Tag Archives: winter

Time

Babies in the creep

I do apologize for not having taken the time for some updates and news.  The days just fly past and suddenly another week or month is gone.  The babies are growing like gangbusters, and we are finally, finally getting some reasonable weather, 70F, breezy and sunny.  Playtime out on the big rock may now begin in earnest!

Twig’s little boy

Unfortunately, I have news of the farm.  I struggled with this all late winter and early  spring, and finally have made the decision to let the goats and Jingle the Donkey go.  I can’t even tell you how difficult this is for me, but I am not up to the work anymore, and I don’t think I could manage another winter as icy as this recent one.  I suspect that winters here will continue to get warmer, which will only mean that much more ice for us here on the coast.

I am certainly fine with the day to day chores in the fine weather, but I am falling behind on the real infrastructure maintenance, both physically and monetarily.  I am on a fixed retirement income, and am just managing the hay prices, which keep going up.  (I ran out of hay right around the time the babies were born, and this time of year is not optimal to be buying it as everyone is jacking up the prices to ridiculous levels).  I am hoping that farmers are out making hay this weekend, as we are having a beautiful 4-day stretch of lovely!

Peanut with her new friend

And so awhile back I slowly put the word out that my goats are available, and I have to say that all but one buckling has been spoken for at this point.  Peanut was a particularly special case, as I needed to find her a home where she will not be bred (not easy at all).  But, a friend contacted a friend of hers and Peanut now lives the life of luxury not far from here, on a place where some horses and another adorable goat were rescued.  I have visited her and she is loving life!  Not being pushed around by the older goats here anymore, she is simply best buds with the dwarf goat over there (they have a great view, also!  I am jealous).

I have also found wonderful homes for the other mamas and babies, and Jingle the Donkey is going up to a farm not far from here to live with other donkeys and horses.  A great setting for my lovable girl.

And so it goes.  I have always thought that I would have my goats until I was at least 70, but that may have been wishful thinking!  It took a very long time for me to make the final decision, but in the end I knew that it was the right one.  I can never go anywhere between April and October because of kidding and then milking, so this will allow me to do a little traveling in the good weather, as well as actually having the money to do other things.  (Although I am seriously mourning the loss of that lovely milk and the chevre…)

The mamas and babies will be leaving toward the end of this month or early July.  It’s going to be altogether too quiet around here very soon!

 

 

 

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Icemud season

Ice and mud

What a lapse in blogging!  The days have been flying by, even by winter weather standards.  I think most of us in the northeast can agree that this has been the winter of ice, which was definitely not an easy-to-handle one.  Each snow storm we had ended in rain and sleet, and the buildup of ice in all the areas where the shade predominates has been epic.

Sunrise over the pigeon loft

And so we enter the in-between time of icemud.  Not yet mud season, but mud mixed with layers of ice… and everything re-freezes at night.  Gotta love it because there is nothing to do about it!  I am enjoying these 40F days, though, and afternoon chores are my favorite time of day.  The sun is high and warm, and even the unrelenting wind has not spoiled how nice it feels to be outside.

Peanut, Twig, and Eleganza (left to right)

On the goat front, we are just 3 weeks away from our first babies!  Eleganza is our Number 1 this year, and is due on April 9th.  The other two are due a week later.  Our first-timer, Twig, has begun to have a nice little udder, so even though she does not look incredibly pregnant, she is chugging along well.

And so it goes!  Spring is not a season that we really have here in Maine, but the trees have buds on them and the overnight temperatures are in the upper 20s and low 30s, which is delightful.  Maple trees are tapped and syrup is flowing well.  And Daylight Saving time is here, which always makes my day :*)

A new month, a new week

Pizza dough (and a little wine for the baker!). Dough recipe from David Lebovitz

I can’t believe that it is March already!  I had a great first week working with my weaving mentor, and had a great weekend with our grandson.  We did fun stuff like make pizza dough, (I made red sauce), we read some Harry Potter, and he played lots of games.

Pippi the Lamancha doe, looking very wide and very ready to milk, indeed!

