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!
Wow. This hiatus was a LOT longer than I had intended. I really love writing, and especially blogging. The thought that my words may go out and find someone who needs to hear what I have to say, or just enjoys reading is amazing to me. The end of 2015 was a brilliant blaze of busy and a plan for better days in 2016. To get us reaquainted and catch you up on farm happenings, here’s a rundown on the last 5 months of 2016…
-The first week of August we drove and hour and a half to purchase a new herdsire. A beautiful moonspotted nubian buck. His name is Buddy, and he has been an adventure.
-We sold Roy and Roger, the nigerian dwarf bucks we had late September. We were going to butcher them, BUT they got so smelly we changed our minds. The gentleman who picked them up was getting them for meat I’m sure. He was extremely kind to them as he loaded them up, even giving one a kiss on the nose, that I knew their life would be ended with kindness.
-I tried out using an anti mating harness on Buddy, as I wanted to make sure we didn’t have kids born when it was really cold out.
-I basically gave up on the garden. The lower garden became a lost cause, though we did get a small potato harvest, a small pumpkin harvest, and a nice zucchini harvest. The larger upper garden was a pain to keep even slightly weed free, but we got a nice harvest of tomatoes, and a great harvest of peppers. I canned 22 pints of jalapenos! The back to eden garden got weedy, but not like the others. In the fall we started converting the large upper garden into a back to eden garden as well for 2016.
-I came to the conclusion that both our turkeys were hens, and found them a stunning black spanish tom.
-I also realized both our turkeys were in fact meat turkeys. Our gals are HUGE. I’m hoping to get the best of both years having heritage, meat breed mix poults to raise.
- we purchased half a cow and tried out a pork bundle from a local butcher.
-I am rendering my own lard.
-we butchered 50 chickens in one day.
-rearranged the goat barn, and added a hay bale wrapped with a cattle panel as a feeder and gave them a stock tank for water.
-in October I took the anti mating apron off Buddy to anticipate March kids.
-in November girls were still going into heat!!
-right before Thanksgiving we went and picked up ANOTHER buck, this one an ok looking lamancha, for hopefully late April, early May kiddings.
-as the last doe went into heat Buddy may have finally figured out how things work, but we won’t know until babies are due what we will get!
-right after we got Buddy the first of August, he caused some of the girls to go into heat sooner than usual. That’s what adding a smelly boy goat will do. Miri went into heat, but the apron saved her. And I suppose the apron would have worked to keep Ladot from getting pregnant too...except her dad/uncle both escaped. Yeap. How lovely. So she is due literally any day now. (in the coldest time of the year of course)
-right before selling Roy and Roger I made a big mistake. I opened their pen one day to take them on a walk with everyone else. No one was in heat, and they had been locked in a small paddock for weeks. When they finally caught up with us, I realized Lola apparently was in heat! I drug her back to the pen as quickly as possible, but I’ve not seen her go into heat. So, I assume she is bred, and due in February.
-as the temperatures got colder, and the goats roamed farther for food, they started visiting the neighboring cemetery. Until we can fix the fence there I didn’t allow them into the pasture. So they started escaping into the yard. I had to make emergency goat stops at the farm daily for a couple weeks until I fixed where they were getting out. They haven’t escaped in awhile, knock on wood.
-Lola, Lucy, Miri, Pixie, and Trixie keep getting their heads stuck in the cattle panel around the hay, so...we duct taped sticks to all of their heads. They look so silly, BUT no more stuck heads!
-Haha, just kidding, one of our big gals really tried, and managed to get her head stuck...so we had to cut her out.
-I learned goats are the bane of my existence.
I’m exhausted just rehashing all these details! I’m kind of glad 2015 is behind me, and I hope 2016 is full of lots of milk, and eggs, flashy doelings, well behaved goats, and no weeds in the garden!
How was your 2015? Any big plans for 2016?
