Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Welcome Donald!

Moon kidded on Friday, July 10th, on day 145.  It started out as a normal kidding, and then stalled out completely.  She stopped contracting and pushing, and just lay down for a rest.  It seemed she was saying, "Please just make this go away."  I went in for a feel, which made her contract, but there were a number of parts that didn't match all jumbled up, and I couldn't seem to sort it.  A dear friend went in with the same results.  So, it was off to the vet, another dear friend and my boss as well (we'll call her K), for some help.  Here's Moon with her new little buckling just after his birth.

  Donald (named after K's 98 year old father, who passed away the next day) was the first baby pulled, followed by a stillborn doeling.  The doeling was all broken and twisted inside the doe.  So strange.  I imagine she got hit by another doe some days before the birth.  Because it was so tangled up, it's back end as well as it's front were presenting at the same time.  Hence the confusion with all the body parts.
It's sad to have lost one, but I'm thankful Moon seems to be doing so well, and little Donald is such a friendly, quirky little guy.  We're enjoying him a lot.  Here are a few more pics from K's yard after Moon was all finished up.  She went straight for the raspberry bushes. :) Smart girl.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

From the Chicken Coop...

I've been trying to get a minute to talk about my chickens, and what I'm trying to accomplish with them.  I have a very mixed flock of 28 chickens.  There are 3 roosters, two bantam breeds and one a bantam crossed with a full sized hen.  The hen was either a black star or a Columbian Wyandotte.  Of the 25 hens, 3 are Dominique's, 3 Golden Penciled Hamburg's, 1 Columbian Wyandotte, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Black Star, and 16 various bantams.
It seems an odd mix, and one that is not entirely efficient at any job.  True, that.  However, they are a part of a long term goal of generating a flock that is self perpetuating without incubating eggs or buying new laying hens.  I'm essentially trying to go back in time to a day when hens sat eggs and perpetuated their kind without a lot of fuss and bother, but also have a flock of laying hens that will lay reasonably well without constant broodiness.
Right now, I have all the broodiness I can handle with these bantam hens of mine.  The original 7 bantam hens were hatched by broody hens themselves.  In turn, most if not all of them hatched eggs last summer.  Currently I have 4 broody hens, some of them hatched last year, sitting on full size hens eggs in my nest boxes.  The full sized hens eggs were fertilized by either a bantam or bantam cross rooster.
What I'm hoping for now is to get some hens that are full size/bantam crosses  that might have a bit more egg laying desire with a bit less broody behavior, and a larger egg size.

Here's the current flock:

Pretty rainbow, are they not?

When a hen goes broody and starts setting in a nest box, I move her to a small cage with a nest box, food and water that is partially covered with a sheet.  I do it at dusk, when she's drowsy and likely to stay where we put her without getting too shook up about it, as quickly as I can and put her right back down on her warm eggs.  Tonight, I will move four hens in this way.

Waiting cages, needing food and water containers added:

We used this process around 7 or 8 times last summer.  It worked perfectly every time.  These bantam hens are broody to a fault.  I'm pretty sure that some of them would die of malnourishment if they weren't allowed to set eggs and hatch a brood.  They will literally sit on nothing if you take the eggs away, and never move from their post.  Sometimes I have to make them get off of their eggs to eat, drink and of course poop. :)  I don't actually remove the hen from the nest.  I just uncover the cage and a lot of times that makes her decide to get off of her nest to eat.  I can tell if they've gotten off to eat by seeing if there's any fresh poop.  A broody hen poops one very large, stinky pile of poo each day when she gets off her nest for a quick drink and bite to eat.

Here are a few of the broody gals:

I leave them in the cage, removing the nest box after all have hatched, until they're a couple of weeks old.  If there are eggs left after 24 to 48 hours and the hen is still sitting, I remove them with the nest box.  I do make sure there's no live chick inside before getting rid of them.  So far, there never have been.

Here's the result of around a 21 day wait.  These are from last summer:

I love letting the hens hatch the eggs and care for the chicks.  They do it so well, of course! :)  No pasty butts to worry about.  No heat lamps needed.  The chicks are hardy and happy, and so much fun to watch as mom teaches them to eat and drink, scratch up seeds and insects, and perch on a perch.  They're so young when they manage to fly up with mom.   It's really the sweetest, most natural thing.
After a few weeks the chicks and their mom go into the coop with the other chickens:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fun With the Does

Here are some pics of the girls on the last day of February.  Ginger was bred on March 1 to Shamrock, so now we have two does due in July (hopefully).  We'll breed the other two girls in the fall, so now they're on opposite schedules and we should have milk for more of the year.  I hope it works out that way, anyway.

Starlight enjoys some "greens"


Moon shows off her balancing act






the girls

Sunday, February 22, 2015

NFF Blue Moon X NFF Mr. Tumnus for July kids!

Moon and Mr. T will be first time parents around July 10 to 15.  Here are a few pics of the lovely Mini-Nubian parents to be.  Click on photos for larger images.

