Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Raising bugs as aProtein source ( for birds..)

I'm no stranger to raising insects. I admit I've always had a certain draw to the more large exotic species. So while pouring over data on protein for chickens it wasn't surprising or nauseating to fin thread after thread of breeding bugs.

I found everything from redwigglers, crickets, meal worms, and my favorite -Giant cockroaches.

I tried worms and I killed them ( I'll try again some time). I actually hate crickets and they smell and are challenging to Contain ( years of scooping and bagging the little buffers for minimum wage didn't help my opinion of them). The mealworms looked promising but it seemed they required a bunch of store bought substances as a food source, which defeats the purpose, right?

Which brings me to dubia cockroaches. They are glorious. Being cockroaches, they'll happily and garden waste. This particular species doesn't fly and can't climb up the smooth sides of the growing been. They are HUMONGOUS.  just a handfull a day would provide enough protein for my growing flock. They don't bite or sting or hiss ( the last time I bred bugs they were hissing cockroaches from Madagascar ).

They breed in temps above 80 so during the warmer months i wont have to provide a heat source.

I have to say I have insect love at the moment. My only concern was of several were to escape the confines of the bathroom in the RV ( where I plan on breeding them) would they be able breed in my environment when the temps were appreciate?

I was told probably not because its too dry and they are tropical. And as they die in temps under 70° as soon as late fall got here, they'd all be dead in no time.flat.

I have to say I'm very excited! Last year I asked for worms for Christmas.  Next year I'm asking for cockroaches For my birthday ( no Tiffany boxes here!). Boy, I am an odd duck.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My little bottle babe

Today I went out to spend some quality time with the goats. With the cost of hay continually rising ($2 already this year) and an unfenced pasture ( which didn't matter before because I had no neighbors ) I have to cull. I wanted to spend some time with my goat pals before they get culled.

My little bottle baby Orchid is still my love. She is just so darn sweet. She wags her tail and puts her head in my lap, shortly followed by the rest of her growing body. The other goats all can over to say hi( except for the two who have never been trusting) and nibbled on my clothes .

I didnt realize how much I missed my little goat. I used to spend time with her every day! I need to get back to that. She makes me happy. And she'll NEVER end up in the freezer so I do.t have to worry about that either.

I found one of her little dresses today when I was unpacking. I can't believe she ever fit that!! And while yes I know I'm a Nutter, the clothes really were to keep her warm until she was healthy ( and she just looked so darn adorable).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Costs of livestock without a garden or forage

  So I've been neglecting my posts as well as my values and aspirations. This move has been a doozy! I suppose moving into an incomplete home is a valid excuse! Anyway, so I've been racking my brain about What to plant next year. Gardening in this harsh climate is challenging at best, Between finding species that will survive the harsh climates to rabbits and birds doing away with your tasty morsels.

One Thing I keep coming back to is edible cactus varieties.  No- I've never eaten cactus, but I've noticed my goats like it! It can work as a crop for my family, for my livestock, as well as protection ( lets see a robber, be it human or coyote, tresspass over a scary cactus hedge!).

There are apparently over 200 edible species of cactus and most of those do just dandy in my southwest high desert surroundings. 

The rising costs of livestock feed has also got me thinking of what i should plant. Its not a very self sufficient life if one still depends heavily on purchased feed.
When I lived in the city I never purchased chicken feed. They were raised completely on kitchen scraps ( I only had 4 bantams). So the eggs i got 9 months out of the year were essentially free. Totally worth it, right? Right now I spend about $15 a month feeding the ducks and chickens.

Still not too bad considering the costs of free range eggs at the grocery. But I'd like to not have to rely on feeding them store bought dehydrated milled corn for $15 a bag.

When I got into goats, hay was $13 a bale. That was only a year ago. In my area its gone up to $17 dollars a bale. That's about $120 a month. This definitely doesn't equate to self sufficient.  My goats would produce about 3 gallons a week.  That would cost about $60 a month if I purchased goat milk.

Wow. This tells me two things: I need to cull my goat herd to get down to a reasonable number to make it financially worthwhile.  And I need to grow food stuffs to substitute my diet as well as that of my livestock!

Culling will be a tough decision. There are some goats that I have no problem having them end up in the freezer, there are a couple that are just pets that I can't part with and there are some I really hope to trade or sell because keeping them isn't economical and I can't bring myself to eat them.

SO- back to cactus. I know I can grow that! I know I can feed my chickens and ducks the cactus pads and fruit along with kitchen scraps.  I know the cactus will provide snacks for the goats and my kids ( if I can get them to try it.
I also want to plant a jojoba hedge and about 30 fruit trees and Berry bushes which will make everyone happy.

I've got a hefty to do list for next year. Its time to get crackin'!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Something is afowl....

Thats a saying, right? Whatever.

So this morning while making my rounds I noticed something a bit peculiar.  I had an extra bird.

What I believe to be a ross's goose has taken up residency with my khaki Campbell's.

I know someone around here keeps geese because I hear them yammering in sometimes. This little gal must have flown the coop, so to speak, and found comfort with birds of a different feather. I tied to catch her, Intending on doing the neighborly thing and return her.

No such luck however.

I cant get closer than about 10 feet and I don't want to scare her off. She isn't in the pen, but right outside it hanging out where the ducks are sunning.

I hope she makes her way somewhere safe before nightfall or she'll be some lucky coyotes din din ( not to mention draw their attention to my birds). Perhaps when Lover gets home we can devise a plan to catch her.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Its a renovation life for me!

Everyone is finally adjusting Roth NW diggs.  At least one duck and one chicken( out of 6 total hens) has begun laying regularly. I think it acutally may be a bit too chilly for them to lay now, where as before it was too hot. Next year a coop with heat for the winter is in order!!

We slept in our house last night for the first time. The RV was just too darn cold at night. Our house sort of resembles a house. The insulation is all in so with a couple space heaters the house was a little warmer ( and I stress a LITTLE). Thank goodness for down comforters. We should have bought heated blankets but they would have interfered with holiday spending. I usually make the majority of the gifts but this year there's just no time!

The drywallers are coming next weekend to do the master bedroom, bathroom and closet. It will be much warmer then!

The goats have put aside some of there petty squabbling in order to huddle together to hide from the chill.

We still don't have. Kitchen, although we do have a stove/oven!  Also within the next to weeks the hearth will be built for our Franklin stove.

I often think back to the pioneering days, seeing g as I'm living like one.....sort of.

As far as I know, 100 years ago this was mostly Indians and a very small number of settlers ( like a single family). What did they use for heat? Fire places aren't really efficient in the desert since there aren't really any trees. Did they use the Joshua trees? Did the trek regularly to the nearby pine forests in a wagon?

Gotta hand to those folks.  I tip my proverbial hat to them