Waiting on all our goat blood test results is almost over. The only test not reported out so far is the CL test (Caseous Lymphadenitis, very nasty). The lab apparently has been backed up, and should have results for us Monday or Tuesday. In the meantime we are going to have some fecal tests done, and just get everything tidied away before we can join our two female groups together.
Our vet usually does the fecals, and mostly to report on the Haemonchus Contortus worm (barberpole worm) which is the most life-threatening. But we heard through the grapevine that some of the does that came out of the farm our does came from, have tapeworm. Not the end of the world, and controllable, but we want to be sure before we meld the two groups. I hate worming during gestation, and worming for tapeworms is only effective with the “white wormers,” which are not good to use during pregnancy. And so we will have to decide how to treat them if this is a reality. Just another hurdle to pass. I am not overly concerned about this group’s health, they are very active and are eating well.
And so it goes. We are almost ready to get a tarp on the greenhouse that we set up awhile ago, and hopefully it will be the kidding house. That’s the plan, anyway! There is always a plan…
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.
Another absolutely fantastic day on the coast of Maine! It was definitely a good one. The weather was perfect, even to the point of not much wind. I was beginning to prep for a big cleanup day (today), but I also had some eggplant that needed to be turned into parmigiana.
While I was having my morning coffee, I began the red sauce. (At this time of year that means that it’s 3 cans of Italian tomatoes, plus all the garlic, onions, carrots and celery – plus the little end of sauce pork I had stashed in the freezer). I got that puppy going and then we went out to get some things done with the goats.
I have been wanting to separate Reddog the Guernsey buck from the large group of does. I didn’t want to do it in the really cold weather in case Jingle doesn’t allow him into the shelter while she is getting to know him. So yesterday we thought it would be just about time. We got him in with Oreo and Jingle, and there was some jousting. He got into Jingle’s face right off, and was paid back with a swift kick to the head (but Jingle made contact with Reddog’s horns). Oreo confronted Reddog, and they got into it a little, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.
We were watching them through the day today, and there was a little sparring by the two bucks, but so far it looks okay. Today was a mudroom-clean-out-day. And a dentist appointment. Exhausting! But we still have some eggplant parmigiana leftover. It’s soft enough for me to eat tonight :*)
Sam had seen the little guy standing on a very special rock. A large flattish one that I have elevated on a slant to support one of the green posts that is holding up the fence that separates the two groups. He was chatting with Oreo the buck who is on the other side (for now), with the two Guernsey does. Well, apparently when we went back to the house, Little Red got over the fence and in with Oreo. We can only assume that he scrambled over the fence from that rock, but it’s anyone’s guess, really. There was blood everywhere, as Little Reddog, regardless of his size in proportion to Oreo, beat the living daylights out of the larger buckling. Which means that Reddog and Oreo had an all-out head butting war, and Oreo lost. When we went in, Oreo was standing in the corner, blood covering his white blaze, and Reddog was eating with Saffron and Battie. The Little Big Red Warrior. Oy.
Since this is not where I really need Reddog to be, we had to get him back into the other pen, and eventually, with a lot of patient walking to and fro, got him through the open gate and back in with the big girl group (while they were eating their grain in the catchpen around the corner, where they couldn’t get into the action). Reddog had blood all over him, but it was Oreo’s, not his. And after Reddog had fought the big boy, he made nice with the two golden girls, and rubbed his head on their necks. A little surreal. Everyone painted red.
I am so glad this happened during a time of year with no fly activity. Oreo’s head is fine, but we never got all the blood out of his fur, and he is so skittish, he hates being handled. I didn’t want to overdo the issue since he had just been vanquished by the little guy. And we would have had to get the blood off of everyone else as well.
We put up a little extra piece of fencing at the point above the slanted rock, but I think that since Reddog has fought the fight, he does not seem to want to go there. Which is a good thing. I want him in with the larger group, as some of them are not bred, and we just might get a couple more Golden Guernsey cross babies in 2016 this way. If he was that assertive with Oreo, I suspect his manhood has arrived! We can at least hope.
(The video above is some of what went on when we reintroduced Reddog back into the main group of does. He did quite well)
It’s been quite a week and a half. The wind that has plagued us just did not let up. The temperatures have risen, however, and we are having some lovely sunlight. I have been home from my day job for three days now, with a flu-like cold. As an asthmatic, I get my flu shot religiously, and I am glad it only hit me a glancing blow.
As the days have gone by since we brought Reddog onto the farm, we have been watching the way the does in the main pen have been interacting with him, as he has been penned inside the greenhouse in a corner of their space. Every once in awhile, SnowPea, our herd queen, will go over and stick her head through the green panels and try to give him a shove, but other than that the girls looked fairly friendly to him. One of SnowPea’s twins is actually quite smitten with him!
This morning we got up and found the sun coming up, clear skies, and dead calm. No wind for a change. So I thought it might be about time to let the little bucky boy out of the bag, and see how they all get along. I always try to do this when they are hungry and won’t have all their attention on putting the new goat in his or her place, as they are focused on getting some breakfast. There was some posturing, but right out of the pen, Reddog took the initiative to put the head butting moves on the girls. The first time we put them together, he just kept running away from them. This is a good sign. Sam was out there checking on them a little while ago and he was up the fence line, have a tete-a-tete with Oreo, the buckling in the next pen over. It’s a good sign.
Reddog is still very shy with people, which is not a bad thing when it comes to rams and bucks. I don’t like getting too friendly. (If you make them too friendly, when they get all grown up, they think they can boss you around, as though you are part of their herd. It doesn’t usually end well, as I can attest to, having been punched down quite a few times by some of our rams. Not fun. I am too old for this!).
