Prep Work

We have been quite busy around here in the first months since arriving.  We started with a remodel of part of the house.  The former owners did most of the work, however, the master bedroom/bathroom & spare bath still needed to be completed.  Additionally, we painted the laundry room & spare bedroom.

John took what was probably one of the more hideous bathrooms that I have ever seen & turned it into quite the lovely space.  The bathroom had pink walls, pink countertops with a southwestern pink & turquoise wallpaper.  The carpet was a grey berber with pink undertones.  It really had to go!

We wanted to continue the barnwood accents that are in the rest of the house so we headed over to an old homestead and tore down a barn, board by board.  It was actually quite fascinating!  We found boards with writing on them that dated back to the 1950’s.  Re-using a piece of someone’s history was really a great experience.  Plus, it made really fantastic wainscoting.

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After the bathrooms were complete, we started working outside.  We have been working in between snow storms & arctic fronts.  First, we put up the greenhouse.  Wow!  This was a chore.  We were really grateful that my mom & brother came down to help us out.  After 4 days, we had it up.  Now it’s just begging for plants.

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The next order of business was the fodder system.  Well, this took some trial and error— actually, LOTS of trial and error.  We chose not to buy a pre-made kit and decided to make our own.  Additionally, I wanted larger than normal trays to limit the work load once this system was at 100% capacity.  John built the racks & the watering system and then it was time for the testing.  We had originally intended for it to be out in the greenhouse, however, the temps have been too cold and that was impossible.  We decided to put it in the back bedroom which meant we had to be sure not to flood the wood floors 🙂  Well, we did in fact flood the floors a couple of times but luckily we were right there to clean it up.  Once we figured out shelving & tray arrangements we have a great system that works quite well.

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Many people ask us what exactly is a fodder system?  It’s a very economical way to feed your livestock with actual live nutrients that is far more nutritious for them than bagged feed plus you save about 2/3’s on your feed cost. They are actually able to absorb 80% of the nutrients which means you get to feed less during the months that you don’t have pasture available for them to graze in.

We start with organic oats, barley & wheat.  We soak it for 18 hours before putting it up on the racks.

Then it gets watered every 4 hours for 30 minutes using a flood & drain procedure.  This allows the seeds to soak up water without retaining it so that mold doesn’t form.

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After 5 days, we have sprouted grains

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After 7 days, grass appears

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2 days later, we are ready to feed!

This is used to feed chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, horses, cows, goats, etc.  It’s a pretty unique system and whenever you can feed live nutrients over processed food, your animals will all be healthier.

We thought we would get away with doing all of our prep work & then bring the animals in.  Well, right in the middle of finalizing several projects the phone call comes in that we had been waiting 4 weeks to receive.  A rancher with the heritage breed of Berkshire hogs that we want to raise, has 4 gilts available.  If we want them, he can bring them by on Monday (this was Friday!)  Panic set in as we rushed to rip the wall down in the tack room, prepare the fence & get ready for pigs which neither of us know anything about!

Monday came and ready or not, we are pig ranchers.

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Pigs are like toddlers (good thing they forgot to mention that!)  They eat everything in sight including my tennis shoes.  They steal your glove and take off running, they figure out how to open doors which causes you to chase them down the driveway & through the pasture.  They knock you onto your knees and think everything is a game.  They’ve been quite hilarious to watch as they play their own games.

We had a friend suggest a basketball for them, apparently, pigs like to play ball.

Here’s the video–http://youtu.be/LFNJ2cGV7rM

As if all of these new arrivals and projects weren’t keeping us busy enough, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a gal in our area doing a group order of baby chicks so that we could all receive a quantity discount.  Sounds good to me, sign me up for 150 buff orpingtons!

They were supposed to arrive in 10 days but the email came in that they shipped a week early.  Sheesh!  panic again, rush to set up their room & get everything ready.

Luckily, we have had chicks in the past so the learning curve wasn’t quite as big as it was with the pigs.  BUT, we only had 4 chicks last time, not 150!!!!!

I do believe I have lost my mind (but that’s another blog all by itself :))

The room was all set up & of course, my two blue eyed helpers really thought they could hide in the pine shavings & maybe just maybe get away with being left in there for when the chicks arrived.

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Sorry boys!  The box arrives, the kitties are kicked out of the pen and we have a room filled with chirping yellow pillows of fluff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_afHr2qCkk

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My always gentle Riley, loves baby chicks.  Every time he comes in from outside,  he now has to race to the back room just to make sure they are ok.  They have a rather big brother as their guardian 🙂

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As March begins, we will start our next major project–portable chicken & turkey coops.  I’m sure a few comical adventures will come along with this.  We’ll keep you posted.

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