Pippi, our herd queen, is really on a roll. She and her babies have the biggest, most luxuious jug in the greenhouse, but she spends her time patrolling the borders of her little kingdom, warning away all callers. And not just an idle goat peeking over the green panels, no, if anyone, human or goat, should so much as gaze nonchalantly in her direction, she does this:
Poor Edna is in the next jug and her hay feeder is close to the panel that comes between her area and Pippi’s. I don’t think Pippi is going to get much breakfast eaten if she keeps this up. It’s extra funny, too, because Edna doesn’t even blink. She just keeps on eating her hay, totally ignoring the loudest goat on the block. Yay for Edna!
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.
Things have been quite nuts here at the farm this past week. The older babies didn’t look quite so big to me until we let Edna’s babies out of the jug with her on Saturday morning, and they popped out into the paddock. What a contrast! The month old kids look like giants next to them!
As it turns out, Edna is a very laid back mother, (as she is a very laid back goat). A few times that day one or both of us had to go looking for one or the other of her kids. I guess this should have given me an inkling. On Sunday morning we went out for chores, and as usual, the first thing we try to do is count heads and make sure everyone is there. Not all the babies sleep with their moms, and we have two greenhouses and two paddocks with an open gate between them. I started to get quite worried because we couldn’t find Edna’s little buck, Godric. Finally we spotted him, all the way over in the next paddock with Jingle the donkey and Fergus the wether (there is no gate into this pen from the girls paddocks), lying in a little hollow by the far fence, wet from the rain we had overnight.
We picked him up and realized his back left leg was broken, or injured in some way. I thought it was a broken femur, but Sam and John thought it was a dislocated hip. We have splinted many a lower leg on both goat kids and lambs with great success, but I have never encountered an injury like this. So we brought him into the house, made him comfy, got him warm and dry, gave him a bottle, and kept him as immobile as possible. He happily got on the bottle, and rested and was fine with being inside. I figured we now had two bottle babies in the house instead of just one, because we could see to his leg and then have him bottle-raised.
We got him over to our local vet as soon as we could, so she could take an X-ray. And we quickly realized that this was not going to get fixed. His femur was snapped in two pieces, and the top piece had swiveled all the way around toward his spine, and the bottom piece was pointing down. Not something many four-legged animals could come back from, even if we had deep enough pockets for surgery. So we had the vet put the little guy down.
We think he was wandering and one of the other moms may have backed him into the green panel that was closing off a small section of the fence between Fergus/Jingle and the girls’ area, giving him a slam as he was trying to get away through the fence. Unfortunately, it happens if babies don’t stay near their mamas. We replaced that section of fence yesterday with a galvanized panel that has smaller openings, but obviously too late to save our Godric (although being slammed into a fence that you can’t escape through would be just as lethal, I suspect).
Life on the farm sometimes seems so unfair, but in the end it is nature. We may have to set up a “nursery” type larger pen for Edna and her new babies next year, so she isn’t stuck in a small jug with them for too long, but in a wider pen in the greenhouse, not just out and about with everyone. I have done that in the past with some of our sheep. But I really wanted to get them out of the greenhouse over the weekend because it had gotten so warm that I was afraid they would get heat stroke. Good intentions, and all that.
It was a gorgeous day yesterday, for sure. We had a visit from the vet to try and get our three babies from last week disbudded, but their horn buds were too big already. That’s a disappointment, because I don’t like horns in my herd, but it’s possible that there are folks out there that will be fine with two Guernsey does with horns. Our half Lamancha/half Guernsey boy, Hagrid, (he was the giant baby born last week to Pippi), may be desirable to someone as well. He is a real sweetie! On the plus side, she took care of Jingle the Donkey’s yearly exam and her vaccines, so it was not a wasted trip.
Two of the does that we got in December are the ones that were still holding out as of this morning, even though they have looked like they would explode if you touched them, for the last few weeks. Today at 11 we went out to check on everyone, and then I ran to a friend’s house to pick up a few things. While I was there, about noontime, I got a text telling me that Edna had twins and they were up and cleaned off already! It’s a buck and a doe, and they are doing well. Edna is a good mom, and they are hunkered down and happy in the new greenhouse. Edna ate more this afternoon than she has eaten in a week!
And so now Dorcas is the last holdout. I know the full Pink Moon was at it’s height at about 2 AM this morning, but it will probably still look full tonight if the clouds have not moved in yet. And so, who knows? We may have more goat babies tonight. You just never know.
