Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some More On Horny Goats........

Hehehe!  Get yer mind outta the gutter!  I'm talking about HORNS you goose!

I'd like to note that all the goats in these pictures have been sold and no longer live here with us!

Notice IE's tipless horns......
After this post a commenter asked me why we disbud, and if horns weren't natural.  I'd like to address this now. 

Yup, horns are more natural, but there are so many unnatural things  we do with goats that for me the horns just can't stay.

It is not natural for us to fence a goat in, it is not natural for us to milk a goat, and it certainly isn't natural to make a pet out of one, but we do and there is nothing wrong with it.  However when you fence a goat in, milk a goat, and keep a goat as a pet, horns can cause you lots and lots of problems.

  Goats learn how to use their horns quickly and they will use them on you and on other goats.  Ever since Tommy came here with his glorious set of horns, my girls have not worn collars.  It's too easy for Tommy to hook them under the collar and perhaps drag them to death or break their necks.  Tommy tries to hook me all the time, but so far I've been too fast for him.  He has gotten me when I've had to wrassle him, but not bad, just a bruise.  I've heard and read many the horror story of goats killing other goats, many times by accident.  I've heard of does ripping the bellies out of their kids with their horns.  As kids get older and the doe wants to wean them she will let them nurse for a bit, then she will butt them off with her head.  Well a goat with horns can really hurt her kids badly doing this.

You can't do this with a horned goat!!
A horned goat is a danger to themselves in fencing.  There is nothing more attractive to a goat than the grass, brush, or browse on the other side of the fence.  Unless you have hot wire all the way around your entire goat pasture your goats will be sticking their heads through to eat the grass and weeds on the other side.  If that goat has horns, they usually can't get their heads back out.  If you don't find them in time, you could come back to a dead goat, hanging from the wire.  

A horned dairy goat will have a more difficult time getting her head in the stanchion, and you won't enjoy lovin' on her nearly as much as her disbudded sister, cuz when she rolls her head back in ecstasy as you scratch her butt, she's gonna get you with her razor sharp horns!  One of the wethers we had that I botched his disbudding loved to rub his head up and down the back of my thighs and my butt.  This was actually a really nice massage, except his horns would hook me!  Tulip does this to me and it's great because she has no horns.

Disbudding is a personal decision and one each individual goat raiser should make.  In keeping livestock there are many, many things we must do that seem harsh, but in the long run they are so much better for the animals and humans involved.  Disbudding is quick and I can tell you from my experience doing it that the babies are just fine as soon as it's done.  They run over to momma, get a slug of milk and are back to bouncin' round with their siblings and cousins within minutes. 

Click this to see the disbudding scars bigger, but keep in mind that it didn't work!  As a matter of fact, you can see that the right horn bud is already growing.

Homestead life isn't all roses and chocolates.  Real homesteading is harsh at times, but that just makes the good all the sweeter!

God Bless.............

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

15 Years........

15 years ago we became one flesh.  Each day my love for you has grown, swelling inside my heart until sometimes I feel it will break.  Sometimes, I cry because the pain of loving you so fully encompasses my heart and I feel as if I will explode with emotion.  God gave me to you, to be your wife and I feel so fulfilled because I am your woman.  The very first time I saw you, my heart leapt inside because it recognized you as my man.  You mean more to me than I can ever express. 

My partner, my lover,
My husband, my friend,
To be together,
With you to the end,
Is my greatest desire,
My hearts only wish.
Our souls have known each other
For millions of years.
I pray for many more lifetimes of loving you!

Happy 15th Anniversary to The Man, My Man, My Best Friend!

Here are 15 things about The Man and the Goodwife, one for each year we've had together...

1)  The Man's full legal name is initials.  Just initials and then our last name.  He doesn't have a "real name".

2)  My first name is after my Great-Great Grandma on my mom's side and my middle name is after my grandma on my mom's side. 

3)  The Youngun isn't named after any family members, but her middle name is after a Canadian rocker who just had a baby boy on Christmas Day.

4)  Since our first date, The Man and I have never spent a night apart..........not once.

5)  Our entire marriage folks have been saying to us......just wait until you've been married 2 years....5 years....7 years.....10 years.....12 years, meaning we won't be as in love and desirous of spending so much time together.  We are still waiting.......

