August endings

Rest time
Rest time

This month feels like it has just flown by.  Busy days, and for the most part, beautiful ones.  We have had our share of the hot-and-humids, however, and I think this may have been part of the catalyst for the Coccidiosis outbreak in two of the baby goats.

I am always on the watch for things like this, but we have not had any cocci episodes here since we had lambs, a few years ago now.  It also usually hits us when we are having a very wet spring and summer.  As we are in a pretty extreme drought, it kind of surprised me.

But the really humid and hot weather is very stressful on the goats, particularly the young ones.  Our Fergus was the first to turn into Mr. PoopyPants, and then within a day or two the white buckling started.  We got the sulpha powder mixed up and going pretty quickly, but it’s a rough ride, even when the diarrhea stops within a day.   Sulpha drugs are hard on anyone, and when you are only 20 or 25 lbs., it’s not so nice.  We are doing vitamins as well, and they seem to be responding.

The last load. Not even a big one!
The last load. Not even a big one!

And as it is August, it is haytime.  We have a very lovely hay dealer who keeps our hay and we can go and get it when we need it, but that is for the first cutting bales.  A good friend of ours recently decided to cut his really nice hay field for a second cutting.  His neighbor does a first cut, but for some reason isn’t interested in doing a second.  I was definitely interested, and today was the day we had to pick it up in the field.  It was great to see Matt, and he even played farm boy for the day and helped us transport the goods.  Nice to see our second greenhouse having such a nice collection of bales going into the winter.

The crickets seem to agree.  I love going to sleep by their singing.  Reminds me of childhood vacations on Cape Cod with my cousins!

 

Regrouping

Pickles, one of our yearling does and first-time mother
Pickles, one of our yearling does and first-time mother

On a farm, it is always time for reorganization and re-evaluation of everything that’s happening.  It’s so easy to get into the groove of just feeding every animal that is here, whether they are “working” for the farm or not.

Keeping animals for sentimental reasons is very easy to do, and I fall into it just as much as the next person.  But I try to be aware of and on top of making the kinds of decisions that will help move us forward.  I am only milking two goats right now and I have 9 does (including baby Betsy).  I am never going to be a big enough operation to milk that many, but some of them are here for a variety of reasons, and some of those reasons, truthfully, are emotional!

Does on both sides of the fence resting in the afternoon
Does on both sides of the fence resting in the afternoon

The middle of the summer is the time when I am getting prepared for the breeding season, and evaluating who should be here or not anyway, and this year I am trying to take a very hard look at what is happening and comparing that with my goals.  In the past I have kept certain does together, whether I intended to milk them or not, because in a small operation like mine, family units can be very supportive of animals that would otherwise be picked on pretty hard.  Zelda, for example, is a wonderful doe who milks well and is a great mother, but I only held onto her because she was the last doe I had from Elf, who is long gone (and I had kept both of them because they were a family unit).  I had wanted to keep some of her genetics around, but truthfully, she would be better off on another farm where her milk and her mothering skills would be of value.

Zelda the Beauty
Zelda the Beauty

And so it is crunch time, and I am making myself all kinds of notes, but the difficult part is here, and it’s time to decide who will stay and who will be sold.  Zelda and two white crossbred youngsters are definitely on the list to go, as is one of SnowPea’s yearlings, Sassafras.  We are definitely hanging onto Fergus and Betsy.

Instead of having to feed out to 3 groups of animals, I am hoping to just have one pen of boys/Jingle the Donkey, and one pen of girls going into the winter.  We shall see how successful I am at the reorganization!

Cheese train is definitely running again

Marinated chevre!
Marinated chevre!

The Train is on a full schedule these days.  I am only milking two of the goats, Pippi and Battie, but each milking is getting me 3/4 of a gallon.  This means that every 48 hours I have enough milk to begin a new 3-gallon batch of chevre (with leftover milkiness for my grandson and for anyone who wants it in coffee).  It’s lovely!  As the lactation season goes through its cycle, I get more and firmer curd structure, so I actually can get more cheese per gallon than I do early in the lactation cycle.  Yesterday I got 15 chevre forms out of the 3 gallons, and earlier in the season I was lucky if I got 8 or 9.