Mr. Tumnus, about a month

Mr. Tumnus, about a month

Moon at 9 mo.

Moon about 2 mo.

Moon about 6 weeks

Mr. Tumnus, day 1

Moon and the girls, 4 mo.
Mr. Tumnus, 8 mo.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Update Part 2

The short of it is, I've reduced my herd, or two herds, really, down so far that I'm very low on breeding possibilities.  I retained only two ND does and one ND buck, and two mini-Nubian does and one mini-Nubian buck.
When I decided to sell both of my Nubian does, I hadn't researched the process of creating a line of mini-Nubians to the fullest yet.  I'm still getting a handle on that process, and realizing that it would take a lot of time and a lot of good goats to develop my own line from scratch.  Yes, I can breed my does and buck for 50/50, second generation mini-Nubians.  Yes, they will be some really nice, mini sized goats, and they should be rather milky with nice udders and teats.  But they won't have any more breed character than my current mini-Nubians.  I need more Nubian in the line first.
I'm also not ready to leave the Nigerians behind.  I love the little darlings who give so much in terms of loving personality, rich and creamy milk, and even some meat for our table.  All on so little space and so little food!  I can't fault them for much, unless it is their short stature and smaller teat size.  It is hard to get a pail under them.
Right now I have a loose plan for moving ahead.  I would like to keep the Nigerians that I have until they grow old and pass away; at least the does.  I will be breeding the mini-Nubians I have now for milking, and selling the doelings they produce.  I expect them to be quality, and worth investing in. They just won't have the roman nose and floppy ears of the Nubian.  At most I suppose they'll have airplane ears and straight noses, like their mothers and father.  I hope in a while to get a 5th or 6th generation mini-Nubian buck who has great breed character, and breed him to my current does, and perhaps a daughter or two.  It will be years down the road when I can say I am producing doelings with the character I'm hoping for.
This has all been a huge learning experience, and I'm not sure that with the relatively small resources I have as far as land and $, that I've made a "wise" decision as far as breeding mini-Nubians.
However, I think I have made a wise decision about the goats I've kept for my homestead.  These first generation mini-Nubians of mine are feeling like a perfect fit here.  They're just what we need.  Great size, great personality, don't seem to eat any more than the ND's so far.  I'm really pretty sure their udder and teat size is going to be really nice for hand milking, and they are tall enough to get a bucket under with ease.  I'm really looking forward to freshening them, and I don't think I'm going to be disappointed.
All that said, I still don't know exactly where I'm headed in the future, but I like where I am right now.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Update, 2015

I'm finally posting an update, and it is long over due.  For that I apologize.  I really love it when I can go to a website, blog or Facebook business page and see up to date activity.
The main reason for my long absence is that in order to share what's been going with our little farm, and the decisions we've made in the past 6 months, I have to think about and share some hard things.  It has been hard to find the time of energy to do that, but I feel up to the task today. :)

In early August, my sister in law was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  It had spread to much of her organs and lymph system.  Soon after that, for a variety of reasons, she and my brother's three children came to live with us for an unknown period of time.  We were suddenly very busy with the farm, milking, homeschooling our own four children, and loving three more sweet ones.  We suddenly had children aged 16, 14, 11, and 9, with an added 4 year old and set of nine month old twins.  All the changes and the added emotional challenges for everyone involved ...well, you can imagine.  After about three weeks, I dried off my does early.  At the end of October we had decreased our herd to 6 goats total.  We now have the four does below and two bucks.
The great news is that my SIL is doing WONDERFULLY!  She has been able to have the children at home with her since mid December, and she seems to be holding up fine and is very glad to have her family all together.  She had two chemo treatments, after which the docs didn't hold out much hope for her.  She decided to fore go the conventional treatment options and try lots of prayer, a product called Protocel, as well as some very careful diet choices and exercise  It seems to be working, as she continues to feel and look better and better all the time.  You can learn more about Protocel with an online search or in the book, Outsmart Your Cancer by Tanya Harter Pierce, should you be interested.
Because of the many unknowns in the future, we have decided to hold off breeding any of our goats this winter, and see how thing play out.  We may breed one or two does this spring if all seems stable, if any of them go into spring heats for us.
Also putting me at a bit of a stand-still are the breeding choices I've left myself with because of who I chose to keep and who I let go when cutting my herd back.  I'll try to post a bit about that in the near future.
Suffice it to say, I am missing two human babies and a sweet little girl who have gone back to their own wonderful parents, as well as missing the excitement of having a new crop of spring kids to look forward to, and all that delicious fresh goat milk.  How forlorn it occasionally feels!  I'm off to hug my own human children, and see if I can talk the younger ones into a snuggle and some read aloud time.  Heaven knows I'll have to wrestle the oldest two just to get that hug, let alone snuggling up for a story!

Starlight, Ginger, April and Moon