Escape!

Oh, goats. They are such lovely creatures! Daisy is currently giving us more milk than we know what to do with, and she is quite the sweetie.

However, everyone knows that goats are escape artists. Ours are no exception! I’m getting rather tired of goats in my garden (twice now I’ve had to replant beans and tomatoes!) and I sure don’t feel great about them getting into the neighbouring GMO soy field.

Today we set up a portable electric fencing system so that we could move the goats around various parts of the yard. The idea was that they’d munch down the grass & weeds, and then we’d move them on to the next spot. It was a lovely idea and perfect in theory, until we attempted to put it into practice.

On this wonderful first day of Summer, in blistering heat and searing sun, Jae and I pounded a copper grounding rod 6 feet into the ground – no small feat! We set up all the fence posts, strung the wire, turned on the fully-charged solar fence energizer, and placed the goats inside their new pen.

In less than one minute, they were out. They received a big zap – we saw the sparks – paused for half a moment, and then they barreled right on through as though the wire was not even there.

Goats:1, Solar fence:0

I hollered after the goats and declared that I was sick enough of them in my garden that I’d be happy to get rid of them altogether. Lynden started crying, “Please don’t get rid of my goats, I love those guys, please let me keep them!” and Raina joined in with a high-pitched wail.

So now Jae is returning the expensive solar electric fencing system to the TSC and reinforcing the fence around the goat yard, where those stubborn beasts are supposed to be contained. And the lush, overgrown lawn? Well, I think we’ll finally give in & purchase a lawnmower, and feed the goats the clippings.

Morning Rituals

For most of my life, I was not a morning person. It was really, really hard for me to get my butt out of bed. But living on a farm means getting up each morning and getting right to it – there’s no time for easing slowly into the day! There are things that must to be done before breakfast is made, animals waiting to be fed, goats waiting to be milked, eggs needing to be collected. These days, I love mornings and the routines we start our days with. Take a peek at a morning on the farm!

Freshening

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We’ve been anxiously awaiting the birth of this year’s goat kids. This evening, we arrived home to discover the Daisy had JUST given birth – to a stillborn kid. Oh, how our hearts broke. The tiny little kid was laying there in the corner of the barn, fresh and new and looking perfect, but not a breath of life in it. My children were so very disappointed and sad.

For her part, Daisy seems just fine. She passed the placenta with no problem, and soon after resumed eating and drinking as though nothing had happened. She doesn’t show any signs of distress, which is a relief and a blessing. Daisy, being bottle-raised by our children, holds a very special place in our hearts. It was getting to be pretty dark by the time we got things settled and we needed to call it a night, so in the earliest hours of the morning she will be milked for the first time.

Dinosaur is still quite pregnant and round. Lynden is hoping that she kids twins so that he and Raina will each have a baby goat to love.  He shed quite a few tears tonight over the poor little stillborn.

Goat Stew

The other day, our billy goat (“Billy”, aptly enough) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Not wanting to let a perfectly good goat go to waste, Jae decided he’d take the opportunity to learn how to butcher a fairly large animal. Billy was hung up in the garage and Jae got to work, coming out on the other side with a good 20lbs or more of great-looking meat.

Now, everything I have read has said that an intact (not neutered, that is) billy goat will give meat that has an unpleasant “billy goat” taste to it. If you’ve ever smelled a billy goat, you know how putrid they are, and apparently this aroma carries over into the flavour of the meat. After Jae’s butchering job, I figured Billy would be fed to the dogs.

Jae had other plans. He got online and found a recipe for goat stew, then spent last evening in the kitchen. When he placed the steaming pot of stew in the centre of the dinner table, I served myself a bowl and took a big bite before I could think twice about it.

Oh, dear readers, I cannot tell you how disgusting the stew was. It had potential, to be sure, but the aroma of Billy certainly did lend flavour to the meat – a flavour I would have been happy to go my whole life without ever tasting. My stomach heaves even now, just at the thought of it.

Jae tried to be stoic and brave. He tried to choke down his stew. Alas, the taste of Billy overwhelmed him quickly, and he agreed that the rest of the meat was fit for the dogs. I spent a while taking the remaining chunks of meat out of the stew to toss to the dogs for dinner, and the rest of the pot was added to the compost pile.

I suppose when every goat source you have at your disposal warns against the nasty flavour of billy goat meat, it might be wise to take heed. Live and learn!

A Mama’s Love

I woke up early this morning to check on the new goat kids.  I was worried.  I didn’t know what to expect – would the kids be alive?  Would Alice have taken to them?  Would I be able to stay calm if I had to dispose of two tiny goat bodies?

