Reducing the Herd

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep for the third time, I realized that I never announced the changes to our goat herd.

Bonney and Carob were taken to a new home in February. Bonney’s milk production was never as great as I wanted, and Jeepers has been a.maz.ing on the milk stand. As in I-never-have-to-put-her-in-a-sling-or-hobble-her-or-fight-with-her-or-throw-out-milk-because-she-stepped-in-it excellent. Seriously. Who would have thought that my half-wild goat who never wants to be touched would jump right onto the milk stand for me? She’s wonderful! Also, Jeepers is giving me twice the milk that Bonney was. On a good day, I would milk 2-4 pints from Bonney TOTAL (two milkings). Jeepers will give me that and more from one milking!

Of course, I am still “sharing” the milk with Jeepers’ kids (Hansel and Gretel). I don’t milk her all of the way out since they need it, too. But once they are old enough to be weaned… I’m hungry for cheese and yogurt! Bonney and Carob went to a home with a lot of land. I’m sure Bonney is enjoying life without Jeepers; they never did get along.

Hattie… Hattie needs to go. She apparently cannot be bred. We thought we bred her in September, but had to try re-breeding in October. Long story short, she was due to kid almost a month ago if the first breeding worked and due any day now if the second did… but no babies. She seriously isn’t bred. She’s slim and fit. So, if anyone is interested in a goat for a pet or for meat (If we can’t sell her, we’ll have to eat her. We cannot afford to keep feeding her grass on our small amount of land if she can’t be useful.), Hattie is for sale for $100. We separated her from Jeepers, and as a result, she is becoming sweeter. With one-on-one attention, she could be loveable. She’s about 1 1/2 and is a very sweet-natured, pretty goat. If nothing else, she would make a great lawn mower! E-mail or leave a comment if you’re interested in her. I’m also willing to do a trade/partial trade for a doe or doeling.

The goats keep me busy, but I’m enjoying them. I hope to increase our herd to three does by winter; we could definitely use more milk!

 

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In Like a Lamb

The old-timers say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.  It’s been pretty lambish all month, so we might be in for a drastic change next week.  We took advantage of the cool, foggy morning to do a little gardening before the sun got up and going.  In July an 80 degree day is pretty nice.  In March, it’s a bit too hot for comfort.

The first part of the day was spent weeding the strawberry patch and spreading moldy hay the goats didn’t eat over the winter as mulch.  Weeding shouldn’t be such an ordeal, but last year we quadrupled the size of the patch in early spring, then never mulched or weeded it the rest of the year.  Lesson learned.  We pulled all the weeds, moved a couple of strawberry plants, and put down a thick layer of mulch.  To keep Tank from burying his bones and pieces of chicken in the refreshed garden we put up an electric fence around it.  While the fence does nothing to keep goats in, we can at least use it to keep dogs out.

Speaking of the goats, we’ve been moving them to fresh pasture every couple days.  As a hoarder (I prefer the terms scavenger or collector) I have a few pallets around.  Pallets make pretty decent fences with the addition of a few boards and a handful of screws.  It’s a bit of a job to move the pen, but only has to be done every couple days.  Good fences make good neighbors, but my neighbor is furious about this one.

The wire fence on the right is on what she considers the property line.  It’s roughly in line with my driveway, which at the front of the yard is a foot from the edge of her property.  Somehow it was determined that the wire fence delineates the properties’ boundaries.  The actual line is about 12 feet to the left of the wire fence, clearly marked by a 6 foot tall railroad tie complete with a surveyor’s ribbon tied around the top.  I left room to drive around behind the garage when I built the fence, not realizing by doing so I would be causing problems down the road.  Now I have a pallet pen there containing two happy goats, causing one unhappy neighbor.  I’m starting to understand why the Great Wall of China was built.

A while back, we had a rabbit give birth to a litter of 8.  She stopped taking care of them and they all died.  I don’t think we mentioned that on the blog.  Anyway, about a week after that, another rabbit had a litter of 8.  They’re all doing fine and are starting to venture out of the nest.  If anybody is interested, they’re purebred New Zealands.  I’ll sell them for $15 each.  Otherwise, they’ll be dog food.

The third doe had a litter of 5 last night.  It’s her second litter of 5, so if her litter size doesn’t improve by the third litter she’ll become dog food and we’ll replace her with one from a litter of 8.  We’re attempting to line breed, since it can reportedly work very well with rabbits.  As the saying goes, “If it works, it’s line breeding.  If it doesn’t, it’s inbreeding.”

We’ve started working on the garden even though we won’t be doing much planting for almost two months.  More on that in another post.

Oh-So Cute Baby Goats!

