Sunday, February 24, 2013

Old Goats - A Trip Down Memory Lane

I was looking through some old picture files tonight and I came across a few pictures of our first goats.  They were two adorable Nubian does named Cookiebelle and Phoenix.  As total goat newbies, we experienced an "OMG what are we going to do when we have to breed them" moment and decided to sell them.  Shortly after we sold the pair, we discovered the Nigerian Dwarf and a bit later, the minis which are crosses between the standard goat breeds and the Nigerian Dwarf.  Had we known then what we know now we might have had mini Nubians!  But we love the Nigerians, LaManchas and Mini LaManchas.  I am sharing some pictures with you as I stroll down memory lane.


The flying ears of Phoenix.

The goats had winter coats on but I noticed I only had on a flannel shirt.
I must have thought they were cold poor babies. 

Joyful Nubians!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Mind of a Young LGD

As I have been learning, it takes about two years or so for a young Livestock Guard Dog to mature, both physically and mentally.  It is often difficult to remember that the 90 pound dog trotting along beside me is still basically a 15-month-old puppy.  The instincts are there however.  Today, I heard Heidi barking and saw her get up from her perch in a small shed adjacent to the goat pens.  From her resting spot, she has shelter from the wind and snow but has a good view of the house and if she moves to the front of the shed, she can see down the hill toward the garden.  After getting up, she positioned herself in front of the gate to the Nigerian Dwarf pen.  She sat there for a short while all the time intently peering across to the far hillside.  Now it could be she was just hiding behind the wheelbarrow that was parked there but I think she was instinctively moving closer to the little goats.  After a minute or two she started to growl and moved down the driveway but turned around and came back to the goats.  Suddenly she took off running toward the far hillside to look for the "predator" which in reality turned out to be our big male cat lurking in the brush. 

Maya "the predator".

Even though this was a false alarm I think her protective instincts are kicking in and she is starting to demonstrate signs of maturing mentally.  In areas where there is a heavy predator load, livestock guardians often work in pairs or more, with one dog staying with the herd or flock, and the other dog going out to deter the predator.  Otherwise, one dog can be overworked and overstressed trying to defend their territory.  Since our "predator" today turned out to be the cat I think Heidi will be finde handling both roles.
It's okay.  I handled it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Come Along With Me This Morning

During mid winter, farm chores tend to follow a fairly predictible routine.  If you like, come along with me this morning.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, "this morning" is actually February the 2nd but there IS snow on the ground again this morning so you'll just have to pretend. 

Anyway, I tend to head out sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 am this time of year so you better get up and get dressed.  Find your coveralls, pull on your muck boots, cover your head with a warm cap, put on some leather work gloves and let's go!  I hope you've had a cup of coffee (or tea) cause it's gonna be cold out there. 

 Dressed for sucess.

 Heidi will greet us at the back door.  Sometimes she has a deer leg, sometimes not.  I wouldn't kiss her.

The pregnant does and kids are just a few steps outside the door so let's first check on our very pregnant Nigerian.  She's visiting for a few weeks and is due any second now.  Hi Jam!  NOTE:  She kidded on Feb 7th and you can read that here if you haven't already.

Jamboree awaiting our arrival. 

As it turns out the goats will be checking on us as well.

Meet Starr, my LaMancha, who is due to kid in about 2 weeks with Mini-LaManchas.

This is Tinkerbelle.  Tinkerbelle:  "Got any Doritos???"

Now that we've said "Hi" to everybody, let's make sure everyone has water. You're in luck because we have hot and cold water in freeze-proof faucets (well almost freeze proof) just steps from the barn.  When it gets below 20 degrees, these tend to freeze up a bit but don't worry, there is hot water just in side the back door.  So lucky for you, you won't have to carry buckets very far and I keep extra empty buckets so you won't have to deal with ice either. The girls just love their steaming buckets of hot water in the morning.

Now that everyone has water, let's toss a bit of hay into the feeders to give the goats some roughage in their rumens.  The rumen is a bacterial digester that breaks down fiberous feed and serves to keep ruminents warm in the winter. It is located on their left side and it sticks out when it is full of food.  The bump on the right (see Celia below) are full of babies!  We'll feed hay first, then give them some grain a bit later on.

Munching a bit of hay and Celia sporting her baby bump.

Now that the girls have hay, we'll head out to feed the boys who live in a separate barn in the back field out-of-sight of the girls.  It is a bit inconvenient but it keeps the boys calmer without all those girl hormones in the air.  If you don't feel like walking just jump on the back of my ATV and we'll ride out.  Come on MOOSE!!

