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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday was a rather exciting day all around! The windchill made even the sunny morning feel well below freezing and it remained like that for most of the day.
Our original Guernsey buck, Reddog, has finally found a new home! I have been advertising him sporadically, but most of us do not think about adding a new herd sire so early in the year. We are all busy lambing and kidding! But, someone was interested in our boy, and yesterday we said goodbye to Reddog, and hello to Edna’s twin doelings :*)
Edna was the only doe on which I did not have any kind of a breeding sighting, and she is such a quiet, unobtrusive sort that I had to keep reminding myself to check on her. Other than her udder slowly growing and slackness around the tail ligaments, nothing. (Pippi’s tail ligaments were totally mush at least a week before she had her kids, if not more). So it was a surprise when we heard Jingle the donkey making a big, noisy fuss up in the greenhouse yesterday morning. Sam went to check on the ruckus, and texted me that Edna had had her babies, and both were up and looking for breakfast. They are the sweetest, calmest little ones I have ever seen. Both in the 6+ pound range. The wind would not let up yesterday, so we finally decided to put little coats on the girls to get them through the night. Once their bellies were full, I was happier about things all around.
And so now we are three down and only two to go. Saffron, who was due on Saturday, is not showing any imminent signs of labor, and Eleganza’s due date is still a week away. So we shall have to just wait and see what happens. At least after tonight the weather is going to be warming up considerably, thank goodness.
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 :*(
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!
The snow looks like it’s just about stopping now, after about 30 hours. It began with a bang, but the snow was light. That was yesterday, and it got warm enough over night and today (upper 30s) to turn it all into a heavy, wet mess. We are half way through March now and most of us are just ready for it to end! (I know, how many times can I say it…)
Our biggest problem is the area around the greenhouses. We can barely get a wheelbarrow through, and the greenhouse pens need a good cleanout before the babies come. Sam has been working hard on opening up the lanes, but this last snow put us back in a big way. I think we got better than 18″. I am just hoping that we have a bit of melting before the 23rd!
Nothing to be done about the weather, so I am thinking we will have to put up a heat lamp for the babies again this year… I just don’t think we are warming up as quickly as I had hoped! Maybe next year I need to keep the buck away from the does until early November, so we definitely have babies in mid-April!
Another Nor’Easter has hit all of the east coast. Not that it’s any surprise to have snow and messy storms in March, but I think we were all hoping it was over. Not so fast, nature says! Joke’s always on us. And it looks as if another one is on the way for Tuesday. We only lost our power for about 6 hours, but many people fared worse than we did. I can hardly wait!
In the meantime we have been readying everything for the onslaught of the new kids. Less than two weeks, I would say. Have to make sure we stock up on molasses for the moms as well as all the things we need in our birthing box. (Syringes, needles, Bo-Se the selenium/vitamin E injectable, nose siphon, lubricant, thermometer, iodine and snips for navels, etc.). This year’s eartags have arrived along with a new feeding tube in case we have to tube feed anyone (last year’s tube got a real workout on Peanut). I also have to check and see if I still have any fresh or powdered colostrum in the freezer. It’s always a crap shoot for the first babies born, in case something goes wrong and we can’t get enough colostrum from a mama whose baby needs help with feeding (after the first mom gives birth we usually have plenty of colostrum put aside for the others, but it’s always the first one who has issues! Not really, but that’s what it feels like sometimes).
Anyhow, took a break from housework and everything yesterday to catch up on some reading and a little knitting. Made dinner and didn’t finish cleaning up, either, so that was the first job this morning. Now I need to turn my attention to a weaving project I am starting. What fun! And Daylight Savings has come to our rescue. I love more light at the end of the day, and in a week or two it won’t just be at the end of the day :*)
The vendor area at the Hilton Garden Inn will open up on Friday night at 5 PM. It’s a great weekend, and I can’t wait! I hope to take some great photos and share them with you after the event.
On another note, I can’t believe we had a 50+ degree day today! It was luscious :*) All the goaties ate outside and everyone was cavorting and kicking up their heels. When the fog finally lifted and the sun came out midday, it was heaven. I know that not everyone in the country had such a day, so I feel very grateful for the little bit of sun and warmth we got this afternoon. Quite a bit of the hard layer of ice in the driveway and in the paddocks melted. Let’s hope the temperatures stay up a little and that any bad weather we get (cough, Sunday) does not hang around long enough to turn into ice.
It really has been awhile. I can’t believe that I have been absent for so long from the blog! The end of 2017 came and went, and it feels as though the winter is picking up speed and galloping toward the finish line, faster and faster. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking!
The more daylight we find ourselves with, the happier I am, though. I don’t get seasonal affective disorder or anything, but it’s just cheery to look up and realize it’s 5 PM and the sky isn’t as black as night. I know what comes next in the weather department can be the worst of the winter, but it won’t be long. Spring will show up one of these days!
Our winter program for the goats has been going along fairly well, although we have had some trouble with the electrical supply to keep the water buckets from freezing. Hopefully we can upgrade that once the weather gets warmer so that we don’t have these issues next year. The brutal cold spell that we had earlier on in the winter is mercifully just a memory now, and we all have our fingers crossed for more middle of the road winter weather for the rest of the season.
We are, of course, beginning the countdown to goat babies. Pippi and Saffron have the earliest dates, round about March 23. Our only real wild card is Edna… she must have been in stealth breeding mode, as I never caught her in heat or even with the buck. But she looks like she has a very nice baby bump coming along, so we just have to watch her. Everyone is looking very healthy, thankfully. Peanut and Twig are as sweet as ever, providing a lot of cuddle opportunities every day.
And so it goes. I am just about up and around after a good 10 days of the Type A flu. Being asthmatic, I try to be especially careful, but this really caught me off-guard. It was a particularly bad one. Wishing everyone a very belated Happy New Year!
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!
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!
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!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!