Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Barn for Me

This week begins the holiday season and for this large family mama that can mean only one thing:
This house MUST get cleaned!!!

Okay, I know that is not the most important thing I could be doing with my time, but I seriously just need the open spaces cleaned. I don't mind if junk is crammed into closet and drawers. Cleaning out nooks and crannies can be a goal for the New Year.

I started this week with turkey processing. Monday we processed what we had, which was 9 very large turkeys. They processed easily and our home made Whiz Bang plucker  did a fine job plucking feathers. The lightest bird dressed at 14 pounds, several dressed at 15-16, and 2 birds at 23 pounds!

I admit that they were fun to raise, until they started dropping dead at 13 weeks of age. I am still puzzled as to why this happened. After the financial loss of losing big turkeys, I understand why there are very few farmers raising pastured turkeys.

I also must admit that I really enjoyed these birds. It was more difficult to see these guys go versus meat chickens. Turkeys have much more personality, especially the gobblers, and I enjoyed watching them go about their day.

Now, I have to indulge to ya'll the really exciting part of my week.
I have a barn!

Last month I was able to purchase a metal carport with two sides enclosed. After it was installed, Devin turned it into my new milking barn.
First, he moved my milk pump and milking equipment to one of the enclosed sides. Those posts holding the stanchion are in solid concrete. Cows have a tendency to scratch their heads on posts and they can really move posts around if they are not solid.

My stanchion is actually a two cow set up, so technically I can milk two cows at once if I upgrade my milk pump and get another surge milker. Devin set up electricity into the barn so everything could be connected easily. Penny was the first to test the new set up out!

Of course, dairy cows are creatures of habit and it took some coaxing to get the ladies away from the old milking set up. This old set up has served me well for the last 2+ years, but it was always meant as a temporary area (more on that later).  The cows stood for quite some time in the old area waiting to be milked. We will tear this set up down and burn it next chance we get.

The other enclosed side is not finished yet. Devin will be building me two 10 foot stalls on this side. Each stall has a large gate and will be a nice area to lock up animals when needed. We positioned the barn so that the walls block the north wind in the winter.

Devin put me an outlet over the stalls so I can plug in any equipment if needed or even a heat lamp. Sometimes it is necessary to house a young calf and heat lamps keep them warm.

No more working on animals in the dark either! I have lights!

At milking time, the cow comes through this gate to milk and out the other gate when finished. No more cows running over each other to get in and out!

This is a perfect barn for my location in Georgia. The weather is most often hot and humid and this open barn allows for air circulation that is needed in my climate.

Another perk is that metal carports are relatively inexpensive. We did not have to spend tens of thousands to get a nice barn set up and that is a bonus for any family on a budget. When you start farming well meaning  people will try and tell you that you must get a big, expensive barn set up. Do NOT believe them.

Let's get back to my temporary milking area set up. Temporary set ups are really nice when you start a farming life, especially for fencing and buildings. Having a temp set up or fence allows you to use that area and really decide if it works for your needs. The temp area I had for milking was nice, but the ground was lower than I like and therefore it stayed wet, very wet, after a rain. I also had 2 years to decide how I preferred to milk cows and where I wanted equipment to be set up. All of the *kinks* were straightened out before I had my barn set up.

This is also true of fencing. If you can use temporary electric fencing first, you will be able to decide if a particular area works for your needs before investing thousands into wire and wood fencing.

I will post pictures once Devin is done with my stalls. Today he is working and tomorrow we will be stuffing ourselves sick with food.

Today I clean!!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll!!

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