Mornings around here are hectic but far better than they have been. It seems like with every new goat kid, new project, or new adventure it puts a bit of a wrench in how chores are done. Right now, we have a nice rhythm and technique down, so I figured you should come along and do chores with us!
Our morning doesn't start as early as some, and this particular day I was late getting to the farm. I woke up at 6, but spent my time working on blog posts and got distracted! We probably got to the farm about 8:45, and left about 10:10.
To spare you a thousand photos each, I made each section into a slideshow. Just hover over the photo, and it will bring up a play button! Enjoy!
May really has been a blur, because although I'm writing this on the 29th, it feels like May has only just begun. We are almost 6 months into this year, yet I feel as though it couldn't have gone by any faster! May has been a great month, albeit busier (which I am unsure how that is even possible). The garden is doing great, the meat birds are doing great, the goats are fat, the chickens laying, and it is just flashing by.
May has been a pretty good month for the goats. We had our last kidding for the season! Lola, who I was scared would not be a good mother birthed twin DOELINGS (one of which has SPOTS!) and is the best mother of the bunch. Very tentative, and alert, always calling to her kids. We've been getting good amounts of milk, and everyone has been on their best behavior, except Juniper where she suddenly forgot that it is right and polite to get straight on the stanchion for grain, and Lucy who has been slightly difficult and also tried to wean me. Patience. That is what I learn from goats, patience. Milking and goat knocks over bucket? Patience...just keep milking and stay calm. Thankfully everyone seems to be back to normal. One night I thought Juniper was bloating, but then seemed fine. We've had some udder cuts, and are having a bit of a bug issue. Flies and ticks are driving them a bit crazy...any suggestions on what I can safely use on dairy animals?
May 7th, Lolas ligaments were gone and I knew kids were coming! I sat around all day with nothing exciting happening. The later it got though, the more things progressed. I don't know how much Lola appreciated me being there, but I am glad I was. There was a bit of a struggle with the first kid coming out, but the second came out a little easier. I couldn't believe they were both DOELINGS. Adorable, cute, precious doelings, one with long ears, one without, one totally black, one with spots! Lola's milk was quite slow coming in, which I was concerned about. Everyone else's milk came in very fast, and almost all of them had over full udders. Not Lola! She was slow to fill and hasn't ever really been too full. I am milking a little in the mornings. Lola has been one of the best mothers out of everyone. She is highly protective, even going after one of our dogs, and calls to them always. After a week or two the other goats calmed down, but not Lola! It's one of the reasons I haven't started keeping her babies locked overnight. I know I should, but I think it will be very traumatic for her! I do not think I will lock Miri away from Berta overnight. Berta is nearly impossible to milk, I don't think a super full udder would make things any better. I am unsure at this point if Berta will be bred again. Though I have put it off, I also really need to sell both of our bucks. I hate too but because they are Nigerian Dwarfs they are constantly in rut. I.E. they are constantly bothering the girls, and have started showing interest in the doelings (well, the bucklings as well to be fair!). I hate selling them for some reason, but it is definitely time!
The chickens, chicks, and meat birds have all done wonderfully. They are all in love with the nicer weather! The geese, ducks, turkeys and chicks are doing great! I was worried about their different nutritional needs but they seem to be doing great. They have been moved to the big coop in a removable pen and have access to a small outdoor pen and a little pool. With all the rain it's a soggy, muddy mess, but I pick grass for them every day and toss it in. I'm going to have to put a thick layer of hay down soon though. The layers need their coop cleaned as well! I meant to keep track of eggs this year, but I haven't done a great job. I'd estimate we get about 3 eggs a day. Doesn't sound like a lot but adds up quickly. A week or so ago I noticed our old barred rock hen acting a bit strange. Then I realized she was going broody! She picked a spot out of the coop, out in the hoop house. I removed any eggs she was on, and put in a fresh clutch and let her have at it. She broke three, the last one did show some development. If all goes as planned we would have chicks by June 7th. That just seems hard to believe! We will see I suppose. May 4th we had a meat chicken get run over while we moved their pen. My husband didn't know if he was not feeling well and so was slow and got run over, or if he just wasn't being very smart. Regardless we dispatched him and put him in the freezer. May 18th we did our first round of butchering and slaughtered 8 chickens. We made a DIY chicken plucker and had some technical difficulties. However, we got it straightened out and it's excellent!! May 26th we had our second round of butchering, slaughtering a total of 20 chickens. My 10 year old nephew was at the farm that day and ended up being a great help! He is not necessarily farm-y but was full of great questions, and ended up being the one to help eviscerate and pull out lungs!! We have 41 left and hope to finish those the first week of June.
