Saturday, December 28, 2019

Barn, Chicken Coop, Jug Pens & House Painting - 2019 on Havencroft Farm

A couple years ago I adopted the practice of picking a motivational phrase for the coming new year. I can't remember where I heard that idea, or if I just thought of it. My phrase for 2019 has been Focus & Finish, a much needed reminder for my creative, energetic, blonde Gemini self. There is just so much to do out there and so many opportunities and ... I can start 9 million projects, and accomplish a few. Focus & Finish has been very useful.

When I look at 2019 from the perspective of what happened this year, instead of looking at what is still left on my to-do list, I am amazed. 2019 is a year when we made family connections and our family added new people to this world. Its a year when I found practices, people, and things that I didn't know I needed, and they revolutionized my life. It's a year worth chronicling.

These will be in several blog posts, and things listed are not in order of importance -

2019 Around Havencroft Farm

Barn - I had forgotten how much I love having a barn to keep my animals safe, dry and warm. It's a place to store feed safely, keep all the tools in one place and milk the goats in comfort. It's nice to have a barn again.
During installation, before we added more gravel at the base and brought
the animals in.

In November of 2018 we had a barn installed. Over this year we've filled it in and filled it up. It's actually a 17 by 32 foot carport, with 7 foot ceilings and a 10 by 17 foot tool room at the back. We've used and loved our mobile hoop shelters for decades, and we still have them for the sheep half of the farm, but now the goats have a tight, dry, permanent shelter. That means we have to clean it out, instead of just moving the hoop shelter, but we have friends who use the deep bedding as mulch on their gardens. They came and helped clean last spring. We'll see if the barn cleaning party grows this coming spring.

The new barn is approved by the alpine dairy goat flock.
We were able to store 83 bales of hay in the barn, instead of outside under tarps. Sweet! It is my milking barn, grain room and garden tool storage. We like it so much we want to get one for the sheep side of the farm, perhaps in 2 or 3 more years. It was an expensive purchase, but should last for decades, and one that makes me happy every time I step out the back door.

Jug pens - Something in shepherding that I've always said was unnecessary with our wonderful Jacob sheep, but that I have learned to love this last year, and a product of having the barn are jug pens.

Kachina and her lambs Ophelia & Olympia in the jug pen
in the new barn during the near constant rain of the winter and spring of 2019.

These are small pens built inside the barn. Ours are 5-foot by 5-foot, for ewes or does who are about to lamb or kid. This allows the mother a clean dry place to have her babies, a quiet time to bond with them, and it gives the babies a start in a safe environment. In 40 years of shepherding, I did not use them. 

We had safe spaces for ewes having trouble, sometimes it was the farmhouse kitchen, but for the most part, they weren't needed. Instinct leads ewes to find a safe place to lamb, the other sheep in the flock give them space, and most lambs are up and about on their own with just their mother's cleaning. But, during lambing season (February and March for us at Havencroft Farm) we rotate checking the ewes every two hours. This way we can help any ewes having birthing troubles and find any babies who are struggling. We leave many of our ewes out to lamb as they please. But now, we have two jug pens in the barn, and we rotated sheep through them for the 2019 lambing season. All the first-time mothers went into a pen, then we didn't have to search the pasture for them. Any ewe who had trouble in the past went in. The littlest lambs went in with their moms during big storms. We had no bottle babies in 2019, perhaps due to the jug pens. That is a huge labor saver.

Painting the House - Have you ever read John Grisham's "A Painted House"? I love that book. Squirrel...
Havencroft Farm, September 20, 2019

I live in the rural Ozarks. I grew up as an Army brat, moved for the first time at nine-days-old, and even as an adult, I moved a lot. I love the Ozarks, the land, the water, the people, and our homestead. I live here by choice. 
When we first looked at this house, it was many colors on the outside. When she couldn't sell it, the former owner painted it white on the outside the summer of 2009. I don't think it was good quality paint, so by the summer of 2019, it looked really shabby. 
We've wanted to paint it, and fix a lot of the structural necessities for years, but with Shawn working two jobs, Lena full time in the broom shop, and me working 45-55 hours a week, plus the farm and the weaving business, and now school, it was obvious we weren't going to get it done. But the Spring rains of 2019 had exacerbated some wall rot on the west side. So, we took out a loan from the bank of Mom & Dad and hired a contractor. Picking paint was fun. We went with a slate green for the body, and a tan to match the rock walls for the trim. I like it a lot. And the homestead looks so much more groomed and cared for, just having the house painted. When I look through old photos of this place, I'm amazed by all the improvements we've made in our decade here. It's still got a ways to go, but, Focus & Finish.

Chicken coop - I've had chickens most of my adult life. They eat bugs, they turn the soil in the goat barn, and they lay eggs. They just fit in my life. My chickens have lived in falling down sheds, up in the top of a pine tree for the night & just loose during the day, a nice home made chicken coop with an elaborate big run, the top of the pig barn, and a cattle panel covered with a tarp. They did fine in all these accommodations. But I like to keep them safe. So I wanted a strong, solid, tight chicken coop. 

And we don't have the time or direction to build one. Talent we have, and we can all build what ever we put our minds to, but we each have other directions our time. Spending about 6 months researching and looking at coops, we finally decided on one. It took a while to get in touch with the builders, and a 6-hour evening drive to Clarksville to make the arrangements to purchase it and have it delivered. I spent hours figuring out drainage, sun, shade, access and the best place to put the coop. The couple delivering it came from Conway. It is 10' by 14' and weighs over a ton. They delivered it on a truck and had a little tractor that just lifted the coop and put it right where I wanted it. Our babies chicks were moved out of their little pen in the barn and into the coop. We clean the coop out every Sunday and re-bed it with waste hay from the goat barn. There is no way eggs will ever pay for the cost of that chicken house, but it was so worth it in ease of care, aesthetics, and peace of mind. 

That's all for today. Further recap of 2019, the year of Finish & Focus to come.

    No comments: