Chaos in the paddock

babesThis afternoon I got home and went right up into the paddock so that I could give Elf a vitamin B shot and (hopefully) her last antibiotic shot, and then I wanted to get her out with her babies while we still had some sunshine and daylight. I wanted her babes to have some time to get to know the other kids on the block and have some playtime.

Well, the kids did fine and made immediate friends with Marigold and Iris. I always put out the feed for everyone in the paddock, so hopefully all the girls are eating when I spring the jugged mama and babies so that they are all busy. Sheep and goats will pick on each other when one has been away from the others for awhile, and the pecking order needs to be re-established as well. I have always known that although SnowPea and Elf have had issues, most of the time they politely ignore each other. This afternoon I was really taken aback by the fight that ensued up near the feeder when Elf came out to join the others. Elf gave SnowPea as good as she got, but became tired of the head-butting and walked away, again and again. But SnowPea would not stop her bullying. Wherever Elf went, SnowPea would rush over and bite at her and push her around pretty ferociously. So Elf couldn’t get to the feeder to eat her hay. I was very amazed at how long this went on, the better part of an hour. So I took some hay aside and fed Elfie out of my hand on the other side of the big rock while the babies cavorted and slid around us over and over. Every time SnowPea approached, I wouldn’t let her into our little private party. I think she got tired as well, and I began to be a little concerned because she was breathing so heavily herself. She finally gave up and went to lie down by the feeder and finish her supper. By the time I came back to the house, everyone was stationed at the feeder and quiet.

Has peace broken out?  It's about time.
Has peace broken out? It’s about time.

I certainly hope they got it out of their systems. I worry about both of them, neither are spring chickens, and SnowPea is very pregnant, and has been the herd queen ever since her herd queen mama, Salsa, was out of the picture. I guess she takes her queendom very seriously! The baffling part of it all is that she never gave Zelda a sideways look when she came out of the pen with her babies two weeks ago. I don’t know, but it’s very interesting watching goatie society at work!

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Elf’s kids and Monday

Back to work today, vacation is officially over. It was also the day that needed a visit to the vet to get our newest little ones disbudded. We were lucky to have her fit us in, and so we got that taken care of, thank goodness (the earlier the better!). Our little girl has a slightly different coloring than her mother, Elf, but she has that same lovely face and is a total sweetie. Her brother is the picture of Bagels the buck, but with floppy ears instead of stand-up ears. Beautiful boy! They feel like such peanuts compared to the older doelings who are on a tear around the paddock at any point in the day that they are fantastic entertainment. The two older girls are very fond of climbing all over me out on the big rock, and that is my fun every afternoon. Even though the weather hasn’t been that warm, we are still appreciative of the fact that it’s in the 40s every day, and not in the teens and the 20s!

Tomorrow Elf will be wormed early in the morning and then hopefully everyone will be ok to be let out of their jug to join the rest of the goaties. Progress. Now all we need is for Pippi to have her kids. Not a clue when that will happen!

Good mama Elf

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Finally, Elf has had her big moment! I knew something was going on after chores yesterday as she kept walking away from the feeder and going into the greenhouse and just standing. So my hourly vigil began. Put on boots, get chore gear on, walk up, check on goat, return to house, get chore gear off.  I went out hourly until 1 a.m. and at that point she was bedded down with no signs of labor, so I went to bed. At 4:15 I woke out of a dead sleep and headed up to see what was happening. There were the babies, one dry and fed, the other one fed, not totally dry. Phew! Elf is a cagey one, she has always waited until our backs are turned, and then popped them out. She has never kidded at night before, however. She usually chooses midday and hides away while everyone else is napping out by the feeder.

Elf is looking relieved!
Elf is looking relieved!

The smaller of the two is a doeling, and she was definitely the first out. The buckling has two pounds on her, and is dark like his daddy Bagels. Both are beautiful and strong, the doe with short ears and the buck with long ears. Even though it’s grey and damp out with some rain this afternoon, they seem to be faring well, and Elf as always, is a very attentive and protective mother. I kept trying to take photos of the little guys and she kept inserting herself between the camera and the little ones. It took some convincing to get her to move!