I haven't been as diligent as I should be at milking. I have plenty of good excuses! I started really dreading milking as my hands were hurting so much. My hands started falling asleep, my thumb hurt, it was just an unpleasant situation. When I put all my milk totals on paper for May, I realized I hadn't milked nearly as much as I should. About the same time Lucy tried to wean me and it freaked me out! I thought I may be prematurely out of milk and I had nothing to show for it. So, I started milking daily, but may take Sunday's off so I can get to church on time. We fixed a hand milker we had been working on. Using it the first time was a huge pain and frustration. However it looks like it is fixed and usable now! It does one side at a time now, but we plan to get it so I can do both sides at once. I need it mostly for Juniper who is such a big producer AND has shorter teats. It's been great, and as of May 25th, I am getting about a gallon of milk a day! I ordered some more cheese cultures, a cheese mold, and my husband is building me a cheese press. I hope to start making and storing cheese! On the list to try is cheddar, farmstead cheese, colby, gouda, feta, monterrey jack, and queso fresco.
The garden has done great!! The only issue is the weeds, especially in the lower garden. We have spent a lot of free time tending to other, more pressing things (butchering/making chicken plucker), that the gardens haven't been tended to as well as they should. It doesn't help that the few times we've been available to work in the garden it has rained! May 2nd I started harvesting radishes. May 5th we got some grass clippings spread. May 12th we had to get cattle panels up for the tomatoes. They've grown like crazy and had to have support. May 13th I pulled a lot of radishes, half the row. The easter egg radishes were ready and delicious. I turned some into pickles, the rest were devoured quickly. My radish row had two types of radishes. The latter half was watermelon radishes. They produced great foliage but not so much for the radish part. I kept waiting hoping they would form better radishes, but they have all gone to flower now. I also realized I accidently left some easter egg radishes thinking they were the watermelon type. I think I am going to try to collect seeds from them! We will see how that goes. May 20th we had our first ever broccoli harvest!
Anyone else out there that breathes a sigh of relief when the grass starts coming back the first of spring? This winter wasn't extremely snowy, but it was cold. I was waiting with baited breath and just about squealed with delight at the slow greening outside. April was very busy, there is so much to do come spring time around the farm!
During morning chores on April 23rd, the day before Berta's due date, I realized she had lost her ligaments! Meaning babies should/could arrive anytime within the next 12 hours. Of course, this was also the day we decided to scrape out old bedding and really switch out the goat pens. We scraped hay out and built a kidding stall, but had to leave a dirt floor because Berta was freaking out. By late afternoon, there wasn't much exciting happening, so I went to check on something else. Within minutes, I heard Berta screaming and ran back to the goat barn. Berta ended up having 3 healthy kids! Two flashy bucks, and a cute little doeling. I took pictures of the bucklings, and decided to list them for sale as bottle babies. Not my favorite thing to do, but I had attempted selling LeRoy weaned with little to no interest. These guys sold quickly and went to their new homes at a week old. Berta has done great and has been a wonderful mom. The biggest downside is she looks to be a great producer...with very small orifices. The hole milk comes out of is small, and so hand milking is going to be nearly impossible. I'm hoping to try a homemade milker to see if that helps. If her daughter also freshens with small orifices, Berta will either not be bred or her daughters will be sold.
