My life in the country with my goats.com site

Archive for December, 2011

Nanna’s Time to be Bred


This was Nanna’s second heat in less than the expected 21 days. I had no idea until  I logged on to my life saver Goat Forum and found out that goats can have shorter cycles than the usual 21 days. One owner reported her goat was recently cycling,  every 6 days!  For as long as we have been goat owners, and as many books I had read in preparation for my goats and since, I had never come across this short cycle concept.

Well short cycle or not, our little Nanna was in heat again and this time I accepted the fact that she was now ready and able to be bred. She was now 1 yr old and had grown to her required size which means, she is at the size she needs to be to be able to carry her babies and to give birth safely . This is both exciting and a frightening. You never know what to expect with a first time fresher, which Nanna is. First time to be bred and give birth. Nanna will be our second first time fresher; Pumpkin was our first. We had no prior breeding and birthing history with her. So here we go with Nanna. I feel a bit more apprehensive due to her tiny size. She is a Pygmy where  my other recent mothers are Nigerian Dwarf and a bit larger and sturdier.

My first thought was to bred her with Baby Boy because of his size. He is tiny like she is. Balder is a bit larger so I made the choice for her.

It was really something to witness. The two goats go through hours of several elaborate stages prior to the final breeding, which takes a matter of seconds. Nanna or the female will not act interested initially and actually may act a bit aggressive toward the buck. After the aggressions tapers, the dance begins. This is the most beautiful to watch. They circle each other as they bury their noses in each other’s fur. Some times there are cooing sounds coming from both the  doe and buck alike. This continues for as long as the doe will allow. The buck just follows her around the box while trying to nuzzle her and get as close as possible to her. Sometimes  the circling will slow down and the doe will want a little space. The buck is very obviously confused by this so then he starts “talking ” to her. I guess he tries to get her back in the mood. He lets his excitement get ahold of him and he just can’t control himself. The sounds he makes is a cross between “barking” and actual human like yelps to get her attention, all the while flapping his tongue at her.  As his excitement increases, so do the sounds. They can sound a bit comical and yet at the same time they are really a wonder on nature. This is my little Baby Boy who is now in the goat world, a man. He knows what is expected of him when he is placed  in with a doe in heat and he is ready for the task. No experience is necessary; he,  like the doe,  will act purely on instinct. An instinct that has brought does and bucks together for centuries. It’s just amazing.

Here is the mating dance of Nanna and Baby Boy;  December 16, 2011:

Nanna feels safe in her favorite place, on her hay rack

Nanna feels safe in her favorite place, on top her hay rack

Baby Boy looks up at Nanna very confused. He is sure she should be down with him.

Baby Boy looks up at Nanna very confused. He is sure she should be down with him.

Baby Boy tries to join Nanna in her "safe" spot

Baby Boy tries to join Nanna in her "safe" spot. Nanna was not too happy about that idea.

The chase is on. Nanna does not seem to want his attentions

Once Nanna is off the hay rack cover, the chase is on. Nanna does not seem to want his attentions, so off she goes!

After several minutes of chasing her around the box, Baby Boy decides to start the circling dance with Nanna

After several minutes of chasing her around the box, Baby Boy decides to start the circling dance with Nanna

The circling went on for quite awhile , making me a bit dizzy

The circling was fast and furious and went on for quite a while , making me a bit dizzy

Time for a break from circling; maybe they got a bit dizzy like me.

Time for a break from circling; maybe they got a bit dizzy like me.

Nanna seems to have lost interest in Baby Boy

Nanna seems to have lost interest in Baby Boy

Baby Boy tries to get her scent while "barking" at her

Baby Boy tries to get her nuzzle Nanna while "barking" and flapping his tongue at her

Nanna like to play hard to get! One moment she is interested and the next she looks like she would  just like to eat some hay

Nanna like to play hard to get! One moment she is interested and the next she looks like she would just like to eat some hay

Nanna likes to keep Baby Boy guessing, now she interested and now she not. Now she lets him get close again

Nanna likes to keep Baby Boy guessing, now she interested and now she not. Now she lets him get close again

Well after a little nuzzling, she's off again. Poor Baby Boy!

