Well, it’s been a trying few years but we finally have landed on the best soft spot we could have asked for. After searching far and wide for a home, touring perhaps 80-90 properties, we finally settled on what was an alpaca farm before we moved in. It was a nice house on two acres that had three separate pastures, a five stall stable with two tack rooms and a hay room, as well as two other out buildings – an extra stall and a shed that’d been converted into a goat barn for four pygmies. They were trying to market it as a predator proof horse farm but this is laughable. It has badly installed four foot fences which often leave enormous gaps between the ground and the fence, perfect entrance for any lazy predator, and far too short and feeble a fence to keep in any self respecting horse. It’s also been pointed out to me (who has no real formal training in horses) that the stalls are not tall enough to be proper for a fully sized horse. This is of no consequence to us as we have no desire to own a horse, rather we want to work this place as a poultry and fiber farm. That does mean however we’ll likely have to take measures to protect our smaller animals from the roving coyotes who we hear howling under our windowsills every night and the kettle of hawks that seems to be circling this place. These photos are from the old owners, sorry I have not had the time (or a functioning camera) to take my own photos yet.
Also on this farm was a huuuge pile of manure that had built up over twelve years. Most of it was beautifully composted and had turned to nearly black soil. Perfect. The fields here were bald, I think due to the fact the owners at one point admitted to having over twenty alpacas traipsing over it. Alpacas have soft spongy feet which are a lot easier on the land than hooves but this isn’t to say if you have enough of them, far too many for the acreage, that the fields won’t still go bald. Maintaining a healthy field is of utmost importance as this is what the animals will be grazing off of. It will keep the feed bill drastically down during the warmer months and in doing such will save us a lot of money. The alpacas (which will be far fewer in number) will eat the grass and the poultry will scour the grounds pecking at weeds and bugs, relying less on grain feeds, and fertilizing the soil wherever they poop.
So we did what we could before the frost set in – we spent three days with three people (myself, my boyfriend, and his sister) and we manually shoveled 120 wheelbarrows of manure and spread them over the fields. We got to spread it quite a ways but the pile is still huge, much of the pasture is still bald, but our efforts were stopped when the ground began to freeze. All the black dirt seen below in the photo is what was spread – and sadly I couldn’t capture all of it in these photos, there’s much more beyond. The manure pile, the first photo, started out taller than we were and this is but the middle section of it.
We are hoping to have most of the animals in place this Spring which will hopefully include, chickens: Brabanters, Barnevelders, and Seramas. Ducks: Runners and Miniature Appleyard ducks. Turkeys: Chocolate heritage turkeys. Bunnies: Belgian Hares, Angoras. Other: Two or three pregnant alpacas and a good dog, probably a Giant Schnauzer.
Already on the property is Max, our Belgian Hare, still seeking a wife, three angora bunnies – Jimi/Elvis, Emma, and Ruby, our barn cat Phanny, a stray that was left behind that we’re calling Chester, and a feral bunny the neighbors let out four years ago who lives under our shed. We’re calling her Beatrix. I will likely be posting their stories soon.