I know it has been awhile since I posted on my little herd. This is just to check in and see what’s new with some of my goats. We have had a rather unpleasant and unpredictable winter which has kept our little herd inside. I know some people let their goats out during the winter months , but my herd has made it abundantly clear the do not like, RAIN, SNOW or especially WIND. They will all be at the fence yelling to come in. When I open the gate, they fly into the stable. No stragglers to be found. So, it is on us to help entertain them, exercise them and make sure they get the nutrition they need.
As you know, our goats are housed in a stable, which means that they are in boxes according to their particular circumstances. Each of my mothers who delivered in August have a box of their own that they share with their babies. We have 3 tiny pygmy doelings, 2 of which are sister, sharing a fairly large box. Then we have our 4 boys, bucklings, 2 of which are Pygmy, including 1 wether who is a Nigerian who never grew up and 1 Nigerian sharing a box. Our little Nanna is quite happy on her own in her box next to the boys and her 2 boyfriends, Balder & Baby Boy. Our two junior does, Alika and Keriana who we are hoping are pregnant, share a rather large box, even for them. They are Nigerians and are a bit larger than our tiny Pygmy goats.
They are out of their boxes every evening unless they get a treat and are out in the morning.
This is what usually happens:
- I enter the stable carrying dinner and treats for later
- As I pass each box I greet and am greeted with my goat hello’s
- I do a quick check at each box to make sure everyone is there and looks fine
- Each little head at the door of each box gets a pat , a rub and a kiss as I say their name
- Then I enter the boy’s side
- First I let out Nanna after her greeting
- Next Little Man comes out after all my boys are spoken to by name
- I check in on the new mothers – to – be. They are usually laying down looking really comfortable. That’s nice to see.
- Then the bright overhead lights are put on.
- We have a wonderful bag of Lucerne which is wonderfully fragrant and nutritious packed grass. I fill a buck with this and start with Nanna and Little Man who are patiently waiting at their bowls. Then I got to the boys who get their Lucerne on their “dinner table” where they all stand and eat like little gentleman.
- Then Keriana and Alika get theirs in separate containers because some goats have a real difficult time sharing.
- While Little Man & Nanna eat and play together, I fill my bucket with grain and start with Pumpkin and Rose, next Frida and her babies Poppy & Pansy, next is Hilda and Pumpkin, last are the “baby girls” Iris,Ivy & Petunia
- I let them all munch for a bit then I start with they hay in the boy’s box. They love to have their meadow hay on their table and all stand around the edge eating. Next are the Junior does get their hay, both kinds.
- By the time i make it to the baby side of the stable to fill hay, they are all ready to come out , greet each other and have some fun. But first, Little Man has to go back in the box, just in case someone is in heat. With so many females, someone is always in heat.
- Little Man goes back in and is fine because he has had about 1/2 an hour out to eat and play with his buddy Nanna. He was born in August and is a Nigerian so he is still small, very much the same size as Nanna who is a Pygmy.
- All the girls are let out and I say ” Let the fun begin! ” And it does !! Goats running and charging up and down the corridor, It is a wonderful site indeed ! I just love to watch them play and have such a great time.
- I fill hay in all the boxes and have to watch for Alika, Keriana and Nanna who are off grain until April. They try every way possible to get into the boxes that just got their portion of grain. They will get grain in April twice a day and on the milking stand. They will want their grain so this should be no problem. They will need to get used to the stand and being gently touched on the udder. This way when they deliver, I will be able to have them on the stand twice a day and milk them. This is what the books say and other goat owners. So, please wish me all the success in getting my ladies ready to be milked.
- After the hay comes little piles of straw in each box. I place them where I know the mothers & babies sleep, where the “baby girls sleep”, on the table for the boys and in two piles in Alika’s and Keriana’s box. Nanna, sweet little Nanna has decided she would like to do everything and I do mean EVERYTHING, up high. My husband has built her a special shelf for her to be on. She eats up there from a hay bin set up high for her and her straw goes on the shelf as well. She eats up there and sleeps up there. She has to come down from her nest to drink water. She absolutely loves it up there! Funny little Nanna.
- All the water containers are not only filled but checked for tiny mice that may have fallen in. So buckets are cleaned out and freshwater give. because we have had way too many sporadic night with temperatures dipping as low as -11 c , our pump in the stable has been turned off. We carry water from the house in two large green garden water buckets. I always fill with warm water in the mornings since they had a cold night. Goats like a bit of warm water.
- Right about now, my husband makes several trips to the chicken house to give more food and fresh water and collect eggs.
- After they have all played and are ready to go back into their boxes, they get what ever treat may be on hand for the evening.
- After treats, I spend time in each baby box letting the babies play with my hat,my gloves or flaps on my winter jacket. They are so charming and lovable. If I were to leave without this quality time, they would not be happy. I give the mothers a back rub and leg rubs. This serves a couple of purposes; they love the attention and I get to make sure they are all ok with no tender spots that may have gone unnoticed and I always move my hands down under the tummy toward the udders so this becomes a familiar touch.
- When I leave the stable and say my good nights to each by name, I have a very warm and satisfied feeling.
- As we walk home, I know my goats are well-loved and cared for and want for nothing at all. It’s a good feeling.
Everyone is doing so well. Keriana was crying quite a lot, in fact so much I had the fear that she may not have been bred. Then just yesterday it occurred to me that if she were really in heat again my boys who are just in the next box would be going absolutely crazy. They are not! This means her cries and noise is for grain not a boyfriend! That is a relief!
Usually it’s a wether (a castrated buck) in the herd that can alert you to a doe coming into season, but our little wether is not out of his box so another goat has taken up that position, Pumpkin. She knows when a goat is coming into season. She acts as a buck would, talking to her, circling her and trying to mount her. This morning she was right on target, Frida is in heat. This is the first time since she had her girls this August. Both of her girls are also in heat but much to young to breed. Iris one of our Pygmy doelings is also in heat. All this makes for a noisy stable with so many young ladies in heat. Each one has a different call and way about them. Frida has a low-pitched kind of growl with a wagging tail called “flagging”. Little Iris runs back and forth and just seems unsettled. Sometimes she drowns her frustration in the feed room attaching the huge bale of meadow hay. Kind of like a woman during her time of month where she could eat an entire cake if she could. I walk by the feed room and she has a huge mouth full of hay. I hope it helps. Heats last anywhere from 24 hours to 36 hours and come every 21-28 days. Some goats have more frequent heats known as “false heats” so they really keep you guessing and on your toes!
We hope to breed Pumpkin, Frida and Hilda in March. We will need to get our wonderful Emil, our rent-a-buck in to do the job. He has made us some really beautiful babies.
Welcome back for more updates!