Category Archives: LaMancha Goats

Pippi threw a curve ball

She did, too, in a number of ways.

New boy in town

Firstly, Pippi has never had a single, never ever.  Always pretty good sized twins, usually a buck and a doe (I wish I had a photo of her, pre-baby delivery.  She always looks like she has a suitcase on either side, and we uncharitably call her Wide Load.  Then she has her babies, and all is normal again).   Secondly, she always has had her babies during daylight, or at the very latest, early evening, right around dinner time.

Pippi can be a little bit of a helicopter mom!

Not this year!  Now we were pretty sure that Pippi was going to be popping her progeny yesterday, all the signs were good and she usually pops them out on her due date or one day later.  As the day wore on, however, I just figured that it might go another day.  But that’s not the kind of thing you don’t watch, so every few hours one of us went up and checked in on her.  I was exhausted, and after we tube-fed little Peanut a little before 10, we went out for another check.  Pippi was obviously in labor, talking to her butt, but the longer we stuck around, the less Pippi looked like she was going to cooperate (she is a very private doe and will cross her legs and wait until the humans are elsewhere).  By 10:10, we went in and I threw myself on the sofa.  Sam couldn’t wake me up at 11, which we had decided to target as the next check, but his text did, and it said Baby.

Our handsome boy!

So he got her and the baby into the jug, got her settled, and we took care of getting the weight (9.25 lbs.  Giant baby), giving the Bo-Se shot, dipping the navel, and helping to dry him off as he is one big piece of real estate.  Beautiful boy.  But her vaginal situation did not say to me, placenta, it said, there is more baby to come, and we waited to see if there would be another water bag.  Then I realized that she wouldn’t do anything while we were there, so back we went to the house after getting her a little molasses water, about midnight.

I guess I must have dozed off again, because about 1 we went out  and realized that she had passed the placenta, hence no more babies!  I don’t blame her, she certainly has a beautiful and very large baby, but it was a little bit of a surprise from a champion twinner!

At less than 24 hours old, he looks like he could just go and join the other babies and fit right in.  He is quite tall, and has a beautiful long body.  I must say that I am surprised the Lamancha genetics trumped the Guernsey genetics where the ears are concerned!

Anyhow, mother and baby are well, although Pippi gets incredibly pissed every time one of the other mothers looks into the pen.  But this is life, and when you are the Queen, I guess it is part of the job!

Our little Peanut

We are still trying to get Peanut on the bottle.  She had one shining moment today and got sucking her tongue, so I shoved the bottle in and she drank an ounce all on her own.  She looked very surprised, and then went to sleep.  One day at a time.  She has already become my little cuddle buddy.




Our little orphan

Was quite the day.  We have been doing round-the-clock checks on a few of our does, and no one appeared to be doing anything yesterday or last night.  Getting bigger, but nothing else going on.

Peanut on her feet a few hours later

Last night we thought Beezus might be in the beginning stages of labor, so we were checking her every few hours.  Nothing.  But this morning when I went out there, I found a wee little babe covered in the straw near where Beezus sleeps.  There was no wet spot, no placenta, no nothing.  Just a little baby, apparently dead, lying in the straw bedding.  I grabbed her up, and even though I presumed she was dead, I wrapped her in my jacket and grabbed a towel, and ran her down to the house.  Beezus was just sitting there cudding.  Oy!

Anyhow, she mewled once, and as I was rubbing her belly, I felt her breathing.  And so it began.  After I took her temperature and it didn’t even register on the electronic thermometer, I knew we were in trouble.  And so I had to go to the trusty internet to read the instructions for giving an intra-peritoneal glucose and water shot.  I have never done this before, but luckily I had the glucose, and I did it, following the instructions from one of the big universities.  It was clearly A Miracle.  I watched her come to life in the minutes after that shot, and I still can hardly believe it.  When we got her temp up to 91.4, we celebrated, although when I spoke to the vet, she didn’t sound very optimistic about that milestone.  But we are keeping on, and hopefully it will be a positive outcome.  (Lots of hot water bottles, a heating pad, and body heat to help her get to a temp of 101+.  We did it around midday!).

