Category Archives: Farming

Leaving home

Finished twill towels

Time is flying by as usual, and this past week has been a doozy.  My husband had to travel down to NJ to help with some things and his 94 year old father, I have been weaving like a crazy person, and 5 of our 8 babies have moved off to their new homes.

It’s so nice to meet the new families that are taking on our little Guerseys, and I know they are all going to new adventures and great lives.  Most of our Guernseys are unregistered, and almost all the families who are taking them are doing so for the same reasons I choose the goats I do:  their temperament, their size and their nice milky butterfat.

Off to NH

Saffron’s girls went off to New Hampshire with a wonderful young family last weekend.  Little Red and Blue are now called Lucy and Gidget!  Great names for these sweet girls.  (Gidget is the darker red girl whose ear tips were bent from birth, pretty perfect name!).  It sounds like they are settling in well at their new farm.

Eleganza resting in the shade with her boys

Eleganza’s boys have gone off to different farms here in Maine.  They are sweet guys as well, and I know they will have lots of girls to keep them busy in the future!

Pippi’s girl giving me the stare.  Her name is now Poppe!

And the last to leave this week is our sweet little doeling, Pippi the Lamancha’s girl (Pippi is our Herd Queen).  If I could have kept any of the babies from this year it would have been her.  I am really happy, though, that she is going to a wonderful farm in Vermont, to a young family with whom we are acquainted.  She will love her new friends there, some mini Nubians and some Nigerian dwarfs.  Who knows, maybe she can aspire to being the new herd  queen!

And so it goes.  Spring is quickly turning to summer, and we only have three little ones left to move along to new homes.  Things are much quieter already, it will be a real shock when these little ones leave!  And now, on to serious milking and some cheese  :*)

 

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Spring, finally!

Feeding frenzy

And today is an out of the ordinary one for Maine.  85 F here this afternoon, although we have a nice breeze so the bugs are not too big a problem.

Love Betsy in this photo, talking a mile a minute with her mouth full of hay!

The babies are growing like hotcakes, and the scrum around the feeder is incredible in the morning.  We can barely get the hay in there before 3 or 4 not-so-little ones are jumping on and in.  It’s nutty, but they are so much fun at this age.  Everyone has cleared 35 lbs so far, and we are nearly ready to send some of our sweet ones out into the world with new families.  Almost empty nest :*)

And so it goes.  I will have to do a separate post to update my weaving apprenticeship.  I have been very busy with that and have a lot of photos to share.  Nothing earth shattering that any of you weavers out there couldn’t throw together in a jiffy, but the experimentation is teaching me a lot.   And I am having a great time with it!

Saffron update

Little Blue checking out what Sam is doing

I really appreciate the everyone’s concern over Saffron and her problem with lactation.  It is now believed that she has a ‘sneaky’ form of mastitis that may have something to do with a slightly enlarged lymph node at the top of her udder near her tail.  (She has had no fever at all).  I’ve been massaging her udder right along, but we have added antibiotics now and I am hoping that it does the trick.  The vet believes that if we can clear it up she will be fine for next year’s kidding, but little milk will be flowing this year.  I am extremely glad that we have Battie’s milk for them!

Saffron checking on her girl

I am also happy to have some kind of diagnosis.  Hopefully the BioMycin will do the trick and we will have a much happier girl soon.  We let her and the babies out of their pen on Friday morning, and as is true of most kids, on the first day of freedom they all did their own thing.  Mama and babies went in opposite directions for part of the day, but by late afternoon they were checking in with her regularly.  We call her babies Little Red and Little Blue because of the color of their felt coats, which will come off in the next day or so (when it will be difficult to differentiate them from the other girls!).  They slept with Edna’s little butterballs over night, with Pippi and her babies a few feet away.  All the other adults were in the other greenhouse close by.

The sun is shining now and even though the breeze is blowing and we had quite a bit of snow last night and this morning, they are all outside playing near the feeder.  Maybe it will turn out to be a lovely weekend after all!

(I couldn’t get a photo of Little Red because she was playing in the greenhouse with Edna’s girl)

Saffron has her twins

Saffron and her first little girl

Both beautiful, both does.  They were born on Saturday morning.  Very nice of all the does to do these things during daylight hours!  The reason I have not gotten around to telling Saffron’s story is that she is not making much milk, and we have been very busy trying to help her out, and also had to begin supplementing her babies with bottles.  Everyone had very good feed all through the winter, and I am still not sure why Saffron is not producing much milk.  She seemed to have quite a bit of colostrum on Saturday, but by Sunday morning her udder was deflating and it was obvious that the girls needed to be on the bottle while we figure this out.