6)  We work on our marriage every single day.  We don't let stuff slide to the side.  We've watched marriages fall apart and we are smart enough to know how it happens.  We are both very committed to keeping ours strong and healthy.

7)  We love to have fun and laugh.  Supper around our table is a pretty wild time, between the three of us.

8)  We eat supper together at the table every night. We use cloth place mats and napkins and hold hands to say grace. Don't get me wrong though, f@rting, burping, and laughing are always runnin' rampant! :oD

9)  The Man was at the infamous 1991 riot at the Guns and Roses concert at Riverport.  He was so mad 'cuz Axl was singing Rocket Queen (one of his most favorites) when he threw down the microphone and stormed off stage.  We still love classic G N' R though, and no 80's rocker can compare to W. Axl Rose!

10)  The first 6 years of our marriage we slept in a 3/4 bed.  That is bigger than a twin, but smaller than a full/double.  It's now The Youngun's bed.

11)  The Man has been beside me through my ups and downs with weight over the past 15 years and has always made me feel sexy, desirable and like an excellent specimen of womanhood.  I can't even express how sexy that makes him....and he's really sexy anyway!

12)  I've never met somethin' I couldn't cook and he's never met a motor he couldn't take apart and put back together (pre-computerized of course)

13)  He said I looked like Janis Joplin on our wedding day.  That's the biggest compliment he could give because he thinks Janis is the bees knees!

14)   I've had three wedding rings.  They keep breaking!  The first set we got fixed three times and it broke again so I just put it up and started wearing a twisted silver and copper band.  Then it broke so The Man bought me a new set for Christmas.  It's missing a diamond but is showing no signs of breakage.  We also don't buy expensive jewelry.  My first and last set came from Wal-trash and the braided band was 15 bucks from Silver Dollar City.  I loved it and want to buy another one if we go back.

15)  The Man has 7 tattoos and I have 5.  We each have a web on our left shoulder with The Youngun's name in it.

To read our story, you can click here........

God Bless......................

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Honor Of Our Anniversary.........

A while back Nicole over at That's Life did  this little poll on her blog.  Since The Man and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary tomorrow I thought I'd do it too, so here goes!

♥ How long have you been together?

We will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary on March 30; we've been together since January 30 of the same we've been together for 15 years and 2 months!  hehe

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?

Ummm, well we knew each other for about 6 months, but we were both dating other people during that time.

♥ How old are each of you?

He will be 38 in July of this year, and I turned 34 in January of this year.

♥ Whose siblings do/ did you see the most?

I have one sister and he has 5 siblings (step, full, and half).  I'd say we see my sister more, even though it isn't all that often, we for sure see her more than his siblings.

♥ Do you have any children together?

We have our beautiful Youngun who we love very much!

♥ What about pets?

We have three dogs in the house, as well as a barn cat, a horse, two G.O.S. hogs, and three goats.....right now..........oh yeah and a betta fish and some sea monkeys!

♥ Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?

Hmm, nothing really.  We are a force, a solid wall against any and all opposition.  We are a pretty darned formidable team!  When we first got married, the first year, that was a bit rough.  But we really truly are joined as one.  If he has a problem it is my problem and vice versa.  We don't let ANYTHING or ANYONE come between us as a couple, so I think that keeps things from stressing our "couple-hood".

♥ Did you go to the same school?

No, we didn't even live in the same county.

♥ Are you from the same home town?

Again, nope.

♥ Who is the most sensitive?

That would be me, although he can be a big ole softy at times!

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?

We like to go to this little hole in the wall diner, The Sunset a coupla towns over.  Great service, good food, super cheap and we can go there after working outside all day without a shower first! ;0)

♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Myrtle Beach South Carolina

♥ Who has the worst temper?

Hmmm, well mine burns hot and fast, and shows up lots more than his does, but when he does finally let loose, buildings have been known to explode.............I'm just sayin'

♥ Who does the cooking?

That would be me........

♥ Who is more social?

Neither of us.  We don't really "do" people..........LOL!

♥ Who is the neat-freak?

That would be him, but we both like to keep things neat.  I like things neat and orderly, and a mess makes me nervous, but he has a problem.........he's a stacker.  When we first got married, when it was close to time for him to get home from work, I'd lay the phone book down on the floor and without missing a beat, as he came in the door he'd stoop down to pick it up!  Papers on the desk or counter?  They have to be perfectly stacked for him! 

