Tag Archives: winter

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 :*)

 

February warm up week

It’s almost unreal.  The temperatures have been very kind to us, although it’s disconcerting when I think that we are in the middle to the end of February, and really it’s not too normal for weather like this (40s approaching 50).  But there is nothing to be done about it, so we are enjoying it!

Feeding frenzy
Feeding frenzy

The animals are enjoying it as well, although the snow is still so deep that their movement is curtailed a bit.  We are watching our girls like hawks, and this afternoon we noticed that Betsy, our yearling, is losing her “mucous plug” today.  So it won’t be long and she will be having her baby.  Hard to tell how long it might be, but I would expect it to be in the next 24 hours, hopefully sooner.

While waiting for babies a few of us have been getting ready for the SPA NETA spin and knit weekend coming up, this weekend!  I am supposed to be heading down to Freeport (Maine) tomorrow so that we can get the ballroom ready for the vendors, as they will be coming in on Friday to set up their wares.  The big kick-off is Friday evening, so we are all getting excited.  It’s a great weekend full of fun and folks we may not see from one end of the year to the other.  And Freeport is full of fiber-loving people everywhere you look (every hotel common area is crammed with knitters, crocheters, and spinners.  Awesome!).

Betsy, a year ago
Betsy, a year ago

So we watch and wait.  I was supposed to go to a dual birthday luncheon tomorrow before heading down to Freeport (a good friend and I have February birthdays), but we shall see how things progress here with our Betsy.  She is a peach, but a first freshener, so we really want to monitor her closely.

More news soon, I hope!

 

Sun-filled winter Saturday

todayIt was a really beautiful day today.  I drove down the driveway this afternoon and sat in the car with the window open, my face to the sun.  And I could feel the luscious heat of it, such contentment.

It got up to the high 30s today so we have had some melting.  But the sun was the real news, and it just never stopped.  A real joy to be outside.  The goats were in and out all day, running back and forth between the greenhouses, and that is about it.  The sum of today was sun and almost warm temperatures.

Edna wants to know what's up!
Edna wants to know what’s up!

The pregnant girls are progressing slowly.  Betsy’s backside looks a little pinker today, and her udder is larger than it was yesterday.  So the late night and early morning checks continue, and we shall see.  At the beginning of every kidding season I agonize over all the little signs, and by the time a few of the girls have kidded we are just in take-it-as-it-comes mode.  The first is always a nail-biter!

Sun on the snow
Sun on the snow

I am going to have to do a little dance next weekend, as it is the yearly NETA Spa Knit and Spin weekend in Freeport, and as I am one of the planners, I am supposed to be there.  So we shall see what happens with the early due girls, and if I am in Freeport and something is happening, I am not very far away, 50 minutes, perhaps.  But still, if I think anything is percolating, I will be here for the duration.   My goatie babies are the most important thing for me.

It’s school break this week, so I get to spend some extra time with my grandson.  We will be having some fun in the next few days, along with picking up a load of hay.  For a good time, it’s here on the farm!

Winter wonderland

Drifts and piled up snow out near the goat paddocks
Drifts and piled up snow out near the goat paddocks.  We are running out of places to put the snow!

I love the winter in most ways.  But 60″ of snow in a 10 day period is a little nuts!  We didn’t get the 1 foot last night that we were forecast to get, so I am very appreciative of that (we just got about 6 or 7″, but it’s heavy stuff).  And so it goes.

Trees between the house and the goat pens
Trees between the house and the goat pens

The sun was out for a good portion of the afternoon, and it was a blessing.  It was a pleasure to spend some time with the goats, and all is well with them.  I am still watching Betsy, Delta and Eleganza like a hawk, but there does not seem to be any forward movement on their status.  They have developed small udders, and some days their bellies look like they have dropped, and some days they do not, and there is a tiny bit of vulva swelling, but not what it should be.  So things are percolating, but not quite done yet.  It’s a long road when you do not have any idea of due dates, so we will just keep doing what we are doing.  The late night checks continue on.  They got their CD&T shots, so everything is good to go.

