A few months back, John and I sat down and made a "Winter Projects" list. Most of the things on the list needed to be complete by the time the goats begin to kid, which is NOW! And, it seems we've crossed the last item off the list just in time.
We definitely had a mild January which helped, but because we could only work when we weren't having conferences or ball games or races or anything else, we were often working in some pretty cold, windy weather. Nevertheless, we got it done. All of it.
Because we plan to be milking more goats this year, we need more than one goat stanchion for milking time. Our other one has worked great for us, so we planned to replicate it. We used the plans from Fias Co Farm. If you're in need of a milking stand, this is a great one. The plans can be found here: http://fiascofarm.com/goats/milkstand.html. I purchased the materials and cut the boards; then John and his two young helpers assembled it while Girl 1 and I were out of town last weekend for her dance competition. Happy Valentine's Day to me!
The most involved project of the winter was, by far, the total reconfiguration of fences, gates, and fields surrounding the barn. When we first moved to the farm over the summer, we thought we had a good set-up, with two basic fields separating the males from the females. But, having lived with the arrangement for 6 months or so, we realized that it needed some work. The new layout provides us easier access from the barn to all the fields. The barn opens up to a common area that has separate access points to the female field, a new kid field, and the male field. It also allows a cut-through to the lower field that is large enough for the Ranger to get through and more under-the-eaves storage around the barn. We put a lot of time into planning the layout; and so far, we're really pleased with how the new set-up is working.
One of the most tedious parts of the process was readying the kid field. We've learned the hard way that when kids are small, they can walk right through the lower rectangles of a cattle panel. So, we covered the bottom of the fence with chicken wire so that the lower 24 inches are more kid-proof. This meant zip-tying all 300 feet of the perimeter fence and involved a lot of booty scooting and cold, ungloved fingers. By the end of my two afternoons of work, my hands were in rough shape, literally, with a couple of cracked fingertips. But, it is complete!
I love the look of a list with all those items crossed off! Spring, we're ready for you!