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I'm ready to scream and cuss, I'm that frustrated.

 
pollinator
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As you may know, I have been building a fence for a sheep and chicken rotational pasture. And now that I've got most of the posts in, we are struggling to finish it. My mom lent me her old pickup this past Saturday. My brother and I then used timbers as leavers and fulcrums to lift my lawn tractor into the back. I came out this morning to take the tractor into town for repairs, and the truck won't start. Grandma and I then went into town in the car to run our errands. Those errands are their own novel, but suffice it to say we had a really bad day. I was supposed to be bringing home the rest of the fenceposts and a roll of wire. No dice. I get that bad days are a part of life, but I have bad days pretty often.

Now here is where this trouble concerns critters: Grandma has expressed doubts (which I have entertained privately as well), that we may not be ready for livestock. There seems to be the need for a whole lotta STUFF, which is not really obtainable in our current condition. We have not concretely decided to abandon livestock for the first 2 years, but we have discussed it. I got some books at the library on different kinds of livestock to see if any of them were feasible. And we do understand that our #1 priority for production is our market garden. We want to have a lot of animals, but are questioning whether or not we can do it now or if we should wait until we can do it more comfortably. We are in a bit of a conundrum and some fresh perspectives are desired.
 
pollinator
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Hi Ryan,

Sometimes it seems nothing goes as planned!  Frustrating.  

What if you start with a couple chickens in a small coop?  Sure, maybe not Salatin- level stuff...yet!  But you will build confidence and skills with less initial risk.
 
gardener
Posts: 6152
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
970
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Having been down this road myself I can tell you that you need to wait for animals because you want all the infrastructure needed for those animals already completed prior to getting them to your farm.
Not having everything in place only created extra headaches and building work that can't wait until you actually have time. Fences also need to be in place and ready for use, there is nothing worse than to watch your animals disappear because your fence wasn't set up just right.

Redhawk
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
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Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Having been down this road myself I can tell you that you need to wait for animals because you want all the infrastructure needed for those animals already completed prior to getting them to your farm.
Not having everything in place only created extra headaches and building work that can't wait until you actually have time. Fences also need to be in place and ready for use, there is nothing worse than to watch your animals disappear because your fence wasn't set up just right.

Redhawk



Thanks for that, you confirmed what I have been thinking. I jumped in too fast and I need to take it easy. No animals until next spring, and then nothing fussy. The garden, hoop house, and food forest are enough work.
 
master steward
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I also want sheep, and know that I'm not ready either financially or in  terms or knowledge or time. I'm waiting until my kids are older and I have more time. I need to make the fencing and house, and I figure if I don't have time to do that, I definitely don't have time to take on more animals.

Chickens and ducks seem a lot simpler. Both animals have greatly improved our homestead. They're not as awesome as sheep, but they sure seem a lot more complicated. Babies hatching from eggs is pretty low risk and not hard to care for. Live births seem to have a lot more complications and the babies harder to care for.
 
gardener
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What Nicole said.

Starting smaller, a lot of people do chickens in inexpensive pens and tractors and then gradually scale up to other livestock.  Dollar for dollar, the return on investment for small animals (chickens, ducks, rabbits) can be much higher than animals that require much more extensive fencing, feeders and land.

Even raising livestock guardian dogs is very profitable.  So a dozen of chicken tractors that each hold 60 meat birds, as well as an egg mobile with 100 birds, guarded by a pair of dogs that will yield puppies in due season --- that's a much less expensive place to start.

But I would imagine that you know all that.  Forgive me for stating the obvious.  Hang in there Ryan.  It'll all come together eventually.
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
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We are talking over our options.


