Disbudding on a beautiful spring afternoon

Dr. Julie Greenlaw
Dr. Julie Greenlaw with our little bucky boy

Today we had another visit from the vet, and it was a beautiful afternoon for it.  Pippi’s two little Mother’s Day kids needed the disbudding treatment.  Their little horns had not sprouted as quickly as the earlier babies’ had, so we have been keeping Dr. Greenlaw posted.  Today was the day, and even then, I wasn’t sure that the little doeling was ready.  We keep tabs on how the horn buds are growing, and hers have been barely perceptible.  In the last few days, however, they did begin to blossom.

And thankfully, both were good candidates.  Dr. Greenlaw’s approach is very calm, and they get an anti-inflammatory shot and a tiny bit of sedation, plus a block around the horn buds.  No struggling and screaming is a good thing for everyone!  Then they get their tetanus anti-toxin shot, and all’s good.  We don’t put them back into the pen with the others until they are alert and ready to roll.  The doeling didn’t take long to come around from the sedation and she screamed in my ear and struggled so hard to get back to mama that I almost lost hold of her.  She is a little tiger in a goat kid’s body, that one.

I will take a walk up to see how they are doing in a little bit, and then I will be able to check off one more milestone in the spring line-up.  Things are greening up nicely now, and I have to admit that as much as I hate the heat, I am ready for it this year!  I think a lot of us are still in shock from the harshness of this past winter.  A little sweat will do us good :*)

The Busyness of summer

Pippi's babies having some fun
Pippi’s babies having some fun

Is beginning!  Even though it doesn’t feel like almost summer right now, 50F and drizzly and foggy.  We desperately need the rain, as the snow melt goodness has long gone.  This was probably the easiest mud season in the paddocks that I have experienced since living here.

Bones of the greenhouse
Bones of the greenhouse

Since the babies have all come and are thriving and doing well, now it’s down to business.  I spent a lot of the weekend moving green panels.  One of our greenhouses, the one that looks like dinosaur bones hanging out up on a rise, needs to come down.  The supports are sliding off the pad that John put down many years ago.  (It was never wide enough to really do the job, and as we have found to our dismay, even on a flat, hard gravel pad, the supports splay after a few years which makes the covers tear, and the zippers break, etc.).  If we put it up again, it needs to have a frame for the supports to fit into so it can’t sag with age.  I had to block it off to the goats for now as I don’t want the babies going up there and jumping over the side panels into the lower paddock, 8 -10 feet below.  I keep hoping that I can get some kind of a real building going, and soon! Have to get planning on that one and toss around for someone with knowledgeable help.  Builders we are definitely not.

I always have a list a mile long of things to accomplish over the summer, and this year is no different.  The last day of school is Friday, June 19th, and then the work begins.




May days

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We are going back and forth between overcast, dull and grey days and days where the sky is as blue as can be and the temperatures are rising into the high 60s.  It’s always the way,

The one guaranteed thing that goes along with the warmer temperatures:  the Black Fly contingent.  It is a sure thing during the month of May.  What a pain!  We welcome the breezes at the farm, and today we had something of a nice, breezy afternoon.  I had some good times with the kids, and we were able to get a few things done in the garden as well.

John and I went to our favorite garden center late morning  and came home with some tomato plants and a few herb plants.  I potted my new thyme plant, which was good.  And now we ask for: No more frost please!!!

Post kidding days

Pippi and her Blu-Koted head bone
Pippi and her Blu-Koted head bone

I have been concerned about Pippi for the last two days.  She hasn’t been eating enough to suit me, post-partum-ly speaking.  So every afternoon I have been giving her vitamin shots, taking her temp, and weighing her babies.  All good.  Babies gaining weight, Pippi doing fine on the whole.  I was on the lookout for mastitis or milk fever, and can’t really come up with anything really wrong with her.  She is symptom-free, except for the food she leaves.  (To give her credit, the blackflies are horrific, it was really hot on Sunday, and she had no freedom of movement out of the jug).

