I am so very glad that we are now able to use the milk from our goats again (we had prepped them for artificial insemination with CIDR hormone inserts). The withdrawal period was 10 days, but I waited two weeks as I did last year. After having this year’s goat kids so late in the season, it has pushed my whole milking and cheese-making back. But I am working full-speed to try and get as much chevre made as I can before the winter gets too nasty to want to be milking in a greenhouse with no ends to speak of.
Got to get some cheesy goodness into the freezer to last us until next year’s kidding! And before that we want to enjoy it all during the holiday season. Great stuff.
So we lucked out in this hurricane. I know that there are quite a few people in Maine without power, but we can’t complain too badly, compared to what is going on in the mid-Atlantic. I did hear from my older son in northern NJ and he is safe, but did comment that it’s like a war zone. I can believe it. Very sad.
We got to celebrate our 31st anniversary in the pouring rain while trying to get our goats set up for their artificial insemination appointment. Of course today had to be the day! We do not have a barn, and our greenhouses are not in the greatest shape. Our hay greenhouse, not being accessed by animals as well as being pointed in a better direction than the others, is the best of all four. So we set up there and when Whit the vet arrived he told us that that would work. As John and I were needed to hold the goats on both sides, I only got two photos, while we were setting up. Ah well, it’s always an interesting experience and I was able to follow the whole process a little more closely this year. We had semen straws leftover from last year, kept at the vet’s place in his nitrogen tank.
Let’s hope that some of these breedings take hold. When the vet’s helper did an examination of the semen it appears as though the straw we used on SnowPea was not quite as good as the straws we used on the other two girls. So we will keep good thoughts for the breeding. It’s always an adventure!
Note: We do not need a Goatie WooWoo Alert for this blogpost!
I can’t really say that this is Goat Breeding 2012, as our girls got bred for the 2012 kidding season in January. We were really behind the times last year and our artificial insemination experiment didn’t get its show on the road until early January. That’s really pushing the breeding season for goats in this part of the world, and unfortunately the AI didn’t “take,” and we ended up transporting two of our 3 girls down to a friend’s farm to have Pippi and SnowPea bred by their Saanen buck.
This year I vowed to get started much earlier. Since we now have a contact with a wonderful AI vet, Dr. Whittaker from Turner, Maine, we decided to get started early. We did not use all of our semen straws last year, so the doc has them in a tank and we will proceed as last year, except in a more timely way (our girls are LaMancha, and we are always hoping to have close to purebred LaMancha babies).
Anyhow, yesterday our friend JoAnn of Beau Chemin Preservation Farm in Waldoboro emailed me to say that the hormones had landed, so I headed over there after work and picked up our box of goodies (she also is doing AI on her goats). Today was the day for the initial shot of estrogen plus the insertion of the hormone packs. Not something the girls were looking forward to, I must say. Our friend was here to lend a hand and the 3 girls are on their way. In a few weeks we will have the big event: the visit from the vet with his tricked-out van and wonderful staff. And then we cross our fingers and hope!
Yesterday as we were out getting afternoon chores finished up I went over to watch the goatie girls interacting around the feeder. They weren’t panning for the camera like they usually do. There is almost never a dull moment with them around.
They confided in me and were a little miffed that they have been getting such short shrift in the blog these days. I admit, lambing has kind of forced goat business to the back burner, but now that the lambs are all here we are getting ready to think about kidding. Bonbel and Pippi both look like they are probably pregnant, although it’s difficult to tell until the last month. But I guess that’s almost where we are!
If the girls were bred by AI (and that’s a really big if), they would be due smack in the middle of Fiber Frolic weekend, June 2nd and 3rd. That would be interesting! John would have his hands full while I am manning the booth in Windsor. On the other hand, as I truly believe, they were bred during their next cycle by our friend’s buck, so they really should be coming due about June 23rd and 24th.
This is just about the latest we have ever had kids. I have been drying Pippi off to give her some time before the big event and I hope that she does before she starts bagging up for the new little ones. And then we have to decide if we are going to leave the babies with their moms, or bottle feed and start off the milking season with a big bang :*) Always a challenge and a new adventure!
