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Heavy Load and Other News

IMG_0025So if you’ve read my blog at all you realize that I am super new to goats.  It looks like Ice Cream didn’t need to go visit any bucks.  She suddenly decided to balloon out overnight.  This is typical goat behavior, apparently.

That being said, I have to ask.  Is it normal for a doe to have trouble standing under the weight of her babies?  Ice Cream literally looks how I felt when I was nine months pregnant and trying to get out of a recliner.  Poor thing makes me grimace every time I see her bow-legged walk because I remember it so well.

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This is what they look like right now.

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This is what they will look like eventually.

In other news, my Silver-Laced Wyandotte roosters have arrived.  That’s right roosters, the plural version.  I bought six and lost one the first night.  The five remaining roosters will be carefully raised and groomed for their flock leadership or stewpot positions in life.  May the odds be forever in your favor.

 

 

This is Baby; as in poor baby.  While driving down a back country road, CC and I saw this poor thing in the ditch staggering with hunger. She was so poor we couldn’t be sure of her breed, but we knew it wasn’t one that we were planning on having on our place.  IMG_0029We’ve been wanting a herding dog of some sort, but we refused to allow her to starve to death or be eaten alive by coyotes, so she came home with us.

She’s a Pittbull and the most beautiful color of what would be called champagne in horses.  We tried to find her a home, but no one wanted her because of the bad reputation that Pittbulls have (due to some seriously stupid and malicious people).  Five minutes in her company and you’ll wonder why Pittbulls have such a bad reputation.  She’s a complete lover and I trust her completely with BG, which should tell you something because I still look at Shad sideways some days and we’ve had him for several years now.

Apparently, she knew how close she came being coyote supper because the minute she got some weight on, she has made it her mission to make our place a coyote free zone.  She tried to develop the bad habit of chasing the car, but when she realized that we didn’t like it, she stopped immediately.  She’s smart and so VERY eager to please that quite against our wills we now have a Pittbull goat protection dog that does her job from outside of the goat pen because…

The lady we got two of the cats from came through and gifted us a wonderful female donkey that we call Dolly.  She was poor from nursing a filly when we got her and has never been fooled with, but she filling out nicely now and is slowly becoming bucket gentle.  From there we’ll move to hand gentle and eventually, get her halter broke.  Regardless, she’s very protective of the goats, so we don’t push the limits and keep the dogs out of the goat areas despite the fact that both dogs are fine with goats.

I also am working on a straw bale garden.  So far, I have nine pepper and six tomato plants.  This is of course in addition to my herb garden which so far is in pots of the back porch and thriving.  Well, except for the basil, which the cats attempted to kill.  It is terribly puny, but still struggling to survive.  Here’s hoping.

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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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The Boys’ Club

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Please say hello to Jinx.  His name is Jinx because two days, a lot of rain, and two broken down vehicles later, we finally got him home.  I went to get him the first day and my Jeep started making a horrible noise (turned out to be nothing much, but scared me).  The next day, my mom offered to take me to get him.  Got about as far as I did the day before, BG hits the button for the window and the window falls down and won’t go back up.  We drove four hours with a garbage bag over the back door!

Jinx is my new registered Nigerian Dwarf billy-goat.  He’s still really young, but after a rather long and frustrating search during which only two of the dozen people I called returned my calls, I decided on him for several reasons.

  1. His grandsire was a national champion and his blood lines are known for milk production.
  2. The price was very right for a champion bloodline sire for my herd.
  3. He was young enough that I could raise him the way I wanted him, which is gentle and well-mannered.

Originally, I had not intended to worry about registration, but when I saw him for sale, I realized that BG is very into the animals. (She helps milk Auntie and feed the chickens every morning.)  If she wants to show in 4-H, having some sort of registered stock already in place would be ideal.  Thus, Jinx is my first registered goat.  I plan on added a couple of registered females later this year or next year, but for now I think we’re done, unless they folks come through on the offer of a free donkey.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Homestead Goat Prize Part I

So far our little homestead has got for all intents and purposes a Nubian, a Sanaan, and four Nigerian Dwarfs.  I’ve already started comparisons to see who is going to win the Home Sweet Homestead Goat Prize (who gets to stay and who gets sold).  On our homestead, we’re looking at a lot of different things: milk, meat, ease of delivery, ease of care, and the all important temperament.  What all that comes down to is who is the best all around goat.