 ♥ Who is the more stubborn?

I'd say we are both pretty stubborn, but since I'm the Goodwife, he has final say on everything.  If we are doing a project he will listen to my ideas and opinions and oftentimes we do things my way, but if he KNOWS how he wants to do it, nothing will sway him and I respect that!

♥ Who hogs the bed?

I prefer to say that I'm a cuddler and leave it at that!

♥ Who wakes up earlier?

I do.  I'm an early bird.  Of course that's only relevant on weekends cuz we get up before the crickets go to bed during the week.

♥ Where was your first date?

Steak n Shake........he picked me up in his horrendous car, we got a flat tire, got it fixed, went to eat, went back to his house and I never left!  About a week later, he asked me to marry him in a Wendy's parking lot in said car while the song "I Hate Everything About You" was playing on the radio. 

♥ Who has the bigger family?

Sibling wise, he does, but we both have pretty good sized extended families.

♥ Do you get flowers often?

Twice in 15 years, I don't need flowers......

♥ How do you spend the holidays?

Christmas and Thanksgiving with family, the others..... simply together!

♥ How long did it take to get serious?

Um, see the above took about 5 minutes.  Sometimes you just know you've found "the one".

♥ Who does/ did the laundry?

I'm a homemaker so I do most of the house stuff, although when he's on vacation, or weekends when we are both very busy 'round our homestead, he has no problem pitching in and helping me out.

K, so that's that!  Anything I didn't tell you you'd like to know?  Just life is an open book.  As disturbing as that may be.................

God Bless..............

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Few More Goat Thoughts..........And a Couple Episodes of Confessions of a Goodwife...

I thought I was done expounding on goats, but Mountain Mama brought it to my attention that I hadn't mentioned disbudding, so here we go!

Disbudding sucks...........BUT it is a must around here.

Now it's time for an installment of  Confessions from the Goodwife duhhnn, dunn, duhhhh......

Part of the reason I got so frustrated and wanted to give up on my beautiful little homesteading life is because of disbudding.  There I said it, and it's true.  You can laugh, you can scoff, you can make fun all you want, but it really, truly is true.  It's a failing in my character that disbudding my kids makes me physically ill.  I get the shakes, I get sick to my stomach, and I feel awful.  Then to top it all off, after all that stress on me, it has NEVER ONCE WORKED!!!  I've disbudded two crops of kids and every single stinkin' one of those babies has had a glorious set of horns, just with no tips.  That's right, not scurs, tipless horns.  This stressed me out and made me feel like a total and complete failure, not to mention made me feel like I couldn't sell my kids to the public......

  I've had people say, oh you aren't gettin' the copper ring.  But I saw copper ring and the horn tip is very neatly gone, as well as scabbing over, breaking off and bleeding like it should.  Anywho, after lots of thinking about what I did wrong, I've decided the tip of my disbudding iron was too small and it wasn't getting the entire root of the horn, thereby just killing the tip

.  Whatever the reason is, I just can't do it.  I felt like if I couldn't disbud my kids then I shouldn't even be raising goats.  But now I've decided to stop beating myself up about it and just hire somebody to come disbud them.  Mucho less stressful on me that way!

Now that we've talked disbudding, lets talk about those handsome bearded menfolk of the goat kingdom.........the bucks!

Bucks are gross.  They are the goats that stink and they do some really gross stuff to themselves in the name of keeping themselves prime for the ladies, the LEAST of which is peeing on their faces and drinking their pee.......("Is it 'nessary', for me to drink my own urine?  Probably not but it's sterile and I like the taste.......if you know the movie that came from you'll know why we changed Tommy's name to Tommy O'Hoolihan) anyway, I digress.  Let's just say that buck goats aren't shy about their parts and making sure they work correctly.  However, bucks can also be lovable funny critters that you just can't help but love. 

My only experience is with Kinder or Pygmy bucks which are little. Having to wrassle them sometimes has made it very clear to me that I wouldn't want a big buck to have to deal with!

This brings me to my final two points........(yeah right Goodwife, you couldn't shut up if you tried).

Another episode of Confessions of a Goodwife.....that's right, it's a twofer in one blog!

