March 11, 2014

It's that time of the year...

...when the longing for some cute, fuzzy little baby goats and their mother's creamy milk is very intense. I keep imagining the little animals curled up together in fresh straw, or bouncing off of bales of straw and leaping into the air. New kids also have a wonderful baby smell. I cannot stop fantasizing feeding warm milk to kids and hearing them suck it speedily down, white foam circling their mouths.

If I don't find a remedy soon I might go crazy. I have no baby goats. I have one milking goat who refused to get bred, and two almost-yearlings who were too small to breed. I'm feeding three goats, and getting 1/2 a gallon a day of milk. Hay is expensive right now, too. On the bright side, though, at least my amazing Roxy is still giving 1/2 a gallon a day! Good little girl. But  I still want some babies.

I would like get another doe. Hopefully a small one (thinking miniature) who will be able to produce well for her size. Someday we might move closer into town, in which case smaller is better. Either a milking or pregnant doe would work, but I'm leaning towards pregnant because of the babies included. Ah, the dreams I have of baby goats every night. I actually have my eye on a couple of does, and could possibly end up getting one. Only possibly. But I'll let you know haw it works out.

March 4, 2014

First Spring Rain

We're having an early Spring this year. Of course, it's not technically "Spring" yet and  won't be until March 20th. But it is raining, so I'm calling it Spring. There is something so fresh and earthy about a Spring rain, that makes one want to dance and sing, cuddle baby animals and laugh. However, woe is me, we might not be having any baby goats on the farm this season.

Although we left Roxy with a wonderful little buck for nearly two weeks in early December and she did indeed go into heat while she was there, she never seemed to get pregnant. We brought her back last weekend, but I'm afraid that she didn't get bred while there. All hope is for that she's tricking me and will suddenly drop some unexpected babies in either April or July. Since I don't think she will, I'm not drying her off. I'm going to keep milking her and try to breed her next September for late January or early February kids. Maybe she'll keep her milk production at no less than half a gallon a day for the next few months if I'm really nice to her... she can be hard-headed, like me.

'Till then, I'm planing to to find myself either a pregnant or recently freshened dairy doe. I think I'll be looking for a miniature or Nigerian one. They are so cute and easily handled. It's obvious to me that it could be hard to find a goat of that size that produces much milk, but that isn't to daunting to an optimist! (I'm not sure if am an optimist, though... hmm...) Anyway, wish me some luck!

Aw, shucks. The rain turned to snow. Don't count your chickens before they hatch! Or, in this case, don't count on Spring until it's sprung! (Yes, I know that was lame. :-P)

January 9, 2014

The Deep Litter Method

Cute but unrelated picture
This winter, I don't have to clean my barn. Not once - all winter! I can say to my friends as they clean out their barns, "Ah, I remember the days when I had to do that every week..."

The reason the I don't have to clean my barn is that I am using the deep litter method. Instead of shoveling out the barn when it gets messy, I simply cover the old bedding with a layer of new bedding, alternating between layers of wood shavings, and layers of straw. This keeps the inside of the barn clean looking and smelling. The shavings absorb moisture, keeping the barn dry, and the straw is a good insulator. If an area is too smelly or damp, I will sprinkle baking soda on it, which eliminates the problem. Another of the nice things about this method is that this bottom layers of bedding will start to compost. The heat, but fortunately not the smell, from the composting will seep up, keeping the goats warm on cold nights. This method also saves bedding. Think about it: it takes a lot less fresh bedding to simply cover old bedding then it takes to keep some goats warm on a freezing night.

What could be better? I don't have to clean the barn in below freezing temperatures, the goats are kept warm, I save money, and when I do clean out the barn in spring I'll have fresh, rich compost to start my garden on. I only wonder why I didn't do this last winter. This winter, you should consider not cleaning your barn.

January 6, 2014

A Scratching Song

Withers, neck, and then the nose,
The ears and poll, but not the toes,
They bleat and purr, they like it so,
So scratching, scratching, on I go.

