|Posted by Stazha on June 8, 2011 at 8:14 AM||comments (0)|
Our spring season has finished off well with the arrival of 2 more little does. Leave it to Lilly to take as long as she possibly can to show them off to us! Much to my surprise, they were twins and not triplets. She carries so large, it's really quite a guessing game.
On a sad note, we lost our favorite doe in May. Penny was my best milker and a really sweet girl. It seems her calcium levels fell very quickly when she freshened, which I was suspect about but was not diligent enough to correct. We lost her on Mother's Day of all days too.
We did decide to purchase a couple of does from the Delamar's. We did this mostly because the two she had for sale were giving milk, which I don't want to run out of! I can't make soap without it! But when we got them home, an obvious solution came to us about Penny's buck, who we had been bottle feeding. These does left their big babies at the Delamar's and had milk to spare so we quit mixing goat formula and put little Red up on the milk stand with one of the does. Coincidentally, this doe is his grandma! And quite to our surprise, it seems she has been letting him suckle while they're in the pasture too.
The season has brought many unexpected changes for us. We learned a little more about goat health and we mourned the loss of a good farm friend. And we added some experienced does to our herd. The summer will be spent with endless hand milking and acrobatic kids, lots of water refills and a bit of escapee chasing. We won't be going very far from home but we will be spending a lot of time in the pool!
|Posted by Stazha on April 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
If I plan it right, and this year I did pretty good, when the grass starts turning green, baby goats are born. If Mother Nature cooperates, there is seldom much snowing left to do by the first day of spring. For me, February is too early. It has to be March, preferably late March. That means making the girls wait until after Halloween to visit their buck! No one likes the wait but no one likes frostbit ears and kids born during snow storms either!
Lilly Holly freshened first with 2 doelings. We missed the birth and when we found them in their pen the morning they were born, they were quite chilled. They spent 2 days and nights in the house with me running them out to the barn every couple of hours to let them feed with their dam. I'm quite certain Vesper was on the brink of death as she was no longer shivering and was quite listless. But they turned around quickly and are a joy to watch as they bounce around the yard!
The doe herd and their babies, enjoying the morning sunlight.
Penny's bucks were a missed birth as well. But there were no problems with either of them. In no time, they were following the herd around. Of course, Penny would have it no other way! She is very vocal and attentive with her kids, almost to the point of paranoia. Luckily she is very accepting of human involvement. Dodger, however, a constant target for her!
This year, Lilly had to wait to be bred. She became very thin last fall and I just couldn't see breeding her until I knew she had recovered from her twins of last spring and what was probably a difficult worm infestation. She's the worst one for intestinal worms! Her winter coat never did come in like the other does either. In fact, and I wish I had taken a picture, she wore one of my kids jackets the entire winter! When I finally removed the jacket in March, I was happy to see how round and healthy she looked! She should freshen the last week in May. And, if her current size is any indication, she will probably have triplets again. Hopefully, they will all make it this time.
Kidding season is exciting but it can be stressful. And it's easy to get to a point of concern that we are running to the barn constantly, hoping to catch a birth in progress. This year, we were all so busy with other things, we didn't have time to worry over it much. And everything turned out just fine!
|Posted by Stazha on May 17, 2010 at 2:22 PM||comments (1)|
Oh darling caprine,
Her schedule keeps me,
A lady's nature so serene,
Amilking I go at morning's light.
Her gift so full,
Her hooves trip-trap across the barn floor.
Oh doe-eyed dream,
Her bleating calls me,
As eyes sparkle and gleam,
To the barn I go again at night.
Her coat so shiny,
Her hooves trip-trap across the barn floor.
|Posted by Stazha on May 4, 2010 at 8:23 AM||comments (1)|
Goats are very versatile eaters. They love the tough stuff, shrubs, small trees, hardy weeds. It's been my experience that they love the grass outside the fence more than the grass on their side of the fence, but it could be said the same is true for humans.
