May 30, 2013

Ziggy and Company

The first couple of days have gone well enough, but not without problems. The day after Ziggy gave birth, she still had not passed all of the placenta.

One day old.

The youngest, a little buckling. 1 day old. 

Some things I feel confident to manage on my own, but a retained placenta is not one of them.

Firstborn, a little doeling, 1 day old.

2nd born, a buckling. 1 day old and looking for something to eat (yes,
he's at the wrong end but this is something they eventually figure out)

The vet was able to pull out quite a bit more. Ziggy didn't have a fever, which is good, plus she's till eating and drinking water.  The vet sent me home with oxytocin, to stimulate the contractions needed to expel the rest of the placenta. We also got a week's worth of naxcel injections, an antibiotic for which there is no milk withdrawal.

My other concern has been whether or not they are getting enough to eat. I made sure each of them latched onto a teat right after they were born, to get a tummyful of colostrum.

2 days old. 1st outing.

However, Ziggy's udder never got very full. It's also very saggy and low to the ground, adding the additional challenge of finding it! Fortunately I had some colostrum in the freezer, and was able to offer some to each kid.

The little girl seems to have caught on to nursing, but the boys, not as well. Baby goats do not instinctively know where to find milk. They have the instinct to suck and they know mom is the source, but finding that teat with its reward of rich milk is a hit-or-miss learning process. I frequently try to guide each kid to a teat, but for the boys, there doesn't seem to be enough to satisfy them.

1st chicken sighting

So I've been supplementing with a bottle. I started with 100% colostrum and have gradually been mixing it with some of Surprise's milk. The transition from colostrum to milk varies, most say in about a week.

Meeting Lily's twins for the first time. The twins are 3 weeks old. Lily
& Surprise were put in the adjacent field for the babies' 1st outing.
Surprise has been pretty mean to the twins, so I don't quite trust her.

The doeling seems to be getting enough of mama's milk and refuses the bottle. The boys, on the other hand, latch on to it with great vigor. My concern is that they will now think of me as their source of food, rather than Ziggy. If she was producing more, I'd insist they go to here. But I can't have them hungry, so after they get what they can, I give them the bottle. Hopefully her production will pick up if they keep nursing her dry. I'd love for her to be able to feed them all.

After every great exploration comes a good nap.

Bottle feeding is more work, of course, but it's just one of those things. And I have to admit, bottle feeding a baby goat is a pretty sweet experience.

Ziggy and Company © May 2013 

May 27, 2013

Ziggy's Surprises

Surprise #1

Ziggy went into labor today! My circled due dates were either May 17th or June 7th. [UPDATE: before I took her to the vet, I recalculated those dates. The second one was actually June 3rd, rather than the 7th, so she was really about right on time.] That meant she was either a week and a half late, or a week and a half early. At about 1 pm, she gave birth to a little doeling.

She was calm during labor, knowing what to expect, and knowing what to do. Half an hour later...

... a little buckling was born. Ziggy was an attentive mom and made sure everybody had a thorough bath, including me. She still looked pretty big, so I was expecting more. Half an hour later, at 2 o'clock, nothing. Nothing at 2:30, nor 3. I palpated her belly but it was soft. I felt no baby heads or legs. The placenta was hanging out so I figured that was it. I was surprised considering how huge she was. I cleaned up and went in to wash up.

Surprise #2

I went out to check on mama and babies around 4 o'clock. As I watched, she started pushing again. I figured this would be the placenta. But it wasn't! It was another birth sac! This one was another little girl, but sadly she never took a breath. She was perfectly formed, but really thin.

I barely had time to deal with that when she started to push again! Number 4 was another buckling.

Fortunately he is fine.

Ziggy looks happy, but I feel as worn out as the babies. But I wanted to let you know immediately, so we can all breath a collective sigh of relief.

Whew, what a day. It was sad to lose one, but I am thankful for three healthy babies and an easy deliveries. More photos here.

Ziggy's Surprises © May 2013 

May 26, 2013

Still Waiting On Ziggy


A number of you have asked about Ziggy. I keep hoping I'll have kids show you, but we're still waiting. I don't think she can get any huger.

