Tag Archives: Pippi

Blizzard 2017

Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5' tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow
Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5′ tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow

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.

Greenhouse snow caves
Greenhouse snow caves.  Our fences appear to be getting shorter as well!

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!

Ut oh, you can't change direction on a path that narrow!
Ut oh, you can’t change direction on a path that narrow!

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!

New Snow for the Snow-Eaters

Pippi's post-prandial snow feast
Pippi’s post-prandial snow feast.  Who you lookin’ at???

Overnight the snow did turn into sleet.  It was quite nasty out there for our 11 PM goat check last night.  Everyone was snug as a bug, and no one looked as though they were going to be standing alone in the corner anytime soon, listening to their inner baby bio-rhythm, so it was back to the house for some sleep.

The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!
The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!

After my husband plowed the driveway yesterday afternoon, we must have gotten another 4 or 5 inches of snow, with a crust of ice on the top.  Lots of snow was coming off the greenhouses this morning, and Pippi and her daughter Beezus were in heaven.  Yes, Beezus loves to eat snow as well!  After their grain this afternoon, they both were in their element, noshing at the best and the freshest.  It always gives me a chuckle.

Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow
Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow

I am adding one more doe to the short list of possibles earlier than later.  Eleganza the white Guernsey has a nice little udder coming along, and her belly looks like it may have dropped as well.  Baby watch is getting a little more serious.  It’s supposed to be bitterly cold Thursday night into Friday, so we shall see.  We can hope to have a miss on that one!

More snow tomorrow.  Nor’easter on the way.

Cheese train is definitely running again

Marinated chevre!
Marinated chevre!

The Train is on a full schedule these days.  I am only milking two of the goats, Pippi and Battie, but each milking is getting me 3/4 of a gallon.  This means that every 48 hours I have enough milk to begin a new 3-gallon batch of chevre (with leftover milkiness for my grandson and for anyone who wants it in coffee).  It’s lovely!  As the lactation season goes through its cycle, I get more and firmer curd structure, so I actually can get more cheese per gallon than I do early in the lactation cycle.  Yesterday I got 15 chevre forms out of the 3 gallons, and earlier in the season I was lucky if I got 8 or 9.

Draining the chevre
Draining the chevre

Most of my days are spent on the chores surrounding handling milk and cheese.  Sanitizing!  But it’s worth it.  I will end up with a good amount in the freezer to dole out during the long winter and the early spring.  If I can find a day when I am not running in 20 directions, I have to  try and make some more Haloumi and Mozzarella as well.

A peek at the draining cheeses
A peek at the draining cheeses

Maybe I will be able to dabble in some aged cheeses as well this fall.  If I can find a wine cooler, and then also dig out a place to put it.  Definitely a work in progress!

Weaning

Battie checking everything out just before we took Betsy into the other pen.
Battie checking everything out just before we took Betsy into the other pen.

That time came to us here at Ruit Farm a few weeks ago.  Our girl Betsy the Guernsey was quite overdue for weaning, actually.  A few weeks ago I put her in with the larger group of does, which shares a fenceline with her mother and auntie.  (Big debates in the dairy and sheep world over the best ways to wean, whether it be whisking the babies away so they cannot hear or see mama, or whether it is to the opposite side of the fence.)  And a week later, I took our girl Pippi out of the larger group, and moved her in with the two Guernsey girls.

Betsy is definitely big enough to be weaned!
Betsy is definitely big enough to be weaned!

The acclimation time has differed for the two different weaner groups.  Betsy has had a very difficult time being separated from her mama.  She gets pushed around by the big group quite a bit, but she is holding her own.  Pippi’s two babies have been sad to be separated, but they aren’t inconsolable.  And the difference is that I left Pippi’s twins in with their cohort, but Betsy not only got separated from her mama, she had to go into an alien group.  Poor girl!  I am hoping that if I re-introduce her back in with her mother in another month, that she will not nurse, but just be happy to be back in her element.

Chevre. It's all good!
Chevre. It’s all good!

And so we have milk!  I have been madly making cheese.  A few batches of chevre, one small batch of Haloumi, and a batch of cheese that I hoped was going to be chevre, but turned into something halfway between a partially cooked-curd cheese, and something indefinable.  I kept it, pressed it, and may just have to use it as you would use curds.  Poutine anyone???

Keeping busy

First walk through the herd for the new babies
First walk through the herd for the new babies

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!

Half gallon of Pippi milk!
Half gallon of Pippi milk!

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.

Fencing and the old livestock greenhouse
Fencing and the old livestock greenhouse

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).

Pippi's kids are so tall!
Pippi’s kids are so tall!