I'm not a goat expert (in case you couldn't tell that).  May will be only my 4th crop of kids. I've only had dairy goats since the fall of 2007.  I hope I didn't come across as a goatie know-it-all and I've tried to stress that this is the stuff that works for me, not the end of the word on goats.  I don't know anything at all about any breed of goats except Kinders, more specifically MY Kinders.  I know my goats, that's it.  I don't know if they are typical, or atypical or if what I do will work on any old goat or what, I only know it works on my goats.

If I were to give any advice to somebody wanting to learn about goats, particularly dairy goats I'd tell them to read, read, read, read, read.  I'd send them to Fiasco Farms and tell them to read some more.  I'd tell them to read every goat article they can find online, every pamphlet, every book, every blog, every nugget they can get their hands on.  I'd tell them to talk to other goat folk.  Then, now here comes the most important part, I'd tell them to use the brain God gave them to weed out the crazies and make the best decisions for their animals. 

Everybody has an opinion and you know what they say about opinions right?  You have to do what's best for you and your situation, not what's best for me or any of the other folks whose blogs you read, even though they may be telling you otherwise.  Use common sense and listen to what more experienced folk are telling you, but don't get caught up in hero worship of those folk.  They are human, and they started sometime too.  They don't know it all (even if they think they do).

You have a don't be afraid to use it!  ;0)

God Bless.................


Friday, March 25, 2011

Did You Order This??

If you did, I'm going to return to sender!  I'm just kidding, I don't really mind.  We've got wood for the fireplace, snug barns for the critters, and it's really so pretty to look at!  I'll try not to dwell on the fact that is was sunny and in the 70's just three days ago......right.......I'm not going to dwell........

It' supposed to snow from here until Tuesday...........I'm going to be like this little robin and not let it stop me or get me down!  He was busily building his nest impervious to the snow falling......

Join in on Farm Friend Friday over at Verde Farm!

God Bless...............

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shine On.........

I follow the blog of a wonderful woman named Lara Katherine Mountain Colley.  She is a mountain woman, in love with the land and I really enjoy her blog.  Recently she did a post on her blog A Mountain Hearth about the artist May Erlewine.  I'd never heard of May and Seth before, but I'm now a big, big fan. 

I realize they've been around a while and I'm a little late to the party, but boy do I really like them a lot.  May's voice reminds me so much of Janis every good way there is.  They are both beautiful and soulful and wonderful and I just had to share!

The song in the clip below is Shine On and it moved me so, that I've listened to it about 10 times in a row!

ps....thanks Flower Lady and Lara for reminding me of how JanIS Joplin's name is actually spelled.......whoops!

God Bless..............

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Goat Week Continues.......How Do Ya Hem In a Goat?

So now that we know what to look for in a goat, and how to handle kidding and milk, and all that good stuff, what the heck does a goat eat and how do you keep them in??  The burning and consuming question........HOW DO YOU KEEP THEM IN????

Patience my child, it isn't hard and it isn't rocket science.  Want me to tell you the single most important thing you will ever know about raising goats??  Do you??  Really??  

Don't keep more goats than your land can handle.  Yup, it's that easy.  If you have two acres and you have 14 goats, 2 horses, a cow, 6 rabbits, and 47 chickens you are going to have problems keeping them contained as well as keeping them healthy. Did you hear me?  It's as simple as that.  Know how folks in third world countries have health problems from over-crowding?  Well you'll have that and more if you try to cram more animals on your land than your land can sustain.

But Goodwife, can't I just buy hay??  Sure you can, but having enough stuff to feed those critters isn't the issue.  It's like if you had an unlimited supply of carrots to eat but nothing else.  You aren't going to starve, and you aren't even necessarily going to be hungry but I can bet you when the neighbor starts grilling pork chops, you are gonna be tempted to go say hi, and you are going to develop some diet related health issues.

 But Goodwife, can't I scoop poop every single day??  Sure, but you won't get rid of the parasites and other creepy crawlies that thrive in the ground in over-crowded barnyards. 

Keeping goats in and healthy isn't hard as long as you don't over-crowd.

Goats are browsers.....

They like to eat like a deer does and even if they have all the hay they can eat, if they can't browse, they will go awandering until they find some.  Goats don't want to stand in a dirt lot in front of a rack of alfalfa hay.  Do they like alfalfa?  Of course, but they'd rather be eating tender shoots and dead leaves, buds from trees, and tender bark, poison ivy, and multiflora rose.

