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Saturday, September 19, 2015


     Yesterday I brought Fedra, Violet's doeling, home.  She's been with Violet at Shivering Stars Farm in Plymouth.  Violet changed owners in June, but Heather graciously agreed to keep Fedra until weaning time.

     She's a little lonely, but you can sure tell her mother is the herd queen.  She doesn't back down at all.  She's been sniffing noses with everyone through the stall gate, and last night she shared a stall with Dolly and Fascination.  Today the three and Hannah were together in the paddock area until about 4:00, then I let the whole herd into the orchard, where they raced to the downed apples.  Yum!

     Normally, I wouldn't introduce anyone new this quickly, but Common Ground Fair is coming up and the four will be penned together for the weekend, as they demonstrate for everyone what Sables look like.  And of course, I know the herd she came from and the care she got, so no unwelcome surprises in the offing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The open gate

Goats are wonderful. Just when you think you know what they're going to do, they fool you.

Yesterday evening, around dusk, I drove the tractor out the gate from the pasture.  The goats were in, so I didn't bother with the gate, figuring I'd get it the next morning.  Well...I forgot about it and let the does out for their respite time.  About two hours later, I walked out to the barn, glanced at the gate, and with a sinking feeling,  saw that it was wide open.  Somewhat perturbed,and a little abashed, I looked around.  Where were they?  Garden?  Nope.  Lawn?  Nope. Pasture? No, not there either.

I carefully closed the gate as I scrutinized the area.  Then I saw them, under the barn, sauntering and gazing in my direction.

I am still astonished.  My does take great delight in escaping from the pasture at every opportunity.  Why didn't they notice the open gate?  Was the challenge gone?  I chuckled to myself.  Who can figure out goats?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bringing it all up to date

     Wow!  I can't believe it's been so long since I posted.  Since then, we have three new kids, all purebred Saanens.

Neptune's Fantasy
     Beatrice kidded with one doeling on May 8th, which I promptly named Neptune's Fantasy.  She's very correct, and will probably be on her way to Pennsylvania by early August.
Fantasy Greenears after tattooing.

     Leah had two kids, a doe and a buck, on May 23rd.  I was undecided about going to the HOMDGA Spring Show in Windsor, but Leah made the decision for me.  She was in full labor early morning, and quickly gave birth.
Franz, aka "Frankie".  Dandelion is in the background.

Fleur de Lys, eating from her perch.
Frankie, Fantasy, and Fleur.

All three kids were immediately separated from their CAE+ dams and are bottle fed on a combination of raw goat milk from negative does and raw cow milk.  Leah's doeling, Fleur de Lys, will stay, and the buckling, Franz, is for sale--but will not be wethered if he doesn't sell quickly.  He's too nice to be a pet or meat, and his bloodlines are valuable.

 The two wethers, Euan and Dewey, have been sold, since I don't need to keep them as company for Mime.  In the meantime, I have three Sable bucklings sharing his space.  And what a space it now is!  A neighbor took down some fencing and asked if I could use it.  Could I!  With the help of the Mormon missionaries, the buck pasture has now been doubled, and includes a lot of browse.  They're in goat heaven.   As soon as I open the gate in the morning, they come running out and head for the trees and undergrowth.   It's amazing how quickly goats can clear the understory.  Where before it was hard to see beyond the closest trees, now I can see where they are during the day. 

Fabian under the trees

French Mime (Frenchie) clearing the undergrowth

In the afternoon, they usually move out to the more open area, but there's still browse on the edges.
Fabian still likes the browse, even if everyone else is eating grass.

And Finn McCool is so tired that he lies down to eat.

Finn McCool, Frenchie, and dear old dad on the right.

Grit-N-Moxie (Mime) and Fabian

Monday, May 11, 2015


I always prepare my does from the time they're very young by letting them eat Chaffhaye on the milk stand when I'm trimming feet, or brushing them, or just letting them get used to the idea of jumping on the stanchion.  While there, I run my hands all over them, including belly, thigh, and future udder, sometimes even gently massaging those tiny teats.  Nevertheless, sometimes first fresheners just don't "get it", true even if preliminary work has been done.  They may dance or kick, and for my part, I don't enjoy holding one leg up while I try to milk with the other hand. It becomes even more critical when they "graduate" to the milking machine.

