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.

1 comment:

  1. I am not much of a bird person but it made me sad to read about Brownie. :(