Category Archives: Golden Guernsey goats

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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Wherever you find yourself

Ephraim and Fergus earlier this week, sharing like nice children!

Wherever you find yourself, there you are.  And that is life, as usual.  Now that my son is not here to help with the chores, the first thing I really need to deal with is selling a few of the goats.  I have too many to handle by myself now that he has moved on.  Every day, twice a day at chore time, this truth reveals itself, whether I want to acknowledge it or not.

Tonight, it was just a mess at milking time.  I had the boys and Jingle in a neighboring paddock eating down some tasty weeds, and when I let the big boys back into their home paddock for dinner, the little buckling would not follow.  Well, I left him in the other paddock with Jingle the donkey while she ate her grain allotment for the day, and when I was getting her back into the home paddock, he slipped out behind her and got loose.  Wandering the work area and the places outside the paddocks.  He is a little bit shy of people, so I could not grab him right away.

Milking time

Well, I decided I could work around him for awhile, so I started to get everything ready for milking and the evening feed.  I got the first girl up onto the milk stand, and realized I had left my milk buckets up at the house.  I was sweaty and hot, it was raining, the milk stand was half in and half out of the greenhouse and the goat’s backside was getting wet, so I decided to just milk and toss it.  Awful, I know, but it was about all I could do.  (I was also trying not to get the halter heart monitor wet.   The doctor wants me to wear one for a few days to see if they need to tweak my beta blocker meds a little.  I could not have picked a more perfect week, hot humid and rainy.  Yuck!).  And so chores went the way that chores have so many times in the past, downhill very quickly.  After I milked her, the little buckling came wandering into the greenhouse where the feed is stored, and I was able to grab him and get him home.  Phew!

But, in the end it turned out to be a great chore evening.  When I finally got all the milking mamas back into their paddock, I had to go in to move some feeders around.  It really began to rain pretty hard then, and I just hung out with my girls and relaxed.  Pippi was rubbing her wet and itchy head on my hip, one of Edna’s girls was sniffing my arm and nibbling on my shirt, Peanut wanted some head rubs, and we all just stood there together and waited until the worst of the rain was over.  A little cluster of wet, itchy souls, waiting for the bus, or whatever.

And so it goes.  No milk for cheese tonight, but tomorrow it will be better.  I have not hit my routine stride yet, but it will happen, and it will be a lot easier if I can move a few of the herd on.  I don’t need to be milking 4 goats, it’s too much milk for me to deal with, and just that more to do on my own.  It will be difficult to let any of the girls go, but it’s what I need to do.  Life always seems to be a work in progress, doesn’t it?

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!

Enjoying

It’s that time of year when I try very hard to delight in the baby goats, and ever hopeful, delight in the weather as well.  I have to say that nature has been more than cooperative, but the humans are not the only ones enjoying it…  the black flies are as well.  Gotta love May in New England!

All our babies are at least a month old now.  They are a gang of very fast moving parts who are just delightful to sit with and to watch.  They are a good tonic for the long winter and the crazy slow spring.  I spend as much time as I can out there with them, and of course we also have bottle baby time which is fun as well.

We still have 4 babies that have not been spoken for, and I have them listed in the tab here on the blog – 2018 Babies for Sale.  I have to get my baby time in as much as I can, because before too long they will move on or grow up.  Ah, and so it goes.

Bottle babies

Little Red and Little Blue

Our girl Saffron, who had the mastitis, is doing quite well.  Her girls, Little Red and Little Blue, are also doing well.  As with all bottle babies, it’s very difficult to get a good photo of them because they are always crowded around the humans in the paddock, wanting to play and also check out why we are in there with them.

Little Red

I am lucky to be getting about 3/4 of a gallon a day mostly from Battie, our doe who lost her babies.  I am also milking Eleganza’s right side because her boys seem to think the milk bar is only on the left side.  I am milking once a day in the afternoons, so things are pretty relaxed, and we are getting more than enough milk to feed our little Red and Blue.  And my son has milk for his coffee.

Little Blue just won’t look up when I need her to!

And so it goes!  Our two little bottle girls are already spoken for, and will be going to live with a lovely family in New Hampshire sometime in June.  Our little girls are growing up!

 

A few nice days

Sam, having some fun with the little ones

It was such a treat to have some warmer temperatures, although the wind never seemed to let up.  But the sun was marvelous, and all the mammals on the farm took advantage of it and played and sat in the sunshine.

Back into the colder and more dreary weather.  Tomorrow we may see some snow.  At any rate, it can’t hang around long, I hope!

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)

2018 Kidding comes to a close

(I am a few days behind in blog posts.  I keep starting them and running out of time to finish them.  I should have posted this yesterday, Wednesday!)

Big boy

And I am grateful for that!  Eleganza had her two bucklings about noon time yesterday, which was very considerate of her!  She was in the old greenhouse, which the boys and Jingle share with the girls (galvanized panels keeping the two groups separate).  Jingle always has her eye out for what’s going on, and while I was having lunch, we heard her out there making a donkey racket, and knew just what had happened.  She has given us the call for all the girls who have given birth in that greenhouse.  What a good town crier :*)  So even though I never got my little cameras installed, we have had a lot of information without ever seeing exactly what was going on!

Another big boy

And so we finally have Guernsey bucklings!  Two beautiful boys, both weighing in at 8.3 and 8.4 lbs respectively.  Eleganza made it look very easy, and they are all doing well.  It was 50F around sunset last night and then the wind came up and the temperatures plummeted, so I put them in the woolly coats that my friend had made and given to us last year.  I have my fingers crossed for warmer weather, but it sounds like we may have to wait until next Wednesday for temperatures near 50F.  Ah well, when the sun is out, everyone enjoys it no matter what the thermometer says, even today when the wind was gusting.

Now we just have to make sure these little explorers don’t get up to too much trouble!

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!