The Pig Option: Justin Rhodes has a video out on youtube about raising pigs in a small space which he calls the "pigport". Nothing too crazy. And we have considered something a little bigger to add a wallow. Carports are expensive, but we could build them a little wood shelter, and pigs are not fussy; or prone to get killed by raccoons and birds of prey. I already have the posts for the enclosure, I can use woven fence for it. Pig wire is half as expensive as sheep wire, and I would need only a half as much of it. Justin uses deep bedding. What I can get is leaves and hay. Still working on finding woodchips. The watering system could harvest roof rain from my feed shed. The feed and water are right there. No carrying feed and water out to a distant pasture system.

The Meat Chicken Option: Red Rangers, an electric poultry net, and a chickshaw. This one has less financial outlay, but is more work. I would have to move them often, even when I don't feel well. However, They are very productive. We eat about 50 chickens a year. Assuming 10% loss to predators and mistakes, we would need 60 meat birds. They would improve the pasture in prep for eventual sheep.

We are not ready for any other critters. Ducks need a turtle-free pond. Egg layer chickens need more financial outlay than meat birds. Sheep and Goats need lots of equipment. Cows we don't have the space for.
 
gardener
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More empathy, here! I SOOOOO wanted to have chickens, ducks, geese (both layers & meat, in the fowl), goats, a Highland cow, a pair of alpacas, & maybe a little burrow, this year.  Bwahahaha!!! Yeh, no. Not this year, for us. We really want to do it right, and as Dr RedHawk said, the infrastructure is of highest priority. Another conclusion we've come to is that our expectations of ourselves is pretty important, too. All those critters take time, every day - some, more than others. We did get the laying chickens. But, if we are still not completely happy with the chicken coop - and I'm not - then, not only do I have to take care of the girls, but I have work left to do, on their coop - and now, they're under foot, while I'm working on it. The time it takes to do anything on the coop is now nearly doubled, simply because my sweet girls are curious, and want to 'help', lol. Ours is a pretty big coop, because we don't have a barn, for storage, & it's set far enough from the house that I don't want to have to lug feed & stuff, daily - just too much work! So, I'm building an exam table, storage shelves, and other things I may need handy, out there (you know - like lighting, so I can see, when they need their funny toes checked out, or their vents washed). Until I get that done, I don't want more critters to care for, and take time from this project. My next critters, other than the pet pups we plan to get, this winter, will be my goats - next spring.

Hubs has been watching me, and has decided the meat chickens, and all the ducks, will be housed separately, and not with quite the same attention to detail - but, most of those will be his 'baby' to deal with. I'm the 'old farm hand', he's the 'city boy, learning to be an old farm hand' - so he's taking this time to learn from both my efforts (it's been a long time, and I've forgotten an embarrassing amount of stuff!), and from the other homesteaders, around us.

Being 'ready' it's a multifaceted kind of thing. Some of it is tangible - that infrastructure, for example, and the finances. Some of it is mental, like learning the theory. Some of it is practical - like time management and physical ability. There is so much more. If you aren't ready, wait till you are. There's no hurry, right? But, doing it incrementally is easier on your mind, your budget, and your body. Breathe. Your sanity is worth it, lol.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Where we are in the south, we just have a three sided hog house that also has a "hog porch" (4 x 8 sheet of plywood extended out from the hog house open side) so they always have shade.
Hogs really need the wallow, it keeps them cool, it provides them mud for insect bites control and it gives them a hangout spot if it is also in the shade.
The longer you leave hogs in one space, the more likely they are to root.

Wood chips for bedding is actually more of a waste of good wood chips, hogs that have bedding will soil that bedding all the time, if they don't have bedding, they go outside of their house to do their business.
Hogs love pasture, they will eat all manner of grasses and that keeps them leaner which means easier to butcher since there won't be a really thick fat layer (unless you have lard hogs like our AGH).

