Okay, it has all been a big hoax to get extra rations this winter and apparently they are all in on it. Not one of the does that could have been due as early as January 12, and whose sides have dropped, udders have filled, and tail ligaments have softened has seen fit to lay down and get on with business and kid out. Ironically, one of the bottom area does, most of which are due mid-March at the earliest (she was hand bred and is due February 2), looks like she is almost ready to introduce into the world her second set of offspring. Piper is full sister to Ace, so when she came in standing heat and Boomer was not yet moved down to the bottom area, we figured why waste the opportunity and brought her to him. Looking back at weather data, it is true that the temperatures in early August averaged just under the century mark, and the humidities were 80%. I wonder how much more early success we would have had if we had had the goats in the woods like we did at the old farm, where they would have had at least some shade and cool.
Now, all we can do is watch and wait, and wait and watch, although to be honest we've waited so long we've almost quit watching. Almost. Maybe tomorrow we will have kids. The temperature over the next few days is supposed to be in the high sixties, so it isn't necessarily a bad thing that the does are all waiting, but it does make me worry about when the cold hits, because it will certainly hit. One thing about North Carolina - you can have 70 degrees one day in the winter and the next it can be 30 (or lower) and sleeting and coat the trees and powerlines in a perfect crystal crust of ice. It is beautiful as the sun hits it, and just as treacherous on the roads. Although this is the first winter in about 15 years that I don't have to worry about being required to drive to work in the ice, I still could do without it and be just as happy.
As much as I would like to have spring fever, and I am ready for the grass to green, I know we still have two possibly miserable months ahead of us. We have had a taste ofthe cold weather, so it hasn't all been sunshine and t-shirts. I found that the ginormous overalls we bought when I was pregnant work out pretty well as a baby carrier. Just stick one of her legs in each of my pant legs, pull the flap up and fasten, then button my big 'ol coat over us and Virginia and I are loaded for bear.
While the weather is good, though, we have tried to stuff in some of the things that require warmth. We bought a shed kit on clearance and I decided on the color to paint it from a bit of an odd direction. I decided to work with the farm, rather than against it, and I bought a color as close as I could find to the color of the mud that covers the farm and tints every creature that spends any time there. I know everything we have gets mud splattered up on it, so why not just try to blend. This is going to be the chicken coop. The kids helped paint, so they still have globs of mud colored paint in parts of their hair that just won't come out. I figure it will wear out sooner or later. Maybe this speaks well of the staying power of the paint. It even held up through the kids on rock duty this weekend. It amazes me how much fun they can have picking up rocks out of the field and tossing them in the back of the old gator.
My "hint" this time is something I think most of us already know, but considering Chuck's conversation with the lespedeza man, I thought I would address. Chuck has to drive almost to Salisbury to get sericea lespedeza hay in a relatively "pure" form, and of course the guy carries other hays (he has a lovely alfalfa). Over the past year or two, we have talked to him about how lespedeza is utililized by goat producers in the area, and he says that by and large, he has very little call for it from goat folks. Many calls from goat owners begin with "I have goats, what cheap hay do you have?" as if somehow the fact it is unsuitable for any other livestock automatically means it is "goat hay." If you feed junk, you can't expect to get much nutritive value out of it. I know goats will likely never have the market status of the almighty cow, but if they could truly live on tin cans, there would be one in every back yard. We know they are browsers, not grazers (another reason I want to get the woods fenced).
Overcash Hay Farms down in Salisbury has two types of sericea lespedeza - a stemmier type in large bales which we believe to be the higher tannin variety, and AU Grazer in small bales, which has lower tannins but higher TDN as a general variety. We like both. I am using the AU Grazer now because the goats need the nutrition value since they are bred (unless they really are faking, which would not surprise me in the least), and the small bales are infinitely easier to maneuver. The stemmy sericea is interesting, though, because it makes such a rich black compost. I don't know what about it does it, but if there is a shed where some piles up, the pee and poo that mix with it before we slide the shed to fresh ground make this beautiful black loamy soil and it starts growing new plant growth really fast. If you are at all interested in lespedeza for the natural anti-parasitic qualities, call Overcash. Google Overcash Hay in Salisbury and you'll find him. Tell him we sent you, because the last time Chuck talked to him, he seemed really down about how underutilized the lespedeza is.