Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

Updated boy photos

The boys are SOLD!Will hold until June when I wean them but boy I am I happy, after all the work to save them, they won’t be on my dinner plate ;o).

Man, I just love baby goats! Trying to get them to hold still long enough for a photo was difficult to say the least. They are full of so much life!

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February 26, 2011

Farm update

We’ve still got another couple of weeks before the rest of the does kid. It was planned for PJ and Bonnie to kid around the same time but obviously that’s not gonna happen so Bonnie gets to enjoy her “baby moon” alone. The boys are well. Perhaps a little too well! I have never seen buck kids as young as them acting bucky. Poor Bonnie, I think if she had half a mind, she’d kick them! They are horribly relentless at times trying to mount her. I KNOW! They are like 2 1/2 weeks old and were doing this, honestly, since day 2! Nasty little buggers.

They forever ride each other around and I think if they knew how to use their penis for the common good, they’d have the breeding thing down pat! As it is, they do the whole grunting, leg brushing thing and all, it’s really quite grotesque. I don’t tell them that of course, but good grief there are times I have to hold them and keep them busy just so Bonnie can get a second to eat in peace without them trying to jump on her or nurse. Honestly!

 We have a cat that’s been visiting the pasture and pen and is getting up the courage to come and visit me for some lovin’ and the babies are so enthralled with her. She belongs to a neighbor, or I assume she does. She’s too darn nice to be feral.

I’ve been meaning to get some new photos of the boys and all their baby goat antics. If they aren’t playing “let’s pretend to breed”, they are giving poor Bonnie a heart attack as she has to chase them all over and keep them out of mischief. They like to run behind me up to the pen gate as I leave while Bonnie is eating. She panics when she looks back and they are not where she last saw them. She starts screaming for them and I swear you can hear them giggle knowing full well what they are doing. Horrible kids!

 The weather was great last weekend and we were busy chopping wood, ALL WEEKEND, not much time for the adults to play with baby goaties. A storm moved in later in the week and we got a nice coating of ice 2 nights ago and last night. It really does look pretty on the trees. Today “warmed” up to above freezing. There’s still cloud cover but the ice on the trees is melting so most of everything is damp and feels springy. THANK GOODNESS, I was beginning to think winter would never end.

We’re gearing up to put in high tensile on spring break at the end of March. I am finalizing all the layout, have a few phone calls to make to find out f t posts are going to work for line posts. We have one pretty steep hill and that may require wooden posts be sunk but if we can get away with mostly t posts, I’d be a really happy camper. I don’t think we’d have to buy a single one with all the ones that are out there holding up the deteriorating twisted wire fence that’s currently “up”. The rest of the terrain is hilly and flat so we’ll see how it all goes. I am pretty sure our corner posts are all usable still. They are rock solid. I have some clearing to do of some saplings and such but if we could get a nice day, I’ll go along the fence line with a loppers and take care of anything that needs taken care of.

We’ve yet to inform one of our neighbor that will be affected by the new fence-or lack there of while it’s being constructed. We did notify one of our neighbors with a horse that he’ll need to do something with it while the fence is down. Neither neighbor, I would assume, is going to be willing to help us with costs. The neighbor we’ve already spoken with sounded like he was trying to guilt trip us into letting his horse pasture here (this is the same horse that lived here for a month after we moved in when the neighbor knew darn well the previous owners had moved and the neighbors were fully aware that the horse needed to be moved out before we took ownership). See, he’s only got 3 acres and it’s heavily wooded. He’s a vet for cryin’ out loud, you’d think he could afford a $28 round bale of prairie hay once every 6 weeks or so to feed the horse. As it is she comes down at feeding twice a day to the corner of the property and whinnies at me! What other choice do I have but to feed her? I know she’s not starving, they feed her, but how the heck do you look a “hungry” horse in the face while you’re clearly feeding your own animals and tell her no???  She and her two western neighbor horse friends have taken a sever tole on the fence line. This electified high tensile wire though should make dandy work of putting a stop to that though…bwahahahah!

