Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa Goat is Coming to Town!

The farmer has been ridiculously busy and she refuses to let me use the computer so that is why you haven't heard from your favorite Alpine lately. All is well in the goat world. Daisy and I went on our annual fall dates with the buck and are both knocked up now. I stopped giving milk when the weather got cold because nobody likes cold hands on their teats in the morning! The farmer wasn't happy with that but she was happy to not have to think about milking for a few months. Everyone likes a vacation once in a while. Figaro and Fiona are doing well. Curry, Samosa and Prince Charming have a date with the butcher next week (Shhh.... don't tell them!). I don't mind that situation as long as my name isn't on the freezer list! More food for me if they are gone! 

Santa Goat came early and gave us a few Christmas trees to celebrate with. No decorations but that is fine with me. Tinsel just gets stuck in my teeth anyway. This winter has been good so far. No real snow yet. There has been a couple of -20 degree days. Luckily the farmer has become an old softee and lets us stay inside when it is below 0 in the morning. I would rather not stand around outside and freeze my tail off (literally!). 

Merry Goat-mas and a Happy Goat Year!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Farm 2 Fork Festival

 There's a festival in the nearby by town that is 1/3 farmer's market, 1/3 local food party, and 1/3 farming celebration. The farmer brings some goats every year to show the townspeople that goats aren't so bad after all. Figaro, Fiona, and Curry were chosen to go to the Festival. The farmer wanted a good selection of different breeds to represent. The appearance of Figaro required the farmer to tell everyone that he was a goat and not a sheep because everyone thought he was a sheep. The farmer's friend brought her ear-less wonder, a Lamancha doeling. This required the farmer to explain to everyone that the goat was born that way and the lack of ears was not the result of a horrible accident.

The Festival went very well. It was very cold and rainy in the morning but the sun came out just as the food came out too. Lots of people showed up then. The only problem was that the farmer had to give a presentation on goat care and she brought Fiona up to the stage to show off. When Fiona got back to the petting pen, she had quite a chip on her shoulder for being the "Chosen One" and decided she needed to beat up the friend's Lamancha doeling. Fiona had to be put in time-out and tied on a lead for the rest of the day.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Summer is here for sure! It was very hot and muggy last week. All of us goats spent a lot of time laying around the pasture, trying to enjoy whatever breeze there was. All I can say that was good about the heat wave was that it broke up the 42 days straight of rain we have had. Perhaps there's now a chance that hay will be cut and we will be able to eat for another winter?

 Here is a picture of me to compare to the below picture of my kid, Fiona. She is pretty much a spitting image.

Daisy is playing "Queen of the Mountain" on the Dogloo. There's nothing like a sturdy dog house to keep us occupied for hours!

The boys. Both are getting big. After 10 years of raising buck goats in a dry pen, the farmer finally figured out that she can put them out in their own pasture so they don't have to eat hay. Duh!

And finally, the obligatory Figaro picture.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's up with me?

Not much to report on the farm this month. The grass is green and getting greener. It keeps growing and growing with lots and lots and LOTS of rain! If it ever stops raining, I will get out there and mow the lawn. I do work in the rain, but not in a torrential downpour -- of which there have been a few lately.

All of us goats are doing well. I am producing just shy of 1 gallon of milk a day. I have kept my conditioning thanks to the lovely grass and copious amounts of Chaffhaye that the farmer gives me. I have been tolerating the abuse by the farmer's kid when she tries to milk me. I guess explaining the finer points of goat milking to a three-year old is kind of tough... Ouch!
Look at me standing so nicely for this torture! I should get a medal!
Figaro and Daisy are fat and getting fatter. 'Nough said.

