And today is an out of the ordinary one for Maine. 85 F here this afternoon, although we have a nice breeze so the bugs are not too big a problem.
The babies are growing like hotcakes, and the scrum around the feeder is incredible in the morning. We can barely get the hay in there before 3 or 4 not-so-little ones are jumping on and in. It’s nutty, but they are so much fun at this age. Everyone has cleared 35 lbs so far, and we are nearly ready to send some of our sweet ones out into the world with new families. Almost empty nest :*)
And so it goes. I will have to do a separate post to update my weaving apprenticeship. I have been very busy with that and have a lot of photos to share. Nothing earth shattering that any of you weavers out there couldn’t throw together in a jiffy, but the experimentation is teaching me a lot. And I am having a great time with it!
It was such a treat to have some warmer temperatures, although the wind never seemed to let up. But the sun was marvelous, and all the mammals on the farm took advantage of it and played and sat in the sunshine.
Back into the colder and more dreary weather. Tomorrow we may see some snow. At any rate, it can’t hang around long, I hope!
I really appreciate the everyone’s concern over Saffron and her problem with lactation. It is now believed that she has a ‘sneaky’ form of mastitis that may have something to do with a slightly enlarged lymph node at the top of her udder near her tail. (She has had no fever at all). I’ve been massaging her udder right along, but we have added antibiotics now and I am hoping that it does the trick. The vet believes that if we can clear it up she will be fine for next year’s kidding, but little milk will be flowing this year. I am extremely glad that we have Battie’s milk for them!
I am also happy to have some kind of diagnosis. Hopefully the BioMycin will do the trick and we will have a much happier girl soon. We let her and the babies out of their pen on Friday morning, and as is true of most kids, on the first day of freedom they all did their own thing. Mama and babies went in opposite directions for part of the day, but by late afternoon they were checking in with her regularly. We call her babies Little Red and Little Blue because of the color of their felt coats, which will come off in the next day or so (when it will be difficult to differentiate them from the other girls!). They slept with Edna’s little butterballs over night, with Pippi and her babies a few feet away. All the other adults were in the other greenhouse close by.
The sun is shining now and even though the breeze is blowing and we had quite a bit of snow last night and this morning, they are all outside playing near the feeder. Maybe it will turn out to be a lovely weekend after all!
(I couldn’t get a photo of Little Red because she was playing in the greenhouse with Edna’s girl)
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.
What a day! Our little Peanut Butter is still with us, and is a feisty one at that. I fell into bed last night at 12:30, and managed to sleep some, but by 5 I was up trying to evaluate how our little girl was doing. I tried and tried to get her onto the bottle, but it did not work. Last night she passed a lot of meconium poops, so something was working, and this morning she was chirping and crying for food, but as soon as I got that nipple near her mouth she would panic and just not deal with it (her tongue has no coordination, and it just rolls around. Early days yet, I hope).
So by 6:30 I just realized that we needed to tube feed her. I couldn’t give her much, because she obviously had some milk lurking there from last night (so then I began to worry that she wasn’t digesting, which is a distinct possibility). But we kept trying to get her on the bottle, and when I finally spoke to the vet, she indicated that we need to take small steps, and it’s always a possibility that she would not ever be able to digest her food (being hypothermic for so long, her belly may not be able to really do it’s job, or come back to normalcy). Just about the time I was on the phone with the vet, however, Peanut was making a big, giant, poopy mess in her little warm box. So we hope that we are on the right train tracks here.
We have to be very careful not to let her get too dehydrated, which is a by-product of hypothermia, so we are doing small tube feedings of milk with colostrum, alternated with Gator Ade. Saffron and Battie are our star girls, giving us a few quarts a day, aside from what their babies are consuming. (And I could definitely get more if I need it!).
And so it goes. That little goatie girl has the run of the house now, but luckily she doesn’t want to stray too far yet. (Peanut loves hanging out with me and snuggling, while she chirps her little songs and snoozes). Our chihuahua, Tesser, had a fit yesterday because we set up Peanut on her bed in front of the wood stove, with hot water bottles all around, and blankets and towels galore. I don’t think I have ever seen Tesser so upset! She has been hiding in her cave of a dog bed in the bathroom ever since, where the floor is 70F, and there are no roving alien goat babies.
Saffron is our very sweet girl that came from Ardelia Farm a year and a half ago. She was the one that had issues kidding last year and had a stillborn preemie. Two vets told me that there must be something wrong with her plumbing and that she would most likely not be able to carry babies to full term in the future. But the post-mortem on the preemie baby indicated that she died of an infection, not that she just couldn’t be full term for some physical reason.
So we gave Saffron another chance. I think when we brought her home over a year ago she had a lot of stress, and things just didn’t work out for her (she aborted the fetus she had been carrying, having gotten bred at Ardelia, and then got re-bred here). And I think that I am glad we gave her another chance, because she just had two beautiful doelings this afternoon!
I wasn’t home today, and I got a text from Sam saying that he had fed everyone this afternoon, a little before 3. He couldn’t find Saffron, and when he went into the recesses of the other greenhouse, there she stood with two clean and nearly dry babies, delivering her placenta. Easy-peasy, I guess! He said she never made a sound, and he was just in the next greenhouse, which is only 6 feet or so away.
She is a fantastic mama, and stands forever to encourage her babies to nurse. I think the larger of the two is in a milk coma this evening as I couldn’t get her interested in getting back on the teat when I went out to check them a little while ago. They both feel fine, and have warm mouths. (I get obsessive and look for the first dark meconium poops and then later the yellow poops that show milk consumption, but some of the moms get rid of the evidence, and I couldn’t find any signs of the baby’s fecal matter, so I just have to trust that things are going to plan). It’s my turn to do the late bottle feed tonight, so I will double check on them again.
