All posts by RuitFarmNorth

The Pemaquid Peninsula is home to our small sheep and goat farm. Our flock consists of Coopworth and Border Leicester sheep as well as LaMancha dairy goats. I am a spinner, felter, knitter and weaver. In our professional lives I am a school librarian and John works as a truck driver.

Slowly

Peanut lounging in one end of the old greenhouse this morning

But surely spring is showing itself to us.  The end of this past week was very warm, unnaturally so, but this weekend has been mostly sunny and breezy, with more normal temperatures in the 60s (F).

Battie’s beautiful girl watches from the back of the greenhouse

As the leaves are finally popping out, we have been moving toward making the new greenhouse more amenable in the warmer weather.  We already removed all the sectioning panels that we had up during the kidding months, and Sam cleaned out all the old straw, hay and debris.  The last of the ice that was lingering under all those layers of straw is finally gone!  It’s a big, wide open space now so the girls can find a spot with their babies without getting nudged by someone else.

Open greenhouse gable end, difficult to see properly

The only thing left to do, however, was to figure out when it would be advisable to take the plywood off the driveway gable end of the greenhouse.  That end was totally closed off, which is the north side, so it was a huge help during the winter.  But now it is becoming important to get some air moving through there, so Sam took it down on Friday.  It has made a big difference, and I am glad, it was time!  I am not a fan of really hot, humid weather, but when it does come, at least we will have about as much air circulation as possible.  The goats seem to appreciate it, and our Peanut has another vantage point from which to watch for our approach!  She is using it well :*)

Baby pile in the morning sun

I was able to sneak up on her this morning and get a photo after she had her bottle and was lounging next to another baby pile.  They were all happy and dozing in the sun.

Peanut’s new adventure

Peanut having breakfast (she is on the left)

The weather has finally cooperated and we finally made the move to having Peanut stay out with the other goats all night.  She is effectively a “real” goat now!

She remains the smallest of all the babies out there, even though she is 7 weeks old today, but she is doing very well with the others. She has not had any crying jags out there at all, either, except when it’s very close to bottle time.  We have not gotten her onto 3 bottles per day instead of 4, but we moved the last feeding of the day to 8 PM, instead of 9 (once it’s pretty dark outside the goats tend to be bedded down, and if we go up there, everyone gets all riled up).  It doesn’t seem to bother her!

One thing I can truthfully say, it’s quite a relief to have her out of the house… even though she was only inside for a little bit of the evening and about a half hour in the morning, she has grown so much and is so strong now that she can just about jump onto any table or pile of newspapers without giving it a thought.  Talk about chaos!  It was exhausting supervising her.  I have only tackled a little bit of the cleanup in the house that it’s going to take, but there is no rush.

And so our little House Goat is growing up, but her cuteness remains intact.  I don’t think that will ever change!

(It’s difficult to get photos of her because every time I go into the pen she runs up to climb on me.  The photo above is about the only one I have been able to successfully take in the last few days).

No sun yet

Bobbin full of single ply Romney/silk yarn

It feels like it’s been forever since we saw the sun.  For a moment or two this morning the sky brightened, but in the end it just led to more clouds.  The temperature feels like it is inching up, though, which is definitely a plus!

2-ply skeins of the Romney/silk

On these gloomy days I have been catching up on herd paperwork, and doing some plying.  I have spun up quite a bit of my backlog, but I hate to ply, so I frequently put that off until I can’t find another empty bobbin to put on the wheel.  I know, silly!

While spinning, I have been listening to Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence audiobooks, and am on the 2nd one, The Dark is Rising.  I read this and the prequel, Over Sea, Under Stone, many years ago, but am enjoying it again.  I had never read farther into the series, though, so I am looking forward to the others as well.  Susan Cooper is a wonderful author who has written more than just this series, one of my favorites being The Boggart.  I am not a serious fan of heavy duty fantasy, but the battle between The Dark and The Light in many of her books is a timeless theme, and she does it very well, with believable, complex characters.  It also helps that these books take place in some pretty dramatic places, like Cornwall!