I am needing to get more organized for kidding, which should begin late in the week of the 19th.  A friend of ours had lambs two days ago and it has gotten me very excited about our impending babies.  It is the perfect time to give the pregnant does their Bo-Se shots (Selenium and Vitamin E), and I will be giving CD&T shots to each of them according to their due dates (3 weeks ahead, to make sure their babies have some immunities, particularly the Tetanus piece).  Since we live in a selenium-poor area of the country, the Bo-Se is very important and a few years ago I had begun boostering this twice a year in the moms.  I hope it’s making a difference.  We have not had any problems that I can ascribe to a lack of selenium, so hopefully it has.

Tesser sleeps very soundly in her little cat bed.

And so it goes.  Our little Tesser the Chihuahua is chugging along, getting very close to her 16th birthday.  She is doing well for her age and her size, and loves her little cat bed tunnel and her heating pad in front of the wood stove.

I can hardly wait for next weekend when we get Daylight Savings time back :*)

Spa 2018 coming up

Winter sun winning the day

Well, I am packing tonight to get down to Freeport, Maine tomorrow.  New England Textile Arts Spa weekend is upon us!

The vendor area at the Hilton Garden Inn will open up on Friday night at 5 PM.  It’s a great weekend, and I can’t wait!  I hope to take some great photos and share them with you after the event.

On another note, I can’t believe we had a 50+ degree day today!  It was luscious :*)  All the goaties ate outside and everyone was cavorting and kicking up their heels.  When the fog finally lifted and the sun came out midday, it was heaven.  I know that not everyone in the country had such a day, so I feel very grateful for the little bit of sun and warmth we got this afternoon.  Quite a bit of the hard layer of ice in the driveway and in the paddocks melted.  Let’s hope the temperatures stay up a little and that any bad weather we get (cough, Sunday) does not hang around long enough to turn into ice.

New Year catch-up

It really has been awhile.  I can’t believe that I have been absent for so long from the blog!  The end of 2017 came and went, and it feels as though the winter is picking up speed and galloping toward the finish line, faster and faster.  Or maybe that is just wishful thinking!

The more daylight we find ourselves with, the happier I am, though.  I don’t get seasonal affective disorder or anything, but it’s just cheery to look up and realize it’s 5 PM and the sky isn’t as black as night.  I know what comes next in the weather department can be the worst of the winter, but it won’t be long.  Spring will show up one of these days!

Twig, waiting for some love pats

Our winter program for the goats has been going along fairly well, although we have had some trouble with the electrical supply to keep the water buckets from freezing.  Hopefully we can upgrade that once the weather gets warmer so that we don’t have these issues next year.  The brutal cold spell that we had earlier on in the winter is mercifully just a memory now, and we all have our fingers crossed for more middle of the road winter weather for the rest of the season.

We are, of course, beginning the countdown to goat babies.  Pippi and Saffron have the earliest dates, round about March 23.  Our only real wild card is Edna…  she must have been in stealth breeding mode, as I never caught her in heat or even with the buck.  But she looks like she has a very nice baby bump coming along, so we just have to watch her.  Everyone is looking very healthy, thankfully.  Peanut and Twig are as sweet as ever, providing a lot of cuddle opportunities every day.

And so it goes.  I am just about up and around after a good 10 days of the Type A flu.  Being asthmatic, I try to be especially careful, but this really caught me off-guard.  It was a particularly bad one.  Wishing everyone a very belated Happy New Year!

Disbudding day

Sun-bathing lineup! (one of Betsy’s babies has even joined the crew)

Was yesterday for the 8 babies that are on the ground right now.  A friend of ours had offered to help us out, and because I have been sick, time got away with me a little bit.  4 of the babies were turning two weeks old this weekend, and and that is kind of the outer limit on when you get good results with it.

Betsy’s babies are playing with the big kids today

So our friend and her husband came up around midday, and the sun was shining and everything went very smoothly.  I am not sure I could ever do the procedure myself, but someone experienced makes it look quick and easy.  So our little ones all have alien markings on their heads, and by chore time yesterday afternoon, they were running around and playing, totally unfazed by the ordeal.  I, on the other hand, was exhausted!

