Winter is leaving, what is it like in the Schoolhouse?

Winter is a busy season

Winter is leaving.

This is the time of year that I look forward to. Some would say we are deep in winter. But all I can think is that Spring is near. We have been busy making new shelters. Putting up more fences, building a woodshed, planning, and preparing the garden for spring.    

chick that was born during the winter

Winter activities

Our chickens

In three months it will be time to start another batch of broilers. At the end of this year, I had vowed to never raise meat chickens (broilers) again. We had decided a while ago that we would never do cornish cross because of the ethics of raising such a breed.

So we tried a few different types of heritage broilers. Jersey Giants and Delawares, both with promising reviews of giving great carcasses. We fed them well and let them go well past the twelve week mark but every time we were greatly disappointed with the size.

In general, the finished size was in the two pounds and that was sadly mainly bones. This year the last batch we did on a whim of desperation was the freedom rangers.  They were great. Really friendly, very healthy, and finished around four pounds. In the spring we will be getting another batch of these guys to raise.  

our dog during the winter
Our Great Pyrenees Rutabaga  
our seed plot during the winter

Our garden

The seed catalogs are in. We have the garden planned. We can see some of the garlic starting to sprout out of the heavy mulch. We will be expanding the garden again this year. Hopefully to add another five or six rows.

The Goats

uncle buck during the winter
Uncle Buck

There will be baby goats in two and a half months and we hope to have at least four goats that will be milking this year.

If you have never had goats milk before, all the rumors of it tasting really bad are simply not true. Our little trip of goats makes some of the sweetest milk I have ever tasted. They’re way better than cows milk. Thanks to our wonderful and sometimes creepily friendly sire “Uncle Buck” we should have some great little kids.

Uncle Buck will follow you all around the farm. Most goats will, but most goats follow you because they want you to feed them. Not so with this little guy, he follows you around because in general, he enjoys your company. By the look on his face, he really thinks you enjoy his too. It is pretty fun to have a goat that likes me for me. Not just for the food I provide.  

fencing during the winter

Fence for the goats

We added some new pasture for the goats. This time we went away from the traditional woven wire fencing and used hi-tensile wire fencing. We did six strands that so far seem to be keeping everyone in.

The first day that we let them into the new area, things did not go so well.

One after another they would do up to the fence get shocked and jump through. But it seemed that all they needed was the shock. Since then no one has tried to go through and they all keep their distance from the wires.

If it continues to work we will be adding new sections back into the woods on the other side of the pond. Its our goal to start clearing out that section next.

goat area built during the winter
our four legged friends in their winter fence

The other thing that we added was a new feeding station for the goats.

Since we keep our hay and feed at our shed it seemed really crazy to carry it all the way down the hill. So now just across from the shed we can feed the goats under a roof. It also has a hay feeder that will hold three bales of hay at a time so we don’t have to fill it every day. We plan to collect the rain water off the roof into a small pond for the goats to drink.

A number of things left to do for winter

We still have perennials to plant, more fences to build, a barn to put up, a woodshed to fill with firewood and more pasture area to make for the chickens. This has been a busy winter so far and looks like it will continue to be. It is time to prepare for the coming life of spring.  

What are you doing to get ready for spring?

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