Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oh Hey I'm Movin' On Up....

I interviewed for a new position and found out Wednesday that I got it! It will be a raise for me and hopefully the new office will have fewer guv'ment oddities. I work for the guv'ment so I guess I am an odd one too...however, I hope the new people I work with are more in line with my particular quirks if you will.

Guv'ment... don't get me started.

I never once woke up as a child thinking: when I grow up I want to work for the government! However, here I am and I'm trying to make the best of it...tho' to me it is VERY confusing and VERY different compared to private sector. The stories I could tell. You would think I'm making them up, seriously, you would. I'm learning that if I keep my mouth shut, smile, nod and remain "pleasant" - I get along pretty well. It pays the bills and I gotta be somewhere 8 hrs a day.

Tuesday I left work early (a guv'ment job perk) to ride in a clinic given by Jennifer Baumert. I just love her and love riding with her! Here is a link to an article she wrote when she was in Germany training with Conrad Schumacher:

My goal was to ride outdoors in the beautiful weather. All was fine until my mare Sera noticed...LLAMAS! The place next to the farm hosting the clinic has 15-20 llamas. In the summer, the llamas go unseen due to the trees but with winter's bare branched trees... well let's just say Sera was having a major cow because the llamas were blowing her mind.

Jennifer said we could move to the indoor arena if we wanted but Sera has to learn to "get over it" and I need to learn to deal with her when she is flipping out. We stayed outside and dealt with the horrifying horse eating creatures. By the end of the lesson, Sera was accepting and relaxed. My lessons with Jennifer are always very fun and so informative!

Toward the end - Sera was stretching down into the bridle and relaxing.

I'm giving back all the high tech earpieces and transmitter to Jennifer. The llamas are all behind those can't see them but Sera sure could! She's standing still in this picture which was not possible at the beginning of the lesson - there was much head shaking, cow hopping and bucking. Poor thing. Doesn't she know llamas are vegetarian??

Once I got home and put Sera back into her pen, I had to milk goats and help Furry Husband feed babies. We are getting 16lbs of milk at each milking now with three does - that is over 30lbs of milk in a day! Yeeks! Furry Husband is still very leery of Chocolat's small teats tho' I can milk her without too much trouble and I have large man hands. Yes, I was man hands in Seinfeld...oh, you have something on your cheek....

Some co-workers from a program I worked in a long time ago were in town. They were the ones that initially started me thinking about dairy goats and helped me with my initial research. I picked them up at their hotel and we all drove up to Lyons, CO to see SouthFork Dairy Goats. SouthFork has wonderful Lamancha dairy goats and they just won the National Show in 2007. An extremely prestigious win. Check them out here:

First place dairy herd at the 2007 Dairy Goat National Show. Left to right: Cierra, Cate, Charity, Cayenne

We toured the farm and talked goats. We went inside to have dinner and talked goats. We looked at goat pictures, talked about goat shows, discussed other people in the goat industry that everyone knew... it was a full on goat evening.

My friends had early flights in the morning so we left at a decent hour and headed back to the hotel. What a fun, animal packed day! From la-ti-da Dressage clinic to a very well known and respected Lamancha goat farm.

Makes me giggle - the Dressage people would probably be a bit down in the mouth about goats and at the same time the goat people would be a bit down in the mouth about Dressage people... see how much you can learn, enjoy and the fun people you can meet from all different walks of life when you keep your mouth shut, smile and nod?

Whattya know. Maybe the ol' guv'ment ain't teachin' me such bad things after all!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Digs

Furry Husband and I had a day at home with not much on the agenda. We made up some bath fizzies this morning instead of dying eggs for Easter - Happy Easter everyone!

I'm experimenting with molds for my fizzies. I found something really cute but it doesn't really "let go" of the fizzie so I'm not sure it's going to work. I had another mold but both Furry Husband and I think it's too big. I feel like Goldilocks and I haven't found the porriage that is juuuust right yet. It's not too much of a loss if I don't like it, just means I have a nice hot bath lined up in my near future to use up my "mistakes". Bonus for me!

We needed to move and reconstruct our kid goat pen this weekend for a couple reasons, and today was the perfect day to do it once the day warmed up a bit. It was 15 this morning when we got up - brrrrr~!

