I had every intention of writing this post early in the week. But it’s been a tough one. The arctic blast has been hitting us this week with minus zero temperatures, and some wind that would stop a truck. And it was the “back to work” week after a very nice vacation. So up a little after 4 a.m. was quite a switch from vacation mode.
But on Monday I had to rush right home so that we could load two of our goats into the back of the Subaru for the trip to the butcher. It was one of the more difficult trips as Elf, one of the first 3 goats that I brought to the farm, was one of the two. And the young male that took the trip with her was actually her baby.
It was quite a low-key deal in the end. We did not have to stress about getting them into the car as they are all quite well-behaved, and all went without incident. We will have some lovely meat to share with friends, and lots of great memories of our Elf. I have been missing her this week, but we have her daughter Zelda (in the background of the photo) and Zelda’s girl Marigold to carry on that line.
And so it goes. Elf will always be a sweet part and memory of our little farm. That’s farming.
Summer vacation has been amazing. I certainly did not accomplish everything on my “to do” list, but I tried. I got quite a bit of reading done, got to the beach numerous times with my grandson, visited and hung out with some great friends.
The transition back to work is always a little difficult, but getting up earlier probably won’t be an issue as I wake up like clockwork at 4:15 anyhow. I just can’t roll over and ignore it! It was great to begin catching up with colleagues yesterday and today, and tomorrow should be a little more of the same. And then the kids join us starting next Tuesday. As long as the cooler weather comes back as promised tomorrow, and holds through next week, it will all be good. And so the new schoolyear begins :*)
This afternoon I got home and went right up into the paddock so that I could give Elf a vitamin B shot and (hopefully) her last antibiotic shot, and then I wanted to get her out with her babies while we still had some sunshine and daylight. I wanted her babes to have some time to get to know the other kids on the block and have some playtime.
Well, the kids did fine and made immediate friends with Marigold and Iris. I always put out the feed for everyone in the paddock, so hopefully all the girls are eating when I spring the jugged mama and babies so that they are all busy. Sheep and goats will pick on each other when one has been away from the others for awhile, and the pecking order needs to be re-established as well. I have always known that although SnowPea and Elf have had issues, most of the time they politely ignore each other. This afternoon I was really taken aback by the fight that ensued up near the feeder when Elf came out to join the others. Elf gave SnowPea as good as she got, but became tired of the head-butting and walked away, again and again. But SnowPea would not stop her bullying. Wherever Elf went, SnowPea would rush over and bite at her and push her around pretty ferociously. So Elf couldn’t get to the feeder to eat her hay. I was very amazed at how long this went on, the better part of an hour. So I took some hay aside and fed Elfie out of my hand on the other side of the big rock while the babies cavorted and slid around us over and over. Every time SnowPea approached, I wouldn’t let her into our little private party. I think she got tired as well, and I began to be a little concerned because she was breathing so heavily herself. She finally gave up and went to lie down by the feeder and finish her supper. By the time I came back to the house, everyone was stationed at the feeder and quiet.
I certainly hope they got it out of their systems. I worry about both of them, neither are spring chickens, and SnowPea is very pregnant, and has been the herd queen ever since her herd queen mama, Salsa, was out of the picture. I guess she takes her queendom very seriously! The baffling part of it all is that she never gave Zelda a sideways look when she came out of the pen with her babies two weeks ago. I don’t know, but it’s very interesting watching goatie society at work!
Back to work today, vacation is officially over. It was also the day that needed a visit to the vet to get our newest little ones disbudded. We were lucky to have her fit us in, and so we got that taken care of, thank goodness (the earlier the better!). Our little girl has a slightly different coloring than her mother, Elf, but she has that same lovely face and is a total sweetie. Her brother is the picture of Bagels the buck, but with floppy ears instead of stand-up ears. Beautiful boy! They feel like such peanuts compared to the older doelings who are on a tear around the paddock at any point in the day that they are fantastic entertainment. The two older girls are very fond of climbing all over me out on the big rock, and that is my fun every afternoon. Even though the weather hasn’t been that warm, we are still appreciative of the fact that it’s in the 40s every day, and not in the teens and the 20s!
