A Day in the Life

Another question that came up when I asked our readers to give us their burning questions was what our daily life looked like. They wanted to know just how much work we put into running everything.

Of course our days vary greatly depending on the season, what we have going on, and even the day of the week. But I’ll do a typical weekday and weekend day schedule so you can see what we do. With all the animals we definitely stay on a specific schedule, which helps keep the amount of time needed to a minimum.

Weekday:

  • Get up at 5am
  • Feed dogs and cats
  • Shower (Rachel)
  • Eat breakfast (usually oatmeal) and drink some coffee
  • Get dressed
  • Fix lunch
  • Milk goats and weigh milk
  • Let turkeys and chickens out
  • Leave for work around 6:15am
  • Get home from work around 5pm
  • Check mail
  • Milk goats and weigh milk (when kids are weaned)
  • Check everyone’s feed and water
  • Collect eggs
  • Do some yard work (in the Summer)
  • Fix and eat dinner
  • Feed cats and dogs
  • Shower (Tom)
  • Relax (in the Winter)
  • Go to bed at 9pm

Weekend Day:

  • Sleep in as late as the dogs will allow which is usually 6am
  • Feed cats and dogs
  • Drink coffee
  • Relax until the sun comes up (Winter)
  • Milk goats and weigh milk
  • Check everyone’s feed and water
  • Go to the farmers’ market
  • Usually we either have a consultation, event to attend, friends or family to visit, or project to work on to about 4 or 5pm.
  • Nap time (for Tom if we can finish everything by 3pm)
  • Milk goats and weigh milk
  • Fix and eat dinner
  • Feed cats and dogs
  • Relax until bed time

It doesn’t really take that much time. Milking usually takes 15 minutes tops. We’re usually the most busy on the weekends, but we really enjoy doing this so it’s more of a hobby than a chore. We wouldn’t do it if it was a chore.

Reader Questions: Goats, Gophers and Bunnies

We got some great questions to go over today!

The first is from the Metropolitan Homestead:
I’d like to ask how you got started with milking goats and how much daily work they really need.


Our girls Daisy (front) and Bella (back)

We had been thinking for quite awhile about getting goats but at first we didn’t think we had the space to keep them. We were then introduced to Kitty from Havenscourt Homestead in Oakland, who was raising 4 goats (she has 5 plus 3 kids right now) on her 4,000 sf lot. She gave us a consultation on goats and we quickly realized that they were totally feasible for us. In February of 2010 we got our first two does.

In October we felt it was time to breed them, so we “rented” a buck from one of Tom’s friends who raised the same breed. We kept him at our house for about 40 days to make sure that our girls were pregnant. Bella got pregnant 3 weeks before Daisy, which was nice because it gave us some breathing room between kiddings. Bella kidded in late March and Daisy kidded in early April. For the first two weeks after kidding we let the kids have all the milk. This is not only to get them stronger faster, but also the milk during those first two weeks still has colostrum in it which isn’t particularly appetizing. Some people take the kids away and bottle feed them but because we work full time, this wasn’t feasible.

Before we even bred them, we started working with them on the stanchion- which is a milking stand – to get them used to it and used to us touching their teats and udders. It took some time, but now they are dolls (for the most part) while getting milked.

As for daily work, it depends on how much you want to play with them. Since we still have the kids we only milk once a day, but once they are gone we’ll be milking them twice a day. Milking usually takes about 15 minutes and it needs to be done at 12 hour intervals. Feeding and watering are daily, of course, and we give them dairy pellet twice a day. It’s good to spend a little bit of time observing them each day to make sure everyone is healthy. Other than that, it’s not a huge block of time. As long as you have at least two, they are happy.

Rebekah Clarke asks:
Do you have gopher problems? I lost a lot of plants to gopher problems and I would love to hear solutions people have.
We currently don’t have gophers (knock on wood) but at our previous house they were a concern. Chicken wire with the smaller cells and hardware cloth (wire mesh) are your best defenses. For young trees you want to create a basket that’s twice as wide and deep as the rootball to plant the tree in. For vegetable beds your best bet is raised beds with the chicken wire or hardware cloth between the ground and the bed. Of course, after several years, the wire will need to be replaced because it will rust and won’t be able to protect against the determined little buggers.

Lucy with her kits

Justin Wandro asks:
How long do you keep the baby rabbits in with the mother before moving them out to their own cage. Also do you buy feed for the rabbits or grow your own?
If we’re planning on breeding again we generally start removing them at 6 weeks old. We only remove one at a time (males first starting with the largest) to help our doe dry up her milk slowly so it’s less uncomfortable for her. If we don’t plan to breed right away we’ll only remove the males at 7 weeks old and leave her daughters in with her until they get too big and they need their own space.

