digging bar is a simple steel rod, usually around six feet long, with one flat end for gripping and one chisel end for prying.  It’s different from a crowbar in that it doesn’t have the curved end and it’s usually much larger.

The design purpose of a digging bar is to lever large rocks.  That is certainly a useful purpose on the farm, especially in rocky terrain or if you are trying to clear out a garden bed.  A digging bar can help you move rocks that would be much too heavy, or are too rooted in the ground, for you to shift on your own.  It can do the same thing with any other large object such as fallen trees.  But honestly, more than anything I use our digging bar in winter for ice clearing.  I use it to chop ice out of the walkways so that the animals and myself can walk safely, I use it to chip ice out of water buckets and I use it to dislodge various things from the ice so I can use them.  幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站While our digging bar sees plenty of use in the summertime, in the wintertime there isn’t a day I do not use it.

Tractor

Possibly a controversial choice because I know many farmers who work only with manpower or use horses or cows/ox on their land - but a tractor is an invaluable asset for us.  A small plot of land, or land in good working condition, can be easily worked by hand.  But a farm of any size (ours is 93 acres) or in disrepair (ours had been abandoned for thirty years) is going to require some serious heavy lifting.  Adding a tractor - even a small one, or an ATV with a dump bed - will avoid many aching muscles and possible injuries, and help you restore your land in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken by hand.

That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on on a fancy, brand new tractor.  When we moved to our farm we had a family vintage 1949 Ford 8N.  We cleared forty acres of field with the old tractor, which was strong enough to haul rocks and logs, and a brush-hog attachment allowed us to mow down anything smaller.  幸运飞艇五连挂计划网站Within two seasons our fields were workable again.

We did add another tractor, one with a bucket scoop and more power, after a few years.  We now do the majority of our work on the farm with a 1985 John Deere 1050.  We can move earth and mulch, flatten some areas and make piles in others, clean up our manure pile, haul all manner of things, mow fields, move trees, carry equipment, and control brush fires.  

Vintage tractors, wether the family heirlooms or slightly newer models, are the way to go.  The benefit of both of our tractors is that we can work on many of their issues here on the farm.  They aren’t run by a computer, they’re simple enough that a farmer can understand them.  And, they are much less expensive than new models.  While a tractor may be one of the bigger investments you make in your farm, it can still be affordable if you look for good used models online.

Patience, and Open Mind, and a Sense of Humor

And of course, the right mindset is everything.  Farming and homesteading are long games.  There are many setbacks and heartbreaks, frustrations and changing plans.  You need the ability to look at a piece of land, envision a future of food production for it, and then work patiently towards that goal.  Planting fruit trees or asparagus may take years to pay off.  But a homesteader does it anyway.  Crops may fail, and even the most well cared for animals can fall victim to injury or disease.  But you keep persisting, treasuring the moments of success and learning to grow and change with the land.  

It’s easy to become overwhelmed on the farm, but a love of the lifestyle and a belief in doing better each season keeps you getting up and taking care of the animals and the land every day.  And the right equipment can make it all easier.  Hopefully with some of these tips you will be able to make the transition to a homesteader’s lifestyle smoothly.

Kirsten Lie-Nielsen is rebuilding a 200-year-old homestead in rural Maine, using geese for weeding and guarding purposes, raising chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and maintaining vegetable gardens for personal use. Find Kirsten online at , Facebook , and , and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog posts here.


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