Moose, my older Spinone still loves to come along.

I have been using round bales this year for the boys.  They are stored next to their pen under cover.  Just peel off a couple of large armfuls and put in in the feeders while I fill their water bucket with hot water. Let's also give them a dab of pelleted feed to help put a little weight back on after the fall/winter rut.  The bucks burn a lot of calories just being boys, even without the girls close by.

This looks more orderly than it really is.

Now that we've cleaned the boys' pen, we'll head back to the house and feed the girls their grain ration.  It consists of a pelleted sweet feed mixed with sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets.  They also get a mix of Diamond V yeast and Thorvin kelp in addition to a balanced goat mineral.

Sweet feed and sunflower seeds for carbohydrates and energy.

Alfalfa pellets add protein and calcium to the diet.

Kelp is rich in vitamins and  minerals that keep dairy goats healthy and productive.

Goats really look forward to their breakfast.

Now that everyone is fed lets go in and have a bite of breakfast.  Don has volunteered to prepare our delicious breakfast this morning.  This morning we're having wonderful fresh eggs from our hens, fried apples, and homemade bread.  Stick around for tomorrow and you'll have freshly rolled oats with various fruits and nuts.  I can't wait until we'll have fresh goat milk with our oats.  YUM!! 

Now that we've eaten let's go back outside and clean the girls' pens.  Take this pitchfork and remove the wet, wasted hay and put it in the wheel barrow.  Now, take this little rake and scooper and remove the remaining wet bedding and goat berries. 

Spread a bit of barn lime in the damp areas and add a bit of fresh bedding.  I'll check water buckets again and top them off. 

Well I think we're done for now.  I hope you enjoyed your morning rounds.  Come back soon because we'll be checking on those precious newborn goat kids!
A little blue-eyed girl just a few hours old.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kidding Season Checklist

It's kidding season again and it is always good to review some things to ensure a successful kidding season.

30 days prior to kidding:
  1. Administer Bo-Se or selenium paste to the doe if you suspect selenium deficiencies in your area.  Kids that are born weak are often selenium deficient.
  2. Give CD &T vaccinations to the mother so that she may pass immunity to her kids via colostrum.
  3. Trim feet now before doe gets too heavy.  
  4. Kids begin their growth spurt now so the doe has increased nutritional needs.  Gradually increase their grain rations and make sure the does have access to a loose mineral daily. I also feed kelp to supply trace minerals, especially iodine.
  5. Gather and order any kidding supplies that are needed such as:
           Nipples for bottle feeding,
           Towels and  puppy pads for catching and drying off babies,
           Iodine and a small container for dipping navels,
           Dental floss for tying off umbilical cords if they don't break,
           Bulb syringe for clearing out mucous from the nose and mouth of kids,
           Baby monitor if desired,
           Phone numbers or contact info for a phone-a-friend or vet,
           "First Arrival" paste for the babies if desired,
            Powdered or frozen colostrum for emergencies (death of doe or no milk),
            Molassas and corn syrup to make up hot drink for doe during and after kidding,
            A box or large bag for carrying supplies to the barn,
            Bo-Se and syringes to administer injection to a weak kid,
            Wormer to deworm doe after kidding. Worms flourish during stress of kidding,
            Coccidia preventative medication for the kids.

As the kidding date approaches:
  1. Prepare a clean kidding stall. I sprinkle the bare floor with a dust that kills mites, and I cover this with and mixture of diatomacious earth and lime.  This is then covered with a thick layer of straw or hay.  
  2. Check condition of doe frequently to make sure she is eating and acting normally. 
  3. As the due date approaches check tail ligaments.  When the two pencil-sized ligaments that lie on either side of the tail go soft  expect the doe to kid within 24 hours.
  4. Move doe to kidding stall and supply her with a small bucket of water.  Kids have been known to drown in buckets they can't get out of. 
  5. Hang heat lamp at a safe height if the weather is cold.  It helps them get dry and helps keep them from chilling.
  6. When the doe appears restless, starts pawing the ground and bleating, then the doe is entering the first stages of labor.  This is when I bring all my supplies to the barn and lay in the straw with my girl and comfort and talk to her.  It is a great opportunity to bond with your doe.
  7. Observe her during labor to make sure everything is proceeding normally.  I don't interfere Unless the doe has been in hard labor for a while and it is obviously making no progress.   Try to be patient though.  Your instincts will help you decide when intervention is needed.  A doe in extended labor will often benefit from a drink of hot molassas water when it is offered.  Recipe below:
          Hot drink for doe during and after kidding (for energy and electrolytes)
                32 oz warm to hot water
                8 Tbsp molassas
                8 Tbsp light corn syrup 
                2 tsp salt
                2 tsp baking soda
Related posts from 2012
Gettin' Ready for Babies:

Kidding Preparations - Part 2:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Long Evening, But Worth It!