Saffron and Little Red

Luckily, I am milking Battie (she who lost her bucklings), and I am also milking one of Pippi’s udder halves because her babies both favor one side, leaving the other to fill up to epic proportions.  So I do have enough milk to feed these little girls, thankfully, and because they are so bonded with their mama (and she is a fantastic mother), I don’t have to have house goat babies this year.  Yay!  Feeding them out in the greenhouse is much nicer than having to deal with house goats (no slight to Peanut here!).  And to give mama’s udder a break, we are penning the girls separately from early in the morning until the last bottle at night, and then letting them stay with her overnight.  It got very cold last night after the torrential rains we had yesterday, so they are both coated and snuggling with Saffron at night.

Little Red and her sister

This kidding season has been a strange one.  I am working with a vet to get a handle on Saffron’s problem, but it may just come down to her nutrition.  They have been eating second cut hay all winter, and their grain rations have been very balanced.  I usually add alfalfa pellets sometime early in February, and this year I did not.  If that is what tilted this balance, I just don’t know.  All the other does are fine and making loads of milk.  I hope we can get to the bottom of it, but it feels like one of those things where you never get a definitive answer.

And so it goes, life on the farm.

Peanut’s birthday

Peanut’s first birthday!

Was last Friday, March 30th.  Our little Peanut has really grown up!  We had a tiny little birthday party for her, and even though I made a polenta cake that I thought she would like, she did not.

Peanut, almost 12 hours old

But, what would a party be without a birthday hat???  For Peanut, we couldn’t just use a regular old sparkly cone, we had to give her a princess tiara :*)  Needless to say, she did not like it.  So her photo with the tiara is under protest.  She did enjoy the 4 of us having a lovely time out in the sun and showers.

Homemade limoncello

We also tasted some of my homemade Limoncello, which went very nicely with the polenta cake.  Then we had a wee visit with the Edna’s and Pippi’s babies.  The mud was a challenge for us, but we managed.

I don’t think Peanut was very impressed!

Its getting warmer, finally

Pippi is very protective of her babies!

We are finally having some milder days, and the snow is disappearing nicely.  Not fast enough, but that’s ok!

Sleeping in the creep

Yesterday we let Pippi and her babies out into the general population, and the babies are loving it.  Pippi is on high alert for any other goat who might be thinking about going near her babies, and she is driving us nuts with her attacks on the others with no provocation.  She really needs to take a chill pill, for sure.  The interesting thing about her babies is that they keep going back into the pen they were in, and sleeping under the feeder.  We have made that pen the “creep” for the babies, which means that moms can’t get in, but the babies can (and Peanut, apparently!).

Tomorrow Edna and her babies will be let out of their jug, as soon as the rain that is forecast is over.  On Saturday we are taking the babies to be disbudded.  Ouch.

Fighting over the best spot

Definitely got Saffron’s date of breeding incorrect, so she and Eleganza are still hanging in there.  I am just hoping that Pippi doesn’t pop either of them too hard in her frenzy to keep her babies “safe.”  It’s always something.

Sunny day for Pippi’s kids

Pippi’s new brood

It was a gorgeous and warm day out there today.  The clouds appear to be moving in now, I think, and possibly stay for the weekend.  But while it was nice and sunny around midday, Pippi had her twins, a buck and a doe.  They are beautiful half Lamancha/half Guernsey babies.  They both have Lamancha ears, which is to say, not much!  So no eartags for these two cuties.

Tired out after the hard work of being born

Last night it was apparent that Pippi had lost her mucous plug, but nothing more was happening at the 2 AM and the 5 AM checks.  At breakfast, she moved in front of a hay feeder and would not let anyone else near it.  She staked out her claim for that sheltered little spot in the sun.  When Pippi gets serious about something, she really gets serious!  Every time we went up to check on her, she gave us a growly earful and kept poking her head out at us like aa angry goose.  Clearly telling us to Get Lost.  At 1 PM she really looked ready, but again, she gave us the bum’s rush, and it might have been my imagination, but it looked like she was holding herself so tightly under control that she wouldn’t have a contraction in front of us.  And then she must have popped that first baby out minutes after we left, because when we got back up there at 2:15, they were both up, and the little doeling had a big old milky mouth, and she was almost dry.  Her larger brother was still quite damp and having some trouble getting to the milk bar, which we helped remedy.

