Saffron has her day!

Saffron thinking deep thoughts

Saffron is our very sweet girl that came from Ardelia Farm a year and a half ago.  She was the one that had issues kidding last year and had a stillborn preemie.  Two vets told me that there must be something wrong with her plumbing and that she would most likely not be able to carry babies to full term in the future.  But the post-mortem on the preemie baby indicated that she died of an infection, not that she just couldn’t be full term for some physical reason.

The new girls

So we gave Saffron another chance.  I think when we brought her home over a year ago she had a lot of stress, and things just didn’t work out for her (she aborted the fetus she had been carrying, having gotten bred at Ardelia, and then got re-bred here).  And I think that I am glad we gave her another chance, because she just had two beautiful doelings this afternoon!

Saffron’s larger doeling

I wasn’t home today, and I got a text from Sam saying that he had fed everyone this afternoon, a little before 3.  He couldn’t find Saffron, and when he went into the recesses of the other greenhouse, there she stood with two clean and nearly dry babies, delivering her placenta.  Easy-peasy, I guess!  He said she never made a sound, and he was just in the next greenhouse, which is only 6 feet or so away.

Saffron’s smaller doe

She is a fantastic mama, and stands forever to encourage her babies to nurse.  I think the larger of the two is in a milk coma this evening as I couldn’t get her interested in getting back on the teat when I went out to check them a little while ago.  They both feel fine, and have warm mouths.  (I get obsessive and look for the first dark meconium poops and then later the yellow poops that show milk consumption, but some of the moms get rid of the evidence, and I couldn’t find any signs of the baby’s fecal matter, so I just have to trust that things are going to plan).  It’s my turn to do the late bottle feed tonight, so I will double check on them again.

10 babies on the ground so far, 8 of them are does.  I hope there are a lot of people out there who want Guernsey goats this year!  I certainly can’t handle all the added mouths to feed, at least not for long!  These girls are just doing too good a job :*)

 

Celebrating Spring

Our bottle babies, Captain and Tenille

This morning was really special, and not just because it is the first day of Spring.  Our Betsy did not spend most of the night with her babies, they actually were camped in two different greenhouses, but when we fed the mamas their morning grain, Betsy ate her whole portion, like a champ!  I can’t believe it!  She has finally earned the step away from being drenched with that awful propylene glycol, thank goodness.  She is off her antibiotics, her banamine (analgesic), and now the drench.  We continue to give her vitamin B every day, though.  We just have our fingers crossed that she can keep eating well.

Betsy’s babies ate like like champs as well this morning, drinking a little over 12 ounces, each.  We are slowly beginning to make the transition from kid milk replacer to cow’s milk, but it’s going to take at least another couple of weeks for that.  Most folks who have been raising goats for years do not use replacer as there is a much higher incidence of diarrhea that comes with it.  Our little ones are doing well, and I would use goat’s milk, but all of my current mamas have regulated their supply to meet their babies’ demand, so they are not letting me have a dependable supply yet.  And the next best thing is cow’s milk.

Jingle, up close and personal

Jingle the donkey was happy today as her good friend Fred the Farrier came by.  I know a lot of farriers don’t like visiting with donkeys, but our Jingle has always been good about her feet, and she and Fred love each other.  It’s such a relief that it isn’t a big deal for her!  Very nice.  Great start to Spring, even if we still do have a lot of snow sticking around.

Disbudding day

Sun-bathing lineup! (one of Betsy’s babies has even joined the crew)

Was yesterday for the 8 babies that are on the ground right now.  A friend of ours had offered to help us out, and because I have been sick, time got away with me a little bit.  4 of the babies were turning two weeks old this weekend, and and that is kind of the outer limit on when you get good results with it.

Betsy’s babies are playing with the big kids today

So our friend and her husband came up around midday, and the sun was shining and everything went very smoothly.  I am not sure I could ever do the procedure myself, but someone experienced makes it look quick and easy.  So our little ones all have alien markings on their heads, and by chore time yesterday afternoon, they were running around and playing, totally unfazed by the ordeal.  I, on the other hand, was exhausted!

This is something that I really do not look forward to, but horns in a dairy operation are dicey…  the girls frequently get annoyed with each other for one reason or another, and they bash at their victim with their heads down.  Udders have been punctured and slashed, and then you have an even bigger problem on your hands (getting udders to heal is a long process as they are constantly expanding to fill with milk, and then contracting after milking).  And so we disbud.  In the long run it’s safer for us as well.  (Purebred Guernsey goats are naturally ‘polled,’ but our little herd isn’t quite to that level yet, although our Betsy was naturally polled).

