Edna’s ear and poop all around

The newbies
The newbies

Today was a bright and clear day, thank goodness.  Colder than I expected because of the wind, however.  Which made the poop sample collection just a little bit more fun!

We ended up out there most of the afternoon.  When goats and sheep, and cows as well, I understand, get up from napping or resting, they usually pee and poop.   Well, I had Sam marking the spots where they pooped, but after 2, the other two of the 4 newbies had all done their business while I was collecting from the first two.  So I locked the ones I needed into a little pen that I have in the uncovered greenhouse, gave them their grain and waited.  We did not have to wait too long for Eleganza, but Edna was a poopy holdout!

I gave her hay, and gave her love pats and we chatted for quite a time, all the while the wind was feeling colder and more insistent.  It’s always the way.  Eventually we put her on a lead and walked her around the paddock, and it paid off nicely.

Edna's booboo year
Edna’s booboo year

But, the most difficult part of the day was yet to come.  We have been fussing with Edna’s eartag, as it was applied a little askew and was too tight.  The part inside her ear was tilted up and pushing up into the hole, and the darn thing was just messy.  I have been dabbing it with Betadine and trying to keep the crusties from making the distance smaller and putting more pressure on it, but after at least a week, we just couldn’t avoid taking out the tag altogether.

Edna may be small and very tame, but this obviously was very painful and she is very good at struggling and backing out of a headlock, even if you are straddling her with her hind end in a corner.  And so we moved her to the milk stand and operated.  Bellowing goats are almost as sad as screaming piggies, and of course it makes you feel awful.  There was so much swelling that neither of us could get the nippers around just the post of the tag without involving flesh.  And so since the hole was so raggedy and big that we cut away the whole plastic top of the eartag and were going to pull it out through the bottom.  Sam grabbed the two halves and they came apart, very unexpectedly.  Phew!  Our plan was not a brilliant one, but luckily it worked.  I didn’t take a photo of the messy ear with the tag still in it…  anyone who knows me knows that i am not nurse material, I am a tad squeamish, so I just didn’t want to go there (I do what needs to be done, but I can’t dwell on it!).  We soldiered through it, and I can tell that she is a much happier camper this evening.  It had to be throbbing and bothering her all the time.  Oy.  A little bloodstop powder and it’s looking fine tonight.

Phew.  I hate the messy, gooey stuff!  Kidding and lambing is fine, but  the bloody oozy puss-y messes make me a little nuts.  We will watch carefully and make sure there is no infection brewing.

That’s the plan

Fergus and Saffron at breakfast today
Fergus and Saffron at breakfast today

Waiting on all our goat blood test results is almost over.  The only test not reported out so far is the CL test (Caseous Lymphadenitis, very nasty).  The lab apparently has been backed up, and should have results for us Monday or Tuesday.  In the meantime we are going to have some fecal tests done, and just get everything tidied away before we can join our two female groups together.

Greenhouse that needs a cover
Greenhouse that needs a cover

Our vet usually does the fecals, and mostly to report on the Haemonchus Contortus worm (barberpole worm) which is the most life-threatening.  But we heard through the grapevine that some of the does that came out of the farm our does came from, have tapeworm.  Not the end of the world, and controllable, but we want to be sure before we meld the two groups.  I hate worming during gestation, and worming for tapeworms is only effective with the “white wormers,” which are not good to use during pregnancy.  And so we will have to decide how to treat them if this is a reality.  Just another hurdle to pass.  I am not overly concerned about this group’s health, they are very active and are eating well.

And so it goes.  We are almost ready to get a tarp on the greenhouse that we set up awhile ago, and hopefully it will be the kidding house.  That’s the plan, anyway!  There is always a plan…

Our Sweet Saffron

Saffron thinking deep thoughts
Saffron thinking deep thoughts

As gestation continues on the farm, (or at least we hope gestation is continuing!), I am watching all the girls carefully.  Keeping an eagle eye on the bunch is part of every day chores, but there are a few that I keep an extra eye out on as well.  One of those is Saffron.

saffythebeautiful2Our sweet Saffron is the Guernsey goat who lost her pregnancy and then got rebred only to lose the fetus pretty late in the game to an infection.  We had a necropsy done on the baby, but after it had been frozen, so the results were definite on an infection, but other than that, we aren’t really sure of the cause of the infection itself.