The regular chickens are laying up a storm! I also bought the Homestead Delight package from Murray McMurray. It was indeed a delight!! I received 10 chicks, 2 goslings, 2 ducklings, and 2 turkeys. They have all thrived and done absolutely wonderfully. Having goslings and ducklings has proved to be...messy. I'm very interested to see how they grow, and I'm hoping the geese with keep everyone a bit safer. The meat chickens have done so great. We lost a few chicks, but nothing compared to what we did last time. Mid-April we moved them to a huge moveable chicken tractor. They did amazing! Our first batch of cornish cross we did were super lazy, messy, and just laid around getting fat. This new batch have been extremely active, and vigorous. In fact I wish we had a safe way to free range them because they would have done great that way! We will maybe try out electric poultry netting in the future, but we're scared of my mom's dog, Toby being able to get through. He's a 10 pound chihuahua. Anybody have any experience?! Let me know!
April milking went really well. Getting into a schedule is crucial, as well as really building up hand strength! The husband had surgery the 8th to cut out a torn meniscus so he was off for most of the month. There were probably more days that I took off from milking than I should have! It's very nice to be able to let the kids stay with the moms if needed/wanted. As of April 13th, I had milked a total of 102 pounds of milk!! Roughly 12.75 gallons! I've done quite a bit of cheese making, though tentatively! I've only done chevre and mozzarella. Chevre I like for its versatility and ease. I made a chocolate goat cheese cheesecake that was amazing!
April was a super busy garden month! April 1st we planted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and 4 tomato plants (which got hit by frost but recovered well) April 7th all the previously planted seeds were sprouting. April 11 and 17th we got the rest of the garden planted. April 28th we had corn sprouts, bean sprouts, potato sprouts, melon/pumpkin/squash sprouts! April 29th I noticed blooms on the tomato plants! I think that is the earliest we've seen blooms on our tomato plants. My grandpa once got his first tomato in June. I'm hoping to get one that early this year as well...we will just have to wait and see!
Just a few days ago I got a Timehop notification. When I pulled it up I was pleasantly surprised. It was an April 2013 garden/farm recap. I talked about how the chickens, goats, and garden were doing. It was so interested to read about what had been happening. Needless to say, that is what has inspired this blog post! Thankfully I've taken notes, and shared updates on Facebook so I can go back and get everything in a somewhat cohesive timeline! I plan to do these updates the first of every month (yea right, I'm already late with May!)
(Note: February 21 Lucy kidded a single buckling; Buckwheat <3 )
March 3rd, at 6:40 AM, Juniper kidded triplets. One didn't make it. She had a very slow labor, starting about 4 PM the following day. I'm glad I ended up being with her because she was so exhausted she wouldn't get up. I pulled her babies up to her, and she started cleaning them almost immediately. It was really cold, but the kids did great!
On March 10th we ordered a batch of 75 meat birds. They arrived March 20th, and we ended up with 78. We were using a large reptile enclosure we found on the side of the road (so classy). The humidity was too much however, so we built another large brooder. It turned out EXCELLENT. Big enough to accommodate everyone, and low enough I can reach in easily.
I started milking Lucy fairly soon after she kidded. Buckwheat wasn't nursing things evenly, or enough. I didn't have any problem milking, though I could not do it two hands at a time at first! Lucy took to being milk really well, and we only had an incident or two. Juniper was an absolute nightmare on the stanchion. She kicked/stomped, knocked the milk over, and just general huffed and puffed and threw a big fit. I had to tie one of her back legs up for a bit. I tried to keep as patient as possible, but really did consider selling her! Then one morning, she was absolutely perfect...and has been ever since! March 23rd, I started making cheese. I made a batch of mozzarella and chevre. The chevre turned out great! I ended up making it into a log and rolling it in basil and tomato I dehydrated from last years garden. Yum! The mozzarella didn't turn out right, however it was quite tasty! By March 27th I could milk two handed!
(The first week of February I started all my seeds indoors.)
March 27th I planted collards, swiss chard, spinach, kale, lettuce, beets and radishes. Everything but the beets and radishes were done in our Back to Eden style garden bed. My wood chips were a little thick in areas, but it worked well regardless!
