Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Wild Roots Spring

 Our Spring Tree is outside already. I just realized that I never shared our pretty Spring tree space with the baskets underneath and nests that the kids made in the window behind, so, there it is. I think we brought it in too early. We had a spring tree by early March... that is when I needed it. The tree leafed out quickly and we had to cut the Birch pollen pods off (Actually Noah cut them off and put them in a bag in the freezer for the bees). But then the leaves started to curl up and die... maybe it was the lack of fresh water. Anyhoo, the good news is that there is hardly any snow out that window now.

 Balloon nests we made earlier in the spring.

The chicks started hatching Friday through Saturday. Avery was very excited. She spent at least fifteen minutes reading to them. She actually translated into chick speach and it came out as "peep peep".

Not the best pictures (again). But I wanted to share our current goat barn with you. A month ago the barn was only able to be divided into half. However, we had five goats do to kid. The past few years we've put up a temporary divider (bottom left) into the back stall as well as another temporary wall (above) to make four separate "stalls". I guess we haven't had more than three goats kid at once in a while, as that has been plenty until now. This year Dustin spent an afternoon trying to figure out how to divide one of those pens in half to give us five separate areas, one for each doe. We didn't have room to have a swinging door - and it is so temporary that it didn't make sense to spend a lot of time constructing something. He ended up making the divider in the above picture that connects the solid back wall with the blue panel. Heavy boards just slide down to form a wall that I can pull out and stack along the wall during the day and then slide back in at night when all the does go into their stalls with their kids. 

Xanadu has a kennel in her pen so that her kids can get away from her if they need to. It has taken a week, but I think she is finally willingly nursing and caring for all her kids. Whew! I place the kennel in an awkward spot so that Xanadu doesn't ram her head into the woven mesh panel when she is angry that another goat is looking at her. I don't think she will do it anymore now that her kids are older, but the first couple days after kidding it didn't matter who I put next to her, she didn't want them so close.
Xanadu's three doelings are all about the same size. They are all really pretty with different coloring. The one above was first out, the second had Xan's coloring and the third is like the first but darker. I can't tell right now which is the nicer doeling. They all look so similar.

I've been feeling slightly guilty for bashing Dahlia in my last post. So I thought I'd share a couple pictures of her that show that she's actually a pretty doe. Above you can see that she is fairly level. You can't quite tell her, but she is deeper in the barrel than some of my does, as her dam and granddam were. I think it is connected to milk production, allowing them to eat more at once or digest more or something. 

Not the most flattering pose. But if you look at her udder, it actually is quite pretty for an empty udder and I don't think you can say that about too many empty udders.
 Every morning while I toss hay, refill waters, help kids nurse and move goats around, Avery sits with the kids. In her lap is Ember, and Ember's brother is licking Avery's face. Both siblings are really nice looking.

And there is Noah with Denali's doeling Ester, names after our favorite and closest town and playground.

Well, as you can imagine, life has been pretty hectic here. If I was really eager I could be sowing radishes and hardy greens in some of the garden beds. Instead I'm just trying to get on top of house cleaning, food prep, toothpaste, mouth wash, bug spray making. This week I'm hoping to get the car ready for summer, tire and oil changing etc. I'm starting to harden off some trays of plants. In the past I've lined our back porch with flats. However, this year I've got a puppy that goes after the starts, pulling them out as I remember my children doing as toddlers. So I was thinking a table was in order, but in reality there are just too many trays of starts, so I'm thinking Kira is just going to have to stay off the porch for a month.

I'm trying to get ahead on grain free snacks. I took all the salmon out from last year and I'm smoking it over the next few days. I'm hoping to make some jerky and some nut crackers as well. This week is our annual May Day celebration that I've been anticipating for some time. I'm hoping we can make it, as another cold seems to be working it's way through the house. So far I have remained unscathed but I'm not sure if the kids are going to be ready to socialize in time.

 I have a shipment of bees coming in on Friday. Once again I have a new strategy, which is that I will be setting up the hive at a friend's garden, that is better located for bees than ours is. It is low down and level, so it get's better morning light and hotter temperatures. So Friday; hiving bees, Saturday; possibly start sowing a few beds with hardy seeds, keep hardening off starts and keeping the puppy away from them. It is going to be a fun and work filled month. Yes, I have a lot of work to do, but I feel so blessed to have it!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The barn goes from 5 does to 14 in eight days!

