Category Archives: Farming

And now we are 8

The last few weeks have been very busy ones.  I had been advertising the goats I needed to move along, without any response, and I was feeling a little down about it.  I really hated the thought of sending these beautiful girls to the auction, but I was beginning to think I would have no choice.

3 of the Guernseys around the feeder
Saffron stuffing her face
Jingle and Fergus

But, then, I actually found a farm that wanted all of them!  Edna with her two doelings, Battie and her daughter Betsy.  All together, which made me the happiest of all.  And so last Friday they all got a nice ride to their new farm.  I hope they do well, they are in a very good place.

Pippi and her buckling from this year are still here, although they have a butcher date in late October.  Pippi is still milking well, but she is losing her teeth at an alarming rate, and she is elderly.  If I leave her to try and winter over another year, I am afraid I will lose her at a time when we cannot bury her…  and I hate using the goats as coyote bait, but a lot of folks do that around here in the winter when they can’t bury dead animals.  And so she will provide us with a little stew meat, and her circle of life here will be complete.  She’s been such a great little goat, my fierce Herd Queen!  (Saffron is lining up to challenge that position, but Pippi is no slouch, she is not giving in one little bit).  Pippi’s buckling may actually have a home lined up, but if that does not work out, he will go with his mama.

And so the seasons are moving forward, and I am moving forward with our little farm.  Chores are so wonderfully uncomplicated now that we are smaller, and much more enjoyable.  More time to actually hang out with the goats and enjoy our time together.  They are awfully good company!

And I should not forget Jingle the Donkey, who will never leave!  So maybe I should say, now we are 9 :*)

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Is it almost August already?

Happy girls this afternoon

And boy does it sound like it out there!  The crickets and the grasshoppers are playing their music frantically.  I don’t know if it’s the drought, or just the usual.  Whatever the reason, I love sitting and listening to them, it’s a most comforting sound.  The rain is finally making a brief appearance every once in awhile, but the days are growing shorter again, which always surprises me for some reason.

Fergus the wether. Trying to look innocent!

We have had an insanely crazy summer so far.  My husband has been traveling back and forth to NJ.  His dad, 94, was getting feebler, and ended up in the hospital and passed away just before the 4th of July.  And so many trips up and down, alone, with me, with our son and grandson later, it’s been nuts.  Very sad to have lost my sweet father in law, but also nice to have had an opportunity to see much of the family again.

Sam and some of the girls last November. We all miss him!

In the middle of all this upheaval and emotional stuff, my older son, the one who has been with us for a little over 2 years and has been a huge part of the goat farm, had the opportunity to move back to NJ, which he did this past week.  And so it goes!  When it rains, it pours.  Change just is, and I am old enough to not be surprised by it.  But it does every time.

Today John came back from NJ once again, and I think he can stay for a week or two before heading back south.  The summer traffic is epic, and it took him almost 10 hours to get back today (it’s a 400 mile trip, should only be about 6-7 hours).  In the meantime, my schedule has changed drastically, as my son was doing a lot of the feed prep each day, and it will take me awhile to get into a different groove.  I know the goats are standing around scratching their heads wondering why everything is taking so darn long :*)  Ha!

3 cottolin hand towels, Summer & Winter weave

My weaving work has continued well, and we are exploring double weaves right now.  It’s so much fun!  I also finished a set of Summer and Winter weave hand towels a few days ago, which I just love.  I made them from cottolin, and the colors are lovely.  We only have about 2 months left tin the grant timeline, and I have a few projects I need to work on aside from what I am doing with Nancy.  I need to really get cracking on them.

Detail of the middle towel which I will probably use as a table runner (a small one)

The hot and humid weather can turn me into a very cranky soul, but so far we have had pretty small doses of it until this past week.  It’s been a tough one, and I know that the animals are feeling it as well.  I certainly am not very sprightly during this hazy, humid stuff, and living in Maine, we do not have air conditioning except in the bedrooms (although living only about a mile from Muscongus Bay definitely helps, particularly when we get breezes off the water).  The next 3 or four days are supposed to be better, and then the stickies make a return appearance.  Ah well, this is summer, and this too shall pass!  I am not wishing it away, the green and the warm don’t stick around for more than a blink.

 

 

 

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  :*)

 

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!