Thursday, October 27, 2011

My thougts about farming

I find with the choices I make they are generally made around finances. Our goats always have access to a good grade of hay all year long. As we are a dairy. They can also go out and in to the barn and 13 acres all year long. We pay about 150 a week on hay and about 500+ on grain and alfalfa pellets a week. We have about 85 goats right now.  We try and keep the loose minerals available all year long but when money is tight they must fend for themselves. We put minerals around the farm... several spots in the barn and in the extra pens we have if there are goats in them they usually have minerals. Baking soda is also placed around our farm. We also have water buckets all around our barn - about 20. These are changed and filled twice a day. We spread manure during the summer. We try and clean our barn to the ground twice a year... though I have to admit a few times it only got done once a year. We use shavings to rebed our barn. We trim hooves all the time.... my hand doesn't last longer than three goats and so I try and stay on top of the hooves daily. We have never checked for CAE. We will never check for CAE. My goats seem to be thriving very well as they are. We also don't give shots _ not sure they have really helped anyway and they cost money. My goats don't have hard udders thought they do get cracky knees. We feed dolomite lime to help replace calcium and potassium back into thier systems. We use MSN on the girls that seem to have a harder time getting started in the morning. We are a grade A dairy and creamery. My goats are my livelyhood and thus to have product I must keep them healthy and do what I can afford and can handle to keep our farm running. We have had about 5 post-mortem done over 10 years.... and not one of them came back with a diagnosis of what was the problem. In fact after one of our big bucks died and the report came back with no results my husband looked at the vet and said," Then give me my goat back alive."
I know first hand doing a dairy is a hard life... no vacations and a lot of hard work. Our farm is paying our way through life... not so well but we survive. And we are always looking for ways to imporve and to cut back on costs so we can be sustainable. We loose goats sometimes often and other times not.... but I am always sympathetic with farmers and our life style. We try and do what is good and right for our farm and animals. Not because I am green, but because it works for us and seems to help our farm.
I think anyone that wants to start a dairy should go voluntieer at one with an open mind... Then go to the feed store and add up all the costs. You should talk to a local vet to see if he or she fits what your looking for. Then I think you should live one year on about $50 a week for the things you need to live on _ food, clothes, gas, vacations. Oh thats right there will never be a vacation as long as you own the dairy. Nor do you ever get to sleep in again. And if you hire people you will want to be able to keep them working cause they rely on you for thier $. I don't want to discourage anyone from doing a dairy but it wasnt as romantic as I thought it would be and our children havent been on a family vacation in 10 years. We have had college students come and voluntier here as I take time our of my schedual to teach them what I know. We have had neighbors help us with chores and birthing. Our friends have to come to the farm to see us as we can't be gone for more than a few hours each day. Granted I love our farm and our life.... and someday I'd like to relax....someday.
I am very passionate about our farm and encourge people to come out and see how we do things. I feel like since I have lived it - I am somewhat an expert on our farm operations. We have met so many people that have come and toured our farm, or that we have talked to at the farmers markets. I also teach cheese classes in our area, which people get to then tour our farm.
I think Farmers are a special breed of people. They hardly ever think of themselves and are very giving and generous people. They pride themselves in hard work and little complaining. They don't spend money on non essensals and seem to make farm work look easy. Farmers are Great People and if you have a chance to meet one.... Thank him or her for all the hard work they do......for you.
ok I am done with my soap box....