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.

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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??

The Waiting Game

Today I moved Schaherezade into the kidding stall with Annie. Schaz is 5-days past her ‘average’ estimated due date. The ‘normal’ goat gestation period is  anywhere from 145 -155 days, with 150 days average. But, who says ‘average’ enters anywhere into the equation?

Signs of labor are highly variable amongst goats. Some goats may exhibit all signs, and then again, some does exhibit only a few. You become more experienced with sign recognition the more kiddings you experience…and the longer you’re around your goats! Signs of labor include: ligaments around the tail bone soften (to completely gone), udder fills, discharge from vulva, doe seeks solitude, acts restless, paws the ground, doe makes quiet baaing sounds, some go-off grain ration right before kidding.

When the time is right, the babies will come. So, I’ve been playing the waiting game…

I’ve been cleaning-up and surveying my herb garden…considering what I’ll plant, re-organize or the changes I’ll make? My garden is only a few steps from the barn, so I’d rather be working nearby… and I don’t have to put my coveralls on & off again a bazillion times…since the weather is hardly cooperating!!! I may as well keep busy – outside!

I’m trying to keep busy and keep my fussing to a minimum with little mindless projects…

Like these soon to be lamb pendants. A cute little embellishment for Easter?

And a few sheepy price tags for items in the shop.

I’ve had this bumpy sheep wash cloth pattern for a while…but no ‘white’ cotton yarn. Oh well, perhaps I’ll pair it with my handmade lavender soap.

What’s one more knitted/felted cell phone case?

Hmmm…and some winter pesto for dinner.

We L-O-V-E fresh basil in the garden…and harvest it fresh all summer long, freezing lots for later use during winter! It’s delish with crumbled sweet/mild Italian sausage, tomatoes (also frozen from the garden) and my goat feta!  My daughter prefers pesto over a traditional spaghetti sauce.

How-To:

During the summer, when harvesting basil by the bushel-full, I pick basil early after the morning dew has evaporated. Wash if needed and remove all the leaves from the stems (stems go to the chickens or into the compost). I then place all the fresh leaves into my food processor and add a little virgin olive oil – just enough to make a paste (you could use some water, but I prefer olive oil). I may add a few cloves of garlic. I usually don’t add pine nuts, cuz it’s not something that’s normally in my pantry. I transfer each batch of basil puree into a recycled/reused plastic butter tub and label for the freezer. I also freeze many ice-cube trays, pop them out and store/label in a freezer bag – these are nice for soups and stews. Each cube is approx 1 tablespoon.

To make the basil ‘pesto pasta’, I remove Italian sausage from its casing and brown it in a large dutch oven, along with a large minced onion and a few cloves of garlic. Once the meat is browned, I’ll add garden fresh cherry tomatoes – or tomatoes from my freezer and simmer on low. Add the fresh-like basil ‘pesto’ from the freezer (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups). Don’t add salt & pepper ’til the very end, because the sausage is very spicy! I like to cook about a pound of linguine pasta and add it to the ‘sauce’ along with my goat feta cheese. I’ve added cherve also…just makes a creamier sauce. Garnish with fresh Parmigiano. Serve with garlic toast and a fresh green salad. Yum!

I’d better check on Schaz!

 ♥blessings!

Life’s Little Distractions

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. But, today I’m talking about the four-legged variety…

Annie got a little impatient…

She thought she’d beat Schaherezade… and kid FIRST, before Schaz…(she’s 4 days beyond her ‘average’ due-date).

…and presented us with twin bucklings (that is, baby boy goat kids).

Annie kidded yesterday evening around 6 p.m. (actually, one day earlier than her calculated due-date.

An easy ‘text-book’ kidding!

And now I can’t get anything done because I’m in the barn…playing! Katie named her bucklings ‘Ford’ and ‘Chevy’. Way to go Sweet Annie!