Happenings Here – Spring Is In The Air – Maybe

ImageImageImageImageIt’s been so long since I’ve posted that I almost forgot how to type. Just kidding. But, it’s been crazy busy here. One would swear that spring is in the air, at least sometimes. New life is abounding, and bounding by leaps and bounds. Last month we had 6 goat kids born within a week of each other. Since it’s so cold outside, we opted to take them from their mamas and bring them inside to get a better start on life. We brought 6 in, but we lost 4 due to the extreme Midwest cold. We’ve never, ever lost a kid before, so this year was heartbreaking to say the least. Only one of our 5 does had a single birth. Two of them had triplets and two had twins. Hmmm, that equals 11 kids doesn’t it? I don’t count the single birth kid since it was born prematurely and didn’t have a chance to live. That too, created buckets of tears when I had to lay it to rest. You might ask why we had so many losses this year. We raise Kinders, a cross breed of pygmy and Nubian. They are a combination of meat and milk goats and are short, but stocky goats. Most does will show a sign of impending birth such as a relaxation in the ligaments just above the tail or tell tale signs of labor pain. Ours don’t. And too, ours have a bad habit of kidding in the middle of the night. We’ve spent several nights out there in the 2 years past, waiting, watching, praying and coaxing until the kids came into the world. Those were planned pregnancies, not at all like this year. Unfortunately, their pregnancies were not planned, so we didn’t have a clue as to when the estimated dates of delivery were. Papa Jeff got in the girl’s goat paddock after having escaped his own, did what he was bought to do, and promptly went back to his own paddock. We didn’t even realize that they were pregnant until they started to show. Bad, bad, bad Jeff.

But, I want to share the good things, not dwell on those that are sad and heartbreaking. These 6…well, all I can say is WHEW! Are they a handful!!  Ever try to bottle feed 6 kids at once? It’s a free-for-all! One of my friends suggested a lambar bucket, one of those nifty devices that looks like a pail with multiple nipples attached. I don’t have time to find or buy, or wait, for a lambar bucket to be delivered. When these kids are hungry, they’re hungry now! We went to the old standby or using baby bottles with cross cut nipples. As time goes on, we make the cross cuts larger because Larry, the black goat kid you see in the foreground, will literally invert the nipple into the bottle from suckling on it so hard. It’s easier to make a larger crosscut than to fish a nipple out of the goat milk replacer.

Larry was the oldest, born January 24. Moe, the mischievous one, the Houdini, came to play on January 25th. Curley Joe and Clara Jo made their appearance (their triplet didn’t survive) on the 26th. Then we got a bit of a break and on 2/3 we went to the barn and found a set of triplets, one had already passed away, but the 2 little brothers, Oscar and Peanut wet and cold, so they came in the house to live also. Thank goodness we have 2 extra large dog crates. We bought the crates when the does were tiny, to transport them in as we were moving from KY to MO. It works well. They do become crate trained and lead well on dog leashes. These crates now have a semi-permanent residence in my kitchen and house the 4 older kids during the night. The smaller two snuggle in a garden bathtub that has an old sleeping bag in it. Warm days, love ’em. The older ones go to the barn to visit with their moms and run and stretch those little crazy legs. The tinier ones do too, but not as long as the older 4 do. I also thank goodness that hubby has devised a way (he’s going out today to build it) to make a smaller, heated stall for the kids so they can live out there. I don’t know that Peanut and Oscar are ready to live outside just yet. Peanut, the tiny brown buckling,  isn’t eating solid food as much as he should, so I feel a keen sense of motherly protectiveness toward him.

Goats have their own unique personalities. Larry is the leech. He will come at you with his mouth in a perfect “C”, and latch onto whatever body part he can reach. It doesn’t matter if it’s the cuff of your pants, your calf or knee, or your hand if you’re unfortunate enough to be sitting down when he attacks. He latches on so hard that his front feet come off the ground at a 45 degree angle! It looks like this “/”. I honestly think his suckle is hard enough to put a hickey on someone. Moe, is the mischief maker. He’s a Houdini. he is the one you see in the middle of my lap, the black one with the white crown, snug and square in the middle of my lap trying to steal the other kid’s bottle. We’ve had to put deer netting on the parts of the goat paddock that have larger openings. I can’t even count anymore, the number of times we’ve heard bleating on the front deck, open the door and see him standing there, smiling. Yep, loose again, hi mom!  Curley Jo is absolutely gorgeous. He’s the little black faced, brown bodied buckling that you see on the far right of the picture, toward the front. He’s a pretty boy and he knows it. His lovely twin sister, the only doeling out of the pack, is the little brown baby at the front of the picture, front row, far right. She is incredibly beautiful. Her markings and slim face remind you of a miniature deer. She has black bands on her knees, white bands above that, white stripes down each side of her jawline, and the white crown. She’s not a sissy by any means. With a brother and 4 more male cousins, she is b no means a whimp. She will get in the middle of them and clamor for a nipple with the best of them. She eats faster, eats more and is growing by leaps and bounds. She’s a keeper, that’s for sure. The two youngest, Peanut, is the tiny brown one in the background, far left. I am holding Oscar, trying to feed him during a goat kid onslaught. Peanut and Oscar are in the 2nd photo. That feeding, I wound up having to stand up to feed Oscar because the others kept taking the bottle away from him.


I’ve learned new skills trying to feed these kids. We’ve usually had twins or triplets born on the farm, and always born far enough apart that we could manage them easily with one person. Now I can handle 2 bottles in each hand, stick one between my knees, and hold one kid in my lap with the bottle under my arm, thus feeding all 6 at once. That gets to be more cumbersome the older and bigger they get. My husband helps with the feedings now, and for that I am grateful. We sometimes have to just feed 2 at a time, but that gets crazy too because the other 4 know that it’s feeding time. Have you ever heard a goat have a temper tantrum? I hadn’t either, until these 6 came into the world. Feeding time is more of a feeding frenzy. We are learning to take 2 at a time, feed them and go on to 2 more. The older 4 are starting to eat solid food now, so weaning time is upon us for them. Hallelujah!!  It’s onto the play stage with these kids. Watching them run, jump, fall, head butt and do the things that all little kids do is like watching a comedy show. Hopefully I will have some videos to share with you soon.

I so love raising these wonderful creatures. They are better than dogs,  Funnier than the best of any comedy you’d ever watch on TV, Loyal, trusting companions. It’s beginning to look a lot like springtime. Isn’t it something we all need?









Getting Ready for Winter: Part IV: Your Animals and Livestock

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1. Lay in an adequate supply of feed, just in case you can’t get out due to weather conditions.
2. Make sure hay and straw are covered or are in a dry holding area.
3. Make sure all feed dishes are clean.
4. Pull out electric water thawing devices for outside animal’s water troughs. Check to make sure they’re in good working order and put them in place the day before an expected freeze. Make sure all electrical cords are out of reach of inquisitive animals.
5. Make sure all animals have plenty of dry bedding. Add a bit of rosemary to dog, cat, and other outside animal’s bedding to keep insects away. (yes, they do thrive in the winter months too!)
6. Heat lamp up in the chicken coop.
7. Have an ample supply of water stored for your animals, in the event of a power outage. Include your own water needs in your water storage plan too!
8. Winterize and cover stock trailers, utility trailers, etc.
9. Our rabbits need extra protection. Their hutches are next to the chicken’s run, but are not in an enclosed building. We make sure they have extra straw…and check it daily because they will nibble on it. The hutches are covered with tarps to prevent the cold wind from blowing through. Their nesting boxes are checked and repaired for cracks or open places where wind might blow through as well.