The Captain and Tenille (aka, Betsy’s babies)

Our Betsy has been eating fitfully, and since we have taken her babies away, all she is doing is poking her head out of the panel and calling to her little ones, who huddle next to the gate into her pen.  She has eaten a little more over the last few days, but not enough, and I think her stress level has been rising, as she wants her babies with her.  So I fed the little bugs their 5 PM bottles, and let her out.  They mobbed her and nursed her for awhile, but I am hoping they will settle down and let her just be their mama.  She is such a good one.  I just have my fingers crossed that I can get her through this and onto a better nutritional plane.  One of the reasons I kept her is because her mama, Battie, is such a fantastic mother, that I hoped the trait would pass to her.  I guess it did, and ironically it’s putting her health at risk.

And so we keep figuring out as we go on.  You just never know what’s around the corner.  I am hoping for a little lull between births.  4 more to go, 3 of whom I have pretty good dates on, one of which I do not.  We shall see!

Another day, another set of twins

The blondie in the back is the buck, and miss red head in the front is the doe. Cute as button!

And here we go!  Battie did not show up for her afternoon suppertime, and at the time, we didn’t notice until everything was over.  I was feeding the bottle lambs, and Sam was doling out the grain.  When we looked in the other greenhouse, there lay Battie, facing the corner, not doing much.  This was about 2:30 PM.

Battie’s doe and buck

We watched her for awhile, and then we went back to the house.  I got into the bathtub and soaked for awhile, but when I was getting dressed, I noticed Sam jogging up the driveway.  Not a good sign!  He had heard Battie bellowing up in the greenhouse, and guessed what was going on.  He got there just as her buckling hit the ground.  He got her moved into a jug, and that’s when her little red doeling came dropping in.  (We actually thought the doeling wasn’t a viable baby.  She was flat as a pancake, wasn’t moving, and wasn’t breathing).  We got her nose cleared off and there she was, right as rain.  Little spitfire!

Another 9 or 10″ of snow yesterday. No foot paths for the goaties first thing this morning

I wasn’t really expecting Battie to be due for another two weeks.  When I put Reddog in with my group on October 12, I knew that he had been all over Battie, but he also seriously bred her for a full day almost 3 weeks later.  So I had the second date on my calendar.  Just goes to show you, you never can tell!

On another note, we took Betsy’s babies away from her this morning.  Every time she got up, both of them were at her and never let her have a minute of non-nursing.  I put them in the jug right next to her, so they can stick their heads through the panel and chat, but no milkies.  I don’t think I have ever been given the stink eye from a goat the way Betsy gave me one this morning, but I think in the long run it’s going to be better.  She stared at them morosely for a few hours, and by early this afternoon, she was frantically eating hay.  And when all the hullaballoo started with Battie, she couldn’t contain herself, standing with her front hooves on the panel, watching and trying to see what was happening.  That’s more like most goats I know!  Noseybodies, one and all.  When I went out to bottle feed her babies at 7 PM, she was still ravenously attacking her hay, and the babies were just happily cuddled up in a corner of their pen.  I actually had to wake them up.  So I think things are progressing well.  I just have my fingers crossed that Betsy keeps moving forward with her nutrition.

What a day!  I think a glass of wine is in order!  Someone else is doing the 11 PM bottle feeding tonight.  That’s a huge gift :*)

Snowstorm Stella

Fergus at the gate. Complaining, as usual!

They have been promising us another blizzard-type storm.  And it is here.  Blustery and blowing from the north, it’s a white world again.  Not what any of us want to see in March, but this is Maine so that’s how it rolls!  (I won’t curse here, I promise).

Betsy and the little ones

We are definitely keeping busy with Betsy and her little ones.  Betsy is coming along slowly, and I am hoping that she revs into high gear sooner rather than later and gets some eating done.  We need to put some weight on her (we are doing all the supportive appetite-inducing things, as well as making sure she has vitamins, probiotics and plenty of minerals, salt, etc).  Even though we are bottle feeding those little bugs, they continue to nosh on her as well.  At some point I need to decide whether or not it is putting too much stress on her, and if I think it is, I will have to take the babies away.  I really don’t want to do that, they all need each other and that could be just as stressful to Betsy, but as the vets say, she is in a ‘negative energy’ zone right now, and I hate to think of her body trying to produce the milk for those hungry, hungry twins.  Sigh.  It’s always something on a farm!

Betsy’s little doeling enjoying some head scratches

Dorcas is the next doe in the lineup, and she could freshen at any point.  Difficult to tell, and most of our attention is focused elsewhere, so I suspect she will have a big surprise for us any time now.  And that will be the halfway mark for us.  4 more girls are due end of March, beginning of April.

Twig in the feeder, looking like a good farm kid with a stalk of hay in her mouth.

