Art of Proprietation

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kinda of proud of myself

I have written here and here about stock panel arch buildings we use. It is a simple adaptable design for out building that is easy and inexpensive to put up. Made from arched sections of 52" X 16 foot that create a variable length building 8 feet wide and six feet tall. With a 6mil plastic or poly tarp skin and some internal stays, it creates a dry shed that can withstand our VT snow loads. As solar heated green houses, they extend our growing season a month in the spring and a month plus in the fall. As animal shelters, they provide shelter from wind and rain, retain body heat and gather solar energy to make comfortable winter housing.

The Goat house is a little more elaborate than the Green houses. The Goat house has a human end and a goat end with seperate entrances. The Goat end is half open, half covered by a canvas tarp. There is also a wall of old hay bales on the closed side. The hay feeder is hung on the wall between the goat and human ends. The Human end gives us a place to store feed hay and hay waste. We can load and cycle the feeder from the human side. Their are also two slots for the goats to reach through for water and minerals. And brackets to hang mini feeders of grain on.

For the Goat shed, we had some new design constraints to meet. We wanted clear spans inside (no supporting posts) given the limited space. With such a thin wall, condensation can be an issue. Since goats are suseptable to pneumonia, keeping their housing dry was important. We also wanted to maintain a solar warming design. So the sunny side has a layer of translucent plastic and the shadowed side has a layer of heavy canvas. The Canvas helps buffer the condesation while the clear side allows the heat of the sun in. For cold or foul weather, there is a poly tarp that covers the whole goat end. The canvas stretches around the open end and can be positioned to suit the weather. Now that the sun has changed it's swing enough, the tarp stays open most of the time to catch the afternoon sun.

Today was a good day to drag out the old bedding and replace it with new. It just means going into the goat end with a wheel barrow and pitch fork and loading up the soiled bedding. We compost the bedding to add to the vegetable gardens. Even in the depth of winter, the compost generated enough heat to melt it's way through the snow. We change the bedding on a schedule to interupt parasites. We replaced the old bedding with a new layer that is the waste hay we collect from the hay feeder. Goats a picky eaters and only eat about half of the hay that we put out.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chicks arrived today

Our chicks arrived today.

We ordered some new hens to freshen our flock. Our youngest current hens are in their third season and they don't lay very much anymore. It's a basic truth, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long... Our guinea hens still give us an egg every other day, even though some are more than four years old. But guineas only lay six months a year. Those chickens have been giving 12 months a year, so their eggs literally run out and there is nothing left. That's domestication for you. Guineas aren't considered a fully domesticated.

So we ordered a mixed group of birds, hardy for our environment, good egg producers and passable for meat. They arrived packed close in a smallish box for warmth. Chicks emerge from their eggs with reserves for a day. So they can be shipped without food or water for about a day as long as they stay warm.

The key is to be ready to receive them. They'll come to the post office, the post office calls, and don't delay picking them up. Have a brooder setup and ready to receive them and ready to feed them. They need to eat as soon as possible or their little batteries will run out.

They don't need very much, just dry food, water, warmth and somebody to clean up their poo....

My wife and I came to the same conclusion today. Thinking about the animals we have. Our son is growing surrounded by life and life cycle. We think it is wonderful.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Exciting news

We had the vet over the other day. And not for lunch....

We are coming up on a year with our goats and it was time to get some injections, preventative care for the hopefully pregnant goats. I also wanted to get tested for CAE (the goats, not me). I also wanted the vet's professional opinion of the health and general condition of the goats. I am still developing a critical eye for goat flesh.

One of the things that has been nagging us is whether or not our goats are actually pregnant. I have been poking and prodding them looking for a sign one way or the other, but I haven't been convinced. But I had to dry them off (stop their udders from producing milk) two months prior to the assumed due date. That was about a month ago. Ever since, I have been thinking about "what if they aren't pregnant" They wouldn't go into heat again until fall and kid spring of 2009. That would mean all the work around maintaining and feeding them with no milk for more than a year. That would have been a big disappointment since dairy products is the reason we got the goats. I enjoy the girls, but they are a big responsibility. Without the milk it wouldn't be worth it.

So anyway, the vet did an ultrasound and we confirmed both goats are with kid. Hard to tell if it is one kid or more, but at least one each. So be looking for pictures of new kids come May.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Town Meeting day

Tuesday was town meeting day. It's kind of like democracy.... It's a lousy inefficient process, but it's better than all of the alternatives.

It's a well known axiom that at town meeting, the low dollar items are the ones that get the most discussion. Yesterday, the two topics that got the most discussion were should the town oppose a land owner who wants to move a private cemetery that is on his land and should the board of selectmen compensate landowners if the plow truck hits their mailboxes. It's been a heavy snow year and a lot of mailboxes have fallen by the way side....

Both issues are pretty thorny and got blood pumping. The cemetery has veterans of the war of 1812 in it. And who can argue with the sanctity of an ancient burial? But at the same time, it is a private cemetery and previous land owners including the families of the interred did not provide for the cemetery into perpetuity. If the board of selectmen were to try to prevent the land owner from legally using his land, wouldn't that be a taking? The resolution that was brought forward for a vote was should the select board stop movement of the cemetery. Unfortunately, it is a case in the courts and the town is not the decision making body. In the mailbox thing, who can't sympathize with an 80 year old man whose mail box has been knocked down 3 times in the last month? The man's daughter came forth with a resolution that the town pay compensation for mailboxes destroyed by the town plow. Seems pretty straight forward, but the mail box is in the town's right of way. We wouldn't want the town to do an inadequate job plowing the road for fear of hitting a mailbox that is in the right of way. And there is already well established methods for getting compensation for the negligent acts of others through small claims. This is when a retired state politician stepped in and offered his amendment. He suggested that the board of select men study the problem and prepare a presentation for possible solutions for next years town meeting. Sounds like a blue ribbon commission. After about a half hour of debate about a $20 mail box, voters nearly unanimously rejected special consideration of mailboxes. At another unconnected point during the meeting, the town road crew was recognized for their efforts under a long winter with a loud round of applause.

We did get a nice presentation from the fire chief about the used rescue truck he would like to buy for the volunteer rescue squad. That's a $50K purchase. And the road budget was touched on, about $1.5 million.

But the $8 million elephant in the corner, the school budget, gets no discussion in town meeting. It's voted on by Australian ballet. When I went to the separate school budget meeting last year, the school supervisor gave a less than five minute presentation where she told us there was no wiggle room in the budget and the increase of 10% over last year was mandated by state law. She mad it obvious that she didn't want to answer questions and was not prepared to give details about the budget. She was asking for a more than $700K increase, but her presentation was not any where near as good as the one for the rescue truck.

It's a tried and true analysis of town meeting, we argue about the little things because those are the ones we have wiggle room on. The ones that really make a difference to us, like the road budget seem to big for us to make changes in. But it's a lot better than Australian ballot for the school budget. At the "informational meeting" for the school budget the Supervisor was able to tell us if we wanted to have input on the budget we needed to have joined the school board. Since there would be no vote at that meeting, she felt she could stonewall us. Town meeting may be inefficient process, but it is better than the alternatives.