Today was the day

Fergus challenging one of the new girls after we opened the gate
Fergus challenging one of the new girls after we opened the gate

To make the big move and combine the two groups of does.  After the hay was parceled out in all the usual spots, I opened the gate, and Fergus initially was the only one to take the plunge.

Everyone is staring at the new girl! Pippi is warning her off. Dorcas doesn't care, she has a mouthful of hay!
Everyone is staring at the new girl.  Pippi is warning her off. Dorcas doesn’t care, she has a mouthful of hay!

Ferg dueled the longest with Eleganza, but then he turned his attentions to the other 3.  It was pretty funny.  Soon, just about all of the regular crew were over in the east side pen, and everyone was getting into the act.  Rearing and feinting, with a few head bumps happening, but the thing that I always watch for, especially with pregnant does, is the side-bashing.  None was in evidence, thank goodness.  Pippi, Queen of the Herd, came into the fray after everyone else had been at it for awhile.  She went after the newbies with a kind of a growl/grunt and then followed that with a guttural chirp, while motioning with her head down and away.  I have to try and video it someday, it’s quite a show.  Then she just walked away.  No street brawling for the Queen!

Delta smiling at us from the old hay bunker
Delta smiling at us from the old hay bunker

Sam and I stayed up with them for over an hour to make sure that things were not going to get bloody or too nutty.  These guys have been nose to nose through different fences ever since they got here, so nothing new there.  But it’s always a little struggle to define who is in what order on the pecking line.  This afternoon I was pleased to see everyone mingling, sort of, and little Delta was standing in the old feed bunker, happy as a clam!

New feeding lineup
New feeding lineup

We covered the empty greenhouse yesterday, in spite of the wind, and now I just need to get some plywood for the driveway gable end.  This is the intended kidding greenhouse, so I have a little more wiggle time, but I do need to get that sorted sooner rather than later.  One of the new does (for whom we have no due date) is looking a lot closer to kidding than the end of February (Delta).  And our little Betsy girl could be earlier than that as well.  We are keeping a close eye, and are already starting some nighttime checks.  Never a dull moment!

 

Progress

It’s been a crazy week! We finally have all of our blood and fecal test results back. (The fecals came back 24 hours after the lab received them, so I am not complaining). The lab that was working on the CL testing was backed up from the holidays, and we took our turn in the queue.

Betsy, Saffron and Battie get working on breakfast
Betsy, Saffron and Battie get working on breakfast

Anyhow, all the bloodwork is negative for Johne’s, CL, Brucellosis, and CAE. These new goats came from a farm where the older goats had all been tested, but you can never be too sure, and I am glad to have had the testing taken care of.

The fecal results came back and surprised me quite a bit! Our 4 new goats are almost as worm-free as any ruminants I have ever encountered.  I had sent in samples from Pippi and Saffron, two of our older group, and they turned out to have higher worm counts than the other 4. No tapeworm, either. We do Famacha checks fairly regularly, and I had noticed that Pippi and Saffron were a little less than perfect in the mucous membrane color department, so I am glad that we sent in the samples. (Famacha only gives an idea about the stomach worm, haemonchus contortus, but that is the one that kills the fastest).  So I do not have to worry about the wormer that we should not use during pregnancy.  That will be our big gun after each mom kids.

Beezus, Pippi and Fergus at the feeder they like best
Beezus, Pippi and Fergus at the feeder they like best

Those 4 girls will be dewormed tomorrow, and hopefully we will be introducing our two groups together shortly.  The greenhouse is yet to be covered, but plans got a little derailed earlier this week.  We are still moving forward.  As we get closer to the due dates of our first 4, I am adjusting feed as well.

And so it goes. All the rain we had the other day is now crunchy ice, better than a skating rink, but there.  This winter has not delivered normal winter weather yet, very much like last year. Not a trend I was hoping for!

My heart

The newbie goat girls reminding me that we are need to keep things in perspective.
The newbie goat girls reminding me that we need to keep things in perspective.

Today my heart was with many of my friends as well as women and men all over the world who were at Women’s Marches. I wanted to join in at least to be at a rally in Maine, but my hip bursitis and my back are giving me hell right now, and standing or walking for a few hours was just not in the cards.  My son thought I should give it a go, maybe to be the last of my big demonstrations, but it was probably wiser for me to stay behind. I listened to some great music, and watched the photos flow in on Instagram, and knit.  (I was very active in the 60s and early 70s in the civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-war movements and spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. as a teenager. And knit.).

Talk about this is why we fight!
Talk about this is why we fight!  Fergus is already there.

And so it goes.  I am a pragmatist, and always an optimist, so I am hoping that all of us just stay aware and keep letting our representatives know how we feel about what is going on in our country. Constant Vigilance is the word of the day (thank you, J.K. Rowling and MadEye Moody).  We remain a country where we are free to state our opinions, and we need to make sure it stays that way. We really need to unite and talk to one another, I don’t think any of us want to see this country go under. Whether we voted for him or not, he is our legal president, and we need to get busy making sure everyone in public office knows what we want.

Listening to the Decemberists This is Why We Fight also helps (although the video does not reflect what I take from the song. But it’s artistic and up to us all to interpret). Obviously our Fergus the Buck is ready and willing to take up the Cause, and I am with him!

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!