The 4 older kids are having plenty of action-packed adventures in the meantime.  They can’t help but have fun, because 4 is much more exciting than 2!  They love to run the fenceline and torment Fergus the buck on the other side.  He very sweetly sniffs them through the fence, and then they hippity hop away to torment someone else.  For a few days there Olive, one of Delta’s girls, was trying to sneak treats from Eleganza.  El is wise to her now, but for a few minutes there I thought Olive was going to get away with it.  They are all too funny.  And Twig has figured out how to get into the Sydell blue tub feeder…  that is one of the highlights of every goat kid’s life!  It’s not a perfect design, because of that, but none of the work-arounds I have tried keep them out.  And so it goes.  A goat kid’s world is a wonderful place, most of the time.

Just about time for afternoon chores.  Time to go out in the storm.  Ugh.  They say this one is a fast-mover, and I hope they are correct!

Betsy comes home

Betsy’s little boo boos (we call Betsy Boo Boo all the time)

Phew!  Betsy and two live babies have joined us back on the farm.  The vet called yesterday afternoon to say that nothing was happening yet, but could she call us at any time of the night in case we needed to make further decisions.  (That was a bit of a nail-biter to take off to bed).  She also told us that after they give the drugs to induce labor the average time is about 30 hours, so we knew it was possible to be between 10 PM and midnight.

Betsy’s doe is quite a girl!

Midnight came and went, and every time I awoke and checked the clock I thought, awesome Betsy, you hang on for some warmer temperatures!  Anyhow, at 6 AM the vet called and let us know that she had pulled two live kids, one doe and one buck, at 11:30 last night.  They are doing fairly well, although the buckling may have had some ataxia (oxygen depravation), and he was the one they were watching.  But we were free to come and liberate them!

Betsy’s buckling in a food coma. He also has some trouble with his leg coordination right now

And so we toodled to Monmouth and picked up Betsy and kids.  The vets had gotten them started on bottles, with Betsy’s colostrum mixed with milk replacer, because they needed sustenance right away, and also because nursing two kids is not going to be to Betsy’s advantage.  She had gotten very thin in the last few weeks and she needs all her strength for herself, not to put into making milk.  The little doe is very vociferous and takes the bottle well, but the buck wants nothing to do with the bottle.  He just wants mama!  He will be our challenge.  Luckily I planned ahead and milked Eleganza and saved quite a bit of her colostrum, and also a few quarts of her milk.  That will definitely help us along here.

It is so bitterly cold that when we got them home, I relented and borrowed a friend’s heat lamp.  Betsy doesn’t have the resources to keep herself warm enough, let alone the babies.  They are all nestled up together under the lamp tonight, and the buckling must be getting enough to eat because his temperature is over 102.  But as with everything else, we will keep checking and deciding how to proceed.

The weather service claims that the windchill advisory will be over first thing in the morning.  I really hope that is true!  This is inhuman.  I don’t know how folks manage to live in the tundra regions.  Mind-numbing wind is a force to be reckoned with, for sure.  I can’t say that I am looking forward to a foot of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, but if it’s in the high 20s, I will live with it, happily :*)  (I may need to remind myself of this as we are so quick to forget, and everything is relative, right?).

Long days and short nights

Twig just loves the empty hay feeder!

That’s what kidding and lambing season is all about.  And in the midst of all this, I got sick last week with an upper respiratory, and then on Monday woke up with an atomic head cold to go along with it.  I guess that’s what spending most of the weekend outside in the bitter wind did for me.  Ah well, I have to say that I don’t get sick like this often, and it is frequently in March!

The Adventurers’ Club!

Aside from trying to get as much rest as possible, one of the biggest problems we have had on our hands, however,  has been our yearling doe Betsy.  She was shaping up like she was close to going into labor two or three times, but then didn’t, and that was two weeks ago.  Then she began to show signs of pregnancy toxemia.  And so for the last week we have been treating her for this, but her appetite didn’t come back, and she really was losing vigor and tone.  Not having a due date on her I really felt like so many things could be going on, and was beginning to be scared for her.  So yesterday I made the decision to take her to a vet that is not close by, but who has a large animal practice, and the capability of doing just about anything for small ruminants and horses right there.

We determined that she is close to having a natural labor, but the babies are so big and mal-positioned, that we ended up leaving her to be induced, and the vets very likely are going to have to do some kid pulling.  When I saw the X-rays, I knew it was well beyond my skill level.  I am hoping for a good outcome for Betsy in particular, she is my first priority.  We are cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the kids as well.  But that is definitely a bigger ‘if’ right now.  We are waiting for word sometime after late afternoon today, or anytime into tomorrow.

And so here at home her mama Battie is mooning about the place looking in every nook and cranny for her baby.  Sam found her wandering the paddock late last night peeking into every corner up there.  I always feel bad when I have to separate family units.  Hopefully Betsy will be home quite soon and in the pink again as well.

