The weekend got better, Round 2

We’ve been keeping an eye on Una for about 2 weeks now, knowing she’s been getting close to birthing. It’s been crazy, she’ll doing something a little off and you are sure she’s going into labor, only to see her running through the field grubbing weeds an hour later and you realize nothing is happening. It’s been a little exhausting.

So today, when she was pawing in the bedding, I worked hard to assess if something really was happening. She was making funny noises, and was pawing the bedding to make a little nest, and did let me pet her a bunch…. and, well, it was looking like labor was actually happening.

Mr. K and I camped out in the barn for a bit. He’s the animal whisperer and really wanted to help. He stayed there while I went in and out a few times. I brought out our wood carving things to pass the time while we waited, because we could be there all day.

Things progressed pretty quickly, surprisingly. She found herself a comfy place, and gave birth to two baby goats.

Warning: photos of goat birth ahead. Very little blood, but lots of fluid.

Mr. K took this picture. You can see how she’s created a little nest.

A bubble of amniotic sac. We had put away our carving and just sat spellbound.

Goat face inside amniotic sac. Yes, it is both cool and gross.

The little black and white goat took a few pushes to get out. I sent K in to grab some towels to help wipe off little goat face. I moved the white goat, and suddenly, a black goat appeared!

It takes a little bit for the goats to find their feet and for their mom to lick them clean. It’s crazy to watch, they stumble and bleat and she comes right on over. They also need some help finding a teat to nurse on.

But they get clean, get some milk, and just look super darling.

For size: they come up to T’s waist, while she’s sitting.

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It may look quaint….

But we are hoping that wrapping a picket fence around the garden keeps the chickens out. See chickens don’t jump over fences, they jump up to the top of a fence, and then fall over the other side. In theory, chickens won’t jump on the top of this because there is no place to land. So please, please let this keep the chickens out of my garden. I’ve got some new seedlings (thanks to some generous people) and seeds down in that garden. Now things just need to grow.

Though I don’t know if it will keep the cats out. Especially now that Jasper discovered he can drink water from the sprinklers.

The kids have decided that they are going to live in the teepee. Dave mentioned they may do better up on some cots. I mentioned this would be the weekend to find some. And we did.

We were successful in fostering 4 more baby chicks to the mama hen. Now she has a total of 8 babies. And I love watching them. The big ones figured out how to stand on the wood on the edge of the run to reach the water, and then taught the little ones. Mama keeps them warm in the cool mornings and keeps an eye on them in the hot afternoons.

Though, it appears all the cool chickens are brooding in random parts of the yard.

You can just see a little white in there, and yup, another chicken. I discovered her when I was mowing. I drove past, spitting mowed weeds in her direction, and she didn’t budge. She’s serious. I don’t know how long she’s been there or how many eggs are under her. We will just have to wait and see when more baby chicks appear, though I’m not sure where to put these ones. But more baby chicks, yea!

 

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The weekend: It got better

I’ve been wanting to put a teepee on our property since, well, pretty much when we moved here. I like the idea of a demi-permanent structure that can hold up to the wind and be a fun place for kids to camp out in. We’ve looked at options for years, and one of the biggest things holding us back was shipping. Teepee poles are LONG and you need quite a few and so are crazy expensive to ship. We’ve thought about road tripping to Colorado to pick up poles from a company out there, but we’ve also kept our eye on the local market to find something used. I found a used one over the winter, and while it’s far from perfect, we finally got it up.

There are three small people excitedly sticking their heads out the door.

It took us about three tries to get it up. We discovered immediately the cover was in pretty poor condition- looks like it got wet when in storage. Gratefully I did some research before cursing the guy I got it from and discovered it can be cleaned. The cover spent a few days stretched out in the back field. It got rinsed and sprayed with peroxide and left in the sun to bleach. It’s not perfect but it is much better. Then we had to assemble the frame with the poles. The first time it was way to tall and wide. I figured out how tall it needed to be, but at the second try it was still too wide. We actually got a measuring tape (novel idea), discovered the tent isn’t as big as it was advertised (which made me almost blow my lid) but then finally Dave got all the poles in the right places. Dave is amazing. Put poles up, took them down, put them up, took them down, then put them up again. It’s still not perfect- the cover is a little lopsided, but the three little kids who are going to reside there for for the summer (or so they say) don’t even notice.