Ruby is looking good and the baby she is nursing has had a name change from "Curry" to "Godzilla" for obvious reasons. Godzilla is 10 lbs heavier than her bottle-fed brother. Now keep in mind that he was a runt from birth and had some serious health setbacks. He's catching up fast but Godzilla is outpacing him by a mile with her constant access to her momma's full udder. I guess that goes to show that if you are looking to raise meat goats that you are going to get much better returns on them if you leave them on mom. This is something the farmer should keep in mind for next year since her entire kid crop is slated for the freezer next fall. Take a vacation and let the moms* do the work! *I won't be bred next year so I am all in favor of letting Daisy and Fiona take the responsibility of feeding their kids. Heehee!

My two kids are getting big. They are 8 weeks old today. The farmer has been diligent about parasite prevention this year so all the kids are growing fast! There's even talk of trying to breed Fiona (AKA Cinderella (another name change)) if she can hit the 80 lb. mark this fall or winter. She'll be bred to Samosa (the Boer buckling) so her kids should be small at birth and easy for a young first freshener to carry and deliver. 

That's the update. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blurry Early Morning Pictures

For some reason, the farmer only brings the camera out during her mad-dash to do chores in the morning. There are three problems with this: 1. She's rushed and doesn't have time for her temperamental camera to focus so most of the pictures range from slightly blurry to UFO sighting fuzziness. 2. The sun isn't up yet and the light is terrible so the flash goes off and gives all of us those creepy blue ghost-goat eyes. 3. We aren't up yet so bed-head and grumpy expressions abound.

 She got me with my mouth full! At least Daisy looked ready for the paparazzi this morning.

 Here's my two kids. My how they are growing! (Don't worry, the one in front does have 4 legs, it's just a strange picture).

 Ruby and her monster-sized kid. Curry is the biggest 4 week old kid I have ever seen.

 Curry towers over her runty brother. Well, actually, we all tower over him. Don't worry, he's starting to catch up and look like a "real" goat and not a funny runt.

Talk about bed-head! Figaro is one perpetual bad hair day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Money Shots!


Prince Charming
Vindaloo - Boer doe
Samosa - Boer buck

Ruby and Curry - both does

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Kid! I Kid!

I finally did it! I kidded on Tuesday. After a looooonnnnggg gestation of 155 days and a looonnnnngggg labor of 6 hours, I had two healthy babies - a buck and a doe. Both are large kids since I like to keep them in me until the last possible moment. This made labor pretty hard and not much fun for me or the farmer. The buck who was out first was the bigger of the two. He was slow to get into the birth canal because one of his front legs was back and the other was tucked into his cheek. This made a pretty hugemungous blob to try to pass out the ol' pooter. Luckily the buck made so much room by the time he finally came out that the doe shot out before I even had a chance to lay down. The farmer is bottle feeding both kids and they are doing great!

 The buck "Prince Charming" is on the left. The doe "Cinderella" is on the right. 

Here is a close-up of Cinderella. Notice her lovely white slippers on her front feet.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting Ready!

I will be having babies this week. Gestation day 150 is April 10th. I traditionally have had my babies between day 150 and 156. The farmer is hoping Ruby and I will both kid on Saturday (she has all sorts of funny hopes -- silly farmer!). I am already pretty uncomfortable and have started whining to whomever walks by about my swollen ankles and weird food cravings and aching back. I'll keep y'all posted about the baby progress!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pictures of Baby Bumps!

 Hello! It's me, Lucy.

 My baby bump. Three weeks to go!

 Ruby is the other pregnant goat on the farm. It's just me and her this year for kidding.

 Ruby's bump. We don't know when she is due but it could be any time after March 30th.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

They're Coming!

What have I been up to, you ask? I have been getting ready to have kids again this year. Ho-hum... This will be my fifth time around so I pretty much know what to expect. I've been pretty grumpy lately and have been taking it out on Ruby. Ruby is a meat goat and she looks like a Nubian (patooey!) with those goofy Boer ears, so I think she deserves a hard time. The farmer doesn't agree but who asked her anyway?! (See what I mean about being grumpy?)

