Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From 34 To 17...

And, sadly, that is how it sometimes rolls.

We started with 34 eggs that Ryan and I set nearly 3 weeks ago. Of those, we later discovered that 4 were not fertilized and we removed them. The others all had "spiders" form and most looked like they were developing properly. When Sean and I candled them last night in preparation for removing the automatic turner, we discovered problems in another 13 of them. Some had formed dreaded tell-tale blood rings. Others had definitely developed into embryos, but died in the week 2 stage. We have not had any temperature fluctuations, no turning failures, no reason for these late stage miscarriages. I just don't know.

By our "set date" we are  due to hatch over the weekend into Monday. I guess, we'll see what happens.

In other news, the chickens are still protesting our messing with their pen, adding more chicks, moving some of them to tractors and have shown their displeasure at us by refusing to lay eggs with any regularity. Yesterday, we collected a total of 4 eggs. I have been giving those living in the main coop yard additional rations of grain and more treats of fresh fruit & veggies than usual, but that has not softened their position on the matter. I hate change. "It is new and different. Therefore, I fear and reject it." has been my creed for many years, so I get where they are coming from. While I appreciate their sentiments, I don't like the resultant lack of egg production when I have Customers depending on my supplying them dozens of eggs on a weekly basis. I am considering other measures to make amends.

. In the meantime, I did get some more pictures of the chicks from June 3rd's clutch. I think that this beautifully speckled Americauna chick is a rooster. He acts very differently than the others. You can see his upright, alert carriage in the photo on the left. He often stands "guard" over the other chicks and is the first to become interested when anyone approaches them. I made these photos small, so they would fit the blog page better, but I highly recommend clicking on them to see them enlarged. He is a gorgeous lad.

Diana is striking. She is mostly black, but she has a lovely ring of gold feathers across her shoulders. Sean called it a golden necklace last night and that is what prompted me to name her Diana. She is a very royal looking pullet and she even walks with a regal gait.

We named the black hen Niecy and the white speckled hen Dolly. These are quickly becoming some of my favorite pullets. Looking at the poof of feathers on their heads just makes me happy. They seem to always be together. I think they will stay good friends and companions as they grow.

The goat fencing has been fixed so that all the goats are living together, but separately in the barn and field areas. Originally, we let Pepper stay with Jedi for company. After seeing Jedi ram her hard into a corner during the feeding of afternoon grain, we changed our minds on that plan. I don't like that Jedi is separated from his herd by fencing, but I will not allow him to ram the females because he wants to eat all the grain. So, that is what he gets. It is open enough that he can see them, nuzzle them through the fence, but cannot ram them or breed them. This inability to breed them is of great benefit to us. I want to have due dates so I can be prepared for kids coming, milk production, cheese processing, and all the other wonderful details that come with growing our herd. He will not be alone long, when Asher grows a little more, he will be moved to the buck pasturage as good company for Jedi.

We have been thinking more and more about breeding the goats as the summer slips away. This will be the first full year where the ladies will be of age to come into "season". (I guess we will see if the fencing is secure when they do and Jedi becomes determined to get to them.) According to the ADGA website: "Dairy goats are usually seasonal breeders. Most breeding occurs in late summer through early winter. The goat has an 18-21 day estrus cycle or "season." The doe's "season" lasts from a few hours to two or three days. The gestation period is five months. Twins are common, but single or triplet births are not rare. A doe milks approximately ten months following kidding, then is held dry for two months before her next freshening."  We could have attempted to breed Rachel and Leah last year, but chose not to. The girls are young adults now at 16 months of age, so if we can buy a nice Lamancha yearling buck, we will plan to breed them October or November for kids to arrive in March. If they are not already bred, which is possible, but doesn't appear to be the case. Contrary to standard practice, Ellie will not be bred again this year. She has been in milk since April. Our plan is to milk her until mid December (so long as she cooperates) and dry her off. We will attempt to have her bred again in the Autumn of 2013. Nor, will Abigail be bred this year. She would be 8 months old by November, but we want to give her an extra years growth before we breed her. The wild card in this bunch is Pepper. We think she is pregnant and could deliver as early as January- which would not be ideal. If she is not pregnant now, we will attempt to breed her this fall with Jedi.

So, best case scenario, we will a rest from milking from December to March and then, have 3 does milking for their first time come Spring. And, 4-6 healthy kids to sell. We are hopeful for at least 1.5 gallons of milk each day when the does get into the swing of it. I have found from my experience that 2 quarts of milk makes:

2 quarts of goat's milk -or-
2- 5 oz containers of chevre -or-
2 quarts of buttermilk -or-
2 quarts of yogurt -or-
3- 5 oz containers of salad dressing/dip

I have yet to perfect either mozzarella or feta cheese making, but I plan to keep attempting them until I do. With the prospects of having over a gallon of milk coming in each day, we will have plenty to eat ourselves, some to freeze for the few months we rest from milking, and even some to sell to/trade with our neighbors.

If, If, If...

Thanks for visiting with us today!
Sonja ♥


  1. I am sorry Jedi is being a turd and ramming folks!
    Those chickens are very nice, I like the name Niecy, I am a big fan of Ms. Nash myself. I am sometimes full of foolishness as you can attest and I know she would call me out.
    I hope you get the egg situation resolved, maybe they won't protest to long.

  2. Sorry about the egg strike! That's not ideal when you have customers waiting for eggs. The new pullets are so pretty! I especially like Niecy.