We have chickens but we have not gotten into raising meat chickens since they weight out in such a short time that their legs can break from the weight.
We raise the dual purpose French black copper marans chickens, lots of eggs (last year they laid all through the winter), they are lean and we don't have to do a mass slaughter since they are our layers as well as meat.
It sounds different  but my grandparents did the same and they never had to fill a freezer, they just butchered as needed the older hens or extra cockerels if they started fighting.
Meat birds are great but you have to either can or freeze them once processed and both take up a lot of space. (50 chickens will almost fill a 10 cu. ft. freezer)

For chickens I've found that our automatic door saves a lot of headache and time, no more having to go out in the rain/ dark/ snow to let them out or put them in for the night.
 
pollinator
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:We are talking over our options.


The Pig Option: Justin Rhodes has a video out on youtube about raising pigs in a small space which he calls the "pigport". Nothing too crazy. And we have considered something a little bigger to add a wallow. Carports are expensive, but we could build them a little wood shelter, and pigs are not fussy; or prone to get killed by raccoons and birds of prey. I already have the posts for the enclosure, I can use woven fence for it. Pig wire is half as expensive as sheep wire, and I would need only a half as much of it. Justin uses deep bedding. What I can get is leaves and hay. Still working on finding woodchips. The watering system could harvest roof rain from my feed shed. The feed and water are right there. No carrying feed and water out to a distant pasture system.



I think Justin's Pig Port is an interesting idea. I've wondered if a person couldn't accomplish the same thing with one of these carport tents from Harbor Freight. I get coupons for them all the time for $99, and just recently I bought one for $79 on sale. Seems to me that one of these and some 10 line cattle panels or pig panels would be a lot more budget friendly than the route Justin went, and I don't think you would have the number of leaking issues he had either.



The Meat Chicken Option: Red Rangers, an electric poultry net, and a chickshaw. This one has less financial outlay, but is more work. I would have to move them often, even when I don't feel well. However, They are very productive. We eat about 50 chickens a year. Assuming 10% loss to predators and mistakes, we would need 60 meat birds. They would improve the pasture in prep for eventual sheep.

We are not ready for any other critters. Ducks need a turtle-free pond. Egg layer chickens need more financial outlay than meat birds. Sheep and Goats need lots of equipment. Cows we don't have the space for.



I just put 30 meat birds out on pasture this morning in my hybrid tractor. It's a cross between the Simpson and Suscovich tractor. This is our biggest batch to date, and if it goes well I am looking at doing CSA style batches of 50-100 in the spring. I looked at doing it the way Justin does, but felt there were some things that could be improved.
I designed my tractor to be as versatile as possible and easy to move. I should probably do a thread on it by itself. Keep an eye out if you're interested.

I'm sorry you are running into frustrations. I hope things settle down for you.
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Mayfield Chicken Tractor
 
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:We are talking over our options.


The Pig Option: Justin Rhodes has a video out on youtube about raising pigs in a small space which he calls the "pigport". Nothing too crazy. And we have considered something a little bigger to add a wallow. Carports are expensive, but we could build them a little wood shelter, and pigs are not fussy; or prone to get killed by raccoons and birds of prey. I already have the posts for the enclosure, I can use woven fence for it. Pig wire is half as expensive as sheep wire, and I would need only a half as much of it. Justin uses deep bedding. What I can get is leaves and hay. Still working on finding woodchips. The watering system could harvest roof rain from my feed shed. The feed and water are right there. No carrying feed and water out to a distant pasture system.

The Meat Chicken Option: Red Rangers, an electric poultry net, and a chickshaw. This one has less financial outlay, but is more work. I would have to move them often, even when I don't feel well. However, They are very productive. We eat about 50 chickens a year. Assuming 10% loss to predators and mistakes, we would need 60 meat birds. They would improve the pasture in prep for eventual sheep.

We are not ready for any other critters. Ducks need a turtle-free pond. Egg layer chickens need more financial outlay than meat birds. Sheep and Goats need lots of equipment. Cows we don't have the space for.