In times when the term 'green living' becomes popular (it is the 'in' thing right now, but certainly, this is not the first time) people try to make better ecological decisions within their lifestyles. Some of the things our family has cut down on has even affected our pocketbook in a postive way. We rarely buy bottled water, paper plates, even paper napkins. We've been using cloth napkins (actually faceclothes) for over a year now. It's amazing how many napkins 6 people can use in one day. And the kids each use a thermos instead of the throw-away juice boxes.
But, back to goats (and bringing this blog full circle). They make excellent trimmers around the yard. An article I read this morning made me smile. These goats work the yard in a way I bet you've never concidered! I'm glad someone thought of it! I hope it catches on too. There's so many places small animals can be introduced as natural workers! Cudos to Connecticut!
|Posted by Stazha on April 30, 2010 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
Milking a goat is a tricky thing. It's not something I was raised doing. Sure, my uncle down the road had cows, but they were milked by machine. The initial awkwardness is good and gone for me but milking by hand still presents challenges, sometimes daily.
All last summer, milking Lilly was a chore. Even though it was just one goat, she made it very rewarding to get a bucket of milk without it being kicked or tipped that day. She already had a kid when we got her and she was only nursing Holly when she was in a milk stand. I'm surprised I was brave enough to accept that challange, but I was so excited to get a productive doe, it really didn't phase me at the time. I made sure and got Lilly in her milk stand often enough to feed Holly, then I made sure and milked her myself, which she didn't like. We worked much better together by the end of summer, I think Cole enjoyed milking her too, on the days I had to work. And she even began nursing Holly on her own. The old standard of making sure there was plenty of grain in front of a doe as you milked her was the accepted precedure. But you better milk fast! Once that cup of grain is gone, she's tap dancing her way on outta there! This year, I took a different approach...accidentally.
When Lilly freshened in March, I gave her and her kids a week to themselves. Then, I got her in the milk stand, which she hadn't been in since October. Immediately, I was hit with the difficulty of getting her up there. She's the most unlimber goat I know. But, she finally hopped up, athough very clumsily. And I began the old habit of cleaning and milking and cleaning some more. Then I realized, I didn't give her anything to eat the whole time I was doing this. She didn't wiggle. She didn't bleat. She didn't even kick!
So I just kept at it that way. I've lowered the milk stand to make it easier for her. I give her an animal cracker as I lead her away from the herd, and another when I let her out of the stand. (My goats LOVE animal crackers!) She gives about a quart and a half of milk. My way of milking is this: I seperate the kids at night once they get about 12 pounds, and I only milk in the morning. Their kids take care of what she produces during the day, I get what she makes at night. This worked well last year, especially when we went away for a camping trip. When we go away, we have someone feed them and let them all stay together. No handmilking required! It worked beautifully! We may not be getting a ton of milk, but we're raising great goats on their own milk, and taking only what we need. It feels right to me.
Now on to Penny. She's a first time freshener this year. She's always been a bit flighty, can never get too close to her, unless you have one of those beloved animal crackers in your hand! She was difficult to get started at milking. Dance, bleat, kick, buck, dance. Wow. She wore me right out. But I kept at it. I'll admit there were days where I could have (but did not) just kicked her in the head...moments I feel guilty for now. (I have a temper that makes me imagine punishments reminicsent of medievil torture chambers) Of course, I always kept my composure and smiled at her and gave her a cracker no matter how many times she was aiming for my own skull.
Half of Penny's problem is that she's uber concerned with the where-abouts of her kid. As thats worn off, she's gotten better.
Yesturday, I milked Lilly, smooth sailing as usual. Then I put her back in the pen and caught Penny. I lost my grip on Penny's collar as I led her through the gate. Would you believe that she ran to the milk stand and jumped right up there and waited for me? She did.
I'll interject here and tell you something about me. I swear like a sailor when I talk to myself. So I said something along the lines of holy this or holy that. She just stood there, waiting for her cracker, eyes twinkling. It crossed my mind that she was setting up a trap. But, she followed through. She still dances a bit while I milk her but I always feel it coming and change my position accordingly. I find if I never let go of a teat, she behaves. But the moment both of my hands are free, she thinks she's done.
And so continues my morning routine with the milk dragons. All I can say is this: First year fresheners are capricious little ladies. And thank goodness for animal crackers!