Draining the chevre
Draining the chevre

Most of my days are spent on the chores surrounding handling milk and cheese.  Sanitizing!  But it’s worth it.  I will end up with a good amount in the freezer to dole out during the long winter and the early spring.  If I can find a day when I am not running in 20 directions, I have to  try and make some more Haloumi and Mozzarella as well.

A peek at the draining cheeses
A peek at the draining cheeses

Maybe I will be able to dabble in some aged cheeses as well this fall.  If I can find a wine cooler, and then also dig out a place to put it.  Definitely a work in progress!

Birthday

Our sweet Saffy!
Our sweet Saffy! What a great goatie girl.

Not mine, my husband’s.  He is 65 today. Lots of wonderful phone calls, one of which was from his dad.  92 years old, but going strong!

I love chatting with my father in law, but today I was struck by the fact that I am extremely jealous.  To be having a phone call with your dad when you are 65 is a wonderful thing!  I would give anything to be talking to my dad even now, at the age of 62.  He was killed by a drunk driver, and was older when he became a father to begin with.  And so it goes.  He has been gone for 31 years, and nothing can change that.

But it was quite a day, and a beautiful summer day at that.  I am so grateful for the time I have had.  And my husband is 65, and still going strong.  A summer day to appreciate, for sure!

August is amongst us

Part of the milky crew getting into her breakfast
Part of the milky crew getting into her breakfast

We have gone over to the dark side of the summer.  August.  It was a very cool day for the first of the month, but later on in the week we are promised more summery weather.

I am supported by the summer weather, and also wearied by it.  The humidity has gotten under my skin and into my lungs, so the first order of events is to lay low and do things in the house.  Not too much exertion.  It’s all good!  But when the humidity goes down, there are so many possibilities available, that I sometimes do not know where to start.

Oreo is undecided about whether he wants to come out and see me
Oreo is undecided about whether he wants to come out and see me

We had our grandson for 3 and a half days, and on Monday I was able to visit with some former co-workers at a retired friend’s house.  What a great time we had!  It was a very lovely day.  And I am not missing the pressure of going in to work to start getting things done before the kids arrive.  Bwa ha ha!!!

 

July July

Oreo is undecided about the new pasture.
Oreo is undecided about the new pasture.

It has really turned into July in the past week!  Hot, humid and mostly sunny.  I’m not a humidity lover because it wreaks havoc with my asthma, but up here in coastal Maine, we really don’t get slammed with this kind of weather the way they get it in the mid-Atlantic area where we used to live.  Our bedroom has a window air conditioning unit in, so when we need it, at least we can sleep well.  And it doesn’t last that long.

Garlic harvest was a good one!
Garlic harvest was a good one!

Today I was outside taking care of a few things and I just sat down on the edge of the milk stand (which I have outside of the hay greenhouse) and enjoyed the scene.  Luckily we had a wonderful breeze most of today.  The sky was blue with lots of clouds, and between the pigeon coos, all I could hear were the crickets and the grasshoppers singing in the long grass.  And the movement in the grass with all the little critters was wonderful.  When we were listening to the morning weather, I realized that sunrise has progressed all the way to almost 5:30 a.m.  We have lost at least a half hour of light so far.  Sheesh!  That happened fast!

Anyhow, the crickets and the grasshoppers and the fading light are all just signs of the post summer Solstice event.  The daylight is leaving us, and we are moving toward Autumn.  It’s okay, that’s the way it goes!  And the garlic harvest was a good one.  It’s all good!

Weaning

Battie checking everything out just before we took Betsy into the other pen.
Battie checking everything out just before we took Betsy into the other pen.