I didn’t even have the heart to do a blog post on Wednesday evening. All went well with John as he took our girl Pippi to a friend’s farm to be bred by one of his bucks. They got down there, she got bred, they came home. He called me and let me know that things were good and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Only to come home Wednesday afternoon and find SnowPea and Bonbel in heat! AARGH! No one settled. It took me a few hours to process that and decide how to proceed. SnowPea is our oldest doe and she has been a very dependable milker, and I am currently milking her in the mornings along with Pippi. So I chose to have John take the other goat, Bonbel, to be bred on Thursday morning. Things went well again and hopefully we now have two bred and two unbred does. Two is good enough for us to get by with in the milk department, so I am ok with that. I don’t know what I will do if these girls come into heat in 3 weeks, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there. I can keep up the milking all the way through with these two if no one ends up pregnant, so I guess I should just keep positive thoughts for now!
Yesterday was the big day. I got home in plenty of time to get things set up in the greenhouse. Of course, it had to be that the weather decided to get more than seasonal, so the temperatures were in the teens and the wind was pretty brisk. John and I decided that we should go ahead and continue with our plans to put the milking stand in the hay greenhouse, which is the most protected from the wind, and also just the warmest.
I got the girls penned in the milking greenhouse, and they were bawling their heads off and flagging their tails like crazy. I think the vet hit the timing with their heat just on the money! He has a nifty van that has a nice workspace in the back where they inspect the sperm under the microscope before using the straw on the does. It’s late in the season, and we don’t know how many of the girls will get settled, but hopefully all of them will. It was a great experience watching them work, and it was much more quickly accomplished than I thought it would be. We had to hustle to keep the girls moving in and out of the pen.
In the end we were very impressed with how low-key and laid back Whit the vet and his team are. They did a great job and were fun to work with. We will decide if we want to do ultrasounds in 30 days to see if we really have some pregnancies. I don’t know if it will do any good as we are getting to the end of the breeding season and it’s late already for re-breeding. But we shall see. It’s just about time to begin drying off the does and hunkering down for the rest of the winter. I will miss my milking time with the girls!
We are making definite progress in the goat breeding department. Today was the day that was appointed to give two more shots (estrogen and something called Foligon) to the girls as well as to remove the CIDR inserts. 51 hours from the removal and the shots is the target for optimal insemination. So the vet and his helpers will be here on Wednesday afternoon.
The girls are not difficult to round up, and today when I went out to get them taken care of, things went fairly well. After the shots I pulled their hormone packs out, and when they went into the paddock again they got so frisky that I couldn’t believe it! Of course, today was in the 40s again and it felt very like spring… but I have a feeling that being free of the CIDR must have felt great as well!
So last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Happy festival of lights! I had a very enjoyable evening watching the candles in the menorah burn down (the menorah is a little disabled… it lost one of it’s arms so it is actually two candles shy of a full deck. Hopefully John can mend the fallen arm before Friday when we need the first four candles to be lit on one side). The other long-awaited day on the calendar that we obsessively wait for is nearly here: the Solstice! I know that the sun is at a much lower angle now during the true winter, but when we have a few more minutes of daylight every few days it seems as though the darkness is being actively pushed aside. It definitely floats my boat to see the minutes of daylight increasing each day!
The goat breeding adventure went fairly smoothly today. John went down to observe our friends at Beau Chemin Preservation Farm prep their 3 does. So he came back with all the supplies and when Pam of Hatchtown Farm came over, we got our 4 does in order. Putting the CIDR insert in place was not as big a deal as I had expected it to be, so that was good, and then we just had to give each of them an estrogen shot. Two of the girls broke out of the holding pen, but they are very predictable and come for grain, so that didn’t end up being too much of a problem. And so it is the first step on the road to artificial insemination. I am pleased. Phew!
We are poised on the edge of the AI experience! Today we get the CIDR hormone inserts and the Folligen and Estrumate meds to begin the process of insemination. Our friends over at Beau Chemin Farm in Waldoboro are doing AI and they were instrumental in getting us connected to the AI vet in Maine. Our insemination date is January 4th, so we need to get them prepped for the timeline to work properly. Hatchtown Farm folk are hopefully joining us this afternoon and with any luck we will have photo or video documentation.
I have been moaning about not being able to get anyone to ship straws of goat semen during this holiday rush time. But I now have some call-backs from two sources and I don’t see why it won’t work. This is just a test of our resolve, I am sure, just what we need to add to the holiday ambiance :*)
Well, I knew it was too good to be true. We now have a schedule for our goat AI breeding and I can’t get semen shipped from the company that we had decided to buy it from. I know that the week before Christmas is a difficult one, but once we found a semen source I didn’t quite expect this! I guess I will have to try another source. Aargh!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!