Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plot Development Starts, Part 3 - Goats

Every farms needs employees, particularly farm operations that are starting from scratch. The biggest challenge is to clear, and keep clear, land. However, not every farm can afford employees. Baker Heritage Farms has looked at alternatives to paid employees - Goats.

Goats will initially be purchased to assist in clearing land, specifically hilly, rocky land that is covered in vines, brush, and other unwanted vegetation. For the first year, these goats will be purchased in spring and sold in fall to avoid feed expense during the winter months when vegetation is dormant. If successful, Baker Heritage Farms plans to raise goats for a number of purposes, including leasing goat operations out to others to clear land, as well as for meat production. And yes, their litter will also be used for composting (though there does not appear to be much nutritional value in the litter for plants, it is still good for composting).

Our initial breed choice is Spanish Goats.

The Spanish Goat is a local variety of domesticated animal, which has developed largely by natural processes, and varies in appearance. The goats range from 50 - 200 pounds, with the largest animals representing strains that have been selected for meat production. They are usually horned, and the ears are large, held horizontally and forward next to the head. There are relatively few purebred Spanish goats in the United States. One obstacle is that the term "Spanish goats" is also used to describe crossbred and nondescript goats of the southwest. In the southeast, Spanish goats are also called brush, woods, and scrub goats, and these terms may include both purebred and crossbred animals.

Baker Heritage Farms has chosen Spanish goats because they are hardy and rugged, thrive on rough forage and in difficult environments, and are not known to contract common diseases other goats contract. The Spanish goat is a conservation priority in the United States.

The initial goat pen will be approximately 120 feet by 260 feet (approximately 3/4 acre) and will be located to the east of the main house. This land is not currently a long-term use plan for this area at this time. There is expansion room to the south of the main house, as well as on other areas of the main property. Initial plans call for four goats to be purchased in spring 2012. Fencing will be erected and a loafing shed built prior to acquisition.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Plot Development Starts, Part 2 - Turkeys

Heritage turkeys are also on the menu for Baker Heritage Farms. Turkeys will be raised primarily for meat production (holiday feasts for the family, neighbors, friends, and church initially).The litter will be used to help fertilize our gardens as well as for making all natural compost. If successful, turkeys will be raised for sale in the future.

Our initial choice for Heritage turkey is the Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey.

Broad breasted bronze turkeys have been developed for meat. Their coloring is similar to that of the wild turkey, but the size and shape differ greatly. They are currently maintained entirely by artificial insemination (which means that they may not be raised long-term) as they have lost their ability to reproduce naturally due to their size.

By 28 weeks a young tom may already weigh 25 pounds. The Bronze has been the most popular turkey variety for most of American history. The American Poultry Association recognized the Bronze variety in 1874 and the ALBC currently lists the Bronze as critical.
  • Average Size: Young tom - 25 pounds; young hen - 16 pounds; old tom - 36 pounds; old hen - 20 pounds
  • Purpose: Meat production
  • Egg Color: Brown
  • ALBC: In need of conservation
Turkey Run

Once agan, the turkeys will be isolated from other animals, including the chickens, for health safety reasons. The turkey run will be between the house and the barn, providing easy access in all weather.

The run will be approximately 1,500 square feet and will contain shelter for the birds. It is anticipated that 15 straight run turkeys will be purchased by mid to late March. The pen is ready to be fenced once the shelter is completed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Plot Development Starts, Part I - Chickens

Plot development has started at Baker Heritage Farms.

Heritage chickens will initially be raised for egg and fertilizer production. Eggs will supplement family food needs while providing a healthier product, with excess eggs being donated to local food banks and sold on a small, retail basis. Chicken litter will be used as fertilizer on various produce plots as well as for making all natural compost.

If successful, 2013 operations will including raising additional chickens for breeding and meat production.

Our initial choice for chickens is the Silver Laced Wyandotte.

Silver Laced Wyandotte's are the original Wyandotte variety. They have a heavy body and small rose comb. The hens are hardy, energetic and faithful layers. They were admitted to the American Standard of Perfection in 1888 and originated in New York. They work well in either confinement or free range.

  • Average Size: Hen - 6.5 pounds; Pullet - 5.5 pounds; Rooster - 8.5 pounds; Cockerel - 7.5 pounds.
  • Purpose: Dual, egg laying and meat production.
  • Egg Color: Brown
  • Average Egg Production: 200 per year.
  • ALBC: Recovering status, considered a sustainable heritage chicken breed. 

Chicken Coop

Due to the variety of animals expected to be raised on the farm, isolating animals is a priority. As a result, the plot chosen to house the chickens needed to be in an area that would not be used to house other poultry or stock and would be isolated from other types of poultry. The area chosen for the plot to house the chicken coop is behind the main home. While the goat pen will be on two sides of this plot, cross contamination should not be an issue (more on the goats will appear in a future post).

The pen will be approximately 1,000 square feet and will contain a hen house. It is anticipated that 25 Wyandotte Silver Laced pullets will initially be purchased by mid to late March. The pen is ready to be fenced once the hen house is constructed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 - Beginning Our Farm

Our farm is finally getting off of the ground. After eleven years of talking, work has finally begun.

The purpose of Baker Heritage Farms is:
  • To be good stewards of the land, maintaining the land for future generations;
  • Providing a safe and healthy farm environment;
  • Providing unaltered, healthy and wholesome food products to the less fortunate, those in need, and to the general public when available; and
  • Providing information and working knowledge by sharing experiences and results with those interested in achieving a better lifestyle based on basic traditional values.
Over the next five years our goals include:
  • Determining the best use of the land while maintaining good stewardship;
  • Plot development, building fences and animal housing facilities;
  • Determine the best produce and stock/poultry for improving health, decreasing expenses, and remaining sustainable and environmentally friendly;
  • Purchasing appropriate seed, seedlings, and stock; and
  • Being an integral part of the community through farming and sharing of experiences.
Baker Heritage Farms will initially be an experimental farming enterprise to educate the public on the advantages of backyard/small acreage farming, and all operations will be documented. Documentation will include costs, types of fruits, vegetables, and small livestock, as well as equipment used, etc. While the farming enterprise will be experimental, it should also reduce food costs while providing healthier and more wholesome food products. Excess production will initially be donated to local churches for feeding the less fortunate. Ultimately, we hope to pass on the land and the farming enterprise to our children and grandchildren.

Our initial operation will include heritage chickens, turkeys, and goats, as well as a variety of heirloom vegetables and fruit trees. The location of initial plots for the chickens, turkeys, goats, vegetables, and fruit trees have been determined and fence lines are being cut (where needed). Over the next 60-days we hope to begin fencing the plots and constructing housing for the animals.