Since then Saffron has really flowered and is a lovely strapping girl, actually the largest of all of our Guernseys.  We had her in with the rest of the bunch and I believe she was bred by Reddog along with the others (I have a definite breeding sighting).  She is a very, very sweet and gentle girl, and very special to me.  So when we had Emily the shearer here to do hoof trimming, I was not happy to see that Saffron really took it hard.  She shook and cried the whole time, even though I was holding her.  In between bleats she kissed me until Emily was done, and Emily is very gentle and I know it didn’t hurt!  I hate having to stress her out like this, particularly while she is pregnant, but sometimes these things have to be done.  I am hoping this wasn’t too much stress for her, and that the rest of her pregnancy goes well.  I have my fingers crossed that she has a healthy little goatie baby at the end of March.  She is such a good auntie to Betsy, I know she will be a good mama!

 

 

11 minutes

Edna cudding and giving me the stink-eye!
Edna cudding and giving me the stink-eye!

We had quite a productive day today.  A little crazy, actually!  Some of the results of the dairy goat tests from last week have come in, but the vet had to return and get 1 more vial of blood from each of the 4 girls today.  They are not a problem to corral, but it just requires a little planning, as always!

Added to that we had an appointment with our friend Emily to come out and trim hooves with us.  So our 4 newbie Guernseys were not particularly happy to be handled twice in one morning, but the weather warmed up pretty nicely and it was a good morning’s work.

In the last few days, luckily, it has been warm enough with just enough sun peeking through at times to get some of the ice cleared out.  Some areas in the paddocks are still a mess, and the goats’ well-travelled lanes end up covered with straw and hay leavings – and poop.  It just seems to happen naturally and helps with their footing, but the downside is that the ice underneath it gets insulated and doesn’t melt as fast.

Every winter is different, and this one has been a challenge from the first.  It’s weather, nothing to do about it but make the best of it.  And, we are on the positive side of daylight by 11 minutes!

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising, and tonight’s storm

Well, the Bombogenesis is here.  We on the coast have been having torrential rain and strengthening winds for hours now, and the lights are flickering every few minutes.  I would say that we are probably going to lose power shortly to the wind and crazy fluctuations in the atmosphere.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

I don’t know how many of you out there are Susan Cooper fans (she is an awesome British author of some of my favorite books – she is also a poet).  I have been a big fan of her fiction for many years.  Her Dark is Rising Sequence series being one of my faves.

Every year around Solstice and Christmas I try to either read The Dark is Rising, or watch it’s movie equivalent, The Seeker: Dark is Rising.  Having to rely on Netflix DVD delivery meant that today was the day I received it, and so we had a wild viewing of it while the lights flickered and the wind howled outside.  Quite the most dramatic rendition I can remember!  It was extremely atmospheric and it made me quite jumpy, what with the wild wind and the relentless rain on our metal roof.  I was very glad when Ian McShane and his friends prevailed over the Dark.  Phew!

Another year.  Again, a wonderful story.  Darkness and Light, the eternal struggle.  One in which most of us are fixated upon as we watch the light gain strength, even as the winter deepens.  It’s a funny thing, winter growing as the light returns.  It’s just one of those things that we can celebrate or fight.  Tonight I am feeling a little bit of hope.

 

Donkey dilemma

Beezus and Fergus watching the new fence go up
Beezus and Fergus watching the new fence go up

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, whichever you celebrate.  We had a very laid back beginning to Hanukkah, and a lazy Christmas day with the kids and grandson.

But, best laid plans, and all that!  The vet was supposed to be here yesterday at midday, but she had an emergency in Belfast, which is up the coast far enough that she could not get here while we still had daylight.  She came instead this morning, so we finally got the newbies vaccinated for Rabies, and she got blood from all of them for the usual blood tests.

Jingle our amazing donkey
Jingle our amazing donkey

In the meantime, we have been watching things with Jingle the Donkey and the boy group, which is down to one buck now, Reddog,  since Oreo left the farm (we could only have used Oreo the Lamancha buck on the Guernsey girls as the two Lamanchas that we kept are his mother and his sister…  not very useful at this point).

