'16 Wrap-up


Winter has come upon us, and with it snow, rain, an awkward array of both, and time. Time for rest, recuperation, and maybe most importantly: reflection. Sure the goats need feeding, and the wood needs splitting, but the time for computer and calendar work is at hand. Some may find it a tedious chore, but I personally find it one of the most exciting and rewarding times of the year. The other seasons seem to whiz past at exponential speed. Spring brings sunshine, warmth, and workable conditions; Summer proves even busier with irrigation, harvesting, and the constant search for shade; Fall seems to slip by the swiftest due to its  demand of hasty harvest and winter prep. We enter the last leg of the race with one opponent in mind: Winter. But when the frost and frozen ground and snow finally win, and they do always win, it is time to admit defeat, hope there's enough wood in the shed, and reflect. That is what I'm here to do today. I want to share all the things that transpired this year, both accomplishments and failures. Being a numbers guy, I'd like to start off with a few totals for 2016.

As many of you may know, this was our first year raising goats.With it came a bounty of smaller goats, many a gallon of milk, as well as pounds of cheese. To be exact though, we had 11 kids from 5 does, 9 of them being doelings. We brought in 483 gallons of milk, and made 242 pounds of cheese with it! Not too shabby if I must say so myself.

On the poultry side, we dressed out 517 of our own broilers(which were sold out by December). That's over one ton of meat! Along with that, we harvested 52 pounds of raspberries, 56 pounds of asparagus, and 155 pounds of strawberries. We do average more on strawberries, but we replanted all of our towers, so I was impressed to break 150 on first year plants.

That about wraps up last year, but now it's time for the big question: what's new this year? For one, we need more chicken. We are planning on doubling production of poultry this year, bringing us up to a whopping 1000 birds. Can we do it? We sure will try.The raspberries will come up with even more vigor this year, being their third year, and the blackberry canes I planted last year should also provide us with a decent amount of berries(enough for a few batches of jam at least). We will be milking 6-7 goats this year rather than last year's 5, which means more milk and cheese. With it, hopefully a new weekly cheese will find its way into the rotation. I am also hoping to reseed our small pasture this winter in hopes to create some diversity out there. The grass really loves the goat and chicken manure, but the only varieties left are orchard grass and fescue which have just taken over, so some reintroduction of a few more varieties will help balance things out and give the goats some new flavor to their summertime snack.

With that I have to tend to the fire and go feed the animals. Stay tuned for our next post.

Stay warm!


Fear the Chew

  It's been a little while since we've posted anything. So here's a little blurb on what it's like owning a Great Pyrenees and how having Chewy has helped our farm.

Many people have already met Chewy:

He's really quite lovable and fluffy. We first came across the breed of Pyrenees in Montana at a sheep ranch and several places here in Colorado have the same breed to protect their land or just to have these beautiful dogs. Our main reason to have Chewy around is to keep predators away from our chickens. So far, he's been doing a wonderful job. Life before Chewy was quite a struggle in the meat bird season. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons all felt they had a feast on their hands when it came to eating our chickens. We would wake up some nights with losses of 15 or more birds and several injured. We would have to sleep in awkward quarters of the house for a good shot at these rascals in the wee hours of the night to protect our birds.image

Also, I have always wanted a dog.  The first time I came into contact with a Pyrenees, it was determined that I have one of my own. However, Jake was a little more hesitant at first. Guardian dogs can be great but sometimes they're a whole new job to take on. Depending on their training, they can be aggressive, extremely territorial, and aloof towards humans. Or they can be of little help, wanting to play all day, unsure of what their purpose is and get distracted easily. Still, staying up and/or waking up all throughout the night through the summer was already becoming tiresome. So we put the word out there and weeks later we were driving to Durango to pick up Chewy from a co-op farm that had decided to hang up the hat. We brought him home the same night and the rest is history.

Fortunately, his previous owners did a wonderful job raising him to be a friendly farm dog. One that does his job well but is great around people. He was 18 months when we got him and is slightly smaller and underweight for his breed. He has some different characteristics from other Pyrenees, but has all the same natural instinct. He has also been his own share of work, in a different way than we expected. We found out his back left knee has a torn ACL. And with tons of research, discussion and inquiries from different people we decided to help his injury with a series of Prozone injections. Long story short, he has a funky walk but he is still out and about loving life, his home and his job. Having a livestock guardian dog has been eye opening. It's taught me the difference between a working dog and a imagepet, but how important it is for dogs of certain breeds to truly have purpose. Our farm feels complete since the arrival of Chewy. We have only lost one chicken to a predator that was scared away before they could haul the bird away. He is always happy to see us, he is respectful of boundaries and people are able to come and go on our property without having to worry about a large dog being aggressive towards them. I always wanted a Pyrenees, but really we just needed a Chewy.