Aquafest is upon us again. We will be back again this year and bringing some of our farm animals. Pixie our Finn ewe and Blue our Oberhasli milking doe. You can learn more about our animals (and videos) on our animals page. We will be talking about homesteading with sheep and goats, plus all our other animals, and some generals about what we have learned along the way and how you can get started too. We will be on site with the animals so stop on by and ask questions and chat with us. Aquafest is hosted by Aquatic Designs and Supply. Free, kids and family welcome, don’t forget to bring some quarters to feed the koi, they sure do love Aquafest, they eat VERY well during the event.
It has been two whole weeks since we added any new animals, and we just had to break the streak. This last weekend we got 4 new goats. They are all in the goat palace quarantine area for at least 30 days. We picked up four milking does; two were reported to be pregnant. If the girls were pregnant we will start milking them later this summer.
Our trial period is over for Jack. Jack came to freedom from the communist state next door. He roamed and protected his animals and was loved. His family is downsizing and moving to the city. He is not a city dog. We were on a trial basis until he decided he liked it here. We think he does, and now a new member to the farm. Notice we didn’t say previous family? That is because he came from one of the Aunties and they come and visit. If you don’t follow Rick on Facebook the Aunties are a group of women we have adopted as part of our family. Some near to us geographically, some across the country.
Lastly, I will be picking up some guinea keets this week. They will be truly free range and patrol the property for ticks. We may have some losses due to predators, but maybe not. We haven’t seen too many predator birds or other animals. With 2 farms dogs, kids, and us on the property we wanted an organic way to control ticks. This will be our first year ever having them. Before we start tours, we would like the tick population reduced.
Check out our “Our Animals” page for more information on all of our animals on the farm.
If you have been following us lately we have been adding numerous animals to our farm. Here is what we have to date. Most we want on pasture eating grass. But we do give them salt blocks and the treats to give additional nutrients not found in grass alone. This treats is a feed mix we make ourselves, but the same basic mix is put together and everyone can eat it. This is our first year doing this, so it is an experiment. After three months everyone seems to be doing well on it. We plan on experimenting with different mixes and combinations and as we learn more and refine the mix we will update everyone.
Why one mix? It lowers costs if animals cannot get out to pasture, or as a supplement to grass. If we didn’t give them the treats, they would me much harder to manage. We make sure, we show them the feed can, and shake it. We can get the llamas to come in from across the pasture, with just the can shaking. This is in no way the bulk of their diets. A coffee can 1/2 full to full for each species once a day if they get out on pasture, and twice a day if they are unable to forage.
It also reduces the risk of someone getting sick because they got the wrong feed mix. Since our youngest feeds animals regularly (5), and we have guests, and family help if they want to there are no accidents of giving an animal the wrong feed. Everyone can eat the base mix, and no additions can hurt anyone. Some species cannot tolerate certain feeds/supplements as easily as others.
What is in our feed mix?
Rather than give you all the nutritional details, I will like to a site which has them all for each component. Feedipedia is a AWESOME site.
Base which is given to turkeys, ducks, chickens for meat, geese, and chickens for eggs. It can also be given to the other animals as is, but they like a little extra in the mix. We purposely left soy out of the mix for now. Yes it is a big source of protein if growing animals for meat, we know. The base also is easily spread using a hand broadcast seeder. This allows the birds space to eat, increases foraging skills, and there is no fighting over the feed bucket/pile.
1 part black oil sunflower seeds. BOSS 16.6g protein 28.7 MJ/kg energy
2 parts cracked corn 9.4g protein 18.7 MJ/kg energy
2 parts oats 11.0g protein 19.5 MJ/kg energy
Averaging 11.5 g protein and 21.02 MJ/kg energy
Laying birds (ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese) get fee offering (as much as they want) crushed oyster shells. They are also on open pasture/area daily so bugs, worms, grass, weeds whatever they find.
For the pigs, goats, sheep, and llamas they get
2 parts base mix 11.5 g protein 21.02 MJ/kg energy
1 part alfalfa pellets 18.2 g protein 18.2 MJ/kg energy
They also get salt blocks, llamas are on pasture daily, pigs get regular grass until pig area completed, and goats and sheep get free hay and pasture almost daily.