Well after a little nuzzling, she's off again. Poor Baby Boy!

Nanna ran right to the side of the box where she could see Balder through the bars.  I had no idea that what I was witnessing was actually a possibility. It seems that Nanna had a crush on Balder and I think she would have preferred him to join her in her box. I contacted my Goat Forum for information about what I was seeing. I thought alright I will just put this in and see if anyone responded. Well I got my response. Female goats do have favorites! So what I was witnessing with Nanna and her “crush” on Balder was actually happening.  What I was told was yes, a doe can have a favorite buck and if this breeding did not  “take” I should try her favorite.

Nanna thought the Baby Boy was ok but she seems to have a "crush " on Balder

Nanna thought the Baby Boy was ok but she seems to have a "crush " on Balder

A little more dancing, circling, tongue flapping and barking

A little more dancing, circling, tongue flapping and barking

After an entire day of the mating dance, Nanna finally "stood " for Baby Boy.

After an entire day of the mating dance, Nanna finally "stood " for Baby Boy.

 

Now as far as we know, Nanna has been bred.  We really have to wait till her next heat. Normally, we would have the 21 cycle days to wait, but with Nanna’s short cycles, we just have to keep an ear out for her signs of heat.If all goes well, somewhere between 147 – 157 days, Nanna will give birth to 1 – 3 tiny kids.

We will keep you posted on Nanna’s progress.

 


Christmas Neighbor Gathering


As a city girl turned country gal, I have been introduced to some very lovely customs here in our little corner of the Swedish countryside. We originally bought Gullringstorp to be our retirement property, when my husband retired. We had been living on a small island just outside the capital city of Stockholm. There in the city we enjoyed all kinds of social events, from Rotarian breakfasts with interesting guests giving talks to dinners with the Estate Owners Organizations, which included some black tie dinners. I have attended functions where the King of Sweden was also in attendance. We attended the ballet on the same evening the Royal Family were celebrating the Queen’s birthday and we sat very close to the Royal Box. That was my city girl life.

When we moved to Gullringstorp, we were met with the warmth and charm only a tiny village could offer. Our front door was constantly knocked on by our near-by neighbors bearing gifts of welcome. This was so lovely and so unexpected by this once city girl. We received items such as strawberry plants ready to go into the ground, flowers, and items in which to decorate our new home. All came with a casual  yet formal introduction and welcome, from each and every near-by neighbor.

As we settled in, I came to love Gullringstorp and our small yet very close-knit farming community. We began to receive the neighborhood announcements of gatherings. Every small community or village has its own special way to spend time together. Here in our village, we have neighbor parties. I have only been in the house of one neighbor and that was for a  birthday party, providing a sit down dinner for all the neighbors. What usually happens is, there are organized events to participate in somewhere on the person’s property, prior to a meal served in a tent or large garden room built for the expressed purpose to entertain guests and neighbors. Adults and children alike enjoy the competitions that could range from walking a certain distance with a spoon holding an egg in your mouth without dropping the egg, to tossing a ring around a well handle. There is always laughter and fun to be had by all.

One very special event or events that we all enjoy, all through the year , in addition to the neighbor parties, is a night at the Pub. The Pub is just that an area above the workshop of our nearest neighbor Bosse. He is known as the “Spis Doktorn” (Stove Doctor). He repairs cast iron stoves and fireplaces. Everyone in the district know him and his work. His Pub has been the place of many a fun night. You may feel you have done some kind of time travel when you enter. There are vintage containers stacked everywhere, vintage album covers can be seen on the ceilings and there are various vintage implements and tools plus a large collection of various beer bottles from all over the world. Many of the activities there have been outdoor activities followed by a fun time in the Pub. We have been there for wheel barrow races during the warm months and pumpkin carving and competitions in the fall months. We always meet there for our annual Christmas Gathering.  We each bring a wrapped Christmas gift that goes into a large bag. Before we have the drawing for the gifts, we just chit-chat have drinks and enjoy each other’s company (umgås) . People catch up on what’s happening with each other. There is talk of fields, crops, grain, trips taken, health issues and always the weather.

