The problem with bucks is that you can only use them for so long. That’s why most of us are always on the lookout for new genetics, and it seems as though we have found some!
Ephraim is the new boy on the farm. He is a big, beautiful Guernsey, with polled genes (born with no horns). He is quite a laid back fellow, although at this time of year it’s difficult for any buck to be mellow with all the possible love that’s in the air!
We went Wednesday to pick him up in Vermont. It was an uneventful travel day, but very long. 4.5 hours there, almost the same home. And on the way home we had a frightened and very stinky boy in the back of the Subaru… we took him away from a doe in heat on his home farm, threw him in the car and went! I can’t fault him his nervousness, and he does appear to be fine now. He has lots of ladies to cluck over and sniff at through the fence. They are making him a little nuts, honestly. He is sharing a paddock with Jingle the donkey, who is being very circumspect with this new guy. She is keeping her distance, for sure :*) (Not that he can do anything to her except spit a little and maybe get in her way at the hay feeders). Smart donkey anyhow. We like the ‘live and let live’ approach around here.
And so we will have him on the home farm for the action next year. I took Reddog out from the girls’ pen on Tuesday, so he is back with Hagrid and Fergus. Hopefully we have the roommates sorted out for the winter now. And new genes for the future!
I am sorry to have been so long without posting. Cardiac rehab is still dominating my schedule, but I feel like I have a little more breathing room now. And the summer weather has continued to shine on us even into October! We are very dry here, but we have hopes of some rain coming in early this week. This evening is a misty one, and it’s looking good for some precipitation.
There is a lot to take care of on the farm at this time of year. I am looking forward to breeding season, which will happen here after I get back from the New York Sheep and Wool show around the third week of October. (I can’t wait!) But, in the meantime we are making sure that the does are on a steady and slowly rising plane of nutrition. Have to get them in shape for their amorous interlude with our stud, Reddog!
It’s a difficult thing for me to balance, this nutrition rise. At this point I have cut back to a once a day milking routine, which means that the milking mamas are getting less grain, so they don’t make as much milk. And since they are still in milk, they need their calories for that as well as for the energy to get into their breeding cycles. Sometimes I dry them off before breeding, but this year it’s been so mild I think I will milk them well into November, or even into December, depending on the weather. We decided to put a second cut round bale in with the breeding girls today, so they have that extra nutrition without the extra grain. I am hoping that this will be a good plan.
And so it goes. I will get their Selenium shots to them before I leave for Rhinebeck (as well as their annual Rabies vaccines), and then we shall see what happens. We have chosen 5 girls to breed this year. Another full house can be expected in the spring!
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.
This morning was really special, and not just because it is the first day of Spring. Our Betsy did not spend most of the night with her babies, they actually were camped in two different greenhouses, but when we fed the mamas their morning grain, Betsy ate her whole portion, like a champ! I can’t believe it! She has finally earned the step away from being drenched with that awful propylene glycol, thank goodness. She is off her antibiotics, her banamine (analgesic), and now the drench. We continue to give her vitamin B every day, though. We just have our fingers crossed that she can keep eating well.
Betsy’s babies ate like like champs as well this morning, drinking a little over 12 ounces, each. We are slowly beginning to make the transition from kid milk replacer to cow’s milk, but it’s going to take at least another couple of weeks for that. Most folks who have been raising goats for years do not use replacer as there is a much higher incidence of diarrhea that comes with it. Our little ones are doing well, and I would use goat’s milk, but all of my current mamas have regulated their supply to meet their babies’ demand, so they are not letting me have a dependable supply yet. And the next best thing is cow’s milk.
Jingle the donkey was happy today as her good friend Fred the Farrier came by. I know a lot of farriers don’t like visiting with donkeys, but our Jingle has always been good about her feet, and she and Fred love each other. It’s such a relief that it isn’t a big deal for her! Very nice. Great start to Spring, even if we still do have a lot of snow sticking around.
I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, whichever you celebrate. We had a very laid back beginning to Hanukkah, and a lazy Christmas day with the kids and grandson.