 This winter we managed to bring our goat numbers down to six does. I did attempt to have them all bred last fall with the plan to keep my three to four favorite milkers and just milk them through for a couple years without re-breeding in an attempt to scale down the farm chores and feed costs. Five of the does ended up bred. The sixth doe was a two year old that never cycled this past fall. I have a theory (not just mine I'm sure) that when I wait until the second year to breed, that sometimes the yearling/one and a half year old gets too fat and then she doesn't cycle. I've had this happen twice now and wasn't able to ever get the doe bred. Both times we ended up butchering the doe and sure enough, in the words of my friend who did all the butchering work,"She was the fatest goat I've ever seen". If I had it my way the younger goats would just get brome hay, but as I have them all in together, they all got a majority of Alfalfa this winter which probably didn't help. Moral of the story, is that I'm more inclined to breed the first year.

So, here is everyone's kidding stories.

Zuri: I had already been doing midnight or rather 3 a.m. barn checks for over a week when Zuri came into labor. It was a couple days before she was due, but it was full Moon which tends to help things out sometimes. Her udder hadn't gotten enormously full or anything, but I noticed her ligaments were completely gone Sunday morning. My family was coming over to celebrate Noah's 8th birthday. We've had at least two other goats kid on Noah's birthday, and we knew it would be likely this year as well. I got to visit for a few moments with family but then had to leave D to cook burgers, prep hamburger toppings and heat fries etc. while I played mid wife. We have a security camera in the goat stall that connects to a small t.v. in the living room, so everyone got to watch Zuri push out a healthy black and tan buckling and a solid black doeling with white frosted ears and nose. I went in on the buckling when I realized he had a leg back, but it was quick and smooth to get the leg forward and pull him out. Both are good size and vigorous. I named the doeling Ember. She is a darling and my overall favorite of the season. She is just flashy, long and level.

Camelot: Later that night it appeared that Cammie was in labor. This was a surprise because I had bred her so many times that I didn't even bother putting her due date on the calendar as she had never seemed in heat or had been receptive. I grabbed some sleep and then went to sit with her around 4 a.m. She kidded to a small buckling. I was a little surprised to see how small he was as I would have thought that she'd either have one big kid or two small ones. But she seemed done and was interested in her baby. I bounced her (a technique where you stand behind and lift her belly to feel for kids/bones and knobby parts) didn't feel anything so proceeded with newborn care. Cammie was being very attentive and started passing placenta. The buckling was nursing fine so we called it a night.

Denali: Tuesday night Denali went into labor. I thought she was going to make short work of it so I invited Noah to join me as they are close. Little did I know that we'd be up late into the night. It was one of those kiddings where she seemed to be pushing and you'd think she'd progress quicker but she didn't so you wonder constantly if everything is alright and if you should go in. While we were sitting with Denali, all of a sudden Cammie started pushing like she was kidding. I figured right away that she must have another kid inside - (who would no longer be alive by now.) Sure enough, it took a lot of work with Noah holding her, but I finally pulled out a slightly decomposing buckling. And boy did that feel good when I finally got it out as I was beginning to think I'd need to call the vet. This was the first time we've had a doe retain a kid after delivering one. Afterwards I was worried about Cammie's health. After consulting my goat herbal I gave her olive oil with cayenne tincture, echinacea tincture, fresh rosemary, goldenseal and fresh garlic orally and cayenne, rosemary, garlic and an antiseptic herbal blend into her uterus. I also gave her low bush cranberries which she ate as well as warm black strap molasses water. The next day I repeated this dose three times over the day but I was worried that she had a uterus infection and that it may not heal completely or worse, that she might die. So I consulted with my vet and got antibiotics, an anti-inflammatory and a calcium injection for good measure. I was feeling like I was not in the mood to mess around - or lose a good doe. I've continued giving her the herbal treatments as well. She is on day nine of her antibiotics and seems almost back to normal. Her buckling is growing solid. She is a great first timer mom despite the circumstances.

Denali kidded to a super cute black and white doeling with fun white markings. Unfortunately Denali rejected her doeling after the stress of labor. We have had this happen before with first timers and they have always come around. We kept Esther in a kennel inside her mother's pen. For a couple days we held Denali every few hours so that Esther could nurse. After three days Denali had decided that her daughter was pretty great after all and she is now taking care of her daughter and they are both doing well.