Regarding chickens.  Consider Freedom Rangers.  I've raised them the last couple of years in a similar style to what you're considering.  They hit their weight a couple weeks sooner than the Red Rangers, but are still slower and have fewer health issues than CRX.  Mine produced an average 4lb 14oz dressed carcass (not including neck or edible organs) in 9.5 weeks.  Saving that couple weeks on grow out time is nice in that it reduces the risk of predator loss just because of the shorter time period.  Also, if you don't want to listen to crowing it's that much less time to deal with that noise.  Last year they started crowing at 7 weeks old, though it didn't become obnoxious until 8.5-9 weeks old), and this year there was almost no crowing at all up to slaughter day.  And, FWIW, we did a taste test comparison with a Freedom Ranger and a Wyandott rooster we culled at probably 16-20 weeks old.  Nobody in the family could tell the difference between the two in terms of flavor or texture.  That said, the Freedom Ranger hatchery also sells Red Rangers, and the Reds are less expensive as chicks.  You'll feed them more however, so if you're using economics as part of the calculation you'll need to work out which is cheaper at the end of the day.  They ship on different days, but you might be able to call them and see if they'll ship 30 Reds with 30 FR's if you are close enough to be likely to get them the next day.  They might say no, but it's worth asking.  If not, order the Red's to arrive 1-2 weeks before the FR's, and then you can do a proper side by side comparison between the breeds, and have slaughter for both groups at the same time.

If you do get the meat chickens you might consider getting another large bird to go with them, like turkeys, or geese.  I found that having some broad-breasted turkeys mixed in with the chickens kept the aerial predators at bay (I had 11 turkeys with 100 chickens).  I got them as early in the spring as I could, and then got the chickens 4-5 weeks later.  By the time the chickens were ready to be on pasture the turkeys I think 7-8 weeks old and were averaging 7.5-9.3lbs live weight.  The ravens didn't mess with my meat birds at all, even without any physical barrier to keep them from flying in.  We slaughtered the 3 smallest turkeys with the chickens, and the dressed out a little under 14lbs each.  I think they were 14.5 weeks old at that point.  The rest we let go for another month.  The biggest tom dressed out over 33lbs.  I think if I do it again I'll get the chickens when the turkeys are 6-8 weeks old and then slaughter them all together.  That should give me some turkeys in the 16-20lb range for roasting, and some pushing high-20's to low 30's that I can part out and do things like smoke the breasts for lunch meat.

We built a coop for our hens.  Not cheap, but not super expensive either.  With the hens we're taking care of for friends, plus the hens that survived the winter, and the chicks we got again this year I think we have around 36.  So far no crowing from any of the chicks, so maybe we got lucky with no roosters.  Or if there are roosters we got lucky with some quiet ones.  Right now they free range on our 4.77 acres.  But we're trying to get fencing up to contain them to about a half acre.  The poop on the deck, and everywhere else we like to walk is getting annoying, plus they're hiding some eggs.  But if you know you only want, say, a dozen hens the coop doesn't need to be very big or fancy.  
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
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After much discussion, we decided to do 2 pigs for sure, and chickens only if we can afford it while doing pigs and the garden. We are buying our feeder pigs from a fellow in our area. We think it is important to be efficient with our work and time and pigs in a pen like the one pictured, with the immediately located rainwater harvesting and feed storage is the best option for us. Plus, it is in permaculture zone 2, so we won't forget about them.

Below is our actual cost comparison:

Cost Comparison Between Pigs and Chickens

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Suscovitch Chicken Tractor - approx $50 holds 60 meat birds
60 red rangers and starter kit from Murray McMurray - $203
Country Road chick starter-grower feed - $12.29 per 50lbs at RK
Country Road Scratch Grains Feed 50 lbs - $9.99 at RK
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
$253 plus feed

720lbs of feed per 60 chickens over 8 weeks
60 chickens dressed are approx 360lbs of meat
$176.98 for 60 chickens per 8 weeks