There is a neighbor behind us that has a sketchy tween boy... he threw big chunks of concrete over the fence and tried to smoosh our chickens once a couple years ago. His parents made him come clean our coop as an apology and we still don't trust him around animals. He likes to tease our dogs through the fence, throws rocks at the horses - that kind of thing.

He sort of skulks around and when you say hello to him, he will stand behind whatever he is next to like you never really saw him, or he stands around and stares sullenly at you - you say hi and he just stands there staring. He is creepy and we don't trust him.

When we had the babies in the former chicken coop, this neighbor kid and his buddies all came up on their bicycles and were sort of cheering/jeering at the kids. Furry Husband and I were home and they weren't techinically doing anything wrong and it made both of us nervous so that was our goal this weekend - move the pen further into our property and away from our fence line where wierd teenage boys might get to it.

We had the babies out frolicking in the yard while we worked, we got the pen set up and I fashioned some fun obstacles for the babies to play on. We have a SA-WEET kid pen!

Our friend M and her daughter, Little M came over to check out goat kids...Little M had as much fun on the goat obstacles as the goatlets did! Check it out...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Abner! Abner!

I don't think I've mentioned that we live next to Mrs. Kravitz. Remember Bewitched? Yeah. She watches us with binoculars - the difference is that she will call and tell us she watches us with binoculars.
For example: Once I was out in the goat pen frolicking with the goats. I run around and wave my arms and make noise... the goats love it and they race around and jump around and I'll duck behind one of their houses and pop out and chase them, then they will chase me. It's great fun and good, wholesome family entertainment. (yeah, I realize it's a little weird but there are MUCH weirder things I could be doing)
Anyway, I got a call the next day from our very own "Mrs. Kravitz".

Mrs. K: "You know you can call me if something is wrong."
Me: " Uhhh - o.k."
Mrs. K: "Really, we want you to know you can call if there is trouble"
Me: " Uhhhh - o.k."
Mrs. K: "We saw you yesterday."
Me: " Uhhh - o.k."
Mrs. K: "Is everything o.k.? Is Furry Husband o.k.?"
Me: "Yeah? Everthing is fine - why??"
Mrs. K: "You were running all around in circles waving your arms around. We thought Furry Husband had a heart attack."
Me: (laughing uncontrollably now that the lightbulb has gone off over my head) "Noooo, that was ME playing with the goats! Nothing was wrong, I was in the goat pen!"

Oh, man. I laughed about that for WEEKS after - still get a chuckle out of it now and then. AS IF, I would go running outside, screaming, waving my arms in the air and run in circles if my darling husband was laying in our house having a full cardiac arrest. And if she thought that... why did she call the NEXT day. Seriously.

Now that you have a teensy, tiny, itty, bitty, miniscule taste of our very own Mrs. Kravitz, I can tell you this story.

Our friend Ann came over last night to see goat kids, milk our does and check out our little "goat kingdom". When she got here I gave her a big hug. When she left, I gave her a big hug.

Mrs. Kravitz called our house. Furry Husband answered the phone.

FH: "Hello?"
Mrs. K: "Geez, you guys have been married all this time and you still make out with each other in the yard like that!?"
FH: " Uhhhh - what?"
Mrs. K: "I saw you guys making out just now!"
FH: "Noooo? We weren't making out. I've been in the house."
Mrs. K: "Well who was your wife making out with?"
(picture the phone clattering to the floor and Furry Husband running outside to see if he could catch a little girl on girl on goat action)

Ann had already gotten in her car and left. I looked at him completely perplexed.
Poor guy. He never gets to have any fun.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Spot is technically due tomorrow. I wrote her on the calendar to go today. She seemed totally unconcerned at feeding time - chowed down, looked completely calm.

Chocolat - the first doe that kidded? She was a total screamer - when the next doe kidded, she was a screamer - she is so freaked out by it all.

Anyway, she started screaming tonight - after we fed the babies their bedtime bottles, I told Dave I better take a look at the does. Well, lo and behold. Spot had one kid out and licked off with another on the way! The first one was all black with 2 really striking white bands on each cannon bone in the back - like 4 inch bands right in the middle. The next one was all white. Both are bucks... good size - our scale is messed up but I think they are around 8lbs.

