September 26, 2010

Vacation Project: More Fence

Dan usually takes his vacation late. This year, October. What are we going to do?  A homestead project of course!  I know "staycations" have become popular with the downturn of the economy, but for us, the last thing he wants to do as an over-the-road truck driver, is take a long drive somewhere!  All he really wants to do is stay home.

There are a lot of projects to choose from around here and you'd think the bathroom would be our top priority.  It is our top house priority, but if the weather is nice, we decided on an outdoor project instead.

Earlier this year we fenced in the back field for the goats. We figured eventually, we'd fence in the front field as well (sketch of all this on our current master plan). This is the field Dan cut with a scythe, harvesting our very own homegrown hay (of which I'm pleased to announce we recently got a second cutting).

Then came the problem with our septic system and having to put a new leachfield in. Doing so destroyed a lot of vegetation, and left a huge area of bare ground the goat field. Our concern is that even with only three goats and a llama, are they getting enough to eat?

DHanthinks not, so we are now on a mission to make that hay field available to them for grazing.

This field will actually be faster and easier to fence than the other one. For one thing, we can tie it into the existing fence, which will save work, materials, and money. For another, we're only putting in one gate, as we will use a gate we previously installed for access to the back. Then too, these sections will be straight, requiring fewer corners. On top of that, we're "old pros." Not. But we do have some experience under our belts. We made our first bracing assembly with library book in hand, reading and following the instructions step by step.

Also, there was a lot of clearing to do before we could put that first fence up. The property was badly overgrown, and the vegetation was encroaching the borders of the field. Last year I spent my summer  out there with saws and clippers. For the front field, we only have the north property line to clear out a bit.

It makes a nice privacy hedge, but is too thick for installing a fence. Rather than clear it all out however, we decided to just make a wide path along the actual property line, to give us room to put up the fence. Below is a view along the line.

I had the first go. Armed with clippers and bowsaw,

I cleared a path so that Dan could get in there with the chain saw. He took it from there.

Now there is a clear path along the boundary markers for the fence. The biggest challenge was all the trash that had been dumped on our property by whomever had cleaned up the little rental house next door, including slabs of concrete walkway they'd torn out.

The only caveat with this project is that we will also have to fence around my rabbiteye blueberry bush. It's in the middle of the field and yes, goats like blueberry leaves. (I gave them a test branch to check.)

Getting the animals moved to the front field will enable us to address the condition and vegetation of the back one. Our goal is to grow our own hay and grain, so we need to figure out how to do this with our limited acreage. We're brainstorming, and I'll fill you in on those as we go along.

So that's our vacation plan. If it rains, we've got the bathroom project to fall back on. The animals are more important though, so we'd sure like to get this fencing done.

Vacation Project: More Fence © September 2010 


Mama Pea said...

Personally, I find it really, really hard to take any kind of a vacation away from the homestead. I realize that's not the healthiest way to be, but doggone it, there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done which will make your life easier in the future (not to mention better for your animals!) so your plans for hubby's "vacation" seem perfectly normal to me.

Plus, there's always that super-good sense of accomplishment you get when a big project like fencing is done. Go for it!

Kids and Canning Jars said...

My project list is rather long too. I think where you cut back the unwanted now looks like a lovely walking trail....

Good luck.


Tami said...

I always do a "staycation" the last week of April. There's so much to do in the spring. I've done it for about 8 years now and just love it.

The past few years we haven't had the inclination to toss money into a proper "vacation". I'd rather make improvements around the house than toss money at hotels and airfares.

We do try to do the long weekend thing, though. Cheaper and still gives you the break away that you sometimes need.

Knowing your ground is probably as "rock hard" as mine is...I will hope that you guys get some rain to make driving those metal T-bar thingy's into the ground a little easier.

Good luck with that! (grin)

Benita said...

I can understand how your husband feels. I spend about 11-12 hours a day away from home M-F and I just want to stay home when I get the chance.

I know what you are doing is very hard work (been there!) but I envy you the opportunity to do it.

And think, with the animals in that front field, they'll be fertilizing it for next year's hay harvest. In one end and out the other - what better way to recycle? :)

Nina said...

Staycation - we've done that this year as well. I suggested we paint the absolutely horrible 1980's wallpaper in the bathroom - it's turned into something rather larger. I'll be happy when the toilet gets re-installed :) who knows when.
At least with a fencing project, you get to enjoy the outside. I hope the weather is fantastic. It's getting cold here.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, Dan especially needs that sense of accomplishment for homestead projects. He gets frustrated having to be away from home, plus he really enjoys physical projects. In that sense, a home project is so much more relaxing than a trip!