10 babies on the ground so far, 8 of them are does. I hope there are a lot of people out there who want Guernsey goats this year! I certainly can’t handle all the added mouths to feed, at least not for long! These girls are just doing too good a job :*)
Was yesterday for the 8 babies that are on the ground right now. A friend of ours had offered to help us out, and because I have been sick, time got away with me a little bit. 4 of the babies were turning two weeks old this weekend, and and that is kind of the outer limit on when you get good results with it.
So our friend and her husband came up around midday, and the sun was shining and everything went very smoothly. I am not sure I could ever do the procedure myself, but someone experienced makes it look quick and easy. So our little ones all have alien markings on their heads, and by chore time yesterday afternoon, they were running around and playing, totally unfazed by the ordeal. I, on the other hand, was exhausted!
This is something that I really do not look forward to, but horns in a dairy operation are dicey… the girls frequently get annoyed with each other for one reason or another, and they bash at their victim with their heads down. Udders have been punctured and slashed, and then you have an even bigger problem on your hands (getting udders to heal is a long process as they are constantly expanding to fill with milk, and then contracting after milking). And so we disbud. In the long run it’s safer for us as well. (Purebred Guernsey goats are naturally ‘polled,’ but our little herd isn’t quite to that level yet, although our Betsy was naturally polled).
Our Betsy has been eating fitfully, and since we have taken her babies away, all she is doing is poking her head out of the panel and calling to her little ones, who huddle next to the gate into her pen. She has eaten a little more over the last few days, but not enough, and I think her stress level has been rising, as she wants her babies with her. So I fed the little bugs their 5 PM bottles, and let her out. They mobbed her and nursed her for awhile, but I am hoping they will settle down and let her just be their mama. She is such a good one. I just have my fingers crossed that I can get her through this and onto a better nutritional plane. One of the reasons I kept her is because her mama, Battie, is such a fantastic mother, that I hoped the trait would pass to her. I guess it did, and ironically it’s putting her health at risk.
And so we keep figuring out as we go on. You just never know what’s around the corner. I am hoping for a little lull between births. 4 more to go, 3 of whom I have pretty good dates on, one of which I do not. We shall see!
And here we go! Battie did not show up for her afternoon suppertime, and at the time, we didn’t notice until everything was over. I was feeding the bottle lambs, and Sam was doling out the grain. When we looked in the other greenhouse, there lay Battie, facing the corner, not doing much. This was about 2:30 PM.
We watched her for awhile, and then we went back to the house. I got into the bathtub and soaked for awhile, but when I was getting dressed, I noticed Sam jogging up the driveway. Not a good sign! He had heard Battie bellowing up in the greenhouse, and guessed what was going on. He got there just as her buckling hit the ground. He got her moved into a jug, and that’s when her little red doeling came dropping in. (We actually thought the doeling wasn’t a viable baby. She was flat as a pancake, wasn’t moving, and wasn’t breathing). We got her nose cleared off and there she was, right as rain. Little spitfire!
I wasn’t really expecting Battie to be due for another two weeks. When I put Reddog in with my group on October 12, I knew that he had been all over Battie, but he also seriously bred her for a full day almost 3 weeks later. So I had the second date on my calendar. Just goes to show you, you never can tell!
On another note, we took Betsy’s babies away from her this morning. Every time she got up, both of them were at her and never let her have a minute of non-nursing. I put them in the jug right next to her, so they can stick their heads through the panel and chat, but no milkies. I don’t think I have ever been given the stink eye from a goat the way Betsy gave me one this morning, but I think in the long run it’s going to be better. She stared at them morosely for a few hours, and by early this afternoon, she was frantically eating hay. And when all the hullaballoo started with Battie, she couldn’t contain herself, standing with her front hooves on the panel, watching and trying to see what was happening. That’s more like most goats I know! Noseybodies, one and all. When I went out to bottle feed her babies at 7 PM, she was still ravenously attacking her hay, and the babies were just happily cuddled up in a corner of their pen. I actually had to wake them up. So I think things are progressing well. I just have my fingers crossed that Betsy keeps moving forward with her nutrition.
What a day! I think a glass of wine is in order! Someone else is doing the 11 PM bottle feeding tonight. That’s a huge gift :*)
Fergus, our last kid born, is doing really well. His mama, Pickles, is a great mother, and is doing her goat mama thing. Having had a single baby, I was concerned about her udder. Little Fergus has only been nursing from one side, so I had to empty the left side of her udder for a few days. She was not very happy about that, but in the past day or so, Fergus has realized that there is more than one spigot available! Great kid, Fergus!
Right after Fergus was born, I emailed the vet and asked if we could have a visit very soon, as Fergus was born with horn buds ready to go. We had a few hiccups in connecting with each other, but she was finally able to get here and take care of that. We had her do our little white doeling as well, although she was enough older that I think it did not totally get the buds off. It may inhibit the horn growth, however. Disbudding with an iron is very tricky business, and it’s easy to kill a kid by being too aggressive, so I leave that to the vets.
We got quite a bit done this weekend, and this drizzly Memorial Day morning is a lazy one for me. I am going to have another cup of coffee and decide what i need to pull together a nice dinner. The ingredients of the day are eggplant and chicken. Lots of possibilities there!
Not of them in the grassy area, but playing around the rock. They are such goobers, and they never give up. Unfortunately, my shadow is in the frame, and it’s a little over-exposed, but lighting and photos/videos are not my best thing :*)
Here are the babies:
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!