All posts by Rick

I am a permaculture designer and consultant. I run Wolf-Beach Farms.com and publish in several online and e-print publications.

Meet our animals

While doing some site maintenance we realized we have not updated the “Our Animals” page since last year. Well a lot has changed since then. It became so cluttered we had to break it up into several pages. While the pages are still works in progress, since some animals are not as photogenic as others. We included new videos, new photos, photos of fiber, udders, and a little background or information about each animal. There are also links to the breeds if you wanted to learn more. Click on the links below.

Our Animals – this gives overall names and photos of most animals and groups or species that don’t have their own pages yet.

Goats – This page is dedicated to all goats, bucks, does, wethers. All part of the brush cleaning crew.  We do not have as ambitious goals with the breeding program with the goats….yet.

Breeding Rams – We currently have four rams in our breeding program plus The Wog who won’t be going anywhere. Learn what a Wog is at the link above.

Ewes – Our current ewes in the breeding program. Not as many pictures as they are shy, and like Brandie way more than me.

For Sale – This is our list of animals available. It may change from time to time. We currently have 2 rams, and 2 ewes who are slated to go for processing at the end of July. If you are interested in purchasing live for your own herd, or as meat prior to processing use the Contact Us page. We cannot sell individual cuts of meat at this time. You would be purchasing 1/2 or whole animal and it would be processed at Fender 4 Star processing to your specification.

 

DIY goat milker around $100

Recently we were on several facebook groups and a multitude of people asked about our DIY milker. It is easier to write it up and have one central place to point people vs reposting it each time.

Let me start off by saying this is our 2nd year of milking goats. Last year we hand milked just one. So we are fairly new to this. Right, wrong, or indifferent, this is how we are doing it on OUR farm, and not saying you should as well. Just sharing our experience. We do not sell our milk it is for our personal use only.  We now are milking 3 goats a day, and potential for 5 later this year and 8 next year. So we may be moving to version 4.0 as we are currently on 3.0 design of the system.  Some parts we had already, tubing (for maple syrup collecting), fittings (parts cabinet), and T splitters. We have a large supply of jars and lids. If you have to buy everything new or use different parts, your costs may vary.

Version 1.0 was a single food saver rechargeable hand pump, 30 CC syringe, and small oxygen tubing. This may be an option for one goat, but battery life would diminish by goat number two. We milked directly into jars as well, and different fittings. We added a second hand pump to milk longer but just wasn’t efficient.  When we started milking 3 goats we needed an upgrade. Version 2.0 used a more powerful pump, larger lines, but no pulsator. Version 3.0 added the pulsator and the reinforced lure locks on the “teat cups”

This is Version 3.0 of our milker.

We milk directly into large mouth mason jars. This setup allows milking into pint, quart, or 1/2 gallon jars. You can also use pints. We have both configurations to give more options if needed for available clean jars. We milk once a day in the morning, letting the does back with the kids during the day. We do not pasteurize, but straight from milking to a refrigerator. We get about 2 weeks in the refrigerator before needing to give to pigs, dogs, or chickens. We use the milk to drink, make ice cream, cheese, cook etc. We clean the cups, and lines immediately after each use, wash the jars after empty and reuse lids to seal. Only the lids for milking have holes, we use regular jar lids for storage. We also date each jar after milking, using oldest 1st.

Parts

Vacuum pump – Amazon – Pump

Pulsator – Amazon – Must have to not put too much strain on teats, and is more soothing to goat. straight suction without relief can injure them Pulsator

Tubing – Amazon – Tubing

Fittings –  While we didn’t get these from Amazon they are available.  We also had various fittings laying around we scavenged to put it together
Jar fittings

Connectors

Lure lock inserts   We had left over parts from rabbit watering system. The plastic T fittings.

30 CC lure lock syringes (important lure lock) – Amazon – Syringe

Foot switch (V4.0 addition, allows pump to be further from goat/stand and remote operation) – Amazon – Switch

Filters – Amazon -When we do need to filter for hair/etc. Filter

 

Once you remove the plungers from the syringe it fits over most teats. At least on our goats. Some had larger teats, some were so small we have to rest the “teat cup” on the udder vs seal around the teat. We carry everythign out in the tote to keep contained and clean from the house to the barn. There are also spare parts, extra lids, tubing as to not to have to come back to the house once in the barn.

Close up of Jar

Version 2.0 we drilled the canning lids (used ones, because that would be a waste for unused ones) and just screwed the fittings in, with banding rubber bands for a seal. That didn’t give a good seal. Next we took electrical nuts and screwed them down to give a seal with the bands. It worked but started to rust. So, we used kitchen silicone to seal holes and nuts. which sealed and protected the metal. Canning lids will rust once you disturb the coating. Version 4.0 will have a better put together system for the jar lids.

