It is beginning to feel like spring here. No, there is no mud or daffodils and yes, we still have two more months of snow. I guess signs of spring are relative. Here, the first signs of spring include the return of the sun, warmer temperatures, sighting more Red polls and Pine Gross Beaks as well as hearing a change in the bird calls, a noticeable increase in energy and optimism by all humans and animals alike, vibrant blue skies, pussy willows, dry roads and icy driveways. This weekend I started sowing the first seedlings, including onions, celery, slow growing herbs and some flowers for early flower pots. We also pulled out our electric incubator. My goal is to get eggs to hatch on Easter Day this year. I had the idea last year around Easter but it was too late - so what would be better than new little balls of fluff to make a day special?
We have about one month till the first goat kids are due. We currently have two milkers, two yearlings (almost two year olds) and two doelings (almost yearlings). I tried to breed them all, however the two yearlings never seemed to come into heat and I am concerned that they may be too fat - despite their limited diet of hay. Xanadu and Zuri - my two veteran milkers were in standing heat, and from what I can tell appear to be pregnant. One of the two doelings, Dahlia is forming the cutest udder you ever did see. My goal for the goat herd this year is to keep four milkers and sell the rest. Single kiddings would be fabulous but not likely. The only dry doe allowed to stay would be Denali, as she is still a doeling and she is very friendly. I am beginning to look into trying out a different breed of goat. I love my Lamanchas and my only complaint is the kidding difficulties that I have had. I don't know how much has been genetic as opposed to diet related. There is not a lot of information available on the subject. Most of our kidding problems have been kids with their heads turned back. I have a hard time getting and keeping their heads straight so that they can come out. You would think that having their heads turned back alongside their bodies is just poor luck, but we have seen it over and over again in the last three years in unrelated does, and it is becoming frequent enough that I'm beginning to think that there is some other cause. I was hoping that if we end up with four milkers, that I can try milking all four through next winter and not have to breed anyone until fall 2015 and still have plenty of milk for our needs. I would miss taking a spring of goat kids, but it would really simplify a year in goat care not having to deal with breeding, drying off, kidding, registering and selling.
I am enjoying these sun filled days immensely. I don't know that I've ever felt so full of joy in early March. It almost feels unnatural to be so perky this time of year. I wonder if it is all the fat soluble vitamin D and A that we are taking via the fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter supplements. Our days are a contrast of productive home days filled with lessons, spring cleaning and cooking and then days where friends bless us with their company; the kids play and I enjoy Mama soul time, singing and banjo playing. The highlight of our week has been Fridays, where we meet up with friends to ice skate, play hockey and visit at a playground and seasonal outdoor ice- skating rink close to our home.
March in Fairbanks means dog sledding races to watch, arctic barbeques, outdoor ice park with ice sculptures and a killer sledding hill; lots of winter fun to be had outdoors in the sun. If you are feeling the winter blues, I sincerely hope that my optimism will be contagious rather than irritating! (I've been on the other side) If you live nearby and need a dose of enthusiasm, come up for a soul visit!
A tale of 2 farms
2 weeks ago