“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hens, Eggs, Light And Spring

Rhoda, a Rhode Island Red, who is NOT on a diet.
People who have had layers (that's LAY-ers) always ask the big question in the winter. "Are you getting any eggs?". The first year of a hens life she usually lays all through the first winter, although not necessarily every day. The eggs might be smaller, "pullet" eggs depending on her maturity, but eggs nonetheless. The older hens, which define six of my eight, may slow down as the days get shorter, and after Thanksgiving or so, sputter to almost nil.  This winter we only had two or three days with no eggs at all. My new, adopted Rhode Island Reds, Rhoda and Red, kept us in their nice eggs through out, with an occasional supplement from the older girls.
You may wonder what use there is to keeping these old hens if they don't produce all year, but here at On the Pond Farm, they are also maintenance workers, and do preventative health care. Every day, after their morning feed, they work their way behind me to each stall as I clean them. They scratch for grubs, bugs, parasitic worms in the stool, and left over grain and seeds. By doing this clean up, they make it difficult for rodents to thrive, and parasites to spread.
In the video you see the girls waiting their turn to lay.  Until recently, they all waited to lay in the same box. I think because production is up, they have now split the eggs into two nests.  We used to have more boxes, but they always seemed to put all their eggs in one basket (Ha!). Fine with me, although come summer, I bet they will start hiding them around the barn again.  Always fun to have egg hunts for visiting kids!

After the video at the evening egg gathering, we we amazed to find this.
Yes! EIGHT eggs. 
All girls appreciated the great summer weather of the past two weeks and were in full production.
Its officially Spring!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Farm Work Out

At some point in the dregs of winter mud, I read a Facebook conversation about gym versus farm. I've had time to think about that this past week or so even more, as I stand with my rump against the belly of Zola, holding her collar in one hand and an angry hind leg in another. She is pushing and bucking with all her might as I lean into her with all of mine.
After one day of this, my arm pits felt like I had taken up bench pressing again. Problem on the farm - no rest day.  As a matter of fact, its one or two long reps at heavy moving weight, three and four times a day. 
Sore? Too bad. The kids are starving, and now attacking you like 12 pound blood sucking mosquitoes. They have caught on to the fact that when the two legged goats show up and tie off that kicking, biting monster of a mother of theirs, they do get fed. My knees, varicose veins and knuckles have goat hickeys from their attacks.  No wonder Zola was frustrated. We all were frustrated.
Meanwhile there are two hungry bucklings that aren't quite sure of where and how this thing works, as the teat never seems to stay still long enough to latch on. Thank goodness, with the help of neighbors Allison, Jeff, Julia and Karen, we have lasted long enough to keep the kids alive, well and thriving. 
I posted a couple days ago that Zola finally allowed the first born to nurse. Well Number Two has figured out the survival technique.  When older brother latches on and wags his tail in front of mom and she lovingly nuzzles him, he latches on from behind. There she can't pull his tail or throw him off and is distracted by Favorite Son.
See the VIDEO below for a successful feeding. Hurray!
I mean look at this face. What is the problem Zola?  His persistence has played a big part in this, and obviously some smarts.  We have been supplementing a bit of the orphan's milk replacer here and there, but I think after today, we are letting nature do the work.  The more we interfere, the bigger the mosquitoes get, and truly, my knees can't take it!

But back to farm versus gym, and now cross training.
 The work out isn't even started yet because we have to walk goats and food back and forth to the fields, muck the stalls, and there still is the bottle baby orphan who was getting a bottle three times a day.  Then there is the capturing for shots, dehorning and castration. Its like the greased pig contest sometimes. Carrying buckets of water and bales of hay (I try not to for the shoulder and the knee injuries, but no choice a lot of times), moving fences and dragging the occasional uncooperative goat to the correct destination, whether stall or field, all take strength and coordination that doesn't always come so easily to one person.  That's why its great to work in teams around here when possible. Just like the old marathon days of running with partners. You still do the work, but misery loves company!
And Jock.  He needs a walk too.
Anytime your gym gets boring, we can use your help here I'm sure.  Stop on over. And you get to cool down with a goat hug as a bonus.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Zola's "Favorite" Son Is On

 After a week...
...we have ONE kid nursing without getting kicked.
Meanwhile, son Number Two is trying to nurse anything!

Egg Decorating To Clean Your Cupboards!

My eggs are coming in like crazy but I have brown eggs and dying them creates muted colors.  I still like things a bit bright and pastel for Easter. 

Here is a Epicurious link to an idea that makes sense, cleans out your old spices and things in your cupboards, and is fun.
Natural Easter Egg Decorations


I'm thinking I can die my old sesame seeds and get them brighter too.  I have some colored jimmies and nonpareil dots that probably have grandchildren.  I think I have a way to get them out of my cupboard without throwing them out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Alex Is Sold

We kept Alex last year to be a buck for the does that were related to our Registered Full blood buck Neo. 
Zola had big twin boys and it was pretty much a coin toss of which to keep.  Alex was the lucky guy. Alex bred Neo's sister and we are waiting to see if any of the yearling does are bred.
But as Alex was getting to be a year old and more mature, he was also starting to become a bit more full of himself. 
After a few pushes from behind and having to watch my back after that, I decided we were going back to one buck.  Alex had served us well, but I put the word out that he was for sale. Isn't he handsome?
We are all going to miss his adorable girly curls on his head and his crazy voice. 
Just wanted you all to see those curls one last time.   
Bye Crazy Boy!