At any rate, tax return is in and I am free to order fencing whenever I see fit. I could just go ahead and buy it all fro, Tractor Supply or Orscheln’s farm store but I want to make sure it’s quality and not something made in China. I’m not on a boycott China rampage, I just want American made fencing thankyouverymuch. I may also talk to the co op as they apparently stock from a company based in Kansas City.

Along the same lines as fencing, I took my kids to the Hutch. library a couple days ago and checked out a homesteading book and a few magazines. A while back I was watching The Victory Garden on PBS and a gal in Ca. had a fence within a fence fencing in her garden and said she had never had a problem with deer. I told my husband about this idea and he didn’t seem to convinced. In one of these magazines I was reading, Cappers I believe, there was an article talking about the same thing! I am convinced now that a fence 3 feet within a fence will be our deer deterrent. Apparently it has to do with their spacial perception and they just won’t jump it. Course, I’m sure it helps too that the lines are electrified.

We hadn’t planned to fence in the garden and new orchard area with high tensile but it’s certainly looking like a viable option now. I don’t think we’ll go as far as putting in 2 lines of high tensile, but I think putting in a line of “temporary” electric lines within the high tensile perimeter fence line is an easy option and if it works, we could run more high tensile at a later time. The aluminum and twisted plastic or PVC wires (whatever they are) don’t hold up but a few years and I’d rather have something that’s going to last if we find out the set up works.

As far as the perimeter high tensile electrified fence and predators/pests go, I have read a lot on this issue and apparently, if done right, it’s supposed to be a very good deterrent. I’ve yet to find a good LGD (livestock guardian dog). I really don’t want a pup and adults are few and far between. I also don’t want to jump at one when one pops up and have it be something that won’t fit here. For now, locking the kids up in the barn isn’t an issue for me at night but come time when everyone is out in the pasture beyond where I can see them during the day, I would like at least some assurance knowing that the high tensile electric fence is going to be a pretty formidable obstacle.

So anyway. On the mineral issue, really, seriously, everyone is looking so so so good! They are going through it like mad, bucks included! Boy am I glad thus far I made the switch. Prince (A.K.A. PITA) Charming is probably the blackest animal I have ever seen and I was noticing a bit of rusting on his ears but nowhere else really. For a while I thought perhaps this urine soaked face was being bleached in parts and that very well could be as the back of his legs and muzzle get that way during rutt but those areas have since turned back to black now that everything is calming down in the hormone dept. but I am pretty sure he was lacking in copper. It’s so hard to tell sometimes but since the new minerals, he’s turning black once again. I find it wondrous really, that for years I’ve used goat specific minerals and thought they looked pretty decent, I switch to something higher in most minerals and better quality and CHEAPER then the stuff “formulated” specifically for goats and they look better than I’ve ever seen, at the end of winter no less!

Fleur and FD are nearly ticking time bombs. They are both ginormous!

My daily morning routine is to get all 12 girls up into the stand. Nix that, all 11 girls. May, I think, is afraid of heights and prefers to eat her grain while standing on the ground. I don’t bother to press the issue since she’s not bred and obviously won’t be milked this year. This is how I get those dam raised yearlings to be good milkers. Yes it takes time to individually get each one into the stand for grain but it’s worth it to me and quite honestly, I enjoy the time with the goats. Most of them couldn’t care less what and where I touch and perhaps it’s only coincidental that their dams are the least skiddish, most even tempered does I own. I really only have a bit of a problem with one of them (Mea, Granite’s girl) but we’re slowly working the whole kicking issue out. I get them used to it before so I am not paying the price later with feet in my milk bucket.

Granite has always been skiddish. She was dam raised and I can only assume very little time was spent with her as a baby. She’s calmed down quite a lot but she still usually won’t let you walk right up to her and I don’t think that will ever change. She’s not hell bent to kill you or herself to get away from you but she won’t walk up and ask for pets either. However, and this is where my “not all dam raised kids are crazy lunatics” theory holds true, her daughter and son both were dam raised and human imprinted and they are both as friendly as can be! The kicking thing with Mea while I go over her udder isn’t unusual. I can’t say I’ve had a bottle raised doe put up a fuss about milking from the get go at all, and while I have had some wild dam raised milkers, those that I dam raise and human imprint, are more likely not to care about who touches what and where. So, there’s my plug for dam raising the “right” way.

