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!
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!!
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......