Peanut having none of this bottle stuff!

Little Peanut Butter should not be alive, but as of tonight, she still is.  We worked long and hard this morning getting her warmed up, so that we could begin to give her some colostrum and milk.  I don’t have a lot of frozen colostrum, and her mama wasn’t making any.  She was dry as a bone.  So I defrosted some from another doe, and broke out my powdered colostrum.  I am milking one of my does, so I can mix that with the powdered stuff.

I don’t know where this will go, or whether or not this little one will survive.  She is truly a Peanut.  About as big as our chihuahua, who is 3 lbs soaking wet.  I want her to thrive, but the odds are against her.  We shall see.  We are having to tube feed her, even though since midday she has been able to hold her head up and get up on her feet and lurch around.  She is not interested in the bottle yet, but I am hoping against hope that we can coax her to it.  (I really hate tube feeding).

And so it goes.  Dorcas and Pippi are still ‘wide loads coming through,’ and very pregnant.  Don’t have a date on Dorcas, but Pippi’s due date is today, which means that tomorrow is a good bet for her.  She will be watched closely.  I can only hope that she decides to go during the day.  Beezus has actually been our only doe to do something at night so far.

Adventures in farming.  Always something new.  All positive thoughts are welcome!

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.

Goat rodeo on ice

Battie and Betsy all cozied up
Battie and Betsy all cozied up at twilight

Well, Monday is a wrap.  Finally.   We had quite the morning.  Zelda and the buck Oreo were scheduled to leave us and join the farm that Sassafras and Pickles went to live on two weeks ago.  And it was not as easy a transfer as I would have liked!

Scheduled is the word.  I was worried all last night that Zelda was going to be the one that was difficult, and Oreo would be the piece of cake to walk into Curt’s trailer.  Not.  What a surprise, but it’s something that should not shock me at all.  You just never know.

Zelda the Beauty!
Zelda the Beauty!

And so we had the goat rodeo on ice.  Oreo knew something was up the minute we went out for chores this morning, and we were even being nonchalant.  I did my usual thing, and Sam went to do his.  Oreo was having none of it!  Zelda came with me into the catch pen and launched into her morning hay like nothing was amiss.  But Oreo got the wind up and it took four of us adults to get him cornered and caught, slipping and sliding on the ice and the snow.  I really hate doing that.  In the process, Sam got an arm injury, John came in with a bleeding arm, and the new owner’s hands were bloody by the time we got the buck into his trailer.  I waited to take a fall until I tripped on the handle of a bag in the house.  Not a winner of a day, I can say that now.  But tonight, it feels like it is ancient history.  I can truly say that this morning was kind of the end of an era.

Since last spring I have been working toward getting all the animals together that I can definitely handle alone.  Sam will not be here forever, and when he moves on, my 62+ year old body needs to be able to handle what we have.  I don’t move as fast as I used to!  And so I have planned accordingly, and we made a plan for who to keep and who to part with.  I had a really hard time parting with SnowPea’s daughters Pickles and Sassafras, and Zelda was an even more difficult cull.  But we lucked out and found an amazingly wonderful farm in Auburn, Maine, and the owner there really loves our girls and our genetics, and not only has the 3 girls now, but he also has Oreo the buck.  I couldn’t have asked for a better home for them, and they are not really that far away.  (He has Nigerian Dwarf goats as well, and I am dying to go up and visit his place!).

Anyhow, we are turning a corner here at the farm.  I think we are as tight as we can be.  I have two purebred Lamancha does left, and 7 almost purebred Guernsey girls.  One Guernsey buck and one half Guernsey buckling.  It’s finally a picture that I think can work for me.

The winter seems to be settling in, so I am glad that the Goat Rodeo is finished for the year.  I hope.  After the Solstice I think I can feel a little more positive going forward.  But we definitely won’t think about January 20th just yet :*/

Change is the essence of life

Pickles and Sassafras
Pickles and Sassafras

I guess!  I am feeling a little sad, as we said goodbye to Pickles and Sassafras today, SnowPea’s only twin girls, ever.  The girls are a Lamancha/Alpine cross, where their mother and grandmother were purebred Lamanchas.  The Alpine in them is how they got those big old ears!  (It was a bit of a rodeo as we took them out of the pen… Sam had them on leads, but they took off backwards, and in the process they mowed me down and took Sam for quite a ride.  But all was well, Sam never let go.  Oy.  I have a sore knee, but it will all work out!).