We all drink and toast each other with Glögg.  Glögg is a traditional Christmas (Jul) drink. This is a delicious mulled red wine that has wonderful aromatic Christmas spices infused in it. This beverage is drunk hot with almonds and raisins. You are always served a tiny spoon to gather up the goodies at the bottom of your glass or cup. We all love and enjoy the serving and drinking of Glögg during the holidays. It is offered everywhere throughout Sweden, from private home parties to business meetings and other social gatherings. We also eat tiny heart-shaped crisp cookies known as “pepparkaka” with a soft ginger taste, similar to gingersnaps. they can be found everywhere in Sweden, especially during the holiday season. They can also be delicately decorated with white sugar icing.

As the evening progresses , after we have all had a cup or two of Glögg while a soft mix of Swedish and American traditional Christmas carols play  in the background, Bosse’s daughter arrives wearing her Tomte hat (Santa) and distributes the Christmas gifts as the numbers are called out.  She is always happy to fill this role for us and we all expect to see her every year. Her happiness just adds to all of our joy . The fun begins as we unwrap our gifts and we hear ,”oh that’s what I brought”, or ” this is so cute!” or “look what I  got!”

It is really a magical evening to share with neighbors all of whom have touched each others lives more than once during the year. In attendance is a member of our local fire brigade, the iron stove repair man, the big excavator machine operator who came to our rescue when we had trees down after a bad storm, the  farmer who also helped with our large straw delivery among many others. All the wives have come and the children, whom we have watched grow up,  are now too  old to spend time with the adults, they have their own holiday parties to attend.

Our Christmas Neighbor Gathering:

nnnb
Our host Bosse

Our host Bosse

My husband greets the man who operates the big excavator machines

My husband greets the man who operates the big excavator machines

ng

We all picked numbers from a container for the gift drawing

nn

What fun to choose a number. Thanks Kiki!

How did we do that? My husband and I chose consecutive numbers!

How did we do that? My husband and I chose consecutive numbers!

mm

Our hostess Irene in the black sweater and Magnus our local fire brigade member and supplier of grain for our goats

mmm

Our heavy machine operator who came to our rescue a couple of years ago after a big storm

Our host's daughter Sabina is our Tomte (Santa) for the evening

Our host's daughter Sabina is our Tomte (Santa) for the evening and distributes the gifts from the large bag

We have a price limit on our gift purchases. We all enjoy whatever we have chosen from the bag.

Even though we have a limit on the amount we can spend on our gifts, we all leave with something special and memorable of this evening spent together

I enjoy looking at my neighbor's smiling faces!

I enjoy looking at my neighbor's smiling faces!

The gifts are always wrapped with care!

The gifts are always wrapped with care!

The fun of unwrapping Christmas presents, never grows old

The fun of unwrapping Christmas presents, never grows old

Our hostess Irene, gently adjusts the hat for our Tomte Sabina

Our hostess Irene, gently adjusts the hat for our Tomte Sabina

Our hosts, Bosse, Irene and Sabina

Our hosts, Bosse, Irene and Sabina

Gustav our farmer neighbor who supplies hay, straw and wheat for our little herd

Gustav our farmer neighbor who supplies hay, straw and wheat for our little herd

My husband chats with Bosse

My husband chats with Bosse

Bosse's collection of öl (beer) bottles from around the world. We have contributed beer bottles from Prague, USA, Sardinia, UK an

Bosse's collection of öl (beer) bottles from around the world. We have contributed beer bottles from Prague, USA, Sardinia, UK and USA

More öl (beer) !

More öl (beer) !

Marilyn Monroe is big in Sweden and can be found many places. Bosse's Pub is no exception

Marilyn Monroe is loved in Sweden and photos can be found many places; Bosse's Pub is no exception

Jul Must is a Swedish  traditional cold holiday beverage that has a taste that resemble root beer

A vintage sign advertising Jul Must, a traditional Swedish cold holiday beverage that has a taste that resemble root beer

It is a tradition at our Pub Evenings to be offered hot dogs served from the bar, as the evening continues

It is a tradition at our Pub Evenings to be offered hot dogs served from the bar, as the fun continues

That's my hot dog! Yummy!!!