The farmer thinks I am being grumpy because I must be carrying twin bucks. When I carry only male kids, the testosterone makes me grumpy. I have had three sets of twin bucks over the years, so I should know all about testosterone-crazy-crazy. In my four kiddings I have produced seven bucks and one doe. The farmer was starting to think there was something wrong with me until I finally had a doe last spring. Of course, now the farmer has it in her head that since I can produce a doe kid, that I should only produce doe kids this year. She keeps chanting "Please be two does. Please be two does" every time I walk by. I would hate to let her down but something tells me she shouldn't start picking out girls names and pink collars until after the kids are here!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Farewell! Good Luck!!



Yesterday a nice man and his wife came and took Gloria and Prim to their home to live. The farmer was starting to get a little worried about barn space with mine and Ruby's kids on the way so she decided to try to find a new home for Gloria and Prim. They will be living happily on a farm with some llamas, another goat, and a bunch of Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees dogs. The dogs are trained as LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs) so having some more goats around to help with the training is perfect. Gloria can live out her retirement and Prim can be used for breeding in the fall. I wish them good luck and happy lives!!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The good news and the bad news

The good news -- Ruby (the Boer) is pregnant! The farmer sent a blood sample in to a lab and they verified it. I could have told the farmer that Ruby was pregnant because even I could see her udder developing and her whoo-ha getting squishy. But the farmer wanted 99% verification from a lab so la-di-dah... Anyway, Ruby will be having kids at some point this spring. The lady the farmer got her from says she was put in with the buck on November 5th so that makes her due to kid in early April. I am due to kid on April 11th so I guess that makes us "labor buddies"!

The bad news -- Ruby is CAE positive. The farmer had that same tube of blood tested for CAE and it came back definitely positive. The farmer is a little bummed but not too bent out of shape. CAE is a really common virus. Most goats in the world carry it. The farmer already raises all kids on CAE prevention (cow colostrum then pasteurized goat milk to prevent the transmission of the virus through the raw milk). Ruby's kids will be bottle fed on the prevention plan, along with mine.

The farmer is trying to slowly rid the herd of CAE by putting all new kids on a prevention plan and by testing all adult goats once a year. The farmer just started this last year so only the two kids from last year are negative. Prim and Daisy tested negative at the September testing. They will be tested again when they are pregnant next winter. The farmer hopes to only breed negative goats from now on. This means that my days as a breeder are numbered. Gloria is already retired from breeding. Figaro can't breed because the farmer cut his berries off. Ruby will be going for goat meat with the kids from this year in the fall (shhh..... don't tell her that!). Prim and Daisy will take over and be the first generation of CAE negative goats to start the new herd.

The farmer hopes to keep only a small number of goats from now on. From the crazy look on her face at chore time I can tell that she is a little overwhelmed with 6 goats crammed in the barn. She prefers to have only 4 goats through the winter. This allows her to have one goat in each of the two big individual pens and then two goats in the large stall. Then she has a fourth pen free for hay/grain storage in winter and kids in the spring and summer. Right now with six goats, all the pens are full and there's no pens for the kids when they come. I hear grumblings coming from the farmer about sending Gloria to a retirement farm down the road. Mrs. Brown (one of the first Alpines on this farm) went there when she got too old to breed. She lived a good life eating lots of good food and hanging out with assorted horses and sheep on that farm.

It's still winter here with a foot of snow on the ground. Nothing major will change until mid-March when the kidding pen needs to be ready. We shall see what happens......

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I am what I eat!

The farmer spends a lot of time and money trying to figure out what is best for me and the other goats to eat. Eating is a very important part of our day (OF COURSE!) and is the one thing that the farmer can have the biggest impact on. Right now it is winter and where I live the winters last for 6 months from the last day of fresh grass in the fall to the first day of new grass in the spring. This means that I spend half of the year eating dry hay and grain with no fresh food. Yuck! Couple this with the fact that I am usually pregnant during the winter and start my lactation before the snow has melted and winter is a huge draw on my bodily resources.