I am making a list of those who will be sold after freshening. I am still “on the fence” about a couple of them but I will need to get my #’s down and will want to keep a few kids this year. I really wish I could have bred Fleur differently and for the sake of having it my way, I may “need” to hold onto her another year so that Moon is big enough for her to give him a second look. I wasn’t real happy with her being bred to Prince Charming but it was either that or nothing at all, she was the boss on this one. Eventually I will sell Granite but I would also like to get a Moon breeding out of her too. She was another, like Fleur, who refused anyone but the big strapping coming 2 year old Prince. So be it. I was really happy with her breeding last year which was a total fluke! I mean, I bred her purposefully to Oreo (buck out of PJ and Blackhoof 1 Strategy) but it was a draw out of the hat quite literally and wow was I happy with the results! I would like to see what a direct breeding to Moon would look like (as he is half brother on his dam’s side to Strategy). Mea has all the dairy character that Granite does but more body capacity and I seriously doubt she would have lost anything in the udder dept! If anything, she would have gained.

A friend back in Ca. is dangling a Lakeshore buck kid in front of my face. We are driving back this summer to Ca. I had hoped to bring a doe back from someone. A buck kid wasn’t in the plans but gee wiz, she’s making it difficult to pass it up!!! I’d have to sell a buck here. God knows I cannot have 4 bucks! Good golly! Well, I could have 4 bucks but really seriously, I don’t need or want to have a buck for every doe. Which is a bit of sarcasm. We’ll have to see how much summer pasture takes off the bottom line (A.K.A. the feed bill).The early grass is just ever so slightly starting to poking its green blades up from the soil and I can finally release a sigh of relief knowing it won’t be winter forever. We may still have a few more storms but just because the calendar says we’re getting close did nothing to convince me. Soon enough I’ll be cursing the heat but I know how bad the flip side can be and I do not like it one little bit. It could always be worse but God help me if we move to a place where snow stays on the ground for longer than a week or so at a time. Actually, no, I’ve decided, this is about as winter as I ever want to experience living in. You can take the city out of this country girl, but you’ll find it impossible to take the California out too.

February 6, 2011

Operation Kidding Pens

I have put off making up a kidding pen for entirely too long! I have said I was going to get at least one up for the past few weekends and in the end, in true style, we waited until practically the last minute. Our first doe of the year is due Friday. I have to wonder if she’ll hold out until then. She still has her ligaments but her back side’s looking pretty swollen and she’s stretching an awful lot. Taking it all in stride though. We’re in for some nasty weather Tuesday and Wednesday but this weekend looks pretty nice. I hope, for her sake and for the kid’s sake, she just waits.

I have probably never mentioned how much I love pipe corral gates. Our first goat shelter was sectioned with gates that hung off the walls for new mamas and eventually they convert over to kid penning areas for overnight separation. I love that they can be swung up against a wall, out of sight out of mind. They make making pens really easy!

kidding pen 2011

I have a lot more room in this barn than I have before and I’ve asked Jeremiah to weld up some panels for me to be installed at the back of the barn. I need a total of 4 kidding pens. I have 4 does due within days of each other and once the panel is welded up, I’ll have 4 separate areas and the front of the barn will then be for the does who are not bred or those who have kids old enough to be separated. In reality I need 5 areas but one of the pens will be big enough for two does and their kids and a kidding pen will then convert to a separation pen. 

kidding pen 2011- gate open

This particular pen is in the “open” area  that the does are not allowed into. The wooden wall is the milk room and behind the pen is where the other kidding pens will go. Right now it’s their favorite sleeping area but they’ll be pushed forward a bit to make room for the new pens. From the t-post to the opposite wall (left hand side of the photo) there will be a welded panel section with gates and the back of the barn will be split in two with another panel section. The back pens will be about 7 foot deep and just shy of 6 foot wide. The pen made with gates is 6’x6′. It’s a bit smaller than I would like but they won’t be in them for weeks on end. If the weather is nice enough, they will all be let out for outside time within 24 hours. And for now, that whole back area of the barn can be closed off to the main herd by another swinging gate as shown in the photos below.

