Meet ‘n greet!
A watchful mama.
It’s goat breeding season!
Katie (and I) have been raising a small herd of Oberhasli dairy goats for over seven years. [WOW! Has it really been that long?] When I say small, I mean very small… the most ‘milkers’ we’ve ever ‘freshened’ (had in milk) have been three does (all at once)! That’s a lot of goat milk considering a standard-size goat produces about one-gallon of milk per day! Since I’m an empty-nester, one doe is more than adequate to fill my household needs for fresh milk!
But, we have never, ever owned a BUCK! We’ve raised a couple of wethers (castrated bucks), but, never kept a buck. Someday, perhaps Dennis will ‘allow’ me to own a buck ~ OR ~ Katie will advance in her college studies to provide assistance/instruct me regarding the intricacies of AI (which is becoming quite common for ‘ordinary’ goat folks to perform… once you have mastered the necessary skill and equipment, that is).
In the meantime, I have been
fortunate blessed to have nearby goat friends who have ‘provided’ buck service for my girl(s) over these past seven years! I am eternally grateful!! I can’t imagine NOT having my own goat milk! It’s my goat therapy!
To successfully breed a goat without a buck in residence, ((or having a pet wether who still ‘acts’ like a buck as an ‘indicator’))…can be difficult. This is no ordinary task. First, one must be able to ‘detect’ a doe’s estrous cycle: tail wagging, mounting, bleating, milky discharge, etc. Then again, some does (particularly first-fresheners) are very secretive about their ‘time-of-month’.
The process thus far: make verbal pre-arrangement(s) with buck owner, carefully record observation(s), grab-n-snatch doe (praying and hoping that you’ve caught her at the right time realizing that ovulation lasts about 12 to 36 hours from onset of standing heat), and race over to buck/friend’s house where he’s anxiously awaiting you/your doe’s arrival!
Then…. your doe decides to play hard-to-get!!! Is NOT the least bit interested in any pre-planned romantic rendezvous. So, you collect a smelly buck rag (sometimes unnecessary because the buck who’s doing his thingy to court your young lady has also rubbed-all-over you too) and return home. Another several hours have passed, you pre-arrange a sunset soiree, re-load your doe and off you go – AGAIN! Tail wagging, milky discharge, face rubbing on the buck rag! YES!! Timing is better!!
Rather be safe than sorry, we plan ONE MORE meeting for early morning!! Three times the charm, right??? Perhaps a pregnancy test in a few weeks would be prudent. In the meantime, I’ll need to decide whether to breed another doe… just in case!?
Yes, I thank God for friends that are willing to share!! I would NOT be doing/loving my goats without YOU! I thank you from the bottom of my goat-loving heart!
The past week has been both busy and productive! Memorial Day weekend is ~ traditionally ~ the big push to get the garden planted… safe to presume there’s no longer a threat of frost here in Michigan!? I’ve been weeding, purchasing seeds/starter plants [tomato and green peppers] and amending the soil with more compost… to make-ready for the actual planting. Most of the planting was performed by my husband, Katie (who’s home for the summer) and Matt and his girlfriend, Sam. Many hands make light work!!
We have a small [but productive] vegetable garden consisting of raised beds.
The Hubs prefers to grow tomato plants on a ‘trellis’, keeping the fruit off the ground. Bush beans are planted opposite the tomatoes. I have yet to plant a few more veggies (winter squash I think) in the remaining open space. Next up, replace the split rail fence [that currently encompasses the veggie garden] with a picket fence – a more goat kid-proof alternative now that the garden is ‘occupied‘!
It was a beautiful weekend for bonfires and camping in the backyard!
Also in the works… my herb garden make-over. The raised beds, after many years of service, require re-building too. I thought I’d take advantage of this opportunity to also re-design/simplify the herb garden. Fewer beds and less congestion in the existing footprint. More on that as we make progress.
The lambs [all eleven of them] and goat kids are growing well! Can you believe the Oberhasli kids are 8-weeks-old today!?