Dynamic Duo
Dynamic Duo

Decisions about how many animals to keep on the farm change from year to year as our needs and capabilities change.  Having slightly morphed our focus toward breeding the Guernsey goats made me have to take a really hard look at how many goats overall I really can manage to milk in a season.  Keeping more than a few girls just ends up with me only breeding half, and carrying the others along.  Not only is it more work and management, but it’s an added drain on the budget for hay and grain.  The market for crossbred goats is not huge around here.  I am hoping that the Guernsey youngsters will be more salable, so keeping some around and not milking all of them will hopefully pay off a little bit.

We shall see!  It looks as though Pickles and Sassafras are going to a wonderful home where they will have plenty of other goatie friends.  Lovely folks.   And now we are down to only one Salsa/SnowPea progeny, our little friend Fergus the Buck.  He will have to carry those wonderful milking genetics forward to some of our new girls.  It’s all good :*)

Last Sunday in November, 2016

Was a totally grey one.  November has been pretty true to form, and as the leaves have finally left the trees, we have seen almost no sunny days.  It’s ok, this is what November is all about.  Good knitting and cooking weather!

Guinea hen cup and new skin cream.
Guinea hen cup and new skin cream.

This morning I made my annual trek to Maple Lane Pottery‘s annual small business weekend sale.  I love Robbi, and she not only has a great lineup of pottery items, but she has a few other small business folk there as well.  Cari Balbo of Ridge Pond Herbals was there and I was able to get my new supply of winter face and skin creams in.  It’s always fun and I could not restrain myself when I saw that Robbi had a mug with Guinea Fowl painted on it.  How could I pass that up???

In the Ruit Farm goat world, we decided that today would be the day to take Reddog the Buck out of circulation.  We have had him in with the 4 girls since Wednesday, October 12th, which makes it a total of 46 days.  Goats have an estrus cycle of anywhere from 17-24 days, but the average is about 21 days.  So we are a little over two average cycles, and no one has really appeared to be in a second heat.  Reddog has spent most of his recent time at the fenceline, ogling the girls over there, hoping for some action.  Poor guy, he really didn’t have too much of a challenge with just 4 does to breed.

After we moved Reddog back into the buck paddock with Oreo and Jingle the donkey, we opened the gate between the two girl paddocks.  And there we had our afternoon entertainment!  It took a few minutes for one of them to find the door, but after that, it was a free-for-all of head butting and running around.  Beezus, who has been sharing a pen with Saffron and Battie, the Guernsey girls, turned around and pursued Saffron for at least a half hour.  They were nuts.  Fergus the buckling took the opportunity to try his moves on Pippi while she was busy fighting off all comers from the top of the big rock.  I have to give him lots of points, he really keeps trying!  Zelda the beautiful wandered into the opposite pen and found a new head-scratching post, and ignored the rest of the fray.  Always a work in progress.

Zelda checking out the other side of the fence
Zelda checking out the other side of the fence

And so it goes.  I am hoping that my friend Jane, who co-owns Reddog, can come by and pick him up soon so that he can do some work at her farm.   3 of the non-bred girls are currently for sale, and even though I thought they were spoken for, I think I may need to re-advertise them.  It’s all good.  I only want Zelda, Pickles and Sassafras to go to a good home with someone who will really appreciate all that they have to offer.

And, I can’t believe it’s almost December!

Blustery day

Finally got the garlic in
Finally got the garlic in

It was a quiet Armistice/Veteran’s Day yesterday, but by noontime the wind had tuned itself up out of the NW and I thought we might be having a windy power outage at some point.  The lights flickered many times, and a big piece exploded out of our elderly birch tree at the top of the driveway, but nothing serious came down near the house.  Last night the King Moon shone brightly and, very uncharacteristically, I went to bed close to midnight so I had a few hours to enjoy it.