Peanut with her morning bottle

Peanut is continuing to do well, staying outside all day with the others, and coming in about dark.  She hasn’t made the transition to a three bottle a day schedule yet, but I think she is close.  She knows where to go when she wants a nap, and plays hard with the others when she wants.  I don’t fear for her safety with the others, but we will wait until after the Mother’s Day rain deluge to leave her out at night.

Oh my, I can see a slice of blue sky in the distance!  Shocking!

 

Peanut is growing up!

Even though we are having a pretty grey run of weather with never ending mud, the days are just flying by.  I have been getting a backlog of spinning projects going, and over the weekend my grandson and I went up to Maple Lane Pottery to visit during the Maine Pottery tour.  We had a lot of fun, and got to make some pinch pots in Robbi’s studio.

Peanut’s little den in the living room

On the farm front, Peanut continues to grow like a weed, and she is now spending all day every day outside with her friends.  She has really matured quite a bit in the last week, and can hold her own even with most of the mamas.  When she came in last night for her last bottle and bed, she ran right over to the little container that I have had out for her and gobbled up all the sweet grain that was in it.

Peanut has nighttime “quarters” in the upstairs bathroom, where she can move around and she has her sleeping tub, but we also have a large dog crate in the living room (I know, the things you find in farmers’ homes) for her.  She has her hay and grain in there, along with some salt and mineral mix.  She is doing very well with the hay, for sure.

Pippi babysits the crew on the rock

And so I think that when this run of nasty, drippy, damply cool weather is over, the middle of next week may be our target for getting Peanut outside for the overnights as well.  She is still taking four 12 oz bottles a day, so we shall see if she cuts back on that to three or not.  That makes it just a little bit easier on us!  Every evening when she joins us back in the house she looks bigger to me, and doesn’t look for much cuddling any more.  Wah, wah!  Our little Peanut is growing up :*)

Traveling ‘Nut

Roof window revealed

Yes, we were on the road with our little Peanut yesterday.  It was a mostly nice day, I hated to be in the car all that time, but the pigeons needed some feed, and that is not available around here.  Usually some of our pigeon club friends go in together on an order, and someone with a truck goes down to southern Maine to do the pickup for all of us.  But we seemed to be alone in our need, so I took a ride.  (I also needed to make two stops in South Portland, so it was a slightly more efficient trip overall!)

Peanut was a great companion on the ride.  We covered the back seat of the Subaru with three layers of doubled-over towels, and put her little plastic sleeping tub on its side on one end of the seat.  She loved it!  I wish we had been able to leave her home to romp in the sunshine (mostly) with the others, but there was no one home to give her bottles.  So off we went.

She behaved very well and seems to have enjoyed the time with us.  Of course, why wouldn’t she?  She doesn’t know she’s a goat!

Peanut and the herd

Peanut the house goat is plotting a leap onto my lap!

The past week has flown by and I just have not gotten my blog mojo on!  Tired at night in this drizzly, grey weather.  Dealing with a house Peanut is also keeping us busy, as all her systems are on green light, and I cannot seem to keep the diapers on her.  So we are constantly cleaning up while she is in the house.

Busy moms and babies in the greenhouse

We are trying to get our little goat integrated into the herd of babies and mamas, but it has presented its challenges.  She seems to do fine when the youngest of the babies are out playing and she fits right in with them.  The older ones can be a little pushy, and the moms mostly have no use for her and if she is not careful, they can do some damage.  Yesterday it poured all day, so we only had her out during chore times.  This morning she came out at chore time and we left her up there, but it turned damp and raw, and we found her kicked out of the greenhouse, huddled up by the fence shivering, late in the morning.  So we brought her in for an hour to have her bottle, then got her back up there.  The temperature has improved, even if the grey skies have not.