Next investment is a weigh sling for the kids so we can use our hanging scale. We won't be investing in any security cameras - Chocolat is the perfect alarm!

Have a good night - we are just waiting for the colostrum (30 more minutes) and then we are off to bed.

Bad Farm Day

We took the kids in for disbudding. Most farms will do the disbudding themselves. I am too much of a whimp/city person to do it myself.

Disbudding is burning the horn tissue on a kid's head to prevent horns from growing. There are many reasons to do it. It makes the adults easier to handle, there is less risk of injury to another goat and to any human working with them, the goats won't get their heads stuck in a fence which can kill them etc. Some people opt not to do it. However, we disbud our kids and will continue to do so.

I have done it. In my 20's I helped to castrate and dehorn some calves. I thought it would be really cool! Once it was over tho, I felt sort of sick to my stomach to hold down an animal and cause it that much pain. I know it's for the good of the animal down the road and it has to be done. I didn't chicken out, I did the job, but that is where my city upbringing gets in the way of my love for all things agriculture. I was raised in the city with our pets inside and learned to take our animal to the vet and treat it like a member of the family.

I know that farmers and ranchers care for their animals and treat them well. They also are running a business and can't afford to make a living if they take their stock to the vet for every little procedure. Think about it. If you were running hundreds or thousands of cattle, it doesn't make much business sense to pay a vet for vaccinating, castrating or dehorning all these animals and using drugs for pain management when those are things you can learn and do yourself and the animals don't "need" those drugs to live.

I think of it sort of like circumcision in babies. It hurts them and it's traumatic, but the babies and animals get over it and don't have lasting fear or pain once it's over. Our kids are just as happy after it's done as they were before - they frolic and play and suck down thier bottles and come running to see us.

Anyway, we took our kids to be disbudded one year to our very favorite dairy goat farm of all time - Harmody Farms. After learning how and seeing it done to the kids - I decided that I did not want to do that myself. Since we have a very small "herd", I have the luxury of taking the kids to a veterinarian who will put them under general anethesia to burn the horn buds so they don't feel it. She charges $10/head so people will use her service and to me, it's worth it. I know anyone reading this who runs cattle or has large herds or was raised on a farm or ranch is rolling their eyes right now. When we only have 4 or 5 kids a year, it's just not that big of a cost to us. Just seems like in this world, you do what you have to do to feel comfortable and everyone does things their own particular way. It's not right or wrong - just different.

That said, we took all the kids in for their disbudding like we have every year. The vet lost one. She lost it because there was an accident. She felt awful. I know it was unintentional. However, Furry Husband and I felt awful too. It was our first kid loss. Hard to lose a fresh new life... hard to lose any life, but a baby that new was very sad to us. Especially since Sonata and I worked so hard to get all those babies into this world! It carries even more of a sting because the kid was a doe, does are worth more money and usually go to good homes with families that use them for their milk production or to children that show them in 4H and love them. This doe was the right color and sex for someone - she would have had a good home.

There is an old saying: When you have livestock, you are going to have deadstock.

It is so true, no one likes it, no one means for it to happen, but accidents occur, mistakes happen, bad things come around from time to time. I don't like it and I'm not happy about it. It was a bad farm day. There is nothing I can do except feel sad and at the same time look forward to the new life that Spot and Savannah will give us. We will enjoy the kids we still have and find the million other good things in each day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goin' to a Schoolin' Show

I woke up at 4:30 AM on Saturday. NO ONE should wake up that early on a weekend! I waited in bed until 5:30 before crawling out and quietly closing the bedroom door for my poor Furry Husband who was mumbling – “Wha? Where are you going?”

There was too much to do to lay in bed! New babies to attend to, the runt to check on, Sonata, the new mama to look after, a horse show that I hadn’t cleaned my tack for and my mare, Sera, still needed the rest of her mane pulled! Besides, I stopped Friday on my way home to get a truck load of sand for our old horse, Brandon. He has Cushing’s Disease, high ringbone and low ringbone and the sand will give him a soft place to stand and lie down when his joints and feet hurt. The horses have been pulled in from the pasture and are locked in their pens so the grass in the pasture can grow. Their pens are hard packed clay soil and it’s probably a lot like standing all day on a hard, tile floor.

