In addition to all the medical appointments, we have been experiencing some big happenings and changes around the farm. 

First, there’s Shiloh, the increasingly pregnant donkey. 

Based on what we were told when we took her, her absolute earliest delivery date would be in March.  March is here, and she has been producing some unusual discharge in the last week or so.  I can’t really find any info about that though, and her udder is completely undeveloped at this point.  So, I still have no idea what to expect from her.  In the mean time, we have really lightened her work load and riding.  JR and M are about the only one who ride her, and only for short spells once or twice a week just to keep her going. 

Then there’s the goats.  Lilac’s little boys are doing great, and will be staying about 2 more weeks before heading to their new home. 

Lilac's twin boys, 8 weeks old

Onyx’s boys really took off after those first couple days and are doing equally well.   Soon, they will both be wethered and go to the same buyer of Lilac’s kids, where they will all be weedeaters and pets. 

Onyx has a history of being an over-8-lb-a-day producer, from excellent milk-star rated lines, and yet, since the first day or two, her udder always seems to be totally empty.  I have checked it a time or two to ensure there was food for the babies, and I’ve been lucky to get 1-2 squirts.  There’s no doubt she’s producing, though, as her twins are growing and gaining like little weeds!  I will begin seperating them at night later this week so I can start milking her, and am very interested to see how she produces and milks.  As if that all wasn’t enough excitement, Arabella, my Kinder doe is showing signs of very early labor, with relaxing ligaments, lots of discharge, and a nice udder.  This caught me off guard,  as she wasn’t officially due for another 2.5 weeks.  I looked over my records, though, and as it turns out, the seller bred her twice, 2.5 weeks apart, and then gave me the final date as the breeding date.  Looks like she may have conceived at the first breeding, though, as this would put her labor right on schedule.  Of course, there is always the risk of a 2nd conception at the 2nd breeding, so I will need to be present in the event of a preemie kid. 

Kinder doe Arabella, aka "Bell", 4.5-5 months pregnant

Along with hello’s, there are bound to eventually be goodbye’s too.  Lilac and Sara left for their new home Tuesday, while I was away at A’s appointments. 

Lilac, the day before she left.

I said my goodbye’s the evening before.  While I am very excited to be taking the step toward having a purebred herd, I will miss the girls!  Lilac was the best goat any newbie could ask for, and Sara was absolutely awesome for learning.  I wouldn’t know half what I do regarding the importance of nutrition without her as my driving force and guinea pig.  It was truly wonderful to see her progress over the last year.  Compare the next photo to those taken over the last year, as she improved, as seen in this post.

Sara, 4.5 months pregnant; photo taken the day before she left.

 Those 2 will be long remembered!

Finally, goat babies aren’t the only babies around.  JR was thrilled to finally have his first surviving litter of 9 kits since he took over our rabbit program. 

The proud mama doe, a Harlequin/Rhinelander cross

 As you may know, we started with a desire to focus on American Chinchillas, but that just didn’t work out.  Despite our attempts over 1.5 years, we have yet to have a purebred AC litter, and thanks to a sterile doe, we haven’t had any litters kindled since Lala’s last June.  Since the KS breeder admitted his line had proven to be weak, we finally decided to not invest anymore and give up the AC program, then bought a bunch of very hardy Harlequins and Harlequin/Rhinelander crosses from a breeder going out of business, and started over.  We harvested our sterile doe, but I just didn’t have the heart to harvest our AC buck yet.  I knew he was fertile, though he had little interest in breeding.  Then, we discovered the Harlequin doe we had chosen to keep him company in his large hare-pen was pregnant.  So, we knew he would breed–just in his own time.  The real reason behind keeping him, however, was that he was quite untame when we first got him, and JR had worked hard to tame him down.  Now, he LOVES people, loves attention, and loves to be petted.  Even JR was trying desperately to find a way to keep him. 

Pelham, our AC buck, saying hello as S enters his pen.

Then, with full cages, a new crossbred litter, and 3 other (hopefully) pregnant Harlequin does, I got a very unexpected e-mail from a lady right here in CO, not too far from us.  She was going through some hard times, and needed to find a home for her pedigreed AC buck and doe, both of which were just hitting breeding age.  She liked the principles and methods we raised our rabbits with, and wanted to GIVE us the rabbits, their hutches, and all remaining supplies!  We couldn’t turn it down.  So, we brought them home, let them acclimate to their surroundings, and then I introduced the doe to our AC buck, as he needed a new companion in the pen.  Within seconds, he had her bred.  Guess they liked each other. 

A playing with one of the new AC rabbits.

We will use the second AC buck to rotate the doe’s breeding with.  Since my buck was from a KS breeder breeding for strict breed characteristics, and these 2 were from a GA breeder breeding for hardiness, it will be nice to mix the two lines.  Hopefully, if all goes well, we will soon have our first purebred AC litter, and finally contribute toward preserving this amazing and beautiful, but critically endangered breed of rabbit.  In the mean time, though, it looks like Athena will have a nice supply of cross-bred and meat-quality Harlequin rabbits to supplement her diet.

Speaking of rabbits, here are a couple photos I took recently just for fun.  The “hare-pen” that the American Chinchilla rabbits live in is also occasionally used for other purposes.  Recently, we had to use the pen when I was weaning Lilac’s bucklings from her, and at night, we would put Athena, the LGD in with them for extra warmth and protection.  The dog and goats have their own shelter to go into, and the rabbits have underground nest boxes as well as an area off-limits to the goats and dog so they can escape if they want.  Typically, though, all hang out together. Certainly not a usual mix of friends!

 

Pelham, the AC rabbit, Athena, the LGD, and one of Lilac's little boys, all just hanging out.

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Athena, the LGD, and Pelham, the curious AC buck

 

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