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1x 330ft long woven field fence - $157
lumber pig shade - excess wirefrom fence supports a tarp roof over a scrap wood frame
posts - already have
4x Water/ feed pans $36
4x feeder pigs - $200
Nutrena Country Feeds Whole Life Pig Feed - $13.99 per 50lbs at RK
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
$393 plus feed

feed req for growout is 700(if slopped)-900lbs(not slopped) per year per pig
4 pigs dressed are 1200lbs of meat
$195.86 per pig annual feed cost for slopped pigs

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Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
970
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Hogs that weight 700 lbs. live weight are going to dress out at around 250- 325 meat only. (no bones)

When we butchered our last hog it had a live weight of 180 and it dressed out at 65 lbs. meat.
The lesson we learned was how heavy bones are, the head alone weighted almost 50 lbs.
 
Andrew Mayflower
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You won't get 360lbs of chicken meat.  Even CRX won't dress out to 6lbs average at 8 weeks.  With Red Randers you'll like get 4lbs dressed absolute best case, probably 3.5-3.75lbs, at 8 weeks.  If you want a 6lb carcass plan on at least 12 weeks.
 
Caleb Mayfield
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I believe the recommended conversion for whole bird carcass, no neck or giblets, for CRX is 70% live weight. We did 3 this spring just to have some fresh chicken and we ended up letting them get to 10ish weeks. They were still very active, healthy, free range birds, but I will not let them go 10 weeks again if I can help it. Anyway, those 3 birds dressed out at 78% of live weight. I'm doing better with my data tracking on these 30 and am really looking forward to seeing how they do tractor pastured over free range. Next year we are looking at trying some different breeds.

If you are looking at building the Suscovich tractor and need to buy all the materials new, figure $250 out the door at the big box store. I have a spreadsheet for tracking costs on my build and it's a touch over $300 if I wanted to walk into a Menards, Lowe's, or Home Depot today and leave with all the lumber, wire, screws and such.
Also, if you build to his dimensions, his tractor will hold 30 birds, 24 birds is preferable. You could brood 60 birds in it, but after about 3 weeks they need at least 2 sq-ft per bird when "contained". I would imagine though, that if you fenced them and used the tractor more as a night roosting shelter you could get away with 60. Maybe.

On the chicken aspect, also consider time of year. My sister in law has been buying 25 processed birds twice a year from an Amish community near hear. This year  they switched to only doing one batch of birds due to the gnats in the spring putting too much stress on the birds and too high a mortality rate. They are only doing fall birds now and she has been out chicken for some time. This was one of the reasons we only did 3 birds from the local farm store this spring and are doing 30 now in the late summer into fall. It's also something I have to figure out if I do 50-100 this spring.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Hogs that weight 700 lbs. live weight are going to dress out at around 250- 325 meat only. (no bones)

When we butchered our last hog it had a live weight of 180 and it dressed out at 65 lbs. meat.
The lesson we learned was how heavy bones are, the head alone weighted almost 50 lbs.




Andrew Mayflower wrote:You won't get 360lbs of chicken meat.  Even CRX won't dress out to 6lbs average at 8 weeks.  With Red Randers you'll like get 4lbs dressed absolute best case, probably 3.5-3.75lbs, at 8 weeks.  If you want a 6lb carcass plan on at least 12 weeks.



I guess that teaches me not to trust the first thing that pops up on google. Though being less weight is good, we have 2 freezers and I was going to have to give away some otherwise. It's a win-win.
 
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I think at some point, all of us have faced a particular problem, and we all wanted to just throw in the towel. It really does not matter what the problems are, they just add up to a sense of hopelessness, and like you, most of the time it ends up being someone we love, or admire, or deeply respect that says something against our dreams, and we feel so hurt...or at least second guess ourselves.

