Friday, June 22, 2012


What's happening around the farm these days?

Now that Finley is over a week old it was time for a few changes to the goat enclosure. I had straw down as bedding for the delivery. Straw is great for delivering, mainly because it's nice and clean. Unfortunately it doesn't stay nice for very long. Especially in the rain. So I connected with a very nice lady in Seattle that also raises goats (you can find her here. Also, her book comes out this Fall, look for it). She uses arborist chips, but also suggested hog fuel.

For those of you not surrounded by logging companies, hog fuel is the bark and whatnot that comes off of the trees when they are stripped and ready for cutting into planks. So, being the Pacific NW with lots of logging here, there is plenty of hog fuel to be found.

So off I went to find a local supplier. I got 2 cubic yards dumped into the back of my truck. Dang, hog fuel is hard to move. And, that handle sticking up? Not a shovel. I could not actually get the shovel in like that. That right there is a pitch fork.

One of the drawbacks of suburban farming is not necessarily getting to choose the location of various house components. Like, say for instance, our septic system. Our back yard is a good size and we are lucky enough to have a double gate on one side that we can drive through. But, between that gate and everything else in our backyard runs our septic system. Which we are not supposed to drive over. I was sorely tempted to drive that truck across the yard, but knew that if I cracked our septic pipes no amount of saved labor would be worth having to dig it up to replace those particular pipes (or to have to face my husband with what I had done!).

Hog fuel doesn't shovel nicely. But, it got moved and dumped in with the goats. Who went to town right away tasting it to see if it was edible.

Here is Penny hanging out in the goat house because it is raining and she might melt if she gets wet.

Here is all the hog fuel carted across the yard and dumped one wheel barrow at a time into the goat area. On a side note, you can also see my kitchen window. I get to watch the goats while I do dishes. Oh, the benefits of suburban farming.

Most goats are born with the genes for horns (some are naturally polled - fancy for "they will never grow horns"). We have made the choice to have the horns removed on any goat kids born here. We (meaning mostly me with a nod from the hubby) did some research and believe that in the long run it will be better for everyone. 

So I toted Finley off to the vet. The disbudding (removal of the horn bud) procedure consists of burning off the bud. Quick, painful, and worth it. Here is Finley's burned spots. The hair will grow back soon. She snuggled with me all the way home, but otherwise doesn't seem to notice anything has changed and the spots aren't tender to the touch.

I am planning on getting my own disbudding iron for the next round of kids, but I wanted to see it done first before trying it on my own. The vet was great and explained what I needed to know to do it myself.

Here are a few more shots of Finley just for fun.

Finley found the kid's play fort and decided it was great fun. Too bad I didn't get a picture of her trying to climb up the slide.


  1. Now that you're well into rainy season, would you mind commenting on how the hog fuel is working for you? We have much the same goat set-up, and after the horror that was straw in the mud in the rain last year, this year I have nothing down at all in the goat's yard. Predictably, this is turning into a mud pond. We had also tried white shavings (nice in the barn . . . in the yard not so much). I would love to find another option - I'm in the Tacoma area but in desperation will drive quite a way if you care to divulge your secret supplier :-).

    And I must say, Finley has one of the cutest goat faces ever (I know this is 6 months later, but I'm just finding your blog!)

    1. Kimberly, Welcome!

      Our goat area is in transition. We have moved our goats from the original area that has hog fuel and they have most of our back yard right now. The hog fuel has held up amazingly well and I am waiting for the ground to freeze so that I can get a truck into their new area to dump hog fuel there too. I currently have white pine shavings just outside the door of the goat shed and that is helping with the mud, but I'm sure that it will not work as we get into more rain come Spring. I really need to get hog fuel down.

      We have noticed that giving the chickens access to the goat area they dig around and keep the hog fuel stirred up and that seems to help as well.

      In the past I have had horses on hog fuel and on straw. I know what a mess straw and mud become! The hog fuel held up way better with horses too and the goats are much easier on the ground than are horses.

      I get my hog fuel locally just outside of Bonney Lake at Hillside Gardens 360-829-2707 27213 State Route 410 E Buckley, WA. I think I only paid around $25 for a pick-up truck load.

      Good luck with it!

  2. Excellent, thanks! I kept on reading last night through your blog after I commented here, so I'd seen that you'd moved your goat area. Helpful to know that you'll be making the same choice in the new area as well.

    And that's a great price, as well! I could definitely drive to Buckley - seems every time I hear of a good goat deal I get all excited, then it ends up being in Bellingham or Lynden or another one of those half-Canadian suburbs :-). You made my day - funny what will thrill a goat owner!

  3. Kristin, THANK YOU! Hubby went up to Hillside Gardens and got a trailer load, which was the perfect amount for our goat yard. OhMyGosh I am in love with hog fuel! I blogged about it here but basically it looks like your backyard :-). I couldn't be happier and $25 for that whole load was wonderful.