(Warning: goatie woo-woo and birth photos are included in the slideshow!)
The rainy summer days are continuing. But today held a promise of some nicer weather, with some dryer breezes and less humidity. It was the day we had chosen to let Pippi and her doelings out of their pen in the greenhouse. She had been wormed 24 hours ago and it was time. And we really weren’t expecting terrible rains today, so midday it was! The girls stayed close to their mama, and even when they went off to play on the big rock at the top of the paddock, she stayed near and gave them a lot of advice!
Of course today had a totally crazy start. We had company last night and went to bed on the late side for us. And at 4:30 this morning I sat straight up in bed, listening to a ram lamb wailing piteously in the paddock and his mother answering in a very muffled manner. I really thought that maybe the little guy had gotten stuck someplace and I shot out of bed and got dressed and ran up there. When I got halfway up the driveway I realized that it was a little more general an alarm than I had anticipated. They were all out! We had a breach in the cattle panels where I had built a chicken-wire post filled with rocks that were supporting a t-post that didn’t have a lot of depth on the ledgey hillside. Apparently the chicken wire let go and the rocks blew all over, releasing the panels and there was an opening just big enough for the adventuresome souls to poke through. Esther’s youngest babies were afraid to go through the gap, so they were calling to their mother who was definitely outside the fence! A group of lambs were in the garden, and the rest were wandering around in the weeds. Always an adventure! John came up and it didn’t take long to get them re-penned. I wimped out and went back to bed for an hour or so. Thank goodness it’s summer break!
Bonbel did us a huge favor today and she had her kids mid-afternoon. It was wonderful. She was in the greenhouse and as John was leaving to do an errand he spotted her in labor. I had just gotten home from the Saturday farmer’s market and was finishing the car unloading when John called me to get up there. I am happy to say that we did not need to intercede or help her in any way. She is a great goatie mama and her girls (yes, two more doelings!!!) are beautiful. So we have our complement of babies for 2012 :*)
The interesting thing about these girls is that they both have gigantic ears! We are not used to that with LaMancha goats. But last winter when we were trying to get them bred, we ended up taking our two girls down to Sea Breeze Farm in Friendship where they have amazingly beautiful Saanen goats. A little bit different, but wonderful genetics all around.
Our Pippi is a purebred LaMancha and that is why her two babies only have slightly larger ears than their mama. But Bonbel’s grandfather, Stinky Pete, was an Alpine/Saanen cross so I believe that this has made the big ears a possibility. And we have ears the size of Jingle the Donkey’s! They are extremely sweet and very vigorous babies. I love them! Milking will begin in short order :*)
Last night Pippi did it! She had her kids a little before 10 P.M. When I went out about 10:15 to check on her I knew something was going on even before I got into the paddock. All the ewes and lambs along with Zorro were standing in a semi-circle, staring at one corner in complete silence. When I got over there, one tiny doe was on her feet and the second one was on the ground, still covered in amniotic fluid and a little blood. Pippi was singing to them and cleaning them off. So we got them into the greenhouse pen and they immediately got to looking for breakfast and they appear to be doing very well this morning. Pippi is a great mom and she is taking care of her girls well as usual.
We had really thought hard about taking the babies from Pippi at birth and bottle rearing them so that I would immediately have milk, most of which would go to bottle feeding the babies, and some for us. But I just can’t stand watching a mama goat talking and chortling to her babies, and know that nature has made it work for them to raise their young well. I know that bottle raising does insures that they will be much friendlier and easier to handle in the long run, but in the end I couldn’t go there. I am a wimp!
Pippi’s girls are a very average baby goat size, although in contrast to the lambs who are at least 3 months old, they are teeny!
The longest couple of days in the year are upon us. I have to say that I feel positively pagan about the daylight. It’s such a blessing to have so many hours of it that I can’t get enough.