Milk

You can’t talk about goat milk without someone mentioning the Sanaan.  Our Sanaan, Ice Cream, is out of a great producing Sanaan doe, who was a favorite with her owners.  The Nubian is also hailed as a great milk producer for a dual purpose (milk and meat) goat.  The Nigerian Dwarfs are just that dwarfs, so don’t have any hope of producing the milk that either the Sanaan or the Nubian is going to produce.  However, for their size they produce an amazing amount with the average listed right at a quart.  Now I don’t know how much milk anyone else is using, but that’s a significant amount for a goat that is never going to be bigger than a medium-sized dog.

Meat

The Sanaan is never going to be a meat producer.  They are too fine boned.  However, people have had good luck crossing them with Nubians, so we’ll see.  Nubians as a dual purpose goat, are going to dress out a better carcass for the freezer, but what about the Nigerian Dwarfs?  The Nigerian Dwarf was brought to America, according to my research, as a feeder goat for the big cats going to zoos.  The sawed off little things are built sturdy and honestly look to me like a miniature version of the Nubian minus the big floppy ears.  They also have been known to have as many as 5 (yes, FIVE) babies at once.  That’s a lot of meat in the freezer or cash in the pocket if I sell them.

Ease of Delivery

I’m a strong believer in the philosophy that if I have to do a lot of L&D (labor and delivery) somebody needs to find a new home.  Birthing is the most natural thing in the world and should not involve a lot of effort on my part.  That isn’t to say, I won’t help.  That’s to say I shouldn’t have to all the time.  If a doe constantly needs attention during delivery, she is not the doe for our homestead regardless of all other factors.  With no births on the place so far, I’ll wait to talk about this area more.

Ease of Care

This follows right along with the previous heading.  Proper accommodations aside, I do not want to be constantly doctoring and babying my animals.  While I might become attached to them, they are producing/working animals first and foremost.  That means that plush accommodations are not going to be provided and if are needed…  You’re outta here! (Hear this in baseball umpire voice. LOL)

Temperament

Ah, temperament!  How important is temperament?  Rain or shine, snow or blistering heat, I’m going to be out there milking before coffee and after a long hard day; temperament is paramount.  I do not want to have to wrestle a goat morning and night.

So far I’ve only milked my two Nigerian Dwarf does and here’s what I’ve found.

Muppet is a witch on the stanchion.  She’s very dominate and despite having been milked twice in the past (according to the folks I got her from), she’s not taking to it very well.  I’m cutting her some slack, since I just weaned her babies.  I figure a week’s grace period is sufficient and she had better show a lot of improvement.   She’s a stingy milker (withholds her milk and doesn’t like to let it down), but at least she’s stopped trying to kick over the milk bucket.  Off the stanchion she’s a pill, but bearable.

Auntie, on their hand, is being milked for the first time ever and has been a gem.  Now that she knows the routine, she runs and jumps on the stanchion with a happy little bleat.  She stands with her legs braced to make it easy for me to milk her and hasn’t kicked over the milk bucket even once, since she learned what milking is all about (took about a week).  Another thing of note is that I don’t have to chase after Auntie, she actually waits at the gate to be let out of her pen so that she can go get on the stanchion.  So far, I’m loving the temperament of this Nigerian Dwarf.

Chili, my Nubian, is a greedy gut and will do most anything for a mouthful of feed.  Yes, I believe in bribery.  Works every time!

Ice Cream, the Sanaan, had responded to bribery, but she remains timid and well… spazzy.  Not my cup of tea.   She’s really going to have to get some super high marks in the other categories if she plans on sticking around.

Additional

Another thing of note is most goats have a rut season.  Never having had goats before, I did not know this.  One of those little things that NONE of the articles or blogs that I read mentioned.  (Yes, I have a rather pissy face as I write this.)  This is during the fall and winter months.  Hopefully, Chili and Ice Cream made the deadline, since I learned this just as the rut was ending.  If not, I’ll have to wait until next fall to get them bred.

Nigerian Dwarfs on the other hand, do not have a rut.  They can and will breed year round.  The thing I like about this is simple; I can have milk year round, stagger my breeding/birthing, and not have a glut of milk at one time of the year.

Results thus far

The Nigerian Dwarfs are winning, hands down, so far.  The Nubian is in second place, but I haven’t completely outed the Sanaan since we plan on raising pigs (probably next year) and pigs do really well on milk.  Ice Cream may well make the cut on milk production for this reason.