It's cold outside, with frigid weather,
They're cozy warm, and soft as leather,
It's snowing hard, but so whatever,
I'd keep scratching them, on forever.

I've been too long, my mother will chide,
The goats look after me, longing eyed,
They beg me to stay, put my mother aside,
But I should leave now, and go inside,

As I go, to them I cry: I will comply!
I shall again scratch and sing, to satisfy,
Take comfort dears, you mustn't sigh,
You'll have more, I'll come back nigh!

I'll sing: Withers, neck, and then the nose,
The ears and poll, but not the toes,
They bleat and purr, they like it so,
So scratching, scratching, on I go.

January 5, 2014

Feed Bags to Shopping Bags

Hello! I thought other animal owners might be interested in seeing this great post. It tells how to recycle a chicken feed bag and make a reusable shopping bag. I haven't tried it yet, but I think that it would work great for old grain bags.

January 4, 2014

Let it Snow

It is snowing. Actually, it was snowing. But it is no longer snowing. It is cloudy and there are about four inches of snow outside. I am going to feed the animals. I wonder how they feel about the snow.

The chickens took one look out of the pop-hole and then went back to their cozy corners in the coop. The goats didn't care for the snow. Roxy didn't want to go outside at all. Phoebe and Maia ran around the goat yard once and then went right back into their warm, straw-filled barn. We closed the doors to the barn. The animals won't want to go outside today anyway. It's better if their heat stays in the barn and helps to keep it warm through the night. Everyone has extra straw.

It is snowing. Actually, it was snowing. But it is no longer snowing. It is cloudy and there are about four inches of snow outside. I went to feed the animals. They all preferred their warm shelters to the snow.

January 2, 2014

In Progress: Hay Feeder

I am making a hay rack. I don't really need it. But it will be useful for feeding free-choice grass hay. Why am I making it if I don't really need it? Because we had this old crib piece lying around. I hate seeing things going to waste, just sitting in a corner.

The bars on this thing were too close together, so I cut some of these bars out. I'm saving them - they should be useful in finishing the thing. I'm taking my time on this project, so there is no telling when it will be done. I'll let y'all know how it turns out!

January 1, 2014

Milk, Lots of Milk

Roxy is now being milked once a day, and she's giving a half gallon or more of milk every time. Not bad at all for the winter. It is interesting the way that her udder collapses when I've milked her. First it looks like a ripe berry, then like an empty glove. It actually doesn't look like she has very much milk in her in the first picture, but she did. 3/4 gallons of it, actually.

Empty - back view
Full - back view
3/4 gallons of milk - all from one milking!

$2 Mineral Feeder

Carina's mineral feeder
A few days ago I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Ever since Carina moved her goats (and her supplies) out, I've been looking for a mineral feeder to feed loose minerals in. Carina had a lovely mineral feeder with two separate compartments, one side was used for feeding free-choice baking soda, the other side for minerals. But I could not bring myself to pay $15 for one of those things.

So, why not make my own for a lot less? I could get a sturdy plastic container of some kind, make two holes in it, and attach it to the fence with metal clips. A few days later I stopped by at the Dollar Tree store and popped in to see what they had. They didn't have metal clips, and since I didn't want to go all the way to Lowe's hardware store to get some, I grabbed a pack of zip-ties instead. I also found a clear plastic container that would work.

Back at home, I made two small holes in the container and attached it with zip-ties to the (cattle-panel) partition in the goat barn. I attached it on the hay-storage side, for I had no wish for the goats to rest their front feet on it and crack it. This way, their heads can pop through the fence to eat the minerals, but they cannot use it as a playground.

The immediate results? I love the thing! The goats can get to the minerals, and it cost less then 2 bucks! But the next morning when I come into the barn, they have somehow unlatched the gate and got into the hay area. You've guessed it. They have stood up on the feeder and smashed it to bits.

I think that I will pay the $15.