Based on the dates she was put with Gruffy, the last due date would be around June 2nd - 7th. This would also coincide with the time Elvis jumped two fences to get to her. I don't think Gruffy stood a chance.

It doesn't look like she can last that long, does it? I promise you all will be the first to know.

Still Waiting On Ziggy © May 2013 

May 24, 2013

May Garden Tour

I have to say that except for an excess of weeds, things are doing pretty well in my garden. Here are the highlights.

Jerusalem artichokes are new this year.

Jerusalem artichokes. 

They will be winter food for us and the goats. To the left of those are multiplier onions and the remains of the winter lettuce, which is starting to bolt.

I have three beds of Red Pontiac potatoes. Cabbages share one of those beds.

Cabbages and potatoes.

I have three beds of peas with cattle panel trellises.

Peas on cattle panel trellises. Volunteer borage in front left

In two of them, I also planted tomatoes. Fortunately I have a long enough growing season to sow the seeds directly into the ground.  

Amish Paste tomato seedlings

In the other pea bed I planted cucumbers and radishes. By planting the cukes and tomatoes in the pea beds, they can use the trellises after the peas are done. 

Straight 8 cucumbers and Cherry Belle radishes. 

Another first is flax.

A bed of flax. 

I'm growing it for seed for the goats.

I'm getting my wish about getting strawberries! The wiregrass is still a problem but at least we have berries.


There hasn't been enough for jam, but there is plenty for eating fresh and strawberry short cake. In the strawberry bed I planted a type of lettuce I've never planted before. The variety is called Jericho, and is supposed to do well in hot weather. 

Jericho lettuce. 

Another new crop for me is sugar beets, although I've grown mangels before. 

Bucklunch sugar beets

Mostly I'm planting them to feed to the goats in winter, but I'll be curious to perhaps try my hand at making a bit of sugar from them.

Next to the sugar beets is a bed of Swiss chard, parsley, and volunteer 4 o'clocks, which are taking over. I hope to plant black turtle beans here as soon as I can make room. 

Swiss chard, parsley, and volunteer 4 o'clocks. 

I also have two beds of popcorn, planted early so they won't cross pollinate with our field corn.

Japanese Hull-less popcorn and orange cushaw

In the lower right of the above photo, you can see a cushaw sprout. Last year I planted Orange Bulldog pumpkins, of which I got only two pumpkins. Although they were fantastic keepers, I decided to go for orange cushaw squash this year. Cushaws make excellent "pumpkin" pie.

I'm still getting the last of the autumn planted lettuce plus a little broccoli. A few things have just been planted: okra, peppers, eggplant. And there are still a few more things I'd like to plant. Besides the turtle beans, I'd like to plant amaranth, also watermelons and black oil sunflowers.  Maybe some green beans too. Hopefully I can get everything into the ground soon.

May Garden Tour © May 2013 

May 21, 2013

Homestead Haying

May is the month we get our first cutting of hay. If you were to ask me what kind of hay it is, I honestly couldn't say. Hay is roughly classified as grass or legume, sometimes a mix. Likely I'd tell you ours is "weedy". It's just what grows here, but it's what we've got, so it's what we use.

We cut our first hay three years ago, in May of 2010. We'd just gotten goats and had about an acre of then unfenced field that we didn't want to go to waste. Dan bought his first scythe and had at it.

Dan practicing the technique.
Dan cutting hay with a scythe. These 1st two photos are from 3
years ago. I didn't take new ones 'cuz they'd look just the same. :)

The results
After he cut it, we let it dry on the ground, raked it up, hauled it, piled it up, and covered it with a tarp. I worried about that "hay." It certainly wasn't as pretty as the hay we could buy already baled. In fact, we bought some of that pretty baled hay, just to make sure I wasn't cheating my goats out of the good stuff. Imagine my surprise when they turned up their noses at the boughten hay in favor of our weedy homegrown hay. I later learned this is because the weeds are richer in minerals than grass. Goats have high mineral needs and so preferred the weedy hay.

