Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photo by David Lygren

OMG It's SPRING Again.....

  It seems we wait all winter for the weather to break, for the goats to start to look pregnant, for the electric to stay on, for the fierce windy storms with heavy tree cracking snow to stop.  For the roads to get cleared and the landslides undermining the curves over the mountain to be fixed.  And finally for the babies to come.

THE BABIES ARE HERE!!!  It seems the moms are like girls in the fraternity house, their cycles all seem to sync because  for a few days there we had four or five does kid each day.  My husband has the barn all set up so slick for kidding season.  The pregant does are in the field by the house so we can watch them.  About six weeks ahead of when kidding is expected, we start to bring them into the milking parlor, which is still a muddy mess from winter, for a little bit of grain each day and a chance to look each doe over closely.  When things looks close, my husband begins to lay out tons of fresh straw everywhere they hang out that's under cover.  In the heart of winter, he adds straw to the muddiest pathways to help keep us and the goats out of the muck.  But in spring, he starts to layer fresh straw everywhere because we want the kids to land on fresh bedding.

When we see the kids being born, or when we find them in the loafing barn on our early morning check, we immediately dip the kids navels in iodine and then move mom and kids into a snug interior 12 X 12 stall, inside the big barn.  It has nice high, solid walls, is private and protected from the wind.  Hanging down about four feet from the ground in the middle of the stall, tied off in five directions, is  a heat lamp.  A feeder against one wall has the finest stemmed, highest quality hay we have.  Fresh water with a few drops of molasses, a pan of grain with a side of mineral salt... mama and babies have a nice, snug, private place to get acquainted with a warm island in the middle.  They stay there until we're sure the kids are doing well and being fed then David moves them to the other side of the barn where he has fixed up a 12 X 24 space with hay feeders on both ends, fresh water and more mineral salt.  Solid wood on three sides but one long side faces the inside of the barn and is open mesh stock panel.  Comes in modular 16' sections, can be cut, used for fence, for feeders, for gates.  We love it.  There's another heat lamp in here but we don't use it unless the weather is really bad because the kids huddle together in the corner.  In the heart of kidding, we might actually have two or three does at a time in the first stall and we've had up to ten with kids in the next stall.  The next step is to move mamas and frisky, healthy kids out to the back pasture.  Still plenty of shelter and snug places for kids to hide and sleep but also pasture, larger hay feeders, fresh water and lots of room to run, jump and play. 

I love to go out to the barn and look around and realize that no matter how nasty the weather and no matter how yucky the mud, all the goats are dry, have straw paths through the worst of the mud, have clean water, fresh bedding, good quality hay and an old goat who takes such good care of them.  They all have what they need, even if some of it's tied together with baling twine..... the goats are happy.

And now that the weather will keep improving, now that the kids are playing outside my window, now that the markets and our income are starting again, now that most of the births are over with no real emergencies, now that we are scrubbing off the winter mud from equipment, walls, floors, now that we are milking and making cheese again..... The Goat Lady is happy too!