Last weekend I just knew was "the weekend" for Juniper! She was large, slow, cranky...and, well...large...
I was checking on her 4 times a day, determined to be there for the birth. Our temperatures were below freezing, and I didn't want to risk kids dying or getting frostbitten. Monday at about 4:30 PM, she started having some goo, and acting uncomfortable. I put her in a kidding stall, and sat with her, hoping for things to progress. It was chilly enough in the kidding stall that I moved her to the hoop house. Having put the hoop house in the goat shed has been a HUGE help. It was the best place for labor and new babies. Draft free and secluded, perfect! I called my niece over, and we sat, talked, and watched Juniper until about 8:30 PM. During this time she was walking, sleeping, yawning, and had lots of goo. We saw lots of contractions, but that was it. I was fairly worried, Lucy had acted completely normal and had a baby by herself in about 2 and a half hours. Juniper was going on 5 hours and no signs labor was imminent. I decided to go home, and come back at midnight to do another check. My husband got off work and dropped by with doughnuts and coffee. Juniper also appreciated having a little nibble of our doughnuts! We left after about 30 minutes, and went home. We stayed awake until 3:30 AM, and went back to check on her. Juniper seemed to be having more regular contractions, but no pushing. I went back home and decided to come back at 6. I got to the farm at about 6:25, and heard Juniper yelling. I knew babies were here, or close to being here! I got into the hoop house and Juniper was pushing. At first I was concerned as I didn't know how long she had been pushing. It was soon clear that babies were on their way! As I think is common, she struggled pushing that very first kid out. It finally slid out, and I grabbed it, pulling the membrane away and starting to rub it. It was completely limp. I rubbed it's face, and swung it upside down, but there was no hint at life. Before I even had a moment to work more, another water bubble appeared. That one came out and I started clearing the membrane, wiping it's face and nose, and trying to get it as alert as possible. I hardly did anything to it when another bubble appear and out slid a little white kid. I repeated the cleaning process, while Juniper laid there. She was obviously exhausted, and to be honest not very responsive to the little baby cries. I am very glad I was there, because I got them fairly clean and drug them up to her face. She smelled them so intently, like she was completely unsure about what they were. But once she took one lick, she lost it! She started talking to them, and aggressively cleaning them up!
I went and got more towels, warm water, and a big pan full of grain and alfalfa for Juniper. I made sure everyone knew how to nurse, and that mom seemed to be caring for them, and headed home. I was hoping not to be unexpectedly pulled over on the way home. I had blood streaked hands and arms, and had to have looked a bit ragged. The kids seemed much smaller than Buckwheat, but have thrived very well. I think I may name them Peter and Piper, or even Dottie for the girl (due to her little black dot on her back!). So nothing offical yet.
Although Juniper was rough with Buckwheat at first, and although she is herd queen, she has taken to being a mother very well. Quite attentive, and when they cry she runs to them where ever they are! She is quite thin, now that she's kidded, but I'm hoping with extra feed, and spring coming she will fatten up. I was having to milk her, as the kids were only nursing on one side. That quickly escalated to her having udder edema/udder congestion on one side. It seems to be clearing up, and I hope it'll be gone soon. I'll end things with this cute picture...
This past Saturday something magical happened on the farm.
Something I've dreamt of since 2012.
Something I was skeptical would ever happen.
Our very first goat kid was born on the farm!
Friday morning I had a feeling kids were coming. I'm not totally sure why, but I just felt weird. I started checking her frequently, and as of about 3:30 AM, Lucy's udder was full and her ligaments gone, so I knew kids would be here soon! I hung around the farm all day, all the while Lucy acting fit as a fiddle. Eventually, my mom asked if I wanted to head to the thrift store and then grab lunch and I reluctantly said yes. I knew I'd probably miss something, but I was desperate for something to happen! By the time we were on our way back to the farm I knew I was missing something. I got my husband, got to the farm, and knew something was happening because Lucy wasn't at the gate to greet us. When we got to the goat barn, I walked around the hoop house and was immediately in shock! Not because there was a wet kid curled in a ball, but because it was a white kid! I figured it would look like Lucy, but instead he must have taken after his daddy.
