I don’t know what has been going on for the last few days, but the milking moms have just been very, very naughty! I have a whole routine, of which they are very aware, for milking times. Every one has her turn in a specific order, and when they get off the milk stand, they are allowed to wander around the outer greenhouse areas and eat all the weedy stuff, until all the girls are finished. Then they go back into the paddock areas, where the other girls and babies have finished their grain.
Maybe it’s the weather, but in the past few days we have been forced to escort each doe back into the paddock and lock them into the middle section while the non-milkers get their meal. Pippi started it, I think! (Poor Pippi, she is getting all the blame). As the next doe was getting on the milk stand and I began milking, the does that had finished and should have been grazing, were coming back around and eating out of the milking mama’s bowl! Heresy! Which ended up with every one fighting to get their heads into the pan and hoover up as much grain as they could. Sigh.
And so it goes. As of this morning, things seem to have calmed down. Even though it was raining, the does grazed and let each successive mom have her breakfast. Maybe it was sunspots, or the phase of the moon. I am just glad not to have to jump up from the milkstand every 5 minutes and usher a naughty girl out of the area, dirtying my hands and messing up the usually Zen activity of milking!
Yes, this week we finally have had two consecutive days of sun. It must be a plot to make us think that spring and/or summer might just be here! We are supposed to have rain tomorrow, but they say the weekend will be gorgeous again. That’s more like it!
Well, we have been busy here on the farm. We moved Jingle the donkey back in with Reddog the buck, so Fergus the wether could babysit the two bucklings, Hagrid and Mayo. They really needed to be off their mamas… Hagrid is very mature for his age and he was seriously practicing his humping skills on anyone who stood still. At 8 or 9 weeks old, he shouldn’t be able to breed any of the girls, but you just never know! This is a much safer solution.
As a result, Hagrid’s mama, Pippi, is all mine to milk. That’s a celebration all by itself right there! It’s so wonderful to get a decent amount of milk to get going with cheese again. I started my 3rd chevre batch of the year yesterday, and so far things are going very well. It’s always so satisfying to get those little cheeses wrapped up and ready to go.
On the Peanut front, she is now 9 weeks old and she is beginning to slow down on her bottle feeding amounts. I am hoping that in another week or so we can bump her back from 3 to 2 per day. That middle of the day feeding can be a pain if we all are out and about during the day.
Five of our 8 babies that were for sale are spoken for, and so we really just have to find homes for Dorcas’ two doelings and Edna’s little girl. Not too bad!
The trees are finally really greening up here on the mid-Maine coast. I had an appointment the other day down past South Portland and I couldn’t believe how much farther along the leaves were there. But we are finally catching up, although I miss the different hues of the greens after the leaves are full sized and looking toward summer. But for now it’s just nice to glance out the windows and see an ocean of verdant colors.
As far as everything else goes it is pretty much status quo. I have not been as hands on in every day farm chores in the last two weeks as I am recuperating from an unexpected health challenge, which is what I need to do right now. Thank goodness for Sam! I am milking the 3 does in the morning, the ones that are keeping our Peanut afloat with her bottles (down to three a day now, phew!), and doing a few things around the house, but he is carrying on with all the rest, thank goodness.
One of my biggest joys at this time of year is not just watching the goat kids grow like gangbusters and seeing the leaves bust out, but also simply to stand on the back porch in the evening and listen to the peeping tree frogs that fill our woods. They are my beloved invisible chorus of the night, one of the greatest pleasures of spring. (Although it doesn’t feel much like spring right now, still, yet, again in the 50s and rainy!).
And so it goes. The holiday weekend is upon us and we hope to see the sun tomorrow!
But surely spring is showing itself to us. The end of this past week was very warm, unnaturally so, but this weekend has been mostly sunny and breezy, with more normal temperatures in the 60s (F).
As the leaves are finally popping out, we have been moving toward making the new greenhouse more amenable in the warmer weather. We already removed all the sectioning panels that we had up during the kidding months, and Sam cleaned out all the old straw, hay and debris. The last of the ice that was lingering under all those layers of straw is finally gone! It’s a big, wide open space now so the girls can find a spot with their babies without getting nudged by someone else.
