Saturday, December 31, 2011

Asking for it...

In posting these few photos, I know I am just asking to get stuck by a horn. After all, I didn't carry my babies particularly elegantly, either. These older girls give me a chuckle, though, and I thought I would share and bring a smile to your morning cup of coffee or late night snack. I can just imagine Bo the Anatolian saying, "man, I just mentioned she put on a little weight over the holidays and you wouldn't believe what she called me." This doe is new to us this year, so we have no idea what this tremendous expanse of girth is going to mean. I expect we will be finding out in the next month.

I really get a smile when I see this next picture. This doe is coming 9 years old, and was our first Purebred doe, purchased at the BBM herd dispersal. The Moores told Chuck she had already had several sets of triplets at that point. She gave us triplets her first year with us and raised them all with no extra bottles. Last year she raised twin does, and this year, we'll see what she gives us, but I would be very surprised if this is a single. She did intimidate a first timer last year, as she had decided she wasn't doing this mothering thing well enough and was trying to adopt the babies herself. We moved her for a day, and then she was content to wait for her own doelings to come.

Chuck learned she isn't afraid to use those horns when he checks her babies, too, but she has become more used to him, and just gives him a stern look of warning and he promises to behave. When we brought her home, Annalee had looked at her and declared we would call her "Marshmallow." It didn't seem like a very appropriate name at the time, as she wagged those impressive horns at all the other goats, who moved quickly and quietly away in deference to her. Now that we see how she looks, when pregnant, like a dollop of Marshmallow fluff dropped off a spoon, we think Annalee pegged her pretty well. She is also one of those goats that always looks like she is sporting a bit of a smile, like the Mona Lisa, if you will. I can't imagine she won't bring a smile to others when they see this latest candid of her.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Christmas to all

And to all a good night... at least, a good night to those who don't have goats fixing to kid out. To all of those who do - we wish you sleep when you can get it and easy kiddings where you can watch from a polite distance as your does do everything right and then you can move along and get a nice cup of coffee. Chuck is keeping a closer eye than normal this year since we had the huskies attack a chicken so recently. I believe in survival of the fittest, and only keeping the best for breeding stock, but loose dogs are indiscriminate destroyers and I don't particularly want them reducing the pool I have to choose from. This also will be the first kidding season our LGDs have experienced with the does, so we want to be there for their first interactions with kidding does with brand new babies. The dogs, and our Anatolian in particular, notices every "difference" and we found last year that the dogs saw goats that broke into the field with "their" goats as a threat, and would try to run them out of the field. As soon as everyone was back in their proper spot, they were happy, and they would even go field to field and be happy with the goats as long as the goats were where they were supposed to be. There is a graveyard on the property and people still put flowers out, and we have noticed that anytime the flowers on the stones change, the dogs notice and check them out. In this picture, Kitty, the doe with the broken leg who still can move pretty quick on three legs, had gotten away from Chuck and taken off down the hill to see her old buddies. Bo was most concerned about this - there was a goat out of place! Horrors! So he jumped the fence between fields and ran down to save the day (in his opinion anyway).

I hope all of you have had a wonderful holiday - Christmas, Hannukah, or whatever you celebrate. This is the time of year where we are reminded what is most important - family and friends. We focus on the joy of children, and rightly so. They are our future and all our hopes and dreams are embodied in them, and while life isn't perfect, it is so nice that at least for a moment, we can forget all our troubles and just smile along with Santa Claus...

And at the risk of being a little silly, I would add that yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ups and downs of farm life

This is the time of year special for kids both human and caprine - 'tis the season for the human kids to be doing a lot of anticipating, and for us to be anticipating new goat kids as soon as January. We may even have one doe who will grace us with kids earlier, as she had a special visit with Ace early, so she could be bred for her owner. We will be giving the rest of the does due in January their CD&T boosters within the week so they will be able to transfer passive immunity to their kids in colostrum. So many articles I have read recently show that if kids don't get adequate amounts of quality colostrum, even if they survive they may be poor doers their whole lives. This is one of those critical moments if we want to produce goats that will be good additions to a breeding herd. The does don't necessarily see it that way, though, and never appreciate our attempts to make sure all is going well for them while they are in a family way. I would love to know how they can tell so quickly who we are trying to catch. We have become opportunists. You might not be who we meant to catch, but if you are who we get, get ready to get an eyelid pulled down and your privacy invaded. As you can tell by the look on this goat's face, they just don't have much of a sense of humor about all this. I wish we had fancy goat working equipment, but we don't. Chuck was able to get a good deal on some dented gates, though, and is trying to devise himself a system. I help him with them when I can, but when a doe built like this goes to run through me, my carpal tunnel-ridden hands and bum shoulder say discretion is the better part of valor and I don't try to catch her. I'll wrangle with the yearling does, but these guys... not so much!

Today I went with Chuck to get a few round bales of hay. For more years than Chuck and I have been married, I have been going to the same man for hay. Back then I just had horses, but the quest for decent hay is the same regardless of the species. I remember when my dad, who passed many years ago, called me and told me he had seen an add for orchard grass hay in the newspaper, and Chuck and I drove waaayyyy out in Surry County (which now doesn't seem so far) to Ben Watson's farm. His hay was, and is, good horse quality hay, and as consistent as it gets. I think, in all the many years I have gotten hay from him, I may have had two bad bales. And that is out of hundreds and hundreds of square bales I have bought over the years. I'm getting some round bales for the goats this time, but I am sure I will be back to get some more square bales when the does are lactating in the coldest part of the year and there is snow on the ground. I'm not sure we could have more different political views, but Mr. Watson is a great guy. He has a store called Benny T's, and over the years I heard his dreams of opening it, and then heard years later as his dream became a reality. I remember when he told about his son's high school football team getting up hay, and now his son is a successful farmer in his own right. We only see him a few times a year (more now with the goats than with just a couple horses to feed) but it is always fun to see him. The people we have met and continue to meet enrich our lives, and around this holiday season, we recognize what gifts these friendships are.

On a sadder note, when Chuck got up to the farm this afternoon, he found a couple of huskies had killed Brownie the rooster. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I can't stand a predator. I remember when Brownie hatched and lived in the bathroom for a while, and then Annalee used to carry him around in her arms. He grew into a strapping big rooster with impressive spurs, but he was always gentle with the children. One of the guys who works the tobacco had seen it happen, and got back to the farm right about the time Chuck got there, and he said he was sad to see it because Brownie used to get up on his tractor and he would share his nabs with Brownie. Brownie had seen fights before, and was wounded over the summer but had recovered. I know how dogs can get out (and this was a day when our LGD was actually in his fence with the goats where he is supposed to be), but people, keep your dogs up best as you can, especially if they are a breed with a high drive to hunt and attack. It's bad enough to lose stock to a wild animal, but it is a doubly hard pill to swallow when someone just lets their dogs run.

RIP Brownie. You were a good'un.