wooly wednesday: fuzzy babies

Perhaps not wooly, but, warm and fuzzy!! My daughter’s Oberhasli doe, Eowyn (aka ‘Fuzzy’) a first freshener, kidded first thing this morning. Twin bucklings (boys)!

eowyn_2015bucklings

The first buckling was breech (back legs presented first) and needed a little assistance. Once ‘cleared’, his brother almost ‘popped’ out (normal presentation).

first bucklings_eowyn

Mama and boyz are doing fine! Oh happy day!

Coriander kids!

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!

two goats on a log

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!

Happy weekend!

 

still winter

Hello my dear friends! It has been a R-E-A-L-L-Y long winter here in Michigan (and all across the US, for that matter!). March 1st dumped several more inches of snow and another round of (all too familiar) record-breaking/below zero frigid temps this past weekend. I think we are all disheartened… lacking ANY evidence of Spring’s arrival any time soon!?? We have snow/ice piled up higher than I am tall!!

However, Spring has certainly arrived in other parts of the country… as evidenced by photos of green grass, beginnings of greenhouse plantings [I can almost smell the earth] and babies, babies, babies everywhere! Thank goodness for my daily dose of visits to blog posts, fb, pinterest, tumblr and other social media resources!! You have SAVED me!

On the farm this past weekend, I finally took down my make-do/temporary sheep breeding pen(s) and re-united the hopefully prego ewes with the rest of the flock. Potentially more dramatic, the rams have been re-introduced as roommates! I am totally thankful for the advice of a shepherd friend, to  confine the rams – in the smallest space possible – to the point where they are almost immobile. In addition, food/water are withheld for 24-hours! Upon their release, they pretty much lose ‘interest’ in each other and go direct to eating with very little squabble! Happy sheep!

Speaking of happy sheep, I recently sold my remaining yearling wether as a ‘pet’. YAY! Saved from the freezer!!!!

Continuing the Spring ritual, sheep shearing has been tentatively scheduled sometime later this month. It’s also time to prepare for kidding/lambing, vaccinating mama’s and taking note of any necessary ‘supplies’. After a long wait, it’s best to make plans… not to be caught off-guard or surprised by this blessed event! 

So, while I anxiously await Spring, I continue to play with fiber (explore weaving ‘smalls’ with a lap loom) and work on my garden wish list!

gray sheep

There’s a baby in the house!

Yes! Quite literally, there are two newborn goat kids presently residing in a large tub in my laundry room! Cassiopeia (aka Cassie), one of my two dairy goats, kidded yesterday and presented us with a doeling [the first GIRL baby goat in three years/freshenings!! WOOHOO] and a buckling/boy!

Sunday, (around noon) Cassie displayed all the ‘textbook’ signs that birthing was near: 1) her vulva  became more swollen and less firm 2) her ligaments just above and to either side of her tail softened 3) she started “talking” to her stomach 4) she become sunken in the flanks as the kids move into position in the birth canal 5) she began to stand up, lay down, stand up, walk around, lay down, stand up, dig the floor, lay down, stand up… and finally 6) she developed a thick, stringy, long vaginal discharge announcing that she’s getting serious about having these kids.

Around 4 pm, Cassie began to ‘heave’. These ‘heaves’ or contractions repeat every few minutes and eventually a small balloon of reddish-brown liquid appeared outside her vulva. This is where [my emotions begin to swell] it gets exciting and the clock begins – take note of the time and duration of this stage of labor. With a few more heaves the bag of fluid may break or it may just get bigger and hang down to the floor. The contractions continue and I’m desperate to identify familiar body parts, ideally, a couple of tiny hooves inside the bag and a little nose… a normal birth position.

In a normal birth presentation, the goat is positioned head first, with its hooves outstretched.

NORMAL BIRTH PRESENTATION

It’s a gift to stand-idly by and allow nature to take it’s course…and, a greater blessing to KNOW when assistance is required! Since Katie and I could not recognize any hooves/nose/tongue, nor was any further progress being made by Cassie [through all her ‘heaving’] — WE agreed and decided it was time to glove-up and investigate/take a closer look!  That big blob was in fact a head, sideways. Thankfully, mercifully, I was able to hook/straighten one foot and then the other with my fingertips. The kid EXPLODED out of Cassie’s womb, into my lap, knocking me down and Cassie on top of me!  Now, I wish I had a picture of THAT!!! Praise God, for he is merciful!

sheepyhollow_doe_buck

Immediately following the doeling’s EXPULSION (left, 8 lbs.), we saw two tiny feet [in the correct birth position, YAY!] waiting his turn to meet & greet!! Almost an hour passed before Cassie finally had the strength/courage to push, uneventfully [phew!] her second kid out – a little buckling (right, 7 lbs.)!

sheepyhollow_cassie2013

Cassie earned a warm drink of molasses water and a restful night! I’m soooooo glad I only have two does!!! To all the large dairy farms, you folks have ALL my sincere respect!!!

kidding [lambing] season: refresher

Got goats that will be kidding soon? Are you ready for the BIG event?

You may want to prepare/refresh your birthing skills! I found over a dozen helpful images by Linda Carlson. Please visit Linda & Eric Carlson’s farm in Southern California where they raise Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. Their website provides more than a dozen IMAGES VIA [click on link] // a series of drawings they have created to help illustrate various presentations that you/your doe may encounter and a few ways that may help with problematic presentations.

For more images/info on normal birth and recognizing dystocia, click here.

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!

Surprise, surprise…more bucklings!

Yup! Coriander held off kidding ’til this morning chores…I was think’n about spending the nite in the barn ~ last nite~ but, found her in early labor at 4 a.m.

Welcome two MORE bucklings…Oberhasli bucklings! We have six bucklings all-together!

Only a couple of hours old…

Chow hound…taking a break for a quick pic!

Mom and kids are doing well! That’s a wrap for kidding around here. Katie said she’s running out of ‘car’ names for the bucklings! I can think of a few more…

I think I’ll put a pot of coffee on, pull out the knitting needles…cuz it’s SNOWING again!!! ARG!

Stay tuned…three Shetland ewes will be lambing in May. Hopefully it’s warmer, actually spring-like??