Anyway, I can’t hook up our goose-neck trailer to the truck when there is a load of sand in the bed. We need to unload it.

Also, it’s a nice day and we can’t keep the goat kids in their stock tanks forever, they need to build their strength by moving around, running and playing. Legal Mumbo Jumbo aka Mario, our buck, is currently living in the baby pen because he hurt himself. He has small horn scurs – little partial horns that returned after he was disbudded as a kid (more on that later).

This picture is from Fiasco farm and it shows a horn scur - a partial horn growth

Well the little fella hooked his scur on a fence post and pulled back – POP! Ripped the scur ¾ of the way off and it’s being held on be the skin in front. Now it stands upright vs. laying flat against his head and it is very painful! He is (or was) covered in blood. Horns have a blood supply so if damage occurs, it’s usually extremely bloody tho’ not necessarily serious. Think about how if you get a cut on your scalp – lots of blood but usually not life threatening.

Well Mario is used to sticking his head through the fence to visit with the ladies as well as eating from his hanging feeder. Now that his scur is partially ripped and is so painful, he might stick his head through the fence and not be able to pull it back out because it hurts too much. I don’t want him stuck in the fence, afraid to pull his head back through, stressed, with no food or water so we moved him to the baby pen where the fence squares are too small for any goat to fit their head or body through. I called our goat vet and she thinks the horn will break off on it’s own vs. her coming out to remove the rest of it.

We have this other pen – a chain link dog kennel that we used for our chickens. Since we don’t have chickens any more, we could put the kids in there but it needs to be cleared out a little first. AND I forgot that I need to clean my trainer’s horse barn before the day is over!

Do you see what I mean? I just could NOT linger in bed past 5:30 AM!

Furry Husband couldn’t sleep with me scurrying around the house so he got up shortly after I did and we started in on our To Do List. We actually got most everything taken care of in time for me to load Sera in the trailer and head down the road.

Babies playing in their new pen - they love climbing on anything and everything which is why we have a cinder block platform for them to tackle.
GULP! I forgot that I haven’t been further than a couple miles for a year and now I’m on the INTERSTATE with a truck and trailer ---- ALONE! I stayed in the right hand lane and arrived at Bey Breeze Farm without incident. Both Sera and I were completely relieved. I unloaded her, groomed her, finished pulling her mane, tacked her up, changed into my show clothes and had 30 minutes to warm her up before my first ride.

Many of Rex’s students and fellow barn cleaners were down at the warm-up and show rings so it was a very relaxing and fun time! The weather was nice – 50’s with sunshine. You couldn’t have asked for a better day! Sera seemed relaxed and comfortable in her warm-up and she continued to be confident and relaxed in her Dressage tests. We really enjoyed ourselves and I know we did well. We weren’t perfect – who is? However, we got out, did our best and were both very happy. Furry Husband even stopped by to catch my first ride. He had to get to a wine tasting in Berthoud so he couldn’t stay for the second ride. It was a great surprise to see my Schweetie Pateetie standing on the sidelines cheering me one. I am one lucky girl!

We won both classes with a 68% for First Level Test 1 and a 69% for First Level Test 3. NICE Dressage scores. I brought home two blue ribbons and two coffee mugs filled with chocolates! Our year off to train and ride in clinics for improvement really paid off. The work wasn’t a struggle and we were both confident in our effort. It was a wonderful day and I have a wonderful mare. I love my beautiful mare, Sera!

Sera and I headed home. I turned her out and began evening chores. Furry Husband got home soon after and we were both starving! We made plans to run into town for a hamburger at Beauregards in Wellington when I remembered I still had stalls to clean for Rexanne! My WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL Furry Husband said he’d help me knock it out after dinner. We were both home and in bed by 10:30. What a busy but fun day - I slept like a rock!

Monday, March 17, 2008

FOUR more....