Rabbits are on pasture daily, and get supplement rabbit pellets. We are experimenting with different combinations for the rabbits.
- Some things we learned, goats and sheep love rabbit pellets.
- The pigs prefer grass to feed mix.
- Rabbits who are raised on pasture from birth, eat far less pellets but take a bit longer to reach butcher weight.
- Everyone eats mulberry leaves/young branches, all birds love the berries.
Some things we are hoping to experiment in the next year or years.
- mulberry as an alternative feed
- using mulberry to feed silkworms, harvest silk, worms are protein source
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Comfrey as a mineral replacement
- locally sourced nuts as feeds
- Different plant based proteins in the pastures such as cowpea, vetch,
- rose of sharon
- More experimenting with the Fedipedia information
- spent brewery grains
We recently added American Guinea Hogs to our list of animals. Until we can build them an enclosure in one of the pastures, they are happy hanging out in one of the barn stalls. They love grass. Because of their diet there is almost no smell to them. Not what you typically experience with confined pigs. They drop, almost nuggets like horses, cows, and the goats. Not the soupy mess I have experienced from other operations. They talk to us each time we are around, and for the most part very easy going. Back to my point, about lawns. We have a push mower, and bagger. 1-2 strips on the lawn is enough for morning feeding, about 1/2 bag-3/4 loosely packed. Do it again in the evening, and they are good to go. But, but, but my lawn will be uneven….Um, who cares? By the time you NEED to mow again you will be back to your original spot. It is FREE food for pigs, who love it. Granted, not all areas allow pigs. But a 14’x30′ space in the barn is perfect if you don’t have room outside. They get treats, in the form of our universal feed mix, but really prefer the grass to anything else.
Well, it looks like we have another new addition in as many days. This time it is turkeys and Freedom Ranger meat birds. Last night while going to the farm supply store (Rural King) to get fencing, so we could put the pigs on pasture, they had new birds. And well, since we were already there, added Bourbon Turkey (breeding and or meat), seven more Khaki Campbells (for eggs), and eighteen Freedom Rangers (for meat). Then another three hundred pounds of feed to make our One Feed to Feed them All (this is for treats in the morning and at night). Finally almost 1,000 feet of fencing and posts. It was a busy night.
To see a complete list of our animals we have on site, check out our “Our Animals” page.
This weekend we had three more new additions to our farm, three American Guinea Hogs. Burt (Reynolds), Dolly (Parton), and Sally (Fields) are full grown and will be our breeders. We should look to get bacon seeds by June/July sometime. The AGH is classified as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. The bacon seeds will be for sale as piggies for your own farm, pets, or when they get bigger we will sell them whole and take to a butcher for you. They are only 50-100 lbs of meat, but lots of lard. Lard can be used for all those yummy baking dishes like grandma used to make. Our three prefer fresh grass over any kinds of feed we have provided them. The breeders and the bacon seeds will all be out on pasture. They are part of our rotation plan for the fields. To learn more about our animals visit the animals page.
Click on the images for larger pictures
Kids went and picked grass from the field until the pigs can get out on pasture.
Friday we got six more new additions to our farm. Six baby Saddleback Pomeranian geese. These are heritage breed that are on the critical list for the breed through The Livestock Conservancy. We would like to thank our new found friend Shannon for introducing them to us and keeping the breed active. These birds will be for breeding only as they are very low in numbers. They are already very friendly. This is what they will look like as adults. This is mom. Baby pics soon.
We are heading out to pick up two new guests today, a breeding pair of American Guinea Hogs. For a list of all our animals on farm check out our animals page.
We have grown so much in the last 60 days since moving to Greencastle, IN. Many people ask us what all we have on our farm. So why not introduce the more permanent residents? This page will grow as more long term residents come to stay. We will be having tours in the near future, or you can schedule one by appointment only. Use the Contact Us page of if you are friends you know how to reach us via-email, phone or text.
Well, hello all, we are back after a break. LOTS of new updates and info to share.
1st we recently purchased a 32 acre farm in Greencastle, IN and have been working on it EVERY day since December. Very busy. Between the two properties it has been very time consuming. We also moved during this time.