View of the pigeon loft across the work area in front of the goat paddocks.
View of the pigeon loft across the work area in front of the goat paddocks.

The goaties are also getting used to the drill of having narrow pathways between their greenhouse areas.  This weekend we are supposed to be having some 40F weather, so perhaps some of this will melt.  Maybe we can also push some snow off of the paddocks to get them a little more room.  Pregnant does need their exercise, and right now it’s not an optimal situation, although I notice a lot of running to and from on what I call the train tracks, as they jostle and chase each other one way and then the other.  And so we will wish for continued clear weather!

New Snow for the Snow-Eaters

Pippi's post-prandial snow feast
Pippi’s post-prandial snow feast.  Who you lookin’ at???

Overnight the snow did turn into sleet.  It was quite nasty out there for our 11 PM goat check last night.  Everyone was snug as a bug, and no one looked as though they were going to be standing alone in the corner anytime soon, listening to their inner baby bio-rhythm, so it was back to the house for some sleep.

The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!
The choices are endless today. Fresh snow everywhere!

After my husband plowed the driveway yesterday afternoon, we must have gotten another 4 or 5 inches of snow, with a crust of ice on the top.  Lots of snow was coming off the greenhouses this morning, and Pippi and her daughter Beezus were in heaven.  Yes, Beezus loves to eat snow as well!  After their grain this afternoon, they both were in their element, noshing at the best and the freshest.  It always gives me a chuckle.

Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow
Pippi and her daughter Beezus, having a go at the new snow

I am adding one more doe to the short list of possibles earlier than later.  Eleganza the white Guernsey has a nice little udder coming along, and her belly looks like it may have dropped as well.  Baby watch is getting a little more serious.  It’s supposed to be bitterly cold Thursday night into Friday, so we shall see.  We can hope to have a miss on that one!

More snow tomorrow.  Nor’easter on the way.

Ready, for the most part

Back of the kidding greenhouse
Back of the kidding greenhouse

It’s still snowing, and at least 12 hours into the storm.  It’s cold and quite windy as well, but the snow is dry and light.  For now.  The temperature is supposed to keep going up overnight, and the end of this ‘event’ early tomorrow is predicted to be rain.  Blech.  That is one thing I can do without!

Open end of the kidding greenhouse
Open end of the kidding greenhouse

Windy conditions make me nuts around kidding time; it is the super bad guy in our little world.  If I can get to babies immediately after birth, or be there while they are being born, we can make sure they are in a draft-free zone, and help the mamas by doing some of the drying off.  Once the kids are relatively dry and are stocking up on colostrum, they are usually ok.

We got our back wall windbreak up today.  Two pieces of exterior plywood, tied tightly to the galvanized panels that are the gable end barrier (where there is supposed to be a real wall and a door…).  We got the plywood under the tarp overhang, drilled holes in the board, and tied the tarp down to the grid panel on the inside of the wood.  I thought it was going to work ok, but it’s actually tighter and nicer than I envisioned.  The tarp on this greenhouse drags on the ground a bit, and now there is a lot of snow holding it down.  The open end of the structure faces due south, and I have a windbreak green panel with a tarp at that opening.  Our prevailing winds come most usually out of the north and the north west, so it should be a good setup.  Nice and snug.  Here’s to hoping it stays that way!

Two pens available
Two pens available

I have two pens set up in this greenhouse, one is a catch pen I use from time to time, and initially that will be our labor pen (it’s about 9′ X 8′).  Once I know a doe is in labor, I like to give her some privacy, and I don’t want her looking for a corner of the paddock out in the snow to get away from all the Nosey Aunties.  After the baby or babies are born, I can put them into the jug right next to that.

Birthing box all ready and restocked
Birthing box all ready and restocked

And so The Watch is on.  Delta is a go for launch, I do believe!