Friday, March 26, 2010


Another unanticipated kid-a-palooza. LeeAnne went yesterday afternoon, (four days early) followed by June, (3am today- three days late), followed by Challenge (about two hours ago -five days early). That's six kids in the last 24 hours.

I made the following joke on my facebook: 24 hour kid total: 2 de Beauvoirs, 4 Balzacs. That is way too many Balzacs.

I don't know if it is actually as funny as I think it is, but I cracked myself up. Guess I'm a little punchy from lack of sleep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A big day of firsts

Well, it has happened. Binder the miracle doe is a mama. And her big buckling is also Skeeter's first child. Cigars all around!

Sadly for me, I totally missed Binder's big event. I came out for chores Tuesday morning and she was standing in the chicken coop, with the little dude all cleaned up and fed, looking at me with a face that said, "You will not BELIEVE what just happened to me." After I got past the guilt of not being there, I could not be more proud. She is a trooper and a keeper. Way to go, Bindee-boo.

Her little guy is the frosty one on the right. The other two are Wynona's kids, born the day before.

LeeAnne just had two a couple hours ago and Challenge is on deck.

...we're a little busy at the mo'.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Check it....

I know it's a terrible picture, but look at it. Closely.

Diva and Radiance. For real.

This doesn't happen a lot, hence the poo-ey pic, but still... Crazy, huh? These cats don't even remember what a barn is anymore.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Comings and Goings

We have seriously upended the status quo at Blue Heron Farm. We are moving goats around in ways we never dreamed.

We'll start with Emmylou Hyde. As I blog this, she is on her way to a new home, where she can be some variation of Emmylou Rita Hyde Broadbent.

This is an excellent move for us and for Emmy. The Broadbents are a lovely couple we met and see regularly at our monthly market at Home Sweet Farm. They have been steadily moving towards getting a couple goats and we have had quite a few conversations about goats in the past year or so of markets. Recently they saw Emmy's story on our blog and decided that it was time. They approached us with the offer of re-homing her and we jumped on it. They have a couple old sheep to keep her company and Emmylou will become a mama in April, so will have a built-in friend if she doesn't end up loving the sheep. She will not be a milker, she will just be a loved and spoiled pet and new goat mama. I could not dream of a better home for her.

While I am glad she will be producing her own little friend, we have a second plan for her company. At the end of the milking season, Naomi will go to the Broadbents, too.

This one is more bittersweet.

Naomi has had a tough haul in her three years. She narrowly escaped euthanasia her first year when she got sick and we thought she was just too scrawny to get through it. Nothing particular was wrong, she just seemed to be failing to thrive and gain weight. We thought it might be a worm issue and then accidentally overdosed her on the wormer in a critical calculation error. She didn't die, though. And we didn't put her down that week because my parents were here and it seemed an awful thing to do on their visit. By the time they left, she had turned the corner. And strangely, a year later had gone through the most amazing growth spurt and was actually our largest goat from her age group. Move forward a year.

Last year was her first year to kid and her milk came in early and strong. We now know we could have milked her before she kidded, but at the time we didn't know. And the extreme pressure in her udder led her to a case of mastitis in one half, soon after kidding. We treated it and moved on. Poor girl. She did get better, but within only a few months, she had developed calcium blockages in that side of her udder that made milking difficult. We decided to just let her dry up, treat her in the dry season with a preventative antibiotic and hope for the best in year three. Move forward a year.

This year Naomi kidded with another huge udder. We decided to milk her out a few days before kidding to prevent a repeat of last year. And that was when we found that the previously affected half of her udder was completely blocked. Completely. After consultation with the vet, it was left at us having to let that side dry up while we continued to milk the good half. And it left us with the question, what do you do with a dairy goat who can't milk? It took over a week for that side to go down and it looked painful as all hell, so we knew that Naomi should never be bred again. We simply could not put her through that.

One option was to get her a mastectomy in the dry season to remove the blind half, but really - to us that was never a serious option. It also was not an option to keep her here in the herd and spend the next 10 years being vigilant about her never getting bred again. The logistics are just too hard. Euthanasia was untenable option three. She is the sweetest love of a goat and she is not sick. She is just no longer a functioning dairy doe. Enter the Broadbents. We asked if they could do two goats and they said sure.

Naomi will stay here and milk for the rest of the season as we say our long goodbye. She is milking great from the one side and the other is down to almost nothing again. Though I know she will be going to a great home and they will treat her like a queen, I am having a hard time with letting her go. Naomi was born here and developed her wonderful personality here and it is just way harder to say goodbye. I am glad we have a full season to make the transition.