Tomorrow Elf will be wormed early in the morning and then hopefully everyone will be ok to be let out of their jug to join the rest of the goaties. Progress. Now all we need is for Pippi to have her kids. Not a clue when that will happen!
Finally, Elf has had her big moment! I knew something was going on after chores yesterday as she kept walking away from the feeder and going into the greenhouse and just standing. So my hourly vigil began. Put on boots, get chore gear on, walk up, check on goat, return to house, get chore gear off. I went out hourly until 1 a.m. and at that point she was bedded down with no signs of labor, so I went to bed. At 4:15 I woke out of a dead sleep and headed up to see what was happening. There were the babies, one dry and fed, the other one fed, not totally dry. Phew! Elf is a cagey one, she has always waited until our backs are turned, and then popped them out. She has never kidded at night before, however. She usually chooses midday and hides away while everyone else is napping out by the feeder.
The smaller of the two is a doeling, and she was definitely the first out. The buckling has two pounds on her, and is dark like his daddy Bagels. Both are beautiful and strong, the doe with short ears and the buck with long ears. Even though it’s grey and damp out with some rain this afternoon, they seem to be faring well, and Elf as always, is a very attentive and protective mother. I kept trying to take photos of the little guys and she kept inserting herself between the camera and the little ones. It took some convincing to get her to move!
And now it may be time to go and check on everyone again. Pippi, the white doe with the long beard, is looking like she is dropped and is ready to go at any point. Maybe she will do us a favor and wait until the rain stops tomorrow in the morning, or nicer yet, have them this afternoon!
It’s doing it again. Half this country seems to be cursed with the snow, ice and wind. Ugh! Enough already! It’s certainly not news, but it definitely is a downer, particularly after we had the wonderfully warm weather so recently. I feel like I keep posting photos that look the same as every other photo from this winter, but I guess that is the reality, so that’s what we have today. Photos that cannot be differentiated much from any others during the never-ending winter of 2014. Dark and grey, with a lot of white!
Today is our 6th school snow day, so we officially will be going a day later in June, although I am sincerely grateful that we didn’t have to drive on the sleety, icy roads this morning. To top it off, I woke up with the cold that my husband has been fighting for the last few days. It doesn’t appear to be as bad as the bug he has, thankfully.
I am off to do a little more knitting, and my husband is making his amazingly wonderful deviled eggs… just right for a snowy, windy, icy, yucky morning :*)
In the past week since I wrote the post about which buckling is really ready to tackle the four does, I have seen a huge change in Bagels the Brown Buck. It’s amazing, really! Now he is spending all his time at the fence, peeing on his legs and crooning at the girls. I did some fence-tightening on Sunday afternoon because he was so beside himself I wondered if he could squeeze through. Monday morning I knew why!
Even in the dark as I walked up to the pens I could see that Bagels was glued to his side of the fence, and Elf, our oldest doe, glued on her side of the fence, flagging her tail like mad. They were so seriously in love that even the grain in the feeders did not call them away. So while everyone else was busy breakfasting, I thought I would give love a little help. I put Bagels on a lead and we nipped through the gate and into that dark little corner of the girls’ pen, and Bagels learned about the birds and the bees. The look on his little goatie face was priceless! It was a classic moment, a goatie coming of age :*)
Amazingly, I got him back into his little corner of the world before any of the others noticed what was going on. Phew! And if we caught Elf at the right time in her estrus cycle, her kids are due on Friday, April 4th. Wow.
Farm Market Saturday. Thank goodness the humidity has been very low for the past four days or so. We have had some awesomely beautiful weather. Lots of people came out for the market this morning, and we had a lovely time. Pam of Hatchtown Farm and I share a booth as we sell pretty much the same product, and we have much more fun that way. And if one of us can’t be there, usually the other one can cover the booth.
