Monday, March 24, 2014

This week on the farm 3/24

Wow, it's been two weeks since I posted an update! Even with the cold weather we've been busy getting ready for spring to arrive. Temperatures have stayed unseasonably cold. The snow is slowly melting during the day making a whole lot of ice when it freezes overnight. We've got to be careful walking to the barn, often I just drive the mule over so I don't slip and fall, especially with full buckets of water! Throughout the day on Saturday we saw groups of geese headed north which is a nice sign. I haven't seen any of my daffodils poking up yet.
The stores are filled with summer stuff! Grills, lawn mowers, vegetable seeds, patio furniture, even shorts and bathing suits! Everyone is itching to get out of the house after the winter we've had. (and appear to still be having)

Last week we had a new goat born! Skinny had twins but one did not survive. It was stillborn due to birth defects. I was grateful that she had an uncomplicated birth considering. The kid that did make it is a very cute little boy!
He's two weeks old now and doing just fine. We'll be choosing between him and the boy that was born after Thanksgiving for our next breeder. 
I took 4 goats to our local livestock auction. We only need the goats for one more year before Rose is old enough to breed and milk so it's time to reduce the size of the herd. We'll keep our three milking does and a buck for breeding next year.

I have to be careful to get the chicken house closed up by dark. The predators are waking up and I've lost two chickens and one guinea so far. I think the culprit might be a possum but I can't figure out how it's getting into the fence that surrounds the coop. I might have hubby set up some traps to catch it.

The garden seeds are getting started. We had hope to have the kale in the hoop house by now but it's just been too cold.
Kale and tomato plants are getting big. The green onions I grew from roots from store bought onions, they grow fast. Pepper seeds are just starting to sprout. We're buying the materials for the second hoop house and should be able to get started on that once the ground is thawed. 

Hubby is working on yet another solar project, a solar water heater. More on that another time.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our solar powered well pump

We've had issues with our well pump lately. The valve was malfunctioning and air was getting into the lines, becoming a real pain as it spit at us at the faucets. We knew replacement of the pump was needed and started looking at converting the system to solar to reduce our electric bill. My husband wrote up a very good description of the set up that I wanted to share with you! 

We had a conventional well with 220 pump and pressure tank. I have replaced it with A 100 watt solar panel, Battery, barrels for cistern, A 12V "deep" well pump as well as a 12 volt demand pressure pump. This should provide 300 gallons a day at the lowest light level months.

A brief description of how it works.
Sun powers panel with approx. 3 hours of sun at the worst time of year. This is 300 watts of power or approx. 25 Amp hrs a day.

The low flow deep well pump fills the barrel cisterns at a rate of 2 gallons a min. using about 2 amps an hour. I figure this to run for 3 hours a day for a total of 6 amp hrs.

The house hold demand pump I purchased is a monster... It pumps at 6 gallons a min @40 psi and 5 @ 60. It will use approx 15 amps an hour and run about 1 hour a day for a total of 15 amps.

The battery is from wally world, point of fact is they get great reviews and they are pretty cheap. It's their battery number "95" it's a deep cycle with 122 amp hours. Cost was less than 100 bucks. This battery should easily give 3 days of reserve capacity. Likely better because of the intermittent nature of the power usage.

A quick break down of the costs.

Deep pump, 600
Household pump, 250
100 watt Solar panel kit, 180 (it came with everything to hook up the panel to a battery)
100 feet 12 awg Wire 15 bucks
Cistern float switch 20 bucks
fittings, food grade barrels, tubing, about 100 bucks.
total: $1165


We actually use about 100 gallons a day... The national "average" for a family of 4 is 6000 a month or 200 a day. I figured I'd design it for 50% more. Well I have a "protection" factor of 3. So it should work well.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A new baby on the farm!

Wednesday March 5, 2014
Our doe Skinny (I swear that name made sense when she was younger) was pretty far in her pregnancy. Her udder was pretty large at this point so I put her on the stanchion to give her a shave and so I can clean up her stall a bit. I had a feeling it would be any day.

Thursday March 6, 2014
At this point Skinny was being very quiet. Not quite as excited about getting her feed and not climbing up on her stall to greet me. Most people wouldn't notice anything, but knowing her personality I knew something was up.

Friday March 7, 2014
During morning feeding she was not very interested in food. She still had grain left in her dish from feeding the night before and was picking at it slowly. I went in with her to give her a belly rub which she seemed to enjoy.
gingerly picking at grain
At about 1:30 in the afternoon I went to check on her. She was "talking" to her belly and was getting up and laying down a lot. I tried to go in with her to give her another rub. This time she gave a quick push with her horns. I took the hint and left her alone. At that point I put up the heat lamp, pretty sure that babies were on the way! She seemed to enjoy the warmth too!

Just two hour later, when my kids got home from school, we went to the barn for another check. She was already done have the babies! Unfortunately one was stillborn and had some obvious deformities. (It's the first deformed birth we've seen in the 8 years we've been raising goats) The surviving baby looks like a very healthy little boy! He was still wet but up on his feet so he had probably been born within half an hour of us finding them!

I think we were lucky that her birth went so smoothly. I can only imagine the difficulties that could have occurred with the stillborn one.