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!

Pippi delivers the goods

Pippi's twins
Pippi’s twins

I don’t think that Pippi has ever had her kids at night.  She always goes into labor early in the day and by evening everyone is settled for the night.  I am convinced that she waited until darkness yesterday because the black flies were so intent upon carrying every living thing away, and she couldn’t stand it until dark when they go into hiding!

Little Spot the buckling
Little Spot the buckling

And so we have a new buck and doe.  Half Saanen, half Lamancha.  They are beautiful little goaties!  They are both white, but the little buck has a black spot on his left cheek.  His grampie, Elvis the crazy white Lamancha, was all white with two little spots of black on his left side.  Funny how those things come out.

Anyhow, the doe was 9.25 lbs and the buck was 8.5.  Everything went very well, and they are resting in their greenhouse pen.  They had a lazy day today, but are looking strong and healthy.  The little doe is always ready to cuddle, and the little buck is constantly teasing his sister.

And so we have one more doe to go (Pickles), and if anyone else is pregnant, we won’t know until later.  Maybe Reddog did manage to breed some of the girls and we will be happily surprised!

 

Pippi’s up

Pippi needs a rest
Pippi needs a rest

It’s just about that time!  Pippi the bruiser is due tomorrow.  We have been calling her Pippi Saddlebags for quite awhile now, as she look like she is carrying a suitcase on both sides.  She is front-loading right now, hasn’t stopped stuffing her face for the last day or two.  She always does this…  We go out at 9:30 or 10 PM and she is still up scarfing all the leftover hay that everyone else has turned their backs on.  She knows she needs some serious energy right now, so she is taking care of business.

Guernseys are loving the warm weather
Guernseys are loving the warm weather

And so it goes.  More adorable babies on the way, I hope!  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny and 70F.  Perfect!  We gave Pippi a pep talk tonight and let her know that tomorrow would be the perfect  time.

We shall see.  We play more of the waiting game.  And in the meantime we are fighting off the Attack of the Blackflies.  It’s almost the perfect time of year as far as the weather goes, and the darn flies have to ruin it  :*/

May grey

View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!
View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!

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!

Pickles is speaking her mind!
Pickles is speaking her mind!

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!

Pippi is popping
Pippi is popping

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!).

And so it goes.  28 work days to go :*)

Reddog steps back in

(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 :*)

Pippi’s big day

Pippi leaving in the back of my Forester
Pippi leaving in the back of my Forester

Or rather, date!  Yes, our breeding woes have gotten us so far that we really have no other option than to get the girls we want bred to a buck off the farm, one we know and trust,  for breeding.  And of course, yesterday late in the afternoon when I was just (finally!) getting my garlic planted, I looked over to see Pippi behaving rather peculiarly.  Jumping on all the smaller girls, and just generally being a loud nuisance.  And her tail was flagging madly, so I knew right away that we had a live one in heat.

We are down to not many options, so I went in and called our friends at a farm in Friendship, and the date was made. But because we do not have a cap on our truck, my husband needed to take my car, and I was left hitching a ride to work from my son.  As complicated as the day felt, almost everything went to plan.

My one miscalculation was in the set up.  I had to get Pippi separated from the rest of the girls before I went to work.  (The goats aren’t stupid, they know when the two men are coming at them that something is up!).  I have a permanent “catch pen” where I feed them their grain everyday, so at a moment’s notice, I can grab any one of those crafty buggers.  But since it was going to be another few hours before John would load her up and take off, I didn’t want her in the pen alone, to get all worked up and crazy.  So I made sure to leave both of her daughters in with her.  Apparently Beezus, the sweet brown yearling goat, didn’t think much of that plan.  When the men went out to load Pippi up, they found that Beezus had tried to jump the high galvanized 4X4″ grid fence.  At least her front feet were on the ground, but both her back feet were caught in the fence, higher than her head.  They got her out and she was very shaken up.  No broken bones, but a giant loss of equilibrium for awhile and she still seems to have some aches and pains.  Sheesh.  It’s like we can’t get through a week without at least one goat disaster.  No, not true, it just feels like that recently.

I gave Beezus the Jumper an anti-inflammatory and she is fine tonight.  When my son went out to check on things a little while ago, she ran away from him and hid behind Big Zelda.  I hope she continues to do okay.

Pippi takes everything in stride!
Pippi takes everything in stride!

Pippi was totally herself tonight, in spite of the ride in the car and her meet up with Romeo.  Our friend’s bucks are both experienced and efficient, so it wasn’t even that big an outing.  I am sure that Pippi had a grand time, she always makes the best of her opportunities :*)