Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Adrenalin Rush!

Along with goat-baby season comes adrenalin season. What I mean is I never have a dull moment on the farm.

Yesterday I decided I needed to disbud (burn the horn buds off) my baby goats. I had four that needed it done. This is my first year doing the disbudding by myself. Earlier in the year, Sadie needed it done. I had Tom help me this first time. I was very nervous and Tom didn't like the whole process. Being nervous, I did a poor job the first time and had to do it again. I contracted my friend, Heather, to do it with me the next time. She wasn't very impressed by the whole deal, either. Even doing it twice didn't make it any better, Sadie will have some short horns when she grows up. Since both my helpers would probably never be persuaded to help me again, I had to get creative. Thank god I am so darn bull-headed!

With Sadie I had put her in a box to hold her down. The box wasn't originally designed to be for disbudding. It was a rabbit nest box. It didn't work so well. This time I decided to forget the box and hold the babies down manually. I put them between my legs while I kneeled down and held them. It worked great!! I was able to do all four babies without a problem. Needless to say, it was quite an adrenalin rush to hold the babies down and disbud them.

This morning I had a few more adrenalin rushes. I wanted to milk Pepper when I did chores this morning. She wasn't used to the milkstand and I hadn't had to milk her in the mornings before. She has started making lots of milk and inspite of her babies best efforts, she has milk to spare. I had been having trouble getting her on the stand the past few nights. I bring her to it and she refuses to jump up. I give her food and ask her nicely, but nothing works. I get a little more forceful and pushy. She still won't go for it. I then grab her and shove her up there. By the end I am sweating and Pepper is shaking. It was quite a rush to wrestle a goat at 6am.

After I finished milking Pepper and put her back in her stall, I took the two yearlings (Matilday and Lucy) out to the pasture. I held onto Matilda's collar the whole way because I knew she would run away from me if I didn't. Lucy would follow Matilda out. When I got to the gate I had to let go of Matilda to undo the latch. I had Matilda between me and the fence and assumed that she wouldn't run off in the two seconds it took me to unlatch the gate. Well, I was wrong. She turned and darted out to the yard. Lucy was right behind her. I chased Lucy down and caught her by the collar. I put her in the pasture. Then I went to get Matilda. She wouldn't let me get near her. I tried to keep her going toward the barn and not out into the woods or the neighbor's lawn. She eluded me a few times and wouldn't go all the way into the barn without Lucy. I knew if I could get her into the barn she wouldn't be able to run. No luck. Matilda stopped in the driveway to the barn. I was five feet from her. In my best rodeo-star impersonation I lept into the air and came down on top of Matilda. I hooked her collar with my right hand and grabbed her around the middle with my left. I was amazed she stood still for the two seconds I was in air above her. Usually they run off at that moment and leave you to land in the dirt. I was happy to have her back and put her into the pasture. This time I didn't let go of her to undo the latch.

It was a busy evening and morning, but it's all part of being a goat herder.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why does everything have to die or turn to $#%$!!

It never fails - just about the moment I think one thing is going to happen, the exact opposite does. Last night my best nanny goat, Gloria, was running a fever and acting very listless. I wormed her and tried to get her to eat. She wouldn't do much except lie around. I went to bed very discouraged, assuming she would be dead in the morning. I have trouble believing the goats will be fine, despite my best efforts.

I went out to do chores in the morning with a cloud over my head. I poked my nose inside the barn and heard Gloria cry to me. She was alive and doing better. She was eating a little and slightly more perky. Her fever had broke. I was relieved. I finished the goat chores and went to check on the chickens. Out in the chicken pasture laid one of my Auracana hens, flat on her back. She had died in the night. I looked her body over and couldn't find a reason for her passing.

It always seems like if it isn't one thing, it's the other!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring time on the farm

Hello everyone!
Well, spring has sprung in the Adirondacks. With 60 degree days and plenty of sun, the snow is melting and the birds are singing. Spring brings with it the start of the goating season. What is the "goating season" you ask? It is when the goats begin to have babies and a whole mess of new babies show up on the farm. So far this season three goats have kidded (that's what a goat having babies is called), giving me five new babies. I have three Nubian babies and two Alpine babies so far. There is one more Alpine to give birth. Maybe this weekend. She will probably have twins. She had twins last year.

It is more common for a goat to have twins than just one baby or triplets. Usually their first kidding is one baby. Pepper had her first kidding this year and had two babies. I was totally surprised! She didn't look big enough to have two and it was her first time. Both babies are doing very well and once she figured out they were hers, she started to take care of them and won't let them leave her sight.

I was present for the birth and helped the mom out. Pepper is a small Nubian who is about two years old. I bred her to my friend's nice Nubian buck. I knew she was getting close to giving birth on Tuesday morning. I can tell by feeling the ligaments at the base of their tail. The ligaments start to relax about 48 hours before deliver. This means the birth canal is widening and the baby is getting in position. The ligaments completely disappear from touch about 6 hours before. Pepper's had disappeared when I did chores in the morning. I stayed home from work and watched and waited. She stared off into space and stretched her back every now and then. Eventually she laid down and started pushing. After some strong pushes a hoof stuck out. It came out a little more and then I saw a tongue! That was a good sign. I could tell the baby's head was coming out in the right position. At that point the progress stopped. I could see the baby was much bigger than the opening it was trying to come out of. I grabbed the leg and pulled with all my might as the mom pushed. Finally the baby's head and shoulders came out. I started to clean it off with a towel and realized that Pepper was beginning to push again. I grabbed another towel and the second baby came out easily. I cleaned both babies off and made sure Pepper was okay. She was not moving and breathing hard. I shook her neck gently and she looked at me as if to tell me she was okay but needed a minute to recover. I didn't blame her! At first she didn't want the babies. After a while she started to lick them and now she loves them.

All the other goats and babies are doing well. Two boys were born two weeks ago and they are growing fast. They are as big as the baby born two months ago.