For me it was about my third year in raising sheep. Things were really looking up, nice fences were up, the flock was pretty big, and I thought I knew what I was doing. Then I put my sheep on a lush field and over night half my flock was dead. I won't post it, but somewhere I have a picture of all those sheep stacked up on a trailer headed to the compost pile. I really wanted to give up, but deep inside I knew I had a good plan, and continued. I can honestly say that in the end, on my farm, having sheep was a success.

Another time, I went through a divorce, and ended up selling all of my lamb crop to pay for my divorce. It put my farm back by a full year, BUT I lived to fight another day, and despite what business advisors tell you...the nonsense about, "If you are not growing, you are dying"...it is not true. Its okay to tread water for awhile on a farm.

I say all this, not to say you should have animals or not...sticking with sheep was what I needed to do, but it is okay if animals are not for you. But I think the important thing is, to have a solid farm plan in the beginning, and stick to that plan. If you really plan out your farm, it is a plan book that you can constantly follow even when life throws you a curve ball...or when people you love and respect suggest something that counters it.

If you do not have a written farm plan, I suggest you (and others) make one as soon as possible. It really forces a person to think aspects of their farm, throughly.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Travis Johnson wrote:I think at some point, all of us have faced a particular problem, and we all wanted to just throw in the towel. It really does not matter what the problems are, they just add up to a sense of hopelessness, and like you, most of the time it ends up being someone we love, or admire, or deeply respect that says something against our dreams, and we feel so hurt...or at least second guess ourselves.

.... (shortened for brevity, but I did read the whole thing) ....

If you do not have a written farm plan, I suggest you (and others) make one as soon as possible. It really forces a person to think aspects of their farm, thoroughly.



I'm starting work on that plan today. I thought I had a good mental plan; and my garden plans are already made with maps and spreadsheets, I just have to consolidate those. But my brain fooled me, I thought this was gonna be easy. Not physically easy, I expected to work hard. But I didn't expect all the supplies to cost so much, or that we wouldn't be able to haul what we needed, or to have to fix the house right away. (It was inspected 2x and got a clean bill of health, now I'm working on insulation, getting the chimney cleaned, replacing a pipe that rusted through, fixing a leaky faucet, etc...) Food costs more than expected too, especially because my whole garden failed and was taken over by grass and weeds. The only things that came up were beans and squash. But by the time they did, the grass was already 6 inches deep. It was my fault for being in a rush and having it disc-ed and tilled. I spent about $300 on that garden and got 3 zucchini and a cucumber out of it. No beans appeared on the bean plants.

 
Andrew Mayflower
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:I think at some point, all of us have faced a particular problem, and we all wanted to just throw in the towel. It really does not matter what the problems are, they just add up to a sense of hopelessness, and like you, most of the time it ends up being someone we love, or admire, or deeply respect that says something against our dreams, and we feel so hurt...or at least second guess ourselves.

.... (shortened for brevity, but I did read the whole thing) ....

If you do not have a written farm plan, I suggest you (and others) make one as soon as possible. It really forces a person to think aspects of their farm, thoroughly.



I'm starting work on that plan today. I thought I had a good mental plan; and my garden plans are already made with maps and spreadsheets, I just have to consolidate those. But my brain fooled me, I thought this was gonna be easy. Not physically easy, I expected to work hard. But I didn't expect all the supplies to cost so much, or that we wouldn't be able to haul what we needed, or to have to fix the house right away. (It was inspected 2x and got a clean bill of health, now I'm working on insulation, getting the chimney cleaned, replacing a pipe that rusted through, fixing a leaky faucet, etc...) Food costs more than expected too, especially because my whole garden failed and was taken over by grass and weeds. The only things that came up were beans and squash. But by the time they did, the grass was already 6 inches deep. It was my fault for being in a rush and having it disc-ed and tilled. I spent about $300 on that garden and got 3 zucchini and a cucumber out of it. No beans appeared on the bean plants.



What could possibly go wrong?  How hard can it be?  

