Archive for March, 2014

All Done

March 20, 2014

And that quickly, kidding season is over. Wow, that was fast! In a week, my goat herd has more than tripled. I’ve gone from 3 very pregnant does to 10 goats!

I had told the Goat Girls that I had plans on Tuesday (more on that later), so they needed to cooperate. Clara had her twin boys on Monday afternoon. Compared to the triplets, these guys are bruisers! Taller, heavier, even their voices are bigger. It appears that the triplets took after the Nigerian Dwarf side of their mom’s family. The new boys show the Angora influence of their father in their cute curly coats. In honor of their birth date, I picked Irish names for them. Oran is a solid chamoisee, while Odell’s pattern is interrupted by a wide white belt.

Claras boys

Yesterday, Cloe cooperated with my plans for the day by being in labor in the morning and quickly (and loudly!) delivering a pair of doelings. They are a nearly perfectly matched pair, the only difference being the amount of white on their foreheads and their ear set (not obvious until they completely dried). Olivia has the more Alpine (upright) ears of her mother, and Omega has the same droop ears as all the boys. Again, I got the curly coat I was hoping for.

Cloes girls in the sun

All the babies are doing great, and this weekend I will be building them a play area so that they can quit pestering the mommies and sheep that are trying to nap in the sunshine. There will be much bouncing. I have been locking the triplets up at night in a big dog crate so that I can milk Myrtle in the morning, and Clara’s boys will be joining them tonite (I’ll give the girls a day or 2 more before they join too). I make sure that everyone nurses well before bed time, and at least for the time being I am putting Myrtle’s milk into a bottle that gets shared by the triplets during the day. Especially first thing in the morning it’s hard for them all to get breakfast at once, but I am not interested in taking over entirely. Othello is the best at attacking the bottle, but his brothers are catching on to the idea too. They are just so stinking cute and tiny it’s hard to get anything else done during the day! The twins are all about twice their size, but their diminutive size does not seem to faze them in the least.

So, what were the plans on Tuesday that I didn’t want interrupted? Laura had bought a “new” car on the other side of the mountains and we needed to run over and get it. We also took the opportunity to run by Michelle‘s and give her a quick lesson in tubing a lamb (a wonderful skill that every shepherd/goatherd should have). I also got the chance to meet her wonderful horse, Lance.

The original plan had been to take the borrowed car back at the end of our trip but it was getting late, so we put that off until yesterday. Luckily, Cloe cooperated with that too so I was just a little late to meet up with Laura again, and we had a nice visit with the friends that had loaned her their spare car while she vehicle-hunted. We had a grand time swapping stories and socializing Tillie, who is sister to Laura’s Aengus. It was nice to sit in the sun with good friends! And as an added bonus, Laura treated me to lunch at a new-to-us Mexican restaurant, which was recommended by another mutual friend. We will definitely be going back, because it was fantastic.

 

Babies!

March 13, 2014

What a difference a day makes! When I had the girls up on the stand yesterday morning I thought that no one was imminent as far as kidding. While udders were filling and firming up, teats were still empty. When I fed late in the afternoon, they all attacked the hay I offered with gusto. When I went out to check before going to bed (about 11:15), Myrtle did not meet me at the fence like normal. She had commandeered one side of the barn, and had new companions:

Mrytles triplets Yep, triplets! All boys (not that it will make any difference in the long run). Myrtle is an attentive mother, and all  were in the process of being cleaned off. I made sure that both teats were functional and discovered that her colostrum was so thick that there was no way the kids could access it on their own. It was almost solid! Several trips back and forth between the barn and house and I had thinned out some to tube feed all of them to make sure they got a decent start in the world. I checked on them again before finally getting to bed at 3 am.

Sticking with my “O”  naming theme for the year, we have Othello (the black one), Odin (the one laying down, who is the largest and is having some issues controlling his back legs), and Obi Wan (the little one hiding by mom; he is little but the Force is strong within him). Pictures were taken this morning, and it has taken all my self-control to not spend the entire day out in the barn cuddling them. Obi Wan went for a walk on his own outside the barn this afternoon but I have moved things around so that can’t happen again. I will keep them in the barn until they have all mastered their legs. Everyone is very interested in the little guys, but Myrtle is brooking no nonsense from the crowd at her door. I can already see an improvement in Odin’s leg control, so I’m thinking by tomorrow or Saturday they should all be bouncing off the walls and ready for the freedom of the pen. I did give him some BoSe, just to be sure.  They are all nursing well, and her milk has already thinned to a much more liquid consistency.