(In the video I forgot to take the bucket away that I had used to weigh the kids!)  Pippi absolutely hates to be penned.  She tore open her head over the bony part where her horns would have been by butting the fence too many times when other goats came around and got too close, stared at her babies, or maybe lusted after the grain she had not eaten.  So I had already wormed her, and this afternoon I let her and the two beautiful babies out.  We shall see what happens!  I think she will be fine, but I am keeping an eye on her.  We don’t want problems, that’s for sure!

The Pippi solution

To all our feeling down about our Zorro.  She went and had her kids early this morning.  I was figuring she wouldn’t be kidding until sometime today, but she loves a good surprise.  Brown/black buckling with a blaze, and a doeling that could be a twin to SnowPea’s Sassafras.  Both of them are good and strong, the doeling is 7 lbs, and the boy is 9.  Wow.  The cuteness quotient has gone up considerably overnight!

Pippi with her little guy
Pippi with her little guy (his tail is tipped with a tiny bit of white!)

Today the temperature soared, and we went for a load of hay. I am still feeling the effects of the workout in the heat. It frequently happens that way, unfortunately.  My older son graciously offered to help with the unloading, which was an enormous help!

This evening our boys took us out for dinner down in New Harbor, where we ate out on the deck of a local restaurant, right on the water.  Heavenly!  Breezes off the ocean, sunlight, and lovely family.  Great end to a busy weekend and a lovely way to spend Mother’s Day!

Our newest  little ones
Our newest little ones

RIP Zorro

Zorro and the girls
Zorro and the girls

Our llama.  Our best guard guy.  Died yesterday morning, due to what, I am not sure.  Possibly old age.  He was 16 and was slowing down a bit, but we didn’t see any symptoms in him.

Our Zorro
Our Zorro

I went out yesterday morning to do chores and found Jingle the Donkey on the other side of the fence, bent over with her muzzle to the fence line right where Zorro had fallen over.  And there he was. So my husband got him buried, and we are now without our sweet Zorro the Llama.

RIP Zorro, we will surely and definitely miss you and your sweet ways with the kids, the lambs, and with all of us humans. As well as your awesome skills in keeping the coyotes away.

Many years ago, down in the field (c. 2003)
Many years ago, down in the field (c. 2003)

Home again, home again

My slice of sky with a morning moon
My slice of sky with a morning moon

I don’t have much jiggity jig in my step, however.  My husband and I had to make an emergency trip down to NJ because his 90 year old mother was unwell and we really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.  So off we went, really early on Sunday morning,  and blasted down.  7 hours driving with a quick stop or two.  My hips and back don’t do so well on long travels anymore, but it wasn’t too bad as we were able to share the driving.  And the traffic even in the suburbs of NYC is so bad these days, we had massive culture shock!

Yes, definitely my baby
Yes, definitely my baby

My mother in law is now on the mend and we came north yesterday.  My older son had been taking care of the goaties, and a friend of ours did the pigeon care.  It was a total relief to be home, and when I got outside this morning I was wonderstruck by our peepers, the quiet, and my very own slice of Maine sky with the moon still hanging there.  What a relief!

Goat kid selfie
Goat kid selfie

Pippi is warming up for her big event, but I believe she is still a few days out.  I am looking forward to spending some time with her as she gets closer to kidding day.  SnowPea’s babies are on a tear around the paddock, and can always be found out by the big rock.  They allowed me to take a “selfie” of them looking over my shoulder.  And then mama called them over to the feeder and she asked them to hang out by her for awhile.

Okay, Mom, we won't go far!
Okay, Mom, we won’t go far!

And then tonight was our monthly spinning/knitting group.  Great laughs with some wonderful women.  Can’t get much better than that!  What an amazingly great day.

Disbudding day #1

Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.
Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.