  Now I'm not tellin' you ya can't have as many goats as you want.  I don't care if you have 75 goats on an acre and a half, it's none of my business.  I'm just telling you that your life as well as the lives of your goats/animals/land will be lots easier if you don't overload your land. 

That said, I wouldn't want to raise goats without hot wire.  Hot wire is your friend, wether (hehe) you are hemming in horses, pigs, dogs, or goats.  When our goatlets are very little we get on the opposite side of the hot wire fence and coax them over.  They get popped on the end of their little noses and that's that, they are broke to it for life.  I'm sure if they were hungry, they might challenge it, but here they have plenty of room so they don't.  Three strands of hot wire are the only thing between my goats and my garden and it's never been an issue.  In the picture below, the far side is the garden, orchard area, and the front side is where the goats can be.  That hotwire fence keeps them out of my garden.  They will graze right up next to it, but won't touch it.

  It did take a bit to get Tommy broke as he was an adult when he came here, but he's broke to it now and doesn't go anywhere.  He also has really long hair, so when he would touch it it wouldn't get him very good.  He got popped on the horns once and the nose once and that was all it took.

You also need to be good friends with your goats.  If they see you as herd boss, even if they do get out they will likely come to the house looking for you.  Tommy has been out about 3 times since he came here and all three times he came to the house or the shop.  I saw him out the window, went outside and he followed me back to where he belonged.  That said, I would NEVER expect any type of fence to keep a buck away from a doe in heat.

Now where does my goat need to live?  Goats aren't too picky about their house.  As a matter of fact, at our old place the goat house was old wooden stock racks, set on the ground, covered with tin on the sides and top.  They don't care as long as they don't have to get wet.  Goats HATE to get wet!  They don't want to get rained on and they don't want to get their feet wet!  I'm very blessed to now have a nice barn (thanks Dads) to house my goats in, but it isn't necessary. 

Because my goats live in around 4 acres of pasture with lots of varied terrain, I don't have to trim hooves too often.  This depends on the goat though.  Like people, some goats' hooves grow super fast and some don't.  Trimming isn't hard.  I use pruning shears and put them on the milk stand and lock their head in with a bait of grain in front of them.  That usually keeps mine happy while I do their feet.  This is also something I start at a young age, handling their feet.

What about deworming? This is something else I take a bit of a different approach to.  I don't deworm all that often because I don't need to.  With my goats having such a large living area, parasites aren't that big of an issue.  When I need to, I give ivomec orally, usually only a couple times a year.  This is very contrary to what lot's of goat folk do, so remember it's just the way I do things, not for sure the way you should! 

Now back to feeding.........I feed "grain" on an as needed basis as well.  When my girls are in milk, they get fed a custom grain mix that the elevator mixes up for me.  It looks like this....

Does only get this when they are in milk and bucks never get it.  How much I feed depends on the doe, her body condition and such.  In the summer nobody gets grain of any kind (except does in milk).  Since I've got plenty of browse and such for my goats to eat, they just don't need it.  It isn't natural food to them, so I promise if you've got enough land, they don't need anything else in late spring, summer, and fall.  This past winter I didn't have anybody in milk but my hay wasn't the best so since around mid December this is what my girls have been eating.....

This is alfalfa cubes, shredded beet pulp, and 1 cup of sweet feed, soaked in warm water.  After soaking, I break it all up until it looks like this........

Then I take this much out.......

And that's what Tommy gets to eat.  Now that it's warming up, I'm weaning everybody down from this. The girls will continue to get it until about 2 weeks before kidding when I'll start introducing the milking mix to them.  They have fresh, clean, unfrozen water at all times and they have free choice loose mineral.  Goats are picky so you have to be sure their water is clean or they won't want to drink it.  They will if they are thirsty, but they won't like it!  ;0)

Well lets see..........did I forget anything?

Thanks for reading and commenting on how we do things here at Goodwife Farm.  Differences are what make the world go 'round, so remember, if you do things differently that's wonderful as long as it works for you!  I'm a firm believer in there is no one "right" way to do something.  You must adapt your program to your situation and then tweak until you get things right!