I got home Friday after work to Chocolate SCREAMING her fool head off to be milked, the kids need to be fed, our little captive kitty that was injured, Split Pea, darted out the door when I opened it and when I got inside, the house smelled bad. Sammy, our border collie cross, had gotten sick in his kennel. Furry Husband wasn't home and wouldn't be home for an hour. Sigh. We've all had nights like that - complete chaos! What can you do but begin?

I dragged Sammy's kennel to the door and outside with him still inside cuz I didn't want the mess inside tracked all over the house. I let him out. I went back inside to open windows and air the nasty smell OUT of our house.

Next, I grabbed the milk bucket to tend to Chocolate Chaud. She is just freaking out about the changes in her body and is wide eyed with suprise most days while yelling at me about it. She needs a good dose of Judy Blume... Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Seriously.
When I got to the goat pen, Sonata was hunkered in her quonset hut and a shoelace was hanging. Great. I hurried and milked Chocolate, threw hay to the goats and horses to keep them all happy, fed the babies. Ran inside to pasteurize the milk and let it cool while I went out to tend to Sonata. Thankfully, we had a nice rehearsal with Chocolate's kidding and everything I needed for kidding was handy and fresh in my mind.

By the time Furry Husband got home, all the chores were done, animals fed and all that was left was to clean Sammy's kennel (sorry, honey but you can do THAT chore! ) and wait for Sonata's kids to arrive. I called our wonderful friend Ms. K but she was not at home, much to her dismay the next day when she got my message.

Sonata got down to really pushing at about 5:30. At 6:45 there was still nothing. No sign of anything coming. She didn't seem very distressed but I decided to go in and have a feel to see if there was trouble before things began to turn bad. I don't like going in because any time you do, you are introducing a risk of infection AND it's not like I am some expert at this. I've read every single James Herriot book more than once and I had to go in once for our doe, Spot, a couple years ago. I've talked to vets about going in and asked lots of questions but still - when it's "go time", there is a lot to worry about!

I made Furry Husband scurry inside to get warm water, soap and a clean towel... felt like Scarlett O'Hara with Miss Melanie in labor.
The first kid was butt first and no legs - effectively plugging up the birth canal. I pushed the kid back in, felt for it's legs, manuevered them into position and pulled it out. A nice chamoisee doe kid. The next kid was also katty-wampus.... I had to go in again. This one had one leg forward in the birth canal with one leg and the head back. Again, I pushed the kid back into the uterus and arranged it so it could come out. This one was a small black doe kid. I don't remember the third kid's position, all I know is that it also needed assistance and I went in to pull another chamoisee colored buck kid. Shew.

Sonata has always given us triplets. I pulled her out of the quonset hut much to her chagrin and got her up on the milking stanchion for her first milking of colostrum. She ate some grain and I offered her some warm molasses water. When I put her back in the pen, she made a nest and began pushing - there was a fourth kid! The kid's fluid filled sac showed up but no kid was making an appearance. Oh, man! I gotta go in again! This kid was a little black buck. Small and weak but alive.

We tended to the kids - weighed them, dipped their navels in iodine and dried them off. The two chamoisee kids were 5lbs and the two black kids were 3lbs. We gave them thier first bottle feeding of colostrum, all of them had a good sucking reflex and drank up! It was about 9pm now so Furry Husband and I went inside to heat up a frozen pizza while there was a break in the action. The adreneline was still pumping - we've never had quadruplets before!

Our friends Glenn and Rexanne called while they were at dinner to play a joke on Furry Husband. The restaurant they were at was out of the wine they wanted to drink and my husband is the wine sales rep for the restaurant. It's hard to "get" my Furry Husband with any joke. He was totally unphased and began talking to them about our new kids.

When they found out we had new kids, they said they'd stop by after dinner for a viewing. It's a good thing they did - both are brainiacs - one is a microbiologist and one is a veterinarian, they are both very involved with animals and are tuned in to their care. They noticed that the small black buck kid seemed a little sluggish. Rex picked him up and brought him inside while we shared a bottle of wine together because he was cold. The storage room we keep them in was 60 degrees and there was plenty of fresh, warm straw but he was struggling to keep his temperature up. She kept the kid in her coat to keep him warm and Glenn came outside with me to give Sonata an injection of penicillin. With me going into her uterus as often as I did, it's a good idea to try and head off any infection and she'll be on penicillin until Tuesday night.