That's my hot dog! Yummy!!!

A late comer, our pump man

Two of our neighbors finally arrive after a long work day

nn

On one side of the Pub, behind the seats Bosse has built a little woodland village with tiny inhabitants. They are Sweden’s mythical vättar. We know them from the fairy tales books as trolls. In Swedish mythology, these tiny creatures live in the forests and sometimes in the plants near your home. They can not really be seen, but everyone knows they are there. They have their lives in the woods and bother no one. They live in the moss patches, under rocks and under the large red and white mushrooms. Tradition has it that when a housewife would toss out her washing water from the window, she would have to shout or sing to alert the tiny vättar, so they could get out of the way. Some continue this practice, even today.

mm

nn

Here are the gifts we were happy to get;I love scented candles, so they were really a welcome gift. I love the little hanging heart with Tomte in the center that says,                                    “Now it is Christmas again!”! Thank you!!

Our Holiday season would not be the same if we could not spend this time with our friends and neighbors at Bosse’s Christmas Gathering. This is an annual event both my husband and I always look forward to. As a city girl turned country gal, I am so lucky to be a member of such a warm and welcoming country village!


Goat Treats


I have been the recipient for about a year, of a wonderful electronic magazine called “Goat Crazy”. It’s a great little publication with lots of facts and fun stories,  all about goats.  I really enjoy reading them as they arrive in my email.  Some articles are of special interest to me so print them out.  One such article was a recipe for Goat Treats.  I thought why not. I would rather make them myself than purchase commercial “treats” for my little herd. After all, I did make all my daughter’s baby food and beverages after she was weened.  It seemed only natural that I would gravitate toward this recipe. This way I know exactly what my goats are eating. All the ingredients are natural and healthy for them.

Here is the Goat Treat Recipe:

SMALL BATCH

3 cups of grain ( cracked oats or barley)

9.5 ounces of molasses

1 cup whole wheat flour

 

LARGE BATCH

15 cups of grain

48 ounces of molasses

5 cups whole wheat flour

The amount of grain can be reduced and raisins, apple, carrots or other favorites may be substituted. Mix together adding a small amount of water. Spray cookie sheets with cooking oil. Make small balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they appear done.

For grain, I used a portion of my goat’s muesli which contains a variety of grains, a small portion of cracked wheat and a small portion of cracked barley.  The amount of grain was reduced as I added my goats’ favorites.  Carrots, apples, raisins and bananas were added to my version.

Goat Treat ingredients

Step 1 : Assemble all your Goat Treat ingredients

 

 

Step 2  combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl , measure out your molasses

Step 2 : Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, measure out your molasses

Step 3 : Pour all the molasses over your dry ingredients

Step 3 : Pour all the molasses over your dry ingredients (Isn't that just beautiful?)

Step 4 : Mix well. the recipe calls for a bit of water but actually it made my batter too thin. So I ended up adding more flour

Step 4 : Mix well. the recipe calls for a bit of water but actually it made my batter too thin. So I just ended up adding more flour

Step 4 : In the oven with my little Goat Treats

Step 5 : Place your Goat Treats in a pre heated oven

Step 5b: Check on Treats. the recipe says they will cook for 20 mins. but I always say, humm 20 mins. in who's oven. So

Step 6: The recipe says they will cook for 20 mins. I have a bad habit of checking my oven often

These glorious little goat Treats filled my home with the most delicious warm scent. My husband thought I was baking for us. My daughter called and I told her we were going to a neighborhood Christmas gathering and that I was baking. When I told her I was baking Goat Treats, She said, what’s wrong with this picture? Wasn’t I supposed to be baking for the gathering? No. It was not that kind of gathering. So I am certifiable in my daughter’s eyes, for not baking for a gathering and for baking for my goats. In her eyes, I have lost it. Maybe I have , but my house certainly smells heavenly!