It’s still been a crazy week trying to get some end of year things tied up, and then the hot and humid weather hit us yesterday. I know that the whole east coast of the U.S. is getting hit with it, and most are getting it worse than we are, but after weeks of the 60 degree daytime temps, it really struck us like a freight train. John was down in the neighboring field making hay while I was at work trying to get caught up. We even relented and put our small air conditioner in the bedroom window yesterday. It was a definite relief to get a good night’s sleep last night.
This afternoon I moved our Pippi the goat over into the other side of the paddock. She has not been eating as much as usual and keeps herself to herself, and I did not want the other goats to pick on her and keep her from her food. So I got her over with Bonbel and the ewes this afternoon and she still is not eating much. She is technically due on the 25th, but you never know! It could be tonight.
And so it goes. At least we are going to get a little bit of a break from the heat tomorrow.
Feeling like I have not had two moments to get to blogging in the past week or two. The Maine Fiber Frolic was a wonderful weekend even though we got some pretty heavy rains. People came out and it was fantastic to meet and interact with everyone. The month of frenzied preparation is over and I am trying to take a deep breath, without much luck until today.
Other than the Fiber Frolic, things have been totally crazy. End of the school year is chock full of extra activities and out of school appearances, and on the farm we have also been looking forward to setting up a new area for this years’ piggies. So that took some work to set up, and with all this rain, the grass and weedy stuff has gotten so long that it has presented its own challenges. Moving 16′ galvanized cattle panels is always a challenge for me, but the long grass only complicates things exponentially! But our beautiful pigs have landed and we are enjoying them immensely. Harold and Maude, this is your life!
With the warmer weather we are finding some pretty interesting things out here. When I got Bonbel up on the milk stand to feed her breakfast this morning, I saw one of my favorite moths in the greenhouse. It’s a beautiful yellow and pink one. Just spectacular! And that was a great point in another busy day. But the last formal day of school for the year. I still have plenty of work to get caught up on, but at the very least, I don’t have to set the alarm for 4:20 tomorrow!!! That’s a great start to a little bit of relaxing time.
The Fiber Frolic’s second day turned out to be a wet one, but a good one as well. People came out regardless of the weather and we met a lot of really nice folks. Got to talk sheep, fleece, roving and yarn all day! Can’t think of anything better, especially when I get to talk about my girls :*)
I made a tour around the show quickly this morning when I got the booth set up. There weren’t many folks coming through the gate at 8:30, so I had a chance to walk around with my friend Chris and we had a lovely time visiting with a few other vendors, the most notable one being Robbie Portella of Maple Lane Pottery! Robbie and I met very early on in our sojourn in Maine. She is a very talented potter, and I have a growing collection of her work. It has just the right whimsical animal touch, and I cannot resist a piece or two every year! Robbie is also a librarian and we have known each other through that end of the spectrum as well for the past 10 years. When I think about how lucky I am to have fallen into friendship with people like Robbie, Chris, Pam, Christine, Esther, Heather, Anna and all of our comrades in fiber, I feel truly blessed.
And now it’s really time for bed. I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning and never got back to sleep. I think it’s time!
And so it goes. The rain is still pounding on the roof and the wind is still blowing. Hoping tomorrow finds us a little lest wet. I am hoping that our road doesn’t wash out. It will be close!
Today began the two-day Maine Fiber Frolic. Dire weather reports abounded, but the day was a much nicer one than I anticipated. Right now I am listening to the wind and the rain pounding away outside, so I do not know what is in store for us tomorrow, but we can only hope for some breaks in the wetness.
I had a lovely surprise when I went to set up my booth yesterday. It was lucky happenstance that our friend Heather Kerner of Spiralworks Felt had the booth beside us! What a lovely bit of luck. So we were able to schmoos and help each other out a little bit. It was great to see her and her beautiful product! It’s not our usual booth space, but it worked out rather well :*)
Our friend Chris Antonak of the Salt Bay Treadlers also joined us and helped out big time in the booth, and we saw Jocelyn, Kelley and Christine for a few moments as well. It was a wonderful day and we go back tomorrow to continue. Let’s hope it’s not as wet as the forecast is calling for!