Nothing is ever as easy or cheap as you think it will be.  The biggest test will be your ability to learn from these failures and keep going.  It's something that I sometimes get annoyed about with DW.  Something goes wrong with the some aspect of our animal adventures and her response is to say we should never have done any meat animals and abandon plans to do them again next year.  By contrast I look at any failures as a learning opportunity, and a chance to find a better, more efficient and effective way to do things.  As an example, I used to think spraying weeds was the only way to control them.  Now I'm seeing better results without the chemicals by using the animals to do the work.  Also, I had problems with the lambs the first night.  But then I saw a better way to contain them which has worked with some additional refinements over time.  And while the way I'm keeping them right now is far too labor intensive we're working on another way to keep them contained, and fed, that will be less than 10% of the work in the long term.  I doubt we'll have that done before I slaughter these lambs, but once it's in place I'll be all set (well, to the extent I can foresee) to get breeding sheep.

Keep plugging away it things.  Take each failure as an opportunity to learn, and don't hesitate to ask on here for lessons the rest of us have learned the hard way.
 
Posts: 1913
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I find pigs fascinating and I wouldn't consider them the easy option. You know how pigs will eat anything..well that's not true. I mean it is, because if they have no other option, they'll eat what they can get. If given other options, they're quite picky eaters. Kids and I were laughing as we watched our boar toss half the scraps out of his food bowl. They're still there. I guess he doesn't consider them acceptable contributions. He ate what he wanted, then meandered out to find grazing. I find pigs to be super easy to keep because I train them to me and people in general and give them space to be pigs. If all they had was that muddy area to hang out in I think I'd have some unhappy swine and some tested fences.
 
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I found sheep (katahdin breed) be incredibly easy and low maintenance.   They are amenable to temporary or net fencing,  require very little by way of shelter,  and happily graze or browse a wide variety of greenery.    Similar to goats but much easier to contain!   Graze, water, minerals and some sun/rain protection of the most basic variety.   Even lambing,  these sheep were great mothers, lambed easily even in a midst of a blizzard,  had healthy twins most of the time, and lambs sold really well at weaning.   They lived alongside ducks, rabbits, dogs, etc.  easily.   The biggest issue with sheep is usually parasite management.   That is an area that needs some research and a solid plan for, but I found everything else about keeping Katahdin sheep to be simple and flexible.   Just to confuse your decision a bit  lol.
 
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:As you may know, I have been building a fence for a sheep and chicken rotational pasture. And now that I've got most of the posts in, we are struggling to finish it. My mom lent me her old pickup this past Saturday. My brother and I then used timbers as leavers and fulcrums to lift my lawn tractor into the back. I came out this morning to take the tractor into town for repairs, and the truck won't start. Grandma and I then went into town in the car to run our errands. Those errands are their own novel, but suffice it to say we had a really bad day. I was supposed to be bringing home the rest of the fenceposts and a roll of wire. No dice. I get that bad days are a part of life, but I have bad days pretty often.

Now here is where this trouble concerns critters: Grandma has expressed doubts (which I have entertained privately as well), that we may not be ready for livestock. There seems to be the need for a whole lotta STUFF, which is not really obtainable in our current condition. We have not concretely decided to abandon livestock for the first 2 years, but we have discussed it. I got some books at the library on different kinds of livestock to see if any of them were feasible. And we do understand that our #1 priority for production is our market garden. We want to have a lot of animals, but are questioning whether or not we can do it now or if we should wait until we can do it more comfortably. We are in a bit of a conundrum and some fresh perspectives are desired.



I will just enter this late, but you make it sound like "building a fence" for chicken and sheep  has been a huge endevor, ? It should not be.

 And then you worked hard with timbers to load a garden tractor?  You have heard of ramps?  yes?  If you go at things unprepared, then unprepared things happen... And often.


I think you also said you want " a lot of livestock"  first- I would have to ask, what a lot? is?  and second, it seems like you are willing to work or have been working days and days  to presumably save a few dollars?  is that right?

 
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