My worry was for nothing.  When I entered the barn, I found Caprice’s twin kids (2.5 months old) curled up in Alice’s stall with the new kids.  They were a bundle of warm, furry sweetness half-buried in the straw.  Both of the new kids were breathing steadily as they slept, and Alice seemed fairly comfortable and relaxed.  I watched them sleep for a few minutes, then went about refilling Alice’s food and water buckets.  As she ate, her kids awoke and made their way over to their mama.  Clumsily, cautiously, the kids began to nurse.  I almost cried with relief!

Now, at the end of their first full day, Alice’s kids are trotting around the goat yard and exploring.  They are perky and inquisitive and so incredibly cute!  The human kids can’t get enough of them.

If only our goat yard wasn’t a mud pit after so many endless days of rain!  Those goat kids stumbled into a still-wet mucky spot  in the middle of the yard and got themselves so dirty.

Look at those tiny little curious fuzz balls!! I’m so thankful that all is well!

A Birth in the Barn

Over the past few months, I’ve read plenty about goat birth. I’ve watched videos on YouTube of kids being born and talked to other goat owners about kidding. I prepared myself for the day when we would experience our very first goat birth here on the farm.

Today was the day. After weeks of excited anticipation, Alice birthed twin kids this afternoon. And you know what? All the reading and video-watching in the world couldn’t have prepared me for this day. Alice’s birthing wasn’t anything like the videos.

When I left the house to deliver eggs this morning, I though something might be up. Alice was laying in the goat yard, looking very uncomfortable. I was in a hurry, and didn’t think on it too much. The day passed, I returned home, and just as I went to check on the goats, Alice gave birth.

There she was, standing in the doorway of the barn. She just stood there, and the baby fell from her, to the floor. I was stunned for a moment, then ran into the house to grab receiving blankets. Within minutes I was back outside, and Alice was birthing her second baby. Again, she just stood there, and again her baby fell to the floor.

One would expect Alice to begin nuzzling her new babies, lick at them perhaps, or mother them in some fashion. But Alice? No, Alice merely looked as though she was relieved of great discomfort, and wandered out into the goat yard, leaving her babies behind. Not even a sniff in their direction.

I cleaned those sweet babies off, and brought them to Alice. I put them right under her nose, and she ignored them. I held her still and tried to put the kids on to nurse, but Alice did not like that idea. She gave a few kicks and stepped on one of the kids.

I wish I could say that Alice just needed a bit of time to rest and recuperate, but as the afternoon slipped into evening and the kids started walking and exploring, nothing changed. By the time the sun started setting, the kids still had not nursed and I was getting worried.

Finally, Jae held Alice still and I used my Henry Milker hand pump to milk a jar of colostrum out of Alice. Boy, did that liquid gold ever flow! I brought the kids inside with me and bottle-fed each of them. They lapped it up, quick as can be.

As of now, Alice is in her freshly-bedded stall with her kids. I’m hoping that, come morning, I’ll go out to find a happy new mama nursing two sweet kids. I’m hoping that her instincts will kick in and she’ll start to care for her babies. I’m hoping that those two kids will be alive and well, and that I won’t have to bottle-feed them for the next few months. I hoping for a happy ending.

(For those who are wondering, the first kid was a pure white buckling, looks exactly like his daddy. The second kid was a solid black doeling, smaller than her brother, and sweet as can be. Male, female; white, black – in perfect harmony, those two kids. Pictures to come tomorrow if all is well.)

Two Kids on the Couch

We have this sweet Alpine milking goat named Caprice, who birthed triplets about a month ago. Of those triplets, one died, one seemed dead on arrival, and one thrived. The one who seemed dead came around, but Caprice wouldn’t have anything to do with her. Caprice attached herself to the healthy, thriving kid and rejected the other.

For a time, we’d hold Caprice so her second kid could nurse. Caprice would kick and thrash about, until it became too much of a struggle. We gave up on mama ever accepting her baby, and now little Daisy is bottle-fed.

Lynden has taken on the role of surrogate goat mama for sweet Daisy. He brings her into the house for her bottle, holds her close, snuggles her, sings to her. He plays with Daisy in his bedroom, making forts and hiding away with her. Daisy follows Lynden everywhere and cries for him when she’s out in the goat yard.

How lucky for Daisy to have a friend like Lynden in this world, and how lucky for Lynden to have the love of this sweet little kid. They make a great pair, and I’m positive that all this handling and loving will make Daisy a superb milking goat when she grows up!