Milk, it rules my life these days. Goats milk and cow milk, I’m either milking it, straining it, storing it, feeding it, freezing it, making soap with it, or making cheese with it.
I think about production, how much the goats are producing, and how much product I’m producing from it. How can we maximize it? Where the heck can I put it all?
We have three does in milk right now, two Nigerian Dwarf goats, Ashes and Moonflower, and our Saanen, Daisy. Daisy is still nursing her kid, so I’m not getting her full supply. We are averaging about one gallon a day.
The kids, our bottle babies, are drinking cow’s milk. They do great on it, and it allows me to use the goat milk for soap and cheese. I am feeding approximately 3/4 gallon of cow milk a day. They will be on whole milk until they are ten weeks old.
We also have six human kids, so we use over a gallon a day for them, and my 6′ 4″ husband loves milk. That’s right, this house goes through two to three GALLONS of milk per day.
A sweet little doeling made her appearance on March 12th, during one of our most recent snow storms. I promised the kids that they could pick the name for Daisy’s little one, so we have named her Stormy.
We went out to do our nighttime bottle feeding, and there she was. Daisy had already cleaned her, and she was just starting to stand up. Within minutes, she was nursing like a champ, and Daisy was back to munching on hay.
She is half Sannen, and half Boer. She definitely has the Boer face and ears. I’m keeping them in the kidding pen for now, but will be introducing them to the rest of the herd soon.
We have been hit with storm after storm the past couple of weeks, so there is still a ton of snow on the ground. The best thing for now is to keep them inside the barn.
It has felt like such a long winter this year, but maybe its just me.
It may just be my anxiousness for this spring. I have plans of expanding the barn, building new feeders, making things more efficient, goat babies and shearing of alpacas. Spring will also usher in new farmer’s markets and craft events that I want to be a part of.
Over the past few months, we have welcomed new animals to the herd. After quarantines, and blood tests, everyone is settled in and doing well.
Sadie is our new Nigerian dwarf doe. She is a beautiful black, white and gray doe with a great udder. She was a mess on the milk stand at first, but now is a pro. She is also much healthier now. Yay Sadie!
Daisy Mae is a one year old saanen doe, who is due to have her kids any day now. We have been on baby watch for the past week. I purchased her already bred, so I’m not sure of her exact dates. We have some great video of her kids moving, as well as an early contraction, over on our facebook page. Hopefully we will have a birthing video before too long. We are expecting at least 1 gallon of milk per day from her after she freshens.
Tony Stark was very happy to welcome his new friends, Elsa and Anna, two female alpacas. Elsa is four years old, and Anna is six. They were a bit skeptical the first day or two, but now glide about like they own the place. Elsa is white, and Anna is red with a white stripe on her forehead. Perfect names right? Thanks to my “Frozen” obsessed three year old for the idea.
And now on to our newest babies.
Cocoa and Caramel are lamancha doelings. Lamancha goats are the only goat developed in America, and they are easy to spot by their almost complete lack of any external ear. Lamanchas can have either an elf ear, being under two inches, and curved either up or down, or a gopher ear which cannot be more than one inch of exposed ear. These girls both have an elf ear.
Cocoa and the back 1/2 of Caramel
Vanilla-bean, aka Bean, and Cookie are Nubian/Alpine crossed doelings. And then we have Ronda, who is a sweet little nigerian dwarf doeling that was born in December. They are all gregarious and funny little ladies.
Oh man, our newest addition… Jean-luc is a purebred lamancha buck, who will be the herdsire for our full size goats. He is a beauty and has an impressive pedigree. Almost every doe in his lineage has earned their dairy star, along with the highest scores in their linear appraisals. We plan on showing him at goat shows. And on top of all that, he is a complete and total love bug. I’ll miss snuggling with him when he grows up to be a big stinky buck.
So, now we wait for Daisy’s kids. Next month will be Ashes and Moonflower, who got frisky with Odin without permission, little floozies. I just had Sadie bred to Odin last week, so we should expect kids from her in July.
So many exciting things on the horizon, come on spring!
It has been crazy busy around here for the past few weeks. We suffered some loss, two of our goats had new kids, and we added an alpaca to the crew!
Goat kids are adorable, Nigerian Dwarf goat kids are extraordinarily so. I knew that we had some expectant mommas, but I goofed on my dates. I thought that I had another month, but oh no, I didn’t.
I was leaving for a doctors appointment, when B came running up to me, very upset. Something was wrong with Ashes, she was sick. Some kind of diarrhea, or her intestines are falling out! Hurry! I went running, and wemade it just before a sweet little baby finished his entry into the world.
Welcome to the world, Sweet Flora Farms Oscar Wild!
Such a handsome boy
A temporary kidding pen was set up asap. He was a strong little guy, at almost three pounds, up and nursing right away. Ashes is kind of a crappy goat mom, but she is doing pretty well with him. He is a creamy white, with a red roan along his dorsal. His face looks exactly like his daddy, our very own resident buck, Duagwyn Odin the Allfather.
