Saturday, April 10, 2010

it's like they watch the weather channel

What is it with pregnant goats and weather? As we have mentioned, "34" (GHK Y11) was theoretically due to kid Monday. She is a first timer, and I had read first timers are more likely to go early than the veterans are. We have had all sorts of warm weather here in the Piedmont, but a front moved in a few days ago (I called my husband to warn him of the tornado watch as he was out picking up dinner, and he replied "oh yeah, there it goes up the road" as he watched the clouds forming a V and spinning off up Hwy 311) and the weather predicition was for ONE night with near freezing temperatures. One. Out of a month of good weather. So when did "34" kid out? Last night, on the one freezing night. In her defense, Chuck was running really late, so when he arrived at the farm about 10pm last night, she already had the kids, cleaned them up, and they seemed to have had a drink already. He ticked her right off by squeezing a teat to make sure it was indeed running milk, and her udder was somewhat deflated and the milk flowing easy, so he was pretty sure at least one of the kids had nursed.

She had them off from the main goat "hangout" which on a normal night would have been okay, but there was no windbreak and it was going to be below freezing and windy, so Chuck brought the kids up to one of the little sheds we have out in the field. The seasoned mamas all used the sheds pretty well. Although she is not a very "tame" goat, she followed Chuck with her kids, but after that first teat squeeze, she wasn't going to let him anywhere near her. We like to witness each kid nurse and actually get a full belly with our own two eyes, so he watched and waited and sneaked around and spied and finally after the sun was up this morning, was pretty satisfied both kids were getting what they needed. We don't want to have to intervene, but we've learned a lot just from watching. And watching. And watching. We are still on the upswing of the learning curve, so we tend to be a little paranoid about things like kids getting colostrum. Here are a couple pictures of the new arrivals, a brown doe and a buck that just begs to be called "Oreo" or "Freeway" or "Belted Galloway." One of the reasons we bought this doe at the Cream of the Crop sale was the reputation of her sire, AFK Caesar, for producing good mama goats that stay productive for a long time. She showed us a lot of these good maternal traits right off the bat with these first kids, so we hope to have many more kids from her in the future.

Referring to lessons learned, earlier this season one of our original dairy does had twins, and both kids got up and nursed, and their mama seemed to be doing everything right. She cleaned them and moved them towards her udder, and they bumped and sucked. Chuck watched for a while, and noticed that even though they were nursing, one of the kids seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. Finally he decided to see for himelf what was going on and tried to squeeze the side of the udder the weaker doeling had been nursing and it was hard and cold, like it is full of scar tissue. No milk. Of course, she was trying to protect her new kids so Chuck got bit. Chuck got bit a lot. Undeterred by goat bites, Chuck milked a little colostrum from the good side of her udder into a syringe and was able to get it into the weaker doeling and after she had perked up a bit, he came on home. We helped them get the right side if we happened to be up there, but otherwise left it largely up to the kids to work it out. Every day when I went up to feed, I was sure one or both of those kids would be dead, but after a day or two, both doelings had learned that mama for all practical purposes has only one teat and the doe has raised two nice Kiko/dairy cross doelings on that one teat. It's kind of a shame she has that screwed up udder, because she actually was trying to be a good mama. Am I going to breed her again? No way. I don't think it is a heritable problem, but if we aren't there and she kids out, if the kids don't get the right teat in time, those kids will die. She needs to go be a backyard weedeater, orBBQ. I'm sure she'd rather be a weedeater. We learned from the experience, however, to make sure the nursing kid is actually getting a full belly, and not just going through the motions.

This entry would not be complete without a mention of Chuck's new "helper." For the last year and a half, Chuck has had to move round bales, 800 lb square bales of lespedeza, and turn ground to plant chicory, all without a tractor. He basically used straps, PVC pipes as rollers, and his own strength on the hay, and a garden tiller to prepare the ground for the chicory. As of yesterday, Chuck is a tractor owner. The tractor is the same vintage as me - 1968 - but hopefully it is not quite as worn out. I hope both of us have many good years left in us. As you can see, to our kids, it is the most beautiful tractor in the world.

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