Thursday, November 27, 2008

Molly at three months

This season being our first as a community supported agriculture venture has been interesting and quite the learning experience.

  • Worms can kill without obvious symptoms and not all wormers are created equal.
There are only a handful of wormers actually approved for use in goats. None of them specifically target tapeworm. So to keep your goats effectively wormed, many folks recommended using cattle "wormer" off-label and dosing appropriately. This year we tried using an organic/herbal wormer. No dice. The goats were asymptomatic - meaning they didn't show the worm infection until it was too late and they were already anemic. This year, the plan was to raise the goats completely organically without chemically-derived wormers.

  • Fencing is of primary importance

We only have a portion of the area we used for livestock and growing vegetables actually fenced in. This was fine most of the time, but certain circumstances arose where this was a liability. The farm is home territory to many different types of predators and plant eaters. The fence is effective in deterring these predators as long as it is in place. We lost two goats and numerous chickens to predators. A partial list of animals cited this year includes coyotes, owls, hawks, raccoons, possums, minks, weasels, foxes and the family dog. Plant eaters of note included deer, groundhog and rabbits. Plant predation was low because of the presence of the dogs. But one dog in particular really liked chickens and several seemed to think goats legs were chew toys. The fence was an effective deterrent once it was up.

  • Chicken tractors are awesome

Not only did ours protect the chickens but it has been most useful preparing areas for cultivation. . If the chickens have been there first, it is so much easier to do to turn the ground over. I am so grateful to the friends who lent us this piece of equipment for making that bit a this year's adventures a success.

  • Farm work is harder than most people think

There were several shareholders who liked the idea of working for food. Since, I'll take any help I can get, I agreed to let them come and help me. I worked along side most people and several did not come back after the first time. One notable exception, a wonderful young woman who is also a museum, had to stop helping because of heat issues. I love this kind of work, but apparently that is a pretty rare occurrence. Maybe later when the farm is more established and we're not doing so much break-breaking work, people will enjoy actually the labor involved.

I've learned countless other lessons big and small and am so grateful to everyone who supported the cause and encouraged to keep plugging away. We will have another season next year and I hope to post 2009 share agreement around January 1

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!!

Feel free to comment by clicking on the comment link above. I want to see what you have to say.