Up close syringe

Version 2.0 the tubing fits over the lure lock and held in place by the clamp. That worked for a month or so but then constant moving and bending of the tubes makes the lure lock fitting soft and tubes keep slipping off. We cut one end of the T barn fitting, pushed into the lure lock and reattached clamp and tubing. This gives the end of the syringe more strength and stability. I leave the plungers in the syringes until just prior to use to keep them clean before milking.

The Farm Boss aka the wife wanted something to hold the teat cups while setting up, or changing out goats that keeps them off the ground and clean. I stumbled upon these broom holders in a pack of 6. This is also nice to hold tubes and cups upright after cleaning so they can drain. This is mounted on the cabinet next to our sink.

We use a shearing stand I modified for milking. The side rails are nice and have a place to mount the teat cup holders.  Ignore all the junk in the background. Pump is not usually on the stand.

If you have any questions use the contact us page or hit us up on Facebook for a quicker response.

Grass fed sheep meat now available

We have 4 grass-fed sheep all under 18 mo available for processing rams available now, ewes end of July.  Whole or half available. 2 rams, 2 ewes. Roughly 40lbs of meat per sheep (but you can also get bones for broth/pets and organ meat. We will take them to Fender 4 Star in Spencer, IN for processing. Processing is $50 per sheep or $25 per half, and not packaged for resale. You can decide how to process your ½ or whole sheep. We can help if you have never had an animal processed. Price is $6/lb hanging weight for rams and $8/lb hanging weight for ewes. You will pay for your processing ½ or whole depending on what you want, payable at time of pick up at Fender, to Fender. Once hanging weight is established, you will pay us for your portion of meat before Fender will release it.  Contact us if interested.

New videos

Some uploaded videos and photos from Farcebook

 

This is Jupiter our house lamb. His mother rejected him but kept his twin brother. So, he is being bottle fed, and living inside until he gets big enough to go out on his own.

Goats on one side getting a future pasture ready, Sheep and lambs on the other will be maintenance crew once pasture is ready.

Lambs having fun in the pasture.

Taking a walkabout in the woods

Jack doesn’t care who pets him, hooman or horse

Wee aka Jr Farm boss fell asleep like this.

Rabbit keeping evolution

Sr. Farm Boss has been commenting on rabbits and kept asking for pictures and examples to share to the group (Women in Ag so, I am not a member). I thought it may be a good post to show the evolution of our rabbit keeping, why we chose the methods, why we abandoned them, pictures and videos.

We started out as most do, with raised cages. when doing our research this seemed like what most people do. Keeps from having to regularly clean cages, away from predators, and easy to harvest manure for gardens.

The construction phase

We live in central Indiana and have freezing temps in winter. Having several rabbit cages and having to deal with freezing water bottles daily, frozen crocks, or broken water dishes due to ice was a pain.  Jr. Farm Boss had a difficult time reaching dishes at 4/5 yo and putting cages lower made it difficult for adults to reach in. Here is a writeup of a solution with materials, to the freezing water issue I came up with. This is when we lived in suburban Indianapolis. We toyed with tractors at this point but it was more get them out during the day, in a small enclosure on the ground. Not a permanent solution, just fresh grass.

Freezing water solution

or just a link to the video

This solution was nice when it worked. If your power went out, the lines froze and it it was difficult to thaw the lines. If your water level got too low no water would circulate and lines freeze. If a rabbit could get to the tubing it would eat holes. All of these could have been managed, but also meant in any of these situations, none of the rabbits got water. When we moved we didn’t have power at the new rabbit home, so circulating water and heat was not an option.

Rabbit feed was another issue so we tried the rabbits on tractor system. I wanted two goals met. No mowing, and no feed for rabbits. The tractor met this goal, but had a negative of we kept losing rabbits despite having ample cover almost every time we have a med-heavy rain. another Negative is Jr. Farm Boss couldn’t move the tractors as they were too heavy. A solution could have been wheels but I wasn’t really happy with the tractor after a year of use.

Read more on the rabbit tractor here. 

Once we moved, and the number of rabbits increased we found that it was taking way too much time to manage all the rabbits.  Especially if using tractors. Too many cages, too many waterers, feeders, and over 1/2 of chore time (we have over 200 animals) was spent on rabbits. Plus it took 2 people (Jr farm boss did water/food and I did moving them) or one adult. One of our end goals is her to be able to manage and take care of ALL the animals without us. We needed a new solution.We looked into central watering, wheels on tractor, but then still feed, freezing temps, and moving them was an issue.  After some researching I found a woman’s setup I liked in the form of a colony. It solved most if not all of our problems.

