Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Hello, I am delighted to have folks peeking into life on our little goat farm. We have been raising the Pygmy goats for about twelve years now. We started small but now we have one of the largest herds in Southwest Ohio. Our herd name is “Dry Run Acres” and we named our herd after the little creek that runs across the back of our property. Every day I have chores to do but I love it.My husband, Dewey, has Multiple Sclerosis and is very limited as to what he can do around the farm now but I am so lucky that he has four great brothers and they help me with the heavy work. Our son Joe has a full time job and is a Sergeant in the US Army Reserve but he pitches in and helps when I have big jobs like when I have to get the hay in the barn.The goats that have babies and those less than two years old get fed hay and grain twice a day. This time of the year – that’s almost all of them. The older does who have weaned their babies or who have not kidded yet and the bucks get fed hay in the morning and hay and grain in the evening. Everyone gets clean water twice a day. Goats do not like dirty water so I am always filling and refilling buckets.This evening while doing the evening feeding I noticed that Jenna, one of the does that is due to kid in December, looks like she is really getting close to delivering her babies. Her udder is very full, it increased a lot since yesterday and that is a sign her time is near. My sister in law, Irene, helped me move her to the kidding barn and I will keep a close eye on her. I will let you know when she kids!
Thursday – December 2, 2010
What a surprise when we went to the barn this morning! I was so correct about Echo Springs Jenna, she had two baby buckling (those are males) in her pen. They are pretty cute, each one of them is gray agouti just like their momma and they have white belly bands. We had to trim their umbilical cords, coat them with Iodine to prevent infection and speed up the drying process. They are both nursing fine; these are not Jenna’s first babies so she knows how to care for them. The other goats were a little impatient about waiting until we had the babies situated before I could feed them but after everyone had been fed it quieted down in the barn. I came in the house and baked a batch of chocolate chip scones with English walnuts and Dewey took half of them over to his parent’s house. I stayed behind to get the guest room ready; my parents are arriving today from Northern Wisconsin for a visit. A busy day of house work and laundry for me.
Friday – December 3, 2010
Jenna and her new boys are doing very well. We use brooder lamps with regular light bulbs in them to keep the pen warm where the new babies are. It is really starting to get cold at night now that it is December.Fall is the season that we choose to have most of our baby goats born each year. The Pygmy goat is a little different from most goats and sheep and deer that have their young in the spring time. Pygmy goats can be bred any month of the year so we can choose when we want to have babies. I choose the fall because the weather is moderate so it’s easier on me and the does. Fall babies also allow me to keep the babies all winter and then they are ready to go to their new homes in the spring when the 4-H members are starting their projects.There were eight baby goats born last week. Two sets of twins, one single kid and a set of triplets. One of the joys of being a breeder is getting to play with the brand new babies! I did plenty of that today -after feeding time I played with the babies and took pictures of each for their registration papers and to post on our website.We castrated two little male goats today. When they are not going to be breeding males or what we call bucks, then they have to have something done to prevent them from being fertile. Wethers are what we call the fixed males and they make excellent pets.We use the elastrator band on the little guys who we know are going to be pets. Bucks do not make good pets; they have a musk gland on top of their heads that puts off an odor that the doe’s just love but most people find it very offensive. People who think that all goats stink…well, they must have encountered a buck.
Saturday – December 4, 2010
September and October were busy months in the kidding pen, we had eighteen babies. September babies are in the weaning pens and they are adjusting to life without their moms. We moved the moms to another barn so they could adjust to the separation easier. Pygmy does would allow their babies to nurse for months but they really only need about six to eight weeks with mom. The babies will begin to eat hay and grain just like mom when they are just a few days old, but that’s only for fun, they get their nutrition from mom’s milk. When they start to chew their cud (goats have multiple chambers in their stomach and they chew their food twice) then they are getting their nutrition from the hay and grain and the milk is just for fun.We made a young man and his mother very happy today – they picked up three of the baby goats that they have purchased this fall. All three were weaned, up to date on vaccinations and worming and we micro chipped them today. They are headed to their new home in Eaton Ohio.When people purchase goats from us that we know have never had goats before we always give them the National Pygmy Goat Associations Pygmy goat owners guide. It is a very helpful publication that explains how to care for a feed the goats. Diagrams about hoof trimming and lists of poisonous plants are just some of the helpful things in the book. There are also forms for keeping track of the goat’s health care and that is a great tool.I was on the phone quite a bit today. I get calls almost every day from folks looking for goats or people who have questions about goats. I love to talk about goats so that’s just fine with me!
Sunday – December 5, 2010
Quiet Sunday at home today. My parents are visiting from Northern Wisconsin and we have seen many of the relatives this weekend. It snowed yesterday and it is pretty cold out so that should make my parents feel right at home!I bedded all the pens down with a heavy layer of straw. The goats need that to stay warm; it’s going to get really cold at night this whole week. We had a family from Versailles Indiana come by today and purchase a wether for their daughter’s 4-H project. They already have two does at home, pygmy goats are herding animals and they really don’t do well all alone. They have to have at least one friend, some people use them as companion animals for horses but most of the time they have two or more goats. We never sell just one goat to someone who has no companion animal, the goat will just be miserable and eventually just become and sick and die. We don’t want that!I am glad we are at the very end of our kidding season. We have just two more does to kid and then no more until early April 2011. I have to breed a few does in December so we can have babies in May. The gestation period is about 145 days from conception to delivery and anything bred now will be due in May. My friend and fellow goat herder, Lori, from Seven Mile Ohio came over today and checked out the new babies. We had a real nice visit going over goat bloodlines and making breeding plans for the future. She took one of the brown bucks home with her to breed one of her does. It’s really nice to have such a good friend who raises the same kind of animals and who travels to Goat Shows with you. More about that later….After the evening chores we went out for dinner at Captain D’s in Fairfield with my parents and everyone is cozy and warm for the night.