We are still waiting for our last two does to kid (Dorcas and Edna). They both look more than ready, but nothing appears to be happening. I feel like time is running backwards, somehow.
But on the brighter side, our little Peanut is doing very well. She has gained some weight (a little over a pound), and she is very active, tappy-tapping around the house (and ticking off the chihuahua into the bargain). She got up on the bottom stair yesterday, but luckily she did not get any farther. She follows us around like a puppy, and I find myself doing the ‘puppy shuffle’ so I don’t step on her! She is also taking more milk at each feeding, which is a good thing.
We have had to close Fergus the sweet buck off from the girls until his neutering. He is going this Friday. I know that he will still be fertile for awhile after the surgery, but it’s just a matter of time now. Hopefully his physical recuperation will go smoothly, and as the weather gets nicer, he will eventually be able to rejoin the girls.
And so it goes. It is a dreary week, and everything we want to do outside feels like a bigger job than it really is. And today is bone-chillingly damp. Oh well, it is Maine in the springtime! But the moms and babies have had their paddock opened up to the middle section now, and the babies have the big rock to play on. It didn’t take long for them to start taking advantage of it!
Today was a bright and clear day, thank goodness. Colder than I expected because of the wind, however. Which made the poop sample collection just a little bit more fun!
We ended up out there most of the afternoon. When goats and sheep, and cows as well, I understand, get up from napping or resting, they usually pee and poop. Well, I had Sam marking the spots where they pooped, but after 2, the other two of the 4 newbies had all done their business while I was collecting from the first two. So I locked the ones I needed into a little pen that I have in the uncovered greenhouse, gave them their grain and waited. We did not have to wait too long for Eleganza, but Edna was a poopy holdout!
I gave her hay, and gave her love pats and we chatted for quite a time, all the while the wind was feeling colder and more insistent. It’s always the way. Eventually we put her on a lead and walked her around the paddock, and it paid off nicely.
But, the most difficult part of the day was yet to come. We have been fussing with Edna’s eartag, as it was applied a little askew and was too tight. The part inside her ear was tilted up and pushing up into the hole, and the darn thing was just messy. I have been dabbing it with Betadine and trying to keep the crusties from making the distance smaller and putting more pressure on it, but after at least a week, we just couldn’t avoid taking out the tag altogether.
Edna may be small and very tame, but this obviously was very painful and she is very good at struggling and backing out of a headlock, even if you are straddling her with her hind end in a corner. And so we moved her to the milk stand and operated. Bellowing goats are almost as sad as screaming piggies, and of course it makes you feel awful. There was so much swelling that neither of us could get the nippers around just the post of the tag without involving flesh. And so since the hole was so raggedy and big that we cut away the whole plastic top of the eartag and were going to pull it out through the bottom. Sam grabbed the two halves and they came apart, very unexpectedly. Phew! Our plan was not a brilliant one, but luckily it worked. I didn’t take a photo of the messy ear with the tag still in it… anyone who knows me knows that i am not nurse material, I am a tad squeamish, so I just didn’t want to go there (I do what needs to be done, but I can’t dwell on it!). We soldiered through it, and I can tell that she is a much happier camper this evening. It had to be throbbing and bothering her all the time. Oy. A little bloodstop powder and it’s looking fine tonight.
Phew. I hate the messy, gooey stuff! Kidding and lambing is fine, but the bloody oozy puss-y messes make me a little nuts. We will watch carefully and make sure there is no infection brewing.
We had quite a productive day today. A little crazy, actually! Some of the results of the dairy goat tests from last week have come in, but the vet had to return and get 1 more vial of blood from each of the 4 girls today. They are not a problem to corral, but it just requires a little planning, as always!
Added to that we had an appointment with our friend Emily to come out and trim hooves with us. So our 4 newbie Guernseys were not particularly happy to be handled twice in one morning, but the weather warmed up pretty nicely and it was a good morning’s work.
In the last few days, luckily, it has been warm enough with just enough sun peeking through at times to get some of the ice cleared out. Some areas in the paddocks are still a mess, and the goats’ well-travelled lanes end up covered with straw and hay leavings – and poop. It just seems to happen naturally and helps with their footing, but the downside is that the ice underneath it gets insulated and doesn’t melt as fast.
Every winter is different, and this one has been a challenge from the first. It’s weather, nothing to do about it but make the best of it. And, we are on the positive side of daylight by 11 minutes!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!