One last thing about housing/pasturing your goats........goats are "mouthy" like a baby or a puppy.  They are very picky eaters, but they like to taste stuff.  They also like to climb and jump on stuff.  If you keep your spare pickup/tractor/trailer in the goat pasture you will probably find you have no wiring left and no seat, among other things.  Then you'll be mad at that "stupid dumb goat" when you should be mad at the "stupid dumb human" who parked where the goat had access!  My bedroom window looks out over the pasture and the barn.  For months I'd be getting into bed and see that the barn light was on when I KNEW I'd shut it off, or most times not even turned it on.  Well turns out Little Miss Tulip Udders was putting her front feet on the cabinet by the light switch and then using her lips to turn it on!  I guess she was scared of the dark!

To all of you who commented yesterday, please know how much your comments meant!  Everything is fine and I'll blog about it soon.  You've all become my family and I love everyone of you and am so thankful that God has brought us together through blogging!

God Bless.............

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hi All!

I'll be back soon!  Got some stuff goin' on, nothing too horrible, just got to take care of some things and some people.  Very thankful God is always with us and that we are still here in Illinois so we are able to be there for those who need us!  Sorry to be so cryptic, but if you remember this post, you'll understand why I'm not elaborating at this time!  Never fear though, everything is O-Katey-Ratey, and I'll be back to finish that goat series soon!

God Bless and keep you all!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kinder Goat Week.........Day Twa.....

Yesterday we learned all about how to pick out a good lookin' goat.  Today I'll blather on about kidding, milk production, and how we raise kids here at Goodwife Farm.

First off, once again I have to say, this is just how we do things.  It's not a hard and fast rule and I don't condemn other folks for doin' things different.  Please afford me the same respect ;0)

'Round here I prefer hand breeding.  That means I like to bring the buck to the doe when she's in heat, let them do their thang, then put the buck back in solitary and wait to see if she comes back in heat in 21 days.  If she' doesn't, she's probably bred (but not certainly) and you know to start looking for kids in 145 days.  If she does come back in heat, then do it all again.  Some of you may remember that this year, I pasture breed because I don't have a wether to house with Tommy and I don't want him by himself.  Even though I pasture bred this year, I still know the exact dates my girls got bred because I pay attention to these sorts of things.  I know my girls and I know when they are in heat.  I'd be a total nut case if I wasn't sure when to expect babies!

Around day 143 I start locking the expectant mother in here at night.........

This is the kidding stall and it has it's own hay rack, water bucket and kid box. 

Tulip laboring in the kid box. 
 My kidding season is usually in January and February so the kidding box keeps babies toasty warm.  It is a plywood box stuffed with straw and has a heat lamp in the corner.  The heat lamp is securely fastened through a hole in the top and can't be knocked down.  The kids very quickly figure out that it's warm and snug in the box and they can usually be found snuggled up in a pile in the corner.  The box is big enough for Momma to get in with them, and when it's really cold, Tulip is smart enough to kid right in the box!  This kidding season I'm expecting kids in mid May and early June so locking them in here won't be as much of an issue.  I will just make sure to lock them in the main part of the barn, away from Champ, lest he should accidentally step on a new baby or a laboring Momma! 

You can expect kids anywhere from 142 days on.  Goats can and will surprise you and have their kids on their own timetable! 

Here is a video of Star birthing her kids last year.......

After the kids are on the ground I hold them and snuggle them and love on them.  I make sure they get a good slug of colostrum before going in the house and I also like to rub them dry a little bit, but I mostly like to just let Momma and baby get to know each other.  I try not to interfere unless I have to.  I have had to pull kids, but I like to let the doe do most of the work.  I do like to be present at each birth and have a lot of sleepless nights between day 145 and the grand day!  Now here comes the controversial part..........I don't iodine navels and I don't vaccinate kids.  There I said it.  I've never done this and we never did this when I was growing up.  When a range cow calves, or a deer has a fawn they don't get iodined navels.  I've not had any problems doing things this way.  That's not to say I may not have difficulties at some point and if it becomes an issue I will of course react accordingly!  Cleanliness and avoiding over-crowding goes a long way to eliminating health problems in any animal herd.

 Sometimes (especially if you have triplets or more) you may have some really scrunched up lookin' babies and some funky lookin' legs. 

One of Tulip's triplets two years ago had a leg that swung like a clock pendulum.  I thought it was broken, but I just kept an eye on it and within a few days it was as strong as could be.  I've also had kids born who walked on their "knuckles" for a few days.  I leave them alone and see if they straighten out.  They almost always do!  (I've yet to have one that doesn't, but that's not to say it can't happen).  I believe that less is more in raising critters and feel that God knew what He was doing when He created the goat and I interfere as little as possible. 

