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!
It was a gorgeous and warm day out there today. The clouds appear to be moving in now, I think, and possibly stay for the weekend. But while it was nice and sunny around midday, Pippi had her twins, a buck and a doe. They are beautiful half Lamancha/half Guernsey babies. They both have Lamancha ears, which is to say, not much! So no eartags for these two cuties.
Last night it was apparent that Pippi had lost her mucous plug, but nothing more was happening at the 2 AM and the 5 AM checks. At breakfast, she moved in front of a hay feeder and would not let anyone else near it. She staked out her claim for that sheltered little spot in the sun. When Pippi gets serious about something, she really gets serious! Every time we went up to check on her, she gave us a growly earful and kept poking her head out at us like aa angry goose. Clearly telling us to Get Lost. At 1 PM she really looked ready, but again, she gave us the bum’s rush, and it might have been my imagination, but it looked like she was holding herself so tightly under control that she wouldn’t have a contraction in front of us. And then she must have popped that first baby out minutes after we left, because when we got back up there at 2:15, they were both up, and the little doeling had a big old milky mouth, and she was almost dry. Her larger brother was still quite damp and having some trouble getting to the milk bar, which we helped remedy.
It’s a huge relief that this kidding went well, no emergencies or disasters. The other three ladies in waiting are on track so far, and hopefully all will go smoothly. And Battie is doing much better. I think the steroids we ended up treating her with made a big difference. We still have to wait and see how she does, presuming that there is nothing left in her uterus that could become infected (she had a number of shots to keep her uterus expelling stuff). I felt really bad for her today because she just wanted to get into the jug with Pippi and the new babies. She is still calling to her babies when I milk her out in the eveninig, too. Ah well, this too shall pass. She cozies up to her baby from two years ago, Betsy, and it should be ok. That’s life in the livestock fast lane! And so it goes.
The snow looks like it’s just about stopping now, after about 30 hours. It began with a bang, but the snow was light. That was yesterday, and it got warm enough over night and today (upper 30s) to turn it all into a heavy, wet mess. We are half way through March now and most of us are just ready for it to end! (I know, how many times can I say it…)
Our biggest problem is the area around the greenhouses. We can barely get a wheelbarrow through, and the greenhouse pens need a good cleanout before the babies come. Sam has been working hard on opening up the lanes, but this last snow put us back in a big way. I think we got better than 18″. I am just hoping that we have a bit of melting before the 23rd!
Nothing to be done about the weather, so I am thinking we will have to put up a heat lamp for the babies again this year… I just don’t think we are warming up as quickly as I had hoped! Maybe next year I need to keep the buck away from the does until early November, so we definitely have babies in mid-April!
Another Nor’Easter has hit all of the east coast. Not that it’s any surprise to have snow and messy storms in March, but I think we were all hoping it was over. Not so fast, nature says! Joke’s always on us. And it looks as if another one is on the way for Tuesday. We only lost our power for about 6 hours, but many people fared worse than we did. I can hardly wait!
In the meantime we have been readying everything for the onslaught of the new kids. Less than two weeks, I would say. Have to make sure we stock up on molasses for the moms as well as all the things we need in our birthing box. (Syringes, needles, Bo-Se the selenium/vitamin E injectable, nose siphon, lubricant, thermometer, iodine and snips for navels, etc.). This year’s eartags have arrived along with a new feeding tube in case we have to tube feed anyone (last year’s tube got a real workout on Peanut). I also have to check and see if I still have any fresh or powdered colostrum in the freezer. It’s always a crap shoot for the first babies born, in case something goes wrong and we can’t get enough colostrum from a mama whose baby needs help with feeding (after the first mom gives birth we usually have plenty of colostrum put aside for the others, but it’s always the first one who has issues! Not really, but that’s what it feels like sometimes).
Anyhow, took a break from housework and everything yesterday to catch up on some reading and a little knitting. Made dinner and didn’t finish cleaning up, either, so that was the first job this morning. Now I need to turn my attention to a weaving project I am starting. What fun! And Daylight Savings has come to our rescue. I love more light at the end of the day, and in a week or two it won’t just be at the end of the day :*)
The weather has finally cooperated and we finally made the move to having Peanut stay out with the other goats all night. She is effectively a “real” goat now!
She remains the smallest of all the babies out there, even though she is 7 weeks old today, but she is doing very well with the others. She has not had any crying jags out there at all, either, except when it’s very close to bottle time. We have not gotten her onto 3 bottles per day instead of 4, but we moved the last feeding of the day to 8 PM, instead of 9 (once it’s pretty dark outside the goats tend to be bedded down, and if we go up there, everyone gets all riled up). It doesn’t seem to bother her!
One thing I can truthfully say, it’s quite a relief to have her out of the house… even though she was only inside for a little bit of the evening and about a half hour in the morning, she has grown so much and is so strong now that she can just about jump onto any table or pile of newspapers without giving it a thought. Talk about chaos! It was exhausting supervising her. I have only tackled a little bit of the cleanup in the house that it’s going to take, but there is no rush.
And so our little House Goat is growing up, but her cuteness remains intact. I don’t think that will ever change!
