Monday, October 5, 2009

Cat Sketch

Last night I was "home alone," so to speak, so I picked up my sketch pad for the first time in a really long time. My cat was drowsing on the back of the couch, so I took the opportunity to draw her. Not perfect--she kept moving her head--but I think I got her eyes right.

Friday, October 2, 2009

First Eggs!

In May, we got some new baby chicks. Yesterday, we had one 2.4 oz brown egg, from one of the Turkens, and a lovely little green egg, from one of the Araucanas. The Turken laid it on the floor (not surprising, since 2.4 oz is really big for a first egg--it probably caught her by surprise), but the green egg was in the nest box. This morning, all three eggs were in the nest box--two more greens and a pinkish brown that could be Araucana or could be Turken.

Here's a pic:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Baby Chicks

Yesterday, we had 28 baby chicks arrive, mostly Araucanas, but also some Turkens, Black Minorcas, and a "mystery chick" that I'm pretty sure is a Dark Brahma.--probably a rooster. We made it through the first night without any losses, and I haven't seen any sign of pasty butt. I think that no losses is due to not just dipping their beaks into water and food, but watching them and making sure any that just stood around looking sleepy really did start drinking and eating. I think possibly the lack of pasty butts is due to already starting to feed them greens--broccoli sprouts and spinach.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Weaning Maria

I had about 2 weeks of going out and milking 4 times a day for 6 oz. of milk a day if I was lucky. So I decided it was time to wean Maria. But how? With three goats, it's impossible to separate mother from baby without having a screming goat somewhere.

So I decided I would have to find a way to control when Maria nursed. The most obvious and convenient way I could think of was to tape the ends of her teats so that Maria couldn't get at the milk. I had some "Coach" sports tape from when one of the dogs had a wound that needed to have gauze pads taped over it. This tape is very soft and breatheable and tends not to stick to hair or skin as badly as other tapes. So, what the heck I said. And that's where my experiment with taping teats as a kid weaning technique began.

I started out on a schedule of milking at 7 am and 4 pm and taping the teats at 12:30 pm and 9:30 pm. This gave Maria the hours of 7 am to 12:30 and 4 pm to 9:30 to nurse, or a total of 11 hours. To start out with, this gave me about 12 oz. of milk a day. I'm gradually moving the times together, so that Darcy spends more and more time taped, and Maria is slowly getting less and less milk. Right now, I milk at 7:45 and 5:30, and I try to tape at 11:45 and 9, though that doesn't always work out. I got 3 1/2 cups of milk today--almost a quart.

This doesn't sound like much, but I'm very happy with this production considering Darcy almost died after the babies were born. Also, she does have more milk. It's just Maria is drinking it. If we get too much more than a quart a day, we'll have to start making cheese and yogurt. Shame :-).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First milk

With Darcy's having triplets and then getting sick, she hasn't had any extra milk. Now that she's down to one kid and recovering, we've been "attempting" to milk her for several days. Up until yesterday, the pickings were so slim that we fed the dribble or two to the dogs. But yesterday, we finally got enough to make it worth while to filter it. I had that nearly 4 oz. of fresh, unpasteurized goat's milk on my oatmeal. Totally delicious!

Friday, December 26, 2008

New pasture opened

Darcy has been really ill the past couple of weeks, so I've been pretty tied up with that, but I wanted to post about the new pasture we've opened up. Our tenant Shon is pretty good with fencing, so we've hired him to fix our existing fence and fence in some of the woods behind the pasture. Last week, we officially opened the gate to the new pasture area.

This wouldn't be pasture for a lot of species, since it is packed full of ligustrum and wild blackberries, but these are favorite foods of goats, so they're just pleased as punch. One advantage of having woody browse available for goats is that woody shrubs are full of tannins, which act as natural wormers.
I'm just tickled pink, because the rye grass finally came up and the goats have all the browse they can eat in the new part of the pasture. The fence line has also been straightened out, which results in probably 1/4 more area in the old part of the pasture. Steve and I basically just drove in a bunch of "T" posts the first time and sort of hung the fence off of it...not the best fencing job known to man.

On another note, I've managed to sell Symbol's babies already (they leave next week), but I haven't even advertised Darcy's babies yet. Because she had so much trouble with her health, I was afraid they wouldn't grow as well as Symbol's babies. I supplemented them with cows' milk and gave them preventive coccidistat, and I think they're likely to be weaned before Symbol's--should have advertised them first!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Banding Thoughts

Sunday, my friend Janet Cooper came over and showed me how to band the 4 male kids that were born 4 weeks ago. I've always dreaded doing this. I've had dogs and been a member of the dog community since I was 14 or so. From time to time, you hear rumors of people who dock tails or crop ears on puppies by using a rubber band, and this is portrayed as a completely inhumane and irresponsible practice, with horror stories of infection and gangrene.

But with livestock, this is looked at another way entirely. With dairy goats, male kids are sort of an unfortunate side effect of the biological processes needed to stimulate milk production. With meat kids, an intact male that lives any length of time will be too gamey for any but the most hardened taste buds. At the same time, there is no way that farmers could charge enough for these kids to make it financially viable to have them put under by a vet and castrated in the way we do with dogs.

So I was resolved to the necessity, but I was dreading the effects. And indeed the first 24 hours or so were pretty sad. It was clear the babies were uncomfortable--they walked stiff legged and spent a lot of time lying down or getting up and lying down and getting up. And they didn't do their normal climbing and jumping.

But 48 hours later, it's clear that they're pretty much back to their normal spirits and activity level. So it wasn't as bad as I thought.