This is something that I really do not look forward to, but horns in a dairy operation are dicey…  the girls frequently get annoyed with each other for one reason or another, and they bash at their victim with their heads down.  Udders have been punctured and slashed, and then you have an even bigger problem on your hands (getting udders to heal is a long process as they are constantly expanding to fill with milk, and then contracting after milking).  And so we disbud.  In the long run it’s safer for us as well.  (Purebred Guernsey goats are naturally ‘polled,’ but our little herd isn’t quite to that level yet, although our Betsy was naturally polled).

The Captain and Tenille (aka, Betsy’s babies)

Our Betsy has been eating fitfully, and since we have taken her babies away, all she is doing is poking her head out of the panel and calling to her little ones, who huddle next to the gate into her pen.  She has eaten a little more over the last few days, but not enough, and I think her stress level has been rising, as she wants her babies with her.  So I fed the little bugs their 5 PM bottles, and let her out.  They mobbed her and nursed her for awhile, but I am hoping they will settle down and let her just be their mama.  She is such a good one.  I just have my fingers crossed that I can get her through this and onto a better nutritional plane.  One of the reasons I kept her is because her mama, Battie, is such a fantastic mother, that I hoped the trait would pass to her.  I guess it did, and ironically it’s putting her health at risk.

And so we keep figuring out as we go on.  You just never know what’s around the corner.  I am hoping for a little lull between births.  4 more to go, 3 of whom I have pretty good dates on, one of which I do not.  We shall see!

Another day, another set of twins

The blondie in the back is the buck, and miss red head in the front is the doe. Cute as button!

And here we go!  Battie did not show up for her afternoon suppertime, and at the time, we didn’t notice until everything was over.  I was feeding the bottle lambs, and Sam was doling out the grain.  When we looked in the other greenhouse, there lay Battie, facing the corner, not doing much.  This was about 2:30 PM.

Battie’s doe and buck

We watched her for awhile, and then we went back to the house.  I got into the bathtub and soaked for awhile, but when I was getting dressed, I noticed Sam jogging up the driveway.  Not a good sign!  He had heard Battie bellowing up in the greenhouse, and guessed what was going on.  He got there just as her buckling hit the ground.  He got her moved into a jug, and that’s when her little red doeling came dropping in.  (We actually thought the doeling wasn’t a viable baby.  She was flat as a pancake, wasn’t moving, and wasn’t breathing).  We got her nose cleared off and there she was, right as rain.  Little spitfire!

Another 9 or 10″ of snow yesterday. No foot paths for the goaties first thing this morning

I wasn’t really expecting Battie to be due for another two weeks.  When I put Reddog in with my group on October 12, I knew that he had been all over Battie, but he also seriously bred her for a full day almost 3 weeks later.  So I had the second date on my calendar.  Just goes to show you, you never can tell!

On another note, we took Betsy’s babies away from her this morning.  Every time she got up, both of them were at her and never let her have a minute of non-nursing.  I put them in the jug right next to her, so they can stick their heads through the panel and chat, but no milkies.  I don’t think I have ever been given the stink eye from a goat the way Betsy gave me one this morning, but I think in the long run it’s going to be better.  She stared at them morosely for a few hours, and by early this afternoon, she was frantically eating hay.  And when all the hullaballoo started with Battie, she couldn’t contain herself, standing with her front hooves on the panel, watching and trying to see what was happening.  That’s more like most goats I know!  Noseybodies, one and all.  When I went out to bottle feed her babies at 7 PM, she was still ravenously attacking her hay, and the babies were just happily cuddled up in a corner of their pen.  I actually had to wake them up.  So I think things are progressing well.  I just have my fingers crossed that Betsy keeps moving forward with her nutrition.

What a day!  I think a glass of wine is in order!  Someone else is doing the 11 PM bottle feeding tonight.  That’s a huge gift :*)

Snowstorm Stella

Fergus at the gate. Complaining, as usual!

