Friday, May 1, 2015

Barn Dispatch! Goat Watch 2015

I am writing you from the barn, perched with my laptop on my goats’ stanchion and watching two goat hoohaas with fervent anticipation. I am spending a lot of time in this little red barn (about the size of a standard two-car garage), because it is gloriously ready for a season of good work. A few weeks ago this barn was nothing more than a roof over the head of two goats and the rest of the space needed serious work. Well, that serious work was finished over the pat few days and now the little barn hosts two very pregnant goats, a new milking station, a mucked out pigpen-turned-bottle lamb jug and a wire cage of feathering out laying hens. There is also a packed giant brooder with eighty meat bird chicks that just arrived in the post yesterday.

The barn has a new goat gate (for easy access to the girls milking station across the barn) and new windows and overhead lighting. It’s the same old barn but it’s clean and alive with new life. My old crank radio I bought when I lived in Idaho is in here, and right now NPR voices are talking to the goats and hopefully dissuading predators from the tasty little meat bird chicks. I have lined the entire brooder with hardware cloth so it’ll take some cyborg weasels or rats to get to the little ones. I learned that trick from the gals at WindWomen Farm. Thanks Kathy and Mary. The flock is well!

It’s 10AM but it feels more like 4PM. I’ve been up since 3:30 and most of that time was spent walking through farm field and forest trails, calling turkeys and hoping for a successful opening day of gobbler season. I was with Mark Wesner, my turkey hunting mentor. Every time I go hunting I am once again reminded of the awe of the act. You sit so still and you wait with such intense energy that the idea of actually shooting a bird seems too much to comprehend. I am a junky for the thrill of the hunt, and a celebrant of the animal’s sacrifice for my farm’s table. I didn’t get a bird today but if I had it would be cleaned and prepared for my friends coming over for Game Night tonight. I would have been so proud to offer that meal, and the story that went with it. Food with a story is always the best there is.

I am feeling a little tired. This morning I met dawn with my back leaning against an old pine tree, hand holding a mug of warm coffee, watching the sun rise but now that I am home and on Goat Watch 2015 - I may need to take a nap if I plan to stay up throughout the evening checking on Ida and Bonita. I am not worried about Bonita at all - she’s an ol’ pro at kidding. But I am a little nervous about Ida’s first time and so the barn is stocked with towels and the nursery is ready inside the farmhouse. Bottles are set for the kids, the milk pail has been washed and sanitized with star san, and I am already drooling over cheese recipes. Stirring a pot of curds over the stove while goat kids play tag with your border collie is worth every minute of the work.

Okay, Bonita just started laying down again and seems to be breathing heavy. Maybe this alarm isn’t false?! Keep checking back on the blog all weekend for what I hope is lots of cute kid photos and good wishes for this Holiday weekend!

P.S. Fiddle Day Camp is tomorrow. Ida was born at a Fiddle Camp two years ago and perhaps she’ll kid on the same day herself. Wouldn’t that be something?! I need some musical name suggestions folks!


Blogger robyn said...

Irish fiddle? Hmm..Looking at our band setlist--There's Fergal (for Fergal O'Gara's, one of my favorite tunes), Josefin (Josefin's Waltz, another fav to play on flute, even tho it's Swedish). Lol! how about Banshee, for a really noisy little kid?

May 1, 2015 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Possible musical kid names:

for bucks, Allegro or Andante (Al and Dante for short?)

for does: Melisma

That's all I got ;-)

May 1, 2015 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is her udder full to the point of being tight & shiny? That is always my clue that birth is imminent.

May 1, 2015 at 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well here's a little story for YOU! Maybe you'll enjoy something new to read while waiting for those kids ;)
My buff orpington Eunice went broody a few weeks ago, but with no rooster anymore (too noisy for the city) she was waiting in vain. I thought she'd kick herself out of it--it's the first time she's gone broody and I didn't think it'd last that long. Oh boy. Wrong, so wrong. She's just finished week 3! Which makes sense, since incubation takes 20 days.
So she wasn't breaking, and bugger's so mean I wasn't picking her up to ice bathe her out of it. When she got off the nest for food, I scurried over and found 11 eggs under her! (the other chooks) I decided right then and there she could have some chicks. I ran to my local feed store and picked up 4 day-olds--I don't need to grow my flock THAT much!
I waited for the nighttime, since that's what all the forums say. I moved her (in her nest box) to a separate temporary coop, and tried to pull the 3 eggs I'd left her out. Ooof! She was MAD! I finally dumped her out and grabbed the eggs. I let her calm down, and thought she was asleep, but every time I tried to slip a chick under her, she'd peck at it, poor little things! I waited another hour for her to get good and asleep, then used BBQ tongs to hold her vicious beak far enough back from the babies. I put them somewhat underneath her butt, and she tried to peck at them, but they burrowed under her and she fell asleep again real quick.
This morning when I got in from milking goats (at an urban farm a few miles from my house) I checked on them--all still cuddled under E. I put out some chick starter feed, fed the other chooks, and when I came back, she was vigorously eating and showing them how to do it!!
I know you're quite used to birth and death and all the in between stuff, and newborn chicks are super common around your farm. This just feels like such a triumph for me because she's one of my very first backyard chickens--hand raised from her own first day. Her gentle little clucks, the way she plumps up when they want gives me such a thrill :)
Nothing too exciting--but a fantastic first day of May.

May 1, 2015 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger EZ said...

I would have thought you'd have named somebody Bridgit by there a reason for that?

May 1, 2015 at 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoping the new kids are here by Sunday!

May 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 2, 2015 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

Hoohaa is a funny word to read first thing in the morning. I like the name Onion.

May 3, 2015 at 3:53 AM  

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