Aim to be Self Sufficient and Organic

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7 years 11 months ago #37914 by Hondo
Mike and I, Chantel, were Aucklanders originally, then spent the next 8 years in Oamaru and discovered the life we can have when we decided to no longer be a slave to the mortgage. We worked part time, kept chickens, and learned about all the ways we could live for ourselves. We have made cheese, fermented vegetables, made our own washing powder and tried to live without as many of the chemicals that advertising would have us believe we need. It is amazing how many “numbers” are in our everyday foods that we are consuming, in many cases to be “healthy” and bringing up our children on, in the hope that they will live a long healthy life. But we digress.

So we have now moved to a 2.7 hectare (about 6 and a half acres) piece of ex-farmland in the Waikato in a little community called Te Akau, on the west coast, west of Ngaruawahia. We live in a caravan, we have built a 6m x 12m shed (mostly for storing furniture that we can't use because we don't have a house), we have solar power and tank water. We planted veges as soon as we arrived at the end of January, and are now eating some of them. We have chickens, both meat birds and egg birds. We have planted fruit trees and pittosporums as wind breaks.

We are planning to put up fences so we can have animals – big decisions about how many animals and what sort to have. We have been reading this website quietly in the background for months, and there are no right or wrong answers, we just need to decide what is right for us, and get on with it. Fear of animals getting sick is holding us back a bit.

We would like a house cow eventually, but they are a big decision - do we start with milk goats and work up to a cow? Do we get sheep to keep the grass down? And ducks in the vege gardens?

We call it our great Adventure. And it is. We couldn't go back to living in a city and working full time and sitting in traffic.

Two humans, one dog, two cats, one milk cow and her calf, four lambs, numerous chickens and roosters.

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7 years 11 months ago #489962 by Ruth
Welcome to the forum. I'd suggest going visiting and seeing how some other people do things. Find someone who has cow/s for milking and see what they do. If you fancy a long drive, come here. :D

We started out in a manky old barn, then moved into a 9x4.5m shed and expanded the living space from there.

Doing your own thing can be enormously rewarding.

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7 years 11 months ago #489965 by Del
What a great story :D . Living in a caravan is a lot braver than I'd be, but I love the self-sufficient ideal. We kid ourselves that we're semi-sufficient with chickens, organic vege gardens, fruit trees, water tanks and a spring; but what you're doing sounds like the real deal, well done and all the best for your adventure!

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7 years 11 months ago #489976 by Deanna
Hi Mike and Chantel :D . Sounds like you are at least half way there, well done. We have thought about a cow too, but like you think its a big decision, someone joked with me recently about milking one of my sheep, and its actually possible, but maybe a goat (which we don't have) someday. We jumped into sheep and chickens very quickly and no regrets.

We have Wiltshires which self shed, and as I'm a knitter and a spinner that is pretty funny, but I love their temperament, and easy care. We can sell sheep and buy a pig or cow from our neighbours, which we have.

I have invested in the Barred Rock chickens as they are apparently wonderful for eggs and meat, we ate one the other day and 'he' was delicious. But we have Shavers as well and have breed shaver x.

We have one rescued wild duck, but she's pretty messy! Love her though and she's just a pet.

We grew veges last year (we have only been here 18 months) and this year the garden is expanding hugely. We have planted an apple tree, two lemon and two mandarins trees and two grapes but keeping the possums away is a challenge.

We are also investing in solar power, so in our retirement our expenditure will be less. You are lucky starting so young and I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you about. Regards. :)

25 acres, 1400 Blue Gums, Wiltshire sheep, 5 steers, 2 cows, ducks, chickens, bees, dog, cats, retired, 1 husband and 3 grandkids.

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7 years 11 months ago #490062 by Hondo
Thanks for the kind welcome! Young? We are in our 50's!

Question: I have heard that Belted galloways are a smaller size cow to have and are a reasonably good milker. Is this right? Would we be better off to get a heifer and raise her till she is of an age to put to a bull, and then milk her once she has her calf. Or would we be better off to get a cow who is already being milked, so at least one of us knows what we are doing? :)

Two humans, one dog, two cats, one milk cow and her calf, four lambs, numerous chickens and roosters.

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7 years 11 months ago #490068 by max2
I'm gunna ask the tough questions and that is before considering the type of animal, what sort of yarding do you have to contain it or transport it?

