Friday, April 19, 2013

We have MILK again!

It has been 10 days since the goat kids and their Mommas have been situated to their new home in the barn. This new arrangement is proving suitable for all the farm inhabitants, animal and human alike. I admit it was difficult to hear the kids calling for their Mommas that first night, but eventually everyone fell asleep and passed the night uneventfully. Now, everyone is settling into their new schedule. Each evening, we throw more hay to the herd and move the does into the main doe stall to spend the night. The kids sleep together in a pile in their stall, next door. In the morning, Sean brings out Leah first, then Rachel, and finally, Ruby. The does eagerly jump onto the milk stand and call for their morning grain. While they are busy having their breakfast, I feed the kids their morning grain; they nibble at it, but don't actually eat much at this point. Sean milks each doe in turn.

I help by providing a sterile milk bucket and coaxing the does to tolerate being handled with nice words, head rubs, and most importantly, GRAIN. Sometimes this works better than others; some days we are able to empty the does' udders and some days they begin to fidget and kick up. Three mornings ago, Rachel stepped into the milk bucket which meant her entire milking had to be discarded. Thankfully, we collect each doe's milk separately, so only her milk was ruined. In time, with practice, milking will be less stressful for all of us. After each doe is milked, they are let into the kids' stall to pass the day with their kids, separated from the rest of the herd. As the kids get bigger, they will be integrated with the the other does. For now, this system works.

Milking adds an additional 30 minutes to our morning chores, but the quarts of milk we receive far outweighs the additional expenditure of time involved in collecting it. So far, Leah has not been a very productive doe, but her production is increasing a little each day. She began with 9.5 oz of milk and gave us 15.4 oz this morning. Rachel began at 12.3 oz, but she has increased steadily to give us approximately 24.4 oz of fresh milk each morning. She has been our highest producer so far! Ruby has been our most steady milk producer. She began at 17.8 oz and remains around 19 oz of milk each morning.

Zoe was very interested in the milking.
These are fairly low amounts, I know. I attribute that to a couple of factors. 1. We are still learning and Sean is milking by hand. As we get into the rhythm of milking faster, we may be able to collect more milk before the grain runs out and the does demand release via the very effective threat of repeated attempts to step in the milk pail. 2. This was Rachel and Leah' first kidding and they both have single kids. Leah only allows Judah to nurse. Rachel often supplies milk to 3 kids who aren't hers in addition to Keren. This may be why Leah is producing less (because the demand has been less) and Rachel has been producing so much more. 3. We have only just begun milking them. Now that they are getting milked each morning, they should begin to make more to compensate for the additional demand for it.

I think.

Adding to all those thoughts, Ruby is limping a bit on her left rear hoof. Sean accidentally cut too deeply when he trimmed hooves over the weekend and it looks like it may be a little infected, despite the disinfectant we used at the time. We cleaned it out well yesterday and this morning, but we are keeping a close eye on it and her. We are using hydrogen peroxide topically in conjunction with AUREOMYCIN (chlortetracycline hydrochloride),  an oral antibiotic, to kick this quickly. (Update: Ruby's limping has subsided and she is doing much, much better today. We are still washing the foot out with a disinfectant daily and watching as the infection is resolved.)

In accordance with the law that nature abhors a vacuum and there was nothing else amiss around here, Rachel began scouring Wednesday morning. She had no interest in her grain. We cleaned her up, gave her a booster shot of Ivomec (which was due), laced her drinking water with probiotic powder and molasses, offered her some pepto-bismal tablet (she declined to eat them.), and gave her a dose of CMPK drench. If this is from a high worm load, she should be better with the Ivomec on board. If it is because we increased her grain ration too quickly, the reduction of grain offered should help with that. She definitely seems to be feeling not herself. We went ahead and milked her some this morning on schedule because she was full of milk and uncomfortable. Sadly, we had to waste the milk we got from her today and will need to continue to until she is done being treated. (Update: the scouring stopped and Rachel is acting herself again.)

I had an epiphany this morning mid-chore: it is entirely ironic that we can keep an animal for YEARS, pouring money into feed, housing, and supplies and have no need for any kind of medical interference. The minute a critter begins to pay "rent" for their space at our home, we can expect major worm infestations, scouring, split hooves, infections and random cysts or growths to appear. With this being the case, the 10 roosters living in luxury in (what should be) the tack room, eating our grain and making messes for us to clean, will out-live us all.

In other news, we collected nearly 3 dozen eggs this morning from the coop to sell. Lacey Wyandotte seems to be broody and is sitting on a nest of 10 eggs in one of the nesting boxes. Maybe we'll have some assorted chicks to sell at the swap in May??? We hope to! The pullet chicks living in their brooders in our living room are all healthy and active. The 5 Rhode Island Reds we purchased a couple weeks ago have all gotten their feathers and no longer use a light. The 12 new chicks are beginning to get their feathers. I am hopeful that they will all be ready to move outside by May. I confess, I am rather ready for that NOW.

Justin and Caitlin have gotten quite serious about nesting. Caitlin laid 6 eggs in the nest Harlequin created and was using to incubate 8 of her own eggs. For a few days, goose and duck took turns sitting on the nest until Caitlin ruthlessly removed both Harle and her eggs. Rude, but effective. If the incubating goes well, we'll have some goslings come early May, too. There is another nest of duck eggs being created inside the chicken coop, but I have not seen anyone sitting regularly on them- so far.

Our tomatoes and broccoli are growing by leaps and bounds! We already transplanted them into larger containers and will perhaps need to do so again before they finally can be planted in the raised beds. No sign of the peppers as of yet, but it is still early days. And, we checked the garlic planted with hope last fall to discover 42 bulbs growing strong and happy in their bed. This was a cheery discovery that went a long way towards brightening the day.

Sean was gifted a chain link run for Fenn-dog. It measures 8 feet x 24 feet, but since we only need it to be 3 sided, it will give him 16 feet x 24 feet of additional room to run. We are going to see about picking it up on Sunday afternoon after our 2nd craft event. If you all are near the Searsport area, we'll be at the Lion's Club from 7am-2pm on Sunday and we will have our goat's milk soaps, scent shots, mosaic eggshell pendants and new earrings, fresh chevre and eggs, farm chic scarves and necklaces aaaaaaaand tiny tulle tu-tus (Meaghan's new project) for sale.

There is always something to be done around here. I guess it is time I get back to it. Thanks for checking in with us this morning. I hope you have a satisfying day, friends.

Sean and Sonja ♥


  1. You'll get faster at milking and the more the girls get use to you milking too, they'll start to stand still for you. Our doe last year was a pain in my rear but she's sooo much better this year. We can even leave the bucket and not worry about her stepping in it now!

  2. Glad everyone is feeling better! Those babies are just too cute talking!

  3. Milking does seem like a slow process! It must be very frustrating when someone steps in the milk, but luckily you only had to throw out that one bowl. Seems smart to use separate bowls for each girl just in case! The kids are soooo cute. Loved seeing and hearing them in the video :)

  4. Sean's quite a pro at milking! I confess I secretly hope little Zoe gets a taste.