Time is flying by as usual, and this past week has been a doozy. My husband had to travel down to NJ to help with some things and his 94 year old father, I have been weaving like a crazy person, and 5 of our 8 babies have moved off to their new homes.
It’s so nice to meet the new families that are taking on our little Guerseys, and I know they are all going to new adventures and great lives. Most of our Guernseys are unregistered, and almost all the families who are taking them are doing so for the same reasons I choose the goats I do: their temperament, their size and their nice milky butterfat.
Saffron’s girls went off to New Hampshire with a wonderful young family last weekend. Little Red and Blue are now called Lucy and Gidget! Great names for these sweet girls. (Gidget is the darker red girl whose ear tips were bent from birth, pretty perfect name!). It sounds like they are settling in well at their new farm.
Eleganza’s boys have gone off to different farms here in Maine. They are sweet guys as well, and I know they will have lots of girls to keep them busy in the future!
And the last to leave this week is our sweet little doeling, Pippi the Lamancha’s girl (Pippi is our Herd Queen). If I could have kept any of the babies from this year it would have been her. I am really happy, though, that she is going to a wonderful farm in Vermont, to a young family with whom we are acquainted. She will love her new friends there, some mini Nubians and some Nigerian dwarfs. Who knows, maybe she can aspire to being the new herd queen!
And so it goes. Spring is quickly turning to summer, and we only have three little ones left to move along to new homes. Things are much quieter already, it will be a real shock when these little ones leave! And now, on to serious milking and some cheese :*)
Both beautiful, both does. They were born on Saturday morning. Very nice of all the does to do these things during daylight hours! The reason I have not gotten around to telling Saffron’s story is that she is not making much milk, and we have been very busy trying to help her out, and also had to begin supplementing her babies with bottles. Everyone had very good feed all through the winter, and I am still not sure why Saffron is not producing much milk. She seemed to have quite a bit of colostrum on Saturday, but by Sunday morning her udder was deflating and it was obvious that the girls needed to be on the bottle while we figure this out.
Luckily, I am milking Battie (she who lost her bucklings), and I am also milking one of Pippi’s udder halves because her babies both favor one side, leaving the other to fill up to epic proportions. So I do have enough milk to feed these little girls, thankfully, and because they are so bonded with their mama (and she is a fantastic mother), I don’t have to have house goat babies this year. Yay! Feeding them out in the greenhouse is much nicer than having to deal with house goats (no slight to Peanut here!). And to give mama’s udder a break, we are penning the girls separately from early in the morning until the last bottle at night, and then letting them stay with her overnight. It got very cold last night after the torrential rains we had yesterday, so they are both coated and snuggling with Saffron at night.
This kidding season has been a strange one. I am working with a vet to get a handle on Saffron’s problem, but it may just come down to her nutrition. They have been eating second cut hay all winter, and their grain rations have been very balanced. I usually add alfalfa pellets sometime early in February, and this year I did not. If that is what tilted this balance, I just don’t know. All the other does are fine and making loads of milk. I hope we can get to the bottom of it, but it feels like one of those things where you never get a definitive answer.
When I pulled down the driveway Monday evening on my return from NY Sheep and Wool, I was greeted with the sound of Pippi absolutely bellowing her head off. My son said that she had been at it all day, and had not really eaten while on the milk stand that morning, just kept trying to go over as close to the boys’ pen as she could get, and mooning about, bellowing. As I don’t want kids too early in the season, I had been waiting until after the Rhinebeck trip to put the breeding group together. And so I took the opportunity to get Pippi bred on Tuesday when we moved Twig, Peanut and Betsy to a separate paddock, and moved Reddog in with the 5 moms-to-be. Jingle the donkey misbehaved badly with the non-breeding group, so we put her in with Hagrid and Fergus the wether. (Donkeys hate change of any kind, and I think those young girls freaked her out. She sees them through the fence every day, but she didn’t care for their company at all. Ah well, it’s a donkey thing).
