A journal of our day to day; homesteading and homeschooling in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Xoe is on my mind. She is a darling goat. I feel for her right now, because in the not all too distant past I was expecting myself. Unlike Xoe, I am not a goat - thankfully, and so I was not picked on, pushed around and butted by my peers. The gestation period for goats is about 150 days, but it is wise to start checking for labor signs a good week before. Often they'll give birth five or so days early or late. Last year we were expecting Maggie to kid first, but Rose; the third doe we'd bred kidded first. Maggie kidded late, everyone else was more or less right on time. Xoe kidded to twins last year on April thirteenth- (Noah's birthday). As you can tell from the following pictures, Xoe is very pregnant and starting to have a hard time getting around. The other does are starting to pick on her and take advantage of her weakness. They aren't mean really, this is just what goats do, no matter how sweet of a goat they are it is in their nature to establish their rank in the herd and try to move up if they can.
We bred Xoe for the first time in December 07 and at the time she was our youngest goat bred, just seven months old. She was a big healthy kid who was at least ninety pounds by the time we bred her. When breeding goats their first time, I believe they are suppose to be at least eighty pounds. Well, I know now from experience that I probably bred Xoe too early. When she was about a month from kidding her front right leg started giving out at the ankle when she put pressure on it. I had to wrap her front two legs to give her extra support so that she could walk. She did kid to twins, but if she had been a few months older I don't think it would have been an issue. When Xoe kidded for the first time, she was totally out of it and was completely disinterested in her kids. We tried to put her in a small pen with them thinking she would come around, but that made it worse. So we ended up keeping her kids in a kennel together and every couple hours we would go up and hold Xoe so that her kids could nurse without her butting them into the ground. She was really rough and mean to them. Thankfully after about a week of this we starting letting them hang out for supervised visits and within a few more days she was taking to them just fine. I was glad that we hadn't given in and just started bottle feeding. Today Xoe's daughter Yin enjoys the position of adolescent dilinquent within the herd. She and her mother are very close. I am not sure when Xoe finally cut Yin off, as far as nursing goes, but I am certain that she is no longer nursing. Xoe's udder has been empty for a month or so and has started bagging up over the last few days. It will be interesting to see how Yin treats her new siblings. Jealousy issues? Sibling rivalry?
Xoe is due to kid on April ninth. I predict that she will take to her kids just fine her second time around. And I feel certain in saying that there has got to be at least two in there. Xoe is sweet and eager to please. Before she kidded the first time she had been second in the herd. Now she is close to last. I would like to make sure she is dried off by September and then give her a few months to grow before we breed her again in late winter next year. Goats do not reach their full size until they are about three years old. So I'd like to give her some baby free time by late summer / early fall.
We would like to keep everyone's first daughter. We would also like to restrict ourselves to two doelings a year. This is going to be a challenging decision this year, as it would be so interesting to keep Xoe's daughter (if she has one), because we bred her to Xavier instead of Lew this year. So it would be a while but possibly by next spring we could be comparing Yin, (Lew's daughter), to her half sister,(Xavier's daughter). I am most interested in seeing how their udders differ in size, shape and teat placement. We have four does kidding, they are most likely to have two kids each. There is a good chance that we end up with multiple doelings. Hopefully we will, because this is the only way we can make money off of our goats at this time- selling kids. There is much more demand for doelings than bucks. I plan on selling doelings for around three hundred dollars. So if we could sell a couple that would certainly help pay for feed costs. Anyways...for now I'm mostly thinking of Xoe and when she is going to surprise us with our first kids of the year.
We are a family of four (with one more on the way), living in the Arctic Boreal Forest above Fairbanks, in the Interior of Alaska. I write about our simple life and trying to keep our life simple in a day when the typical American life is anything but. When I first started writing this blog I had a toddler and a baby and we were a growing homestead. I wanted to share our day to day and all the lessons we learned along the way, from mixing our own chicken feed to goat kidding season and cheese making. As our children have grown, home schooling has really taken over and I have had to examine every aspect of our lives to keep our days simple yet fruitful. These days you will still find me posting and sharing pictures of our chickens and garden, berry picking and salmon processing. I also hope to be writing about home schooling decisions and lessons as well as other interests and hobbies the kids and I explore. Reader interest and feedback is what keeps me writing, so please leave lots of comments!
The here and now of our homestead is what I'm writing about. Compelled by a sense that we are participating in something significant, heading back to our roots... this is my attempt to share what we are learning along our journey. For those of you on similar paths, whether you are raising kids, a flock of chickens, a couple goats or run a farm, well I'm hoping to learn from you as well, so feel free to put in your two cents!