Our last egress is Liberty. She was one of our original five goats, and after three years here will be going to another dairy at the end of this week. Our friends who are just starting their dairy are in dire need of milkers. Liberty has always annoyed Christian with her slow speed of milking and so he offered her up to "help us both". Libby milked like a cow her first year here but after having a single kid this year is not producing quite as well. She has it in her, but it's just not happening yet this year. Her new family is just happy to have the milk at all and can sell her down the road if her production doesn't pick up. I will miss Libby, too. She's a sweet little weirdo. But again - I know she is going to a good home, so this will not be too difficult of a goodbye.

So that's the traffic flow. I titled this entry Comings and Goings - but it looks like it's really just goings. Sigh. Well, that's a bummer.

But the babies keep coming, so there is that. Oh! And Penny Lane is on deck for kidding and should be a milker in another week or so, if we caught the right breeding. So yeah - comings and goings.

I look forward to updates and photos of Emmylou & Liberty at their new homes. I am sure they will both be very happy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ah, the irony

Today when I was at the farmers market, a train went past. (The market is adjacent to the tracks.) The train was nothing but tanker cars full of high fructose corn syrup. At least 75, maybe 100.


I don't need the reminder of why we are doing this farming thing, but it was good reinforcement.

It made me crave a salad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kidding Seaon: Chapter One

Well, our first segment of the kidding season is behind us and to say it was a bit unusual is an understatement. On our first day, we had four births in 18 hours - NOT what we had planned.

Lucinda was the first doe due, with Peggy Sue and Liberty due a full week later. Naomi was a wildcard - she was the only doe for whom we did not have a known breeding date, as she had been dried off early and was living with the Bishop for a while. Here's how it played out:

Lucinda was the size of a house. We thought she would have babies before her due date. The due date is 150 days after conception, but can happen anywhere between 145 and 155 and still be considered normal. On day 155, she still showed no sign of being ready to kid, so for the first time ever, we induced. To do this, you administer a shot of prostaglandins and they will kid within 36 hours. If they were already "starting" the process, they will often go earlier.

Next morning we go out (about 24 hours later) and she's still nowhere close. But Naomi has lined up in the kidding stall we reserved for Lucy and started to paw the ground. Labor. This day 156 for Lucinda was also day 146 for Peggy and Libby. And it looked like 150 for Naomi. Sigh.

Lucinda waddled in as we kept an eye on Naomi. Her countdown began in earnest. While Naomi engaged in the standard pre-labor activities, Liberty waltzed into the barn. I very clearly explained to her that she was not due yet and that I did not appreciate her sense of humor. Her udder was not full, so I wrote it off to her weird personality and let her stay.

When it became clear that Naomi had a couple hours to go and that Lucinda had not even begun a pre-labor, I went in the house to play on the computer a little. Twenty minutes later, I went to go check on Naomi again and Liberty had a kid on the ground. Bam! Just like that.

I scooped her up to bring her inside and noticed that Naomi had gotten serious. She kidded shortly thereafter with triplets.

A few hours later - during evening milking chores - Lucinda finally did her thing, and as she started labor, Peggy Sue came in and thought it looked fun. Her pre-labor started at about 7 pm.

Having kids is exhausting. Because we bottle feed from the get-go, we are going non-stop for about 24 hours after a single kidding. By 7pm, we had had three kiddings - with a total of six kids. And we were still going out to check on Peggy every half hour or so. As the night wore on, we spaced the checks out a little further, as she didn't seem ready to push. Finally at about 2am, Christian pulled the kids out. We needed to get some sleep.

I was actually sleeping when he left at abut 1:45 to do a check. I woke up at about 3:00 and saw he hadn't come back. I freaked out, bundled up in my puffy suit and shuffled out to the barn. C wasn't there. Peggy was. She clearly had kidded, but I saw no kids. There was a light on in the dairy, so I went there. Nothing. And in my confused sleep fog, I freaked the frack out. WHERE DID THEY GO????

I came back to the house and saw a light on in the guest room. C was calmly bottle feeding one of the eight kids born that day. I don't remember which. I just collapsed in tired relief. Longest day ever.

Ellie Mae kidded about a week later - four days ahead of schedule, and Emmy Lou followed the day after that with triplets that I needed to assist. (One breech up front gummed up the whole works.) So that brings us to 12 babies and counting.

All but five have gone on to their new homes. We still have doelings for sale if you know anyone looking and we start again any day now. Limerick and Kelly are due this weekend.

We had an issue with poor Naomi - I alluded to that in my earlier post. I will get to that in the next post. She's OK, but OK is relative on a dairy farm. More on that as soon as I can swing it. Life gets busy in the baby season.