Category Archives: Seasons

Nothing better than a good spreadsheet

Not sure what Pippi means by standing there with her tongue stuck out. Thinking hard about Reddog, perhaps!

When I pulled down the driveway Monday evening on my return from NY Sheep and Wool, I was greeted with the sound of Pippi absolutely bellowing her head off.   My son said that she had been at it all day, and had not really eaten while on the milk stand that morning, just kept trying to go over as close to the boys’ pen as she could get, and mooning about, bellowing.  As I don’t want kids too early in the season, I had been waiting until after the Rhinebeck trip to put the breeding group together.  And so I took the opportunity to get Pippi bred on Tuesday when we moved Twig, Peanut and Betsy to a separate paddock, and moved Reddog in with the 5 moms-to-be.  Jingle the donkey misbehaved badly with the non-breeding group, so we put her in with Hagrid and Fergus the wether.  (Donkeys hate change of any kind, and I think those young girls freaked her out.  She sees them through the fence every day, but she didn’t care for their company at all.  Ah well, it’s a donkey thing).

Reddog is quite the hunky boy!

And so Pippi was a happy camper all day Tuesday.  As it happens, by Wednesday morning it was clear that Saffron was having a good time with Reddog as well!  Now when I sit down at the milk stand in the morning I can have a full dose of buck stink up close and personal.  (Bucks who are courting a doe rub their heads anywhere they can on their intended – and that head has been drenched with all kinds of stinky hormone-filled pee.  Delightful to a doe, not so nice for humans!).

A new spreadsheet makes the coming breeding season seem a little more real!

And so my new spreadsheet has been inaugurated.  First babies due on Friday, March 23, 2018!

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Summer in Autumn

Peanut voicing her opinion

I am sorry to have been so long without posting.  Cardiac rehab is still dominating my schedule, but I feel like I have a little more breathing room now.  And the summer weather has continued to shine on us even into October!  We are very dry here, but we have hopes of some rain coming in early this week.  This evening is a misty one, and it’s looking good for some precipitation.

There is a lot to take care of on the farm at this time of year.  I am looking forward to breeding season, which will happen here after I get back from the New York Sheep and Wool show around the third week of October.  (I can’t wait!)  But, in the meantime we are making sure that the does are on a steady and slowly rising plane of nutrition.  Have to get them in shape for their amorous interlude with our stud, Reddog!

Round bale delivery

It’s a difficult thing for me to balance, this nutrition rise.  At this point I have cut back to a once a day milking routine, which means that the milking mamas are getting less grain, so they don’t make as much milk.  And since they are still in milk, they need their calories for that as well as for the energy to get into their breeding cycles.  Sometimes I dry them off before breeding, but this year it’s been so mild I think I will milk them well into November, or even into December, depending on the weather.  We decided to put a second cut round bale in with the breeding girls today, so they have that extra nutrition without the extra grain.  I am hoping that this will be a good plan.

It’s a party around the big bale!

And so it goes.  I will get their Selenium shots to them before I leave for Rhinebeck (as well as their annual Rabies vaccines), and then we shall see what happens.  We have chosen 5 girls to breed this year.  Another full house can be expected in the spring!

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.

Best laid plans and July catch-up

Peanut browsing while Battie finishes her meal on the milkstand

Things have kind of gotten away from me.  I have been so busy I don’t know if I am coming or going some days.  I do Monday/Wednesday/Friday cardiac rehab appointments in Brunswick, which is about 25 miles from here, and I need to factor in the summer traffic on Route 1, which makes for a day that is quite foreshortened.  It’s craziness, but necessary.  And so by the time I get home around 12:30, things get on a roll, and some days I don’t even get dinner organized until close to 8 PM.  Not the best laid plans, for sure.