Link to her video. Credit where credit is due.

We didn’t quite have the same available space/materials in our situation, but I took her idea and adapted to our own.

Here is our version 2.0 of colony. We have since moved to V 3.1.

V 1.0 just had the “home” area and they ate that in no time. I was having to bring in brush, yard clippings, more often than I liked. But it was fencing we had on hand and didn’t cost much at all to make. Most of our solutions take cost into consideration, or what materials do we have on hand that can be repurposed.

V 2.0 added the running tubes and roundabout with portable dog fencing to get more exposure to fresh grass. Again, my goal of never having to mow, and not buy rabbit food. The video was in the middle of winter. Our feed purchased went from one 40lb bag every two weeks to one bag  every two months. We give pellets as a reserve or backup (rainy days, lazy rabbits, mamas) . They also get hay which we get for free. The don’t dig much and any deep holes we fill.  We believe because we give them hiding spots using the drain pipes, and existing nesting boxes their needs are being met and no need to dig. With one tub for water, it is easier to fill, or change.

V 3.0 expanded the home area to the width of this particular grass area available.  100x what they had in V 2.0. We broke down and bought specific fencing for this project. We did use locust poles for fence posts as they were free and we harvested them. We also moved the water tub under the roofline so it is filled and flushed with each rain. We started getting babies once the temps warmed up. This led to another issue. Our barn cats who keep mice population down, now were able to get into and eat/kill new babies. Hence V3.1. Once a mama kids we take mama and her litter in the box to a contained and protected area.

Here is a video of V 3.1

With V3.1 we have had no losses due to rain. We have had no losses to to predator cats. We do have 3 livestock guardian dogs that keep other predators out. It is open top, and we have not lost any to birds of prey. Our feed is down to about one 40 lb bag every 4 months for 20ish rabbits. We do not have to mow any of this hillside. We supplement with weeds, cuttings from the garden, and around orchards. We went from 30+ minutes of rabbit management, to 1 min (checking on grass, food, water) to maybe 10 at most (move mobile area, clean/fill water, tend to mamas in protected area, move new mamas).  Jr. Farm Boss (now 6yo) can do all of this on her own without assistance. The rabbits seem to be healthier and happier.

We have plans to evolve again to V 3.2 where the internal area in the shop/barn is larger, has climbing/jumping area, large door for easier cleaning, and floor to ceiling wire protection.

 

 

Picture and Video Update

It has been a while since we posted on the website. We have been super busy and don’t get time to sit down at the computer. So rather than spend a bunch of time writing it all up, here are some pictures and video of what has been going on. We post more regularly on Facebook since it is easier to do out in the field.

This is One of our newest additions Nelly the Nubian. She doesn’t think she is a goat. More like a dog that follows Wee everywhere, even in the house.

afternoon snack

teaching how to play fruit ninja

Wee got chickens aka The Chickadees that will help keep parasites down in the pasture, spread manure, and give us eggs. She has taken care of them ALL BY HERSELF since they came to the farm.

She also digs worms for and with them.

It must be the WAY you say it. Apparently I don’t say it the right way. Calling in the ewes and lambs.

We were sent this picture of Jack from when he was a puppy.

Baby Jack

Jack today

Jack today
Watching over his animals

Getting people food.

We sheared the sheep (1st time for either of us) 23 total

The special Pixie

This was a ram I did all alone. I was very proud how it turned out for no training, and 1st season doing it.

bags and bags of raw wool

We have had 6 baby goats thus far and 2 lambs to date

4 more goats left to kid, and 14 ewes left to lamb.

Fergie had Duke and Turk (two bucks)

 

Duke and Turk at 4 weeks old.
Piper had Punkin and He-man (doe, and buck)
Scarlet had two does (no names yet)

 

Matilda had Midget (who was SUPER tiny)

Lisa surprised us and gave birth in the group stall. We usually like to pull mommies out and have individual areas for them to give birth.

Lisa gave birth to Laura

In addition to literally miles of fencing installed we have also been working on earthworks and structure by putting in swales.

Wee learning to use A fram level
Swale in progress
Wee aka Jr Farm Boss checking my work
Wee aka Jr Farm Boss checking my work.
Swale in operation catching rainwater

Piggies have been busy clearing overgrown pasture and getting it ready for us.

Before piggies
After piggies

Gytha had spa day where she got hair and nails done.

Spa day

Now that spring is here we are busy splitting and planting herbs and plants.

comfrey and yucca splits

Clearing wooded area to make new pastures and collecting locust fence posts and poles for new barns.

All this hard work sometimes wears you you as Jr Farm Boss

But we always remember to have fun

And dance like nobody’s watching.