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Posts Tagged ‘goat KIDS!’

Anyone know of any?  A friend of ours was asking, and I wasn’t sure what to recommend.

There are plenty of books devoted to the home cheesemaker.  But we’re looking for a book that covers home dairy animals – selection, breeding, milking, management, birthing, the whole shebang.  A section on home cheesemaking would be a plus.

A lot of our books are too generic, I think Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is probably the closest.  But I want something one step up.

If I was more experienced, I think I might write the book. 😉  Maybe one day …

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Wow, there is so much to say with the latest events over the past few weeks since the last post.  Forgive me, dear readers (hello?  anyone?), but let me indulge you in the latest from Spring Mill.

Chicken: It’s What’s for Dinner

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, we processed our old laying hens.  I debated about if it was something I wanted to share with the blog, but have decided there is nothing to be ashamed about.  We received these hens as day-old chicks, raised them with love and care, and in return they (unknowingly) provided us with eggs for nourishment.  I sold their eggs to my co-workers last year, so they provided nourishment not just to HB and I, our in-laws, but also to at least 50 other people when you count the eggs eaten by our neighbors, co-workers, friends and their respective families.  Amazing the impact of 11 little hens, isn’t it?

The hens were getting older, laying less, and eating what eggs they did lay – a habit we tried hard to break, but never could.  So we set up one Sunday morning, and processed the hens.  The first one was the hardest for me, and after that it became a respectful thanksgiving as we did each hen.  The processing wasn’t that difficult and it was actually pretty interesting.  In their death, these birds will continue to provide nourishment, and that’s another amazing aspect.

A New Beginning

The day after we processed the hens, the next set of chicks arrived.  This time we ordered 30 pullets, half of which are Americanas that lay the beautiful “easter” eggs in shades of blue and green.  The other half are a mix of brown egg layers, Columbian Rocks, Red crosses, and Silver-Laced Wyandottes.  The picture above is taken at one week of age.  They’re living in their brooder in the coop and thriving.  We ordered them from Mt Healthy Hatchery in Ohio.  We ordered our previous set of laying hens from them as well, we love the quality of the birds.  Now, if only I could find a few meat birds to raise as well… 😉

A New Addition

Last week Xenia kidded a beautiful little doeling, who we named “Bette Davis” to keep up the year’s theme.  She is a sweet, spunky little girl.  Despite wanting to bottle-raise, we’ve decided to let Xenia raise her.  Our work schedules just don’t allow time for midday feedings.  Now I’m trying to decide when to introduce her to the rest of the herd.  Bette is so much younger than the other kids, I don’t want them to bully or injure her with their roughhousing!

The Never-Ending Project 😉

The goat barn is coming along well.  We’ve fenced in the small barn lot surrounding it and putt up two of the three gates.  We’ve started some of the interior wall work, and once that is finished will complete the outer front wall.  Then! we will be able to move the goats out there.  How strange it will be to not wake up to them “baaaaa”ing out my back door!

A Bit of Beauty

Our rose bushes are in full bloom and I’m in love with them.  Every year they get better and better.  These were $6 tea rose hybrids we picked up on a whim at WalMart a few years back.  I love the blooms – one blooms a buttery yellow, the other blooms a pale yellow with pink-tinged petals.   Walking out to the chicken coop and seeing these lovely plants makes me smile.

An Education.

Today is the first day the dairy goats and kids have been turned out with the wethers in the big pasture with Huck.  There were some antics at first, but now everyone has settled down and enjoying the field.  Yes, and I said with Huck, my horse.  After nearly 9 months of stall rest and controlled exercise we got the “go ahead” after his last ultrasound to put him out in the pasture!  Last Wednesday was his first day out, and he is LOVING it.  I think he enjoys the goats out there too.  Sweet Roll and Donut stay with him full time – in the pasture during the day, in the barn lot at night.  They often curl up together (the wethers, Huck doesn’t curl up with them) and sleep in the stall at night.  Huck must be picking up skills from the goats – when we climb a big hill/mountain on the trail he breaks out his “mountain goat walk” and cruises up them. 🙂

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The goat kids are growing like weeds.  I weighed them the other night, they average around 30 pounds, just over one month old.  Fred and Bogart (Memphis’ kids) are the biggest, and the youngest.  Their bone structure is much more substantial, while Rock and Doris (Abba’s kids) are taller, leaner, but weigh more than you think!

One month.

I can’t believe it.

I spent five months waiting, planning, and in the span of 30 days, time has flown by.  We have a new routine, new kids to play with.  To laugh at.  To cuddle with.  To wince at when they chew a little too much on your hair…

We expect Xenia to kid soon! She is due on Thursday the 29th.  She’s no where near as big as the other does were this close to birth.  Her udder isn’t nearly as full, but I really do think she’s still pregnant – over the past month her sides have taken on a more rotund dimension.  She’s such a high-stress girl.

