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Learn Ranching by Volunteering

Written by: Bobbie
January 15, 2017


Milk goat, Queenie, with twins
We’ve now been in the farming/ranching business for 15 years. I don’t count the first year we bought the place. That was mostly cleaning the property and getting our sea legs or should I say our “critter” legs. Those of you that have been acquainted with us all this time know we started with Tennessee Fainting Goats, then chickens (given to us by a friend), sheep or rather lambs, bought cheaply from another friend, and the Mayhaws that were already on the property. Thus the adventure began.

It took a lot of research and mistakes to arrive at our current destination. All of which I have enjoyed but often to the chagrin of other nameless family members. Slowly I’ve gained knowledge from ole’ timers, extension agents, other producers and by actively becoming involved with numerous agriculture boards. Then there is all the dirty work such as cleaning shelters and coops, giving shots and de-worming medicine, and then the sad part of having to bury a barnyard animal.

The farm is run without a lot of big or expensive equipment. We have a vintage tractor for mowing mainly. We do use it to move the portable chicken coops. Our Gator (ATV) now has over 1,000 hours of working time and is used mainly to carry feed to the animals. Everything else is done by manual labor.

We use our own locally produced manure from the goats, sheep and chickens in our compost pile. Our pulling up and burning skills are used for weed control. We are also fortunate to have the help of family members for chores. Everything from removing debris after a hurricane, internet skills, feeding, cleaning pastures, record keeping along with hoof trimming and doctoring animals when needed.

Golden Acres Ranch now has two well attended festivals each year. The Mayhaw Festival each spring and Farm Tour each October. It was known for years as the New Leaf Market Tour (now supported by Millstone Plantation). Our ranch has been one of the thirty plus farms or ranches in the event for the last nine years. Our farm alone has 300 to 500 visitors over a two day period for either of these events. This experience has allowed me to make many acquaintances and friends. I’ve also gained a tremendous respect for the full agriculture community.

Carding wool at Golden Acres Ranch

Where this preamble is heading…

Volunteer & Educational Programs @ Golden Acres Ranch, LLC

Lots of people ask us questions about ranching, and folks often come for tours of the farm. They bring their children and friends to see what it’s like and to experience the lifestyle. Some want to see if they can make the leap and others are just curious. Either way, we are always willing to share.

Many want to volunteer and so I’ve decided to organize something to fill that request. My ulterior motive? Could be to get additional help cleaning the barn or chicken coop. Actually, you can participate, or just watch and ask questions. My plan is to schedule a “chore” or program on the third Saturday of the month and some weekdays.

Our first three workshops are scheduled. Call if you know for sure you’re coming, or just show up – in proper clothing for a working ranch, please! (850) 997-6599

Thursday, January 19 – 9:30 AM until finished
Identifying Goat Moms and Kids recording tag number, tagging the babies, taking photos, checking hooves and for parasites. It is too early to wean. That is a chore for next month.

Saturday, January 21 – 9:30 AM until noon
Making Mayhaw Jelly – I have some personal gifts I need to prepare and samples for the Mayhaw Festival. This inspires me to get the job done and the added fun of sharing how we do it.

Saturday, February 18 – 9:30 AM as long as you want
Sheared wool, picking, cleaning and carding in preparation for roving, spinning or felting.