Winter solstice

Winter solstice

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Surprise, surprise...

I got a surprise when I went to the barn this morning. I checked on the babies first and they were all fine and starving as usual. Then I started to fill feed pans with grain for the adult goats. When I got to Arwin's pen, there was a baby goat in there with her. If you remember, from an earlier post, I was disappointed that Arwin didn't catch. She had no udder and showed no sign of labor last night. Just about the time I think I've seen it all, something like this happens. I took the baby from her and got her under the heat lamps with the other babies. She was very cold. Then I got Arwin on the stanchion and milked her. Very little colosterum... Each doe, after they freshen gets a bucket of warm molassas water, so I went to the house and got that for her. I have had her on the stanchion twice this morning, trying to stimulate milk production. She has freshened 4 other times and always been such a good milker, I just don't understand what happened this time. Hopefully her milk will come in. So now I have another mouth to feed. I just hope I have enough milk for them all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January in almost over!!!

Where does the time go? The older I get, the faster it flies. All of our new babies are doing great and growing like weeds. They are up to 24 ounces at each feeding now. After I milk and I put all the adult does in the loafing area, which is on the other side of the barn, I can let the babies out of their pen. They love to run and jump and crow hop up and down the aisle of the barn. It is so funny to watch them. Those of you who read my blog will remember the hen who is now staying in the barn. She is not too fond of these rowdy babies who have invaded her space. She has taken to living in the barn just fine and she spends her days going from pen to pen, scratching the hay around, looking for some morsel the goats may have missed. Now she has these miniature "demon" goats who run up to her and try to jump on her. This morning she pecked Raspberry on the nose, boy was she surprised! It won't be long and the babies will be big enough to turn out with the adult goats and life will settle down again..... They are calling for a "clipper" to come through today and give us a little more snow. We are in the 2-4 inch range on the Weather Channel. At least we haven't had any more minus 10 nights lately, but February is on the horizon and typically it is our coldest month. But then comes March and it won't be long until we hear our spring peepers singing us to sleep at night. Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday when I milked and did the morning chores it was minus 5 degrees. This morning it was 30 degrees. That's a big change, but it felt good. Curly Sue freshened yesterday with a giant buck. He was in there like a cork and it took some serious pulling to get him out, but everything turned out alright. Now we are done with kidding and life is settling in to the normal routine. I'm back to washing bottles, nipples, buckets and the milk strainer twice a day. My hands, once again, have the familiar scent of Bag Balm. The does are getting used to getting up on the stanchion again. I decided to give my oldest doe, Tulip, a rest this year. She has freshened for the last 7 years and is my best milker. She loves to be milked and she is so mad at me! She cannot understand why some of the other does are getting all the attention. She won't have anything to do with me. Oh well... I'm very happy with our new crop of babies, 6 does and 2 bucks. I have been coming up with names. So far we have Dinah (she was born on my sister's birthday and that is her nickname). Marshmallow's triplets are Blueberry Frost, Blackberry Bramble and Ramblin' Raspberry. I still have to come up with names for April's babies. I don't name the buck kids, because they won't be staying. Tim doesn't know how I tell them apart, but when you are there when they are born and you inspect every inch of them, you know. They already  have their own personalities. Dinah and Raspberry are my most social. Blueberry is my quiet one. They will stay in the pen, under heat lamps for a week or so and then I turn them over to Teton. Poor Teton, all these girls to watch this year. Girls always get into more trouble...it's just our nature.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

And then there were seven...

