Thursday, February 11, 2016

Some Days Feel Like a Win. ♥

Sean is on his way to get an estimate for our van repair from the accident on Monday afternoon. While he is gone, I thought it would be a good time to try to write a bit. The house is quiet and no one needs me at the moment. :) First of all, let me start with this adorable image of goat kid cuteness because goat. kid. cuteness, but also because this will be the image that attaches to this post and I think it is more becoming than the stall door images to follow.

Ebony and the silkies have the run of a 5 foot by 10 foot stall. I made
Ebony a hay cave under the stairs.
Ebony was not sure about this new home.
We spent the morning cleaning out Ebony's winter stall and building a 5th kidding stall in that room. Eventually (as in hopefully tomorrow), it will have a door to access it from the either the regular exterior door or from inside the kidding stalls. I love the new configuration of the barn. I am sure there will be tweaks as time passes, but for now, I anticipate this set up will be so much more convenient than ever before. Already the new hay mangers have almost completely eliminated the bullying from the dominant does towards the more docile ones. With so many feeding stations available, there is no need to fuss. An added benefit is that this new system has meant significantly less waste of the hay and that means that it costs us less money to feed them. I have lots of pictures of the new set up and also some video and I will get to posting about it as soon as I can. For now, I want to focus on an update on Levi, tell you about Anna's lad, Pete's struggle to get milk from his momma, and share a video of kid "play time" from last night.

Levi's Update:
We woke this morning to an alert Levi. He spent the night in the wooden crate in front of the wood stove. He was quite ready for Sean to help him to stand outside so he could urinate and defecate this morning. He stood unassisted and took care of his physical needs. Back inside, he had a good appetite for both hay and water. Since Sean and I planned on being in the barn for a good portion of the morning, we brought Levi outside with us so we could keep an eye on him. (I don't really enjoy having a goat kid in my kitchen, y'all. I will do it because it *has* to be done for the next few days, but it is NOT high on my list of wants.)  Levi stood unassisted and walked around under his own power for just about three hours while Sean and I cleaned out the stall and building. He laid down in a snow bank when we were nearing the end of our project, so Sean brought him inside the barn and settled him in some hay to rest while we finished up. Back inside, we administered his medicine: .5 CCs Banamine injected IM and .8 CCs Ivomectin injected sub-q. He got a treat of a celery stalk and 2 small broccoli heads while Sean was giving his shots as a distraction. It worked. Levi has been resting in his box for about an hour, sleeping on and off, eating fresh hay or chewing his cud. When Sean returns, we need to get back out to the barn to finish chores and Levi will come with us. The exercise and air will do him good. Because we are anticipating cold temperatures (of the 8* variety) overnight, Levi will remain inside in his box at night and return, goat-coated, outside with us during the day until his strength returns.

Anna's Reluctant Nursing:
Anna gave birth on Monday to a lovely Lamancha buck. She had him in the wee hours of the morning without notice nor assistance. By the time Sean found the kid, Pete was already mostly dry and standing on his own. As Monday passed, Anna gave no indication of allowing Pete to nurse from her. Colostrum is imperative to a kids health. According to this paper published by the Iowa State Extension Office, ideally goat kids should receive half of their colostrum needs within 4 hours of birth and must have it within 24 hours. After that, the kid's body cannot absorb colostrum- the window is shut forever. With these thoughts in mind, it was very worrisome that every time Pete attempted to nurse, Anna would kick him off and walk away. She had no trouble cleaning him, would call if he got out of sight, but eat? No way. Through the day Monday, Sean held Anna steady for 3-4 minutes and allowed Pete to nurse. We hoped that she would settle into the swing of things and by morning, everything would proceed normally. At least we knew that Pete got colostrum within the window.