We learned quite a bit about storing hay too. Or should I say, how not to store it. We thought the tarp would keep the rain off, but discovered that most of the hay became moldy under that tarp. From that lesson we learned several things.
  1. The hay must be thoroughly dried. If it's still green when stacked, it will generate heat as it decomposes and will work its way into compost. This can also result in spontaneous combustion, so that the hay actually catches fire.
  2. It must have air circulation, both on top and underneath.
Eventually we decided to turn the coal barn's carport into our hay storage, or hay "mow". This carport had a concrete slab, which we hoped would keep it off the damp ground.

Our carport hay mow. Dan put up welded wire fence to  hold the hay.
We later had to put up tarps too, to protect it from rain.

What we learned, is that when the air temperature and humidity are just right, the concrete will sweat. Not good for hay.

There are any number of ways to keep hay off the ground. Pallets would be good if available. Even free, however, pallets would require driving to go them pick up, which is time and fuel. Free would still be better than buying, but if we can, we look about for a homestead solution. I learned through research that, back in the day, farmers would pile branches as a base on which to put hay. Branches are something of which we have plenty.

Remains of last year's hay on right, the stick bed for this year's on left

Currently we have two pastures we can cut for hay. The goats eat what they want and we scythe the rest. The grasses and legumes keep growing, the goats keep eating, and we get a second and third cutting as well. There is a difference in these cuttings, and, in fact, hay is classified by which cut it is: first, second, or third (maybe even fourth depending on where it's grown).
  1. First cutting hay is made in the late spring and typically has more stems. It will have a higher percentage of grasses than legumes, which grow more slowly. Some say it also has more weeds, which goats love. It's usually richer in fiber and carbohydrates.
  2. Second cutting is the summer cut. It is usually leafier with fewer stems, and supposedly fewer weeds (unless we grew it. :)  It is said to be lower in sugars because of faster growth, but rich in other nutrients.
  3. Third cutting is the the last summer of fall cut. It usually contains more of the slow growing legumes and is rich in nutrients. Sometimes it is considered too rich for horses, but there is no problem for goats.

With all cuttings, I like to get them before the plants go to seed. This isn't always possible when one hays by hand, but nutrients decrease at flowering, when the plant begins to put all its energy into the flower and seed.

Alphie helps as a taste tester.

We had rain just this past weekend, which meant a shift of gears back to working on the hallway. I managed to rake up the dry stuff before that, and as long as the rest of it has a chance to dry, it should be okay. If it begins to get moldy or mildewed, it goes into the compost.

I don't mind saying that I sometimes wish we had a sickle mower. It would certainly make the job faster and less tiring! But at least we have two scythes and plenty of grass to cut. I can't complain about that.

Homestead Haying © May 2013 

May 18, 2013

New Kid on the Block

Or perhaps I should say new kid on the homestead. This is, .....well, he doesn't have a name yet.

White or cream with gold markings is common coloring
for Kikos. although they can be other colors as well.

We bought him several days ago. He's a spring born, mostly Kiko buckling, advertised as having a Kiko dam and 97% Kiko sire. I put him in with Alphie first. There has been a little head butting, but not much, since both of these little guys are missing their mamas.

Same age and height, but Alphie is a little chunkier.

They are the same age and size. Being young, I have a better chance of taming him than Elvis, who was older when we bought him. He needs to accept enough handling so that we can trim his hooves, give him his vaccinations, and tend to other needs should they arise.

I had hoped to let Alphie stay with Surprise for at least another month. Unfortunately, little bucks reach breeding maturity around two months of age. Alphie would nurse and then run around behind Surprise attempting to mount her with his breeding apparatus at the ready. Then he'd go after Lily. Neither doe was happy about this, so poor little Alphie now has to face the sad reality of Mama on the other side of the fence.

Surprise is less concerned about weaning than Alphie, but she obliges him by
hanging out with him by the fence. She's giving me a gallon of milk per day.