Looking up the new fence line you can see all the icy patches that have made t-post pounding a challenge
Looking up the new fence line you can see all the icy patches that have made t-post pounding a challenge

We have always kept Jingle in with the boy group, back to when we had both rams and bucks.  Even though she is technically a mini donkey, she is definitely on the larger end of mini.  Jingle has always had complete control over behaviors in that paddock, and makes no bones about it.  Everything was quite normal with the bucks until we had Reddog the Guernsey boy come back into the group after being with the does for almost 2 months.  His behavior has changed.  No longer the mild-mannered, shy young buck.  And he has gotten quite aggressive with Jingle in particular, for some reason.  As he has horns, Jingle has begun to avoid him at all costs, which is becoming a very poor situation.  Being chased by a little guy with big horns across icy patches of ground is not how I want my little donkey to spend her days.  She is here as a guard animal as well as, you know, a pet.

I have always said that there is no room on a dairy operation for horns (particularly on the does), but we have had horned bucks in the past who would never even consider crossing the line with the donkey.  I am not sure what is going on here, but obviously we need to address the situation.  If I thought the behavior was only because Reddog no longer has a goat companion in the paddock, I could remedy that pretty easily.  But this behavior began the moment we put him back in after his breeding stint.  And has only gotten worse, Oreo or not (he was terrorizing Oreo as well).

The gap in the fence is being investigated
The gap in the fence is being investigated

To that end, Sam and I have been out there putting in a small paddock area where we are going to have to move Reddog (t-posts through the ice not fun,  but the ground is not really frozen hard yet, and today’s temperatures were a gift).  He will now have a full fence line with his girls, and hopefully, will calm down.  Jingle will stay in her paddock for the time being as I don’t need a pregnant doe getting on the wrong side of her and being kicked.  All the paddocks are contiguous, so everyone will be able to communicate with everyone else, so none of the animals are truly segregated and alone.

BUT, we cannot do this move until we are ok to mix the two girl groups.  Aargh!  It’s Dominoes all over again.  At least I know it will be ready the minute we have test results, or the vet gives her okay.  It’s always something.

The holiday weekend is upon us

The new girls are curious about the other group
The new girls are curious about the other group

And we have hit the wall of the week,  Friday!  Things have been crazy this past few days, and not from a holiday standpoint.  I am always first and foremost handling goat management, as I need to be.  When you have animals, that is really what you do, behind the scenes of everything in life it is always the animals.

We were expecting the vet to be here on Wednesday morning and were all set up for that.  Doing blood work before we mix the two groups of girls together is part of the plan, and when the temperatures are moving into winter range, we want to be able to do that as promptly as possible (getting blood out of animals in really cold temps is not easy.  Been there, not pretty!)  But, there is always a spanner in the works.

I never stopped to think about the fact that Sunday is Christmas, and the vet, luckily, had spoken to at least one of the labs early on Wednesday, and we realized that even if all the labs received the blood late in the day on Thursday, there might be employees on vacation, and it would possibly put the blood at risk for not being fresh enough to test – or at worst, not there yet at all.  At this point we decided to reschedule to Monday.  I am much happier, and as luck would have it, Monday looks like an okay day weather-wise.  That is truly lucky at this time of year.

And so we are in a holding pattern until then.  We are getting ready to cover the empty bare-bones greenhouse with a new tarp, as I am planning on that to be the kidding area.  The new girls we have from Ardelia Farm are all due to kid around the end of February, and thus we need to keep moving forward on all of this.

And so it goes.  Tonight is a screening of The Empire Strikes Back while we wrap gifts.  This is a family tradition, and I am definitely looking forward to it.  (And for anyone who has not seen Rogue One yet in the theaters, go see it ASAP.  It’s amazing!).

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone!

Goat rodeo on ice

Battie and Betsy all cozied up
Battie and Betsy all cozied up at twilight

Well, Monday is a wrap.  Finally.   We had quite the morning.  Zelda and the buck Oreo were scheduled to leave us and join the farm that Sassafras and Pickles went to live on two weeks ago.  And it was not as easy a transfer as I would have liked!

Scheduled is the word.  I was worried all last night that Zelda was going to be the one that was difficult, and Oreo would be the piece of cake to walk into Curt’s trailer.  Not.  What a surprise, but it’s something that should not shock me at all.  You just never know.

Zelda the Beauty!
Zelda the Beauty!

