Building a kit for kidding time

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I’m a little nervous about playing midwife for the first time. I know that my charges will probably drop those babies like pros and not need the least bit from me. But when you get into the realm of understanding what could happen and what you might need to know to be ready, it can get intimidating real quick.

So I’ve started preparing the kidding kit now, because those April due dates come right when I’ll be finishing spring semester. Continue reading

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It’s going to be SEVEN degrees tonight.

Here were my rush preparations:

1) Add more straw to the onions/garlic. Here’s hoping this bale isn’t chock full of seed heads like the last one. Worst weed preventative ever. I wish I had 15 more bales to make a tower around the bees. But probably that’s a moisture issue. (See #2.)

2) Top off everyone’s bedding. I just feel better thinking there’s less moisture in the goat shelter/coop if I pull off some of the top layer and add new dry stuff. Moisture’s what I really obsess about in the way below freezing times, because frostbite can take off chicken feet, combs, and wattles. Also, respiratory issues are as big a concern as anything else, so freshening things up right before they spend a longer period indoors seems prudent.

3) Check the heat tape on the pvc/nipple waterer just to make sure everything’s in order.

4) Get everyone some warm water and give the chickens a big handful of scratch. (We currently only feed scratch in the coldest part of winter for quick energy. That’s really its only nutritional value.)

5) Make sure all the eggs have been collected so they don’t freeze and crack overnight.

6) Run inside and then in place until the tea makes. And unwittingly crack the egg in your pocket in the process. Luckily, very fresh eggs have a pretty strong inner membrane still, so when this happens you just get to eat an egg right away. If you’re me.

Stay warm!

Meet Joe

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This is our new loaner buck. It doesn’t make sense to keep one of these guys on hand when you only have a few does, so most people arrange a date with a buck at the necessary time. You know when that is because you borrow a “buck rag,” an article of scrap cloth rubbed all over a buck in rut. When you wave that gem in front of the ladies in heat, they go crazy. This method works out really well for it seems like everyone else. But both of our does are what’s called first fresheners, meaning they’re inexperienced. They don’t have a buck within miles. Maybe that’s why they didn’t care. And the rag I had came from Joe, who’s a little dude, a yearling who probably just didn’t stink bad enough. I even took the girls to his house to see if that might put them in the mood. No dice. So we arranged with his lovely owner to borrow him for a time.

I brought him home yesterday, and as soon as he got here he made himself useful. I can’t believe it. It’s going to be interesting (read here: stinky) having a buck around.

 

Bottle Feeding and Other Things I Should Have Known Beforehand

They’re pretty much the best things ever, these baby goats. But if I’d kept a list of everything I had to panic and google since they’ve arrived, I could fill a book. Despite having taken a husbandry class. Despite having read Storey’s Guide To Dairy Goats. Those were both indispensable for general knowledge/exposure/hands-on experience, but this is the first time I’ve owned an animal that wasn’t a dog or a fish. I didn’t do so well with the fish, so maybe we shouldn’t count that one. It’s the million ways a thing could go wrong when it’s completely foreign. I’m learning about bottle feeding – the right nipple, the right angle, the right feeding schedule and formula – and parasites, or rather, fear of parasites and over-diligent analysis of droppings, and housing – the imagined Goldilocks syndrome. It’s the new mother thing, where I just don’t sleep well until I’ve thought about every single thing and panicked and looked it up. At least, that’s what new mothering was like for me…

5/20/13