The small piece of panel going from the t post to the wooden wall is on a hinge and just closes with a clip (see photo below). The opening is large enough for a non-pregnant doe to move through and she could easily have more room to get out into until the other pens are made up.

panel gate

The 4th pen will be substantially larger and will sit in the middle of the barn between the long separation gate (seen below and in front of the back kidding pens.) This area would be plenty large enough for 2 or even 3 does and their kids. 

separation

view of front of barn

We store our hay in the same barn as the one I am taking photos in (see photo below and I apologize, with the storm that went through, things got a little rough in there). The set up makes feeding easy and there are pros and cons to having the feed storage and main living quarters/sleeping quarters separate. We’ve talked about storing hay elsewhere and I think this may be something we’ll do next year so that I can have more “goat” areas. The barn is cut in half front to back-hay storage on the east side, goat area on the west. We did that earlier in the year (the photos for that can be seen on this post). For now, with the number we’ve got, it will work just fine this year.

future kidding pen

So, I hope that was all easy to understand. I really like having my kidding pens in with the herd. My does get stressed out when separated and putting them in confinement away from their mates would cause problems. I can appreciate keeping all together (but separate) too because of the ease of getting everyone fed and watered. Eventually, if I feel they need more “alone time”, they could be moved to any of the 3 open pens as each has has its own 3 sided shelter. But I wouldn’t move dams with kids in the weather we’ve been having so I’m happy to have the pens in the main barn. It’s just to cold to trust they’d be okay in a 3 sided shelter. More on 3 sided shelters in another post though. I’m off for tonight…completely exhausted after a full 12 hours spent working to get things ready for kidding.

I will add that my adoring husband installed 3 new electrical receptacles in my milk room, one on the outside of the milk room and a new double utility light up in the rafters giving me excellent light into the new kidding pen(s). There were 5 regular household lights in the barn rafters, and they’re still there, but now there’s enough light that I don’t have to worry about working in the dim shadows. What a guy!

February 6, 2011

Minerals: Cattle vs. Goat

A comparison of several of minerals available to us:

PDF for Ragland’s brand guaranteed analysis (http://www.raglandmills.com/pdfs/mineralchart.pdf).

Calcium ——– Min. 12.5 Max. 15
Phosphorus —- Min. 13.0
Salt ———– Min 10.5 Max 12.6
Sodium ——– Min 4.8 Max 5.8
Magnesium —- Min. 1.5
Potassium —– Min. .5
Copper ——– Min. 100 PPM
Iodine ——— Min. 300 PPM
Selenium —— No value given
Zinc ———- Min. 900 PPM
Vitamin A —– 40,000 IU/LB
Vitamin D —– 20,000 IU/LB
Vitamin E —– No value given

Right Now Onyx guaranteed analysis as I know it.

Calcium ——– Min. 11.5 Max. 13.5
Phosphorus —- Min. 10.0
Salt ———– Min 14.0 Max 16.2
Sodium ——– Min 4.8 Max 5.8
Magnesium —- Min. 3.0
Potassium —– Min. 1.5
Copper ——– Min. 2,500 PPM
Iodine ——— Min. 200 PPM
Selenium —— Min 26 PPM
Zinc ———- Min. 5,000 PPM
Vitamin A —– 100,000 IU/LB
Vitamin D —– 10,000 IU/LB
Vitamin E —– Min 100 IU/LB

Guaranteed analysis of the minerals from the co op, “early pasture” or “wheat pasture” minerals.

Calcium ——– Min. 16 Max. 19
Phosphorus —- Min. 6.3
Salt ———– Min 18 Max21
Magnesium —- Min. 3.2
Copper ——– Min. 2,000 PPM
Iodine ——— Min. 200 PPM
Manganese——–Min. 2,000 PPM
Selenium —— Min 29.85 PPM
Zinc ———- Min. 45,000 PPM
Vitamin A —– 180,000 IU/LB
Vitamin D —– 15,000 IU/LB
Vitamin E —– Min 200 IU/LB