Time to update everyone on what is going on at the farm. This winter has been very mild. The most snow we've received all winter came in the last two weeks. There was almost no snow on the ground and I was thinking seriously about bringing out the portable net goat fencing already. That all changed when we got 2.5 feet of snow over a couple of days. Luckily the net fencing stayed safe in the shed and I didn't put it up, only to have it smashed by all the snow.
The forecasters are promising temperatures over 50F the next few days. That will make the new snow melt fast. Hopefully that doesn't bring with it my favorite part of spring -- barn flooding! Last year, Tom helped dig out the barn floor and put some gravel down with a trench running along the wet side of the barn. So far the trench and stone have held up with the melting we have gotten already. I am a little worried because the trench is already frozen over, hopefully that won't mean flooding in the barn when the warm weather hits.
I've got three dairy goats getting ready to kid in another month or so. Gloria, my nine year-old Alpine, is humongous already and still has a full month to go. I hope to get a nice doe out of her to keep for replacement. Gloria has been pumping right along and every year I swear I will retire her from breeding, but every year when breeding season comes she looks in such great condition that I can't help myself. She produces a ton of milk and is such a sweet goat to work with that I can't imagine not breeding her again.
Cookie, the three year-old Nubian, is looking large as well. She's bred to her tri-color half-brother. He was a flashy guy with big white and gray spots on a black background. I already have one of her doe kids reserved for a buyer, so hopefully she will give me at least one doe to fill that order.
Lucy, the six year-old Alpine and daughter of Gloria, fooled me this year. She gave me a hard time during breeding season and required the romantic advances of three different bucks. Even after all that she made me wonder if she got bred at all because she is 4 months pregnant and still not showing much. Compared to Gloria and Cookie, she looks like she may only have one kid in there. I finally got tired of guessing and sent a blood sample in to get a definitive answer.
Lucy has been dependable at giving me twin bucks every time. She's done that three years in a row now. This year I am wonder if she will follow suit. Between her small size and her bad attitude, she may surprise me greatly. Usually when a doe gets very grumpy during pregnancy it means they are carrying only male kids. The testosterone from the male kids messes with the hormones of the doe and makes them very nasty and ready to fight everyone in their path. Even though Lucy has had twin bucks the last three years, she has never gotten as nasty as she is now. She wants to kill both of the younger goats and she fights everyone. I am wondering if perhaps she is finally carrying a female kid and for some reason the added estrogen has her in a fit. We shall see.
Figaro, the Angora wether, is getting ready to be sheared. His fur is quite long and he can barely see out from under his fluffy bangs. I am hoping to shear him on St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately his fur is pretty dirty and full of hay so hopefully I will be able to clean it enough to send it to get processed into yarn. I am liking having an Angora around. He's just a pet and doesn't have much purpose for me but he is lots of fun to play with and has a very calm attitude.
Blue, the yearling Nubian doe, is doing well. She's developed a bad habit of jumping up on me when I am in her pen so I have to train her out of that. I considered selling her due to this habit but she's so pretty that I am going to delay that decision until later.
I am already thinking ahead until next breeding season. I am toying with the idea of getting a Boer buckling to use in the fall. I want to start butchering my extra kids so they don't wind up as unwanted pets. If I get the kids I am expecting this year, I don't plan on keeping any kids from next year's matings so some Boer cross kids might be a good idea. We'll see...
The chickens are doing well. I have 14 hens and one rooster now. I got more Polish hens last fall. They are lots of fun and so silly to look at. I am planning on trying to raise some meat chickens this summer. I have three friends that want to split the cost of raising them and help with the butchering in return for the meat. If I get 50 chicks in the spring and raise them in the cow shed, everyone will get 15 or so chickens to eat by the fall. The breed I am looking to get are called "Freedom Rangers". They're a mix of 3 different French meat birds that are supposed to be fast growing, meaty, but hardier than the Cornish X's. I want to stay away from the Cornish X's due to their lack of mobility and mess-making abilities. Hopefully the Freedom Rangers will be somewhat pasture raised since they will be in the cow shed but able to go out into the goat pasture during the day.
Everything else on the farm is going well. Emily is getting big and isn't a baby much anymore. She helps with the chores and will be ecstatic when the goat kids and chicks arrive. The hard part will be getting her to come in from the barn after chores are done!