By the time they left, the small, sluggish, cold kid was perky and warm and ready for his next feeding. I'm glad they came - we might have caught the fact he was sluggish at the next feeding before we went to bed, I like to think we would have noticed that, but by then it could have been too late.
We've learned a lot about goats, and it's humbling to be reminded how much we don't know and it is good to have such wonderful, caring friends in our lives! Isn't that something how they called us up out of the blue to play a joke on us - on that night of all nights? I am amazed how things happen in our lives - everything happens for a reason. Two does down, two to go!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And we have BABIES!

Yesterday Chocolate Chaud sort of picked at her breakfast when normally she is a chow hound and she was standing around looking "dumpy" vs. trotting around all full of herself so I was pretty sure she was going to pop yesterday.
Last night we got home and she was still standing around looking uncomfortable but no imminent signs of kidding. She didn't eat dinner at feeding time either. I started to worry about ketosis - a problem where the doe stops eating and can die but Chocolate's feed hadn't changed and she has remained a good body weight.

I was pretty suprised she hadn't shown signs of kidding yet. At 8:30, just as I was getting a good buzz on nice wine I thought - hmmm, I'd better go check Chocolate. Good thing I did cuz there was a long, clear, string of mucous hanging from her vulva indicating that kidding is well under way.

Was trying for a shot of the mucous string (we call it the shoestring) but it's not so visible.

Furry Husband and I started getting things ready. Iodine for navel dipping - check. Thermos filled with hot water so when we put the heat treated colostrum in and have to hold it at temp for an hour, it won't drop temp - check. Birthing kit complete with towels to dry off kids, shoulder length gloves and KY jelly if it comes to that, newspaper to wrap the placenta in - check. Teat dip made up for Chocolate after she is milked for the first time - check.

We went outside to wait. Dave called some people we know were interested to let them know babies were coming. I told him he should call our friend, Ms. K. "Ms. K? Hurry up or you'll miss the birthin' " and without batting an eye she replied, "I'll be right there!" click. 10 minutes later she was at our house and ready to help! We LOVE Ms. K!

Chocolate was taking her time and I was starting to worry that there was one HUGE kid in her and she was going to have trouble. Around 9:30pm she really started pushing and 2 tiny hooves showed up.

I don't know how much experience any of you have witnessing or helping with birthing animals. I've seen dogs and cats have litters and have watched horses on video/t.v. - all of them are pretty stoic and except for a some groans and soft grunts, they don't make much noise.

Goats are different.

Goats will SCREAM bloody murder at the top of their little goat lungs - I'm talking SCREAMS.

About the time the hooves showed up, Chocolate began screaming. I forgot how loud they can be, and inside the quonset hut - well talk about your acoustic chamber. I was beginning to worry something was wrong (I am a chronic worrier) but at this point there is no backing down.

Look closely at this pix - Chocolate is screaming to the left of Furry Husband and to the right of him, you can see the kid coming. In hindsight, one should not wear fleece pants - straw sticks EVERYWHERE.

That baby has to come! I grabbed the kids legs and would pull each time Chocolate would push... I knew once she got the head and shoulders out, the rest would be easy. The kid's nose arrived so I knew everything was going along normally so far. A few more blood curdling screams, some more pushing with me pulling and voila! An all black 8lb buck kid.

I thought he might be the only one but Chocolate began pushing again. Furry Husband took the new kid over to our nursery to be weighed, have his navel dipped in iodine and to finish towelling him off. I stayed with Mom for the second kid. The second one was much smaller and easier with a much quieter delivery - no screaming. A 6lb doe kid - she is so dainty and pretty!
I handed her to Furry Husband and Ms. K to take to the nursery and gave Chocolate a bucket full of warm molasses water. She gratefully drank it all down. Then I picked up the towels, shook them out, brought the birthing kit out of the pen, went inside to get the milk bucket and teat dip for Chocolate's first milking. She stood really well and gave us 3.5 lbs of colostrum. What a good Mom!

We heat treat the colostrum to 135 degrees in a water bath on the stove top, empty our thermos of hot water and put the colostrum in, wrap the thermos in a towel, put it in a cloth cooler and place it in a warm oven to hold the temperature for an hour. This kills any CAE virus that might be lurking in the milk.

