Sunday, January 11, 2009


Salutations! Springtime has hit a bit early here, and we are quickly making preparations for the multitude of offspring that we will be inundated with's an exciting but nerve-wrecking time here at the farm. I remember the advice given by a fellow breeder when we first began our ranch: "If you have livestock, you will invariably have deadstock." This is a sad but true fact. While we had a decent kidding (and cria-ation!) season last year, we did have a 25% mortality rate with our goats. Every day I pray for happy, healthy babies (and mothers!), and safe deliveries. Ryan and I have been reading up on how to assist with deliveries and problem births, trying to prepare ourselves as much as possible. Our vets are an hour away, so would not be much help in a real emergency. We must rely on ourselves as much as possible. I have beefed up my emergency vet kit, and I suppose I should be thankful (or maybe the mothers-to-be should be thankful?) that I have small hands...

We have been doing trial milking runs with our three expectant nigerians - trying to get them back into the swing of things. We have taught them to come out of their stall one-by-one in alphabetical order, hop onto the milking stanchion, and eat their grain. Goats are very intelligent animals, and training them to do something is quite easy (training them NOT to do something is another story!). Yesterday, when Zilla was up on the milking stand (she's the first one due on Jan 23), Ryan and I put our hands on her belly and felt a baby kick! It was so exciting and wonderful to feel a real little goat alive inside of her! We can't figure out how many babies she has in there - I am guessing two (she looks bigger than last year), but with our luck it's probably one. I just hope it's a girl! I think I would cry if all of our goats gave birth to boys, and then Ryan and I had to deal with no future milk goats and 50 million wethers. In any case, Ryan and I are looking forward to lots of adorable little bottle babies! Even though she looks like she might kid any day now, Zilla's ligaments are still present (at her tail base), which means that there won't be any babies just yet. I will check her ligaments daily, and if all goes as planned, she will be put into her kidding stall on Jan 15th, to await her due date of January 23rd.

Ryan and I have decided to invest in a two-camera barn surveillance system for our foaling/kidding stalls. That way, we can keep an eye on our expectant mothers without having to go all the way out to the stalls every 5 minutes (this is especially important for donkeys, who can actually stop their contractions if interrupted by people - they are very much a "hands off" animal when it comes to labor). This puts less stress on everyone (animals included!), and I feel that the high price of the camera system is really just a small price to pay for my sanity. I remember last kidding season I was a nervous wreck, waiting around for goats to kid. We originally used a baby monitor, but that turned out to be pretty much useless, as ALL THREE GOATS kidded without a peep!!! I remember when Zilla kidded: she had lost her ligaments THREE DAYS BEFORE (losing ligaments should mean a birth within 12 hours) and no babies or other signs of labor. We had just about decided she was merely FAT instead of pregnant, when on the evening of the third day I walked past the baby monitor and heard a tiny goat "Beheheheheheh!" I screamed "BABIES!" at Ryan and we raced out to the garage to find a little Poit-booger in the kidding box. I guess Ryan and I can count ourselves lucky that last year all the goats had easy births. I know that won't be the case every year, so a barn cam seems like a necessary investment.

Lately, Ryan has been working on building some very nice double-sided livestock feeders for our pastures. We were having issues with hay waste and food aggression, and these feeders have really helped to eliminate those problems. They are also very economical and easy to build! Good job, Ryan!

I am still working on reupholstering my couch for the office. I really need to get moving on it, as I will need to start sleeping in the barn beginning next weekend...Yikes!! I have finished both arms, but I still need to finish putting the new fabric on the couch body, and replacing the foam in the cushions...

Anywho, right now we've run into some permitting issues with the barn, so we haven't resumed construction yet (but plan to in the next couple of weeks). Interior remodeling of the main house is still scheduled to begin by the end of this month, and I am nervous and excited. It will put the house in a huge uproar, but I can't wait to see the finished product!

Hope that you are doing well!
Take care, and Happy New Year!


1 comment:

megha said...

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