A napping Peanut

So we are hoping for some slightly warmer weather, but it looks unsettled with rain and fog on and off for the next week.  The weekend, however, looks like a winner!  We shall see.  I am not anxious for the blackflies, but it will be nice to see the sun again sometime, with some slightly warmer temperatures!  Spring in Maine, never a dull moment.  (Or maybe many dull moments with a few grateful sightings of the sun!).  And until then, we will keep getting our Peanut out with the others and watching carefully.  We have had house goats and lambs in the past and I know they get out there into the mix in the end.  It just feels like forever!

 

And so it goes

From the left: Battie, her little (!) buckling, Betsy, and Edna

Things have been quite nuts here at the farm this past week.  The older babies didn’t look quite so big to me until we let Edna’s babies out of the jug with her on Saturday morning, and they popped out into the paddock.  What a contrast!  The month old kids look like giants next to them!

Edna’s babies curled up early on Saturday morning

As it turns out, Edna is a very laid back mother, (as she is a very laid back goat).  A few times that day one or both of us had to go looking for one or the other of her kids.  I guess this should have given me an inkling.  On Sunday morning we went out for chores, and as usual, the first thing we try to do is count heads and make sure everyone is there.  Not all the babies sleep with their moms, and we have two greenhouses and two paddocks with an open gate between them.  I started to get quite worried because we couldn’t find Edna’s little buck, Godric.  Finally we spotted him, all the way over in the next paddock with Jingle the donkey and Fergus the wether (there is no gate into this pen from the girls paddocks), lying in a little hollow by the far fence, wet from the rain we had overnight.

Godric with Sam

We picked him up and realized his back left leg was broken, or injured in some way.  I thought it was a broken femur, but Sam and John thought it was a dislocated hip.  We have splinted many a lower leg on both goat kids and lambs with great success, but I have never encountered an injury like this.  So we brought him into the house, made him comfy, got him warm and dry, gave him a bottle, and kept him as immobile as possible.  He happily got on the bottle, and rested and was fine with being inside.  I figured we now had two bottle babies in the house instead of just one, because we could see to his leg and then have him bottle-raised.

We got him over to our local vet as soon as we could, so she could take an X-ray.  And we quickly realized that this was not going to get fixed.  His femur was snapped in two pieces, and the top piece had swiveled all the way around toward his spine, and the bottom piece was pointing down.   Not something many four-legged animals could come back from, even if we had deep enough pockets for surgery.  So we had the vet put the little guy down.

We think he was wandering and one of the other moms may have backed him into the green panel that was closing off a small section of the fence between Fergus/Jingle and the girls’ area, giving him a slam as he was trying to get away through the fence.  Unfortunately, it happens if babies don’t stay near their mamas.  We replaced that section of fence yesterday with a galvanized panel that has smaller openings, but obviously too late to save our Godric (although being slammed into a fence that you can’t escape through would be just as lethal, I suspect).

Life on the farm sometimes seems so unfair, but in the end it is nature.  We may have to set up a “nursery” type larger pen for Edna and her new babies next year, so she isn’t stuck in a small jug with them for too long, but in a wider pen in the greenhouse, not just out and about with everyone.  I have done that in the past with some of our sheep.  But I really wanted to get them out of the greenhouse over the weekend because it had gotten so warm that I was afraid they would get heat stroke.  Good intentions, and all that.

And so it goes.

Dorcas wraps it up

I really meant to do this on Wednesday evening, but here at the end of the kidding season I am dragging!  But, it’s finally over!!!

One of the Dorcas girls working on breakfast

Dorcas had her two nice-sized doelings on Wednesday around 6 PM.  She is usually very focused at the grain feeder, (a goat who will not walk away until all the grain is spoken for), so when she ate only a bit during afternoon chore time and then walked away,  I had a feeling she was close. While I was making dinner, Sam kept going out to check on her, and voila, there they were!  Two beautiful doelings.

Dorcas’ first doeling

I still have not gotten over the late nights and the early mornings, and there is always so much to do that I have not caught up yet.  Yesterday we took Peanut and Edna’s two babies up to the more local vet that we use, and she disbudded them.  Now I just have to keep checking Dorcas’ babies to see if they will turn out to be polled, or if they grow horn buds.  We shall see.  I know Dorcas is naturally a polled girl, but it doesn’t always work out perfectly.