Clara and Cloe are both very interested in the babies. In fact, Clara was willing to help clean them off last night and I ended up having to shut up the barn all the way to keep her from attempting to climb over into their stall. I don’t think that either of them will be too far behind with kids of their own. They still got some time up on the milk stand this morning, just to get into the routine better, and I used the time to do some hoof trimming. It was very interesting to me that even though they have both had their feet trimmed before I have not had to do anything to Myrtles feet. They both jumped right up on the stand to have their little handful of grain/hay pellets, and were a bit better about going back in the pen afterwards. Even better, the sheep ignored our little adventure for the most part (unlike yesterday, when the consensus seemed to be that leaving them behind was a clerical error on my part).

Staying Optimistic

March 12, 2014

Another catch up post. While I am doing better at posting regularly (3 times in January!), I need to get better about not letting so much time go by undocumented. More for myself than anyone else. I like looking back and seeing that I have made progress, even if at times it is just baby steps. I think a lot about posting, but then let inertia take over.

First, I want to report on two books that you might want to look into. My friend Leigh published a book about setting up her homestead. I love her blog; I appreciate that she doesn’t hide the failures that we all encounter as we work towards self-sufficiency. The other one is by my friend Rachael. Pack Up The Moon is her latest book. A fellow NaNo participant (and knitter), Rachael took the plunge a few years ago and has become a Real Author. Now, I am not a girly-girl and don’t normally watch chick flicks or read romance novels, but Rachael’s books are different, and I highly recommend them. I want to meet her characters for coffee and some knitting time, if you know what I mean. You can’t go wrong with either of these books (or both!).

I’ve been reading a lot of new-to-me blogs lately. When I find someone who’s writing I like, I go back to the beginning of their blog and binge-read my way to the present. It sometimes takes a while to get near enough to the present to be able to comment, but I like looking at their whole journey. It is frustrating that many of the ones that really touch me seem to cut back on the amount of time they spend blogging (a few are now taking longer than even me to post new stuff!). I have found some wonderful new recipes to play with, and a few new patterns to try when I get bored.

It has been a challenging winter. If I were not by nature an optimist, I’m not sure that I would still be breathing, and there have been moments when even doing that have seemed almost too much to handle. Yet even in the darkest minutes, I know that I have much to be grateful for, and I know that life will get better. And so I wait for the darkness to brighten, and trust that it will. There have been some bright moments lately, so I’m hoping they are the beginning of the improvements. Kid the Younger has been accepted to graduate school (Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. That is so far away!). Daughter-In-Law had her SSDI hearing (fingers crossed for a positive outcome, soon). An Extra Daughter announced her engagement, which means I need to get started on a wedding shawl for her.

My lambing season was a total bust. Midge presented me with a darling horned son, who unfortunately got smooshed in one of the shelters during one of our nastiest snow storms. Eartha came down with pregnancy toxemia, and despite my best efforts (and a valiant struggle on her part) I lost both her and the twin ewe lambs she delivered much too early. In all, I have lost 11 animals since October, and each one hurts.

But the goat girls are due soon. Udders are filling, and I have felt the kids bumping against their mothers sides. Soon I will be drowning in fresh milk and kids will be hopping everywhere, and those are good things.

Clara rear March 7

Cloe March 7

Myrtle March 7

I got the new milking area set up last night and tried it out this morning. I moved the picnic table out of the little sheltered area that Sweetie built (he always called it the Pergola) and Kid the Elder helped me move a large window over to serve as a wind break on the mountain side (where most of the wind comes from). It won’t be perfect and may need some more work to shield us from the weather, but I won’t be sitting on the ground in the rain to milk this year. I moved my fitting stand in for the goats to stand on, and I have the picnic bench to sit on. I may work on a better neck gate but I’ve cobbled one together to get us started. This morning I took all  girls out on leads (much to the upset of all the sheep in that pen). Two got to graze while I worked with the third. On the stand they got a handful of grain while I brushed them out a bit and handled udders. Cloe is not at all convinced that I should be touching her There, but she is very food oriented so tolerated it. Myrtle and Clara were both pretty blase about the whole thing. I want them all to get into the routine of coming out in the morning before they kid. After the kids are well started I will start locking them away from their mamas at night so that I can milk in the mornings, and think it will be easier on everyone if I start going through the motions now. Today it was just brushing, but tomorrow I will trim a few hooves. No sense wasting the time on the stand. I’ll make a decision about twice a day milking after I wean the babies. It will depend on how much milk I’m getting with once a day, and the job hunt also.

I have had a couple of interviews, and hopefully one (or more) of them will materialize into actual job offers. As much as I love being at home, the stress of having no income is overwhelming. I am tired to the core of being told that I am over-qualified, and really want to be able to use my talents for financial gain. And the idea of having a little money to spend on a splurge would be nice too. A hair-cut and a movie would be wonderful!