Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › The Front Porch › Member Diaries › Catching up – beginner with 17 hilly acres in WNY
- October 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm #86200
My participation here has been rather spotty, thought I’d pop in and just go over where I’m at.
This is our third year on the farm. We had eight lambs born this spring and I’ll start marketing them next month. (We can’t get butcher dates in late October when I’d rather process them, so we take deposits in November for December/January butcher.)
We started poultry last year, just a small time chicken operation for our own purposes. I’m considering giving geese a try as a for-profit enterprise. The market is small but I think I can beat the grocery store price.
Our steep land close to the house has been fenced in and is our main field. Our other fields are much smaller so our rotation schedule is lopsided. There’s still a steep patch way back from the main fields, I’d want a shelter and a water supply down there before fencing it in. Unfortunately the property line runs through the worst of the slope, so I’m not sure how that will work out. Neighbor rents us his hay field but doesn’t want fence on his land.
Another neighbor has a very small weedy hay field she’s not using, and has invited me to work it. I think this is where my small work by hand experiments will be next summer, while the big boys hay my own place that’s in slightly better condition. (They work on shares, so they have minimum standards of what fields are worth their while.)
Our hay situation has greatly improved, but is still unsatisfactory. I need at the very least to add on the ability to spread my manure and add fertilizer, better yet I’d have my own haying equipment and could do small batches to get the dryer areas in earlier in the year. Our new baler is very nice and actually got me some second cutting hay this year.
I bought myself a 3/4 ton pickup, with the idea of eventually being able to tow a 16′ stock trailer. Still working on the trailer. Still working on getting our house fixed up. Everything costs $$$. I want to get the trailer before I get my first oxen.
I think I have clearance from both hubby and the boss to go to an oxen workshop in the spring. I’ve been reading “A Teamster’s Guide” and hanging out on “All Things Oxen.” I decided to quit “Respectful Cow Riding & Ox Training” before my big mouth got me kicked out. The Brown Swiss association lists a breeder near me, so after I get my trailer and move to part time paying work, I’m thinking of looking into that…
Oxen are still a waiting game, my short term goals are to learn more about the equipment I already have and do some maintenance on them. The lawn tractor doesn’t start and has sat unused for a year, so it’s available for a learning tear-down this winter if I can get some heat in the garage… (We’ve used the BCS flail mower for the lawn.) The BCS runs pretty well but needs some routine maintenance. So far I’ve only done oil changes, lubrication, and air filter cleaning. The manual has a few more things I feel confident about trying that should be done. The location of the spark plug is hard to get around, may end up calling my pro guy to help me pull and check that.October 8, 2015 at 2:15 pm #86237
I see so many teams for sale on All Things Oxen. Tempted by a 2 year old Swiss team trained to drive with lines from behind… But I really want to do things right, and I won’t have the time to exercise them more than once a week this winter. I’ve already talked to the boss about going part time in March, and I’ve signed up for ox lessons after that…October 14, 2015 at 10:36 pm #86267
I’ve scheduled oxen lessons, the move from full time to part time, and have put out feelers for local Brown Swiss calves in the spring…January 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm #87141
Two and a half months until oxen lessons. Loosing sweet deal on hay land next door, so who knows what my situation will be while raising them up to the point that they can start doing hay. (We have a contractor hay on shares, if there’s less hay around to share, then my share will likely be smaller.) I think I can cover the costs of buying hay for two years, but I might not replace the next few ewes I cull. I saved some lambs from this year’s crop before I got the news, debating the merits of calling the butcher and adding one more to my RSVP, but one is the last of her line, and the other is a very nice lamb…
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