Category Archives: Animal shelters

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.

Blizzard 2017

Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5' tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow
Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5′ tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow

Has definitely been here.  It’s almost gone, but the work entailed in dealing with it is going to take at least another day.  What a mess.

Greenhouse snow caves
Greenhouse snow caves.  Our fences appear to be getting shorter as well!

It certainly is a beautiful, white world out there, and the snow is light, but when 2 feet of it falls in such a short time, it’s not so light to remove :*)  We will deal better tomorrow with the paddocks, but for now the goats are fine in their houses, which really are looking more like snow caves tonight.  Even the metal donkey shelter (portahut) is covered in snow, as it’s so high up the sides, the stuff on top had nowhere to go.  I don’t know how much snow the wind will shift tonight, as it is roaring again out there, with 30-40 mph gusts.

Stuff this deep is really a struggle for me to get through as I am so short.  But I have to say that the goats are doing well, and when we showed up at 3 this afternoon for the supper run, Pippi broke a trail through to the new greenhouse, where she knew the grain would be offered.  She actually almost knocked me down going past.  Fergus, however, stopped to jump up and say hello, and see if he could get my hat from me before I noticed.  Not a chance, Fergus!

Ut oh, you can't change direction on a path that narrow!
Ut oh, you can’t change direction on a path that narrow!

Most of the photos I took look like nothing but white, with a few higher white things sticking up here and there.  But it was a doozy, and we are supposed to be seeing a storm Wednesday night into Thursday that could bring another 6+ inches.  I truly hope not!

New Snow for the Snow-Eaters

Pippi's post-prandial snow feast
Pippi’s post-prandial snow feast.  Who you lookin’ at???

Overnight the snow did turn into sleet.  It was quite nasty out there for our 11 PM goat check last night.  Everyone was snug as a bug, and no one looked as though they were going to be standing alone in the corner anytime soon, listening to their inner baby bio-rhythm, so it was back to the house for some sleep.

The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!
The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!

After my husband plowed the driveway yesterday afternoon, we must have gotten another 4 or 5 inches of snow, with a crust of ice on the top.  Lots of snow was coming off the greenhouses this morning, and Pippi and her daughter Beezus were in heaven.  Yes, Beezus loves to eat snow as well!  After their grain this afternoon, they both were in their element, noshing at the best and the freshest.  It always gives me a chuckle.

Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow
Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow

I am adding one more doe to the short list of possibles earlier than later.  Eleganza the white Guernsey has a nice little udder coming along, and her belly looks like it may have dropped as well.  Baby watch is getting a little more serious.  It’s supposed to be bitterly cold Thursday night into Friday, so we shall see.  We can hope to have a miss on that one!

More snow tomorrow.  Nor’easter on the way.

Ready, for the most part

Back of the kidding greenhouse
Back of the kidding greenhouse

It’s still snowing, and at least 12 hours into the storm.  It’s cold and quite windy as well, but the snow is dry and light.  For now.  The temperature is supposed to keep going up overnight, and the end of this ‘event’ early tomorrow is predicted to be rain.  Blech.  That is one thing I can do without!

Open end of the kidding greenhouse
Open end of the kidding greenhouse

Windy conditions make me nuts around kidding time; it is the super bad guy in our little world.  If I can get to babies immediately after birth, or be there while they are being born, we can make sure they are in a draft-free zone, and help the mamas by doing some of the drying off.  Once the kids are relatively dry and are stocking up on colostrum, they are usually ok.

We got our back wall windbreak up today.  Two pieces of exterior plywood, tied tightly to the galvanized panels that are the gable end barrier (where there is supposed to be a real wall and a door…).  We got the plywood under the tarp overhang, drilled holes in the board, and tied the tarp down to the grid panel on the inside of the wood.  I thought it was going to work ok, but it’s actually tighter and nicer than I envisioned.  The tarp on this greenhouse drags on the ground a bit, and now there is a lot of snow holding it down.  The open end of the structure faces due south, and I have a windbreak green panel with a tarp at that opening.  Our prevailing winds come most usually out of the north and the north west, so it should be a good setup.  Nice and snug.  Here’s to hoping it stays that way!