And now it may be time to go and check on everyone again. Pippi, the white doe with the long beard, is looking like she is dropped and is ready to go at any point. Maybe she will do us a favor and wait until the rain stops tomorrow in the morning, or nicer yet, have them this afternoon!

Blustery and grey

Marigold looking over my shoulder, picking bits of hay off my shirt
Marigold looking over my shoulder, picking bits of hay off my shirt

That’s what we have today. It’s a crazy, wild one out there for sure. So far no new goat kids, but on a day like today that’s pretty much ok with me. It’s not that cold temperature-wise, but the gusts could knock you down!

SnowPea the trampoline
SnowPea the trampoline

We have had a fairly quiet few days. At afternoon chore time I am spending a lot of time out there messing around with the baby girls. They are so much fun. Marigold is the big-eared girl and Iris is the short-eared doe. They love to climb on me and nibble at my clothes. I am also putting their mama, Zelda, on the milkstand in the afternoons and milking her out a little bit.  It’s not that I expect much, but when the time is right she will already be in the right place at the right time. I am also getting our old faithful SnowPea on the stand, even though she hasn’t had her kids yet. It gives me the chance to get her a little extra grain, and I am fervently hoping that she kids and has good milk for us again this year. She is a wonderful milker. Here’s to thinking good thoughts about getting a doeling from her! She also is about the most even-tempered of all the goatie girls and acts like everyone’s grammie out in the paddock. She doesn’t mind any or all of the babies using her like a trampoline. She just sits there as though nothing were going on, chewing her cud and having her afternoon rest.

girls_feederTomorrow is Friday and the last day of April vacation. I knew it would be over too quickly! Next we have the amazingly fast run-up to the end of the schoolyear. I really can hardly believe it.

 

Thursday sky
Thursday sky

 

Today was the day

First thing this morning the 3 got penned.
First thing this morning the 3 got penned.

Well, today was the day. We took the last 3 sheep up to our favorite butcher this afternoon. This is always something that needs to be planned for carefully, and since John’s hand surgery, we needed an extra special plan for the loading of the sheep into John’s truck. His Ford F-350 1997 diesel rides very high off the ground. With my bursitis hip issues, I can no longer get into the truck without stepping onto a bucket or a milk crate anymore, so that should indicate how high we have to lift the sheep to get them into the bed of the truck! We definitely needed reinforcements, and our friend Jim Child of Hatchtown Farm came to help, as well as our teenage grandson and his mom.

HoneyBea stops to take a look
HoneyBea stops to take a look

We don’t have a livestock trailer anymore, so John and I opted to build a “crate” out of galvanized metal panels in the back of his pickup. We made a teepee-type structure, and then John used a tie-down strap over the top for extra  safety. Luckily, we had the manpower, and as all the ewes were haltered, we really got through the loading in record time. The men had to lift the front end of the ewes up and over the tailgate, and I am still ok to lift the hind end in, thank goodness! And so we got them settled and took the 40 mile ride.

Zelda and her girls, Marigold and Iris bellying up to the feeder this afternoon
Zelda and her girls, Marigold and Iris bellying up to the feeder this afternoon

When we got home this evening and I went out to do chores it was definitely a different landscape. All goat, all the time. The one thing that I was able to do this evening was to put out the salt and mineral mixture with added copper that the goats really need. Sheep cannot have extra copper, so I have always had to get the extra copper into the milking stand mix for the goats as I could. This whole setup will definitely simplify my day to day operations from now on. But, I am really going to miss my sheepy girls. (But I won’t miss moving fence down in the pasture. Really!)

April break is here

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And so this week has screamed by. Busy with taking care of John after surgery, the new doe kids, and watching for more births, I got through Friday in a rather exhausted state. We had a lovely visit from our grandson over night which was a lot of fun as always, and then yesterday and today turned out to be a fantastically beautiful day so we spent a lot of time outside working.