Melissa, long project lists, would we have it any other way? LOL It does look like a nice trail doesn't it? I took Charlie (our llama) for a walk along it and he was interested in absolutely everything. I'm working on a nice trail in the woods though. In all my spare time. :)

Tami, I'm wondering if it has anything to do with a person's natural tendencies. Some folks are project people, and some folks just like to have fun. To a project person, the project is the fun. For other folks, a project is work. Maybe these are the folks more inclined to take trips for entertainment. Just a thought.

Benita, you're right, there's no better way to recycle! LOL. I think folks like you and me prefer to stay home because that's where our interests are. Whether it's gardening, remodeling, weaving, dyeing, etc. That's oftentimes more fun that a trip.

Nina, I can so relate! Funny how a seemingly small project has so many unexpected aspects to it. Like you, I thought the bathroom would be simply a matter of cosmetics. Then Dan informed me that the plumbing all has to be reworked. Sheesh! Consequently I know all about looking forward to having the toilet reinstalled!

Vicki said...

I love the before and after pics of the property line. Very interesting. I look forward to more updates as you build your fence. Have I mentioned lately how much I love you blog? lol I agree that the staycation is the way to go, after all, there's no place like home.

Anonymous said...

All of our vacation $$ gets dumped into our son's select baseball traveling. So, with my dh's vacation time, we use it for home projects as well as a week @ Christmas.

I just keep telling myself "only 2 more years of ball" but I doubt I'll be willing to plunk down the money for a week long vacation when I know I could put in more gardens, add more livestock, whatever.

Good luck with the fencing project.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the hay..very important..just ask the goats..he he!

Very nice area for them..they will really appreciate it!

Enjoy your time with the hubby...always fun, no matter what you are doing!


Leigh said...

Vicki I find those before photos a really nice record later on, so take lots yourself! I saw one of the view out my kitchen window when we first moved here. What a difference now!

Paula, I hear you. I always figured my kids were an investment though, so never considered using the money for other things. A trip OTOH, seems more like entertainment, which has it's value, though only fleeting. Like you, I'd rather put our money into something more permanent around the homestead!

Pam, we cant wait to get the goats over there. We've had two blessed days of much needed rain, which will also mean the ground won't be hard as a rock for digging fence post holes! That should make the job easier and quicker. :)

Robin said...

My brother-in-law travels for his work so he always wants to spend vacation at home too. I don't blame him.

Leigh said...

Robin, I reckon vacation is really a time of rest. Different things are refreshing for different folks, I reckon.

Lee said...

You said you aren't sure how much they are eat .. how are you measuring their food consumption? Are you set stocking them and then supplementing, and watching how much of the additional food they are eating?

The most effective way to use pasture is to rotational graze it. You restrict them to a small portion, and you move them to another portion when they eat that down significantly. 'Significantly' is hard to define, but it's basically several inches of growth on average (and never more than about 4 days on the same ground), so there is still plenty of grass left for fast regrowth.

When animals are stuck on the same pasture indefinitely, they start eating the regrowth as it is happening, and this shocks the grass and greatly slows is growth rate. I really need to finish up that series of 10 posts based on the grazing class we took (the ones on all the practical details like this are still stuck in my notes). I'm interested in how this will work out for you now that you have a few animals to work with, because we basically will have about the same amount of ground to experiment with and I'm really curious how many animals we'll be able to support with *very* minimal supplementation.

Leigh said...

Lee, yes, you do need to finish that pasture series!

We haven't actually measured the goats' total food consumption. Mostly they graze on browse, with the little grass that grows in our back field. It really isn't a pasture yet, just a neglected, overgown field. It's about an acre in size, and since we've only had goats since about May, they haven't even been on it for 6 months yet.

They get hay free choice and each gets a portion of goat feed in the evening. I've increased that somewhat, but since goats are ruminants, too much grain isn't recommended as it doesn't digest well and can cause rumen acidosis. I do feed them probiotics on occasion, to keep their rumen healthy. Lately though, their hip bones seem more prominent, which is the cause of our concern. I have recently wormed them, so we're hoping to see some change, though this time of year the vegetation is beginning to die back.

Our front field (also about an acre or so) is grassier, with some fescue, some vetch, and lots of weeds and other things we haven't identified. The goats & llama love this as hay.

Our plan is rotate grazing between the two, and probably use a portion of each for a corn crop and a wheat crop, followed by a legume like a small field pea (for protein). I think it will take some experimentation to find out how much we need to grow to feed our animals ourselves. As I mentioned, ruminants don't need much grain, so hopefully we can manage this. Your notes will come in handy as we plan what to do with that back field.