And so Pippi was a happy camper all day Tuesday. As it happens, by Wednesday morning it was clear that Saffron was having a good time with Reddog as well! Now when I sit down at the milk stand in the morning I can have a full dose of buck stink up close and personal. (Bucks who are courting a doe rub their heads anywhere they can on their intended – and that head has been drenched with all kinds of stinky hormone-filled pee. Delightful to a doe, not so nice for humans!).
And so my new spreadsheet has been inaugurated. First babies due on Friday, March 23, 2018!
Saffron is our very sweet girl that came from Ardelia Farm a year and a half ago. She was the one that had issues kidding last year and had a stillborn preemie. Two vets told me that there must be something wrong with her plumbing and that she would most likely not be able to carry babies to full term in the future. But the post-mortem on the preemie baby indicated that she died of an infection, not that she just couldn’t be full term for some physical reason.
So we gave Saffron another chance. I think when we brought her home over a year ago she had a lot of stress, and things just didn’t work out for her (she aborted the fetus she had been carrying, having gotten bred at Ardelia, and then got re-bred here). And I think that I am glad we gave her another chance, because she just had two beautiful doelings this afternoon!
I wasn’t home today, and I got a text from Sam saying that he had fed everyone this afternoon, a little before 3. He couldn’t find Saffron, and when he went into the recesses of the other greenhouse, there she stood with two clean and nearly dry babies, delivering her placenta. Easy-peasy, I guess! He said she never made a sound, and he was just in the next greenhouse, which is only 6 feet or so away.
She is a fantastic mama, and stands forever to encourage her babies to nurse. I think the larger of the two is in a milk coma this evening as I couldn’t get her interested in getting back on the teat when I went out to check them a little while ago. They both feel fine, and have warm mouths. (I get obsessive and look for the first dark meconium poops and then later the yellow poops that show milk consumption, but some of the moms get rid of the evidence, and I couldn’t find any signs of the baby’s fecal matter, so I just have to trust that things are going to plan). It’s my turn to do the late bottle feed tonight, so I will double check on them again.
10 babies on the ground so far, 8 of them are does. I hope there are a lot of people out there who want Guernsey goats this year! I certainly can’t handle all the added mouths to feed, at least not for long! These girls are just doing too good a job :*)
As gestation continues on the farm, (or at least we hope gestation is continuing!), I am watching all the girls carefully. Keeping an eagle eye on the bunch is part of every day chores, but there are a few that I keep an extra eye out on as well. One of those is Saffron.
Our sweet Saffron is the Guernsey goat who lost her pregnancy and then got rebred only to lose the fetus pretty late in the game to an infection. We had a necropsy done on the baby, but after it had been frozen, so the results were definite on an infection, but other than that, we aren’t really sure of the cause of the infection itself.
Since then Saffron has really flowered and is a lovely strapping girl, actually the largest of all of our Guernseys. We had her in with the rest of the bunch and I believe she was bred by Reddog along with the others (I have a definite breeding sighting). She is a very, very sweet and gentle girl, and very special to me. So when we had Emily the shearer here to do hoof trimming, I was not happy to see that Saffron really took it hard. She shook and cried the whole time, even though I was holding her. In between bleats she kissed me until Emily was done, and Emily is very gentle and I know it didn’t hurt! I hate having to stress her out like this, particularly while she is pregnant, but sometimes these things have to be done. I am hoping this wasn’t too much stress for her, and that the rest of her pregnancy goes well. I have my fingers crossed that she has a healthy little goatie baby at the end of March. She is such a good auntie to Betsy, I know she will be a good mama!
After our ordeal on Sunday, we have had some frantic days. Saffron seemed to come through her premature baby episode, but we could not get her to really start eating. Her temperature remained low (like 99F low) and it was quite a struggle (goat temperatures are normal in the 102-103F range). We continued to give her antibiotics, vitamin B, and also NutriDrench.