This brings me to my next point...........I dam raise my kids.  I don't condemn how other folks do it, that is their business.  For me, taking the kids from the doe goes against my principals.  Yes I've had people tell me I'm stupid for feeling that way, and that's ok too, but for me, I just can't do it.  My goats love their babies.......

  Truly love them.  They recognize their babies even when they are adults and they never stop loving them.  I just can't stand the thought of taking them away.  They carried those babies for 5 months, went through the labor to get them here, lovingly cleaned them off and softly called to them, proclaiming their love and teaching the baby to recognize their voice.  After watching that time and again, I couldn't bear to take the kids away from Momma.  They only HAVE to nurse for 8 weeks.  I can do with less milk for 8 weeks, and besides, the way I see it, that milk is for baby goats, and I'm just sharing it with them! 

As soon as the kids are about 3-4 weeks old, I lock them up in one of the stalls at night.  They all get locked in there together with water, hay and a smidgen of grain.  Momma stays out in the main part of the barn.  Then in the morning (roughly 12 hours from when I did evening chores) I got down and milk Momma.  For the first week I'm milking, I don't milk her out all the way.  Then I let her off the stand, and let those babies out.  They will go nuts, as if they are starved and can't stand it.  They will beeline for Momma and probably lift her off the ground nursing with such gusto!  They will stay together all day, until evening chores, once again roughly 12 hours (or so) after morning milking.  Then they get locked up separate once again and I repeat the process.  After about a week of that, you can go ahead and milk the doe out completely during the morning milking.  It is also interesting to note that the kids very quickly figure this system out and will usually be nursing the doe dry when you go down to do evening chores.  This is how I've always milked and I've never had a problem.  At 8 weeks I wean the buck kids and leave the doe kids on the Momma.  This way I can continue milking only once a day.  However if you have a really heavy producer, you may have to milk twice a day even if you leave one kid on.  Tulip is this way and I imagine Star will be too her second freshening. 

 Tulip was nursing triplets last year and with milking her once a day was giving me over 3 lbs at that one milking.  That's pretty darned good for a Kinder!  Upon weaning two of her bucklings and wethering one of them so he could stay on her, I had to milk her twice a day.  She was just too full.  At that time she was giving me over 6 lbs a day, milking twice and with a kid still on her.  Another interesting thing is that Tulip never weaned Star, she was still nursing when the next crop of kids were born, however she weaned the wether at around 12 weeks of age.  She tends to let her doelings nurse much longer than her bucklings.

I don't do anything special to our milk before drinking it or using it for yogurt.  You can click on the Goat Milking 101 button to see how I do things in that regard.  I just milk Tulip first (cuz she's boss goat), then pour her milk into a 1 gallon glass jar with a bail handle and put a lid on it.  Then I take my pail over and milk Star, and then put the lid on my pail and take the milk to the house.  Then I strain it into quart mason jars and put it in a clean ice cream bucket.  Then I put ice and water in the bucket and let the milk sit until it's well chilled.  This doesn't take long, but I usually leave them in there for about 30 minutes or so, then take them out and put a date on them and put 'em in the fridge.  I can't vouch for milk from other breeds, but the milk from my Kinder's is rich, creamy and delicious.  You truly cannot tell the difference between it and whole milk from the grocery store.  I've blind taste tested several folks (including myself) and they've never been able to pick out the goat milk.  As a matter of fact, the last time I did it to myself, I picked the store milk as the goat milk!  I love converting doubters.  It's so very funny, the first thing they do is smell it and say "It doesn't SMELL like a goat....."   I just laugh and tell them to taste it. 

I do keep my buck in a separate building from my does when they are in milk, but he runs the same pastures as them, just at different times.

Our next installment will cover fencing, feeding, housing, hoof trimming, and deworming, so please tune in!

God Bless................

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pickin' Out a Dairy Goat..........

This week I'm going to do a couple of posts on goats and how we do things and what we like here at Goodwife Farm.  Remember this is just what the Goodwife likes, not for sure and certain what ever'body likes! 
Now, on to Day Un....

'Round here we celebrate the Kinder goat.  What the heck is a Kinder goat?  Well I'm so glad you asked!  This is a Kinder goat......

