As our farm grows, so do our animals. The goats, Peter and Kaley, are learning their new surroundings and getting braver every day. They’re coming out on their own now and making laps in their pasture. They’ve also managed to figure out how to get into the chicken coop and steal the chicken’s food. We have a temporary fix for now, with plans to install a new style door that only the chickens can come and go through. Peter and Kaley are growing, but are still pretty small. Both goats are small enough that you can still hold them in your arms like a baby. In the picture below, Kaley is standing next to one of our hens as a comparison. This picture also gives you an idea of how big our Rooster is, who happens to be standing behind them.
As the goats grow, our boys will continue working with them. Peter and Kaley are “practice” goats. Their farm job is to help our boys learn how to show goats for 4H as well as be our pets. Once our boys are ready, we’ll purchase them a show animal and begin that process. Peter and Kaley are only the beginning though. Our goal is to work up to Beef. Whether our boys end up showing beef or not, steers will someday replace or live beside goats on our farm.
Our first animals at Grey Dog Maple Farm were chickens. We started out with nine hens and one rooster. This spring, we added ten more hens. The new birds are not big enough to produce eggs yet, but they do provide plenty of entertainment. One Isa Brown, shown below, acts more like an ostrich than a chicken. It’s not putting its head in the sand though. This chicken runs laps in the pasture, at full speed. Something else the younger birds do that the older ones don’t is perch. For whatever reason, our first group of hens never took to perching. The new ones sleep on a perch, play on a perch, and hang out on a perch.
Our Rooster is still king of the yard, for now. He keeps his hens safe and is sure to let everyone know he’s there with his familiar call. His watchful eye makes sure all the hens are back to the coop at night and that nobody strays too far from the group. From what I’ve seen, he tends to avoid the goats for now. Peter is fixed, but I imagine those two will meet one day to find out who really runs the yard. The Rooster will always protect his hens, but I imagine his territory will shrink.
The garden is good but some of the plants are not. We lost our cucumber plant, a few bean plants, and our peas were tipped over in a storm. The cucumber will be replaced and the beans left as is. The peas are still alive, just not standing so they’ll be left too. The biggest hit though is our strawberries. They never took off this year. We even planted a second batch after the first failed to produce. It’s an odd thing. They were planted the same place as previous years, watered, and had sun. When I replace the cucumber, I’m going to pull the remaining strawberries and replace them with a late planting of potatoes. Our first batch of potatoes and onions will be ready soon. You can see those behind the failed strawberries below. The peas and beans are just coming on and will be ready for canning later this year. The tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, and other plants are coming along as expected.
Between work, community, and our little farm, it can get pretty busy sometimes. Teaching our boys to grow their own food, raise and be kind to animals, and seeing the smiles on their faces when it all comes together makes it worth it though.