When we left for church this morning, I knew a couple of the does were getting close to delivering. Church went over a little today and we got home about a half hour later than usual. Instead of going to the house first, I ran to the barn. When I looked in, Marshmallow was in a corner pushing. I ran back to the house, stripped off my church clothes, threw on my coveralls and got back to the barn just in time... She delivered three does without a bit of problem. As I was cleaning them off and getting them under a heat lamp, I looked over at April Mae and she was pushing. A half hour later and she delivered two does. So we went from 2 to 7 really quick. Now all we have left is Curly Sue. I will have my work cut out for me, milking 3 does and bottle feeding 7. Once again, I thank the Lord for safe deliveries and healthy babies...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Beginnings

It was a cold world to come in to, but at 1:10 this morning, at minus 10 degrees, Velvet had her babies. I went to the barn at 11:30 to be with her. Both kids were born backwards, so it took longer. As I sat there with her waiting, I thought back of all the times I've done this before. Many cold nights spent waiting for a new life to be born. Our male Great Pyrenees, Teton, laid his giant head in my lap and waited with me. He is in charge of the babies. Shasta couldn't care less about them, but Teton loves the babies. We have two Australian Shepherds, who come to the barn with me when I do the chores. Teton tolerates them being there but now that there are babies, they will no longer be allowed. He is the boss and that is his job. I don't know what I would do without him. As each baby is born, I dry them off and then they go to Teton. He inspects each one, licks them thoroughly and then lies down beside them, covering them with his giant head. This morning, he got a little doe and a much bigger buck. He sighed a big sigh as if he knew that his work has begun again for another year. When they are small, his job is easy, but when they start romping and playing and running all over the pasture, his job is much more demanding..... I milked out Velvet, got lots of warm colosterum in each kid and then headed back to the house. When I stepped out of the barn, the moon was shining brightly. It was like daylight out, wiith the snow reflecting the moon light. I could hear the trees cracking and popping  because of the cold. The wet towels in my arms instantly froze stiff. I thanked the Lord for another safe delivery for both mama and babies. I am so grateful for the life I have, being able to hold each baby as they take their first breath, feeling each little heart beating against mine. Thank you Lord for allowing me to live this life....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day!

Well, we were dumped on  again through the night, about 5 inches. No school today! I shoveled a new path to the barn this morning. I love the snow..it makes everything so beautiful. Right now the thermometer says 14 degrees and the sun is shining. The dogs are sacked out in front  of the fire. They have been rompimg in the snow all morning. I ground enough wheat to make 4 loaves of bread first thing and now they are rising. I am going to make myself clean house before I sit down to the quilt. I may go back through seed catalogs today and finalize my orders. This year I am going to till up my herb bed and start new. The lemon balm has taken over and has crowded everything else out. I hardly had enough sage to even dry this year and the chives are getting crowded too. As soon as I can work the soil, out it comes. So I am ordering alot of new herb seed to start in the greenhouse. The Murray McMurray catalog came the other day and I am looking forward to going through it and picking out which chicks to order in the spring. I love to try new breeds and they have some different ones this year. Well, time to make a trip to the barn. Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

An intruder in the milk room

I have decided that chickens are the meanest animals... For some reason our hens started picking on this one little red hen. She was hiding behind the water fountain in the hen house because every time she came out, the other hens would attack her. I felt sorry for her but I thought it would take care of itself, but it didn't. They had all her tail feathers pulled out and were starting on her back. She looked pitiful! A couple of days ago they ran her out of the house and out in the snow. There she stood, on one foot and then the other, trying to keep her feet from freezing. I could see blood on the snow from her back where they had pecked her.  I knew I couldn't leave her there, so I picked her up  (she was a rack of bones) and I took her to the milk room with me. I made a spot for her by the stanchion with some hay and put in some layer mash and water. She was starving! Now, the milk room is the hub of the barn. It is where the angora bunny stays and the cats have their food and milk bowl in there. You should have seen the cats peering down from their counter top. WHAT HAD I DONE?? Get that chicken out of there! The cats wouldn't eat for a day and the bunny would give a resounding thump with her back foot every time that hen moved. She wasn't wanted anywhere. Poor thing. Things have settled down now and the cats and Honeybun have gotten used to her. She clucks to me in chicken talk when I come in and she and I have great conversations while I'm in the barn. Last night she ventured out of the milk room and started scratching up and down the isle way, talking to the goats. Now they are looking at me like "get that chicken out of here!" Here we go again....Still waiting for babies. The does are moving slower and slower and udders are getting fuller and fuller. It's cold and cloudy today. They are calling for a big snow storm to come in tonight. Maybe we will get some babies tonight since they prefer to wait until the weather turns bad :) Have a great day...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The sun is shining!!

