Tag Archives: SnowPea

Ready, set

Feeding time at the black trough
Feeding time at the black trough – one leaving, one arriving

Eat!  For the goats, it’s their most favorite part of the day and they know all the cues that lead up to the magic moment when they get their grain.  Hay is pretty exciting, too, but not the same as the jingle of the sweet feed in the buckets!

Same trough, one less participant
Same trough, one less participant

There is a lot of jockeying for position at one of the 4 trough feeders.  It’s quite entertaining to watch then run from one to the other, many times leaving a whole trough alone, full, with no one on that chow line.  They tend to go to a feeder from the right and kind of move left, so some drop off that line, and run to another.

Same trough, lost one and gained another
Same trough, gained another participant

Sometimes we referee, if one goat is getting pushed out of each feeder in turn.  Goat society is pretty ruthless, so most days we make sure to watch pretty closely.  There is usually one goat that is at the bottom of the pecking order and needs a little protection.  We see much the same behaviors in middle schoolers!  Too bad the goats don’t ever grow out of it.

Ah those goaties!  The numbers are going to be going down a bit now, and one goat is going to freezer camp in the next day or two.  Sigh.  SnowPea is getting old, and if I feel I cannot breed her any more, which is the case, then she may as well feed us while she still has good body condition.

And so it goes.

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 :*)

Green time

Early morning in the paddocks
Early morning in the paddocks

We now have enough green on the trees and on the ground that it actually looks more like spring!  Doesn’t feel too much like spring right now (it’s in the 40s), although they are saying tomorrow might feel almost like a warm, humid day.  I love this period in spring when all the trees are a different shade of light green, some have blossoms, and some are red-budded.  Of course, my tree allergies are terrible right now, but it’s worth it for the warming up/greening up to finally be here.

Mamas and babies
Mamas and babies

Yesterday I set up some fence panels that allows the girl goatie group access to the back paddock, which is lush with all kinds of new clover and grass. The access is gated, and we only let them in there for an hour or so late yesterday afternoon.  I gave them their full morning hay and grain ration this morning, and this afternoon I let them in there again.  The babies had an awful lot of fun running down the access lane and back.  They have become a little baby herd unto themselves, finally.  I shall have to try and get a video, they are ever so cute.

Sunset from the back of the house
Sunset from the back of the house

The early morning and sunset skies have been compliantly dramatic and beautiful.  I seem to have more photos of that on my iPhone than anything else these days.  When I go back to work on Tuesday we start the big end of year countdown.  4 weeks to go, with a million things like graduation and book fairs all rolled up in there.  I am definitely enjoying the quiet of our 3 day weekend.

May days

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We are going back and forth between overcast, dull and grey days and days where the sky is as blue as can be and the temperatures are rising into the high 60s.  It’s always the way,

The one guaranteed thing that goes along with the warmer temperatures:  the Black Fly contingent.  It is a sure thing during the month of May.  What a pain!  We welcome the breezes at the farm, and today we had something of a nice, breezy afternoon.  I had some good times with the kids, and we were able to get a few things done in the garden as well.

John and I went to our favorite garden center late morning  and came home with some tomato plants and a few herb plants.  I potted my new thyme plant, which was good.  And now we ask for: No more frost please!!!

Disbudding day #1

Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.
Sassafras has a little sit down after her disbudding.

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.

Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder
Pickles is so exhausted she took a nap with her head in the hay feeder

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!

Our little girls

SnowPea and one of her girls
SnowPea and one of her girls

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!

Sassafras stuffs herself into the hay feeder.  What a goober!
Sassafras stuffs herself into the hay feeder. What a goober!

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.

And we have doelings!

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Wednesday night was a little rough as I was up and down checking on SnowPea, and the next morning she was her usual self, but eating like crazy and pushing everyone out of the way! Her udder was the same size as the evening before, and I presumed that she was going to wait another day to do something, tanking up for the job.

But long about 2 PM, I went out to see that her udder had ballooned to double its earlier size and she had a nice size water bag hanging there. I made sure our kit was ready with the Bo-Se (selenium and vitamin E shot for the newborns to protect against White Muscle Disease), iodine for navels, Nutridrench for helping along a befuddled baby needing energy, and a bag full of clean towels. Then we called some friends who have been dying to see a goat baby born, and the wait began.

Unlike with the sheep, I don’t usually see much of the kidding process, as our goats (knock on wood) rarely have issues, and pop them out when they are ready, so I may or may not see the beginning of labor. Conventional wisdom with small ruminants has it that if the water bag is out for more than an hour and there is no movement forward (like little hooves and a nose poking out), that the farmer should investigate and make sure there isn’t a problem. We hate to do this because it automatically means antibiotic intervention, and I don’t like setting it up for that scenario if I can help it.