Have you also registered for your NAIT number?

Don't get me wrong, I am closer to 50 than 21 and I share your desire to be as self sufficient as possible.

I milk jersey cows both for the home requirements (although despite undertaking cheese making courses I haven't yet made any here at home) and to raise bobby calves.

I have a single milking plant that serves me well.

My girls range in age. But I still need to keep them relatively in the one spot for milking and also for their upcoming NAIT tagging.

A couple of my older gals also wear rugs during the colder months and one in particular is a bit ''out there'' in attitude and needs the guidance of a narrow race to send her to a bit of meal I feed out for milking but its a new day for her every time she comes up for milking. :rolleyes:

Anyhow enough of me. Just some thoughts for your consideration before you get the beast.

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7 years 11 months ago #490082 by Hondo
Thanks Max2. No we don't have anything to contain a cow yet, and will make sure we do before we get the animal. We understand registering for a Nait number is done online and fairly simple?

Two humans, one dog, two cats, one milk cow and her calf, four lambs, numerous chickens and roosters.

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7 years 11 months ago #490083 by Ruth
There's a difference between being a good milker in terms of producing well to raise a calf and being a good milking cow for a human harvester!

Galloways are beef animals, primarily. Even Dexters, which are considered dual purpose, are primarily farmed for beef here. Find someone with a nice little Jersey which has already done a season ...

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7 years 11 months ago #490095 by funnyfarm331
Welcome to the great adventure of lifestyling :D !!

Nait and TBfree NZ are very simple to do online and great people to deal with in our experience!
We have a Jersey Housecow in training( she is 1 next month), so we are not yet milking and whilst they are a great quiet breed you still need someway of containing them if/when the need arises. We got our girl when she was a month old and have hand raised her, she ties up beautifully but I am glad we have a backup for when we will need it. Even a simple cowbail can make life safer for you and her in certain situations.

If the time was right I would be buying an older cow and milking now, but we have a teenage daughter with health issues, as well as other children and so for now I buy raw milk for house use and cheese making etc and trust that when our Dory ( think Finding Nemo and an 8 year old who had naming rights) calves it will be the right time for me to be milking.

All the very best for your Good Life, it is a great life and an incredible journey :) , no matter what your age[;)].

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7 years 11 months ago #490141 by max2
Keep in mind your placid house cow may be quite irritable when her teats/udder suffer from constant bashing from a calf and they can and do kick out.

I have just weaned off our 2nd year calver (sp?) and she is usually pretty good but has been kicking lately and her udder and teats were definitely worse for wear.

I have been applying a freebie I received from fielddays called udder comfort. Having said that there are various other remedies out there and my hubby was using rawleighs on her too which works well.

But these are the sort of things if she wasn't in the race, she would be off.

Just an example for you how even a nice house cow can be a grump to deal with.

(and yes NAIT is easy, on line and mostly pleasant to deal with on the phone).

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7 years 11 months ago #490152 by terralee
Welcome Hondo ...we are nearly neighbours ...you must drive past where we are just about if you head into Huntly/Auckland[;)] we have only been here 18 months but have had LSB's for 25 +years ...have gone down to 8 acres now as we are getting on a bit [:0]
We try to use as few chemicals as we can but with animals there are so many things that can go wrong that require chemical/drug intervention or risk losing them or cause them needless suffering.
If you need a hand or have any ??? we can help with...yell out :)

Cheers

Leonie & Zoo!!! :silly: :woohoo:

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7 years 11 months ago #490165 by LongRidge
Belted Galloways, and the other Galloways, bulls are used by dairy farmers to get their Jersey heifers pregnant, because the tend to make a very easy-calving calf. The breed is primarily a beef breed, but not much used for beef in NZ because it takes too long for the calves to get to an economically killable size. Thus with a pure Galloway female, it will probably have been reared on it's mother.
The Galloways that I, and a friend who breeds them for bulls, have had experience with have had a really frisky attitude (read that to mean "can't get near, run the wrong way, and jump the fences"). So not a breed I want to be bothered with, and we don't milk our cows.
Jersey cows tend to be placid, but each is an individual so even within a breed there are some that are easier than others.

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7 years 11 months ago #490204 by igor
Galloways do have a certain reputation for doing very well on poor land and rough grazing. One farm in the valley where I grew up had them and everyone reckoned they must be good cattle if they could do well there.

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