Ain't she purty?  This is Carmen and she was one of Tulip's triplets from last year.  Carmen is now living with Julia and will be bred next year.  Julia also bought Naomi.  Lookie those ears!!  Carmen had wattles, which I'm told the ADGA frowns on, but don't bother me a whit.

Kinder goats are sort of a rebel breed, like me (ok, so they are a rebel with a cause and I'm a rebel without a clue but lets not split hairs here).  The ADGA (dairy goat folks) don't like them because they have Pygmy blood and the Pygmy folks don't like 'em because they have dairy blood, so they are sort of outcasts.  That said, I could give a moose's patoot about any of that stuff, I love them! 

I won't go into the history of the Kinder breed, but if you'd like to know more about it, you can go here.  There is a Kinder goat registry, but mine aren't registered.  Suffice it to say, Kinders are great smallish goats, bigger than a Nigerian Dwarf, but smaller than a Nubian.  They don't eat much and they still give lots of milk, usually comparable to a big goat just in a smaller package.  They are great mommas, and are so friendly and loving.  Mine aren't very noisy except when they are in heat and then Star is much more vocal than Tulip.

This is Tulip........

I bought Tulip in October of 2007 and in March of '08 she freshened for the first time with twins, a buckling and a doeling.  Remember in this post I told you that Tulip was line bred to her dad to produce these little darlin's.......

I'm holding the buckling and that is our sweet Star in front......

This is Star as a young doeling on the stand.  I like to start getting my doelings comfortable with the milk stand at a very early age.  I coax them up on the stand and let them eat a bit of grain while I rub their bellies and udders.  I feel this helps accustom them to having their udders handled and makes breaking them to the pail much easier.  Star was much easier to break to the pail than Tulip.  Of course that could just be the huge difference in their personalities.......Star is sweet and docile, calm, quiet, and shy like a deer.  Tulip is loud and obnoxious, bossy and nosy, like a.....young Boxer dog!

In selecting replacement doelings there are a few things I look for right off.  Now, I'm going to use some very technical terms here, so hopefully I won't lose you.......hehe. 
Also, you obviously want to choose nice healthy animals.  That goes without saying and should pertain to every animal you purchase for your homestead.

 Warning, you are about to see some gratuitous booby shots of goats, don't worry they were totally necessary to the plot of this blog post.....

First and foremost you want to examine hooters.  You want two, similarly proportioned, with no extras anywhere.  You don't want split teats, or extra teats, or mis-shapen teats.  I had a Kinder with a "J" shaped teat and she was very hard to milk.  Not impossible, but hard to get the teat pointed where it needed to go!  You need to check this on bucklings as well as doelings. Bucklings have teats on either side of their "package".  After you've thoroughly checked out the boobies you can move on to the next step.

You want a lot of width, meaning a nice wide stance from the rear.  You also want very little space between her "hoo haw" and where her udder starts.  This is Star as a young doeling again.... 

Star freshened last year for the first time with twins.  A doeling and a buckling.  This is her first freshening udder.....lovely isn't it?  You will notice that Star doesn't have huge teats, I don't care for really big teats.  I like "just enough" meaning enough that I don't have to hire a Capuchin monkey to milk for me, but not so much that I feel like I'm milking a fire hose.  This is a matter of total personal preference.......

Below is her doeling you can see Isis had gorgeous width and very little space from her hoo hoo to where her udder began.  I sold this doeling in the midst of The Crisis and therefore will not be able to see how she freshens, although I do know where she is.  (To be honest with you, I sold her because I totally botched her disbudding and she had a glorious set of horns just without tips, all my kids did). 

In selecting replacement bucklings, you look for the same things, in addition to looking at the udder of the buckling's female relatives. 

This is Cocoa Carl and he was Naomi's  buckling from last year.  Carl had really nice width and not much space in the hoo haw area, which I like, but as a more "correct" Kinder he was of a much shorter and stockier type than I like in my goats.  I prefer leggier, more "dairy-type" in my Kinders.

We must remember that things can also change as kids grow, and judging udder quality is a crap shoot.  You just don't know until the doeling matures and freshens herself or until the buckling becomes a father and his doelings mature and freshen.  However, doing your homework and finding out all you can about the parents and relatives of your potential goat will give you a much better shot at getting a nice milking doe!

Tune in later this week when I'll talk about Kinder goat kidding, milk production, quality and taste of the milk, and the way we raise kids here..........

God Bless.................