For some reason, perhaps his light reddish brown coloring, I started calling him Buckwheat. He is thriving well, and Lucy is being an absolutely amazing mama. She is quite attentive and always has an eye on him. She has kept him warm, despite cold temperatures along with being well fed. In fact, that's one of the only issues we are having right now...
As you can see, Lucy is producing more than enough milk for the little booger! One side in particular, has been a bit more swollen as Buckwheat prefers one side more than the other. I've been milking out just enough to take the swelling out, but plan to start milking her out completely once a day. Hopefully that will keep her more comfortable and prevent any problems. Ironically, as excited as I was about milking I wasn't planning on doing it so soon! Thankfully milking hasn't been too difficult, and I've already decided to freeze what I do milk out to keep on hand for emergencies.
Yesterday was a nice enough we were able to go for our first big outing and spend a few hours outdoors. Buckwheat had an absolute blast and kept Lucy on her toes! He loves to just go bouncing off, and Lucy frantically tries to keep up. He wondered of to a few different places where Lucy couldn't see him and she started calling frantically, looking to me and pacing. So needless to say, he is ornery, she is attentive!
This weekend was exceptionally nice. We've had pretty cold temperatures lately, with a few inches of snow. Friday the snow started melting, and was gone by Saturday. And Saturday was mid-60's as was Sunday. It's the perfect time to get the goat barn ready for kidding. I meant to do it earlier, but wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. I was spurred to action, not only due to warmer weather, but because Lucy is driving me crazy! She is the only doe who I have no due date for. Towards the end of January she suddenly started growing an udder. This is normal, not necessarily a sign of impending labor. I was planning on using a ligament check on Lucy to decide when she would kid. And then this happened...
That area where my fingers are pressed in are where ligaments usually are. They are two pencil sized ligaments that run from the spine to pin bones. When labor is impending they soften and basically disappear. I felt her one morning, and thought, well, maybe today is the day!! It wasn't, and since I've felt the ligaments and not felt them a few times. I guess I will just keep watching her like a hawk. I figured, to be on the safe side, we may as well get things switched up and prepared if babies do come earlier.
As you can see we have a lot going on in there! The pen with the orange gate in front is the bucks pen which is now the new kidding stall. We scraped out all the yucky hay, and added some plywood. I sprinkled the dirt floor with lime, and we let it dry out overnight. Sunday we added fresh new hay and locked it up! If there is one thing I've learned it's that goats are just itching to poop in new places! The bucks are now in a smaller lot with a hut where they will spend the nights, and once babies are born they will stay separate for awhile. Once I separate the kids at night for milking they will go into the hoop house. Or at least that's how I hope it works out!
Thursday (or at least I think Thursday) we got some seeds started. I usually don't get them started until about the end of February, so I feel pretty good to be ahead of schedule. I was hoping to avoid setting a light up for them, but we just found one we could use. We just started getting sprouts Sunday, pretty sure it's broccoli and cauliflower. Saturday we noticed there were some kind of gnats in and around the plants. I've experienced that before, so I almost brushed it off. However, I am really hoping these seedlings make it!! So I did a little researched and found out they are a fungus gnat. They can kill your seedlings. I wasn't sure how to fix it, but then read someone used DE. That's what is sprinkled all over the plants up there! I had a couple areas that got...well coated. It did the trick! All the gnats are gone.
Saturday I opened my mailbox to an exciting surprise!! It's my first time ordering from Baker Creek, and so far so good. I was extremely excited about my free gift, parisienne carrots. That probably sounds so stupid, but they are a variety I really, really wanted to try. I didn't order them, however, because I have some carrot seed already, and planned to get a packet of rainbow carrot seed. I can't wait to see how they grow! (parisienne carrots are basically a carrot that grows round)
All in all, it was a very good weekend. I'm glad we got the goat pens taken care of, and I'm exciting to start some more seeds. I watched a gorgeous sunset, and enjoyed feeling the sun on my face! Well, how was your weekend? Get any projects done? Feel free to share in the comments!