All the kids have homes:  Doris will remain with us and become a future milker, Bogart will move in with Donut once he’s old enough for weaning – we plan on him to become a companion as we will eventually have to put Sweet Roll down due to his illness.  Fred and Rock will move in with Donut and be fed out and sold to buyers in North Carolina, co-workers of good friends there. I think I managed to pick the most mischievous buckling to keep for our own pet (he will be castrated shortly).  Bogey’s into anything and everything and often keeps me company while I do chores and clean Huck’s paddock.  He finds great joy and jumping on and off objects.  I love his zest for life.  I love all of the goat’s enthusiasm towards life.  It’s something good to model in our own lives.

We put a deposit down on a buckling this week, and we will go pick him up this summer.  He’s a nicely bred French Alpine with good conformation and bloodlines that overlap very little with our current stock.  I wouldn’t have minded something a little more flashy – a nice wide belt? – but we’re not breeding for color — we’re breeding for quality stock with good conformation, attitudes, and milking ability.

Our cheesemaking is going well.  We’ve had chevre transported up and down the East Coast by friends, who all come back with rave reviews.  Our friends have been known to hoard their chevre.  We’re up to several different flavors: plain, herbs de provence, cracked peppercorn, and the newest – a smokey chipotle.  My co-workers love me, since I regularly bring in cheese to share.   I luckily work with some pretty daring taste-testers, lots of foodie’s in one animal hospital!  We call them our “R&D department” and test run new flavors on them and get feedback on new flavors to try.  Some work, others need some tweaking.  They in turn share it with their friends, and we’re already developing a future customer base.  It’s the life of the party.   Not really.  But close. 😉

My father has surgery tomorrow, so please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  I’m likely to be gone for another short stint depending on how everything goes.  It’s been a rough week:  last Thursday HB’s mom had her first chemo session at the same time her father was having quadruple bypass surgery.  Everyone is doing well, thankfully.

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Some days it’s so hard to find the time to do everything I need to do.

On those days, besides not getting my “to-do” list completed, the blog doesn’t get updated.

Take the past few weeks as an example. 🙂

The goat kids are growing like weeds.  I need to weigh them, because I seriously think Fred Astaire could easily weigh 30 pounds or more.  He’s hefty, big boned.  They are so much fun!  The bucklings are the most outgoing, little Doris is shy but she wants to interact.  Her features are so feminine in comparison to the bucklings.

The momma goats are doing well. Memphis is astounding me with her milk production, she’s getting more grain than anyone else and still could stand to put on a few pounds.  Xenia is due in roughly 10 days, which is very exciting!

The goat shed is coming along.  We’ve got a lot of the siding up, in rough-cut hemlock.  We still have to do the front, and then apply the batting, but it looks really good.  And really big.

Huck is doing wonderfully.  We’ve been out on the trail twice and he loves it.  So do it.  Our most recent ultrasound was Saturday, and we’re cleared to canter and next week he can go on turnout.  His hooves are chipping some, from the trails, and I need to ask Anita about that.  I’m trying to schedule a soundness exam for him as well.  I stupidly scheduled one for next Wednesday before I realized it’s the same day as my dad’s surgery – so I’m trying to re-schedule it.

I’m behind on house-work, so I really should go.  Good thing I have Wednesday off.  I need to weed the bulb bed, mow the grass, and do a million other things.

Just for kicks, here’s a picture of the chicken we had come into work the other day:

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Tuesday morning we decided that if Memphis wasn’t showing any signs of progress we would give her a shot of lutalyse to induce her.  The theory is, the average dairy goat gestation is 145-155 days.  Monday was day 150 for Memphis’ pregnancy, and we were worried about having her hold the kids too long.  Then we may have run into a series of problems created by too-large kids.

Let me state: from what I understand (from reading and talking to other goat people), you should only induce a doe if you are completely sure of her breeding date.  Otherwise you risk inducing a doe too soon – which can cause another set of problems.  After inducing with lutalyse, it can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for the doe to go into labor, with most averaging around 36 hours.

So, we gave Memphis a shot of Lutalyse on Tuesday evening and went to bed.  Wednesday our neighbors checked on her and called to report that she was very vocal and nervous.  We moved Jacqsonne back into the stall with Abba and her kids.  We watched them carefully through the evening and everyone got a long fine.  Jacqsonne was quick to remind a kid that her udder was not for them, but otherwise pleasant to them.