That time came to us here at Ruit Farm a few weeks ago.  Our girl Betsy the Guernsey was quite overdue for weaning, actually.  A few weeks ago I put her in with the larger group of does, which shares a fenceline with her mother and auntie.  (Big debates in the dairy and sheep world over the best ways to wean, whether it be whisking the babies away so they cannot hear or see mama, or whether it is to the opposite side of the fence.)  And a week later, I took our girl Pippi out of the larger group, and moved her in with the two Guernsey girls.

Betsy is definitely big enough to be weaned!
Betsy is definitely big enough to be weaned!

The acclimation time has differed for the two different weaner groups.  Betsy has had a very difficult time being separated from her mama.  She gets pushed around by the big group quite a bit, but she is holding her own.  Pippi’s two babies have been sad to be separated, but they aren’t inconsolable.  And the difference is that I left Pippi’s twins in with their cohort, but Betsy not only got separated from her mama, she had to go into an alien group.  Poor girl!  I am hoping that if I re-introduce her back in with her mother in another month, that she will not nurse, but just be happy to be back in her element.

Chevre. It's all good!
Chevre. It’s all good!

And so we have milk!  I have been madly making cheese.  A few batches of chevre, one small batch of Haloumi, and a batch of cheese that I hoped was going to be chevre, but turned into something halfway between a partially cooked-curd cheese, and something indefinable.  I kept it, pressed it, and may just have to use it as you would use curds.  Poutine anyone???

And we are off

Spinning
Spinning

Into retirement, which still does not feel like retirement!  It feels like most of my summer breaks, although I am not on a roll trying to fit all the “fun” things into a very short time span, and am enjoying the lovely summer we are actually having in coastal Maine this year.

Lots of milk!
Lots of milk!

I am now into milking, cheesemaking, training pigeons, and spending as much time with our grandson as possible.  We love to swim and go to the beach, so that’s been a lot of fun.  I am trying to get myself into a productive schedule, but have not succeeded yet.  That extra cup of coffee on the back steps, smelling the ocean air, is too powerful to resist.  I have not gotten much done upstairs where I need to get going on organizing the fiber space.  But I have been doing some spinning on a beautiful wool/mohair blend from Friends Folly Farm.  My eczema got really bad toward the end of the schoolyear with all the stress, so I couldn’t handle fiber for awhile.  But my hands are almost all better, and I am trying to get to a little fiber every day.

And so it goes.  Delightful!

 

 

Almost there

Fergus
Fergus

Sorry to have been away for so long, but things at work have been cranking.  It’s the end of the school year as well as the end of my work career.  Wow!

Saffron waits patiently
Saffron waits patiently

And so it goes.  The goat kids are growing like hot cakes and the weather is getting more beautiful every day.  It’s almost summer, and I can hardly wait!

Tomorrow should be my last day at work.  I will be breathing more easily after that.

Whew!

Fergus and Mama Pickles

Mama and boy
Mama and boy

Fergus, our last kid born, is doing really well.  His mama, Pickles, is a great mother, and is doing her goat mama thing.  Having had a single baby, I was concerned about her udder.  Little Fergus has only been nursing from one side, so I had to empty the left side of her udder for a few days.  She was not very happy about that, but in the past day or so, Fergus has realized that there is more than one spigot available!  Great kid, Fergus!

Right after Fergus was born, I emailed the vet and asked if we could have a visit very soon, as Fergus was born with horn buds ready to go.  We had a few hiccups in connecting with each other, but she was finally able to get here and take care of that.  We had her do our little white doeling as well, although she was enough older that I think it did not totally get the buds off.  It may inhibit the horn growth, however.  Disbudding with an iron is very tricky business, and it’s easy to kill a kid by being too aggressive, so I leave that to the vets.

We got quite a bit done this weekend, and this drizzly Memorial Day morning is a lazy one for me.  I am going to have another cup of coffee and decide what i need to pull together a nice dinner.  The ingredients of the day are eggplant and chicken.  Lots of possibilities there!

 

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

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