Step 6 : Place Goat Treats on baking racks to cool

Step 7 : Place Goat Treats on baking racks to cool

My finished product, beautiful golden, healthy and hopefully delicious, Goat Treats

My finished product; beautiful golden, healthy and hopefully, naturally delicious, Goat Treats

We attended our neighbor Christmas gathering and had a great time. We stayed from 6 -9. It was time to get back to Gullringstorp and end to the goats.  This was a night of fresh hay and grain only; no chopped fruits. We have decided to start alternating their chopped fruit dinner so they are every other night. I though the goats would put up a fuss, but it turns out they enjoy what ever they get as long as they come with a little conversation, some hugs and patting and oh yes, some kisses.

At 9:05 we were home and out of our “party” clothes and into our warm stable clothes and into the cold night we went making our way to the stable and our warm goats. All my girls were out to play and run. All except the new babies, Iris, Petunia and Ivy.  They are still new in the stable and rank low in the hierarchy of our little herd. They get time out to run only when Nanna and the other babies are out. Pumpkin, Keriana, Alika, Frida and Hilda are not very nice to them, yet. They will be, in time.  As they all ran and played, Leif and I filled boxes with fresh hay, straw for beds and some grain and filled or changed water buckets. Their stable home looks like Christmas; my husband strung Christmas lights on both sides of the stable and put them on a timer to go off at 10 pm. It looks really lovely inside . The light from the Christmas lights gives off a real warm hue and I hope the goats like it as much as I do.

Everyone was having so much fun that I decided to let them run and play longer. So my Goat Treats were given out as they ran past me. Because they were new to my herd, no one got a full cookie. I broke them up and offered them to little warm mouths that gobbled them up, and returned for more.

My Goat Treats were a success!


What’s New at Gullringstorp


Life on a farm can have its ups and downs. Anyone who has goats can tell you that. Actually, life on a farm can have its ups and downs, no matter what kind of animals you might have.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster since the first of December.  There are times when you can say, oh great, that worked. There are times when you try your best to hold in your emotions and not let those tears fall. Then there are those times when the tears just won’t stop. To balance all of that, there are the times when you just can’t contain your happiness.

I held my tears in while I watched my little girls Chiyoko and Nakoa as they were loaded on to the horse trailer.  The tears did fall and there was the inevitable, tugging at my heart. All of these emotions have balanced out with the news that my two little girls are happy in their new home and have adjusted well.

Chiyoko and Nakoa with their new friends in their new home

Chiyoko and Nakoa with their new friends in their new home

I'm not sure if they have the same names, so here are my little girls enjoying the outdoors in their new home

We are so very happy to see that my little girls are happy and enjoying their new home !

Ok so that has been a recent happy part of goat ownership. Sorry to say that the reality of farm life brings both happy times along with some sad times.

I had noticed some questionable behavior in Pumpkin’s box. I have seen some unkind treatment of little Rose. I just thought what I saw was temporary. Then 2 days ago, while checking the goats in the morning, I witnessed Pumpkin holding little Rose in a corner and ramming her. When I yelled to get her attention she released her , Rose moved her position then Pumpkin looked like she was trying to breed Rose. I just felt that was way too much for little Rose to have to endure. I made an executive decision to move little Rose to another box. This was not an emotional decision,  I felt it was in Rose’s best interest. I was thinking of her safety. Where is CPS or GPS when you need it???

Rose went into the box with the baby girls, Iris,Ivy and Petunia. They are smaller than Rose so I felt she would not be a threat. Well I was not correct about that. My cute little Iris became the  bully from hell !!  She attacked poor Rose, non stop. I rationalized that Rose could deal with this and it would not last for long. Rose is a sturdy strong little doeling who could take a bump or two from a tiny Pygmy doeling. This had to be better than a pounding from and adult goat , even if it were her mother.

Rose cried for 3 days. On the 4th day she was crying like a toddler with the sniffles and all. It was heartbreaking ! Had I made the correct decision? Was this really in the best interest of little Rose? I actually dreaded my trip to the stable and dreaded  opening the stable door to hear her sad cries. It affected my entire days and evenings. I was so depressed and sad. I held back my tears thinking this was something I had to do. That didn’t last, the flood gates eventually opened.