I got up periodically Wednesday night and there was no forward progression into labor.  I sadly went to work, worrying that she would go into labor while I was gone and have trouble with no one around to help.  Our neighbors visited again this afternoon and called to say that she was very serene – “the calm before the storm” as they said.  HB got home this evening to find Memphis drying off a little buckling!  HB named him “Fred Astaire” and we marvled at his size.  Memphis is a larger goat than Abba, and I bet her kids are twice their size!

Memphis and Fred Astaire

We let Memphis work on Fred, cleaning and drying his coat.  An hour later, she laid down and began to push, and with some effort out popped a dark buckling that HB named “Humphrey Bogart”!  Memphis laid their quietly for a few minutes and I started to worry.  Bogart started struggling within the amniotic sac and finally broke through.  Memphis got up and resumed cleaning Fred.  I waited a few minutes, washed my hands, grabbed a towel, and went to help Bogart dry off and get the mucous out of his mouth.

Drying off Bogart

Almost immediately Bogart started trying to suckle on my hands.  I tried to get Memphis to cooperate and let the boys nurse, but she would have nothing to do with it.

Humphrey Bogart

Eventually we put Memphis on the milking stand and I milked her.  We bottle-fed Bogart, but Fred wouldn’t latch onto the nipple.  He has limited sucking reflex, I guess.  We went back later this evening and offered a second bottle.  Bogart sucked it dry, but once again Fred wasn’t cooperating – and neither was Memphis.

Luckily, I had brought home a syringe and red rubber catheter from work (a homemade “Save-a-kid” syringe, we wanted one to leave in our kidding kit) and after doing some reading on line decided to syringe feed Fred.  At that point it had been 3 hours since being born and he hadn’t taken in any colostrum other than a few sips.  We felt it was necessary.  It went smoothly and he seemed stronger afterward.

I just peeked in on them and everyone is resting quietly.  I had hoped that relieving some of the pressure in Memphis’ udder would make her willing to let the kids nurse, but she is still not allowing it.  We plan to get up at least once through the night and make sure they’re eating, and bottle feed if we need too.

Little Doris and Rock, Abba’s kids are doing very well.  They’re small, but spunky!  Tomorrow night I’m taking them over to my Jennifer’s for a lesson in disbudding.  Hard to believe that you disbud so early, but it makes sense.

Rock Hudson

Doris & Rock playing with the hay manger

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I woke up to my alarm clock going off at 3:30am for a middle of the night check on the pregnant does.

As I laid in bed, urging my body to cooperate and get up, I heard a goat cry out, and in response I heard a much smaller cry.

I jumped out of bed, scrambling to find my clogs and a rubber band for my hair, while telling HB to wake up! we have babies!

Within seconds I was in the barn and peeking into the stall, thrilled to see what surprise lay inside.

Abba and Doris Day

I found Abba along the side of the stall, licking the remains of the amniotic sac off of a little brown and white goat kid.

I squealed (softly) with delight.  Our first goat kids on the farm!  Becky, if you read this – thank you so very much for this opportunity!!

As I watched, I was concerned as Abba became agitated.  She would paw the ground and just narrowly miss the baby on the ground.  When the kid would try to get up, she would head butt it and knock it over.  Concerned, I watched carefully to make sure she wouldn’t hurt the poor kid.

Boy was I happy when she laid down a few minutes later and began to have contractions.  No wonder she was agitated!  Another kid was about to come out!

Rock Hudson and Doris Day

I ran inside to give HB an update and when I returned there was a beautiful little silver, black, and white kid on the ground.  I ran back inside to let HB know and came back to watch the interaction.

I had said, over a month ago, that if one of the girls had a set of male-female twins I was going to name them Doris Day and Rock Hudson, after the movie stars of the same names from the 1960’s.  So the little brown and white doeling is Doris Day, and the buckling, Rock Hudson.  I think this sets the precedence that all goat kids born this year will be named after movie stars of the time period.  Just for kicks, because it’s fun.

I’m amazed by the instinct Abba showed.  She was hand-raised by her breeder, and yet she stepped into her motherly role without delay.  She knew just what to do, and did it wonderfully.  I did step in and help towel off Rock’s face when she was a little slow to like the sac off his head.  She’s taken to her kids rather well and is very attentive.

Rock Hudson, Abba, and Doris Day -- The Happy Family

We had debated over whether we wanted to dam-raise or hand-raise our goat kids.  We’ve decided to do a combination of the two for this year, in part due to our work schedules and trying to feed them during the day.  With Abba so confidently taking over her mothering role, I think it was a good decision.

I helped the kids nurse, and watched them walk on their long legs in the stall.  Full and content, they settled down to sleep.

Rock Hudson, plum tuckered out!

Fun times here at Spring Mill Farm, folks.  Fun times.  Now, to play with these kids, get Abba cleaned up, and wait for Memphis to kid!

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