I guess! I am feeling a little sad, as we said goodbye to Pickles and Sassafras today, SnowPea’s only twin girls, ever. The girls are a Lamancha/Alpine cross, where their mother and grandmother were purebred Lamanchas. The Alpine in them is how they got those big old ears! (It was a bit of a rodeo as we took them out of the pen… Sam had them on leads, but they took off backwards, and in the process they mowed me down and took Sam for quite a ride. But all was well, Sam never let go. Oy. I have a sore knee, but it will all work out!).
Decisions about how many animals to keep on the farm change from year to year as our needs and capabilities change. Having slightly morphed our focus toward breeding the Guernsey goats made me have to take a really hard look at how many goats overall I really can manage to milk in a season. Keeping more than a few girls just ends up with me only breeding half, and carrying the others along. Not only is it more work and management, but it’s an added drain on the budget for hay and grain. The market for crossbred goats is not huge around here. I am hoping that the Guernsey youngsters will be more salable, so keeping some around and not milking all of them will hopefully pay off a little bit.
We shall see! It looks as though Pickles and Sassafras are going to a wonderful home where they will have plenty of other goatie friends. Lovely folks. And now we are down to only one Salsa/SnowPea progeny, our little friend Fergus the Buck. He will have to carry those wonderful milking genetics forward to some of our new girls. It’s all good :*)
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!
Our yearling doe, Pickles, chose wisely. She really didn’t look ready to kid today at all, but first-timers can fool just about all of us! I did chores, checked her carefully, and her udder looked a little tiny bit bigger, but nothing serious. We took our grandson to our favorite breakfast place, and then scooted up the hill to our pigeon racing friend’s house to watch his birds come in from a race. He and his wife had driven and released the club’s birds in Massachusetts, and he wanted to make sure they all registered on the clock (we have no old birds flying this spring). We saw the first 7 or 8 pigeons come in a little after 9:30, and then I got a call from my son that we had baby touchdown. So I raced home to take care of seeing that the little guy got his Bo-Se shot (to prevent white muscle disease) and his little umbilical cord dipped in iodine, plus a weight.
Pickles is a medium-sized doe, but not the biggest, and she birthed a 7.75 lb buckling with no trouble. She is definitely SnowPea’s daughter! Our little buck definitely has the Guernsey genes (his father, Reddog, is almost pure Guernsey, his mother is 1/4 Alpine, 3/4 Lamancha). Sigh. This day has not disappointed!
I am really not sure if anyone else out there is bred, but this morning I just happened to be standing behind Pickles’ sister Sassafrass, and one side of her udder is round and full. I don’t know if this is just a copycat of what Pickles had last fall, an udder that was filling without any pregnancy, or if Sassafras is really bred and might be cooking a baby in there! I guess only time will tell, or I can draw blood and do a pregnancy check. If I still don’t know by mid to late June, I may just do that. The one thing I am pretty sure of is that none of the goats are likely to be kidding before then, if they are bred, so I will be out of school if things should look promising! All of us can get a good night’s sleep for awhile now :*)
Not difficult on a farm in the spring. Pippi’s babies are doing very well, and they are growing like weeds. We let them out of the jug on Monday morning, and it’s one of my favorite things to watch as the mama and babies get introduced back into the herd. Always entertaining! Pippi takes her job very seriously, and she warned everyone off of her babies. She can be a bit of a barnyard bully, but in this case, it’s definitely a necessity!
Because the new babies are still smallish, they are not emptying Pippi’s udder very efficiently, and of course they always have a favorite side! So the left side of Pippi’s bag was staying much larger than the right. I took advantage of that, and got her on the milking stand yesterday afternoon. She is a trooper, and gave me a lovely half gallon of milk. I won’t be able to depend on this amount, because as the kids grow, they nurse much more efficiently. But it’s a start.
Over the weekend we also got some fencing done. One of our greenhouses has to come down, but I had based some paddock perimeters on the greenhouse and had fencing attached (never a good idea, but it worked at the time). I had not been allowing any one in there as I have no cover for that greenhouse, and it’s really kind of in an awkward spot. So we got our alternate fencing up, which always takes longer than I think. But it’s a big job and I am kind of past wielding a sledge hammer and pounding 7′ T-posts in to the ground, so I was happy to have my son’s help. (I used to stand on the step ladder and pound away. Not in my plans anymore).
And so it goes. We are waiting on Pickles to have her kids. She is due on Saturday. She didn’t look quite ready yet this morning, although she is getting there. First-timers can really surprise you.
Looking forward to a mostly beautiful weekend. Full of goat babies, I hope!
Not sure if we have had any sun since May 1st! It sure feels like we have not. It’s grey, overcast and damp. The good part of this has been that we are getting a little of the rain that we need, but in-between, we have not seen the sun. Complain, complain, grump, grump. It’s been really bone-chilling damply cold at work, probably because the heat is already turned off!
