After my recent adventures with a sick goat and layers roosting in the nest boxes, I finally got a break over the last few days. In fact, things have really started looking up in several ways….
Lilac is doing great. Her mouth is continuing to heal, I have not had to treat for anything, and her appetite has returned. She still won’t eat as much grain as I would like, but I’m pretty sure it’s because she is always so intent on her babies. As rambunctious as they are, they are a handful, and when they run in opposite directions, poor Lilac has a fit keeping track of both of them.
No worries, though. Faith seems to have taken on the role of big sis and playmate, and is always eager for a game of headbutting with the little guys. Since we got her, she has proven to be our most playful, and still acts very much like a youngster herself. Hopefully she will mature a bit in the next couple months, before she delivers her own kids!
This weekend, I seperated the babies and Lilac at night for the first time. That was an adventure in itself as cold as it was, and trying to ensure they stayed warm! In any case, Athena the LGD, has been assigned kid-duty, so after giving her some opportunity to get to know the babies, and vice versa, Athena now moves between pens each day and night. Lilac proved to be an incredible milker. I have never before seen her full potential since she had been milked through and almost dried up twice before I got her. Now, though, the babies nurse all day, then I take them away at night to sleep on their own. About 12 hours later, I milk Lilac, and return the babies to her. Every morning milking, I get 3.5 lbs, which is about 6 cups! Oh, I can’t express the relief to finally have our own milk supply again!!
The other goats are doing equally well. Sara is looking gorgeous, and she is starting to look heavy in the belly as well. She has her playful moments, but she has really matured and grown up a lot (in every way) in the last 4-5 months.
Faith and Bell are best buds, and you rarely see one without the other. They are about the same age, though I find it interesting since their personalities are so different. Bell is a people-lover, and won’t leave my side when I’m out there. She is calm, easy-going, and generally laid back. Faith, on the other hand, is Miss Independent, only allowing pets when she wants them, and just goes non-stop. She is also our trouble-instigator now that Stallion is gone.
Onyx is odd-woman out. She hangs out with the other girls, but hasn’t really bonded to any one in particular. She lets me pet her on her terms (usually around feeding time). She is my next doe due to kid, and her belly is huge. She is built wider than my other goats anyway, but with that baby belly, she just seems massive to me. Hard to believe she has almost 5 weeks to go!
Athena is coming around and gradually earning her way back to pasture-guard duty. Since we lost two chickens to her playfulness, she had lost that privilege, and was never turned out unsupervised. She was also not obeying well when off leash. The few days we had her in the house around her spaying proved highly beneficial in every way. It encouraged me to give her some work on leash, and she bonded a little more to us. As a result, she is listening and obeying sooo much better, and we can now trust her a lot more. Her big problem now is simply the fact that she is a 6 month old pup, and gets bored very easily. She is digging large holes all over the goat pen, and occasionally chases the goats or tries to play tug-of-war with one’s tail. She has proven quite gentle though, and has never gone overboard. All the goats except Bell will put Athena in her place when they have had enough, and though I haven’t witnessed it, I suspect the others stand up for Bell too. She is better with the chickens, as long as we remove her from the pasture within about 2-3 hours. Otherwise, she gets bored and tries to play with them. She is a good pup most of the time, though, and we are truly enjoying her. I figure another 6-12 months and she should calm down significantly, and be much more trustworthy. In the mean time, good, dependable, ole’ Will gets to pick up her slack with pasture guardian duty.
Shiloh the donkey has become the single animal on our farm that does little to earn her keep. Between the snow, ice (I haven’t seen my front yard in 8 weeks from the inches of ice on top), cold weather, and other priorities, we have not been riding her at all–even for therapy. She has been getting a little more onery toward the other animals, though I don’t know whether it is the progressing pregnancy making her cranky, or what. I learned she is absolutely NOT trustworthy around the baby goats when I made the mistake of turning all the goats and donkey out in the pasture one day. We have done this regularly, but baby goats were never part of the mix before. Somehow, one of the babies got seperated from mom, and before Lilac could get to it, Shiloh went after him. Thank the Lord, I happened to be walking by the door when it happened or she no doubt would have killed him. She was bucking, stomping, kicking, you name it. I couldn’t believe my gentle donkey had turned into an attack animal! He was so tiny, I think she had trouble keeping track of where he rolled to each time she hit him. Thankfully, as soon as she heard me yell, she stopped, and I ran out and retrieved the baby who, amazingly, turned out to be just fine. He ran off to mom and started nursing to calm himself. We have not allowed her out with them since. So, now I have to rotate them through to make sure all get sufficient exercise. She is still a sweetheart toward humans, though, and we tend to be optimistic. Therefore, we are seeing her current use as a producer for our varied compost pile, an eater of our goat-waste hay, and an eater of the pasture grass that the goats don’t care for. Once we get the pasture cleaned out and a bit safer for riding in, JR is planning to do a lot more riding since I won’t have to be there all the time if he is in a fence.
The rabbits seem to be doing well. We got part of phase 2 of the pen accomplished, in that we laid down some 2×4 welded wire fence along 2 edges of the pen to stop the tremendous amounts of burrowing they were doing in those areas. We are still waiting for a bit more ground thaw and an opportunity to drive to the correct store to buy the type of pipe of we need to finish the rest of it. In the mean time, we are hoping at least 2 are pregnant. I arranged for a little date between a harlequin doe and buck, which proved a success, so she will hopefully deliver in about 10 days. She has delivered before, but this was the little bucks first time, so we’ll see. I am also hoping that Pelham, our AC buck has bred another of the harlequin cross does and/or the AC doe, both of which run loose in the hare-pen with him. They have been together right about 4 weeks now, so it could, theoritically be any time that one of the girls delivers. I hope.
We aren’t sure how the bees are doing. They only come out of their hives when temps are over 50*, and that has only happened about 3x this month. One hive wakes up, but MANY dead bees have been tossed from the hive on those warm clean-up days, so we have no idea how many remain. We think we observed life from the other 2 hives one day, though, it also seems that the good hive bees are actually entering the other 2 hives and stealing the honey out. I fear we may have lost both of those. We are starting to think we got suckered into buying a batch of sick bees, in hindsight, but we are hoping this one will survive, and give us a good, hardy colony to go into the next season with. Once the weather warms up, S is going to work on sterilizing all the hives, transplanting the live colony into a clean hive with more natural comb frames, and see what happens. We aren’t expecting to harvest much honey this year, but we are hoping to learn a great deal from the experience.
Finally, I am thrilled to report that I have not had a dirty nest box since I added the curtains last weekend! I now get 6-8 clean eggs each day, and my nest boxes are nice and tidy. Now, if I could just convince that old rooster to love on the hens equally, rather than singling out just the 2! They are starting to loose too many feathers where he stands on the poor girls all the time.
Guess that wraps up this farm report. Thanks for reading!