August 24, 2012 by Summersend
We love our property. It is a picturesque, treed 1/4 section that looks out toward Charlie Lake. We fell in love with this place because it has so many trees and an amazing view. It offers us many places to explore, to create trails and to have some livestock. Most of the trees are Poplar with a few Spruce and Pine mixed in here and there. The land has been logged in the past, but there were many groups of larger trees still standing. In the areas the trees were logged smaller, more tightly packed Poplars and Willows have grown up. Although this makes it look nice and lush, it also makes it difficult for us and the animals to move around. The idea was that we wanted to clear out the smaller brush to open it up a bit, but leave the larger trees in place. We have mulled this issue over for a while and have decided that rather than purchase large machinery to take care of the brush, we would go the livestock route instead. In come the sheep and goats.
Our adventure into goats and sheep was started because of the need to clear these areas of land, so that one day we can start some haying etc. These animals are great for doing a job like this. The goats eat everything from the grass and weeds to the trees and the bark. They even push over the smaller trees to get to the leaves. A favorite activity of our kids is to go into the pen and bend over the trees to give the goats a little treat. The sheep come along and clean up any plants left on the ground.
We started out with our 3 goats in a pen that I would say is about an acre. The idea was that they would clean out the smaller trees so we could get to the dead fall and clear that out. Then the whole area would become part of our yard. This, we thought, would take all summer and then we would move them over to another area for winter. Soon after we moved our Shetland pony in with them. He was getting a bit to chubby out in the pasture. When our sheep came home, they were also added to the mix. One day I looked in on them, and the pen was completely cleared out! It was time to build that other pen!
A few weeks ago, we spent the weekend putting up another pen for our does and ewes. They were in heaven when we moved them over. (To the left is what it looked like 2 weeks ago) Fresh trees to eat, yummy green grass, and a nice shelter to curl up under. Originally this are was going to be used as their winter pen. Well, it did not take long, after adding 3 more kid goats to the mix, for that pen to be eaten down. In only two weeks they have completely stripped this area of anything green as well. I decided it was time to start feeding a bit of hay each day.
In the beginning I started just tossing large forks of hay over the fence. But the goats tended to climb all over it, and the smaller ones were being pushed off the feed. So a new feeder was in order. I looked around for a ideas on how to build a sturdy, inexpensive, hay feeder.I came across a number of good ideas along the way. Here are two that I really liked.
I loved the idea of reusing the pallets. I was a bit concerned about the sturdiness of them, with the goats climbing and butting etc. In the end I decided on the nice sturdy feeder built out of 2×4’s and sized to fit a square bale of hay.
I spent Monday morning this week building a feeder for my goats. I adapted the original 2×4 plan to use 2×6’s around the top and bottom and for the legs. Just to add a bit more stability. The best part was that I was able to use all scrap wood we had around the yard. I reused some 2×6’s that were given to us by my brother-in-law and the 2×4’s were left over cuts from other projects. We figure the whole thing cost about $3.00 in screws. Not to bad. I must say I am pretty happy with the final result.
The animals all seem to love it. Even the sheep have gotten in on the action. Our skittish sheep actually let us pet them while they eat. We stuffed it full to the top thinking it should last them at least a few days. Um, ya, not so much. They had it completely empty within a few hours. I guess they were a bit hungrier than we thought. I have plans to build another one for our Ram and the Shetland pony in the near future.