Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Spring Goat Menagerie

Spring time goat kids are so much fun, I have a smile on my face everyday, whenever I'm out spending time with them during my three or four daily rounds, I always stop and take time to socialize with them.  This time of year we walk through the dandelions together, and I watch them all play just like little kids, they are sweet and funny, as they leap and twirl about, chasing each other and head butting their friends in mock fights, their all time favorite game to play is King of the mountain on the rocks or big stump. They will grow up unbelievable fast, all the more reason to take the time to simply enjoy being with them in the Spring.  I've been taking pictures and keeping daily records of what needs to be done on my schedule of disbudding, deworming, shots,  feet trimming, nutrition, and mineral needs. 

Zolena gave birth to twins, a doeling and a buckling on April 13th.  I was right in the middle of having family in town for a few days, and the time she chose to give birth was during a late afternoon when I was in the middle of  making dinner for 14 people.  My husband who was checking in on her told me she had just given birth to the second one when he peeked in on her.  I ran out along with everyone and we all got to greet our newest additions to the goat family.  We ate late, because I had to take the time to get my basket and tend to all of them and make sure Zolena delivered the placenta and both of them began nursing well.  She's a wonderful mother and our superstar milker is back to providing milk for our family, while at the same time producing plenty of milk for her kids.

We are keeping her! ... meet, Deegie
 Another "D" name, also from the Jean Auel Mother Earth Series,
 just like her mother's name Zolena is.

It's hard to believe that just 2 years ago we didn't have goats in our life.  They have become such an enjoyable hobby for us, and we have learned so much new information through studying books, magazines, websites and blogs.  Every trip to the library would bring home  new books on goats, and second hand bookstores are where I've bought most of my collection of books on goats.  Both my husband and myself have been captivated by their wonderful spirits, and now we can't imagine a life without them. 

It has taken us time to fence three areas, one is a paddock and stall for kidding, another is the main pasture and barn, and the third is a buck pasture.  These came in stages over the last couple of years, and we have continued to work on all the parts.  It simply takes time to get all the things you want for goats, the cream separator is still waiting, the milking supplies, disbudding iron, tattoo kit, fencing, gates, feed, dewormers, and minerals were at the highest priority.  The time, labor and money it takes to raise goats properly with good quality feed and attention to their needs must be taken into consideration. 

One thing I had been asking my husband for was a covered movable feeder.  We looked at several designs and then he combined some ideas and came up with his own design.  It was made with scrap materials we had on hand, some wood from salvaged pallets, some from trees we had milled, along with left over roofing, just enough to cover it.  I'm lucky to have a husband who is always gathering building materials, as well as one who knows how to build strong things that are able to with-stand goats climbing all over them.

Joon and her doeling named Darlington,
 the other doeling is Donegal, and the buckling is Dartmoor. 
All names from the Brittish Isles.

Several days ago I started separating Joon and Jersey's kids at night and milking them both in the morning along with Zolena.  Finally I have most of my does in milk, they are still milking kids as well.  Joon gives about a quart or a little less, Jersey a little less than half a gallon, and Zolena about three quarters of a gallon (she's not separated from her kids at night).  I tried separating Danny and Dublin, Jersey's kids at night when they were two weeks old, I did it for two days and felt they were too young, I then decided to wait until they were a month old.  I actually began when they were 5 weeks old and Joon's were 4 weeks old.  They have all adjusted and actually have fun playing together.  I give them their own alfalfa pellets and grain, and the big does don't gobble it all down,  they have a feeder filled with alfalfa and grass hay, and they can take their time to eat, play, and all go in to sleep together on their side of the barn.  The first night I separated them it was rather noisy until it got dark, then they all settled down and went in to sleep. 

 Now comes the fun part of having goats, I have milk to work with... finally!!  My plans are to make cheese every other day and I want to start by making chevre, mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese, and yogurt. 

Hurray for Spring kids
and healthy milking does!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Egg Selling Stand

Our simple egg selling stand is finally up and running as of today!  I put one cooler out for the eggs to be in, and will bring them in every night and put them back out in the morning, unless they're sold out.  Plus there is a cooler for returning egg cartons.  The money tube is on the fence post and is made out of rain proof pvc pipe, it's on the other side of the fence and has a small slit to put the money into, it's easy for us to access it and would be difficult to get into from the side where the eggs are.    A couple days ago Kaley and I went around to several of our neighbors and gave out free cartons of eggs for them to try and told them about our egg selling stand start-up.  We're planning to go around to more neighbors, the one's who don't have chickens and give more samples to drum up sales.  Once people try our eggs they love them!!  Chickens that are free range and stress free have eggs with yolks so yellow they're almost orange, and the taste is just delicious!

I finally have enough hens laying eggs to see if they can pay for their own feed, we're getting around 19-24 eggs per day, so they're really adding up.  I've been watching on craigslist to see what other people are asking for farm fresh eggs, and most are at $4/ dozen, so that's what I'm asking.  I have some friends who are regularly buying from us, but we still need to sell more.  

Over the last couple days I spent time working on painting the egg selling signs, they're made out of pallet wood that was salvaged, then I put a poly finish on them to protect from the rain and weather.  We hung one on our street directional hoping to get a few cars to venture up our driveway.   This year I am so thankful for the overflow of abundance from our productive hens and the chance to share with other's some of the richness we have in our life because of them!