And so we had the goat rodeo on ice.  Oreo knew something was up the minute we went out for chores this morning, and we were even being nonchalant.  I did my usual thing, and Sam went to do his.  Oreo was having none of it!  Zelda came with me into the catch pen and launched into her morning hay like nothing was amiss.  But Oreo got the wind up and it took four of us adults to get him cornered and caught, slipping and sliding on the ice and the snow.  I really hate doing that.  In the process, Sam got an arm injury, John came in with a bleeding arm, and the new owner’s hands were bloody by the time we got the buck into his trailer.  I waited to take a fall until I tripped on the handle of a bag in the house.  Not a winner of a day, I can say that now.  But tonight, it feels like it is ancient history.  I can truly say that this morning was kind of the end of an era.

Since last spring I have been working toward getting all the animals together that I can definitely handle alone.  Sam will not be here forever, and when he moves on, my 62+ year old body needs to be able to handle what we have.  I don’t move as fast as I used to!  And so I have planned accordingly, and we made a plan for who to keep and who to part with.  I had a really hard time parting with SnowPea’s daughters Pickles and Sassafras, and Zelda was an even more difficult cull.  But we lucked out and found an amazingly wonderful farm in Auburn, Maine, and the owner there really loves our girls and our genetics, and not only has the 3 girls now, but he also has Oreo the buck.  I couldn’t have asked for a better home for them, and they are not really that far away.  (He has Nigerian Dwarf goats as well, and I am dying to go up and visit his place!).

Anyhow, we are turning a corner here at the farm.  I think we are as tight as we can be.  I have two purebred Lamancha does left, and 7 almost purebred Guernsey girls.  One Guernsey buck and one half Guernsey buckling.  It’s finally a picture that I think can work for me.

The winter seems to be settling in, so I am glad that the Goat Rodeo is finished for the year.  I hope.  After the Solstice I think I can feel a little more positive going forward.  But we definitely won’t think about January 20th just yet :*/

Sunday yucky Sunday

Yesterday afternoon's chore time
Yesterday afternoon’s chore time

The snow was awesome, while we had it.  Nice fluffy stuff.  Of course, it was lying on top of the ice road that our driveway had become, so it was tough going, nonetheless.

But the rain came today along with unforgiving wind, and the temperatures have been steadily rising, only to reportedly plummet again tonight.  All the goaties are snug in their shelters and have been all day.

The snow was quite pretty!
The snow was quite pretty!

I am chomping at the bit to be able to get all the girls into one group together, but that will be another 10 days or two weeks.  The vet is coming on Wednesday and we are doing the new girls’ Rabies vaccines as well as the usual blood testing.  All the newbies are purportedly bred, (they were in with a buck), and I don’t want to take a chance on any of them passing something to our existing herd (although the present setup is not optimal, they can touch noses through the fencing).  I do not believe that it is going to be a problem, but I don’t want to take any chances, either.  And the Rabies is very important to get well before the kids arrive.

So our shelter change-up organization is going to have to wait until the two groups are one.  Until then, the girls appear to be pretty comfortable.  Cannot WAIT for the Solstice!!!

I love this kid

Fergus the nut
Fergus the nut

Fergus.  He is a crazy goofball, and he is about the sweetest buck we have ever had on the farm.  There is something going on here that is not what can become the i’m-friendly-when-i’m-small-and-i’ll-boss-you-when-i’m-big.  He seems genuinely sweet.  Of course, he is a goat, and goats can get up to some pretty crazy things, so I am not counting on him always being totally cooperative, specially when fully grown.

Always fooling around
Always fooling around

This little guy is almost dog-like. His mama Pickles was sold a few weeks ago with his auntie Sassafras.  They are Lamancha/Alpine crosses, and his papa is Reddog the Guernsey buck.  So almost half Guernsey (although the Guernsey association will not allow any of the Lamancha crosses  to be used as foundation stock for the breed, more’s the pity).  The Guernsey goats really are much more laid back than most of the other dairy breeds, so I hope this continues to be his personality.

Working in the greenhouse, Fergus has to lend a helping hoof or two
Whatcha doin’?  Can I help???

What a nut!  Wherever we are, there is Fergus, making our day a little bit brighter.  He is always ready to offer a helping or hindering paw, whichever.

He knows he is cute!
He knows he is cute!

Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!