Category Archives: Weather

The Saffron conundrum

Saffron

When waiting for the babies to arrive, I always think longingly of when I can start getting more sleep, and of when the order and organization of the day can get back to a new normal.  I don’t know why I am so surprised when that doesn’t happen like the flip of a light switch!  And this year is not going to pass without a bump in the road, either.

Saffron had a very tough time last year when I thought she had toxemia or milk fever after her babies were born and it turned out to be mastitis.  She mothered her babies but had almost no milk for quite a long time.  We bottle fed those girls and they did fine in the end, though.  I have been watching her very closely for signs of mastitis this year, and unfortunately, she has it again.  Although this year I didn’t waste time treating her for other things and just got right to the antibiotics, vitamin B, and udder massages.  Her babies are only drinking from the right half of her udder (which runs out of milk pretty quickly), and the left side keeps getting bigger and bigger, and they can’t get on the distended teat.  I can get the girls on that side after I milk some of it out, but once I am back in the house I don’t think they touch it at all.  It also seems to be a little tender for Saffron, and that could be part of it.  And so my new normal has been making many trips a day and into the evening to milk her left side and also to get the girls on that side of the udder.

Freedom!

The biggest difference this year is that Saffron does not appear to feel sick like she did last year, which is a huge relief.  She has been very much herself, and never stopped eating her grain and hay.  I have had her and the two sweet little girls in a nice large pen in the back of the greenhouse where they are surrounded by everyone else, but I know that is quite restrictive and I was as ready as Saffron for them to be released.  Her girls gained a pound since yesterday and are really full of beans, so after the worst of the rain today, I let them out into the big paddock world.  (The girls had not been gaining as well as they should have, although they have fared better than I expected).

Oh my gosh, those girls did not hesitate a moment!  They began running and jumping with all the rest of the little ones, and mama Saffron was standing in the middle of the action trying to keep them in her sights, calling to them the whole time.  They didn’t stray too far, but they are fast little imps and took great advantage of their new freedom.

If we could just get a nice stretch of weather at some point, they will really be tearing up the place and enjoying the days.  Nothing better than sitting with the girls on the rock pile, watching the action in the sun.  And in the meantime I will ponder whether Saffron should ever be bred again.  And so it goes on the farm.

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Waiting, again

For goat babies, and for spring peepers!

Everyone has spring fever!

We have had some lovely weather in the 50s (F), and now today it is sleeting and snowing and blowing, but isn’t too very cold at least.  Just what I want with one of the does due to kid tomorrow!  I hope she waits until tomorrow, but compared to some of the years we have kidded and lambed, I can’t really complain too hard about the temperatures.  We have historically lambed and kidded in early March.  Brr.

Eleganza waiting patiently

Our Eleganza is the one up for tomorrow, and our Saffron due a week from today.  Both are experienced and wonderful mothers.  Twig, our two year old first time mom, is due next Tuesday.  All in all, a nice tight cluster of sleepless nights and early mornings.  Not too bad, really!  In looking back on the two older does, they have both kidded every year during the daytime.  I would be very grateful if that trend continues!

We have also been enjoying our local wild turkey population immensely.  Our house is on a mostly wooded site, with a beaver pond down back just barely visible through the trees.  And so our yard is a heavily travelled turkey route, which currently includes the back of the house at our bird feeder.  There are two or three fairly large toms that are traveling with a large group of females and a few jakes (young toms), as it is the mating season.  We have been treated to a daily show under the feeder by the tom.  His harem, however, doesn’t even give him a glance!  They are busy eating the fallen seed and the little chunks of stale bread I throw out there, and as they move on, the tom moves with them – after he has put on quite a show!  I think when he is showing off he looks like a wind-up toy.

And now I think I will be off to check on our expectant mamas again!

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?

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.

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 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.

Goodbye and Hello

Edna’s first doeling

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’s second little girl, in the blue coat

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.

My son and the two newest girls

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 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!

Snowmaggedon #2

Fergus is always glad to see us

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…)

So much snow coming off the greenhouses, we all look tall!

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!

March Snowmaggedon and Daylight Savings!

March madness

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!

White greenhouse tarp and snow.

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).

Snow overhang coming off the second floor dormer end of the house (outside my studio windows)

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 :*)