Tag Archives: breeding

The problem with bucks

Ephraim after the trip

The problem with bucks is that you can only use them for so long.  That’s why most of us are always on the lookout for new genetics, and it seems as though we have found some!

Ephraim is the new boy on the farm.  He is a big, beautiful Guernsey, with polled genes (born with no horns).  He is quite a laid back fellow, although at this time of year it’s difficult for any buck to be mellow with all the possible love that’s in the air!

He likes to be petted

We went Wednesday to pick him up in Vermont.  It was an uneventful travel day, but very long.  4.5 hours there, almost the same home.  And on the way home we had a frightened and very stinky boy in the back of the Subaru…  we took him away from a doe in heat on his home farm, threw him in the car and went!  I can’t fault him his nervousness, and he does appear to be fine now.  He has lots of ladies to cluck over and sniff at through the fence.  They are making him a little nuts, honestly.  He is sharing a paddock with Jingle the donkey, who is being very circumspect with this new guy.  She is keeping her distance, for sure :*)  (Not that he can do anything to her except spit a little and maybe get in her way at the hay feeders).  Smart donkey anyhow.  We like the ‘live and let live’ approach around here.

Jingle having a bit of a pout on Tuesday

And so we will have him on the home farm for the action next year.  I took Reddog out from the girls’ pen on Tuesday, so he is back with Hagrid and Fergus.  Hopefully we have the roommates sorted out for the winter now.  And new genes for the future!


4 down, 1 to go

Well, it looks like we have gotten through the storm of Halloween 2017 in one piece.  We were in a little pocket of houses that did not initially lose power last week.  They did shut us down for awhile while they were making repairs, but we got by without the problems most folks in Maine and NH were faced with.  I am extremely grateful, as we are in an area that is almost always hard hit.

And so the breeding has proceeded apace, storm or no!  Four of the girls have been bred by Mr. Stinky Reddog, but Edna has not shown any signs of being in heat yet.  I have my fingers crossed that she will come into heat soon, as I would like to get everyone situated for their winter quarters asap.  Unless I missed her heat and she and Reddog did their thing while I wasn’t looking (very possible), it would seem like she may be the last one to kid again!  What’s up Edna???  I guess we will know in the spring :*)

The only other news is that we have officially decided to sell Reddog the buck.  The friend of mine who owns him with me has not room for him and is concentrating more on her Angora goats now, and I have found a replacement buck with very nice genetics (and no horns!).  I don’t have a big enough operation to keep numerous bucks around.  If anyone is interested, I have a page for Reddog’s particulars.

Reddog the stud muffin

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!

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!

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!

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!

Oh boy!

Reddog surveys his domain
Reddog surveys his domain, that handsome guy

The heavens have aligned and yesterday was the day that we separated the group of girl goats into two (intended breeders and those who will not be bred).  And it also worked out that we were able to grab Reddog the buck and put him in with the intended four does.  We planned for every eventuality, going into battle calmly and carefully (if you have ever handled a buck in rut, you will know what I mean!).

Oh my!  I try to get the buck in with the does when none of the girls is in heat so they get used to each other for awhile before the buck gets to do his thing.  (Bucks are very aggressive with the does, and sometimes I think the girls get scared and will do their best not to have anything to do with the big stinkpot, even when it’t time).  This time it worked as planned, none of the girls is in heat at this point.

Reddog and Saffron have a truce
Reddog and Saffron have a truce

When we put his stinky butt in with the 4 girls, he went absolutely nuts!  The first doe in his sights was Beezus, the extremely shy brown doe.  He chased her around the paddock with his nose up her tail, until he realized that she is not in heat.  And he did that for each of the girls in turn.  It was very funny for us, although probably not for the does.  In time, the action ratcheted down, and you could see all the girls relaxing.  So we left them to their own devices for the night.

The girls cluster around some of the feeders. Not anywhere near the big boy!
The girls cluster around some of the feeders. Not anywhere near the big boy!

Today things continued to be fairly low-key, but every once in awhile you can see Reddog catch a whiff of something interesting, and off he goes to investigate.  A lot of that involved trying to get a sniff of the girls in the next paddock…  it’s always greener!

And so we wait to see how things go.  Reddog was only able to breed one doe last year, and I am desperately hoping that he has grown up and can meet the challenge!


Smell like a buck

Autumn color at last
Autumn color at last

Not the nicest of smells, that is for sure!  We are getting ready for the breeding season, and one way to tell that it is time is that the bucks smell so bucky.  Yow!  The older the buck, the stronger and more eye-watering the stench.  You know it is autumn, when.

I have been getting nervous about whether or not Reddog the Guernsey will be able to do his thing with more than one doe.  We have been watching the buck behavior, and the Lamancha buck (who loses every battle with Reddog) has been hogging the corner of the paddock that meets the corner of the girls’ pen.  He is always over there, stretching to see the ladies.  I was worried that Reddog was not showing the appropriate interest, and that had me in a bit of a panic.  Anything that goes wrong at this stage can mess up your whole following year!

Emily helps us out with the hoof trimming
Emily helps us out with the hoof trimming

Well, Reddog has proven us wrong.  He is doing all the appropriate things, but whereas Oreo just stands in that corner as a matter of course, Reddog kicks him out if one of the girls is in heat.  So, I am as sure of anything as I can be.  And when our friend Emily came to help me with the hoof trimming, she started to laugh because she told me his feet were absolutely saturated and dripping wet.  Not because we have had rain, and even the dew would not be that bad.  He is holding up the honor of all buck-dom, and peeing all over his legs.  That’s about the best thing I have heard all year!

It's definitely autumn when the giant pumpkins arrive
It’s definitely autumn when the giant pumpkins arrive

And so it goes.  I am not in a total panic about the breeding, but I am going to pop Reddog in with the breeders a little earlier than I had wanted, just to make sure that we have time to see what is going on.  And if he is shooting blanks, we will have a chance to put the other buck in without losing too much ground.  I really don’t want babies in March, April is really my target date.  If Reddog does breed someone next Wednesday, our babies would be due around March 11.  Earlier than I want, but the does cycle in approximately 18 day turns, which can put us back almost a month, which then leads to later and later kids.  (One year we had a doe in heat on New Year’s Day.  That is a breeding nightmare, and not much fun!).

This year I am not even minding the big buck smell, because I am hoping that it means the hormones are working correctly.  But you just never know with animals…  The best laid plans and all that.