And now we are three. This past Wednesday, Twig and her doeling went up to live with their new family in Temple, Maine. They seem like lovely people, and Twig and her baby are settling right in.
It’s definitely much quieter around here, for sure! Remaining are two bucklings, both Eleganza’s, and one of Saffron’s doelings who is supposed to be going to a woman nearby. They are busy little bees, and all seem just fine without their moms. The two boys are quite the boisterous duo, and Olive (which is what I call the doeling), stays out of their way as much as she can!
No interest yet in the bucklings, but we shall see. Most folks don’t begin thinking about a herd sire until closer in to the autumn when its time to think about getting that started.
And so it goes! In the meantime, last week I took a lovely class at the local fabric shop (Alewives Fabrics) and learned the basics of English paper piecing (a different type of quilting technique). I love it! I will post some photos when I get a little more done. We are having a lazy Sunday, enjoying the cooler less humid air that came in over night. Delightful after the humidity and torrential storms last evening!
It’s been a busy few days! All of our girls have now delivered their babies, just in time to avoid the rain that is coming in this afternoon. (Actually, I think it is already drizzling).
Yesterday I came and went over and over again up to the paddock, and around 1:30 I decided to take the lawn chair to just outside the girl’s greenhouse, and relax for a few minutes. The sun was warm, and there was a breeze, but not a bad one. I closed my eyes, and then realized I was hearing two things: Eleganza, who was in the greenhouse penned with her babies, was calling to Twig, her 2 year old daughter, who was outside in labor, grunting. Oh my! That goes to show that you are never finished with being a mom! It was so sweet. Twig grunted and growled, and Eleganza called.
Twig was doing really well, and didn’t even get up to get that first baby out, a little doe. What a cutie she is, very spunky at a minute or so old! I didn’t have to guess her sex, as after only a moment, she squatted to pee! That is something I have never seen before. Twig is showing herself to be as good a mother as Eleganza; she had that baby cleaned up and on her feet in record time. As the afternoon wore on, however, I realized her next baby in line was having issues. He had his head tilted up and back, and one leg was all the way forward and out, while the other was all the way back. I don’t think I have had to help any goat births in about 10 years, and here we had two situations in two days that needed a little push. You just never know!
As soon as I got the little guy’s head down and out the back door, she didn’t have any problem getting him out. He’s another beautiful red buck, with a little white blaze on the top of his head. They are both very active babies and are doing well.
And so it goes! 4 babies down. I’ll tell you about Saffron a little later!
Yesterday dawned a beautiful day. I am glad because it was hoof trimming Thursday! The sun was out for the morning and it almost smelled like Spring.
I am sure I have written before about our wonderful shearer Emily. We always had her shear the sheep when we had them, and as I have some issues with my back, she comes to us to do hooves every few months. I don’t know what I would do without her!
Our goatie girls have long memories (as does Jingle the donkey). One or two of them hold grudges for quite awhile after we have someone like the vet out to see them. Twig is actually the worst. She wouldn’t talk to us or let us pet her for a few weeks after the vet did Rabies shots last fall. She was seriously pissed with us. The other one who has fits is Pippi, our Lamancha herd queen.
When Pippi sees the vet or anyone she is not overly familiar with coming down the driveway, she tries to make herself scarce, running into the adjoining paddock and standing in the corner (you can’t see me here, right???). All of our goats are extremely friendly, we have culled any that are difficult to handle, and mostly we have no problems corralling them. Yesterday Pippi did her usual mad break for it, but when we got her on the milk stand, she would not eat the grain we had for her. Instead, she just put her head down as low as she could get it, and stuck her tongue out at me. I try not to anthropomorphize animals, but it just killed me to see her standing there giving me the stink eye, with her tongue sticking out like a child who has been caught being naughty! She stamped and did her best to throw Emily off, but the humans prevailed. Pippi wasted no time getting back into the paddock, and we all had a good laugh.
It was good to get the hooves taken care of before the girls get too big with babies. A little over a month. I am starting to get baby goat fever :*)
The time has come. Our little girl is almost 6 months old, and she finally, finally, had her last bottle a day or two ago! Yay for our Peanut!
I know it seems like a long time, and under normal circumstances we would not have let a kid bottle feed for this long, but it just seemed to be doing her a lot of good. She didn’t take to grain very easily or quickly, and I think she needed it. Our Twig the Tank is still nursing on her poor mother Eleganza, and you can definitely tell :*)
In the morning we are still giving Peanut a grain share, but she eats it outside the paddock. No one else gets morning grain, but since Peanut is really a person and not a goat, she has to come out and help us with the chores anyhow (i.e., standing/jumping on the pile of hay that we carry in a canvas sling – this hurts -, racing back and forth from the driveway to the back of the paddocks, flying onto and off of the milking stand, and so on), so it just makes sense that she can have her feed in peace. But now instead of having a milk chaser after her grain, she must make do with water. She is still complaining, but not very hard… I think she was ready.