The only thing left to do, however, was to figure out when it would be advisable to take the plywood off the driveway gable end of the greenhouse. That end was totally closed off, which is the north side, so it was a huge help during the winter. But now it is becoming important to get some air moving through there, so Sam took it down on Friday. It has made a big difference, and I am glad, it was time! I am not a fan of really hot, humid weather, but when it does come, at least we will have about as much air circulation as possible. The goats seem to appreciate it, and our Peanut has another vantage point from which to watch for our approach! She is using it well :*)
I was able to sneak up on her this morning and get a photo after she had her bottle and was lounging next to another baby pile. They were all happy and dozing in the sun.
The weather has finally cooperated and we finally made the move to having Peanut stay out with the other goats all night. She is effectively a “real” goat now!
She remains the smallest of all the babies out there, even though she is 7 weeks old today, but she is doing very well with the others. She has not had any crying jags out there at all, either, except when it’s very close to bottle time. We have not gotten her onto 3 bottles per day instead of 4, but we moved the last feeding of the day to 8 PM, instead of 9 (once it’s pretty dark outside the goats tend to be bedded down, and if we go up there, everyone gets all riled up). It doesn’t seem to bother her!
One thing I can truthfully say, it’s quite a relief to have her out of the house… even though she was only inside for a little bit of the evening and about a half hour in the morning, she has grown so much and is so strong now that she can just about jump onto any table or pile of newspapers without giving it a thought. Talk about chaos! It was exhausting supervising her. I have only tackled a little bit of the cleanup in the house that it’s going to take, but there is no rush.
And so our little House Goat is growing up, but her cuteness remains intact. I don’t think that will ever change!
(It’s difficult to get photos of her because every time I go into the pen she runs up to climb on me. The photo above is about the only one I have been able to successfully take in the last few days).
It feels like it’s been forever since we saw the sun. For a moment or two this morning the sky brightened, but in the end it just led to more clouds. The temperature feels like it is inching up, though, which is definitely a plus!
On these gloomy days I have been catching up on herd paperwork, and doing some plying. I have spun up quite a bit of my backlog, but I hate to ply, so I frequently put that off until I can’t find another empty bobbin to put on the wheel. I know, silly!
While spinning, I have been listening to Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising sequence audiobooks, and am on the 2nd one, The Dark is Rising. I read this and the prequel, Over Sea, Under Stone, many years ago, but am enjoying it again. I had never read farther into the series, though, so I am looking forward to the others as well. Susan Cooper is a wonderful author who has written more than just this series, one of my favorites being The Boggart. I am not a serious fan of heavy duty fantasy, but the battle between The Dark and The Light in many of her books is a timeless theme, and she does it very well, with believable, complex characters. It also helps that these books take place in some pretty dramatic places, like Cornwall!
Peanut is continuing to do well, staying outside all day with the others, and coming in about dark. She hasn’t made the transition to a three bottle a day schedule yet, but I think she is close. She knows where to go when she wants a nap, and plays hard with the others when she wants. I don’t fear for her safety with the others, but we will wait until after the Mother’s Day rain deluge to leave her out at night.
Oh my, I can see a slice of blue sky in the distance! Shocking!
Even though we are having a pretty grey run of weather with never ending mud, the days are just flying by. I have been getting a backlog of spinning projects going, and over the weekend my grandson and I went up to Maple Lane Pottery to visit during the Maine Pottery tour. We had a lot of fun, and got to make some pinch pots in Robbi’s studio.
On the farm front, Peanut continues to grow like a weed, and she is now spending all day every day outside with her friends. She has really matured quite a bit in the last week, and can hold her own even with most of the mamas. When she came in last night for her last bottle and bed, she ran right over to the little container that I have had out for her and gobbled up all the sweet grain that was in it.
Peanut has nighttime “quarters” in the upstairs bathroom, where she can move around and she has her sleeping tub, but we also have a large dog crate in the living room (I know, the things you find in farmers’ homes) for her. She has her hay and grain in there, along with some salt and mineral mix. She is doing very well with the hay, for sure.