We both buy and feed them what we’ve grown. If you want to feed them forage just make sure they get the proper nutrition so they grow up healthy and strong.

Reader Questions – Baking Soda and Vinegar vs. Greywater

Once a month I’ll be answering your questions! Ask them in an email (if you want to be anonymous just say so) or just leave a comment – I’ll find them and answer them the best I can.

So here is one I found in our comments that I haven’t had a chance to answer…until now.

From Pamina:
…we are trying to do the bathtub to garden water thing, so have been leary of the baking soda & vinegar shampoo. It seems like that wouldn’t be good for the garden, no? Right now we use the oasis bio compatible soaps, but would love to switch to something more simple. 

I would think baking soda and vinegar would be fine in the garden. Did you ever do that experiment in elementary school with the volcano? You mixed vinegar and baking soda together and it bubbled out like lava. This reaction between vinegar and baking soda  creates CO2 (the bubbles), pure water, and a very dilute solution of sodium acetate. Since you’re already using a diluted amount of both baking soda and vinegar in relation to the amount of water you’re using in the shower the amount of sodium acetate would be negligible.

I did find this information regarding an alternative deicer that utilizes Sodium acetate:

The environmental impacts of Ice Shear™, an alternative highway deicer, have been evaluated using standard laboratory tests; biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) tests, chemical oxygen demand (COD) tests, acute rainbow trout bioassays, and phytotoxicity tests were used. Ice Shear consists of equimolar sodium acetate and sodium formate. The organic matter of the deicer can be readily degraded microbiologically in the natural environment with a slow rate of degradation at lower temperatures but an increased rate at higher temperatures. At elevated temperatures, highway runoffs of the deicer may reduce the level of dissolved oxygen in the receiving waters to cause an adverse impact. However, the apparent activation energy calculated for the BOD rate of Ice Shear is low (8.78 kcal mole−1), indicating that the temperature variation may not significantly influence the biodegradation of the deicer compound. Ice Shear appears relatively harmless to aquatic animals, showing a high 96-h LC50 value (16.1 g/L) derived for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Ice Shear causes minimal toxicity to representative roadside vegetation; herbaceous (e.g., sunflowers, beans, and lettuce) and woody (e.g., pine seedlings) plants. Rather, the deicer at low concentrations (less than 2 g/kg soil) seems to work as a fertilizer, promoting the yield of biomass. The test results indicate that Ice Shear poses minimal environmental disturbance in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

So, in my opinion, the baking soda and vinegar should be a-ok for using.

Reader Questions – New Feature!

I’m going to start doing reader questions as a formal topic now. Type your question in the Formspring box on the right. Just remember that it has limited characters so you’ll have to keep it somewhat short. So hit me with those questions!

Our first question in our new series:

Do you guys work outside the home at all? I am a new reader so don’t know your background, sorry. Thanks, dixiebelle

Hi Dixiebelle! It’s funny you should ask this because we’ve been getting this question a lot. A LOT. Almost once a week right now. Yes, my husband and I both have full time jobs. Tom works in electrical wholesale – basically sells equipment and parts to electricians. I work in landscape architecture as a project manager. Fortunately we both work in the same corporate park and have the same schedules so we carpool.

Our typical day runs like this:

Get up at 5am (weekends too)

Get ready for work

Go milk the goats

Go to work

Leave work and get home about 4:30pm

Feed, water, and tend the outside critters. Play with the friendly critters.

Do a bit of yardwork – generally not much to do during the week since we do most of what is needed on the weekends.

Harvest something for dinner.

Prepare dinner.

By about 7:30pm we’re relaxing. That is if we don’t have a meeting or event to go to.

Go to bed around 9pm to start it all over again.

And this is how it goes pretty much every day except the weekends. The mornings start out the same but then we have the farmers’ market to get food at and take my stepson to his martial arts class. When we get back it’s usually the big farm chores like planting and building.

Thanks for asking!

Reader’s Questions – Round 2

Got a burning question to ask us? Want to know what to do with all that extra produce or all of those eggs? Want to know more about goats, chickens or rabbits? How about how to get rid of pests in your garden? Are you overwhelmed by the varieties of vegetables and fruits and want our advice on what to choose?

We’d love to hear from you! If you’re shy, just make your question anonymous. No question is ever dumb and I’m sure there are others out there wondering the same thing. If we don’t know the answer we will do the research and find out that answer for you!

So go ahead! Ask away….

Dogs & Cats – A Question for our Readers

Yes, that’s our cat laying on our dog’s head

Just a short post today but it would really help me out.

I’m curious to find out how many urban farmers, new rural farmers and homesteaders, and those thinking about joining the ranks have dogs and/or cats and if you had them before you moved onto other livestock.