If You Build It, They Will Come: Part IV

2014 was an amazing year for Indigo Acres!  We not only built a barn, but became a loving home for: 2 horses, 2 goats, 4 barn cats, 1 dog, 24 chickens and 4 ducks.  This was only the beginning…

Winter in Michigan can be brutal!  Each year, I am amazed at how well the critters adapt! Growing fresh fruits and veggies, in Michigan, is not possible in the dead of Winter.  Knowing how important it was for the animals to still have their greens, we set up a fodder growing system.  We purchased whole barley and whole oats from our local mill. Growing fodder is the same process as growing sprouts or micro greens, for human consumption.

In the beginning, we experimented with different types of trays.  We found that the black seed trays worked best.  They could be purchased with pre-cut drain holes, which was very helpful!  The seeds would be soaked in the morning and at night.  Within 3 days, roots would appear, followed by sprouts, forming a dense fodder mat. Once the sprouts were 3 inches in height, we would break the large rectangles apart and feed them to the chickens and ducks.  The goats and horses enjoyed these yummy treats as well!

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Small green house stands, within humidity hoods worked great for housing the fodder trays.  In the beginning, I would water each individual tray in the morning and at night.  Needless to say, this was very time-consuming.  Wifey was determined to create a self watering system, using a timer system. We have made some great improvements in our system, over the past few years, but that will have to wait for a future post!
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This flat is ready to head out to the ladies!
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Even on the snowiest of days, the ladies still had their greens!
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Healthy and Happy Chickens = Healthy and Happy Eggs!
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My little helper!

Magic and Velvet had settled in beautifully and changed my life in so many ways.  It always amazed me that, even from the beginning, they knew what I needed.  They helped me help them.  We shared a beautiful language, combined with silence and strength. Although, when I was late for a feeding, Velvet would sound off with her impatient whinny!

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Velvet and Magic showing off their Winter coats.
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There is nothing better than an open gate to the pasture, on a beautiful Winter’s day!
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Even on the coldest of days, I love my life!  There is always someone waiting for me in the barn!
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Ophe was no longer a little puppy!  She had exploded in size and still had much growing to do!

It was time for a new addition on the farm!!  It might not be fuzzy or fluffy, but it sure was a wonderful and welcomed purchase! (I bet that tractor would end up being the perfect place for singing a few show tunes!)

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As you can see, Wifey was elated to add to her John Deere collection!

Spring was right around the corner and that meant only one thing…baby animals!  Since Wifey just received her new green baby, it was my turn!  I can’t think of anything better than 2 1/2 week old, bottle fed, nubian goats!

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Meet Sam!
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These three babies were non-stop excitement!  Meet Frodo, Pippin and Sam…  Unfortunately, Frodo became ill and after many late nights in the barn with him, he passed away…
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Celebrate every moment of life…
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Sam found his new best friend…
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Pippin stole my heart immediately!

Most intelligent people would stop and enjoy the blessings of the year!  But, it was spring and that meant more than just baby animals…gardening!  Over the Winter of 2015, Wifey and I started to design our dream garden.  We were ready for a large expansion, from the small-scale square foot gardening we had been focusing on.  It was definitely time to get the graph paper out…

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Give me some graph paper and I am one happy girl!!
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Veggies and Fruit Trees and Herbs, Oh My!

We were ready!  All we had to do was patiently wait for the ground to thaw so we could put a post hole digger and a few teenagers to work!  Next week, watch for Part V of If You Build It, They will Come, for a glimpse of how the garden began…

Make your dream a reality!

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

Roda

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Note:  If You have missed part of the farm series, you can link to them below!

If You Build It, They Will Come…Part II

By the end of April, 2014, the barn progress was moving along nicely!  The chicks and ducklings exploded in size and were enjoying Spring in Michigan. Our lifelong dream was truly becoming a reality!

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My daughter truly loved the adventure of climbing to the top of the barn.  I think she enjoyed my panicked face, when I would notice her waving arms from above!  To this day, even as a high schooler, she enjoys hanging out, in the barn, with the animals.
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Let the upstairs begin!
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I spy, with my little eye…ONE BIG BARN!
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Babies, of all kinds, grow up so quickly.  This photo makes me teary, knowing how time sure flies! These two were pals from the beginning…

The chickens and ducks were settling in nicely, so it was time for a few more new friends…goats!  Most assumed we would milk our goats, but this was not the case.  Our goats are all castrated males, saved from becoming “goat sticks”.   Some might see this as a waste and ask what is their purpose on the farm!?  That answer is easy…comic relief!  Spend 5 minutes with a goat and you will be head over heals in love, for all eternity!

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Meet Diny…short for Houdini!  It is probably not hard to imagine how he was given his name! Diny is a true escape artist and a pygmy goat!
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Meet Oatmeal…one  very cute, yet stubborn pygmy fellow! Oatmeal loved to climb on everything!
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Diny and Oatmeal were best friends from the start!  They ate together, played together and even escaped together!
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Discovering that the baby goats had escaped, once again, became a weekly event.  It was always easy to find them… on the deck, outside of the kitchen.  They so badly wanted inside with their humans!
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Who wouldn’t want to escape to the pool, for a few hours!
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The goats also loved to play on the large dirt piles, left by the construction team.
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Progress on the barn continued, although it felt like it would never be complete!

During all of the excitement, about 18 weeks from the day the chicks arrived, we were given the gift of our first egg!  It felt like we had done ok as chicken mamas!  Keep in mind, neither of us had any farming experience.  Wifey and I loved to garden and had years of experience growing anything and everything, but other than cats and dogs, farm animals were a new addition to our life!  Thank goodness we both loved to research!

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Goats were not the only new addition!  If we were going to have a barn, we would need a few barn cats!  Meet Leo, Bartholomew, Buddy and Pumpkin!  (Can you tell the kiddos helped with the naming of the kittens?!)

As the goats and kittens were exploring their new home, it was time to prepare for our next big addition…horses.  This meant we needed pasture fencing.

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I took this photo from the top of one of the large dirt piles!

Our goal was to have the horses delivered by 4th of July weekend.  Although the barn looked almost ready to go, we still had stall mats, bucket hooks and hay feeders to purchase and install.

 

Everything was falling into place.  In just a few short weeks, two beautiful creatures would enter my life and change it forever…

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“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn and we are led, to those, who help us most to GROW if we let them and we help them in return…”

~Wicked the Musical

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

Roda

Hay, Goats and ABBA, Oh My! Part I

This weekend, the farm focus was to finish planting the garden.  Needless to say, this did not happen due to one word…HAY!  We have come to expect, from past experience, that we will receive the call that our hay is ready on the first 90 degree day of the season.  And, once again, we were not disappointed!  270 bales of hay were going to be delivered on Saturday evening. Continue reading “Hay, Goats and ABBA, Oh My! Part I”