Winds of Change @ McClung Farm

So as the story goes my wife brought home a goat (well 2).  That was over 5 years ago, and we have had dairy goats ever since.  Well to a certain extent that will be changing.  After years of waiting for the legalization of raw milk sales we decided to sell off the herd.  We just don’t believe that in VA the sale of raw milk will ever be legal.  As such we just cant make any money with out dairy goat herd.  We love goats, but the are time consuming.  We give up vacations and camping trips because of the milking schedule, and it is all for no cash return.  All of this years kids were sold, and today finalized the sale of Chewie our herd sire.  Chewie will be leaving with Skip his pasture mate on October 15th for a life in MD.  For now we are keeping Mocha and Gidget,  although a farm in Northern VA wants both of them if we sell.  We are keeping them to help train the new LGD puppies.

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So these are 2 of what will be many of our new interests.  We will be raising at least 2 specific breeds of chickens. Chicks and hatching eggs will be available in the spring.  These are 2 of our Lavender Orpingtons.  The 2ns breed we are still undecided about.  We will hatch these birds and any cockerels hatched will go into our meat bird grow.  We are excited to start this new venture.  I am keeping the 2nd breed hush hush until we nail it down for certain, but I am very excited.  Stay tuned for more updates over the next month.

With all the chickens running around you can see why we decided to get Willow and Misha.  Speaking of which…Misha is fitting right in now.  She was not happy about sleeping outside.  It seems her original owner brought her in every night.  That wont work here.  Owls are one of our main problem, so the girls will be staying with the flock 24/7.  After less than 1 week these 2 are now getting it done.  I noticed they already take turns patrolling the fences.  It is pretty cool to watch these pups.  Yes they still play and act like puppies, but then they will work for a bit.  Truly a smart breed.  They currently live with the goats and about 4 or 5 chickens.  The chickens actually have taken up resident in their dog house, so I guess I don’t need to worry bout them harming the chickens.  Needless to say they are getting more and more unsupervised time with the poultry.  Good thing too since 220 6 week old chicks are headed to pasture this weekend.  Wonder if they will look like friends of little chicken nuggets??  We shall see.  Here is the latest pic of Tweedle Dee and Dumb.

Enjoy!! and Happy homesteading!!

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Meet Misha!!!

So I guess I new LGD puppy wasn’t enough.  After a week of floods and water problems we got a new puppy.  We got a call from a friend that Willow’s half sister was in need of a home.  She is about 2 weeks younger.  After about 5 seconds of debate we decided why not.  Misha is a lot different.  She is a ton more active.  Neither girl chases chickens which is nice.  We have been giving them supervised time with the poultry, and then something interesting happened.  Six or seven chickens flew over the fence and now hang out with the pups ALL the time.  We decided to leave it be and see what happens.  Well so far so good.  They really don’t pay them to much attention.  I will post some update pics in the next few days.  We had 18 inches of rain this week and major flooding.  We live in a 500yr flood zone and we flooded.  We had about 12-16inches of water in the front yard.  4 acres of pasture was under at least 6 inches of water.  The only dry spot was one of the goat sheds.  We had 5 inches in the entire barn and even our garage got flooded.  However, it could have been worse so we feel pretty lucky. Misha wasn’t here yet, but Willow had to be brought in.  There was no where for her to stay dry.  She hated being in the house.  The next day she went running back to her dog house.  Needless to say everything is drying out now, and life is getting back to normal.

Until next time….Happy Homesteading!!!

willow92316

 

Holy Crap!! Where have I been???

So I haven’t blogged in FOREVER!!!  I am such a slacker.  In my defense we had some illness in the family, and I was traveling in August.  Not a great excuse when you do this from a laptop.  LOL.  Well a lot has changed in the past month, so I thought I would bring everyone up to speed.  I also want to let everyone know where we are going from here. So lets get started!!!

Well it was another frustrating milking season her on the farm.  We don’t raise animals for fun here.  They have to make us money or out the door they go.  That being said, we have started selling off the dairy goat herd.  Presently we have just 4 goats remaining.  Milking is a thing of the past.  The VA State Legislature isn’t budging on raw milk sales, so we are done.  Plus it will be much easier to take summer vacations going forward.  We will keep and breed the current goats for a different purpose which I will explain in a bit.

We are back to full production on meat birds….sort of.  We are ramping back up to our 2014 numbers slowly.  We are contracted to provide 60 processed chickens a month starting in Oct, and that number will rise slowly and peak at around 120 birds per month by March or April.  We incurred HUGE losses last winter due to aerial predation, so we had to come up with a plan to combat that problem.

…the solution

Meet Willow!!!

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Willow is a 9 week old Pyrenees/Akbash mix.  Both her dam and sire guard large poultry flocks. As you can see from the pic she is already taking to her new job.  Currently she gets 3 hours a day of supervised poultry time.  The other 21 hours she will be in with the goats.  Our pasture is designed in a such a manor that she can patrol the exterior perimeter of the chicken pasture anytime she wants.  Once she is around 4 or 5 months old she will move in with the chickens FT.  However, even then she will be supervised heavily.  I feel good about this since she doesn’t even show signs of playfulness around them.  Hopefully this is the answer to our hawk and owl problem.  The pic is funny.  Currently she is guarding about 40 chickens and a few turkeys..LOL.  By March there will be over 400 in that pasture at any given time.

SO now that you met Willow you will be interested to learn that we will be raising and training Livestock Guardian Dogs starting in about a year.  We have another pup on the way soon, and will begin that adventure in the future.  These LGDs are a vital part of urban farming now that coyotes have expanded into cities.  Also, the aerial predators are overly protected (and they should be), so their numbers are only increasing as well.

One last mention.  Since farming is my way of life as well as my income source we will be launching a few different things to drive some additional income.  My wife is a trained chef, so cooking ideas and recipes will abound for a VERY SMALL fee through Patreon.  She will offer recipes and ideas for anything and everything we raise from poultry, pork, lamb, dairy products upto and including venison and bear recipes.  Also, from time to time you may see links in the blog or on our website for products I use on the farm.  I will never hide the fact that I make a few bucks off of it.  I also will never lie about the product either.  If it is good it is good, and if it is bad I wont use it. LOL.

Until next time…happy farming !!