Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A break in the weather

The sun finally came out today. The wind has died back a bit, only blowing about 9 mph now. The temp looks like it will get well into the 50s. We should get something done outside.

Our grazing system seems to be working quite well. The goats have adjusted to moving down the ally way and are thriving on the new grass. The neighbors think I am crazy. They don't understand why I would be moving fence every day. It is a bit of work, but everything seems to be responding well. The paddock fence I am using is just large enough for six goats. When we get a cow we will have to increase the paddock size. If I add another section of fence that should give me two days grazing before I have to move the fences. The good grazing has boosted milk production. I'm going to have to get serious about this cheese thing. A lot of people are interested in getting cheese from us, I just need to wade through the legal mire so we can do it without getting in a lot of trouble.

The chickens are doing an excellent job on the neglected part of the pasture. After two days in one spot it looks like it has been bush-hogged and de-thached. Looking back at places they were 2 weeks ago is amazing. The old shredded grass has mostly broken down and the new grass is jumping out of the ground. I expect that in about 2 weeks they will be linked back up with the goats. They will follow about three days behind to clean up anything the goats didn't eat and to eliminate the fly larva from the goat droppings. With them out on pasture I have been able to cut back on my grain ration some. That is helping with the cost, but I must figure out an economical way to produce more of their feed here. Otherwise we won't be able to stay in the egg production business.

With the weather on the upswing mowing is going to become an issue. Last summer I tried to keep up with it using a small push mower. It took a lot of time and I wasn't able to ever get it all done. Eventually we hope to eliminate some of the mowing by planting gardens, but that's a ways in the future. The debate going on right now is weather we should get a used riding mower, or try to make it through another summer with the push mower. The rider conflicts with our energy goals, but it would really reduce the amount of time needed to accomplish that chore. Eventually we could convert the rider to electric, which we could produce ourselves. So the question is what moves us closer to our goal; using more fossil fuels and having time to do the other projects we have; or using slightly less fossil fuel (our push mower is gas powered too) and having less time? Right now I am leaning towards the rider. It's not a great answer, but in the long run I think we can make it work.
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