Sheep and Pasture Restoration

This is always an exciting time of year on a farm. After a long winter, plants are starting to wake up, traces of green can be seen popping up. And babies! Baby chicks, ducklings, keets and turkeys have found their way on the farm as well as new lambs.

We have been talking about getting sheep for awhile, and this spring seemed to be the right time. We have had goats on the farm for awhile and they have really helped with clearing overgrown brush and weeds, but now that is done it is time for pasture restoration. Pasture restoration is one of our main objectives with our flock of sheep so that we can suppress weed burden and finally get pasture grass back.

We will definitely keep you updated on how this is going. Like everything on the farm, I’m expecting a learning curve with this, but am looking forward to it!.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the moms out there! We celebrated the weekend at the farm. While Liz was out getting pampered and having her hair done, I surprised her and converted an old horse shed to a potting shed for her.

Now she finally has the space to lay out all her supplies in one place! She loves it and as already used it to start some seedlings for the Frederick Farmer’s Market.

Project #1 – Fencing 2.0

If you read our earlier post about our first project, you know how much research we did in finding the best materials to keep our goats in their new pasture. We ended up going with the cattle panels — as they were sturdy, tall and essentially goat proof. Since the new fence has been installed, it has worked fantastically! No goats have managed to breach the fence — so they turned around and looked the other way…

For the next several weeks, the goats were content with their new found freedom. Approximately 2 acres of new pasture! All for them! But apparently the grass is always greener on the other side (ok, maybe it was literally greener, but that’s beside the point). Within a matter of two days, the goats escaped 7 times!

Drastic measures needed to be taken! Some quick brainstorming (i.e. Google how do I keep my goats from escaping?) led me to electric fencing. Many articles talked about electric fencing as the only way to deter goats, meaning it worked “most” of the time. So I made up my mind and decided this was what we needed. And as luck would have it, the previous owner must have asked Google the same question, because there was already wire run along the fence line with insulators already installed — all I needed to do was supply a power source.

Apparently, you can’t just hook up a car battery to the line — won’t work. I learned this the hard way, I was desperate. I had just dragged Big Nina, our large Lamancha back over for what seemed like the hundredth time, and she become more stubborn and obstinate with every escape. Let me tell you that trying to move a 200 pound goat that doesn’t want to go is no easy feat. So yes, I tried the car battery — and was quickly disappointed. So, I forked over the money and went to the Tractor Supply Store and bought a Solar-powered Energizer by American Farm Works.

It was so easy to set up! The only catch was that you need to give it enough time to charge the battery via the sun. Big Nina, quickly learned that the grass wasn’t that much greener : )

Project #1 – Goat Fencing

Project #1 – Goat Fencing

Previously, Liz explained the need for new fencing for our herd of goats. We have many plans for the back part of our farm, but we can’t do anything until the existing goat pen is moved. Not only is the current goat pen in our way, but the fences are so dilapidated that we have jerry rigged it with zip ties and chicken wire just to keep the goats at bay. So we have decided that this will be the first project of the spring for us.

The reason we got the goats to begin with was to act as a form of weed control in the back pasture, so our current plan is to build a new fence about 400 feet back from the current pen and have the fence span the entire width of the property, essentially fencing the goats into back part of the farm.

The next step that Liz and I need to decide is what type of fencing material do we use? We were wandering around the Tractor Supply Store yesterday (our new favorite store) and found 3 options:

In this order, the fencing price and quality go up. We were initially thinking that a standard welded wire fence would work fine, but have found out with our current fencing, that goats like to climb fences and those weld points break with their weight, so unless we wanted to replace this fence again in a a year or two, this option is out.

Our next option is a woven wire, which like it sounds, is not welded but woven. This type of fencing can withstand the weight of the goats, but will still bend and sag under their weight. It will last, but will sag and bend with time.

The last option, and the one Liz and I are leaning towards is panel fencing. We were talking to someone at the Tractor Supply Store, and she recommended these. She said that she has been using the panel fencing for her goats for several years, and they still look like they were installed yesterday. Another benefit to these panels are their durability – goats can climb all over them and they hold their shape. Plus, since this fence is place keeper until we are ready to expand farther back – we can detach these panels and use them again.

If any one else has any ideas or can share from their personal experiences with containing goats — Liz and I would love your feedback. Just leave a comment below. We will continue to keep everyone updated on the progress as we move forward!