Sunday, February 26, 2012

DoeDoe's Turn

DoeDoe the day we got her.
Saturday I had a party. It started out as an invitation for friends to come hold some goat babies because really, who wouldn't want to kick back and hold a soft, warm, little, adorable baby? Especially one you can give back if it starts crying. My two younger sons had a playday with a friend that day, and the mom mentioned that she'd always wanted to stop by the ranch and see all the animals especially since we had babies. And of course, with two families coming, it really wouldn't be a party without my favorite surrogate daughters. And sandwiches, a veggie tray, drinks and s'mores. With a fire. It was a great time!

Everyone was pretty reluctant to leave, and some (I won't name names) kept saying they better head home, but instead, moved closer to the fire. And closer still and kept visiting and remarking on how peaceful it was to be there.

Slowly, my party dwindled down to me, my kids and my spare kids. Angelica kept sneaking away from the fire to check on DoeDoe because we have a top secret method to get a sheep to go into labor. I won't go into details but it involves grooming. It's worked twice before. We figured DoeDoe was the third time charm.

When her dad came to pick her up and take her on home, she snuck away one last time, but didn't come back. Next thing I knew she was calling for me to come help. I figured something had gone wrong. Nope. DoeDoe was in labor. As we had planned all along of course.

It was very dark by then and she nested in the sheep pen across from DoeDoe with a battery powered light and a blanket. The other kids eventualy joined her to watch the babies come. It was very exciting for them. DoeDoe had two babies and was assisted by Angelica, the midwife, who made sure everyone came out okay and got their noses swiped clean so they could breathe. She even played udder police and shooed away Teenager Sheep's greedy baby who saw DoeDoe's udder as fair game.

I couldn't get good pictures of the babies until today, but she had one boy and one girl.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Udder Watch 2-25-2012

It's a little bigger. I swear it is...

Tired of Waiting...

There are many more seeds where these came from.
We managed to get all of these into the ground though!
I just can't stand it anymore. I miss the overgrown rows of vegetables, the endless green, the daily checking of the garden to see what's ready to be picked. I was going to wait until March, but I AM TIRED OF WAITING! And I have all these seeds and this nice teenager friend who was willing to help me with my crazy drive to play Mother Nature. We planted half the rows this morning with garlic, and seeds: pumpkin, cucumber, carrots, romaine, peas, spinach, and two thick handfuls of yellow onion sets.

Everything was laid out in a very random way, following the permaculture theory that interplanting helps deter pests. (If you want random, enlist the aid of small children too!) The idea is that the variation throws pests off course and I shouldn't end up with a row of radishes that have been eaten to the stubs. We'll see if it works.

Here you can see the wider rows covered
with lots of organic matter. We did not
till the ground, in keeping with the permaculture
ideal of building soil by adding to it instead of
turning it each season.
Last year's rows were 1/3 the width of this year's so interplanting was a strange, haphazard attempt that led to a few plants growing in the pathways. I think this year's garden will be even bigger and better than before! The only downside I see is that harvesting will be a little more challenging, like an Easter egg hunt. But that sounds like fun to me.

I'm hopeful that all the dormant fig trees will wake up soon from their winter slumber. I know in the summer that the other garden plants are going to appreciate the shade those massive leaves will offer.

I'm still being patient with the plants in the greenhouse, which I will start to set into the garden next month, little by little. I tried a few zucchini plants but it was still too cold at night and they didn't make it.

If all the tomato seedlings I have started survive, there's going to be a bumper crop for both restaurants and extra to sell and share with friends and family. Salsa is starting to sound yummy already!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Princess Pops

This morning we went to check on the critters and hold Star's new babies. Princess, our orange Nigerian Dwarf, was crying in her deep voice and hiding out behind the goathouses. Maybe this was why:

It looks painful to me.
And generally it's a precursor to this:

A beautiful white and orange baby boy.
She may still have another baby in there.
We'll have to check on her this evening to find out.

Update on the Stars

Here are a couple of pictures taken in the daytime:
Farmer C with Starburst

Starlight and Darkstar

Three Little Stars

Last night, I headed out to the ranch late and was hoping to hold one of Muffy's (curly wool) babies. It was dark and despite the goats calling me to feed them right now, I heard the unmistakable high pitched cry of new babies. Who could it be? I thought Big Momma was the first to get pregnant, but I've been wondering if she just held her breath until her udder inflated to trick me. Princess was bred after Big Momma, so it could have been her... But she hadn't shown any signs.

Earlier that morning, my friend Christa and I were holding a couple of baby goats and sitting in the goat pen when Star came up between us and bit Chocolate Chip's ear. She then smirked at me and gave me that blue-eyed expression of smugness only she can give. Was that her sign that she was going to have kids? Was that her way of telling me, "Look Lady, it's my turn. Pay attention to me." I guess it must have been.

Because behind the concrete goathouses that night, she was busy cleaning up three perfect, little blue-eyed baby boys. They look incredibly small compared to the mixed breed goats. I held all three in my lap while their mom went to eat her alfalfa. Can't wait to go see them this morning and get better pictures...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Muffy's Babies

This morning Muffy wasn't interested in food.
Which meant something was odd. Really odd.

Or she was just in labor!

She wasn't (that) fat. She was pregnant!

My favorite inspector making sure everything
came out okay. She tried to adopt one of the babies.

Their names are Muffin and Ear Muff.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Days...