So we shall see. I am hoping that one or two of the Lamancha does come into heat, even at this late date, so I can get my Golden Guernsey breeding-up program going. I won’t mind having kids later in the season. You just never know :*)
While all our joy is devoted to our new Golden Guernsey does, at the same time we are dealing with a potentially devastating situation with my favorite yearling doe, Marigold.
When I got home from Vermont last Sunday afternoon, everyone was fine. On Tuesday morning I went out to do chores about 5:20 a.m., and I found that Marigold was on the ground, pulling herself around with her front legs. Her back end was not working, although her legs have power, but her back is not cooperating. The classic symptoms of Meningeal Worm infestation. (The worm goes into the spinal column and wreaks havoc with the nervous system). My beautiful girl, strong and lovely, is struggling with a very ugly problem.
I am devastated. We have two new Golden Guernsey does, but I have been counting on Marigold to be one of our breeding stalwarts. Not to be, I know, but it’s a blow to the farm plan. She is one of my favorite goats, one of the most colorful and friendly, and I am grieving for her struggle with this disease. Those damn snails that carry the awful worm. Aargh! We will see how things go. As of today she has had 5 days of the prescribed treatment, so now it is up to her and the vitamin injections. Fingers crossed!
We have rain again, and this is a good thing. It’s Friday night and I am lazing around, listening to an audiobook and making some veggie burgers (unfortunately, they are falling apart, but they taste amazing!).
Here we are in June, and it’s turtle egg-laying time again! The painted turtle moms are everywhere: digging in the driveway, by the back door, up by the goats. This afternoon I walked into the hay/feed greenhouse, and there was a beautiful paint, nestled in between two of the feed cans. I presume she was laying eggs, but with all the scrap hay and chaff around, it was difficult to see. I went about my chore business, and she stayed there the whole time.
So round about the end of August we should be seeing tiny little turtles hauling themselves all over the property. They say it is about a 10-week gestation, but I guess the whole thing depends upon the temperatures. It’s an amazing and prehistoric cycle, and I think they particularly love our property as it is very sandy soil. Maine has a lot of clay, but the front of our piece of land is more sand than clay. And we have a little stream that runs through out back to the beaver pond, so there is a very conducive habitat for the little shelled creatures. We love them!
Ah well. It’s been a long week. The weekend is upon us and I am feeling relaxed. Good to be home after the busyness of the week (we had an evening at the middle school for incoming 6th graders – book fair and other activities – and then high school graduation night on Wednesday. I am still not fully recuperated!).
Tomorrow my plan is to sleep-in a bit and then enjoy the beautiful weather!
Really? Cold, cold and more cold. Little bit of snow every few days which covers the ice in the driveway, so the footing is continually hazardous. But the sun this afternoon felt so wonderful! 28F was such a treat! And they are teasing us with the promise of 40F this Saturday :*) It really better happen. Particularly on the cusp of Daylight Savings.
I want to believe that we will warm up to spring. But unfortunately, nothing feels “normal” this year. Who knows? I am just hoping that the 22nd of March is fairly warm and clear so that our last shearing will not be a nightmare, but a celebration. Yes, our last shearing. I am very sad about this, but we need to be planning for our next great adventure, which involves working toward a licensed goat dairy. My bursitis and arthritis are not going to allow me to be moving flexnet fencing down in a sloped pasture this summer for the ewes. So we have been making some tough decisions this winter, and it looks like we will just be raising goats for the next few years. And planning for a cheese-making future. It is my passion, and now seems to be the time.
If I was worried about not having any goat kids this year, I think I can relax. In the last week or two we have been watching the baby dances every day. Pippi has it the worst, poor dear, those kids are rocking and rolling anytime I am out there. She must be exhausted! All the other girls seem to be following along that way, so I am thinking that our little Bagels the Buckling did some good work!
Ruminant rumens bulge out on their left side (as someone on a caprine listserv commented, “their rumen sticks out on the side that would be the driver’s side of the car if you live in North America, it would be the passenger side if you are driving in the UK!”). So I have been watching the opposite side, and the jumping and rolling and kicking is fearsome. It’s much more difficult to see this in the ewes before they are shorn, but with the goatie girls it’s a lot more visible.
The big rains kept right on all last evening. It was insane because we knew that the temperatures were headed down below freezing, so it was not a great surprise when we got up this morning to find everything iced over. The wind must have been strong enough to prevent the ice from coating the trees, but it was something else on the ground!
But it was a gorgeous sunrise. I feel like I take the same photos over and over again, but the same view is always just a little different. The day is so clear that the light feels like we are dancing on the edge of Spring. But I doubt it. Just a little bit of a tease.
I took the opportunity of the warmth and the breeze to scrape as much bedding as I could out of the greenhouse the girls use. I love our donkey Jingle to pieces, but she will insist on standing in there and pooping to her heart’s content! During the bitter cold, it was frozen solid to the floor before morning, so I have to take these chances to get that out, along with the dirty and damp straw. I hope that the wind will dry the floor up a little, it’s not wet-wet, but it’s damp and some of the ice in the deep bedding has started to melt. Perhaps the wind will do its thing and help us out a bit before I put down new straw.
I cannot believe that we are just a month away from shearing. And after that it’s a hop and a skip right to kidding in early April. I must get my supplies in order… it will be here before we know it!
(Pippi and SnowPea showing off their growing bellies in the sunlight)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!