Hard to notice it’s sideways when it’s this beautiful.

Then, Sunday evening, when the boys went out to take care of the chickens, they came back in screaming that there were BABY CHICKS. I was so confused, did someone dump chicks on our property?

We very quickly figured out that one of our hens left the run, found herself a nice quiet place, gathered some eggs, and hatched em herself. Now, chicks take about 28 days to hatch. That means that chicken was protecting those eggs and keeping them warm during that cold spell and crazy storm. Good job, chicken mama. We scooped her up and the babies and put them in the barn. I didn’t think those tiny chicks would be safe with the bigger chickens and predators, though I have heard stories of mamas keeping their babies safe. I’m not taking chances with these little guys!

She refused to go inside and instead is sitting outside with those four babies tucked under her.

See them? Ug, it’s so cute. The chicks pop out, get some food, walk around, and then mama calls them back, lifts up her wings, and they disappear under her. I may see about picking up a few more chicks tonight and tucking them under her. Because why settle with just 4?

We’ve all hung out in the teepee a bit. Even the fuzzy ones.

 

 

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Second winter and more

Utah got hit with second winter. That’s not unusual, it often happens. What is unusual is that the storm came from the north with some pretty amazing ferocity. Look, snow and smashed grass.

 

Ok, so that’s only a light dusting of snow, but that’s some pretty pounded grass. Having the storm come in from the north was pretty significant. See, we moved some goats around (more on that in a second) and all of the little shelters they are using have open doorways facing north, because most storms come from the south or east. So this north storm came right on into the boy’s shelter and soaked and chilled them. So they had to come in to dry off.

Yup, two stinky boy goats soaking wet and shivering, inside the bathroom. It was stinky and messy and there was poop and pee everywhere, and we had to do this two days in a row. Gratefully it looks like second winter is done so all the goats can just stay outside.

So why did we move goats around? Good question! The goat’s owners want to isolate Una close to her due date so she can deliver in the barn away from the other goats. Moving her by herself required another space to be opened with a door and a buffer. No big deal, this is why I designed the field the way I did. I spend a few mornings digging out buried fence panels (actually Dave dug them out for me), putting in new posts, attaching panels to posts, and attempting to brain a door. Now , remember, I’m doing all of this with those goats around.

Goats are like three year olds. They see your bucket of wire fence ties and try to chew on the bucket. You open the fence and they walk through it, or my favorite, stick their head through the gate to try to eat something (when they’d be better off walking around!). I also had my hat chewed on every time I bent down. It was a little frustrating, but I managed to do it, and no goats ate any twine.

One other reason to move the goats around is to get some of the weeds eaten. People have this idea that goats just eat everything all the time, but it turns out that these girls are divas. They like to wander the field and eat a little of this and a nibble of that, and so their field is as tall as they are. On the other hand, the boys like to eat and have munched their field flat. So now the boys have more to eat and the girls have a little less. Wait a second, let me pull out my diagram and show you.

The girls were originally in the top left area, and the boys in the bottom right. Well, now the boys are in the top right area, Roca and Mimi are in the bottom right, and Una is in the bottom left. The girls have fence touching so Una doesn’t get lonely, but the boys have the buffer fence. There is an area about 4 ft wide but 32 ft long that is between the fences, and so Dave and the kids thought they should put it to good use. Dave stuck a ladder there so the kids could get in and play, but then the kids suggested a picnic table. Dad delivered.

This is a perfect view of how the buffer works. Boys on one side, girls on the other, no worry of unexpected breeding, with the added benefit of kid play area.

I’ve also been moving a few more chickens up to the goat area. Sometimes they stay, sometimes I find them back with the main flock in the morning. The best time to move chickens is after dark, and if you want to move a few at once, well, you throw them in a cage and put the cage in the wheely cart.

Both Una and Roca are looking huge.

And yes it’s true. I got a riding lawn mower.