There are days which make me feel fabulous and wonderful, days that I accomplish many tasks I had set on the list to get done. And there are days where nothing goes right and nothing works as it should. Today, so far, has been a good day. I cleaned up a truckload of junk and wood scraps from the kids' play area, trimmed a tree, cared for all the critters, watered the garden and affixed the new (unbusted) hose to the sprinkler for the alfalfa. And I discovered that the alfalfa is starting to sprout:

How exciting!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Udder Watch 2-15-2012

This is the non-damaged side of Gucci's udder which suddenly looked a little bigger last night. I expect it will be a gigantic balloon just before she delivers her baby, so now I'm keeping an eye on her udder like some strange sort of voyeuristic milk enthusiast...

Funny what happens when you have farm animals and get all hypnotized by the cycles of life. I must have twenty photos of various animals' udders and backends nearing birthing time. I think I may have lost my mind.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Silly Weeds

It's almost time for planting, but the nights are still too cold. While I wait for spring to officially get here, I'm working on getting the Gigantic Garden cleaned up and ready. There are a lot of these in there:

All of the animals like to eat those weeds, but I know the chickens, goats, sheep, and cows would eat the things I don't want them to eat like the dill, garlic, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, beets, and rosemary left over from last year. I was reading online about Weeder Geese and wondered if any old goose would do. The page specifically states strawberries, corn, and cotton as the crops the geese can be set in, but since there wasn't a lot of veggies left in the garden, I figured I'd chance it and see what happened.

Since Silly Goose seems to think I'm her gander and hasn't fallen in love with the two very male Pekin ducks we have like BB the other goose has, I decided to give her a break from being constantly chased and employee her in the garden...

She took to that idea right away. The two of us set to picking weeds. I pulled 15 gallons of weeds and fed them to the chickens and sheep. Silly ate all the weeds she pulled. I kept an eye on her to see if it really was true that geese wouldn't eat the other garden plants. She was picky and feasted on the grasses, dandelions, and stray alfalfa. She did such a good job that I left her in there until sunset when it was time to go to the coyote proof coop.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Prince is Born

The last of our mixed breed goats went into labor this morning. Tsica, aka Queen Tyrant of Goats, made a few dignified groans and began to dig out a nest to have her baby in just before I was about to leave. I went to check on her, gave her a pep talk and some rubs on her belly, and told her everything would be all right. She was early on in her labor and I had to go work at the gem show, so sadly, I couldn't stick around and be there for her.

When we all came for the evening chores, we found Tsica with her new little prince, safe and sound in the wooden goathouse. He was perky and clean, already up and walking around.

There was some question as to who the father might be, but without a doubt, the little guy is Jorge's baby. He looks just like his dad except for a little white patch of fur on his forehead. Tsica is, by far, the most overprotective mom I've ever seen. She whacks any adult goats that come near her son, and she grumbles at the other babies who want to play. She remains the alpha female of the herd.

Left on the list to have babies are: Big Momma (is she pregnant or just hormonal?) Princess, Star (who looks about to explode), Pepper, and Violet.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sadness and Joy

The day after Canella's babies were born, we lost one, Miss Fluffles. We're not entirely sure what went wrong. Both babies were small in comparison to Miss Cow's babies, so maybe that was part of it. I had worried about Spot as she had wobbly back legs which could either have been a selenium deficiency or possibly because she'd been born right before we arrived. We weren't there for the birth, so we don't know how things progressed. Miss Fluffles stood quite well, but that's all we ever saw her do--just stand there a little hunched and unmoving. When we arrived Saturday morning, she was on her side, already passed on. Spot however, was doing extremely well, running and playing with her half-sister/aunt, Cocoa Puff.

Sunday, I was about to leave after my chores when Canella's sister, Vanilla, started screaming. She was lying on her side in labor and looked very frightened. I grabbed some fresh straw for the goathouses and went in to help her out. She got up when I came to her side and let me lead her to a goathouse. Once there, she had another contraction and things seemed to be fine. The "bubble" appeared which usually means a baby is coming soon. I began to videotape and waited patiently on the sidelines.

Sweet Tart
Then the bubble popped. She pushed some more and two little hooves started to come out. After watching Miss Cow have her babies (who all plopped out head first with ease) I started to get worried. Vanilla tried several times to push and those hooves didn't move.

I figured she needed help. I ran off to wash my hands and get my rubber gloves on. Very carefully, I pulled on the hooves during her next contraction and pop, the baby came out. The placenta all over her was yellow-brown and nasty looking, which indicated that the baby probably pooped inside, something that often happens when they're in distress. (Miss Cow's babies all had clear placenta.)

Vanilla cleaned her up and let her suckle as soon as that little one could stand. I named her Sweet Tart. She's very pale, like her mother and has interesting markings.

Chocolate Chip aka: Yin-Yang

Quite some time later, Vanilla had another contraction. The second baby came head first. But then I guess Vanilla was tired of pushing and got up to walk around...with the head still hanging out. It was very strange looking. This one appeared to be much larger than the first baby. When her next contraction came, I helped a little with that baby, too, and out came a boy with a dark head and white body. He was very loud (got his mother's voice) and she dutifully cleaned him up and made sure he ate as well.

It's now Tuesday and both babies are still doing great. Sweet Tart has stolen some hearts already. The baby boy whose name is Yin-Yang acording to Farmer G and Chocolate Chip, according to me, has really lightened up in color.

Every time I go to the ranch, I count heads and am thankful for the babies we have. They're perky and running, climbing, skipping, and playing when they're not eating or sleeping.

Sweet Tart stealing a Heart

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Canella's Babies

These baby girls were born today. Their mom is Canella, Dad is Jorge'. (He's really turned out to be a productive buck.) They're throwing more of the boer coloring from their mom. Not sure what time they came into the world, but I had guessed it was Canella's turn this morning because she'd gone off by herself and kept making a few cries every so often. I bedded them down with a pile of extra straw and they cuddled up and napped.