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).

Betsy and the little ones

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!

Betsy’s little doeling enjoying some head scratches

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.

Twig in the feeder, looking like a good farm kid with a stalk of hay in her mouth.

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!

Betsy comes home

Betsy’s little boo boos (we call Betsy Boo Boo all the time)

Phew!  Betsy and two live babies have joined us back on the farm.  The vet called yesterday afternoon to say that nothing was happening yet, but could she call us at any time of the night in case we needed to make further decisions.  (That was a bit of a nail-biter to take off to bed).  She also told us that after they give the drugs to induce labor the average time is about 30 hours, so we knew it was possible to be between 10 PM and midnight.

Betsy’s doe is quite a girl!

Midnight came and went, and every time I awoke and checked the clock I thought, awesome Betsy, you hang on for some warmer temperatures!  Anyhow, at 6 AM the vet called and let us know that she had pulled two live kids, one doe and one buck, at 11:30 last night.  They are doing fairly well, although the buckling may have had some ataxia (oxygen depravation), and he was the one they were watching.  But we were free to come and liberate them!

Betsy’s buckling in a food coma. He also has some trouble with his leg coordination right now

And so we toodled to Monmouth and picked up Betsy and kids.  The vets had gotten them started on bottles, with Betsy’s colostrum mixed with milk replacer, because they needed sustenance right away, and also because nursing two kids is not going to be to Betsy’s advantage.  She had gotten very thin in the last few weeks and she needs all her strength for herself, not to put into making milk.  The little doe is very vociferous and takes the bottle well, but the buck wants nothing to do with the bottle.  He just wants mama!  He will be our challenge.  Luckily I planned ahead and milked Eleganza and saved quite a bit of her colostrum, and also a few quarts of her milk.  That will definitely help us along here.

It is so bitterly cold that when we got them home, I relented and borrowed a friend’s heat lamp.  Betsy doesn’t have the resources to keep herself warm enough, let alone the babies.  They are all nestled up together under the lamp tonight, and the buckling must be getting enough to eat because his temperature is over 102.  But as with everything else, we will keep checking and deciding how to proceed.

The weather service claims that the windchill advisory will be over first thing in the morning.  I really hope that is true!  This is inhuman.  I don’t know how folks manage to live in the tundra regions.  Mind-numbing wind is a force to be reckoned with, for sure.  I can’t say that I am looking forward to a foot of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, but if it’s in the high 20s, I will live with it, happily :*)  (I may need to remind myself of this as we are so quick to forget, and everything is relative, right?).

Eleganza opens the season

Eleganza and her twins
Eleganza and her twins

Wow, Eleganza sure chose the day!  Very kindly, she also chose an hospitable time.  10:05 a.m. the first doe was born, a 9.5 lb white and beige cutie.  I thought for awhile that she was a single, but at 10:29 out popped her sister, a lot smaller at 5.65 lbs.  She is a red doe with white splotches, also extremely adorable.

Doe #1. Our Ivy
Doe #1. Our Ivy

The big player today was the wind, however, and at that time of the morning the sun wasn’t really high enough to make a difference in that greenhouse.  We don’t have the south facing gable end closed off, and even with windbreaks, it was still feeling more than brisk.  The key is to getting them dried off as quickly as possible, but with the temperatures, it didn’t happen as fast as usual.  I have them all tight in a little jug with lots of straw, and towels and tarps blocking the sides.  I was concerned for awhile for the little one, but her temperature is staying close to 101 and they are both nursing well.  By this afternoon they were up and about, not falling down as much, and sweet as all get out.

Doe #2, Twig.
Doe #2, Twig.

Cuteness overload!  I am going to have to be checking on them through the night, I don’t want either of them to get too chilled.  The temperature is going to plummet and tomorrow we are supposed to have extreme, gusty winds again, worse than today.  Let’s hope that Dorcas, Delta and Betsy decide to hold off until at least Sunday afternoon.  Really girls, I mean it :*)