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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Busy Days On A Growing Farm

It has been a busy few weeks here on the farm, starting off with a shipment of Indian Runner Ducklings, followed by a big shipment of chicks, followed unexpectedly by the purchase of our first dairy goat!

And I say unexpectedly because we didn't think we would have one until Spring. But we visited another breeder's farm, fell in love with a yearling LaMancha (which is the breed we've been waiting for), and brought her home with us. Luckily we have been spending the last couple months converting our riding ring into a goat pen by reinforcing the 3 board fence with wire livestock fencing. We're also adding several strands of electric fence just to be safe.

We named her Molly. Very Pregnant Molly. The breeder said she should kid in one to two weeks. She hadn't been handled a lot so we needed to spend a lot of time with her. While she wasn't "wild", she was very wary of people and wasn't sure about being petted. 

However we weren't quite sure his calculations were correct. She was bagging up quickly... look at that udder! This photo was taken on day 2 of her being here.

By day 4 we knew something was up and we were on high alert. She suddenly showed every single textbook sign of a goat going into labor: loose tail ligaments, drainage, pawing & laying down repeatedly, yawning, obvious discomfort, and the most obvious change... she became obsessed with us. In the photo above, she keeps licking The Boy and talking to him. She was doing the same thing to me. If we made any move toward the stall door, she'd start hollering. At 9:30 pm we decided to go inside, get some rest, and check back in a couple of hours. It was a cold, rainy night.

At 11:30 pm, I went out to check on Molly and she was minutes away from giving birth. By 11:45, we had a kid on the ground.

One. Big. Kid. Instead of having two (like most goats), Molly popped out one giant baby girl who we named Greta.

With only one kid nursing, and that one kid only wanting to use one side of the udder, we had to start milking Molly almost immediately in order to relieve pressure and even up her udders. This gave us the perfect opportunity to start storing colostrum, which is what she produces for the baby for the first few days. Handled and stored correctly, colostrum can be frozen and kept for up to a year. This is essential for baby goats right off the bat, so it is a little bit of insurance for future kiddings.

Greta is growing and growing and growing. And bouncing. And climbing. And just all in all being the cutest thing we've ever had on our farm. She's a big, healthy, curious girl.

Today she is seven days old and not scared of anything. We continue to milk Molly twice a day just enough to relieve pressure and to make sure her udders stay evenly sized. She is learning the ropes of milking quickly and she milks fast. We are only taking a total of about 26 ounces a day from her (between the two milkings) so we are leaving plenty for baby Greta. The milk we are collecting isn't suitable for drinking yet so we are  storing it for soap. We will be able to start using it ourselves in about another week.

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