The farmer has been very concerned about making sure that we have lots of good stuff to eat during winter so we don't become unhealthy. When I was a kid and the farmer was new to owning goats, our diets consisted of dry hay and lots of pre-mixed, store-bought goat grain. Our pasture was confined to the small area next to the horses. We had a mineral/salt block to chew on and some plain grass to eat in that pasture.

The first thing the farmer learned that mineral/salt blocks were not useful to goats and that we need loose minerals made specifically for goats. We weren't getting enough copper, calcium, selenium, or zinc from a block. She started giving us Sweetlix Meatmaker 16:8 loose mineral for goats. At first we didn't like it but now we are used to it and eat it up! We get a dish of it in each of our goat pens. The farmer cleans and refills the dish every other day so we always have fresh loose minerals to eat (stale minerals are gross and we won't eat them!). After being on the loose minerals for one year, the farmer noticed that our coats where shinier and our kids were born stronger. No more kids born with bent ankles and too weak to stand up right away.

The next thing the farmer figured out was that goats need a calcium to phosphorus ratio of at least 2:1 in order to stay healthy. The easiest way to accomplish this is to add alfalfa pellets to our grain ration. The farmer changed our diets to give us 3 cups of alfalfa pellets to every one cup of grain. Alfalfa pellets are high in calcium and grain is high in phosphorus so they need to be fed in a 3:1 ratio in order to achieve a 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio. After a few months of the alfalfa pellets, the farmer noticed that our milk was no longer pink from blood in it (a common ailment of a calcium deficient goat) and that we looked healthier.

The next year, the farmer changed our grain. The grain we were getting was a sweet feed mix called "Caprine Challenger" from Blue Seal Feeds. It was yummy with lots of molasses and corn. The farmer became worried that too much molasses was not good for us because it is high in iron, which can throw off our mineral balance, and molasses and corn are used as a filler to add empty calories to otherwise inferior grain products. Also high corn  diets can cause our rumen pH to become acidic which is not good for our rumen bacteria who help us digest our food and synthesize B vitamins. The farmer did some research online and found that many people feed a homemade mixture of 50% oats, 30% wheat/barley, 10% cracked corn, 5% black oil sunflower seeds, and 5% Calf-Manna grain supplement. The farmer mixed up a batch of this and has been feeding it to us ever since. The good thing about this grain mixture is that it is less expensive ($30 a month versus $50 a month for pre-mix grain), and it encourages us to eat more of our loose minerals since it doesn't contain any added minerals. The lack of added minerals is a good and bad thing. It's good because we can decide how much minerals we want by eating our Sweetlix. Our bodies' tell us what minerals we need and we can adjust how much Sweetlix we eat based on this. It's bad though because there are no fail-safe minerals in our diets and we MUST have loose minerals available all the time or else we can become deficient. The farmer has to be extra-diligent about refilling our mineral dishes and keeping them fresh.

During these changes to our feed and minerals the farmer also changed our pasture set-up. She bought some ElectroNet fencing from Premier One Supplies and uses that to move our pasture area every three days during the summer. We, goats, take only three days to mow down one section of the netting fencing, so the farmer has to keep on top of things and move the fence every three days or else we won't have anything to eat. Sometimes the farmer puts together two or three sections of netting to give us a big pasture to graze in. We have a large main pasture area but also have many smaller areas according to how the farmer sets up the netting fence. This works great because we can spend most of the summer on fresh grass and don't have to settle for too much boring, old hay.