Battie, feeling better, but wanting to get up close and personal with Pippi’s babies. :*(

It’s a huge relief that this kidding went well, no emergencies or disasters.  The other three ladies in waiting are on track so far, and hopefully all will go smoothly.  And Battie is doing much better.  I think the steroids we ended up treating her with made a big difference.  We still have to wait and see how she does, presuming that there is nothing left in her uterus that could become infected (she had a number of shots to keep her uterus expelling stuff).   I felt really bad for her today because she just wanted to get into the jug with Pippi and the new babies.  She is still calling to her babies when I milk her out in the eveninig, too.  Ah well, this too shall pass.  She cozies up to her baby from two years ago, Betsy, and it should be ok.  That’s life in the livestock fast lane!  And so it goes.

Battie update

Battie finally seems to be turning the corner toward feeling better.  I was really worried about her, she had so much trauma.  But the meds and the rest are catching up with her and she is seriously eating hay now.  I came out this morning to find her standing in her pen, cudding away nicely.  She is still a little depressed, and when I empty her udder, she nickers to her babies :*(

Eleganza and Edna

I think goats are worse in confinement even than sheep.  They are such herd animals that it is difficult for them to function without all that herd pressure, and without their friends and frenemies.  Battie has steadfastly refused to eat anything from the hay feeders in her pen, but instead chooses only to eat from the feeder she can reach right on the other side of the pen divider, particularly if another goat is eating from that very feeder.  So today we went out and while Sam was taking care of some other things, I let Battie out to stretch her legs and get the cobwebs out.  I would never have let her out of the pen without hanging there with her, because you just never know, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be a little shaky.  She had a few tussles with Eleganza and Saffron, but other than that things went well (Battie is the Queen in Training.  Pippi, the Lamancha doe, is still definitely The Herd Queen).  It was hysterical, though, because when Eleganza got pretty stroppy with Battie, Pippi inserted herself between the two and grunt first at one, and then the other.  She gave them both the what-for!  I wish I could have gotten video of her doing that.  She is a tough task mistress and does not like misbehavior!  (Unless she is the one misbehaving).

And so we wait for whatever the weather will bring tonight… more damn snow, I guess.  I hope we are firmly in the lower amount zone, for once.  I am sorry to hear that other areas are getting slammed yet again.  Happy Spring!

And so it begins

And unfortunately, does not end well.  (If you are at all squeamish, probably best not to read this post.  I am going to be honest about what transpired, and it’s more than a little gross).

Sweet Battie

None of our goats were ready to have their kids this weekend, even though we have begun checking on them at night.  The earliest are really due this coming Friday and Saturday, Pippi and Saffron.  We noticed yesterday that Battie was bagging up, but that can happen even up to a few weeks before the due date, so I was not worried (Pippi has been bagged up for a couple of weeks already).  Battie did seem a little uncomfortable yesterday, but all seemed fine last night.

Battie in her jug

Early this morning was a different story.  She had a dead and decomposing breech buckling halfway delivered, and things were not going well.  Needless to say we tried our best to get the rest of the baby out, but with little success.  It was obvious that things had been wrong for awhile, but our main goal was to save our Battie.

I ended up calling the vet, and I am very glad that I did.  None of us here have the skills that were needed to get the second large buck out of there.  In the end, after trying a few different approaches, the vet had to take the baby out in pieces (it was so bloated with gases that she could not pull it as usual).  But it saved Battie’s life, and even though she is pretty knocked out right now, with some luck and the antibiotics, Banamine, and a few other goodies, she will recover.

I hate it when a kidding or lambing season starts like this, but maybe it’s better that it happened now.  We weren’t busy with anything else, and we could focus all our attention on her.  Sweet Battie!  Your girl Betsy will have to keep you company this year.

Snowmaggedon #2

Fergus is always glad to see us

The snow looks like it’s just about stopping now, after about 30 hours.  It began with a bang, but the snow was light.  That was yesterday, and it got warm enough over night and today (upper 30s) to turn it all into a heavy, wet mess.  We are half way through March now and most of us are just ready for it to end!  (I know, how many times can I say it…)

So much snow coming off the greenhouses, we all look tall!

Our biggest problem is the area around the greenhouses.  We can barely get a wheelbarrow through, and the greenhouse pens need a good cleanout before the babies come.  Sam has been working hard on opening up the lanes, but this last snow put us back in a big way.  I think we got better than 18″.  I am just hoping that we have a bit of melting before the 23rd!

Nothing to be done about the weather, so I am thinking we will have to put up  a heat lamp for the babies again this year… I just don’t think we are warming up as quickly as I had hoped!  Maybe next year I need to keep the buck away from the does until early November, so we definitely have babies in mid-April!