CAE is harmless to humans. However, it is a crippling disease for goats that primarily affects their joints. They can carry the disease and not show signs of it and there is no cure or vaccine for CAE. We test our herd each spring for CAE, and to make sure that nothing is ever transmitted to the babies through the milk, we heat treat the colostrum, pasteurize all the milk and bottle feed the babies. Not only does this prevent CAE transmission, the babies LOVE humans and they are much easier to work with and handle throughout their lives.
Once the hour is up, we put the colostrum in bottles and head out to the nursery. The kids' nursery is in an out building that we use for storage. It has electricity, heat and is completely sealed from the weather. The kids hang in a stock tank with straw for the first week or two.

The colostrum is filled with the doe's antibodies giving the kids all her immunity until their immune systems begin to work on their own. The first bottle feedings are always really messy, the colostrum is very sticky and thick and gets everywhere. I think it's sort of like getting melted, french vanilla ice cream all over you.
Chocolate is fine - but dang her teats are SMALL! Look at your pinkie finger - that is what I'm milking with my big man hands. I hope they get bigger - at least the milk flows freely from them. The babies are strong and healthy. It was a great first kidding!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yes, we have no bananas

No goat babies yet.

We went to the Sierra Trading Outpost in Cheyenne WY yesterday. Bought some good shoes on sale with an extra 10% off cuz we spent over $100. I got these dress shoes, aren't they fun? We stopped to pick up our truck on the way home cuz it was having some work done and Centennial Auction was having a "junk sale". I think techinically it's a consignment auction, but everyone around here calls it a junk sale.

Since we spent bucks in Cheyenne and we have goats about to deliver, we did not go in to check out what they have. It's held outdoors and there are ROWS and ROWS and ROWS of junk. People also sell cars, boats, trailers, flatbeds, trucks, tractors, 4-wheelers and other moving machinery there - a lot of school buses were there this time. Furry Husband says it's cuz you can live in a bus. I remember times when we would spend the ENTIRE day at the junk sale and come home sunburnt and plum wore out. Seems like auctions of this nature (much bigger than Smelker's every Friday night in Wellington) are a huge social event. People go just to see who else is there. Lots and lots of old timey farmers and ranchers shootin' the shit everywhere you look. Dirty coveralls, those old mesh baseball hats, kerchiefs around necks, cowboy hats, dirty jeans, lots of farm dogs come with their owners too - border collies and blue heelers.... and now when we go, WE run into people we know and can shoot the shit sometimes too.
You can pick up lots of handy items at the junk sale. We bought our quonset hut goat house at the last one we went to. There are fence posts, fence panels, all sorts of livestock equipment, office furniture, kid's play houses, haying equipment - all kinds of things. Just make sure you know when to get out of the bidding. I've seen stuff sell for over the brand-new retail price because people can't stop the bidding war - you get sort of hooked and by god you are going to go home with that thing or you will die trying! I've learned to write down my absolute top price on my bid number and stop once it goes past that point. You know where they are in a row cuz the auctioneer has a microphone and a small speaker he carries with him (at Centennial anyway) and there is always a big crowd around the auctioneer where the other rows are empty 'cept for a few people browsing or sitting next to the items they are waiting for the auctioneer to get to. Auctions can be a total kick in the pants!

Had my lesson on my mare, Sera, today. She was good - we are signed up for a schooling show next weekend and I am really looking forward to it. We showed First Level Dressage in 2006 - yup that is us in the picture below - didn't do as well as I had hoped - not bad, just not as well as I wanted. I spent 2007 focused on going to clinics improving my riding.

We are now schooling pretty consistant Second Level with some Third Level work. I'll take Sera out for fun to a few schooling shows this spring. Might show a couple times at some approved shows this summer. The First Level work is so much easier for her now. I'm excited to see how she does - tho' my previous trainer, now retired, is judging so I know I'll be looked at much more critically. It will be fun to show under her and see how Sera does. My current trainer is going and most of her students are going - should be a really fun day. I hope the weather holds out!
Oh, and let's hear it for Daylight Savings! I have never been so tuned in to weather as I am now that we are in the country. I'll be able to ride after work cuz I'll have light, no more feeding in the dark, the days will get longer and longer and we will be able to spend more and more time outside! Spring is coming! Summer is coming! Happy Daylight Savings everyone!

