DIY Broiler Hut

My wonderful husband made this hoop house for our broiler chickens over Easter weekend. The broiler chicks he wanted me to buy next year but I went ahead and bought this year. Without a place to put them.

The official plans can be found at “Making a Hoop Pen For Pasture Poultry” courtesy of the University of Kentucky. Of all the broiler house plans I’ve looked at (a bunch) this one is the best for price, portability, size and materials. This broiler hut can house about 50 broilers to market weight, cost us $90 to make and took less than 2 hours to pull together. Those University of Kentucky extension agents are smart people.

So is my husband, who hardly ever needs plans.

Step 1: Make the frame
The frame was easy enough, the only thing I would change is that we used 2x6s because we already had some. The plans call for 2x4s. I’m convinced the 2x6s make the whole thing just heavy enough that I can’t move it alone. It could by my imagination but yeah, pretend those are 2x4s in the picture.

Step 2: Attach the panels 
We bent the panels across the frame and nailed them in place with fence staples. The panels rest on wood cleats to make them stay in place, I wouldn’t have thought of that, Tom would have though.

Step 3: Make the door frame 
Tom made the door frame from two 2x6s (use 2x4s!)

Step 4: Add chicken wire
We wrapped the panels with chicken wire to keep the chicks in. And attached it with zip ties, like professionals.

Step 5: Make a door
The door is just a cut livestock panel and hinged with long fence staples. My husband is a genius for thinking of that. The plans call for an actual door with door hinges- this door is way lighter.

Step 6: Add a tarp 
The last step was to add a tarp (12×16′)  to act as a windbreak and keep out the rain. We tied it on with cord and we had a complete broiler hut.

Step 7: Put in the broilers

Name That Goat x Two

We have five baby goats at the farm right now. Five newborn baby goats and one miracle of a lamb. So far all the goat kids and the lamb have names (I think) except these two. Naming these two is my responsibility but I can’t think of anything. Since our goats are going to be used for weed control, I was dead set on naming all of them after brands of weed wackers (Husqvarna, Echo, Craftsman…) but weed wacker brands don’t translate to goat names all that well- at least what I’ve come up with. Plus the one on the right is a girl. The one on the left is a boy. Can you help us?

Comment your name suggestions below.

Thanks a million,
Emily & the goats

Goat Farming | The struggle is real

I went to college to be a dairy farmer. And not dairy goats. I wanted to raise cattle.  
Five years out of college, I still don’t own any cows.  
I have goats though. 3.5 of them and {hopefully} two babies on the way. I don’t tell people that I am a goat farmer but when someone asks if I farm I say, I have goats. Which isn’t farming at all but is at the same time. My sweet mother-in-law is the real goat farmer. She is the one who feeds them and takes care of them on days like this- it snowed five inches today. Gosh my mother-in-law is the best.

About 2011 when I got serious about dating Tom, I also got serious about raising goats. I started telling people I was going to be a serious goat farmer, that big money was in raising meat goats. I told all the guys at the livestock auctions I inspect, I told all my co-workers at the Department of Ag, I told a goat extension specialist and everyone said, “are you sure?”  I was so sure. I even lined up a greek goat buyer who said he’d buy as many as I could raise.

Then I got two goats. Boy do goats try your patience. Just really really try your patience. From jumping every fence we put them in to tripping us up when we try to feed (that goat in the picture) to getting sick with parasites (not their fault) during wet summers, goats are trying.

We’re raising goats in central Pennsylvania and goats do better in arid climates like Texas or Colorado. Our goat extension specialist told me that. I didn’t think it made a real difference but last year we lost six goats to parasites. I was going to give up raising goats. But I haven’t. If you are a goat farmer you know the struggle is real. But it is worth it right? Right? I’ll write more about plans for our goats- we have big plans. Tom and I are even going to a goat conference this weekend, he’s super excited for it let me tell you.

Did you ever have a business idea that turned out to be way harder than you thought? Have you ever raised goats? Let me know in the comments. If you do I’ll send you some goat bologna.

Knee Jam From a Ram

Coming to you live for my first blog post as a married woman! Along with my new husband Tom, I’ve acquired a cuddly new dog and a mother-in-law who brings me Chi in bed from Sheetz which is a really good thing because I am stuck at home in bed. For a today, tomorrow, a week and maybe longer.
The sheep below is the reason I’m stuck in bed and he’s the reason my right knee is swollen to the size of a small melon. Actually, I’m the reason but it’s easier to blame the sheep.

All 240 lbs of him rammed into me and tore my ACL.

I managed to jump the fence and laid in the grass wondering how I would explain this to anyone, especially my husband, his mom and my co-workers.

I tore my ACL because in a hurry, I put a mature buck (goat) in with a mature ram (sheep) during breeding season. And then changed my mind. 

So far this knee injury from a ram cost me 102+ hours of sick leave, $543 for surgery and a big chunk of my pride.

Stay away from overly jealous sheep,


Fence Problems

All that grass. But not enough fence. That’s our current fence problem. It’s pretty straightforward, ifd you want to graze livestock you need fence and if you want to have goats you need even more fence. Our sheep and goats, llama and steer would love to get out on all that pasture. 

Fence isn’t complicated but you need to take the time to put it up, tighten it, check it, and buy it if you don’t have enough posts or wire or the right kind of posts and wire. No to mention chargers, chargers help a lot. We currently have about 12 acres fenced 37 acres to go. We also are buying a new house and paying for our wedding. So for now we have fence problems.

Why I Spent More Money On A Goat Than My Wedding Dress

Tom and I raise goats. Meat goats. Right now we have 16 of them. I only own four, Tom and his family own the rest. The goat business is a real business believe it or not. We were only half in it until the other day when we managed to buy a nice buck for $250.

His name is Cowboy, he’s a year old and from some darn good goat genetics. When I went wedding dress shopping the other week, I cringed when a dress I liked was $299 and put it back (my dress budget is $150). My family and friends and just about everyone else said I had to budget at least $500 to get a quality dress. I said they were crazy. But when I heard Cowboy was for sale I got $250 cash and picked him up the next day. They said I was crazy.

A wedding dress is for a day, a Boer goat is forever? Something like that. Goat’s aren’t forever but a breeding buck’s legacy is near close. Bucks give you babies, and those babies have babies and those babies have babies and if they didn’t come from good stock you really aren’t in the goat business at all. It’s all about priorities. The fate of a whole business or a dress to wear for one day? A smart woman chooses the goat.