The Greencastle property will be our main farm and we remodeled almost every room before moving in. Additionally we have been working on farm infrastructure, some things were here already, some needed improvement, some we needed to build.
We will have a tour in April/May sometime. We would like to get additional structures built and in place. We will also be having more workshops here. There will be hands on activities as well.
Our Wingate property will be our example of suburban/urban farming and Tiny house living. It is a 2 bd, 1 ba in 550 sq ft. Once we finish the inside we will have house tours and tours and talks about how to maximize small space living. We will have no animal onsite due to issues with the previous Town Council and not being onsite to manage them. We will talk on how to incorporate and are leaving much of the infrastructure to show how to set it up. It may be available for rent on short term basis (2 week or less) to evaluate Tiny House living.
We went from 15 chickens and 3 ducks to now 32 chickens, and 15 ducks (more to come). This is our layers. We will also be raising meat chickens (50-200) and turkeys this year and will be selling them. They will be fed NON-GMO grains and on pasture.
We added two lambs currently, and plan to add 10-20 more before June. Lambs will be available in late fall/winter and will be sold live, and can be transported for butcher to your specification. We will also have wool available for sale/trade. All grass fed. No hormones or antibiotics unless life threatening. We are attempting to keep parasites managed as natural as possible (herbs/oils).
2 goats have been added, and 10-15 more planned. These are mowers for pasture maintenance. We MAY (I was TOLD I would be milking) have milk, and fiber from them as well. LEGAL DISCLAIMER Milk will be sold for crafts (soaps/lotions etc.), bottle feeding animals, pet milk. What you actually do with the milk is your business, not ours.
Pigs may be making an appearance this year, or next. Pigs will be available for sale whole or 1/2 sold live and taken to butcher for your custom processing. Non-GMO fed, and pasture raised. Same as other animals no hormones or antibiotics unless life threatening and we would always tell you that before purchasing.
Beef will make an appearance, but we are not sure when at this point. The pastures need some work and fencing added. Same as above, no hormones, antibiotics unless life threatening, and transparency. Sold in 1/4. 1/2 and whole cow. We take to butcher, and you pay them for how you want processed.
We have increased our rabbit operation from 4 to 14 and will be offering rabbit as well. We will process for you or you can do it yourself.
Geese will also be here, but we are specific to the breed we want and they will be available too for sale.
We have begun tapping trees this year, and will be offering a variety of syrups next year. Maple, Black Walnut, Sassafras, and maybe more.
We have almost 500 fruit, nut, and other beneficial trees coming in April, so massive planting underway.
Our herbs and herb gardens will also increase this year. Other than comfrey no herbs are available currently since we are splitting and growing our gardens.
We will have almost an acre of vegetable production and will be selling the overage. More information once we begin to harvest.
We may be offering a you pick blackberry option this year, we would like to see how the berries turn out first. These are all wild berries, but almost 6 acres of bushes. It will be picked and eaten or turned into wine.
We have also begun making a variety of fruit and herb wines, experimenting with recipes and different blends. Currently not for sale, but is something that is on the horizon to look forward to. While we cannot sell we can speak to making your own, or how to get started.
The farm is an open operation and people can see how we raise our animals through tours or by stopping by (by appointment or tour only). Not that we have to hide anything, but we have schedules, and projects as well, so to drop everythign each time someone comes by, we would get nothing done.
We look forward to our new adventure, and much more to offer in the future. I am still available for permaculture consulting, training, and speaking. with all the new additions we have much more to speak about. We (I) will try and be more diligent about posting information.
There will be a meet and greet this Saturday Dec 12th at the Downtown Indy winter farmers market 10am. General meet and greet for permeculture and regenerative agriculture type people. Don’t know what it is? Come on out and find out, make connections, meet new people, learn new skills. Rumors of a seed exchange, and cover crop seeds available. Big thanks to Torrie for putting this together. Torrie joins the Midwest from the Southwest and looking to make more permaculture and local connections. Don’t worry about exact time, and kid friendly. We will be meeting on the 2nd level in the open area. I will try and have some signs.