Now that we are relatively settled and a new year has begun, it is probably time for an update.
While the barns were setup pretty good at the new place, a few modifications were needed. First was converting the saw mill building to a goat barn… no problem! A few panels & calf huts and both the boys and girls had accommodations with indoor hay bunks. While a bit more work needs to be done (permanent posts with swing gates, proper hay feeders that don’t rub the hair off their neck, enclosing a few walls, and some outdoor paddocks), what is there is sufficient for winter… they don’t venture terribly far from the hay all winter, anyway. BEST OF ALL, the barn can be CLEANED WITH A TRACTOR! Yes, no more shovels (except the corners)!
Next up was RITCHIE WATERERS! Pet peeve number 2 (after shoveling), is hoses and heating water. Not only are water tanks a pain to fill, especially in the winter, they are EXPENSIVE to keep thawed. I went from 4500 W (4.5 kW) of heaters (between the horses and two goat pens) to 350 W (0.350 kW)… how could I afford NOT to install the automatic waterers!? Let’s figure the tank heaters run 12 hours a day (prob run more some days, less others), that’s 12 hrs * 4.5 kW = 54 kWhrs per day. Multiple that by a 30 day billing cycle for 1,620 kWhrs. Now multiply by your kWhr rate, $0.13 kWhr for me, for a grand total of $210.60 PER MONTH (once again, assuming the heaters run 12 hrs a day). Compare that to the Ritchies: since they heat WAY LESS water, less take the worst case of running 24hrs a day for the entire 30 days, THAT’S $32.76 FOR THE MONTH assuming they heat 24hrs a day for the entire month! Installing the waterers was no walk in the park, however. Unfortunately the waterers were lost in shipment and needed to be reshipped. This delayed the installation of the waterers and we were fighting snow and freezing conditions in addition to the constantly caving-in 6’ deep trench. Sand is good for drainage and easy digging, but bad for trenches. Due to the freezing conditions, temporary footings were installed (as the semi-frozen ground could not be properly compacted, nor would concrete cure well) and work will be completed when things thaw and dry. I cannot say enough about how great these waterers are! These waterers will easily pay for themselves and are basically maintenance free. My only regret is not installing another one in the area I plan to setup as a milker pen.
Don’t forget the yard birds! They too got semi-temporary accommodations. The coop within the tractor shed is permanent, but the run will be expanded. For now, they are happy with the fact they don’t have to trudge through snow in their temporary pen and their coop is well insulated enough that the water rarely freezes even without any supplemental heat.
With the majority of the the does bred, plans are underway to build an awesome HEATED kidding area up by the house… it only cost me a $1200 forced-air LP/NG heater to heat the hubby’s garage so that I can use the attached side-garage for a few months of the year. I am excited to see many of the does freshen, although I know there will be disappointment and loses. With 27 does currently bred and up to a dozen more will be bred, loses (doe or kids) are unfortunately inevitable, especially due to the advanced ages of some does. But, that is just part of the game, even if it is hard sometimes.
Finally, I am greatly looking forward to 2019 Linear Appraisal and milk testing. This will be my first year on OS-AR (owner sampler with advanced registration) so I’m sure there will be a bit of a learning curve. In previous years, I tested through MN DHIA so someone did all the paperwork for me, all I had to do was milk. As always, I am registered as a Linear Appraisal host herd. Contact me if you are interested in participating or simply coming to learn.
Here’s to a new year!