This is Gendry, the buckling, who will probably be castrated/wethered soon [since I’ve had no ‘nibbles’ in potential sale as a herd sire].
Here is a photo of the doeling, Arya, with Katie’s horse, Neo.
NOM NOM NOM… Mama said we can have a little grain now that we’re old enough! They’ll still get a bottle as long as they’re here… at least for now. Looking for good homes for both Arya and Gendry!!
Last week we also welcomed a new member to the family: Katie’s German Shepherd puppy, Zeak.
Zeak, helping me ‘weed’ the garden! Almost 9-weeks old and a FULL-time babysitting job!
Whoa! He needs to grow into those ears!!! He’s a busy little farm dog and will be a great companion for our rescue dog, Thunder! At the present time, Zeak is enjoying limited house-life… until he’s a bit older [and bigger].
Katie and Nash enjoying a ride! Happy trails!!
Oh my… Friday already??? Where has the week gone? I’ve barely recovered from Coriander, our Oberhasli doe, kidding last week! YES!! Coriander was four days overdue when she FINALLY began to show signs of going into labor! That was last week Wednesday evening at about 6 p.m. [learn more about kidding here].
The Hubs and I took turns with hourly checks on Corey’s progress through the night and into the wee hours of Thursday morning!! Finally, at approximately 2 a.m., Corey gave birth to twins: a buck and a doe. Thankfully, a textbook ‘normal’ birthing presentation – and no drama! I like no drama!! Kids weighed-in at about 9-pounds each!
All is well! The kids have gained a little over two pounds already. They’re my full-time gardening companions… hop, skip and jump!! As you can imagine, I can’t get much work done, but, I’m NOT complaining!
We (my daughter and I) are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Coriander’s kids… any day now!! Last October, I arranged a rendezvous between ‘Corey’ and ‘David’, a handsome and very willing Oberhasli buck, who lives on a near-by friend’s farm. She will be our only doe ‘freshening’ this Spring. As an empty nester, one dairy goat fulfills all my needs for fresh milk, cheesemaking, soapmaking and the pure pleasure of hand-milking!
Corey’s ligaments are gone. Her actual due-date is Saturday, but that could go either way by a few days. I hope (pray) that we’ll experience an unassisted – normal – presentation during kidding – and not a repeat performance of last year’s triplets! The barnyard is flooded with recent snow melt, recent rainfall AND the hidden dangers of ice underlayment. It all makes for a treacherous walk back to the barn to check on Corey! Oh Spring, where are you???
My small flock of Shetlands have been sheared and I have yet to sort-out/skirt their wool fleece. I’m thinking I’d like to felt an entire fleece (like a sheepskin rug/pelt) this Spring/Summer. I also spent an hour or so yesterday afternoon hand-shearing Brutus, my Pygora, on the stanchion. He displayed great patience with me and my ‘primping’. Today, I have a bit of clean-up work to do on him as he was starting to get annoyed with me… snip snip snip.
Finally, the past few days I have been playing with the idea of an offering of classes/workshops. Wet felting is great therapy for me… requiring no special tools and perhaps a good place to begin a fiber ART experience?
And so, I’ve arranged layers of wool into ‘sheepy’ shapes, adding a variety of natural colored wool to the surface for texture/interest and felted away. What fiber artist doesn’t l-o-v-e one more sheep??
Then I begin to add a few details/shape personality. A needle felted ‘head/face’, attach wooly ears, seed beads for eyes, a nose, etc. This little ewe sports a string of beads for legs…. but, use your imagination for whatever is lying around the craft room!?
Another ‘idea’ was born with this wee little sheepie brooch/pin (for the sheep lover/fiber enthusiast).
She’s completely needle felted (onto a scrap of felted wool ‘base’) with a few curly/crimpy locks/wool staples. Similarly, I’ve needle felted a head, attached ears, legs, seed-bead eyes and nose. Class/workshop project???
There’s always room for one more sheep roaming the garden!