Tuesday brought no change to Anna's inclination to feed Pete. Sean or I held Anna gently and helped Pete to latch on and nurse for 3-4 minutes until tail wagging was achieved. In some ways, bottles are easier. At least with them, you can see how much your little one is eating. Every time we got near their pen, Pete seemed famished. We checked Anna's udder and she did have milk- though her bag was terribly small. There was no telling how much milk she was producing. Milk production is normally an elegant example of supply and demand; the bigger the demand, the bigger the supply. Most of the time, this works perfectly. Sometimes it does not, though. With that in mind, Sean liberated 3 ounces of milk from whatever doe was close to hand for us to supplement bottle feeding Pete each morning and night. While this little is certainly not enough to feed Pete exclusively, it did a great deal to soothe my worry.

Wednesday dawned and nothing changed in Anna's mind. Rather than continuing to milk a doe and giving Pete a bottle, we decided to skip the middle man and allow Pete to nurse directly from another doe while we watched. Pete was able to finally latch on unassisted and Keziah was willing to allow him to nurse- so long as she didn't realize it wasn't her kid. We couldn't try to adopt Pete out to Keziah. For one thing, she was uninterested in adding to her parenting responsibilities. For another, Anna was an attentive mother in all other aspects. I didn't have the heart to take her offspring from her. The end of Wednesday marked 72 hours~ roughly 15 attempts to get Anna to fully accept her young. I admit, we were beginning to worry that Pete would become a bottle baby.

Thursday dawned with wonderful tidings. Sean walked into the barn to check on everyone and found Anna allowing Pete to nurse from her. Full on, standing still, tail waggin', nursing!!!! Success! 12 hours later and I actually sighed while writing this to you. I cannot tell you the relief this is for us.

Finally, I promised you some video of those goat kids playing. Tomorrow we begin milking four of the does who have kidded; Abby, Jane, Rachel and Keziah. We won't milk Anna this year at all. Though it was also Keziah's first year kidding, she is a year older than Anna and we planned on breeding her. She has a nice udder formed and I feel comfortable introducing her gently to milking. Anna is younger than we'd like. She bred before we wanted her to. This year, we are going to let her focus on being Mom to young Pete and not put any kind of pressure on her to give us any milk. We'll make decisions about which does will be milked this year as the others kid and we can evaluate them.

To prepare for sleeping in a separate stall from their mothers, we gave the kids some goat kid play time- away from their Moms. The mothers took it in stride. I nabbed Rachel's twins last and she yelled and yelled at me... until I took her kids. With a look of relief to her kid-sitter (me), she quietly turned her attention to eating in peace. It was hilarious. I could only imagine her yelling, "Wait! You forgot to take mine! I need 2 minutes of peace to pee in private! C'mon!" The kids had varying reactions. Some just wanted to tackle the stump. Others wanted to tackle each other. Some never made a peep and didn't notice Mom wasn't in the same stall. Others called and called until their mother stuck her head over the stall. With nine kids in the same stall, it won't take more than a night or two for the kids to settle in to the new routine.

I am excited to begin milking- even without shelter, in 8* weather. I have been missing the joy of fresh cheese. I should have enough milk to make chevre tomorrow and feta on Saturday. I am in cheese making heaven. To add to my excitement~ Sean got the spider webs ::shudder:: removed from the barn tonight. This forward progress feels soooo good. ♥

Thanks for visiting with us tonight friends. You make the journey all the more pleasant.
~Sean and Sonja ♥


  1. I know it's all such hard work, and were I a younger woman I just might try. Its all so beautiful. Its all do loving. I envey you your youth.

    1. It *is* hard work, but in such a good way. Though of course there are parts we don't love- for the most part, the feeling of satisfaction, sore muscles from an honest days work, make it worth it.

  2. So happy for Pete, with the wagging tail, so cute!!

    1. Can't wait until your visit! Wish you could come sooner for some goat kids snuggle times.

  3. i'm glad Levi is doing better. The kids are so cute!

    1. Thanks! We are relieved, too. He is making good progress and lives in the barn again. He is in a separate protected stall, but with his herd and that feels good.