What a lapse in blogging! The days have been flying by, even by winter weather standards. I think most of us in the northeast can agree that this has been the winter of ice, which was definitely not an easy-to-handle one. Each snow storm we had ended in rain and sleet, and the buildup of ice in all the areas where the shade predominates has been epic.
And so we enter the in-between time of icemud. Not yet mud season, but mud mixed with layers of ice… and everything re-freezes at night. Gotta love it because there is nothing to do about it! I am enjoying these 40F days, though, and afternoon chores are my favorite time of day. The sun is high and warm, and even the unrelenting wind has not spoiled how nice it feels to be outside.
On the goat front, we are just 3 weeks away from our first babies! Eleganza is our Number 1 this year, and is due on April 9th. The other two are due a week later. Our first-timer, Twig, has begun to have a nice little udder, so even though she does not look incredibly pregnant, she is chugging along well.
And so it goes! Spring is not a season that we really have here in Maine, but the trees have buds on them and the overnight temperatures are in the upper 20s and low 30s, which is delightful. Maple trees are tapped and syrup is flowing well. And Daylight Saving time is here, which always makes my day :*)
Wherever you find yourself, there you are. And that is life, as usual. Now that my son is not here to help with the chores, the first thing I really need to deal with is selling a few of the goats. I have too many to handle by myself now that he has moved on. Every day, twice a day at chore time, this truth reveals itself, whether I want to acknowledge it or not.
Tonight, it was just a mess at milking time. I had the boys and Jingle in a neighboring paddock eating down some tasty weeds, and when I let the big boys back into their home paddock for dinner, the little buckling would not follow. Well, I left him in the other paddock with Jingle the donkey while she ate her grain allotment for the day, and when I was getting her back into the home paddock, he slipped out behind her and got loose. Wandering the work area and the places outside the paddocks. He is a little bit shy of people, so I could not grab him right away.
Well, I decided I could work around him for awhile, so I started to get everything ready for milking and the evening feed. I got the first girl up onto the milk stand, and realized I had left my milk buckets up at the house. I was sweaty and hot, it was raining, the milk stand was half in and half out of the greenhouse and the goat’s backside was getting wet, so I decided to just milk and toss it. Awful, I know, but it was about all I could do. (I was also trying not to get the halter heart monitor wet. The doctor wants me to wear one for a few days to see if they need to tweak my beta blocker meds a little. I could not have picked a more perfect week, hot humid and rainy. Yuck!). And so chores went the way that chores have so many times in the past, downhill very quickly. After I milked her, the little buckling came wandering into the greenhouse where the feed is stored, and I was able to grab him and get him home. Phew!
But, in the end it turned out to be a great chore evening. When I finally got all the milking mamas back into their paddock, I had to go in to move some feeders around. It really began to rain pretty hard then, and I just hung out with my girls and relaxed. Pippi was rubbing her wet and itchy head on my hip, one of Edna’s girls was sniffing my arm and nibbling on my shirt, Peanut wanted some head rubs, and we all just stood there together and waited until the worst of the rain was over. A little cluster of wet, itchy souls, waiting for the bus, or whatever.
And so it goes. No milk for cheese tonight, but tomorrow it will be better. I have not hit my routine stride yet, but it will happen, and it will be a lot easier if I can move a few of the herd on. I don’t need to be milking 4 goats, it’s too much milk for me to deal with, and just that more to do on my own. It will be difficult to let any of the girls go, but it’s what I need to do. Life always seems to be a work in progress, doesn’t it?
And boy does it sound like it out there! The crickets and the grasshoppers are playing their music frantically. I don’t know if it’s the drought, or just the usual. Whatever the reason, I love sitting and listening to them, it’s a most comforting sound. The rain is finally making a brief appearance every once in awhile, but the days are growing shorter again, which always surprises me for some reason.
We have had an insanely crazy summer so far. My husband has been traveling back and forth to NJ. His dad, 94, was getting feebler, and ended up in the hospital and passed away just before the 4th of July. And so many trips up and down, alone, with me, with our son and grandson later, it’s been nuts. Very sad to have lost my sweet father in law, but also nice to have had an opportunity to see much of the family again.
In the middle of all this upheaval and emotional stuff, my older son, the one who has been with us for a little over 2 years and has been a huge part of the goat farm, had the opportunity to move back to NJ, which he did this past week. And so it goes! When it rains, it pours. Change just is, and I am old enough to not be surprised by it. But it does every time.
Today John came back from NJ once again, and I think he can stay for a week or two before heading back south. The summer traffic is epic, and it took him almost 10 hours to get back today (it’s a 400 mile trip, should only be about 6-7 hours). In the meantime, my schedule has changed drastically, as my son was doing a lot of the feed prep each day, and it will take me awhile to get into a different groove. I know the goats are standing around scratching their heads wondering why everything is taking so darn long :*) Ha!
My weaving work has continued well, and we are exploring double weaves right now. It’s so much fun! I also finished a set of Summer and Winter weave hand towels a few days ago, which I just love. I made them from cottolin, and the colors are lovely. We only have about 2 months left tin the grant timeline, and I have a few projects I need to work on aside from what I am doing with Nancy. I need to really get cracking on them.
The hot and humid weather can turn me into a very cranky soul, but so far we have had pretty small doses of it until this past week. It’s been a tough one, and I know that the animals are feeling it as well. I certainly am not very sprightly during this hazy, humid stuff, and living in Maine, we do not have air conditioning except in the bedrooms (although living only about a mile from Muscongus Bay definitely helps, particularly when we get breezes off the water). The next 3 or four days are supposed to be better, and then the stickies make a return appearance. Ah well, this is summer, and this too shall pass! I am not wishing it away, the green and the warm don’t stick around for more than a blink.
Our girl Saffron, who had the mastitis, is doing quite well. Her girls, Little Red and Little Blue, are also doing well. As with all bottle babies, it’s very difficult to get a good photo of them because they are always crowded around the humans in the paddock, wanting to play and also check out why we are in there with them.
I am lucky to be getting about 3/4 of a gallon a day mostly from Battie, our doe who lost her babies. I am also milking Eleganza’s right side because her boys seem to think the milk bar is only on the left side. I am milking once a day in the afternoons, so things are pretty relaxed, and we are getting more than enough milk to feed our little Red and Blue. And my son has milk for his coffee.
And so it goes! Our two little bottle girls are already spoken for, and will be going to live with a lovely family in New Hampshire sometime in June. Our little girls are growing up!
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!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!