Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving forward...

Things have been pretty quiet the last two weeks, but I've been busy planning. There are many things that need to happen in the near future in order for my beautiful goats to take up residence at El Rancho and start making more goats. The needs are not difficult, but they are needs and not wants:


Land
Fence
Water
Forage
Security


Once I have these five things nailed down, I can start buying goats!  I have the land (the most expensive piece, btw) so that's a great start.  The next two, fence and water, are 'in the works.' On water, I have spoken to two drillers and am planning to contact a third. I have never drilled a water well, so this is brand new territory. We've consulted people we trust, but still it's an unknown: How deep will they need to drill? Will the water be potable or have tons of iron or sulpher like LB's? Where should the well be located? Near the barndo or the future house?

On fencing, we have already done our homework and shopping. Fencing is not cheap! Sheep and Goat wire seems to be the best choice for the perimeter, using t-posts. That way, the escape artists will be foiled (hopefully!). For cross fencing, we plan to start out with electric fencing. That way we can wait and see what works, what size areas we want for rotation purposes. We found that Producer's Cooperative has the best price overall. Last week, I turned in my application to become a CoOp member. The board meets at the end of the month to decide on all of the applications they received. The State granted me a farm use sales tax waiver already, so.....Fingers crossed! It is a member-owned coop, so that means we share in the profits each year-- taxable income called patronage (We received a patronage check from Capital Farm Credit, which is where the land is financed).

Once I have fencing and water, we can start getting goats! We have sufficient. forage for them to eat without our having to feed them grain or pelleted feed each day. Probably need to keep some hay (large round bale) and plenty of fresh water. Last week, I received a gift box from Native American Seeds, sent by my friend Zynobia from Junction, Texas. She sent a variety of native grass seeds, including small bluestem and shade tolerant varaities and a Lady Bird wildflower seed assortment. I feel good about planting native grasses that are time-tested by Mother Nature.

So, once all that's done, I just need to find animals-- goats and a donkey. Right now I am leaning towards a donkey for goat security. Many goat farmers rave about the great job done by dogs, but a dog needs to be fed each day and a donkey can eat browse and hay like a goat (they are a little equine, but can live off browse like a goat). One of the smartest things I've done is join a couple of goat email groups. I'm starting to learn the ropes, figure out who's where in Texas, what the going price is for goats, and so forth. I'll be asking some of them for advice as I get closer to purchasing some does. For the donkey, there are hundreds which have been abandoned in the last couple of years, so hopefully I will be able to find a jenny with an amiable personality. Dan has pretty much nixed any discussion of llamas...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

We are not Sheeple

First off, no disrespect to actual ovines," the 'ships' in the field, the little baa baa baas", but I want to proclaim my distance from sheeple- you know, folks can't think for themselves and just follow the one in front (notice I avoided the term 'leader'). A more recent usage of the term refers to those who blindly allow the government to herd them around. Well, that ain't me! Ever!

I grew up in Houston, but thankfully had strong-minded parents and had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in "the country"-- as a Girl Scout, riding horses, spending time in Polk County, lounging on the Island. I learned how to do things with tools, make my own clothes, and, best of all, improvise.  I have always been drawn to the country, particularly animal agriculture. Westheimer Stables and the HLSR were places I belonged and where I learned about all things ag. I knew where eggs, milk, steaks and leather came from and it didn't make me squirm to clean fresh-caught catfish at Lake Livingston. As a adult, I earned an Animal Science degree, worked on a cutting horse farm, and loved getting dirty and being productive. Still do.

I currently live on five acres in the county, surrounded by large trees and few neighbors. Unfortunately, town has moved towards us in the last twenty years and we decided it was time to move further away from the city, so last year we bought our 19+ acres across the mighty Brazos River. So now, we will be 20 miles from College Station, but only 10 miles from Caldwell or Snook (home of Slovacek's Sausage!)

Which brings me back to sheeple and why I got on that topic. Knowing I wanted to have animals at the new place, I talked to my county extension agent, Dusty Tittle (who is a sheepman, but not a sheeple), and goats seems to be the best choice for me. For the past six months, I've been studying up on all things goat: from breeding and feeding, to selling and showing. On the information highway, I discovered that animal agriculture is under attack, that most folks have no clue where food comes from, and that I can have a positive impact on both. I've chosen several ag/farmer blogs to include on this page, and encourage you to read some of them. In particular, Farmers Fight is one that gives me hope for the future.  Next week, the ag students at Texas A&M will be out educating campus on where food comes from and why they should care about it, and what the truth is about farming and ranching. Kind of an "un-sheepleing" process. For too long, we've let the media and others (don't even get me started on HSUS) tell the public what we do and they haven't been telling the truth. But sheeples just follow. Time to make agvocates of them instead!  There are lots of other groups with similar missions, like Protect the Harvest  and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. So, take some time to find out where dinner comes from and what you can do to make sure breakfast isn't cancelled...


Who's lookin'?