But, best laid plans, and all that! The vet was supposed to be here yesterday at midday, but she had an emergency in Belfast, which is up the coast far enough that she could not get here while we still had daylight. She came instead this morning, so we finally got the newbies vaccinated for Rabies, and she got blood from all of them for the usual blood tests.
In the meantime, we have been watching things with Jingle the Donkey and the boy group, which is down to one buck now, Reddog, since Oreo left the farm (we could only have used Oreo the Lamancha buck on the Guernsey girls as the two Lamanchas that we kept are his mother and his sister… not very useful at this point).
We have always kept Jingle in with the boy group, back to when we had both rams and bucks. Even though she is technically a mini donkey, she is definitely on the larger end of mini. Jingle has always had complete control over behaviors in that paddock, and makes no bones about it. Everything was quite normal with the bucks until we had Reddog the Guernsey boy come back into the group after being with the does for almost 2 months. His behavior has changed. No longer the mild-mannered, shy young buck. And he has gotten quite aggressive with Jingle in particular, for some reason. As he has horns, Jingle has begun to avoid him at all costs, which is becoming a very poor situation. Being chased by a little guy with big horns across icy patches of ground is not how I want my little donkey to spend her days. She is here as a guard animal as well as, you know, a pet.
I have always said that there is no room on a dairy operation for horns (particularly on the does), but we have had horned bucks in the past who would never even consider crossing the line with the donkey. I am not sure what is going on here, but obviously we need to address the situation. If I thought the behavior was only because Reddog no longer has a goat companion in the paddock, I could remedy that pretty easily. But this behavior began the moment we put him back in after his breeding stint. And has only gotten worse, Oreo or not (he was terrorizing Oreo as well).
To that end, Sam and I have been out there putting in a small paddock area where we are going to have to move Reddog (t-posts through the ice not fun, but the ground is not really frozen hard yet, and today’s temperatures were a gift). He will now have a full fence line with his girls, and hopefully, will calm down. Jingle will stay in her paddock for the time being as I don’t need a pregnant doe getting on the wrong side of her and being kicked. All the paddocks are contiguous, so everyone will be able to communicate with everyone else, so none of the animals are truly segregated and alone.
BUT, we cannot do this move until we are ok to mix the two girl groups. Aargh! It’s Dominoes all over again. At least I know it will be ready the minute we have test results, or the vet gives her okay. It’s always something.
We think. Tomorrow is predicted to be one of the coldest days of the season. High of 24F. Today it was in the 40s. And it rained. And rained. I know we have had a few lovely days in the past week or two, but the overall feeling is of the grey sky and damp. My arthritis is killing me. It definitely does not feel like December.
Enough complaining, though. It is past the Solstice, and we are still just wearing light jackets. Not too shabby! My husband keeps the wood stove going, and dollars to donuts, we have to keep opening the back door or the windows. (I get where he is coming from; he hates to have to restart a fire everyday, so he wants to just keep it humming along. Sometimes that humming is to the tune of 80F in the house. Too hot for me!) So it is this season. Warm so far. It feels more like a spring mud season than the end of December. Mud and water galore in the paddocks. The donkey didn’t want to go into her shelter in the last few days, and we finally realized that it was too wet where we had placed it over the summer. We moved it this morning, thanks Sam, and now she is cozying into it.
Anyhow, it’s the holiday break and I am loving it. Sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. Lingering over coffee in the morning. Not getting dressed until I have to. Reading into the night. I must be in training for retirement. Hmm. Sounds good to me!
So Henry the black and white buck, and Bagels the brown buck, put on a nice show for us yesterday. Quite the hungry crew! Jingle is just standing there, patiently waiting, which is a little out of the ordinary. I was hoping she would add to the hungry chorus with her brassy, impatient voice!
It’s a little damp and chilly out there today. But it’s a wonderful beginning of April break as my older son has traveled up from NJ to visit for awhile. What a treat! He has already been a huge help with some things that need doing around here. This morning he helped me get more Ivomec shots into the two bucks, who have a mite problem (although I am hoping that that is on the mend).