Stay tuned for future updates and please leave me a comment if you have insight into these or some other breed that might work well for us!

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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A Beautiful Day

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A beautiful day to work on clearing brush out of the fence rows, so that we can add goat proof wire.  CC and I broke out the hand and electric clippers and got a good portion done.  Then we worked on dragging off a bunch of the brush that CC had already cut.

A lot of people thought that we were buying an ATV for fun, but have revised their opinions as they’ve watched how much we use it for work around the place.  We use it for riding the fences, skidding brush, and toting fencing supplies.

Toy?  Hardly!

Having the fence up on this portion will also allow us to keep the goats under the barn at night as opposed to the shed we built, which is rapidly becoming inadequate.  It will be nice to have everything in one place as well.  Right now, we’re having to haul feed and water and lead the goats to the milking stanchion. Once we have the fences set up, we’ll be able to call them into the barn and simply pull them through a gate to the milking area.  It will also provide a little more than double the area they have right now.  I plan on rotating them from one pen to the other, so that the grass and forage has time to grow back some in between.  This will also help with keeping parasites down.

Eventually, we’ll add another large pen and combine these two (read: more goats), but for now it is working really well.

 

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Two wasn’t enough, Part II

First there was Ice Cream and Chili.  Now there is Muppet, her sister (Auntie), and Muppet’s kids (Fish and Chips).  That’s right; four new goats have joined our little homestead.  These are Nigerian Dwarf goats and have a fairly interesting history, which you can read about HERE!   One of the benefits being that they can be bred all year, so that you can stagger the breedings, so that you have milk all year.

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Muppet and her babies, Fish (the brown facing away) and Chips (the one right behind her).

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A better shot of Chips, who is a complete sweetheart and about the size of a football on legs.

The extremely nice folks that we got the goats from kept Auntie’s doe, so I am now happily milking morning and evening.  So far it has been a family event.  CC and BG help and we’re all getting a kick out of it.  Despite this being her first kid and never having been milked before, Auntie has been the soul of patience.  BG has even gotten to milk her a little bit, which makes her four-year-old heart full to bursting.

On a more practical note, Auntie’s milk tasted disgusting when I first started milking her.  Her previous owners had her on dry pellets and hay; no grass, no real forage.  My father had always told me that if you want sweet milk, feed sweet feed to your milker.  His suggestion was corn, but I learned that sweet feed works very well indeed and isn’t all that expensive.  I say not that expensive because Auntie gets literally a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening while she’s in the stanchion.  This serves several purposes actually.

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Auntie is Muppet’s younger full sister.

  1. Her milk is now super sweet and delicious, less than five days later.
  2. She can’t wait to jump up onto the milking stanchion and stick her head in the catch.
  3. She comes running at a simple call.
  4. She has gone from having to corner her to catch her, to coming when she’s called and begging for pettings.

Despite being a member of the rodeo team in high school, I have no desire to rodeo these days, especially first thing in the morning, usually before I’ve had coffee.  I’ll pay the $10.99 for fifty pounds of sweet feed.  Thanks!

 

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in H.S.H.

 

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Getting Started

So we’re finally at the stage where we can begin in earnest.  CC has been demolishing bramble thickets and trimming trees like a madman!  With all the tree limbs, we decided to go ahead and purchase two young goats to help clean up.  Please welcome the newest members of the H.S.H. (Home Sweet Home) homestead.image image

Chili and Ice Cream are both Nubian/Sanaan crosses.  They have both been exposed to multiple bucks and we think both are going to give us goat babies in a few months (they have all the food they can eat and the only thing that gets bigger is their rather low hanging bellies).  Downside is: we don’t know what kind of buck they have been exposed to, so these first babies probably won’t be sticking around.  We went with Nubian’s because they have the highest milk fat content, while Sanaans are known for their production numbers.  Ice Cream’s mother consistently gives 1.5 gallons!  That’s a lot of milk, butter, yogurt, keifer, and of course… Ice Cream!  LOL

We got them for a good price, but again there was a downside to the bargain.  Neither one of them had been handled, so they were both fairly wild.  We are slowly winning them over with treats and scratches.  Chili in particular cries for treats every time she sees us.

It is amazing to me how quickly animals respond to positive reinforcement.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in H.S.H.

 

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