Good Morning Sunrise

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Busy With Babies and Bottles

Its been in the mid 70's for three days and the lawns and fields are greening up fast. The wild grandiflora roses are budding and the goats are snacking.  Onion grass is doing nothing for the goats' breath but they are loving it as it is growing fast.
I think if it doesn't snow or freeze soon, we will be mowing our lawn next week.
Zola and I have been butting heads - so to speak. 
She has not been willingly nursing both of her boys. At first we figured she was sore and tired from kidding twenty pounds of goat. Its been three days and my patience is wearing thin. The kids are running to me already as they know when I show up, somehow, they get fed.
This little guy will nurse on a syringe and a Pritchards teat, but hasn't figured out Mom yet. I have been milking Zola and now bottling it, but he is not getting enough. She is not what one would call cooperative. I have begun to add a little of the milk replacer that the orphans have been using.
Son Number Two has figured out the source of the milk, but it takes myself, or neighbor Allison, holding Zola's leg to prevent her kicking, for a successful feeding. Once on, he gets a good amount and he is thriving and bouncing around.

I am seriously thinking about seeing if there is someone out there who wants to bottle feed one of these boys if we don't get on the correct system very soon. I'm giving it another day or two though.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is It The Water? - Two More Bucklings!

 Zola added to the nursery Wednesday morning with two big boys, 91/2 and 101/2 pounds. The count is now 9 bucklings, 3 does.  Its up to Saba to give us a couple girls.
Now she is being uncooperative and not nursing them.
This is the older brother who has much to say - and loudly - about his mother's witholding of milk.
With assistance from neighbors Allison, Julia, Claire and Karen, we have wrestled Zola to get her milked and get the boys fed.  They have gotten quite a bit and are creating all sorts of bodily functions, so they will be okay overnight.
I just hope this milking doesn't last too long. She has lots of milk, but her udder is so large and I think she is just sore and tired. Give her another 24 hours and I think they will be on their own.
Meanwhile, still complaining!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Snow, Blue Skies and Bottle Babies

Beatrix has become quite a screamer, especially for the afternoon bottle.
She'd be through this fence if it weren't for the electricity.
As soon as I(or anyone) step though the gate, she is butting my legs to get between them to line up for her bottle.
We use this larger black nipple and I try to put one with less of an opening on hers to slow her down just a bit, but as you will see in the VIDEO, she really goes to work.
I have to really hang on because she gets impatient if the milk doesn't flow fast enough, and tries to butt it like she would the udder to let down the milk.
 Claire is home for Spring Break, and came over for some goat duty.
4-H started this month and Julia is getting ready with some early goat work too. She also helped with the kid weigh in Sunday.  There IS math in goat herding!
Our other bottle baby Becka is still supplementing her bottle by stealing from Trinity, and is here in the middle of her foster brothers Pip and Squeak.
This is the pile on at night. Becks is in the corner, almost out of sight. Trinity has no hope of getting rid of her.
The newest little guy, Britches(middle right), joined the herd this week-end after a short two days of fence training, and tried to be a tough guy from moment one. He isn't a shy one, and at three and a half weeks on Sunday, already weighed in at 19 pounds.
 Back to dry fields and blue skies for a week-end.

 After all that prancing and running all over the field, Britches is one tired little kid.
Adeline and the rest of the herd might not be the youngest, adorable goats on the farm, but they still get some love from Julia.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Outlaw Orphan

Its been a busy couple of weeks on and off the farm.

I spent some time with my Mom doing some spring cleaning. Now that she's 85, turning mattresses and climbing ladders isn't as easy.
Here at the Farm, the herd is doing fine and we are waiting for Zola to kid next. Saba is moving along nicely too.
The weather has been all over the place. In the 40's an 50's making more mud, and now freezing and about 24 hours of snow flurries.
Meanwhile, the orphans are doing great on the bottle, and as of two days ago, Beatrix wastes no time getting hers down. She gets between my legs as if I have the udder and takes the bottle there. She even butts me if she thinks the bottle is too slow! Becka still needs to be caught and held, but then she slowly nurses away, wasting nothing.
The story with the blog title,is that while I was away, Dave went to pick up one of Trinity's kids who was nursing on her.  Instead, he found that he had Becka. Ooops!   He put her right back and she continued nursing. Trinity was too busy at the hay rack to realize she had a milk thief. It's been going on a week now. That's Becka thieving above. She sneaks in from behind.
Since Trinity has not been a mother of triplets for long, her coordination is to be admired, as all three are trying to nurse at once here. She is not a large doe, and all three give her quite a challenge.
Not to say that this is an always loving relationship, as Trinity bites at Becka and pushes her away sometimes, but she does let her lay with her and the twins as a family, and does let her nurse enough to tide her between bottles. I have to give Becka credit for persistence too. She really is a survivor.

For her generosity and cooperation, I have been giving Trinity extra hands full of corn. She was getting thin, but we are trying to keep her healthy so that she can remain a mother of triplets.
PS: Frgv spling errrs. Blogger is not cooperating today.