They took a break from fighting to see if I had anything good for them
They took a break from fighting to see if I had anything good for them

Animal-wise, things have been quiet on the farm.  (With the exception of the day that we went out to do afternoon chores and found that Oreo the Buck had done a Houdini from the buck pen and was trying to bash his way into the breeding group’s area.  He wasn’t hard to catch and he went back in with Jingle the Donkey, pouting all the way, with a bleeding headbone).

The tentative news is that all 4 does have been bred!  At least I believe that all 4 girls came into heat, and each one was courted in her turn by Reddog the Stinky Boy.  (The Guernsey girls do not show their heats as clearly as the Lamanchas, don’t know if it is a breed characteristic or not.  I know they are 100 times more laid back than the Lamanchas, who are pretty laid back to begin with).

Beezus is shy, but she always has an opinion!
Beezus is shy, but she always has an opinion!

So now we just have to sit back and count the days until each doe should come back into heat if Reddog is not fertile.  But if he has done his job, we will have a nice little cluster of kids at the end of March/beginning of April.  (March 27th to April 3 or so).  It would be perfect.  Just hope that the predicted Polar Vortex isn’t howling then!

After all these years

Our beautiful new hydrant!
Our beautiful new hydrant!

I finally got my wish!  John had a hydrant put in up near the goat pens.  It’s the best 35th anniversary present I could get :*)

We have a dug well with a sump pump in it and hoses at least 100′ long that we use in the warmer weather to get water to the animals.  Hauling water out from the tub in the house (those 6 gallon cans are killers) in the winter is a royal pain.

But not anymore!


Breeding 2016 commences and continues

My last post was actually written about a week ago, and it got put on the back burner accidentally, so when I published, it was a little misleading.  I am definitely using Reddog for our herd sire, keeping our fingers and toes crossed, of course.  We are putting our faith in him!  He smells like a randy buck and is certainly acting like one, which I am counting on to mean that he is all there and able to do the job.

Reddog coming in for his grain, with his girls
Reddog coming in for his grain, with his girls

The 4 does and Reddog have been penned together since October 12th.  So far I have pretty good proof that he is doing his job.  If he is not shooting blanks, Beezus is due on March 27, and Pippi is due on March 30.  I had initially thought that Saffron was in heat around 10/18, but I did not see the courtship dance and snuffle at that point, and I am thinking she is coming into heat today or possibly tomorrow.  And then it’s just down to our Battie.

All of this is well and good, but the proof will obviously be in a few weeks.  If the girls come into heat again, one by one, then we will have a clue about Reddog’s worthiness as a buck.  Only time will tell!  The suspense is on :*)


Breeding season 2016

Reddog the Studly boy
Reddog the Studly boy

I have spent the better part of this past year quietly worrying about whether or not Reddog the Guernsey buck could really do his job this year for us (you know the kind of worry:  you wake up in the middle of the night and it’s just kind of on the edge of your consciousness).  Last year after our friend Jane and I bought him, he went home to her place and she had plenty of does in heat, but he did not give them a second glance.  Jane had gone to work and fed him up quite a bit (I don’t think he was getting any grain on his home farm) and I continued that.  Even though we witnessed him actually breeding 3 does last December, only one of those breedings took.  Our little Fergus is his boy.  (The other two does are girls who have never failed to be bred).

Beezus the Beautiful, just had her courtship with Reddog
Beezus the Beautiful, just had her courtship with Reddog

And so we know we either have a very enthusiastic buck who can only produce enough viable semen to impregnate one doe, or we have a buck who has grown well, will not be pushed around by the adult does, and is healthy enough to have viable sperm and get the job done with our 4 does.  Truly, we really are not asking very much of him, compared to what some farms do!

I argued with myself all summer about this breeding.  I have another buck, but he is directly related to both Pippi (his mother), and Beezus, his half sister.  Do I depend on Reddog to get the job done, with a buck in the wings that can probably do it, but only on two of the does, the Guernsey girls?  And then how to get my best remaining Lamancha milker bred?  Take her down to our friend’s Saanen farm again?

Since I am definitely committed to breeding Golden Guernsey goats, I really need to begin looking for another Guernsey buck.  That much is perfectly clear!