This year I had two does due to kid on the same day. I would prefer does kid as close together as possible. Although it makes it a busier, more hectic time, it gets it all done with, AND if you are raising bottle kids they have friends to be with. As usual, although I had a due date in mind, once we get within 7 days I start to make extra checks on the gals. Usually just morning and evening check unless something seems off. I mainly use ligaments as a guide to when a doe will kid. Once you know where ligaments are it is a sure fire way to pinpoint kidding. Does cannot be without ligaments for more than 24 hours. It's crucial to their structure.
During evening chores on April 24 I felt for Lucy's ligaments. They were there, but softer and more sunken than previously. Her udder also looked a bit larger. I figured she wouldn't kid overnight, but tomorrow could definitely be the day. Lucy goes last on the stanchion in the morning, but she was hesitant to jump up, and when she did there were no ligaments to be found. I always really feel thoroughly. Some goats are fatter and therefore are harder to feel the ligaments on. There was nothing, her udder was quite firm, so it was official! Babies are coming!
I have probably been too involved in kiddings previously. Well, it really depends on the goat. Last year Lucy seemed to want some distance, and ended up kidding without anyone present. That is not a problem unless you plan to pull a kid. This year I knew pulling a doeling was something I planned to do, but I also wanted to give her space. I made the difficult, executive decision to leave, go back home, and give her some time to progress. I planned to go back at about noon, which ended up being perfect. When I got back, she was alone in the barn while everyone was out in the field. She was laying down, making some noises, and was quite gooey. That's always an exciting moment because you know it's happening soon!
She got up when I got there and I opened the kidding pen to see if she would be happy there. She was absolutely thrilled, and went right in. She displayed a lot of classic kidding symptoms. Laying down, standing up, re-positioning, pawing and making a nest. All normal and classic. I sat with her some, but didn't want to make her feel off or uncomfortable. I had brought a book, and went to the stanchion and just read. Within an hour or an hour and a half, she started making the noises. If you've been around a laboring goat, you know what I'm talking about! The screaming, grunting, groaning means we're down to pushing kids out.
I went and sat with her. I use puppy pads to place kids on and help dry them off. They are disposable and fairly absorbent. I do not really assist with kidding at all unless there seems to be a problem. The big thing to note here, is once pushing starts, a kid should be pushed out within 30 minutes. Any longer than that and there is some type of problem. Thankfully the kid presented perfectly, and slid out quickly. Lucy started cleaning it up, and the second one was born within a minute or two. There were two surprises, one, it seems as though Buddy was the sire, and secondly, they were both bucklings! I had so, so hoped for a Lucy/Buddy doeling! Next year?
Just like last year, Lucy is a wonderful, tentative mom. Along with that, her udder is exceptional, her production is wonderful, and she has a lovely disposition (only slightly sassy!). She cleaned and dried the kids quickly. The only issue I had was she nipped the umbilical cord on one boy so short he started bleeding quite a bit. I re-dipped it in iodine quite a few times, and also had to use blood stop powder and vet wrap to give it enough compression for the bleeding to stop. Lucy and the boys, named Starsky and Hutch, are doing great. They are beautiful!
This picture almost sums up my life. Chores. Milk. Plants. Cleaning. Repeat indefinitely. A week or two ago (I can't even give you an exact date here!) the husband went from second shift to first so maybe I could have a normal schedule. We've been waking up at 6, having breakfast, he goes to work and I get to the farm for chores. This switch is proving more difficult than expected. We've been on second shift for over 5 years. We are giving it a month to see how it works and will adjust as needed. I have definitely enjoyed all the sunshine!
Milking has been easier than imagined and a bit more challenging as well. Lucy is an absolute dream on the stanchion. She stands well, stomps only occasionally, and her teats are wonderful. I know that sounds weird, but it is so true. I can milk her so easily. She has an absolutely lovely udder, and seems to be producing well. I have been getting at least a quart of milk in the mornings, but think that will increase soon. Juniper has been much more challenging to milk. She eats much quicker than Lucy, and is then much more impatient! Add to that her very large udder, with smaller, wider teats and I struggle to milk her effectively. I often end up squirting milk (especially at first) everywhere but the bucket. She is also quite a kicker/stomper. Now the last few days she has been great, but now that I say that I expect her to be a nightmare on the stand! I'm also getting a quart daily from her, though I could get more. My hands get so fatigued that by the time I get a quart my hands hurt so bad I can't open my mason jars!
Poor Juniper looks pretty ragged! She is putting so much into making milk she is thinner than I would like. I've bumped up her grain but plan on trying out beet shreds as well. I've heard they can really help put weight on. When I first started milking I was a little tentative of the milk. My first sip of Lucy's wasn't delicious. I chalked it up to colostrum still being in the milk, but two weeks after kidding it still seemed off. I changed a few things and it's fine now! It's been amazing to have seemingly never ending supply of fresh milk. I got some colostrum frozen in case of an emergency, along with some milk frozen in cubes. (Goat milk soap anyone?!) The rest of the milk I've been using to experiment with cheese making. I've made chevre, ricotta and mozzarella. The chevre and ricotta were easy. The first batch of mozzarella was edible, but not mozzarella. The second batch seems to have turned out very well! I can't wait to make more...
Our seedlings are just about all full-fledged plants now. This is an older photo, most have been transplanted into larger containers. They are spending almost all of their time outdoors, and I'm hoping to get to transplant them to the farm garden very soon. I have SO. MANY. plants this year. Like...a lot of tomatoes and peppers specifically. I always plant extras when I start seeds because my success isn't always so great. This year our germination had to have been close to 100%. I couldn't bear getting rid of them, so I may sell some...or just make a lot of salsa. Just a few days ago we planted our first cooler weather crops. They could have been done sooner, but for some reason forgot about them! I planted spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, collards, radishes, and a whole lotta beets. I hope to get my carrots planted any day now as well. I've never had good success with carrots so wish me well!
Last week we got our spring batch of meat birds. I ordered 75, and got a few extras. (It is extremely hard to count that many chicks!) We've had a few losses, but I'm pretty sure we have 74 at the moment. In a little over a week, they have gone through an entire 50 pound bag of chick starter. Needless to say I'm glad we bought a whole ton in bulk! It's one of the reasons I'm hoping to ferment their feed in an effort to keep the cost and waste down. We will see.
Juniper's kids, tentatively named Leroy and Dottie, are doing great. It's amazing to me how well these guys are doing! They are already eating and are extremely active. The only downside is they are quite timid when it comes to humans. It's something I hope to work on soon. They are locked up at night in the hoop house with Buckwheat, and have really thrived. The same day I got chicks I was carrying them out to Juniper when Dottie started flailing around. She caught her lower eyelid on a wire and ripped it open. Half an inch maybe? Thankfully it didn't get her actual eye and didn't bleed much. I tracked down some tetanus antitoxin, and smeared a little Neosporin on it. She may have a scar but it has healed up great.
This picture is a bit old, but perfectly captures Buckwheat. He is a sweetheart, extremely active and ornery, and always jumping, hopping, galloping, or being a typical little goat. I have to admit to being head over heels for him, and squeeze him often. Although I am unsure on keeping Leroy and Dottie, Buckwheat will stay here, not as a buck but a wether. Between him and Lucy I have just about decided I want to focus more on owning Lamanchas. There is just something I love about them!!
Ok, so that's a little recap of life around here...what kind of adventures are you up to? Share below!
My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.