In the last two days or so she has perked up quite a bit, and is finally eating more and doing some serious cudding. Her temp seems to be holding at about 100.5-8. We got her a very stylish coat, to help her hold her body heat a little more efficiently, and the pen is really beefed up with lots of straw. She is roaming the whole paddock with her BFF Battie, as well as Betsy the Bouncing goatie girl, and Saffron seems much more like her old self.
Of course, I continue to worry about her recuperation, and now that the antibiotics are done, we continue to give her vitamin B and ProBios with her food. If she is cudding, she is creating warmth for her body, and I hope that tomorrow and Sunday’s temperatures will help. Sun will help a lot as well! Today’s ice mess was a welcome day home for me, but it wasn’t optimal for my girls. So we will continue to wait and see if Saffron keeps getting better.
Monday snow day! 2nd day of Spring, gotta love it. Our new little doeling is doing very well, and has found her name, Betsy. She is a corker, and yesterday evening Sam caught her on the wrong side of the paddocks, and had to get her back to her mama. None of the girls were hysterical (yet), and apparently SnowPea and Pippi had her corralled and were keeping her away from the others, so she was not in any danger at that point (SnowPea and Pippi are awesome mothers, and I think they had already acquainted themselves through the green panels). Betsy seemed very unabashed, but was happy to be back on the other side, with Battie. We plugged what we think are the two areas she may have gotten through, and everyone was where they are supposed to be this morning. It’s always a work in progress!
On the other hand, things had not been going too well for the past few days with another goat. We knew that Saffron was a little depressed at being separated from Battie for 5 days, but there was something else going on as well. I had begun to treat her for pregnancy toxemia, and she was showing no signs of perking up. Friday she ate, but with no great enthusiasm, and Saturday was not much better. We were dosing her with caprine Nutridrench, which has all kinds of good things in it, and giving her vitamin B shots as well. I was getting ready to get out the straight Propylene Glycol, because Sunday morning she was standing in the corner with her ears down, not paying attention to anything. We got some Nutridrench into her, and when I came back a few minutes later, I could see that she was having labor contractions, and that explained it all. This is about 6 weeks too early for her to have kids from her breeding with Oreo (she came to us already bred, and then lost her pregnancy after she got here, so then was bred by our buck).
Well, it wasn’t pretty. A very beautifully formed little buck who had absolutely not a speck of hair on him was stillborn. He was breach, and it kind of freaked me out when it wasn’t coming, because all I could feel was a rat-like tail in there. And so she (and we) had quite a day. After the baby came, we were waiting and waiting for the placenta, and when it started to pass it was totally clear, as though she were having another kid. It was quite the process, and I am happy to say that this morning she looked almost like her old self. She is interested in what’s going on, and appeared to be interested in food again early today. This afternoon her temperature was down and I could not get her to eat. About an hour ago I was putting some fresh straw into the pen and she dove right in and began stuffing her face… all the wonderful 2nd cut hay that she has, and this is what she wants? I don’t get it! And after some of the straw I got her to drink quite a bit of warm water. The sun is just beginning to go down now, and the vet has just told me to put her back in with Battie and Betsy, which will definitely be a warmer option. I will have to keep checking on her as night falls. We may have to put a coat on her.
We will continue giving her antibiotics and vitamin B, and hopefully there is nothing inherently wrong with her plumbing that she can’t keep a fetus to full term. (I would like to believe that she lost her fist pregnancy back in the fall due to the stress of traveling here from Vermont, at a crucial time in her gestation). I guess we will see next year.
So I got the gift of a snow day and it was perfect timing. I needed to recuperate from the stress of the accumulated weekend events, continue getting over the pneumonia, and try and tend to Saffron as well.
The best thing about yesterday turned out to be the sun: while waiting on Saffron, in-between taking her temperature and checking to make sure things were progressing, we got to work around the farm during the middle of the day, and even caught some relaxed rays for awhile. The temperature and wind were cold, but the sun was spectacular! I’m glad she chose yesterday for the Big Deal. Thank you, Saffron. You are a sweet, gentle girlie, and you need to get all better for us :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!