My plan has been to breed Surprise and Lily to one Kiko buck one year, and to another the next. I had hoped to find another full Kiko, like Elvis, but even unregistered they were out of my price range at this time. The offspring from these different matings will hopefully give me enough genetic diversity to experiment with the Nubian/Kiko cross over the next few years. What I'm hoping for, is a goat with the good milking qualities of the Nubian, and the stamina of the Kiko along with it's ability to thrive on forage alone. This is a concern for me because Surprise, in particular, puts everything into making milk so that it's hard to keep her in a healthy weight when she's in milk.

Gruffy and Elvis were curious about the newcomer.

Introductions to the "Big Boys" went smoothly. Elvis stands over the little guys and pushes them around a little, to demonstrate his dominance. They're all getting along pretty well, though Elvis tends to get a little rough at times. Even so, the new kid tends to gravitate toward Elvis, I reckon because Elvis's common Kiko coloring looks familiar. Will I keep Elvis?  No. He's currently listed on Craigslist.

The worst part is the screaming. Both little guys miss their mothers and will stand and bawl for hours, Alphie especially, since his mother is still in sight. They sound like a couple of little girls screaming bloody murder. I keep waiting for a police car to pull up and two officers to step out and ask me, "Ma'am, are you torturing children over here?"

And how about a few parting shots of the babies.

We've about decided on names: Rosie for the dark twin, Daisy for the other

Only Mama puts up with this.

Chickens are still a curiosity.

Lastly, the Ziggster.

Poor Ziggy, tired of being pregnant

No, she still hasn't delivered! Besides now, my last potential due date is June 7th.

New Kid on the Block © May 2013 

May 16, 2013

Hallway: So, What Are We Planning To Do?

When I showed you the laying of the new hardwood floor at the end of the hallway a couple weeks ago, I mentioned an intended purpose for this area. Some of you were curious about that, so here's the scoop.

What we're doing, is reallocating space. Our house isn't terribly large, not counting porches, it's about 1500 square feet. This is more than adequate for two people (and their pets and hobbies), but we felt that the space wasn't utlilzed well, particularly the wide hallway which is just a few inches short of 5 feet.

A section of the original floor plan. The
bathroom is the one we're working on.

It did very well to accommodate bookshelves, but when Dan lamented not having a master bathroom, my mental wheels started turning. What we decided to do is use part of the hallway to create a master suite.

The proposed plan for a master suite. 

We'll wall off the back of the hallway with a bookshelf. Behind it, (where we just put down the hardwood floor) will become a study for Dan. The spare room will become the master bedroom and a second doorway will be created to give access to the bathroom, Dan's new study, and even the back porch for a "private" suite of rooms.

The bathroom is almost done, and it won't take much to finish Dan's room. He never felt that he needed a lot of space, just enough for his desk, drafting table, and some shelves. After that, we can start clearing out the spare bedroom, which is currently used for storage.

That bedroom will be the biggest part of this project. Here's the to-do list so far:
  • Make a new doorway to connect the bedroom, bathroom, and Dan's study
  • Rebuild the closet. The bedroom closets in this house are long and shallow with short narrow doors so that they are difficult to access. We plan to put the two adjacent bedroom closets together to make one bigger, deeper, ceiling to floor closet plus storage.
  • Replace the original old windows with energy efficient ones
  • Properly insulate the outer wall
  • Ceiling? Dan doesn't care for the tongue and groove ceiling. This one has a slope, so that's a consideration. I may install styrofoam ceiling panels like I did in the bathroom
  • Walls? Likely just paint.
  • Floor? Is pine tongue and groove. There are no subfloors in this house. We've been adding vapor barriers as we've addressed the floors, and either put down hardwood or porcelain tile in the bathrooms. This room may get a carpet!
  • New door. We'll use the old one from the hall bathroom because a 32 inch door is too wide for that tiny room. (We'll replace that one with a bi-fold).

It's likely we won't even get started on this phase until next fall. Summer is outdoor project time, and we have quite a few outdoor projects. Unless, of course, it keeps on raining the way it has been. In that case, we'll make quite a bit of progress in the house.