Our beautiful doelings were set free on Friday morning before I went to work. It was time. I wormed their mama Zelda on Thursday morning, and then that afternoon I took the girls to the vet to have their hornbuds removed. When I got them home and reunited them with Zelda, she was definitely not happy with how they smelled (like burned hair)!  But she was happy to see them, and they were not at all inconvenienced by the procedure, the vet gives them an anti-inflammatory before she does it. And so they have a little bit of a Mohawk, and they are dancing around on the big rock and experiencing the big world of the paddock. AND, they are already noshing on the hay at the feeder, along with mama. Always amazing!

Yesterday afternoon I really thought that Elf was in labor, lying on the hillside in the sun, I really thought I saw a nose protruding. She kept getting up and licking her lips (usually happens when they are in labor) and then looking for another place to lie down. I ended up calling our friend Pam from Hatchtown Farm and we did a little closer inspection, but she definitely is not ready to kid. Being full of goat kid must be causing the bulge in the back end. All the goats but Zelda are looking uncomfortable now, but no one’s udder looks large enough to really be ready any minute.

So we wait and appreciate the wonderful weather. Lots to do this week and I already am feeling like there isn’t enough time!

Baby photos at last

I had a chance to get out with our regular camera this afternoon and get a few photos of our beautiful baby goats. The girls are doing really well and were bouncing around annoying their mama Zelda while she was trying to eat her lunch! We have definitely begun our kidding year on the right foot: two girls :*)

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April 16th, and snow

Not unbelievable, but definitely unwelcome
Not unbelievable, but definitely unwelcome

The rain and the wind came yesterday, and even the temperatures plummeted. It was 22F first thing this morning and I had to scrape at least 2″ of snow out of the feed troughs. Rather rude of Mother Nature to throw that at us, but at least we are not getting hit as hard as the midwest is again.

The Hand, all dressed up
The Hand, all dressed up

Our little goatie girls are doing well. They are going to be disbudded tomorrow afternoon at the vet’s. I actually am home today with a recuperating husband after he had some hand surgery yesterday for his advanced Dupuytron’s Contracture. Not fun, particularly since he is a leftie and it was quite bad in that hand. At the moment he is asleep in the recliner with his half-casted/bundled up arm elevated. (We had to throw a rope over the main beam in the living room, and attached it to the stationary bike! I better be careful not to move the bike!).

Blue skies return
Blue skies return

Luckily, the day is improving. The sun is bright enough now that I can hear the snow crashing off the metal roof. I really have to get out there and take a better photo of our baby girls! But first, kitchen cleanup calls.

First arrivals

Short-eared doeling
Short-eared doeling
Two sweet girls
Two sweet girls
Long-eared girl
Long-eared girl

Zelda held out until this afternoon sometime. I looped home before going on to errands (or I thought I was going to do errands) and I found Zelda in the greenhouse. 2 doelings with her, dry, fed and beautiful! I never did get out to do any more errands.

Water works!
Water works!

The second wonderful happening of the day is that we now have water coming from our dug well! Two reasons to celebrate tonight. I am hoping to get more sleep as well!

Udders, woo-woos and bellies

Pippi and SnowPea. The views are growing!
Pippi and SnowPea. The views are growing!

These are the name of the game this week. Not getting enough sleep due to all the birthing checks and I feel like my engine is running on empty and we have not even begun to kid yet!  Yesterday was Hatchtown Farm’s shearing, and even though it was a long day, it was replete with good work and then some relaxation with friends. Great food as well, as always!

Emily our wonderful shearer at work yesterday
Emily our wonderful shearer at work yesterday

We are still waiting on our goat babies, no secret there, and Zelda looks poised for action today, which is encouraging. She is really dropped and her udder is very full. It would be nice if she presented us with some babies in daylight, although we have had rain most of the day and it’s raw out there. All the animals were still at the feeder this morning awhile after breakfast and I noticed that Zelda had eaten but then walked away. Not much room in there for a big meal!

Every time I make the rounds up in the paddock I do a thorough check of all the back ends and udders. Every one is coming along, but the only one who is very close is Zelda. I can hardly wait for the excitement of new babies. Then it may truly feel like Spring has finally arrived.

(10:30 PM and nothing on the horizon!)