(It’s difficult to get photos of her because every time I go into the pen she runs up to climb on me. The photo above is about the only one I have been able to successfully take in the last few days).
It feels like it’s been forever since we saw the sun. For a moment or two this morning the sky brightened, but in the end it just led to more clouds. The temperature feels like it is inching up, though, which is definitely a plus!
On these gloomy days I have been catching up on herd paperwork, and doing some plying. I have spun up quite a bit of my backlog, but I hate to ply, so I frequently put that off until I can’t find another empty bobbin to put on the wheel. I know, silly!
While spinning, I have been listening to Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence audiobooks, and am on the 2nd one, The Dark is Rising. I read this and the prequel, Over Sea, Under Stone, many years ago, but am enjoying it again. I had never read farther into the series, though, so I am looking forward to the others as well. Susan Cooper is a wonderful author who has written more than just this series, one of my favorites being The Boggart. I am not a serious fan of heavy duty fantasy, but the battle between The Dark and The Light in many of her books is a timeless theme, and she does it very well, with believable, complex characters. It also helps that these books take place in some pretty dramatic places, like Cornwall!
Peanut is continuing to do well, staying outside all day with the others, and coming in about dark. She hasn’t made the transition to a three bottle a day schedule yet, but I think she is close. She knows where to go when she wants a nap, and plays hard with the others when she wants. I don’t fear for her safety with the others, but we will wait until after the Mother’s Day rain deluge to leave her out at night.
Oh my, I can see a slice of blue sky in the distance! Shocking!
Has definitely been here. It’s almost gone, but the work entailed in dealing with it is going to take at least another day. What a mess.
It certainly is a beautiful, white world out there, and the snow is light, but when 2 feet of it falls in such a short time, it’s not so light to remove :*) We will deal better tomorrow with the paddocks, but for now the goats are fine in their houses, which really are looking more like snow caves tonight. Even the metal donkey shelter (portahut) is covered in snow, as it’s so high up the sides, the stuff on top had nowhere to go. I don’t know how much snow the wind will shift tonight, as it is roaring again out there, with 30-40 mph gusts.
Stuff this deep is really a struggle for me to get through as I am so short. But I have to say that the goats are doing well, and when we showed up at 3 this afternoon for the supper run, Pippi broke a trail through to the new greenhouse, where she knew the grain would be offered. She actually almost knocked me down going past. Fergus, however, stopped to jump up and say hello, and see if he could get my hat from me before I noticed. Not a chance, Fergus!
Most of the photos I took look like nothing but white, with a few higher white things sticking up here and there. But it was a doozy, and we are supposed to be seeing a storm Wednesday night into Thursday that could bring another 6+ inches. I truly hope not!
Our new girls are very friendly so far and they are getting accustomed to being ogled by the gang from the other side of the fence while getting used to their surroundings. It didn’t take long to see how the pecking order between them played out, either. Dorcas has the upper hand at all times; Eleganza (the whitish doe) comes in a close second. Of the two very laid back, smaller girls, Little Edna is bottom of the heap. Even Delta will give her a head nudge. But, such is life in the goat world.
I had worried that Edna was holding back on eating because of the pecking order, but we have so many baskets of hay around, they all have found their way to as much as they want or need. I spent a lot of time with them today, and am chilled to the bone now (we woke up to 0F this morning). They are doing just fine, and are licking up every bit of the kelp meal and ProBios powder that I am adding to their feed. Good girlies!
I know how stressful transport can be on any animal, and these girls are no exception (hence the addition of ProBios to their feed). They were in a vehicle for over 4 hours, and the two in the back of my Subaru never lay down, even though they could. If I had known them better, I would have put Delta in with Edna in my car, and let Eleganza and Dorcas have the slightly more spacious Jeep space!
But, all seems well in the land of the Guernsey girls. I think they are doing fine, and after another few days we can let them into the larger pen, but I will still be keeping them separate from the larger group for now. I keep wondering if Battie and Saffron recognize their friends from Ardelia! I can hardly wait to see how they react to one another when they are all together in one pen. Should be interesting.
The time has come for us to make sure we are ready for winter. In the past week the animal’s water tanks have been freezing over, and it was a sign to get going on winterizing the pens and the water troughs.
We had a new and larger tarp on order from our local farm and feed store, and today it arrived. We are lucky that it was a very lovely day, and we got that puppy on this afternoon. Yesterday we ended up replacing a stock tank with a floating heater with another kind of heated 16 gallon bucket. It is different than our other heated stock tanks, but I hope it will be just as good.
And so we move into the winter, whether it is officially here or not. The goats are all putting on their furry best, and we are adding straw in to their sleeping quarters regularly (those little buggers eat quite a bit of the straw, so it’s difficult to keep the amount we want available to them!). The dreaded Polar Vortex is scheduled to arrive for a quick showing this weekend, and then again in a more serious way toward the end of next week. Brr. I don’t feel quite ready, but it doesn’t matter. We will see it in. And the countdown to the shortest day of the year is on! Totally looking forward to the Solstice :*)
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).
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!
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