This year, I had two first fresheners that I had to hobble, one because she would bring her hind legs far forward and crouch down, and the other because she started to kick.  I've seen a few different types of hobbles, but these two setups work for me. Both use a nylon curb strap for a horse's bridle for each leg.  These are easily found in any tack shop or online wherever they sell horse supplies.  I keep them snug, but not tight.

The first has the hobbles attached from the back

Removeable hobbles can easily be hooked to the stanchion and attached to the legs.

A view from the back

My other stanchion is much longer and wider, so I put an screweye just about at leg length on either side.  The setup also allows for a lengthener if necessary.  This one isn't quite as good as the other, since the doe can still step forward, instead of keeping her legs under her, but it does keep the legs down, and not allow kicking.

This setup works for a longer stanchion.  I used a screweye instead of a hook.

The MOST CRUCIAL thing about using these hobbles is to make sure they've been removed before letting the doe off the stanchion.  The best outcome is the stanchion falls over, but a worse one would be the doe on the floor with her hind legs on the stanchion--not a pretty situation at all.

The two does in the photos needed the hobbles for a short time, but they seem to be fine now. The longest I've ever had to hobble a doe was 2 months.  These two took 4 weeks and 2 weeks respectively.  Dolly, the Sable, took longer because as soon as I touched her udder, she'd step forward and crouch.  Now she stands square, just as if she had the hobbles on.  In fact, I didn't have to move her feet when I hobbled her for these photos. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Farewell to Cassie

It's been an interesting spring, watching the kids nursing on any doe in range, and the does!  My goodness!  They hardly notice what kids are latched on.  This may be all to the good, eventually, since yesterday I sold Cassie, and she'll be leaving soon.  I have mixed feelings, of course.  She was the first Sable born to Crooked Shade Farm, the proof that Leah carries color.  But I have too many goats, way too many, and it's time to cut back.  Cassie's a beautiful doe, but I'm slowly working my way toward an all purebred herd.  Whether that will include Sables remains to be seen, but eventually I want to get down to four does.

Her bucklings will be bottle babies now, and I was concerned that with Cassie gone, I might not have enough milk, but I think there'll be plenty.  Dandy is producing more than enough for her kids, and she nurses half the others anyway, as does Dolly.  The only one that seems to walk off is D'Arcy, and it shows in her production.

I'll miss Cassie, and I do wish I'd had a doe from her, but she produced a stunning buckling this year.  She's going to a wonderful home out on Islesboro--she'll be an Island Goat! How romantic!  And, she'll be hand milked, which I think is better for her. 

Farewell, my sweet Cassiopiea!  May your star always rise.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

More kids

          Violet kidded Saturday, twins (of course), a doe and a buck.  That makes 5 and 5 so far.  The doeling is a black sundgau with the same wry tail as her sire.  Hopefully that will disappear, as did the other kid's wry tail.  The other is--no surprise--a caped Sable, just like his sire.  Mime certainly does stamp his offspring. 

          Since Violet is leased out, I didn't get to see them until the next day, and after Stake Conference, off I went, camera in hand.  They were outside, learning how to jump and run--and not always succeeding. I love watching new kids, they're so full of themselves, so full of life, so curious and fun to watch.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Milk test

Today is the first milk test.  I'm sure I'm complicating everything far more than necessary (why make it easy, when with just a little effort you can make it really difficult?), but this morning I had all kinds of containers out there in the milking froom:  a strip cup to get the first and last of the milking so I don't miss anything, the container for the milking machine, a pail for pouring all of that into so I can weigh and sample the milk after each doe, a pail to pour all the milk together after sampling, and finally a pail of warm water to wash everything out between does.  Good grief!  Nothing straightforward about it.  I think I need to find out how others do it so I can streamline this a bit.

Cassie, bless her little heart, milked over 8-1/2 lbs and she's just three weeks fresh.  She may not have a "pretty" udder, but she fills the pail. The next in weight was Dandelion, which isn't surprising since her dam, Beatrice, was producing 13 lbs of milk when she was 4 years old.   The next two in order were Dolly and then D'Arcy, neither of which milked as much today, test day, as they did yesterday. 

I find myself wondering if not having their kids will affect their milk production.  Certainly the kids are all screaming their heads off.  They don't like not being with their Mamas.  I'm beginning to see why a lot of people don't dam raise and milk test, too.  They certainly have good appetites.  All 8 kids were fed within 20 minutes, and I have no doubt the next two feedings will be as speedy.  I've learned to let them out two at a time to feed, then shuffle them into another area before I bring out the next two.  At three weeks old, these critters are a force to be reckoned with.