When we started getting livestock, I was quite worried about how our dogs would take it. Duke, our oldest, is most likely a lab/chow mix. He does not like other dogs, strange people, busses, bicycles, or motorcycles. He had an incident as a puppy that really changed how he handled certain situations. Dutchess is also a lab mix and an impressive hunter. She has killed groundhogs that were almost as big as she was. I have read horror stories of dogs being around both chickens and goats, so to say I was hesitant would be an understatement. We brought 10 chicks home to a brooder situated in our living room. The dogs were highly amused, and watched it almost constantly for the first few days. I would take the chicks out and hold them safely in my hands and show the dogs. Duke always smelled them and was highly interested but didn’t seem dangerous, Dutchess tried to eat them. I wasn’t terribly surprised, they were dogs after all. It was partially because of the dogs that we created and kept the chickens in a hoop coop. They could free range fresh grass, but the dogs wouldn’t hurt them. As of today my dogs can be around the chickens with almost no worries. The same goes for being around the goats. I thought I would share a few tips and ideas today on how I keep the peace between our dogs and livestock.
I would say these are my top 6 tips for keeping dogs and livestock together. I am a firm believer that when you get an animal you are bonded and committed to it for the duration of its life. That means if it is being difficult, or causing problems on the farm, it is your responsibility to set boundaries and train your dog. There are always exceptions, and I understand that. Often times people are too lazy to put the work required into the dog, and label the dog difficult. If you truly have a high-energy dog, who is proving to be difficult to train, I do have one last suggestion. A shock collar. Now, before you enlist PETA, I do not mean for you to electrocute your dog! If a dog gets a small shock every time it goes after chickens, it’s going to start thinking those chickens are what is causing the shock. I do believe this to be a last ditch effort, however, and would always suggest trying positive reinforcement and other methods before trying a shock collar.
Now that I have said all of this, let me tell you a story. My dogs are excellent with our livestock. We do chores every day, the dogs wander through the chicken flock, and try to eat grain with the goats. About a year and a half ago we had a very difficult rooster. He was a large barred rock, and although we were working on keeping him from attacking people, he still would on occasion. Not long after we started free ranging, I opened up their coop to let them out. I turned around to go back to the house, when all of a sudden something sharp hit the back of my legs. It was the rooster. As I turned and realized it was him, Dutchess grabbed him and killed him. She has never bothered hens, only that rooster. Generally all is calm. Sunday morning the ground was covered with slushy snow. Although I figured the chickens would not go out, I left their coop open so they could go out if they wanted. When I went to lock them up, two chickens were missing. They were down with the goats. It had started snowing, and there was snow blowing everywhere and it was getting colder by the minute. We did the goat chores quickly, and tried to wrangle up the two chickens to take back to the coop. My husband caught one chicken, and I almost had the other. Once I got my hands on her, she started squawking and flapping. She wriggled out of my grasp. Dutchess, thinking there was danger, her instincts took over and she grabbed that hen and ran. Black feathers were fluttering everywhere, and my husband took off after her. He was yelling, and I was yelling. We looked like idiots. Dutchess wouldn’t let go because it was “hers” she had caught it, and she thought we were playing. By the time she let go, a very confused, dazed chicken wandered off. We looked in earnest for her, but with the cold and blowing snow, couldn’t find her. The low temperature was going to be 5 degrees, so I assumed we would lose her. Imagine my surprise when I saw her the next morning, fit as a fiddle.
It wasn’t my dogs fault that she got the chicken, it was mine. I shouldn’t have put her in the situation where her instincts could be too much for her. Lesson learned. Chickens are hardy, and dogs will always be hunters.
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My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.