Friday, March 7, 2008


Remember those cartoon bad guys? Skeletor?

Well we just recieved an ELASTRATOR in the mail along with some other goat related items. The elastrator is this tool that opens a very small, thick rubber band. You put the band over the kid's testicles and release, the band cuts off blood supply and the testicles and scrotum fall off in about 2 weeks. Pretty nifty eh?

The goats are shaved, bottles are ready, we have plenty of nipples for the bottles, we have our birthing kit ready and I've re-read the kidding and pregnancy chapters in my goat books. Chocolate Chaud is all loosey-goosey in her nether regions, muscles are softening and preparing to push babies through. Her udder is noticeably larger and she is ready to go any time now.

We are excited and at the same time a little nervous - you begin to remember stories people told you where things did not go well and you hope it all goes smoothly for you - well, more importantly for your does and kids!

It's been a hard week so I'm looking forward to the fun of baby goats.
Someone asked me about the "About Me" blurb I wrote for my blog. "You love your life for the most part? What part don't you love?" That'd have to be my Dad - he is very ill and has pretty high levels of dementia with a progressive disease called Parkinsons. Anyway, it's been a tough week with some things going on there. He needs to be moved to a full nursing facility and we will probably move him closer to CO. Any move for a dementia patient is hard - consistancy keeps them more "in our world". An upheaval in place, people, routine - well, it ain't gonna be pretty. Think I'm making headway finding a place but there isn't much of my normally freakish optimism to be found on that topic.

It is a good thing Furry Husband sells wine and can keep me well liquored on the particularly rough days. Who says self medication is wrong?
Now if you'll excushe me *hic* I think *urp* there ish a full bottle 'round here somewhere.....

Monday, March 3, 2008

Let me tell ya 'bout the birds and the bees...

We have does close to kidding!

We know there is NO absolute with goats. Everyone does things their own way and it doesn't mean it's right or wrong - just different. Our goat breeding program begins in October. I always say I'll wait to breed them until November or December so the babies are born a bit later and there is less chance of a wintery Spring storm.

Only, when they begin to go into heat in October, I panic and think, "If I don't breed them now, I'll miss their next cycle or, or maybe they won't cycle again! It's now or never!" And breeding commences.

Usually, when the does go into heat they will flick their tails back and forth. They will also wag their tails in a similar way when they are happy to see us, you give them a treat, you feed them, when they are annoyed, a fly is bothering them. Finding the particular wag meaning "I'm ready for a man" takes a little practice.

Since we have a buck now, the does will stand next to his pen and drive him crazy! He usually alerts us that one of the girls is ready for a visit - he snorts and makes noises like a rapid fire machine gun, his tongue sticks out and he flaps it like someone giving you a raspberry. It is really quite a display for the ladies.
No cheesy pick-up lines - it's all about display, display display.
That, and they piss all over themselves... to a doe, that smell is like the finest cologne...sort of like Polo was to me back in the 80's....

I've known people with does that had five in one kidding, rare, but it can happen. How do they keep all their legs straight?? That comes to 20 legs in one uterus! First timers sometimes have one kid. Typically goats have twins or triplets.

We have FOUR pregnant does, we could have 12 kids... makes both Furry Husband and I a bit uneasy. We've only had two does at a time pregnant, now we have FOUR. That's double - just do the math!

Chocolat will have kids for the first time and she's the first due on or around March 10. Sonata comes next on March 14, Spot on March 20 and little Savannah on April 7.

I was going to "crotch" the goats this weekend but Sat I spent all day playing with horses and Sunday a storm moved in with big wind gusts so I stayed in. Crotching is shaving the doe's udder and the back of her legs and tail about a week before their due date so when the "blessed event" occurs, you don't get a bunch of placenta, blood, afterbirth etc. in the hair. Last year I was lazy. I thought, awww, c'mon, how messy could it be if you leave the hair?

It was a freakin mess. For a long time.