I checked on my other pregnant doe, Moonflower, as her udder was starting to fill. She was getting close. Kidding pen number two was prepared. Exactly one week later, I woke up to a cold, wet buckling on the ground, and an exhausted doe struggling to deliver her next kid.
I prepared to intervene, when the head and neck were delivered. Moonflower stopped pushing, and I realized that the kid wasn’t moving. She was delivered neck first, with her tiny head tucked under. The force of the delivery broke her neck, and caved in part of her head. There was nothing I could do, except pull the rest of her out.
Moonflower was exhausted, and wanted nothing to do with her little boy. It took me a while to get him warmed up, milk his momma, and get him to drink from the bottle. He weighed under 1 pound. Please welcome Sweet Flora Farms Apollo Rising.
Both boys are growing, and doing well. Both does are healthy, and getting back to normal. They are both easy on the milk stand, and producing lots of fabulous goat milk. We use the milk for soap, and for yummy goat cheeses.
Oh boy, this is exciting stuff! We have a freaking ALPACA!! He was rescued from a cattle auction, after being dumped by his owners who were raising him in a city yard. They were threatened with fines, so they just dropped him at a cattle auction. And now he lives here! Can you tell that I’m a little excited about it? He will provide us with fiber, and be an alarm for any danger near the goats.
We try to have fun with names around here, and I admit that I have a slight comic book super hero obsession. I talked to the kids, and I explained what an alpaca was. I was telling them about his fleece, and how it protects him in the winter, and we will shear it off in the spring. My youngest son, M, said it was like his armor that we can take off. Ah ha… Tony Stark. He is the sweetest, softest, most amazing creature.
Cold Weather Prep
Progress has been slower than I would like, but we are getting there. We are still finishing up some out buildings, which now includes a three sided shelter for Tony. Dave finished building the new milking stand for the goats, and the new chicken coop is almost finished. That should be ready for the flock within a week. I’ve also come up with a new plan to maximize our space, and make things more efficient with the animals.
This has been a rough one. Somewhere around the end of July, two of our horses started to lose weight. My first thought was the hay, we had been using a new supplier. So we switched. Still, they lost weight. I used a new wormer, in case they were building any resistance to the old one, plus increased their grain. And still, they lost more weight. The vet came out, ran fecal and blood tests. They have anaplasmosis from tick bites.
So, they are all on antibiotics, and are finally gaining weight again. They lost over 100 pounds in two months. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. I’m just so happy that we figured it out, and they are getting better.
Wrapping it up
I have been trying to get soaps ready for the holiday season, so that has kept me busy. (more on that soon) With five kids at home, going through cold weather clothes is a huge chore too. I have to make sure that everyone has stuff that fits, and make lists of thing we need to get. Oh yeah, and Halloween is coming, and Thanksgiving, and J’s birthday, and Christmas, and we homeschool. Is your head spinning yet?
As you can see, its been a bit busy. Sometimes its crazy, but I wouldnt change a thing. ( well, maybe more land) I am the luckiest woman alive.
Our big trip in the spring of this year, was to Williamsburg, VA. We spent 8 days exploring Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement and Bush Gardens.
We used Air BNB for the first time ever. Overall, it was a good experience. The house was nice, with lots of room to stretch out. We had couple of strange nights there, but they were pretty harmless.
The owner had told us that he was staying at his girlfriends while we were there. He showed up the second night and, he said that he would be staying for the remainder of the week in the attached guest apartment. The next night, we returned for our exploring to find a couple parked in the driveway, peering through the windows of our rental, with their hands up against the glass. It was more than a little strange.
They were booked to stay in the apartment for the next 3 nights. The property owner’s car was there, and his dogs were outside, but he wasn’t answering the door or their phone calls. his dogs stayed outside, barking at our window, until 2am. I messaged the owner and told him that my kids couldn’t sleep, and then the dogs stopped.
They following day, the other couple showed up again, and still no response to door knocks or phone calls. This time, the dogs were inside, but his car was still there. When we woke up int he morning, his car was gone. We never talked to him during our stay. It was freaky.
The kids absolutely loved Williamsburg and Jamestown. They not only enjoyed the property, but also the activities. They were able to help the brick maker to work clay with their bare feet. It was mucky and muddy, the loved it. Another big hit was the lumber area. We learned about how lumber was milled in colonial times. The reenactment was amazing. So much work and pride put into everything that they did. The kids are determined to build a playhouse using colonial techniques. We shall see how that goes.
I highly recommend purchasing the bounce pass. We had the spring bounce pass. It gives you access to both Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens for 7 full days. We were able to visit both parks on multiple days. At $99 for adults, and $79 for children, it is very worth the money!
This is definitely a trip that I would take again when the kids are a little older, although maybe next time, we will stay somewhere else.