Seriously cool climbing opportunities

But the farm has moved gently into the summer and things are going well on the whole.  Peanut came down with a case of coccidiosis, but the treatment took care of it and she is cruising along nicely.  We had to cut her milk consumption back quite a bit while she had it, and we have not returned the amounts to the previous, even though she has done some pretty loud complaining about that.  She is 13 weeks old, and it’s time to look at some weaning, so she is down to two 8 ounce bottles per day now.  Much easier, and as a result she is eating a little more grain which is important for her.  She is a just over 30 pounds, and loves to come out of the paddocks and race around with us while we are doing stuff.  She is good entertainment value and a real sweetheart!

Saffron’s girls ready to get into the car :*(

And today Saffron’s girls were picked up by their new owners and are on the road to their new home in Massachusetts.  They will be in good company with Nubian goats and some Icelandic sheep.  One of the girls was a little anxious, but I got a text from their new owner saying that they ware asleep in the back of the car and doing well.

Peanut is snacking on the dinner buckets!

And so it goes.  We now only have 3 little doelings for sale.  It’s going to be quiet around here pretty soon!  Twig got used to being sister-less pretty well, and none of the moms seem to mind having their babies weaned from them.  We are chugging along with the milking and the cheesemaking.  A few of the moms still have babies on them and I am getting more milk than I actually have room for in the refrigerator!  A nice problem to have, really.  I won’t complain, my milking and cheesemaking year is a short one.  :*)

Greening

Woods behind the house, view from the upstairs

The trees are finally really greening up here on the mid-Maine coast.  I had an appointment the other day down past South Portland and I couldn’t believe how much farther along the leaves were there.  But we are finally catching up, although I miss the different hues of the greens after the leaves are full sized and looking toward summer.  But for now it’s just nice to glance out the windows and see an ocean of verdant colors.

Peanut removing herself from a hay feeder

As far as everything else goes it is pretty much status quo.  I have not been as hands on in every day farm chores in the last two weeks as I am recuperating from an unexpected health challenge, which is what I need to do right now.  Thank goodness for Sam!  I am milking the 3 does in the morning, the ones that are keeping our Peanut afloat with her bottles (down to three a day now, phew!), and doing a few things around the house, but he is carrying on with all the rest, thank goodness.

Peanut waiting for her bottle

One of my biggest joys at this time of year is not just watching the goat kids grow like gangbusters and seeing the leaves bust out, but also simply to stand on the back porch in the evening and listen to the peeping tree frogs that fill our woods.  They are my beloved invisible chorus of the night, one of the greatest pleasures of spring.  (Although it doesn’t feel much like spring right now, still, yet, again in the 50s and rainy!).

And so it goes.  The holiday weekend is upon us and we hope to see the sun tomorrow!

 

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 :*)

Celebrating Spring

Our bottle babies, Captain and Tenille

This morning was really special, and not just because it is the first day of Spring.  Our Betsy did not spend most of the night with her babies, they actually were camped in two different greenhouses, but when we fed the mamas their morning grain, Betsy ate her whole portion, like a champ!  I can’t believe it!  She has finally earned the step away from being drenched with that awful propylene glycol, thank goodness.  She is off her antibiotics, her banamine (analgesic), and now the drench.  We continue to give her vitamin B every day, though.  We just have our fingers crossed that she can keep eating well.

Betsy’s babies ate like like champs as well this morning, drinking a little over 12 ounces, each.  We are slowly beginning to make the transition from kid milk replacer to cow’s milk, but it’s going to take at least another couple of weeks for that.  Most folks who have been raising goats for years do not use replacer as there is a much higher incidence of diarrhea that comes with it.  Our little ones are doing well, and I would use goat’s milk, but all of my current mamas have regulated their supply to meet their babies’ demand, so they are not letting me have a dependable supply yet.  And the next best thing is cow’s milk.

Jingle, up close and personal

Jingle the donkey was happy today as her good friend Fred the Farrier came by.  I know a lot of farriers don’t like visiting with donkeys, but our Jingle has always been good about her feet, and she and Fred love each other.  It’s such a relief that it isn’t a big deal for her!  Very nice.  Great start to Spring, even if we still do have a lot of snow sticking around.

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!

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 :*)