That was today.  Our vet came out to do the deed as we do not wield a disbudding iron, and even if we had one, we would not use it.  It’s a moderately tricky process, and if you heat up their little heads for too long, they can be in peril for their lives.

Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder
Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder

In a dairy operation, I don’t have any room for horns.  They use them against each other, and I am not in favor of torn udders.  So we suck it up a few days post-partum, and have the vet do it for us.  And when the vet does the disbudding, the babies get an anti-inflammatory, a local for pain, and a tetanus antitoxin.  So it is the way we roll.  And today went well.  I will check them before I go to bed, but they were looking alert before I came back to the house a little while ago.  And so it goes!

Our little girls

SnowPea and one of her girls
SnowPea and one of her girls

I don’t think that we have ever had two doelings from one mama before this.  We either get 2 bucks, or a buck and a doe baby.  I am still amazed that this was SnowPea’s offering for the year!  Since SnowPea is on the older side, we may actually keep both of the girls.  Their mama has been our most bestest milker for many years.

And can we say cuteness squared?  These little ones are just too much.  Sassafras and Pickles.  I could spend my whole day in the pen with them, letting them climb on me and nibble my clothes.  SnowPea will only take so much, however, before she comes and chews on me so that I will unhand whichever baby I have in my lap. Today my husband called me to tell me that one of the girls had gotten out of the jug/pen, but was snuggled up to Zorro the Llama, and right up against the pen so SnowPea could see her.  What a nut!

Sassafras stuffs herself into the hay feeder.  What a goober!
Sassafras stuffs herself into the hay feeder. What a goober!

Hopefully the rain stops tonight and the rest of the week will be warmer and precipitation-free.  The vet is coming on Wednesday to disbud the girls.  And then freedom!  Out with the other girls, for big adventures.  And then we just have to wait for Pippi to have her babies, in about two weeks.  It’s all good.

And we have doelings!

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Wednesday night was a little rough as I was up and down checking on SnowPea, and the next morning she was her usual self, but eating like crazy and pushing everyone out of the way! Her udder was the same size as the evening before, and I presumed that she was going to wait another day to do something, tanking up for the job.

But long about 2 PM, I went out to see that her udder had ballooned to double its earlier size and she had a nice size water bag hanging there. I made sure our kit was ready with the Bo-Se (selenium and vitamin E shot for the newborns to protect against White Muscle Disease), iodine for navels, Nutridrench for helping along a befuddled baby needing energy, and a bag full of clean towels. Then we called some friends who have been dying to see a goat baby born, and the wait began.

Unlike with the sheep, I don’t usually see much of the kidding process, as our goats (knock on wood) rarely have issues, and pop them out when they are ready, so I may or may not see the beginning of labor. Conventional wisdom with small ruminants has it that if the water bag is out for more than an hour and there is no movement forward (like little hooves and a nose poking out), that the farmer should investigate and make sure there isn’t a problem. We hate to do this because it automatically means antibiotic intervention, and I don’t like setting it up for that scenario if I can help it.

So I was torn. SnowPea didn’t appear to be in active labor, no strong contractions, and she paced and then just sat down. So we all left (that’s probably what she was waiting for!) and I called my older son, thinking I would be pulling a goat baby shortly. He came over and when we went out, voila! – there was a whopping 8 pound doeling! All dry, fed, and getting around very nicely. It appeared as though SnowPea was finished (no more water bags, just the usual prep for getting out the placenta), and we did all we had to do with the baby, got mama comfy, and went in to dinner. When I went out to make sure things were still going well, about 2 hours later, it was obvious that I had just missed the second doeling being delivered. She was sputtering and lying there in her amniotic fluid, and SnowPea had just started licking her off.  And this one is a 10 pounder!

And so we have two adorable doelings from Mama SnowPea, who always has 2 bucks.  Every year.  Pickles and Sassafras are a very welcome addition to our little farm!

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


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