The big fun today was that we had a visit with my husband’s cousins from New Jersey. They were on their way to a camping vacation in Bar Harbor, so they stopped by for a few hours on the way. It’s been a long time since we have seen them, and it was a lot of fun. We spent some time in the fiber loft, and quite a bit of time with the animals as well. It was just perfect. The goats were over their midday naps and milled around trying to figure out who the new folks were. Very nice day.
A little bit of a warm-up after a very blustery, cold day yesterday. It looks like we are going to have a mild day tomorrow again before getting into some arctic freezing cold on Monday and into the week. Aside from erranding today, we took the opportunity to really clean and scrub down one of the giant water troughs in by the sheep. We will do the other one tomorrow. An opportunity also presented itself to get a little more of the iciness and hard snow buildup away from some of the gates. It’s always something when we have ice and snow. Although I should go on record to say that I much prefer this to the mud! I love the cold weather in general!
It’s funny that one of the farm blogs that I read (the Kitchen’s Garden) also was talking about taking the opportunity with the mild weather today to scrub water tubs. And they are out in Illinois! It’s one of those things that is universal, I guess, when taking care of large animals. Lots of watching the weather and taking advantage. I am also currently putzing around with feed tubs to feed out some of the hay we are getting. It’s beautiful and has lots of broad leaves and timothy heads in it, but it’s shattered up, so when we take a flake off, a lot of it just drops to the greenhouse floor in little pieces. I have been shoveling that into tubs to feed out to the sheep and goats. It looks good and they seem to eat it whether it’s in the feeder or in a tub. Just one more way to deal with getting them what they need.
Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get into the loft upstairs that is supposed to be something of a fiber studio. If I say it’s in disarray, it would be an understatement. It needs a huge amount of organizing, but I really need to get going on that. I have to fight my way over to the loom and think about getting that warped. That would be a real accomplishment! And it’s a great thing to get going during the winter.
Had another surprise the other day when I went out to do afternoon chores. I walked up the driveway and the first paddock that I pass is Jingle the Donkey’s group, with 4 bred ewes, and Elf and Zelda the mother/daughter goat duo. We have all the others in the adjoining paddock which connects to this one via a blue metal gate. During the warmer weather last week I took the opportunity to unstick the connecting gate while I had the chance. I am going to have to mix up the makeup of the two groups, but not quite yet (this involves who will be getting grain running up to lambing and kidding).
That afternoon as I was passing the first group, I noticed Fuzzy Lumpkin and Beezus the ewes standing next to Jingle the Donkey. Hmmm. Something is definitely afoot! And when I looked more closely, I couldn’t see Elf and Zelda in that group. And then I saw it: the interconnecting gate had been pushed in (the baling twine that I used to hold the sides of the gate to the cattle panels had rotted and broken). So the girls had a mixup.
I did chores and watched what was going on the whole time. I was worried about Elf and Zelda because when they came back from Bridge Farm we couldn’t integrate them with the other goatie girls as they had a territorial dispute and I didn’t want a repeat performance. I watched them and went back out later… Pippi the herd queen was going after the other two at the feeder, trying to make Elf and Zelda move away and find another spot to eat. They settled down after awhile and I thought I would see how it had shaped up by the next morning. If everyone was resting in the greenhouse when I went out for chores, I would presume that they had worked out their issues.
5 a.m. the next morning I got up there and it was pretty obvious that Elf and Zelda were not being welcomed or even tolerated. They were cuddled up by one of the feeders, outside. Luckily they were very sleepy and not inclined to argue as I popped them back onto the other side of the fence. They seem much happier. Now I don’t have to lose sleep worrying that there is going to be fighting in the paddock. And I knew that icy rain and snow was on its way during the day so I did not want to think about the two does standing outside in the ice because the other two wouldn’t let them into the shelter. Goat society can really be brutal!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!