So I was torn. SnowPea didn’t appear to be in active labor, no strong contractions, and she paced and then just sat down. So we all left (that’s probably what she was waiting for!) and I called my older son, thinking I would be pulling a goat baby shortly. He came over and when we went out, voila! – there was a whopping 8 pound doeling! All dry, fed, and getting around very nicely. It appeared as though SnowPea was finished (no more water bags, just the usual prep for getting out the placenta), and we did all we had to do with the baby, got mama comfy, and went in to dinner. When I went out to make sure things were still going well, about 2 hours later, it was obvious that I had just missed the second doeling being delivered. She was sputtering and lying there in her amniotic fluid, and SnowPea had just started licking her off.  And this one is a 10 pounder!

And so we have two adorable doelings from Mama SnowPea, who always has 2 bucks.  Every year.  Pickles and Sassafras are a very welcome addition to our little farm!

About time

Sunny, wonderful afternoon
Sunny, wonderful afternoon

The Peepers have finally found their voices! Last night on my way out to check on SnowPea, their lovely chorus kept me company. I live for peeper song. It’s like the final notice that spring has truly arrived.

I worked on finishing up jug accommodations for our first due goatie girl this afternoon. Taking my time, enjoying the sun. The only negative to the day is the stiff breeze that’s gusting around 10 mph, from the south and east. We usually get winds from the north/northwest, and I have the pen set up with more windbreaks in that direction. Sigh. I will have to push some clean straw into the breaches.

SnowPea, photo taken awhile ago!
SnowPea, photo taken awhile ago!  No grass here yet

While I was working, the girls were eating their dinner, when they weren’t harassing me, that is! SnowPea came into the greenhouse around 5:30 to check it all out, and when she turned around I saw that she had lost her mucous plug. So things are moving along! It’s difficult to tell what it really means, however, as there are years when I don’t even see that part of the birth process, and it can be as little as a matter of hours, or even a day or more until the baby arrivals. So we are on alert tonight. I have my feet up right now and I will go back out and check her at about 8:30.

I am ready for our new little ones and can hardly wait to meet them!

Udderly Spring

5:45 a.m. today.  Rainclouds coming in.
5:45 a.m. today. Rainclouds coming in.

The days do not disappoint! I can hardly believe the change. 64F on the way home this afternoon, and the snow is rapidly sinking into the mud and the leaves. The birds are beside themselves with song, and the racket they all make from before dawn until after dusk is very welcome. What a relief :*)

Difficult to see the developing udder.  Fuzzy udder!
Difficult to see the developing udder. Fuzzy udder!

We are coming into the home stretch of the days leading up to kidding. SnowPea is due a week from tomorrow, on Wednesday April 22. She usually goes a day or two more, but we are getting there. Pippi is not due until May 9th. Both girls are showing signs of udder development, which had me dancing through the mud the other day. I keep hoping that I might get a doeling from SnowPea, but in all the years she has kidded, she has only once had a doeling (who met a bad end, strangled in a basket feeder). Each year I have new hope, but usually she has twin rams, and doesn’t look back. Ah well, it’s all as it needs to be, but she continues to be my good buddy and my favorite milker.

Marigold's side-selfie
Marigold’s side-selfie

This afternoon I had a chance to clean out a corner of the hay greenhouse and then I took some time to sit on the rock and enjoy the sun and the breeze. Marigold the Amazing always joins me up there, and today she begged for a Spring Selfie. And she got one :*)

Three more intense work days until April break. I am ready!

Today’s torture

Supper.  And the snow is still with us!
Supper. And the snow is still with us!

Ah. It’s almost Friday. It’s been a chilly, windy week, but we have had some nice sun, and the snow does continue to retreat. I am feeling quite upbeat what with more sun and longer daylight hours. I love having more leisure at the end of the day in the daylight. More time to spend with the goaties, and even when I am back in the house I just feel better with all the natural light coming in. (Although, even in the winter I have exactly the same amount of hours after work and into the evening: why does it feel like so much more now???)

SnowPea nudging for head rubs
SnowPea nudging for head rubs

Today’s torture, however, is a musical one! I was out doing chores this afternoon and SnowPea the white goat was in my face nibbling at my fingers, tasting my hair, and rubbing her granite-like bumpy head on my arm (she loves a good head rub, and boy, her head is one hard nut!). The song ‘Summertime’ (And the Livin’ is Easy, the Gershwin tune) popped into my head. I cannot get rid of it, but maybe I don’t want to. It holds such nice promise of the next season, which is all too short up here in the northern climates.

Zelda and her year-old doeling Marigold. Supper in the sun.
Zelda and her year-old doeling Marigold. Supper in the sun.

Way back when we lived in North Jersey, I sang with the NJ Choral Society, and we did a few concerts that featured songs like ‘Summertime’ during my years with the group. The version that’s going around in my head is the wonderful sound of standing in that large choral group. So it’s another reason to smile: wonderful memories!