Peanut and Twig were not very impressed last week when it was hoof trimming day! Our friend Emily, a shearer, comes every few months to help out with the feet, which is very hard on the back for me these days. We didn’t put the littles on the milk stand like the mamas (their heads would just come back through the stanchion), so Emily had to sit them down on their butts. Goats have extremely pointy, bony behinds, unlike most sheep, so Peanut kept sliding over, where she just stayed in the end. Twig twisted around and landed on her back and just gave up, although I got the big stink eye from her.
And so it goes. The weather is gorgeous, cool nights and warmer days. The bucks are in bucky heaven, pissing copiously all over their faces, beards and legs. They are very impressed with themselves and are ready for action. (Too bad there won’t be any girly time until almost November! Poor things.) I am looking forward to a beautiful autumn season, and am trying to enjoy every moment of the crickets and the grasshoppers and the singing of the tree frogs while I can. I think I miss that most when the windows get closed and the frosts come. But we still have awhile yet. It’s all good.
It’s so easy to say: the summer is just slipping and sliding by. But it is! Our crew is getting steadily smaller as the babies go off to their new homes, which is both happy and sad for us. It’s a lot quieter here, although the wild bird song in the early morning is a joyous racket these days. And as the peepers have slackened off their singing at night, I have been noticing that the grasshoppers and crickets are beginning to chime in to what I always think of as the end of summer music. For living out in the woods, we have plenty of nature’s sounds to enjoy!
Things are ticking along pretty well, with the usual monkey wrench thrown in here and there. Our pretty little girl Twig had been fighting an eye infection last week, and I thought it was gone, only to have it pop back up again a few days ago. I do think that Twig has taken the loss of her sister and her two good friends, Saffron’s girls, pretty hard, so it doesn’t totally surprise me that she is a little compromised, but she does still have her mama, so I am not going to actively wean her. I am getting about 1.5 quarts from Eleganza, her mother, at each milking, so I am not complaining about sharing!
As for the milk and the cheese making, it is going great guns here. Going so hard, I had to freeze some milk late last week so I could take a breather for a day or so! If my cardiac rehab schedule was not three days a week in Brunswick (which is a ride in the summer traffic), I could alternate days for making more than just chevre. I did carve out some time to make some Halloumi a week or two back, and it was awesomely good. We don’t seem to be able to get it around here, so it’s a fun cheese to make from time to time. And I keep wanting to get going on aging some cheese, but have not quite gotten it together to do so. I have some plans for that, however, hopefully soon!
Our summer weather has been amazing so far. Not too many hot and humid days, and lovely cool nights. Not great for the tomato and eggplant growth, but good for sleeping and enjoying the air. And so it goes. I hope everyone is finding something to enjoy this summer!
They have been promising us another blizzard-type storm. And it is here. Blustery and blowing from the north, it’s a white world again. Not what any of us want to see in March, but this is Maine so that’s how it rolls! (I won’t curse here, I promise).
We are definitely keeping busy with Betsy and her little ones. Betsy is coming along slowly, and I am hoping that she revs into high gear sooner rather than later and gets some eating done. We need to put some weight on her (we are doing all the supportive appetite-inducing things, as well as making sure she has vitamins, probiotics and plenty of minerals, salt, etc). Even though we are bottle feeding those little bugs, they continue to nosh on her as well. At some point I need to decide whether or not it is putting too much stress on her, and if I think it is, I will have to take the babies away. I really don’t want to do that, they all need each other and that could be just as stressful to Betsy, but as the vets say, she is in a ‘negative energy’ zone right now, and I hate to think of her body trying to produce the milk for those hungry, hungry twins. Sigh. It’s always something on a farm!
Dorcas is the next doe in the lineup, and she could freshen at any point. Difficult to tell, and most of our attention is focused elsewhere, so I suspect she will have a big surprise for us any time now. And that will be the halfway mark for us. 4 more girls are due end of March, beginning of April.
The 4 older kids are having plenty of action-packed adventures in the meantime. They can’t help but have fun, because 4 is much more exciting than 2! They love to run the fenceline and torment Fergus the buck on the other side. He very sweetly sniffs them through the fence, and then they hippity hop away to torment someone else. For a few days there Olive, one of Delta’s girls, was trying to sneak treats from Eleganza. El is wise to her now, but for a few minutes there I thought Olive was going to get away with it. They are all too funny. And Twig has figured out how to get into the Sydell blue tub feeder… that is one of the highlights of every goat kid’s life! It’s not a perfect design, because of that, but none of the work-arounds I have tried keep them out. And so it goes. A goat kid’s world is a wonderful place, most of the time.
Just about time for afternoon chores. Time to go out in the storm. Ugh. They say this one is a fast-mover, and I hope they are correct!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!