Delta’s turn

Delta and #1 and #2
Delta and #1 and #2

So, as luck would have it, Delta had her kids yesterday around midday.  The coldest and windiest day of the year.  Woo hoo!

They are beautiful twinnie twin girls.  I can’t believe how perfect they are.  They both weighed in at exactly 6.75 lbs, and a few hours later I took their temperatures to make sure they were keeping warm, and they both had the same temp, 102.3F.  Amazing!  We don’t have names for them yet, so we are calling them #1 and #2.  Sam is threatening to name them Peepee and Poopoo if we don’t come up with anything.  Oy.

Because they were born on a truly ugly day and we just couldn’t get them dry enough with towels and with mama’s ministrations, we ended up borrowing some lamb sweaters from friends and used the hair dryer on them just around sundown last night.  All four of our girls are nursing well, so they did fine, but these two smaller girls had it all against them, so I really think the sweaters made a big difference.  I am going to have to make some, although I never breed for this time of year, but these girls were not a planned addition to the farm, so we take what we get!  So far so good, they are all lively and chatty.

Counting the hours until the gale force winds die down, probably during the night tonight.  It can’t be soon enough!

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Eleganza opens the season

Eleganza and her twins
Eleganza and her twins

Wow, Eleganza sure chose the day!  Very kindly, she also chose an hospitable time.  10:05 a.m. the first doe was born, a 9.5 lb white and beige cutie.  I thought for awhile that she was a single, but at 10:29 out popped her sister, a lot smaller at 5.65 lbs.  She is a red doe with white splotches, also extremely adorable.

Doe #1. Our Ivy
Doe #1. Our Ivy

The big player today was the wind, however, and at that time of the morning the sun wasn’t really high enough to make a difference in that greenhouse.  We don’t have the south facing gable end closed off, and even with windbreaks, it was still feeling more than brisk.  The key is to getting them dried off as quickly as possible, but with the temperatures, it didn’t happen as fast as usual.  I have them all tight in a little jug with lots of straw, and towels and tarps blocking the sides.  I was concerned for awhile for the little one, but her temperature is staying close to 101 and they are both nursing well.  By this afternoon they were up and about, not falling down as much, and sweet as all get out.

Doe #2, Twig.
Doe #2, Twig.

Cuteness overload!  I am going to have to be checking on them through the night, I don’t want either of them to get too chilled.  The temperature is going to plummet and tomorrow we are supposed to have extreme, gusty winds again, worse than today.  Let’s hope that Dorcas, Delta and Betsy decide to hold off until at least Sunday afternoon.  Really girls, I mean it :*)

 

Winter returns

Handdyed, handspun cashgora yarn (by a spinner in Tajikistan)
Handdyed, handspun cashgora yarn (by a spinner in Tajikistan)

I can truthfully say we are still waiting for our goat babies.  The spring-like weather is disappearing tonight, and we face some crazy windchills in the next few days, and I am down with the chest flu (milder than it could be if I had not had my flu shot, but it’s punched me up a bit).

And so we hope that we do not have to have babies arrive with 20-40 mph wind gusts, but if we do, we will manage.  I do not use heat lamps, as straw, hay and inquisitive goats all make for a very volatile situation.  We rely on windbreaks, getting babies dry quickly, and getting them fed up with colostrum ASAP (and lots and lots of straw).  And so we continue our sleepless nights, but tonight I have a reprieve and Sam is doing the late night and early morning checks.  Maybe by the end of the day tomorrow I will feel better :*)

Kiwi Pop Studio yarn
Kiwi Pop Studio yarn

In the meantime, I am resting and ogling my NETA Spa purchases, and also my raffle win.  I am totally over the moon with my Tajik handspun/handdyed cashgora yarn from Casey at Port Fiber, my purchases from Cari Balbo/Ridge Pond Herbals, and also my very unexpected skein of yarn from the raffle at the Spa Fashion Show (Kiwi Pop Studio)!  I have to consult Ravelry for a nice project that will make the most of my cashgora yarn, and for my raffle prize, I am beginning to picture it as an accent to a larger shawl project.  Not sure where I will go with that one, it is not one of those skeins that would have called to me all alone, but now that I have it home, I really see the potential of the sparkle and the glitz and color!

Cari Balbo's Ridge Pond Herbals eye balm, hand cream, tallow face cream, and solid bar skin cream
Cari Balbo’s Ridge Pond Herbals eye balm, hand cream, tallow face cream, and solid bar skin cream

It’s all good, and the whole point of the Spa weekend at the end of February is still just as compelling as it was 15 years ago:  it’s a great break during the winter to meet up with fiber friends and just have a great time relaxing, spinning, knitting, crocheting, and generally having a good time, with a lot of laughs.  The spur to keep up the good spirits until the warmth returns late in the spring.  And so it goes.  Nice.  Very nice!