Category Archives: Farming

Peanut’s big moment

Peanut’s last bottle

The time has come.  Our little girl is almost 6 months old, and she finally, finally, had her last bottle a day or two ago!  Yay for our Peanut!

I know it seems like a long time, and under normal circumstances we would not have let a kid bottle feed for this long, but it just seemed to be doing her a lot of good.  She didn’t take to grain very easily or quickly, and I think she needed it.  Our Twig the Tank is still nursing on her poor mother Eleganza, and you can definitely tell :*)

Peanut’s hoof trim

In the morning we are still giving Peanut a grain share, but she eats it outside the paddock.  No one else gets morning grain, but since Peanut is really a person and not a goat, she has to come out and help us with the chores anyhow (i.e., standing/jumping on the pile of hay that we carry in a canvas sling – this hurts -, racing back and forth from the driveway to the back of the paddocks, flying onto and off of the milking stand, and so on), so it just makes sense that she can have her feed in peace.  But now instead of having a milk chaser after her grain, she must make do with water.  She is still complaining, but not very hard…  I think she was ready.

Twig gives up the fight

Peanut and Twig were not very impressed last week when it was hoof trimming day!  Our friend Emily, a shearer, comes every few months to help out with the feet, which is very hard on the back for me these days.  We didn’t put the littles on the milk stand like the mamas (their heads would just come back through the stanchion), so Emily had to sit them down on their butts.  Goats have extremely pointy, bony behinds, unlike most sheep, so Peanut kept sliding over, where she just stayed in the end.  Twig twisted around and landed on her back  and just gave up,   although I got the big stink eye from her.

Reddog the studly one

And so it goes.  The weather is gorgeous, cool nights and warmer days.  The bucks are in bucky heaven, pissing copiously all over their faces, beards and legs.  They are very impressed with themselves and are ready for action.  (Too bad there won’t be any girly time until almost November!  Poor things.)  I am looking forward to a beautiful autumn season, and am trying to enjoy every moment of the crickets and the grasshoppers and the singing of the tree frogs while I can.  I think I miss that most when the windows get closed and the frosts come.  But we still have awhile yet.  It’s all good.

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Houdini Hagrid saves the day

Hagrid is still a sweetie! (And he is finally growing a beard!!!)

This past week has been crazy as usual.  Lots of goings and comings, but in between all of those, we kept noticing that our little buddy Hagrid (Pippi’s baby of this year), was always on the wrong side of the paddock enclosure where he is housed with Reddog.  He and the big guy get along famously, they never fight, they eat in peace together and things have been going extremely well.  So we have been scratching our heads and wondering where he could have been escaping from.  We walked the fence lines multiple times, beefed up a few joins here and there, but we could see no way that he was getting out.  (Luckily, when he gets onto the other side of the fence, that is a large fenced area at this time, because that is where we are letting our moms graze a few hours each day after milking.  Needless to say, we have not been able to let our moms in there for the past week, because I definitely don’t want anyone bred this early!).

Hagrid on the other side of the fence, again!

Sam has been out there diligently watching and waiting, but the minute we turn our backs, out the little guy is again, and we did not catch it.  Sam puts him back in, we walk away, and 10 minutes later we see him on the wrong side.  One night he must have gotten out there just at twilight, because after it got dark, Sam heard him wailing piteously from his hidey-hole under the tractor.  So out he went to rescue the little guy.

Fence mend

We had come to the conclusion that he was scrambling over the cattle panel and dropping to the other side, although none of the panels over there are droopy or springy in any way.  Finally, on Wednesday afternoon we were out at the usual chore time, and Hagrid was doing his Houdini impersonation for us, but this time Sam caught sight of him out of the corner of his eye, just in a flash.  There Hagrid was, with his head and one leg and shoulder through the fence!  What we did not realize is that there was a square of galvanized fence missing, it must have come away at some point, right behind where we always had a hay bag hanging.  In all of our fence line searches, we never looked squarely at the fence itself, only at where each panel joined up to the next one.  Who knew!  He is still small enough to shimmy himself through, but he never could get back!  There must be a sharp edge there on the opposite side.  And so the mystery was solved.

Wheel barrow full of Nightshade. Yuck!

