A week in review…

Time flies when you’re having fun…or not?

SPRING is undoubtedly the busiest time of year on the farm…shearing, lambing, kidding, gardening, planting and so on! So much has happened since my last post and I do apologize for not ‘sharing’ sooner. That’s probably one of the benefits of facebook; little snippets of news communicated/shared relatively simply with a few key-strokes!

To all my faithful followers, a brief recap. We began the week with our monthly 4-H goat project meeting – in the barn – with my two dairy goats who were now overdue (beyond the norm average 150-days gestation).  We talked about the development of an udder, loosening of pelvic ligaments and BEHAVIORAL  signs of early stages of the birthing process such as act of withdrawal, seeking seclusion from the rest of the herd, uneasiness, kicking, pawing the ground, lying down and getting up frequently, frequent attempts at urination, refusal of grain, vocalizing, and so on.

Since my 4-H goat project kids are all new first-year goat owners, we also talked about visible signs of second stage labor including vaginal discharge, uterine contractions, appearance of the water sac and finally the evidence of a foot exiting the birth canal. All thought, oh, how exciting! But, in reality, the responsibility as goat caretaker and overseer to the blessed kidding (or lambing) event can be a bit daunting!

Finally, the long-awaited and imminent kidding arrived! Early Sunday evening (long after my 4-H families had departed), Coriander went into labor and delivered two bouncing baby bucklings (ie boys). Buckling No.1, for the most part, was delivered normally…albeit, a bit of straining by Corey to get the head/shoulders through the birth canal. Don’t get over-anxious to assist… proper dilation of the cervix needs to occur. otherwise tearing/damage may occur. The ability to recognize kidding difficulty is as important as proper technique in relieving dystocia (or, difficult birth). It is wise to prepare yourself with some kidding knowledge either through research/reading or by visiting a friend who may also be lambing/kidding, IF you find yourself in a position to lend a hand with the birth!  Occasionally, in some situations, a gentle downward ‘tug’ on the legs with the next strong contraction is helpful. Another valuable resource for newbies and kidding/lambing info can be found at: http://www.infovets.com//books/smrm/C/C460.htm

As for Buckling No.2, it soon became evident – it helps to know your goat anatomy –  that he was NOT in the proper presentation (but normal position and posture). Terms to know: presentation, position and posture.  He was coming backward (breech), back legs first, dewclaw visible and hock (recognize the difference between the bend of the knee or the bend of the hock).

Diagram courtesy kinne.net

To make a long story short, all ended well with our two dairy goats’ kidding season. Finally, Cassiopeia, a first freshener, gained confidence through Corey’s kidding ordeal and decided she was up to the challenge! She delivered a single large healthy buckling on Tuesday morning, day 154. Moms (does) and kids are all doing well and thriving! Phew! I’m glad all ended well and I’m back into the routine of milking my girls twice a day. Our bucklings (or wethers) will be looking for new homes once they’re weaned!

With the help of Katie, my nurse assistant, Big D ‘the holder’ or gorilla (he has yet to contruct a kidding box for me…hint hint) and myself ‘the meanie’ (the one holding the disbudding iron), we disbudded the bucklings on Saturday, an unpleasant but necessary task. FYI – All goats typically have horns (both male and female; some goats are naturally/genetically poled/hornless) and most dairymen disbud (or have their vets perform the disbudding for them) their goats within several days – weeks old. Find more how-to disbudding info here.

Besides animal husbandry, I’ve also been busy working in the vegetable garden. More cleaning & trimming woody plant and pruning shrubs & roses. I also planted more leaf  lettuce, radish, spinach, beets, carrots, swiss chard and parsley – all can withstand ‘cooler’ weather.

Weeding between pavers – ugh!

Temporarily cat-proofing the planting bed!

The sweet peas are several inches tall and the strawberries have blossoms!

Potatoes and kholrabi have yet to be planted. Tender annual herbs (such as basil and cilantro), zucchini & green beans will be planted from seed in a few weeks.

My French tarragon (not Russian tarragon which is an annual.

Cut cut cut… to maintain a fine tender & tasty chive!

Tomatoes and green peppers (tropicals) will be the last to go into the garden, typically after Memorial weekend for minimal chance of damage by late frost.

More cat-proofing planting bed until seeds germinate!

Sage, HEAVILY pruned a couple weeks ago shows re-growth.

Did I mention my Shetland sheep have been shorn and their wool skirted and already processed into roving and batts? Now we begin the waiting game, looking for clues and signs that parturition (birth/lambing) will occur soon. Unlike the goats that are hand-bred, we house the ram with the ewes for several months for breeding to occur. We don’t always ‘observe’ the actual breeding (but, there are breeding harnesses that the ram can wear that ‘marks’ the ewe when she’s been mounted). According to my calendar, my ewes could lamb any time now…!

Naked sheepies!

I ended the week with speaking to a group of gardeners about the wonderful benefits of herb gardening, then rushing home to help a friend with skirting her wool fleece and how to ‘process’ it at home.

…and finally, we mucked-out one of the lamb sheds, right down to the dirt floor, limed it heavily and prepared it with fresh clean straw!

That about covers the week’s highlights…and then we start all over again with the never-ending list of chores! There’s no excuse for boredom!!! Hope you have a great week!

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