Dahlia lost her ligaments and starting behaving oddly on Friday, but waited until Saturday afternoon to kid. Which in some ways was considerate of her if I had not been waking up every hour to check on her, afraid that I'd miss being there for her. Her labor went well. She had a small black and tan buckling followed by a small black and tan doeling, both with white marks on their foreheads. Dahlia has been a great first timer mom. Her kids were nursing well from the get go and she has been very protective over them and not wanting to leaver her pen. So, I've just been leaving her to do her thing.

Xanadu usually kids on day 153 which is three to four days later than most my does. But she is usually consistent so I was planning on her kidding on Saturday day 153. She was HUGE! We were pretty sure she was having triplets. Sunday morning she had lost her ligaments completely and she was acting strange. Of course it was Easter and we had big plans to share Easter dinner with family away from the house. I was pretty sure that she was going to wait until later in the night to kid so we went ahead and left the house. By the time we were on the way home I was on the edge of my seat. However, we hadn't missed anything. Sunday night passed, we watched her closely all day Monday. She did lots of up, down, up, down, pawing, pacing etc. She ended up waiting all the way until Tuesday night to kid. Of course by then I was already sleep deprived from the past two nights. I was headed to bed around 11 when I noticed a long trail of goo hanging from her backside. I stayed up to watch her for an hour and decided I could head to sleep for a couple hours. Ended up in the barn at 3 a.m. First came a solid light brown/grayish doeling of good size. I went in to see what was up and found a head, so I reached down and pulled forward both legs to help her come out easier. A second bubble started coming out shortly thereafter and I pulled out our first Chamoisee (the fancy term on Xan's registration that describes her coloring) doeling out of Xanadu. We've had bucklings that have looked like her but never a doeling so that was fun. Then the third kid was solid brown, darker than the first. And it was a female too! So our first set of female triplets born here on the farm, and all with different coloring than we usually have. Mama was very attentive and the doelings were strong and quick to catch on to nursing - although Xan's big teats always poses a mouthful for new kids.

The next day we noticed that Xanadu was rejecting the brown kids and favoring the Chamoisee kid. We held her so that everyone could nurse. I put the kids in a kennel so that they would be safe at night. Today she was favoring a brown kid and rejecting the other two. I think she may just be overwhelmed by all three of them. By tonight I saw her nursing the kids on her own, so hopefully she'll stop being such a stinker.

It has been a while since we have had first timers kid. Camelot is a Xanadu grand daughter. She is out of our buck Zoro. Denali is a Xanadu daughter, also out of Zoro. Ironically enough I did not think Zoro made a very good buck. The only reason we kept both Cammie and Denali is that they were the kids favorites, and as a result are well handled and friendly. Both does look really nice. Their udders are lovely. Cammie's teats are perfectly plumb; even and hang straight down. They are nicely placed on the udder. They are pretty small, but they'll get bigger. Her udder has a nice shape and attaches smoothly to her body. Denali also has a nice looking udder. She looks like she will produce less than Cammie, and her teats point out just a bit, hopefully not enough to bother me when I milk (I hate having to tweak teats in towards the pail - just a pet peeve of mine). Dahlia is a Zinnia daughter, Rose grand daughter. Unfortunately I think she is the least quality of any offspring either ever had - but most of their daughters were very impressive. Dahlia came out of Xavier, our nicest buck. And her Dam was a beautiful doe. So I think that she will grow into her body. But right now I don't like the looks of her rump - not as wide or level as I'd like it. Her body is is short in length and height, but then she is only a yearling. Dahlia does have a nice looking udder. It has the shape of her grand dam's. I have a feeling she may be the best producer out of my three first fresheners, as her lineage have been my best producers.

 My camera broke recently and I have yet to replace it. Worst time of the year to lack a camera! I've taken a few pictures on my husband's work camera but as he takes it to work I have not had the chance to take many or upload them yet. So, here are a few I managed to get with my Ipod, but they aren't very good. More pictures coming soon of all our beautiful adorable goat babies.

 Cammie's buckling

Ember, still wet a wobbly.

In other news, the house is once again filled with the sounds of chicks peeping, some Ameracaunas and crosses that we hatched as well as some black sex links from the feed store. And in even bigger news, we have had a Black Lab puppy for two days now! We have been open to the idea of a puppy for a while now, but wanted to get one going into summer. We also didn't want to be pursuing puppies and instead were kinda hoping that it would just happen, and this one did. She is only about six weeks old, a little too young, but that is because her mom was hit by a car and died. Dustin was able to observe her for a while with her brother and three sisters. He was drawn to her right away. Needless to say we have all fallen in love with her. Her name is Kira. I managed to get a few shots last night.

Is there anything cuter than a six week old black lab?!