Another couple of beautiful days here in midcoast Maine! Can’t complain about the lovely temperatures, which, along with a stiff breeze, are sending all the tree pollens our way :*) The goats are having a blast, and the paddock is really hopping with the 8 little ones bouncing around.
Yesterday I let Pippi and her babies out into the general population after her morning doses of calcium gluconate and another vitamin B shot. All three of them were thrilled. The babies just wanted to run wild, but Pippi is a very careful mama and she kept calling them back to her, keeping close tabs on them. She ate some grain at the feeder and John told me that he saw her at the hay pretty regularly all day. By yesterday afternoon her babies had truly become one with the kid gang, romping and playing out there like crazy. My favorite move from the goatie babies is the one where they walk up to one of the other moms and then just boing right up and onto the mama’s back, standing there like the king/queen of the mountain! Of course, most of the play still happens around the big rock, and I had a few chances to sit and let them rough me up a little. One of those little buggers can’t wait to jump up behind me and nibble on my hair. What a hoot!
So we will wait and see how Pippi fares. She looked good today. Fingers crossed!
Sweet Pippi. Well, she’s at least eating her hay. She is still just eating part of her grain. Luckily she doesn’t pick around the alfalfa pellets (which have loads of calcium). I always feed the alfalfa pellets starting about a month before kidding, and keep them going as long as I am milking. I don’t think that I was giving the girls enough of them, but at least Pippi is eating. I have pumped her full of calcium gluconate, and I think that we are going to give her one more treatment in the morning, along with her daily vitamin B shot, and then let her and the babies out. I am beginning to think that she needs some exercise, and a little more freedom will possibly increase her appetite. I weighed her babies tonight and found that her little girl has gained 2 lbs 6 oz and her little guy has gained a solid 2 lbs. Hopefully they will not be on her every minute after they get into the general population and she will have some peace to eat and get around. We will watch and see what happens.
This afternoon was a beautiful one, and I caught a little bit of action at the Rock!
Kidding is all finished and it’s always a relief when the babies are on the ground. Now we get to worry about all the other things that can crop up!
One of the things we are always watching for regarding the moms is something we call “milk fever,” but it’s not a fever, and it has to do with milk only in that the does need a lot of calcium to keep up the milk production. The birth process takes all the extra calcium stores in their bodies and when they start nursing their babies, the need for more sometimes exceeds what they can produce. Humans have bred domestic goats to be such heavy milkers that this is something we always need to be aware of (and I presume that this is a danger for milking cows as well, I know it is for sheep). So yesterday when I got home from the vet and went out to return disbudded babies to Pippi and SnowPea, I found that Pippi had not eaten much of her hay. I took her temperature and gave her a little molasses water and she seemed to perk up, but awhile later she did not appear to be any better, or any more inclined to eat. No temperature or other symptoms, so I began to treat her for hypocalcaemia, or milk fever, before things got any worse. This is not an easy treatment as it involves multiple injections of calcium gluconate, multiple times a day. I also have a calcium drench, but I have not been very successful with that in the past (it must be the foulest tasting stuff under the sun, they all shoot it out their noses and mouths and act like I have just given them poison. I got some into her, but not as much as I wanted).
And so Pippi remains in her pen with her two gorgeous babies, and we have turned her into a giant pin cushion. Better than the alternative, and she is responding to the treatment, but not as quickly as we (of course) would like to see. She ate a little more last night and today, but we are not going to let her out into the general population until she is eating well. Her milk is still coming in and her buck and doe are doing very well, always have full bellies. I really don’t want two bottle babies!
There frequently is a Wrinkle in the Force, especially with farm animals. And since today is May 4th and Star Wars Day, I can only say: May the Fourth Be With You! And hope that it is with Pippi as well.
It certainly has been a challenging week. I have not had a minute to update the last few days. The jugs continue to be full of spunky new babies. Yesterday morning Shlomit, our second first time mom, had a single ram lamb (11.5 lbs) and then just walked away from him. I didn’t see it happen, but I think that Persimmon interfered because she was standing over him when I got in there. We penned the new mother with her not-so-little guy and proceeded to torture her by holding her head and making her let the lamb on for a meal. I don’t think that she has changed her mind about him yet, so he gets his meals when she is up and busy with food. I guess I am going to have to watch him closely to see if he gets enough milk. She has a nice udder, so technically he should grow like hot cakes!
Then of course our old girl, Mae, is not in such great shape. She just had to go and give us triplets. We are treating her for milk fever and supplementing her smallest ram lamb with a bottle, but I don’t know how she will progress. Day 2 of the treatment with calcium gluconate and propylene glycol (to give her energy, appetite, and also to replace some of the calcium that she lost making those triplets and the milk for them). Along with vitamins I am hoping she can do enough healing to get through. Poor girl. She has been one of the most difficult ewes to handle through the years (she is big and strong and has taken more than one of us on a ride) but also one of the most self-reliant and hardy, and she has made us a lot of beautiful lambs.
This morning when I went out to feed the multitude I saw that Fuzzy Lumpkin had totally dropped and her backside was looking very droopy and pink. As I was finishing up with feeding all the moms in the pens, giving everyone water, admiring the playful lambs and goat kids, she walked away from the feeder and lay down in the greenhouse. So I made her get up and I penned her. She didn’t have a waterbag out, nor did she appear to be in true labor, so I came back to the house to get things ready and get warm. That was 9:30… and at 10:40 I went out to check on her and she had had both her lambs! The white ewe (14 lbs) was all cleaned off and she was working on the black ewe. They are beauties! No problem getting them to nurse and the black ewe had a lovely nice poop to prove that all systems were working a little while later.
It’s nice and sunny today, so hunkering down in the greenhouse is a pretty nice place to be. If the wind would die down it would be almost warm.
I like seeing Fuzzy and Lupine together in their jugs, side by side. They have been best buddies since they were born and they are still two of the best mothers we have. As for the rest of the crew, we have HoneyBea and Kate for the still expectant ewes and Rhubarb and SnowPea for the does. I think Rhubarb and the two ewes will birth their bunch over the weekend. Not sure about SnowPea. She got re-bred a few times, but her belly is sure looking big enough! If she waits a little bit it would definitely be better for our overcrowded greenhouse :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!