So here is the farm update for April 2016: No goat babies yet but all the female goats on the place are pregnant. I don't normally have such late kids (they aren't due until mid-May) but my buck that I had procured to be the herd sire for the year was unfortunately shooting mostly blanks. I thought I was so smart to get a buckling in the early summer to use for breeding. I traded one of last year's doe kids for him. I drove 6 hours to get him. I brought him home and raised him for 4 months. Then when all my girls came into heat, I put each one in with him. He acted like a buck, he looked like a buck, he SMELLED like a buck, but he didn't get the girls pregnant like a buck! All my girls came back into heat repeatedly, regardless of his enthusiastic attention. By the second missed heat, I went into panic mode and put him on Craigslist as a freebie dumper goat. I called my good friend who always has a pile of high quality bucks and begged to borrow one for a few weeks. Luckily someone from Craigslist took pity on my buck and wanted him. There was one frenzied Saturday in December where I threw my bogus buck in my VW station wagon and drove him one hour to his new home and then continued 15 more minutes further down the road to pick up my friend's buck and bring him back to my house. Luckily both bucks didn't pee or poop in the car, but both of them did spend a considerable amount of time rubbing their stinking faces into the roof of my car (which was the only part of the car that wasn't encased in protective plastic!). Suffice to say, my car reeked like male goat for a while. Sigh...
Lucy is pregnant this year. I wasn't going to bother breeding her anymore but by the time I got my buck situation figured out, I decided that since it was such a hassle to get a FERTILE buck this year that I will just breed every stinking doe on the place. I really need her kids and milk like a hole in the head this year, but it's always such a joy to see what kind of kids she'll have. I sold her daughter, Fiona last year because she didn't produce like I had hoped. I am still wishing to get one good doe kid out of Lucy to continue her line on the farm. Lucy is such a calm and docile goat that I would really love to support more of her genetics in the rest of the herd. Even is she has bucks this year, I could always cross them to the other does and maybe get a good combo doeling out of next year's kids. I am going to try "renting" out Lucy this year. Since I really don't need the extra milk and since she is CAE positive, I am going to let another farm borrow her for their milk supply. They have two goats but those goats are young and not bred this year. They really want fresh milk and want to try out the whole milking gig before breeding their girls. Lucy will spend the summer with them. Her CAE issue shouldn't be a problem since I will retain her kids and bottle feed them with Daisy or Alice's milk, and since the other farm's goats are not drinking milk or producing milk too. Casual transference of CAE is difficult so there's not much risk to the other goats. The other farm can return Lucy whenever they want to. It's a trial-run deal, so we'll figure it out as we go.
The chickens are good. I have two roosters right now (This is the first sign of psychosis, I swear!). One rooster is a large, beautiful Buff Brahma. My friend at work brought him all the way from her parents' house in Massachusetts for me. I love having a nice big rooster to watch over my hens. The other rooster is a Buff Polish rooster that a different friend from work gave me. She gave me a trio of Polish chicks last summer and one of them was a rooster. I am always skeptical about Polish roosters because 90% turn out to be assholes. Luckily, this guy has passed the 1 year old mark without becoming an asshole. I kept him to see if I could get some fertile Polish eggs out of him. I have 5 Polish hens and 4 of them are still laying eggs (the non-layer is about 8 years old and probably hasn't laid an egg in 4 of those years but she's pretty, so she gets to stay). Polish hens are my favorite. As a kid, I always had a Polish hen for a pet. Their outlandish top-knots give them tunnel vision so even the most clumsy 7 year-old kid (me) can sneak up on them to catch them. I used to love carrying my hens around and playing with them. Unfortunately good Polish chicks can be hard to find, so I decided to set up a breeding pen of my chickens a few weeks ago to see if I can hatch any of the eggs. I have 11 Polish eggs in an incubator at a local elementary school right now. In a few days, they will be candled and I'll see if any of them started. Here's hoping!
K.C. the barn cat turns 9 years old this year. He got kicked out of the garage, permanently, this winter. I originally let him stay in the garage only during the winter a few years ago. The first year he only stayed in when it was very cold out. The second year he barely left the garage at all, even during the summer! This past year he was garage-bound and actually starting to go a little nuts from the self-imposed confinement. I couldn't go in the garage without him getting underfoot and screaming at me to feed him. He would climb up your legs to get attention and jump on you whenever you bent over to do work. My husband finally got frustrated enough (I was surprised he lasted as long as he did) that he made a NO CATS ALLOWED rule in the garage. We kicked the cat out and put his food and litter box back in the barn. The first few weeks were rough but now he is content to snuggle with the goats and stay at the barn. He's even lost a little weight from his more active lifestyle. The vet was not impressed with his fatness due to slothful garage living when I took him for a check-up a few months ago. Now she should be happy because he's starting to look svelt again.
The dogs are still alive and kicking! Bill is 11 years old and Jill is 14! Jill can't see or hear very well anymore. She has some arthritis in her back legs but can still get around okay. She's not incontinent but we do have to be sure to take her outside when she goes to the door because she can't hold it anymore. Billy is pretty healthy. He's got some fatty tumors but the vet didn't seem too worried. For an 11 year old dog, he's in good shape. He could stand to loose a little weight, but then again, can't we all??
That's it for the farm update!