And so I think that when this run of nasty, drippy, damply cool weather is over, the middle of next week may be our target for getting Peanut outside for the overnights as well. She is still taking four 12 oz bottles a day, so we shall see if she cuts back on that to three or not. That makes it just a little bit easier on us! Every evening when she joins us back in the house she looks bigger to me, and doesn’t look for much cuddling any more. Wah, wah! Our little Peanut is growing up :*)
The past week has flown by and I just have not gotten my blog mojo on! Tired at night in this drizzly, grey weather. Dealing with a house Peanut is also keeping us busy, as all her systems are on green light, and I cannot seem to keep the diapers on her. So we are constantly cleaning up while she is in the house.
We are trying to get our little goat integrated into the herd of babies and mamas, but it has presented its challenges. She seems to do fine when the youngest of the babies are out playing and she fits right in with them. The older ones can be a little pushy, and the moms mostly have no use for her and if she is not careful, they can do some damage. Yesterday it poured all day, so we only had her out during chore times. This morning she came out at chore time and we left her up there, but it turned damp and raw, and we found her kicked out of the greenhouse, huddled up by the fence shivering, late in the morning. So we brought her in for an hour to have her bottle, then got her back up there. The temperature has improved, even if the grey skies have not.
So we are hoping for some slightly warmer weather, but it looks unsettled with rain and fog on and off for the next week. The weekend, however, looks like a winner! We shall see. I am not anxious for the blackflies, but it will be nice to see the sun again sometime, with some slightly warmer temperatures! Spring in Maine, never a dull moment. (Or maybe many dull moments with a few grateful sightings of the sun!). And until then, we will keep getting our Peanut out with the others and watching carefully. We have had house goats and lambs in the past and I know they get out there into the mix in the end. It just feels like forever!
Things have been quite nuts here at the farm this past week. The older babies didn’t look quite so big to me until we let Edna’s babies out of the jug with her on Saturday morning, and they popped out into the paddock. What a contrast! The month old kids look like giants next to them!
As it turns out, Edna is a very laid back mother, (as she is a very laid back goat). A few times that day one or both of us had to go looking for one or the other of her kids. I guess this should have given me an inkling. On Sunday morning we went out for chores, and as usual, the first thing we try to do is count heads and make sure everyone is there. Not all the babies sleep with their moms, and we have two greenhouses and two paddocks with an open gate between them. I started to get quite worried because we couldn’t find Edna’s little buck, Godric. Finally we spotted him, all the way over in the next paddock with Jingle the donkey and Fergus the wether (there is no gate into this pen from the girls paddocks), lying in a little hollow by the far fence, wet from the rain we had overnight.
We picked him up and realized his back left leg was broken, or injured in some way. I thought it was a broken femur, but Sam and John thought it was a dislocated hip. We have splinted many a lower leg on both goat kids and lambs with great success, but I have never encountered an injury like this. So we brought him into the house, made him comfy, got him warm and dry, gave him a bottle, and kept him as immobile as possible. He happily got on the bottle, and rested and was fine with being inside. I figured we now had two bottle babies in the house instead of just one, because we could see to his leg and then have him bottle-raised.
We got him over to our local vet as soon as we could, so she could take an X-ray. And we quickly realized that this was not going to get fixed. His femur was snapped in two pieces, and the top piece had swiveled all the way around toward his spine, and the bottom piece was pointing down. Not something many four-legged animals could come back from, even if we had deep enough pockets for surgery. So we had the vet put the little guy down.
We think he was wandering and one of the other moms may have backed him into the green panel that was closing off a small section of the fence between Fergus/Jingle and the girls’ area, giving him a slam as he was trying to get away through the fence. Unfortunately, it happens if babies don’t stay near their mamas. We replaced that section of fence yesterday with a galvanized panel that has smaller openings, but obviously too late to save our Godric (although being slammed into a fence that you can’t escape through would be just as lethal, I suspect).
Life on the farm sometimes seems so unfair, but in the end it is nature. We may have to set up a “nursery” type larger pen for Edna and her new babies next year, so she isn’t stuck in a small jug with them for too long, but in a wider pen in the greenhouse, not just out and about with everyone. I have done that in the past with some of our sheep. But I really wanted to get them out of the greenhouse over the weekend because it had gotten so warm that I was afraid they would get heat stroke. Good intentions, and all that.
And so it goes.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!