***A walk through tour of our farm. Pics coming.***
I would like to describe our farm to those who may buy from us, but not actually come here to pick up, so that you don't get to see our farm. Many people ask us how we do things, and I have always had some description on the questionaire page, but nobody seems to look at that page. I think it is important that people know our goats have heat lights and ceiling and drum fans and big walk in barns where they are completely out of the elements. I can't be responsible for what happens to them if they are suddenly thrown outside with next to no shelter and no way to get warmed up or cooled off. In other words, no I don't think a pet igloo in a pen is adequate shelter, and it's not what mine are used to.
I have the goats separated by age groups and each group has their own pasture, guard dog, and barn complete with heat lamps in the winter, and ceiling and/or drum fans in the summer. There are windows that can be opened and closed as needed. The barns are completely cleaned out down to the dirt floors on a regular basis depending on the size of the barn and the number of animals in it, so usually one to three weeks. Then they are packed with clean pine shavings. I don't use hay or straw because I feel that once wet they never dry, only mold, and do nothing to control odor like pine and cedar shavings.
Our goat groups are junior does, mothers with babies, adult does, aged/retired does, two senior bucks and one small one for junior bucks. All our fencing are the steel hog panels from the Co-Op. They are 16 feet long and have the graduated spacing. Every pasture has a drive gate just in case we need to get in that way with the truck or van to quickly take a goat to the vet, or for easy show loading and unloading. At this point this may be all the description that most people need, but for people that are doing all this for the first time, and want to know how to do things, and maybe more importantly how not to, read on. Because I can certainly advise you not to do some things the way we did.
The first drive gate you come to is the mother and baby yard, sometimes also the junior doe yard (there is another drive through gate that can be opened to make this one larger yard). Although the maternity barn is not the first barn you come to. You walk through this yard into the two story, concrete floored, brick barn that is the original barn. I call this the concrete or work barn. I love this barn because it was built by my dad and two uncles who have all passed away now. It's where I do most of my health care on the goats and all my clipping for shows. There are two industrial ceiling fans and multiple drum fans on stands. This is where I store my goat supplies that aren't affected by heat and cold. I also have two refrigerators in here. The bottom floor is concrete with multiple large windows as well as a double garage door that can be pulled down. It has a 15' ceiling and is 20 x 40. This is where the does and dogs love to spend the hot summer days, lying on the cool concrete with the ceiling fans whirling over head. On really hot days we also turn on some drum fans.
The upstairs has a wooden floor and an equally high ceiling with just two windows, one on each end. This is where we store our hay. What a job it is to get it up there, not to mention back down. This is something I think we did wrong, storing the hay here and not building a single level new barn for it. You either have to carry it one bale at a time down the flight of stairs or throw it out one of the windows. To get it up there, we have to lift it up by electric hoist through a window, one bale at a time. And to get it into the yard and up to the window, we have to shut the mothers with babies, or junior does, inside their barn. Because they certainly don't run from a truck pulling a trailer like you think they would, they just see the bales of hay and come running at it instead.
Walking out the garage door you go into the adult doe barn, which is an addition we built on ourselves with a steel roof. It is the length of the concrete barn, plus the length of the maternity/ junior doe addition, but it is narrow, 12 feet. This area has drum fans and heat lights. It is has a sliding ten foot door, that is pulled back in nice weather and pulled to when cold or raining. From this barn, you walk through a door into the maternity barn finally. You can't get into it from their own pasture unless you climb through a dog door or window, and don't think I haven't. This is another pain to me that I would like changed.
This is this largest section of the kidding barn looking at two kidding stalls.
This is the largest area of the kidding barn.
The mother and baby barn, or maternity barn is another original barn structure that was built by my dad and two uncles. It was where the Winnebago was parked. It has a shared brick wall with the concrete work barn. This is the only wall without windows. It has a two story sloped ceiling that comes off of the second floor of the concrete barn. So it's 30 feet high, but slopes down to about 15 feet. There is a lot of air flow with that high ceiling and there are windows on three of the four walls. Plus there is a ceiling fan and a temperature controlled exhaust fan, as well as one drum fan. In the winter we hang as many as four heat lights in this barn. It is 20 x 20. There are gates within this area that can be closed to make three separate kidding areas. This is another problem I have. I would like more separate areas , instead of just the three large ones. But Aaron says I have no business having more than three does kidding at a time anyway.
This is one of the kidding stalls. This is another kidding stall.
Junior Doe Barn
Junior Doe Barn
There's a hay feeder just like this on the other side of the barn also. So two hay feeders, two sleeping benches, 4 windows, and three dog doors that can be closed.
This barn has one wall that is where the junior doe barn is connected onto. We had this addition built. There are windows along this connecting wall as well as a walk through door that can be opened to make this one large barn for the junior does. This barn addition has windows on all four walls and two exhaust fans, as well as a drum fan. I use as many as three heat lights in this area. The ceiling slopes from 15 down to 10 feet. In both these barns there are normal size doors that go out into the adult doe barn, as well as dog doors that go out into the two outside yards and can be closed to keep the goats inside.
The aged doe barn is also sometimes the breeding barn and is about the last one third of the adult doe barn fenced off, so about 15 x 15. They have their own heat lights and hanging drum fan. Their yard is an interior yard, surrounded on all sides by other goat pastures.
The original buck barn we had built and is 20 x 20 and has three windows, plus one side is almost open. In the winter, we hang plywood siding to close it up most of the way. They have sleeping benches along the three walls and a built in wooden hay rack. The second buck barn we built and is 12 x 8 and has one partially opened end that can be closed off more in the winter with plywood, or is a nice opening for summer with just a steel gate there that can be closed. Built onto this barn by us, with one connecting wall is the 8 x 8 junior barn, that can also be used as a breeding barn. This has a dog door that leads outside to a small yard with a covered lean-to area with a built in wooden hay feeder under it and a gate that opens into the big buck pasture.
While I think the sturdy fencing and nice barns are some of the things we have done right. I think there's plenty we have done wrong. Things here are set up for the goats, not us. Nothing makes my job of feeding and cleaning anything but harder. Including the fact that I have to carry the buckets of food and bales of hay 100 yards or more across the pastures to get to the barns with goats jumping on me all the way. That's why I love nice weather when I can just throw feeding pans down on the ground and feed them outside quickly and then pick them back up. But I still have to drag the hay and the water hoses all the way to the barns, not to mention all those bags of shavings, and all the dirty shavings that I take out of the barns. In the barns with sleeping benches, there is a lot of stooping to get the poop out from under them, but the goats love them in summer time. In the winter, they sleep in the shavings under the heat lights.