Two pens available
Two pens available

I have two pens set up in this greenhouse, one is a catch pen I use from time to time, and initially that will be our labor pen (it’s about 9′ X 8′).  Once I know a doe is in labor, I like to give her some privacy, and I don’t want her looking for a corner of the paddock out in the snow to get away from all the Nosey Aunties.  After the baby or babies are born, I can put them into the jug right next to that.

Birthing box all ready and restocked
Birthing box all ready and restocked

And so The Watch is on.  Delta is a go for launch, I do believe!

Preparing

It’s finally feeling as though we are really getting into some longer days.  1.25 hours so far is not too shabby!  More daylight certainly gives me a bit of a boost.  And Pippi the doe is definitely happy to have some snow on the greenhouse, as she prefers to eat snow to drinking water.  Go figure!

Finishing up dinner
Finishing up dinner

Today I was putting together my (hopefully) last list of items I need to order for kidding.  My birthing box is clean and restocked, and now I am just waiting on the vet to answer a question about dosages for Tetanus Antitoxin, so I will be ready for disbudding.  I have not always been on target with this, but I am trying to be more organized this year, what with 9 does pregnant (or so I believe).  Even though the moms will have had their CD&T vaccines within a month before kidding, it’s not always right on the money.  And most vets are recommending a Tetanus Antitoxin shot at the time of the disbudding, just in case.  It gives coverage for 7-14 days, which is almost enough to get them to their CD&T at 4 weeks old (which has a long-acting Tetanus component to it).

Tracks around the favorite goat toy, the Big Rock!
Tracks around the favorite goat toy, the Big Rock!

Two of our girls are looking a little closer to kidding than any of the others.  Delta, one of the new girls, and Betsy, our doeling from last March.  It’s going to be close to see who gets there first, but my money is on Delta.  I detect a slight puffiness in the vulva, and she has a little udder started.   And so tomorrow we are scheduled to get the plywood end on the back of the newly covered greenhouse.  (Not really much of a construction project, just going to tie two sheets of plywood to the galvanized panel for a better windbreak… but that means drilling.  I love the battery-powered drill!).  And the tarp will overhang the plywood for a nice, tight fit.  Always a work in progress.

Tonight we are expecting to see some snow coming in, and it’s supposed to keep it up until early Wednesday morning, when rain and/or sleet is scheduled.  After our little plywood project, it might be a nice day to do some knitting!

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!

 

The holiday weekend is upon us

The new girls are curious about the other group
The new girls are curious about the other group

And we have hit the wall of the week,  Friday!  Things have been crazy this past few days, and not from a holiday standpoint.  I am always first and foremost handling goat management, as I need to be.  When you have animals, that is really what you do, behind the scenes of everything in life it is always the animals.

We were expecting the vet to be here on Wednesday morning and were all set up for that.  Doing blood work before we mix the two groups of girls together is part of the plan, and when the temperatures are moving into winter range, we want to be able to do that as promptly as possible (getting blood out of animals in really cold temps is not easy.  Been there, not pretty!)  But, there is always a spanner in the works.

I never stopped to think about the fact that Sunday is Christmas, and the vet, luckily, had spoken to at least one of the labs early on Wednesday, and we realized that even if all the labs received the blood late in the day on Thursday, there might be employees on vacation, and it would possibly put the blood at risk for not being fresh enough to test – or at worst, not there yet at all.  At this point we decided to reschedule to Monday.  I am much happier, and as luck would have it, Monday looks like an okay day weather-wise.  That is truly lucky at this time of year.

And so we are in a holding pattern until then.  We are getting ready to cover the empty bare-bones greenhouse with a new tarp, as I am planning on that to be the kidding area.  The new girls we have from Ardelia Farm are all due to kid around the end of February, and thus we need to keep moving forward on all of this.