Rose was placed back in with her mother last night, after I realized that Pumpkin was in heat. Rose is happy again and Pumpkin is calm , once again. I was a wreck all night and couldn’t sleep imagining the worst. I couldn’t go in the stable this morning , so my husband went in to report back. Rose and Pumpkin were happy, still in bed sleeping close together. What fantastic news !!! Happiness again!!!

I will remove Rose from the box when Pumpkin is in heat again, next month.

Rose is a happy baby again !

Rose is a happy baby again !

Well if Rose and Pumpkin weren’t enough, there was more. Our little buckling Little Man has grown up.  He has grown up, way too fast! I have seen him trying to mount his sister, but that was, in the beginning, natural goat behavior. But when he started to mount Hilda his mother, that was not alright. So here I go again with the ideas. It was time to introduce Little Man to the other bucklings. So for 2 days he was put into their box to meet each other. Of course each time he was placed in the box, he cried. That was a natural response and I made sure he had either myself or my husband in the box with him. I felt that would help him feel a little safer. It felt too soon for him to have to move out from his box with Hilda and Peanut. The third  day was the charm, as they say. I noticed not only his “bucky” sounds had increased, but he was now urinating on his head ! Well, that was that! He was there to stay. My little boy has grown up , right before my very eyes. He was born August 8th 2011 and is no longer a baby!

Needless to say, he is not happy. Not at all! He cries himself till he’s hoarse. I feel really bad. I mean really bad. Can you imagine his crying along with pitiful little Rose’s cries on the other end of the stable. It was really just too much. I know I just have to wait it out and he will be fine soon.

All I have been able to think about is how lovely he looked laying with Hilda and Peanut, how he enjoyed playing with Peanut and how he enjoyed running and playing with all the babies in the corridor of the stable. All these visions made me really sad that all that is over. Ok, yes I cried, again ! I guess I am just a softy when it comes to my animals. I just hate to have them unhappy. It kills me because I feel I should be the one to make every aspect of their lives good. I know that’s not realistic, but that’s pitfall of being a “farm mother”.

I know Little Man will settle down and be just one of the boys, real soon!

Little Man playing with sister Peanut on one of his play visits out of the boy's box

Little Man playing with sister Peanut while on one of his play visits out of the boy's box

Little Man having fun on the milking stand

Little Man having fun on the milking stand

Little Man finds safety on the table top as Balder comes to meet him

Little Man finds safety on the table top as Balder comes to meet him

Little Man meets Baby Boy

Little Man meets Baby Boy

All that meet and greet made Balder thirsty

All that meeting the new buckling, made Balder thirsty

Baby Boy is also thirsty from his "meet & greet"

Baby Boy is also thirsty from his meeting with the new buckling!

Little Man's not so sure he wants to stay in with the other bucklings

Little Man's not so sure he wants to stay in with the other bucklings

This is a sad little buckling, really makes me feel sad looking at that little face!

This right here, is a sad little buckling. That little face made me want to cry!

The boys are more interested in the hay than their new friend

The boys are more interested in the hay than their new friend

Little Man started to get comfortable enough to enjoy some delicious hay

Little Man started to get comfortable enough to enjoy some delicious hay

Little Man is getting settled in his new home, the boy's box

Little Man is getting settled in his new home, the boy's box

I know Little man like all my little babies have to grow up. They are like my little flowers, I water them, feed them , talk to them and love them. They are bound to grow and flourish. They are supposed to. They are supposed to grow out of their little families and move on to become the goats they are meant to be. I know all of this, but let me tell you it’s not easy.

You need to know that I am the same mother who cried in broad daylight on  the Champs -Elysees.  My then 20 yr old daughter who was studying her 3rd year of University, in Paris, announced she was moving out. The tears could not be stopped. I know now, as I knew then,  that she would one day want and need her own place.  She didn’t move out the next day, it just was an eventuality that she was beginning to think about and I was trying not to think about, at the time. She still teases me to this day about my tears on one of Paris’ most famous streets.

My daughter also reminded me that Little Man has to grow up. She told me I had done what needed to be done. Through my silly tears, I agreed with her and my husband.

Little Man has grown up. He was such a cute little fellow:

Little Man is no longer a baby. He will soon be a grown buck

Little Man is no longer a baby. He will soon be a grown buck