We’ve gotten pretty overgrown, and I’m not as strong as I once was. It’s a crazy ride and I’m still figuring out how it works (found myself stranded out in the field, thought I overheated my engine, turns out I ran outta gas….) but I can get more mowing done faster.

Come back soon, we’ve got more fun stuff happening around here………

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Spring Break

About spring time we take a visit to Dave’s parents in Florida. It’s a little stressful to leave the farm and all of its responsibilities. Luckily, I’ve got some of the best neighbors in the world. Last year, Peg and her boys, who live behind us, fed the animals while Laura, who lives across the street from them, milked the goats. This year Peg took care of the chickens and Laura did the goats, discovering that milking goats is like riding a bike. I should mention this year I have moved the milking stand indoors, so Laura didn’t get rained on. I need to post about that, I’m so happy about my indoor milking!

Having neighbors watch the farm allowed us to really enjoy our yearly vacation. The kids got to swim almost every day. We went to the beach and watched the sun go down.

Sunset over Naples Beach

Mr. K was able to earn his fishing belt loop. He tried to fish with a ‘home made’ fishing rig.

Fishing line, kite reel, and a safety pin

No bites.

There was lots of fishing, but little success.

There was time just hanging out with grandparents (and great grandparents).

By the time we came home everything was super lush and green. The lawn is going to need to be mown, and the trees are starting to bloom.

But in true spring time fashion, this morning we woke up to this…..

 

 

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The end of winter

Winter has been nuts. So much snow, so much cold. Piles and piles of snow. There were a number of days when the chickens never left the coop (and we had to rig up a feeder for them in there). We watched the snow pile up, and dreamed of spring.

With spring coming, we are thinking about projects and plans. The garden needs some weeding and more compost. The chicken run needs to be moved around. And it’s time to put up some fencing for goats.

See, with the goats being sold, we were able to get some fencing put up to expand the goat pasture and turn it into rotating pasture. My plan was to put up the pasture fence during the month of March and be ready for goats in April. But then Dave was cruising KSL (which is the local craigslist equivalent) and found someone who was looking to foster their mini goats. They would provide feed and we would provide space. This seemed like the ideal set up to me. I miss goats, I miss goat milk, but I’m still not able to toss bales of hay around like I used to. So I spend a few days getting the fences up, brained some feeders, and now we have goats on our property again.

Meet Mimi, Una, Roca, Nigerian Dwarf goats.

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Mimi is in milk (YAAA!!) and Una is due in May and Roca was just bred.

Meet Mr. Bill and Riddik.

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These are the bucks. I’m super excited that my pasture fencing ideas have worked out so well that the boys get their own pen, with no fence lines touching the girls. Because goats can mate through fences, yes they can.

Everyone is super excited to have goats back. And we are excited to have minis. We wanted to get some miniatures because really, they are kid sized. These guys are pretty well socialized so they love being scratched and played with.

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Don’t be fooled, Mimi didn’t just want ear scratches, she wanted to chew on my shirt.

Let’s talk about the fence here for a minute. Like I said, we had a perimeter fence installed and we used fence panels to create some rotating pasture. Here, let me show you my diagram:

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The barn is marked as ‘B’ in the picture, and that’s the brick barn where goats have lived previously. The outside perimeter fence was installed by a fencing company over the summer. And I have put some fence panels in- the middle blue ones.  Now we discovered that when the fence guys set the posts in the middle of the field they ran the line right through the cement block we had placed out there a few years ago. I added it to my diagram in red. So that entire line was useless. We brain stormed a number of ways to move or break apart the block, but in the end, Dave got out the truck jack, and just jacked it up a little, so when it fell, it fell at an angle and moved. It took him about a day and a half of moving and tipping to get the block out of the way of the fence line. It was pretty amazing, too, no equiptment, little strain, useful fence line.

Right now, all the does are in the top left pasture, and the boys are in the bottom right. I’m pretty close to being able to close off the top right pasture to create a nursery/maternity space.

And just so you all don’t think I’ve had an amazing recovery or Dave is on the mend, know both of us were pretty useless today and we both needed a nap.

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