Even though rain is predicted for much of our week, it’s such a pleasure to be having some time off. As usual, I have a list of things I would love to get to, most of all: dressing my loom! It may happen, but then again I have so many things I want to get done in the house and up with the goats, who knows?
I adore Daylight Savings. It offers so much more light on the end of the day when I can actually get something accomplished. Of course, it comes with a challenge as well. Crazed catching up on the Sunday of the big changeup!
Already feeling like I can’t get out of my own way this week, today is another gorgeous day and it’s slipping by too fast! Yesterday was in the mid 40s, today a little cooler, but just as bright and blue sky sunny. It must be a good day to go for a walk down the woods trail. And, get a little more work done out in the paddocks.
It’s getting much closer to kidding time and I moved Jingle the donkey out of the paddock with the ewes and the pregnant does. I am beginning to feed the girls some medicated pellets, so by the time the babies are born everyone will have some protection (we hope) against some of the bugs that cause terrible scours (diarrhea) in lambs and goat kids. The pellets also have higher protein which the does need at the end of their gestation. I try not to use much medicated feed, but in our muddy paddock conditions, it’s probably the wiser course, and I do get the higher protein levels as well. Moving the donkey at this point is crucial, because any access to the medicated pellets would be toxic to her. The other reason I don’t like having her in with the pregnant girls is that she kicks when she gets annoyed. Always a little bit of a hazard as the girls begin to have those big baby bellies. Now if I can get the gate open between the two paddocks, maybe I can lure Zorro the llama into the paddock with the girls. Then both groups will have a guard with them. Coyotes can’t be trusted at this time of the year when it’s been so brutally cold. Hope all of them are still finding enough food out in the woods!
Today feels like it is racing by, but we are spending time with our grandboy which is always a lot of fun. We made blueberry pancakes this morning, and I almost forgot to get my pot roast into the crockpot! Time to get moving. I hope the ‘plowable’ snow they are predicting for Thursday does not get to us. Groan.
It feels as though someone hit the ‘hot’ switch and now we are having a week of the hot and humids. It is almost July, after all, so what can we expect!
This morning it was Jingle the Donkey’s turn to get some pampering. We had an appointment with Farrier Fred, and so after I fed all the sheep and the goats, I took Jingle out of the paddock, haltered her, and took her to a nice grazing area near one of the greenhouses. She got a little bit of shade there, and while she munched, I finished grooming what was left of her winter coat off of her. She loves to be groomed, and I don’t do it enough. This should be the last time this season that I need to comb her for shedding, though! So she was ready for the farrier. He came on time, as usual, and they worked in the shade of the driveway. She is good to go until late August, so that is another thing off my summer list!
We had some little breezes blowing through the house earlier today, and other than cleaning out some long overdue items from the fridge, I have not done that much. It’s in the ’90s outside, and I am guzzling ice water until it’s time to go to the grocery. Not in the mood for anything hot tonight, so we are going to put our leftover steak onto salads. I think that’s about all we may be up for :*)
And Tesser has even given up sleeping in her sunny windowsill and has taken up her napping position on top of one of our shorn fleeces in the corner. I am sure she was not happy to find out that the windowsill was even too hot for a naked little chihuahua belly!
We hustled a little bit this morning with chores (it is a day off for me and I like to take it easy) because Jingle had an appointment today. A visit from our farrier, which was nicely scheduled for a day when I would have a chance to be here. It was about 13 F and the wind was pretty brutal out there. I got Jingle ready and out of the paddock with a little snack, and while we waited I put a little time into giving her a good brushing. The sun was shining, and in spite of the wind, it felt good to be out there.
We did get a bit of a surprise when the farrier came. The poor guy came down our icy driveway, got out onto the ice and put on his leather working apron, and when he got out his nips and rasp to get started, he said, “Oh, her feet don’t need a darn thing. I’ll see you next month!” That is the first time we have ever heard that, and I really appreciate it. So he skated over the ice back to his truck and gave it his all getting out of the driveway. In any case, Jingle was happy enough to have a little extra attention! We have had our problems with farriers, and not to jinx ourselves, but we love having this one come so regularly, and are also grateful for his honesty and integrity :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!