And so it goes.  Tonight is a screening of The Empire Strikes Back while we wrap gifts.  This is a family tradition, and I am definitely looking forward to it.  (And for anyone who has not seen Rogue One yet in the theaters, go see it ASAP.  It’s amazing!).

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone!

Sunday yucky Sunday

Yesterday afternoon's chore time
Yesterday afternoon’s chore time

The snow was awesome, while we had it.  Nice fluffy stuff.  Of course, it was lying on top of the ice road that our driveway had become, so it was tough going, nonetheless.

But the rain came today along with unforgiving wind, and the temperatures have been steadily rising, only to reportedly plummet again tonight.  All the goaties are snug in their shelters and have been all day.

The snow was quite pretty!
The snow was quite pretty!

I am chomping at the bit to be able to get all the girls into one group together, but that will be another 10 days or two weeks.  The vet is coming on Wednesday and we are doing the new girls’ Rabies vaccines as well as the usual blood testing.  All the newbies are purportedly bred, (they were in with a buck), and I don’t want to take a chance on any of them passing something to our existing herd (although the present setup is not optimal, they can touch noses through the fencing).  I do not believe that it is going to be a problem, but I don’t want to take any chances, either.  And the Rabies is very important to get well before the kids arrive.

So our shelter change-up organization is going to have to wait until the two groups are one.  Until then, the girls appear to be pretty comfortable.  Cannot WAIT for the Solstice!!!

Getting ready

New tarp is installed on greenhouse #1
New tarp is installed on greenhouse #1

The time has come for us to make sure we are ready for winter.  In the past week the animal’s water tanks have been freezing over, and it was a sign to get going on winterizing the pens and the water troughs.

We had a new and larger tarp on order from our local farm and feed store, and today it arrived.  We are lucky that it was a very lovely day, and we got that puppy on this afternoon.  Yesterday we ended up replacing a stock tank with a floating heater with another kind of heated 16 gallon bucket.  It is different than our other heated stock tanks, but I hope it will be just as good.

Not truly gorgeous, but a new stock tank is beautiful to us!
Not truly gorgeous, but a new stock tank is beautiful to us!

And so we move into the winter, whether it is officially here or not.  The goats are all putting on their furry best, and we are adding straw in to their sleeping quarters regularly (those little buggers eat quite a bit of the straw, so it’s difficult to keep the amount we want available to them!).  The dreaded Polar Vortex is scheduled to arrive for a quick showing this weekend, and then again in a more serious way toward the end of next week.  Brr.  I don’t feel quite ready, but it doesn’t matter.  We will see it in.  And the countdown to the shortest day of the year is on!  Totally looking forward to the Solstice :*)

September just flew past

Late September skies
Late September skies

I really am having trouble believing it’s the 29th already.  In a blink, it’s just about over.  The autumn is upon us, and the nights are great for snuggling under the sheets and sleeping well.

The drought continues, however, and most of the trees are turning brown with curled up dry leaves.  I don’t think that there will be much bright color.  It’s a shame that so many others have been overwhelmed with rain this summer, but we can almost count on one hand how many raindrops we have had.

Greenhouse bones
Greenhouse bones

Things have settled down since SnowPea went to freezer camp.  I still have 3 girls for sale, but the dynamics of the group are a little bit less frantic.  We are working on putting up a greenhouse that we took down a few months ago, to give us some shelter, a little storage, and dedicated kidding pens away from the others when the time comes.  (I want to have a “nursery” type set up which is less crazy after the kids are born.  The singletons tend to pick on the new little ones, and I would like them in a slightly smaller, more controlled area).  I also want an internal catch pen, one that is not outside the main fencing.  We have got the bones of it in place, mostly, and now need to tackle some ends for that greenhouse (I would like to have a wooden end on the driveway side, if possible!).

Time for baking bread
Time for baking bread

And so autumn has arrived.  My most favorite time of year.  The days are definitely shorter, and knitting and fiber work have a much greater allure. Just wish we could get a little rain!