When I went to the barn this morning, it was 16 degrees. The stars were amazing. There was one in the east that was so bright, must be a planet, I need to look up and see which one. As I crunched down the path, through the snow, I looked over to the east. I always wonder if today will be the day we will here that trumpet calling us home. Still no babies, although I think Black Velvet will be the first. But they have a way of fooling me at times, so who knows. Still no udders on Beauty and Arwin, so they must not have caught. This means that only 4 does will freshen. I only bred half the herd to give some of them a rest. I am disappointed though that Beauty and Arwin won't freshen but 4 does will give us more milk than we can handle. I just wanted to see them both bred to this spotted buck. This will be the smallest amount of babies we have ever had. Last year we had 22. 13 were born in the big February blizzard. We had no power for 5 days and had to do the chores by lantern light. But we made it... I had to fill the mineral feeder this morning. They seem to go through more minerals  in the winter when they are not out on pasture. I started my ripple afghan last night and tore it up 3 times before I got it right. I knew my knitting needed some work! And I am making great progress on the quilt, if I keep at it, it should be done by spring. Today I have to make some lip balm with tea tree oil. I am out and have several customers asking for it. Plus I keep a tube in my pocket at work and I haven't had any for a week. Enjoy your day, it is a gift from God.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Waiting

I checked the thermometer on the back porch as I headed to the barn this morning, 18 degrees. It felt much warmer than it has been, but it was pouring the snow down. Looks like we only got another inch during the night. I looked in on the chickens on my way to the barn. I would imagine they are getting "hen-house fever" since they haven't been out in days. They seemed to be fine, several of them were in the nesting boxes, getting their days work done. The goats were happy to see me, as they always are. I watched two of them last night on the cameras, as they are getting close to kidding. Tim built me a very nice bed in the milk room several years ago and I used to use it, but since we got the cameras, I can lay in bed and watch them until I think I need to head to the barn. The loafing area where they are during the day, doesn't have any cameras, so I make several trips during the day to check on them. I turned out the goats for the day, fed the angora bunny and the barn cats and came back to the house. I rolled some oats for breakfast and while they were cooking, I set out the sourdough starter, so it could be "working". I am going to bake some bread this afternoon. I sure can't wait for fresh milk, so I can make some butter to go with the bread. I can't stand to drink the store bought milk, but I did put a little bit on my oats, along with a big spoonful of our apple butter. I am going to start a ripple afghan today. I really need to brush up on my knitting. I am going to add a couple of Angora goats to the herd in the spring and along with my angora bunny, I will have plenty of fiber to spin and knit. So I need to start doing some more knitting.  I did get quite a bit of quilting done on the West Virginia quilt yesterday. I plan to spend several hours at it today also. Hope everyone enjoys the day that God has given us..

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Once again 'Ol Man Winter has visited us. I shoveled a path to the barn last night, only to have it buried this morning with drifts. I measured 12 inches on the picnic table in the back yard. Our does are heavy with kids and we are anxiously awaiting our new babies.  Shasta and Teton bounded out of the barn this morning, sending snow flying. They love the snow and don't even feel the cold! I am going to vaccinate all the does today with their CD&T's. I always do it on January 1st but somehow time has gotten away from me. Hooves are trimmed until after they freshen. It seems as if there is always something to do, but  that is how it is on a farm. As I am writing this, the snow is falling in giant flakes floating slowly to the ground. The wind has settled down for now, thank goodness. I think I will get some quilting done today.