Well, we are getting there, but I suspect that one day soon we will wake up and it will feel like summer, and we will walk around complaining that we had no spring… just winter into summer. That’s Maine, for you!
But the days are flying by now. We are waiting on the next two goats to kid, one next week, and one the week after. Pippi is due next and she looks big as houses! We are calling her ‘Saddlebags.’ Poor thing is waddling, but she still finds the time and energy to boss the other goats around at the feeder. Pickles the yearling is the next up after Pippi, and I am hoping that she has a single. (Pippi has never had a single, she just keeps popping out those twins!).
I don’t know! I think it’s close. I am dying to be outside and enjoying the sun. One more day until April vacation begins. I am looking forward to it more than I can say.
I feel like I am starting to have a weekly blog instead of a roughly every-other-day-blog. But it’s okay.
Things are chugging along as usual. Nothing out of place. Waiting for our next goat kids which are due in May. Cleaning up around the farm, trying to get our pigeon pairs together. Reading some new YA books and going to the chiropractor to see if I can get my hip up to par. So far it’s really helping. Walking is much improved and I am feeling better in general. Just hanging in the paddocks in the sun with the goats in every spare moment.
And so it goes. Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas! The year is coming to an end, but the daylight is returning to us. Such a relief :*)
We can’t really complain, though, because even today it was almost 60F! It’s supposed to be getting colder by Monday, and snow is forecast for Tuesday. I will believe it when I see it! A friend posted a photo of the dandelions that are sprouting on their property, and I have heard folks discussing the budding of all kinds of plants. It’s not natural for this part of the world to be so warm this late, but it has been something of a respite after last winter.
2015 has turned out to be quite a year. I have not really had a chance to fully take stock, and we had our downs as well as our ups. At the very least, we were able to finally welcome our first Golden Guernsey goaties to the farm, and I even managed to get Pickles bred a few days ago. Thankful for all the little triumphs!
I hope everyone has had a peaceful holiday/holidays, with your loved ones. Time to look forward to the new year.
I don’t have much jiggity jig in my step, however. My husband and I had to make an emergency trip down to NJ because his 90 year old mother was unwell and we really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. So off we went, really early on Sunday morning, and blasted down. 7 hours driving with a quick stop or two. My hips and back don’t do so well on long travels anymore, but it wasn’t too bad as we were able to share the driving. And the traffic even in the suburbs of NYC is so bad these days, we had massive culture shock!
My mother in law is now on the mend and we came north yesterday. My older son had been taking care of the goaties, and a friend of ours did the pigeon care. It was a total relief to be home, and when I got outside this morning I was wonderstruck by our peepers, the quiet, and my very own slice of Maine sky with the moon still hanging there. What a relief!
Pippi is warming up for her big event, but I believe she is still a few days out. I am looking forward to spending some time with her as she gets closer to kidding day. SnowPea’s babies are on a tear around the paddock, and can always be found out by the big rock. They allowed me to take a “selfie” of them looking over my shoulder. And then mama called them over to the feeder and she asked them to hang out by her for awhile.
And then tonight was our monthly spinning/knitting group. Great laughs with some wonderful women. Can’t get much better than that! What an amazingly great day.
That was today. Our vet came out to do the deed as we do not wield a disbudding iron, and even if we had one, we would not use it. It’s a moderately tricky process, and if you heat up their little heads for too long, they can be in peril for their lives.
In a dairy operation, I don’t have any room for horns. They use them against each other, and I am not in favor of torn udders. So we suck it up a few days post-partum, and have the vet do it for us. And when the vet does the disbudding, the babies get an anti-inflammatory, a local for pain, and a tetanus antitoxin. So it is the way we roll. And today went well. I will check them before I go to bed, but they were looking alert before I came back to the house a little while ago. And so it goes!
I don’t think that we have ever had two doelings from one mama before this. We either get 2 bucks, or a buck and a doe baby. I am still amazed that this was SnowPea’s offering for the year! Since SnowPea is on the older side, we may actually keep both of the girls. Their mama has been our most bestest milker for many years.
And can we say cuteness squared? These little ones are just too much. Sassafras and Pickles. I could spend my whole day in the pen with them, letting them climb on me and nibble my clothes. SnowPea will only take so much, however, before she comes and chews on me so that I will unhand whichever baby I have in my lap. Today my husband called me to tell me that one of the girls had gotten out of the jug/pen, but was snuggled up to Zorro the Llama, and right up against the pen so SnowPea could see her. What a nut!
Hopefully the rain stops tonight and the rest of the week will be warmer and precipitation-free. The vet is coming on Wednesday to disbud the girls. And then freedom! Out with the other girls, for big adventures. And then we just have to wait for Pippi to have her babies, in about two weeks. It’s all good.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!