But in the meantime, as I was standing there trying to figure out how he was getting over the fence, while he grazed very unconcernedly at my feet, I realized that along the fence right at that spot, was a whole viney patch of Nightshade!  OMG!  We usually have giant pumpkins growing in that swath of ground, but this year we do not.  I wonder if it had been getting bold, growing under those enormous elephant ear pumpkin leaves, and taken hold.  I could not believe it.  If Hagrid had not been escaping, I don’t think I would have noticed the Nightshade until it was to epic proportions, or until one of our does got sick from it.  Hagrid wasn’t munching on any of it, nor do I think he had, but it almost gave me another heart attack!  Ah!

I wonder if Hagrid knew it was not a plant he wanted any part of, but  whether or not it’s the case, I am extremely relieved that our attention was drawn to that area and the nasty plant has been removed.  I am going to go over that whole paddock again before we let any of the girls back in there, and maybe after this lovely rain, it will be easier to pull out if I do find more.  I hate that stuff!  But in the end, what a relief.  And so it goes :*)  Hagrid definitely deserves some treats!

August already!

Peanut, helping herself to the chair

It’s so easy to say: the summer is just slipping and sliding by.  But it is!  Our crew is getting steadily smaller as the babies go off to their new homes, which is both happy and sad for us.  It’s a lot quieter here, although the wild bird song in the early morning is a joyous racket these days.  And as the peepers have slackened off their singing at night, I have been noticing that the grasshoppers and crickets are beginning to chime in to what I always think of as the end of summer music.  For living out in the woods, we have plenty of nature’s sounds to enjoy!

Poor Twig

Things are ticking along pretty well, with the usual monkey wrench thrown in here and there.  Our pretty little girl Twig had been fighting an eye infection last week, and I thought it was gone, only to have it pop back up again a few days ago.  I do think that Twig has taken the loss of her sister and her two good friends, Saffron’s girls, pretty hard, so it doesn’t totally surprise me that she is a little compromised, but she does still have her mama, so I am not going to actively wean her.  I am getting about 1.5 quarts from Eleganza, her mother, at each milking, so I am not complaining about sharing!

Lots and lots of beautiful milk

As for the milk and the cheese making, it is going great guns here.  Going so hard, I had to freeze some milk late last week so I could take a breather for a day or so!  If my cardiac rehab schedule was not three days a week in Brunswick (which is a ride in the summer traffic), I could alternate days for making more than just chevre.  I did carve out some time to make some Halloumi a week or two back, and it was awesomely good.  We don’t seem to be able to get it around here, so it’s a fun cheese to make from time to time.  And I keep wanting to get going on aging some cheese, but have not quite gotten it together to do so.  I have some plans for that, however, hopefully soon!

Our summer weather has been amazing so far.  Not too many hot and humid days, and lovely cool nights.  Not great for the tomato and eggplant growth, but good for sleeping and enjoying the air.  And so it goes.  I hope everyone is finding something to enjoy this summer!

 

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 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 :*)

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.

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.

 

Waiting, still waiting

Dorcas with the orange collar, and Edna, the other slacker, just behind her

We are still waiting for our last two does to kid (Dorcas and Edna).  They both look more than ready, but nothing appears to be happening.  I feel like time is running backwards, somehow.

Peanut takes over the chihuahua’s bed whenever she has a chance

But on the brighter side, our little Peanut is doing very well.  She has gained some weight (a little over a pound), and she is very active, tappy-tapping around the house (and ticking off the chihuahua into the bargain).  She got up on the bottom stair yesterday, but luckily she did not get any farther.  She follows us around like a puppy, and I find myself doing the ‘puppy shuffle’ so I don’t step on her!  She is also taking more milk at each feeding, which is a good thing.

We have had to close Fergus the sweet buck off from the girls until his neutering.  He is going this Friday.  I know that he will still be fertile for awhile after the surgery, but it’s just a matter of time now.  Hopefully his physical recuperation will go smoothly, and as the weather gets nicer, he will eventually be able to rejoin the girls.

Finding the rock is a great place to play king of the hill

And so it goes.  It is a dreary week, and everything we want to do outside feels like a bigger job than it really is.  And today is bone-chillingly damp.  Oh well, it is Maine in the springtime!  But the moms and babies have had their paddock opened up to the middle section now, and the babies have the big rock to play on.  It didn’t take long for them to start taking advantage of it!