A little doe was born 7/27 to Rita. She’s a cute little thing!
What have we been up to? Well, if you’re one of the boys, it likely involves some sort of critter. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of snakes but it seems my boys are budding herpetologists. Thankfully the only snakes we’ve seen around here are garter snakes which are at least harmless and they do eat a lot garden pests, like snails, which we have in abundance. While we are a little break from officially homeschooling we have been been learning a lot about garter snakes- what they eat, how to distinguish a male from a female, that they give birth to live young (often a lot of live young), how long they get, and so on. We’ve even begun measuring the snakes the boys catch.So far the longest has been a 25 inch long female- we’re guessing she’s about 2 years old since she’s not quite as long has females can get when they reach full size at 3-4 years.
It’s quite wet around here, due to the almost daily rain and the slight downhill drainage of our hayfield/backyard, so we also have some frogs- which the boys are quite adept at catching- mostly peep frogs who serenade us to sleep, and this green frog fellow.
Of course, the kittens are still favorites.
And there’s always fun riding our buck Manson.
What will they find next?!
I don’t have a milk stand. I had intended to build one as just about every goat handling book has diagrams and directions for building your own. It seemed like if you milk goats you need a stand. I never got around to it partly because of time and partly because our old goat barn was rather dimly lit. I wanted to have a portable stand so I could milk outside when it was nice but I also wanted to be able to move it inside in bad weather. I did find one prefab metal portable goat stand which only weighed 30 lbs but it was something like 400 dollars- definitely wasn’t happening. However, the more I thought about it and considered nomadic goat herders and descriptions in books like Heidi the more I thought “well it can surely be done”. And so, this is how I do it:
First, I usually give a little grain to occupy Ms. Ellie then I straddle the goat facing backwards.My view is something like this:
Occasionally I kneel beside her but that changes the angle of my hand (making milking less efficient) and then I don’t have my knees to keep her from wondering off. Then I reach under (or sometimes around) and brush her off making sure any hay or loose hairs won’t fall into the milk. After a clearing squirt or two I get down to business and milk. I use a quart size mason jar to milk into. I prefer a wide mouth jar because I can clean it easier- although a regular mouth jar is a little easier to hold. I hold the jar under with one hand and squirt the milk into it with the other. Because I needed one hand to take photos with the camera I have to break it down into two shots.
Holding the jar:
There’s more than one way to grasp the teat and milk. Goat teats are rather small and can be difficult to grasp. I prefer the way in the photo above although sometimes I alternate. When I first started milking I had to alternate methods because of hand fatigue. Now I don’t need to and milking probably takes me half the time. To be honest tho I don’t really know how long it takes me I’d guess 10-15 minutes. I also only milk once a day in the morning. This is Ms. Ellie’s first time being milked and she gives a little over a quart. If I milked her twice a day she’d give a half gallon a day which is about average.
I use the same position for trimming the back hooves and I face the other way to trim the front hooves. For scur trimming I have struggling_along hold Manson’s head while I trim. While I can see how a goat stand would be useful I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity.
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I was excited to find some eggs and some thyme growing.
Thanks for coming along!
Our goat, Ells, is hugely pregnant. Just by looking at her (which is in no way an accurate gauge) I’m thinking she has to be having twins, possibly triplets- and soon too. I feel much better this year with the temperature being so relatively mild but the first few days are hard enough for a newborn without battling cold winter nights.
Enter goat sweaters!
Last year I modified one of the kid’s (mine) vests for one of our kids (goat). Hopefully I can find it and, with luck, also knit up a sweater in time for Ells kidding. I found the pattern over at Fiasco Farms- an excellent site for goat info.
Reading wise I just finished The Birth House which I enjoyed immensely as the subjects of birthing and midwifes vs doctor are definitely topics near and dear to my heart.
I’m also reading bits here and there from The Beekeeper’s Handbook (great resource). One of these days I will have bees….one of these days…..