We had been on baby-watch for our visiting Nigerian Dwarf Jamboree.  Last night she delivered a.... oops its a surprise!
Hangin' with Momma waitng for contractions to begin about 3pm.

Sometime just after 8:30 pm Jamboree started pushing hard , took a short break to drink some hot molasses water fortified with coffee, corn syrup, baking soda and salt.  Then she made a few final pushes and produced this:

Soaking wet and still attached by the umbilical cord.

We helped clean the baby's face and she had some mucous in her nose and mouth so I sucked out her passages with one of those squeezy bulb thingys.  I tied off the umbilical cord with dental floss (who knew it has lots of uses just like duct tape) and dipped the end of the cord in iodine to prevent a serious infection that occurs when bacteria travels up the cord.

Momma finishes the job.

Now to see whether we have a buck or doe so I take a peek.
It a GIRL!!!!!!

The next task is to make sure the baby gets the much needed colostrum.  Soon she is actively seeking her mother's teat and after a few false starts, quickly latches on.

Nothing like a hot meal. 
In this case it is colostrum, the early milk that contains all the antibodies the baby needs to survive.

Notice the afterbirth that is starting to be expelled after the last  (in this case, the only kid) is delivered.  A quick peek underneath confirms the baby is latched on and nursing well.

With mother and baby doing well and tucked under a heat lamp, I am off to clean up and leave them for the night.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snow Trip to Town

Generally when the weather is bad (read SNOW) I try to stay home as much as possible.  We have our freezers and canned goods and we maintain enough feed for the animals for the winter.  Sometimes though one must go out and it happened that it I had to go to town yesterday after our last snow and frigid spell this early February.  For those of you that get buckets of snow, our few inches may not seem like much but we also have two miles of steep gravel road to navigate to get to the hard road.  This situation is pretty common around here and folks cope in diferent ways.  Some walk in and out, some folks just go for it and hope for the best, some just stay home.  ATV's are common too and will go just about anywhere in the snow but aren't much good for driving to the office in town. I tend to rely on chains that I put on the front tires of my 4x4 truck.  I take them off when I get to the highway then put them back on for the trip home.  When it is REALLY icy I put chains on the rear too.
Cable chains on front wheels for that extra bit of traction.

Another reason I like the extra safety of chains is because our road tends to have vertical drops at the edge of the road and one is at the edge of a curve.  I saw another vehicle that had gone over this cliff in dry weather due to a brake failure.

So come with me for a trip to town.

Made it to the end of the driveway and ready to start up the hill.

Looking back up our driveway.

Approaching steep uphill curve.

Whew! Made it around that one.

Pretend you're looking at a Bev Doolittle paiting and find our farm.

Almost to the top now.

Now we are on the other side.  Looking out near the top VERY far away is a thin ribbon of black...
the main highway!

The last bad curve going down that is just above the cliff.

Well I made it and of course I was driving and taking pictures at the same time.  Anyone want to come visit?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Snowy blowy days

Now that February has arrived, winter has decided to pay us a visit.  Howling winds over the weekend and frigid temperatures have me scurrying about to cover up even my south-facing goat barn with tarps and mats.  Also it is generally heathier for goats not to be shut inside a barn all day as long as they have a bit of protection from fierce winds.

Not pretty but effective.

The goats also prefer to have the south side of their barn open so that they can peer out to see what is going on, but during swirling, blowing storms, snow tends to blow inside so I temporarily cover everything up.  Even so,I often see a  head or two sticking out from behind the tarps, with this "where ARE you, is time to EAT" look.  Also tucked inside is a quite pregnant Nigerian Dwarf that is due any day now. 

Jamboree: "I'm waiting for the coldest, snowiest night to have my babies."
Me:  "PLEASE wait until we have a nice sunny afternoon.  April woud be good."  

Even Heidi who usually spends her time like this:

sometimes tucks inside the alley way to snooze in the hay out of the worst of the weather.

Anyway, we are officially on baby (and weather) watch!