Yesterday morning, I suspected that Jeepers was going to have her babies very soon. She was being so quiet, and I could tell she was having sporadic contractions. When Danny arrived home from work, he helped me give her a pre-birth “haircut.” We timed it right! The baby monitor was on when we heard her first bleats. She seemed to have a little bit of trouble birthing her first, but she was upset about us moving her to the birthing pen and being there. She isn’t the tamest goat. But she is a great mother. She cleaned them up right away and watched us carefully. We penned them all up the milk house last night, and everyone was warm and toasty this morning.


Mucking Out the Goat Pen

Muck: dirt, rubbish, or waste matter

A fitting word for the goat pen. The area where we pen up our goats for birth was getting really nasty. Layers upon layers of hay, dirt, and… other things had been rained on. It turned into a soppy, disgusting mess. Not fun to walk through when taking Bonney to the milkhouse.

This afternoon was a beautifully warm time to begin clean-up. I had meant to begin milking Bonney yesterday, but as Mondays are laundry day, I woke up too busy to think about anything other than the house. Bonney needs to be broken back into milking. She is a sweet girl, but needs some re-training, which will take more time than a regular milking did at the end of our last milking season. (As an aside: we don’t have more goat babies yet. Jeepers has all the signs of labor any time now, but appears to be holding off. I think she’s just going to be the goat who keeps us guessing for weeks!) So, with hopes high, I set out with the best of intentions: clean out the area by myself.

I began with a rake; spiking and pulling the nastiness was hard work. Eventually I found a rhythm, and accomplished quite a bit. Hattie and Princess found me to be great entertainment. Thankfully most people were at work today, so I had only animal viewers.

 

 

 

 

 

After a while, Danny came to see how it was going. He took pity on me and began to help. Between the two of us, we finished off that section of the pen. We had a mountain of muck to get rid of…

…and three buckets with which to do it. Danny filled two buckets to my one, and often had to help me fill mine. The project was done faster than I could have done it, and I had someone other than a goat or cat to talk to. The compost pile is now full, and out garden will have some great soil!

More Goat Kids Soon?!

Jeepers is twice as big as Bonney ever was. It makes me kinda hope that triplets are on the way… 🙂We expect Jeepers to kid any day now. Bonney has rejoined the “herd,” which consists of only Hattie now. Mr. No-Name is with the chickens and Jeepers is secluded in the area where Bonney had her kids. How do we know Jeepers is going to go into labor? It’s simple: we checked her ligaments. According to Fiasco Farm, one of the signs of an approaching kidding is to feel for the ligaments on either side of the spine just above the tail. If you can feel them, relax: it’ll be a while. If they’re softening, the goat is getting ready. If it feels as though you can touch your thumb and pointer finger together below the spine, babies are on the way in the next 12 hours. After checking Bonney, we learned that ligaments will somewhat come and go the last few days. Bonney had ligaments, then had soft ligaments, then “none”, then had soft ligaments, then “none”, then babies. (Three days of checking her produced those results.) Jeepers currently has none. There are other signs, but I’ll leave those out to protect the weak-stomached.

The baby monitor is back up and I’m listening carefully! The fact that Jeepers is very vocal is the one problem with using the monitor for her. She’s had me running out there twice in the past hour, hoping that her bleats were “I’m having these babies now!” bleats. Jeepers, hurry up! If you have those babies tonight while I’m at church, I’ll… I’ll… love them anyway. But could you possibly have them before or after that two-hour span of time? Please? 

Warmth for Goats: Coats and Heaters

I posted before about my failed tie-on goat coats, but never posted a picture. As you can see, the coat ties in the front of the chest and behind the front legs, under the belly. I was afraid to knot them on in case they somehow managed to un-knot the belly knot but not the chest knot. I didn’t want baby goats tripping all over the place. Goats undoing knots sounds crazy to you? Well, goats are crazy and way too smart for their own good. With the coats out of the picture (since they lasted under an hour, thanks to Bonney), we needed to come up with a way to keep our goats warm. Danny suggested a heat lamp, but I was timid. I’ve read too much about burned goats because of heat lamps. But he insisted it would work, so he hooked one up.The lamp worked great! Danny attached it to the feeder side of my milk stand. Tuesday night, Tank miraculously escaped his crate and desperately “needed” to go out. Danny let him out, and started thinking about the heat lamp. And it’s precarious perch. And the hay on the floor. And realized that we had a fire waiting to happen. So out he trudged to the milk house to secure the lamp in place with wire. (See the wire through the loop on the top of the heat lamp? If the lamp falls, which it DID, the wire catches it and it hangs instead of falling to the floor.) Did I mention he did this at three in the morning? Sweet husband. 🙂

Now we have a very warm place for Bonney and still-unnamed baby to sleep at night. We actually have been penning them in the milk house just in case. I really hate that we didn’t pen everyone up before our doeling died, but you live and learn. A sad mistake. Anyway, Bella is really enjoying playing with the remaining doeling. I just hope she doesn’t start thinking she needs to live with her. The milk house is awfully toasty now.

Although she is fine with us handling the doeling, Bonney keeps a close eye on her baby.