Dorcas is shedding her fine, furry undercoat

And so it goes!  Today is not excessively warm, but the sun is strong and shining.  Fence repair is on the list, and then some shifting of equipment to make things easier for milking, both in the house and outside.  Right now I am milking Saffron and Battie in the morning, so that I have food for little Peanut.  I also have to milk Betsy since her babies have moved on, but I will commence drying her off soon so that I can get feed into her that does more than just go to the production of milk.  Battie and Saffron’s babies are really getting big, so I am surprised that I am getting the milk I am getting, since it means sharing it with their growing offspring!

Sweet Dorcas

So it is a beautiful Friday and I am ready to get back outside.  Hope everyone is enjoying the day!

Tuesday, beautiful weather and more kids

Hagrid, resting by the feeder

It was a gorgeous day yesterday, for sure.  We had a visit from the vet to try and get our three babies from last week disbudded, but their horn buds were too big already.  That’s a disappointment, because I don’t like horns in my herd, but it’s possible that there are folks out there that will be fine with two Guernsey does with horns.  Our half Lamancha/half Guernsey boy, Hagrid, (he was the giant baby born last week to Pippi), may be desirable to someone as well.  He is a real sweetie!  On the plus side, she took care of Jingle the Donkey’s yearly exam and her vaccines, so it was not a wasted trip.

Edna and her new babies

Two of the does that we got in December are the ones that were still holding out as of this morning, even though they have looked like they would explode if you touched them, for the last few weeks.  Today at 11 we went out to check on everyone, and then I ran to a friend’s house to pick up a few things.  While I was there, about noontime, I got a text telling me that Edna had twins and they were up and cleaned off already!  It’s a buck and a doe, and they are doing well.  Edna is a good mom, and they are hunkered down and happy in the new greenhouse.  Edna ate more this afternoon than she has eaten in a week!

Edna and her little doe (I think!)

And so now Dorcas is the last holdout.  I know the full Pink Moon was at it’s height at about 2 AM this morning, but it will probably still look full tonight if the clouds have not moved in yet.  And so, who knows?  We may have more goat babies tonight.  You just never know.

It was quite the Friday

Mr. Fergus

Yesterday we got up extra early (after I had a bit of a sleepless night), and got on the road to Monmouth, Maine, to take Fergus the yearling buck to have his man parts removed.  Because I wasn’t sure where my husband was going to be, we also took our house goat, Peanut, with us, in her little Rubbermaid tub.

Fergus has been a very vital part of the farm for the past year, but I really need him to be able to hang out with an unbred girl or girls, or really any of the goats on the farm, without being afraid of his getting the girls pregnant.  I don’t particularly like putting castrating bands on baby bucks or rams as when they grow, their urethra and their urinary tract does not grow well without the hormones coming from the testicles being present.  I lost a ram lamb to urinary calculi, which was a bit of a wake-up call, and when you castrate them as babies, this is a much bigger problem.

Fergus and Jingle, breakfast

And so we don’t do that with our little guys.  But if we want to keep them and not use them as breeders, we really need to get that taken care of.  So we had him surgically altered today, and they also tried to do something about his recurring horn scurs (even though he was disbudded while still a baby, those boy hormones keep the horns growing afterwards, but they break off regularly and bleed all over the place).  I hope that when his hormones have died down, they won’t keep re-growing.

Apparently there were many large animal emergencies yesterday, so poor Ferg didn’t get his surgery until the afternoon.  Which meant that Sam, Peanut and I were at loose ends.  Just a little too far to go home and return, we made the best of it, going back into Gardiner and eating a late breakfast at the wonderful A1 Diner.  Later on when we realized he hadn’t even had the surgery yet, we hopped on over to Augusta and spent some time at Barnes and Noble.  Peanut seemed to enjoy the traveling, although she didn’t get much exercise.  We are making up for that today!  And Fergus needs to stay quiet for a few days, so that will be the biggest challenge of all.