The last thing the farmer has done recently to change our diets is to stop giving alfalfa pellets and start giving a chopped alfalfa silage product, called Chaffhaye. It comes in 50 lb. plastic bags that can be stored for up to two years. It's pure alfalfa with a little molasses (a very little bit!) and a some yeast culture mixed in to make it ferment. The fermentation helps to preserve the alfalfa for storage and makes it easier to digest because the yeasts have already started to break it down. At first we didn't like it because it smelled sweet and tasted funny. But after a few days we developed a taste for it and now can't get enough! We pound on the gates and make a raucous until the farmer gives us our daily Chaffhaye ration. She feeds us about 2 lbs. of Chaffhaye per goat per day. The farmer started using it because it costs about the same as alfalfa pellets but is a much better product. Being roughly chopped alfalfa, instead of alfalfa dust like the pellets, Chaffhaye has a much higher digestible fiber content. This is very good for goats because we need lots of long-stem fiber each day to keep us healthy.

Currently my daily diet is: 3 cups homemade grain mix of oats, wheat, barley, corn, sunflower seeds and Calf-Manna; 2 lbs. Chaffhaye; 1 flake of grassy hay; Sweetlix Meatmaker 16:8 (as much as I can eat); baking soda (just for the winter to keep my rumen pH neutral or slightly basic); and fresh water. This diet is split between two feedings per day.

I think I am looking good this winter. Normally my fur gets dry and sticks up during the winter, giving me a "hoof stuck in light socket" look. This year my fur is shiny and laying flat. I am pregnant right now and hope to keep up my good condition through having kids and making milk.

I think we might be up for a new diet change soon. I have seen the farmer Googling "fodder systems" and how to grow seeds for us to eat. I will report back on any changes, should the farmer get some new crazy ideas in her head!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A very goaty weekend!

Did anyone see the Super Bowl commercial with the goat? How great was that?! Did you happen to notice that goat bares a striking resemblance to yours' truly? Along with Crumpet, I should be in the running for TMFGITW!

There was a lot of goaty stuff going on this weekend besides the most watched sporting event in the world giving goats their due. Some of it was good, some was not so good.

Not good - The farmer has been helping her friend's goat, Glory, through pregnancy. Her owners are new to goat birthing and have been very excited to have baby goats on the way. Glory got really big last week and her udder filled all the way up. The farmer saw her on Tuesday and guessed she couldn't have long to go before kidding. Glory is of undetermined age and probably quite old according to the fact that she has started losing her front teeth. This is a bad sign for a pregnant goat. Glory stopped eating on Saturday and wouldn't get up. This is a really bad sign for an old, pregnant goat. The farmer's friend called the farmer and she tried to offer what help she could. Glory went into labor yesterday. Three kids were born. This is a really, really bad sign for an old, pregnant goat. Three was too many for her to support and she passed away. Two of the kids didn't make it either. One kid lived. Luckily the farmer's friend has powdered colostrum and milk replacer on hand to get the kid started. The farmer is going today to drop off some frozen cow colostrum to feed the kid. The bright spot in all this sadness is that many times no kids survive this sort of complicated birth, along with the mom passing away. Let's all hope this little kid sticks with us and lives a long and productive life.

Good - The farmer's other friends who owns my half-sister and one of Pepper's daughters had the farmer over on Saturday to visit. Both of those goats are pregnant and going to kid in March. They are looking great and have grown into beautiful young does. Their owner is very excited and getting ready for kidding and milking. The farmer hopes there's been enough kidding drama in the neighborhood for this year and that these two have no complications.

Great - Someone came to visit the farm yesterday who wants to get goats this summer. She talked to the farmer a bunch and is excited to add goats to her herd of four sheep.

Greatest - Two other people have contacted the farmer looking to get goats this summer. It's great to see more people getting into goats! Goats are the new backyard chickens!

Monday, January 14, 2013

At least it ain't a sheep.....

The farmer came home yesterday with a new goat. I think she has lost her mind. It is a Boer meat goat. What is she thinking?

Here I meeting Miss Ruby for the first time. She's two years old and probably knocked up, according to her previous owner.

I was not impressed by her. This is my disgusted face. If you ever want to know what a disgusted goat looks like, this is it.