There are 2 new 4-footed creatures afoot at Russell Homestead! Buddy and Blessing burst into the world this week on April 18, 2018. As I mentioned in my last post, we've been watching their mom, Lily, and waiting for her to kid. We were fairly certain her due date was April 23, 2018. So, we were observing her, but truly weren't expecting these cuties to arrive before the 23rd.
Our children AJ and CJ won't soon forget Buddy and Blessing's arrivals. We had just finished supper. My husband and I were sitting at the table chatting. AJ and CJ decided to go outside to play. After only a few minutes, they came running in shouting, "Lily had kids! Lily had kids! Lily had kids!" They had been playing outside and heard a goat kid cry from the barn. A flurry of activity followed as we ran to the barn with towels. We found the kids safely delivered and out of the sack - obviously just born minutes before. Lily was standing there looking at them in shock.
We dried them off and got them nursing as quickly as possible. Since we decided to bottle feed these babies, we milked Lily and gave her milk to them in a bottle. Buddy, who was a bit bigger and stronger, took to his bottle right away. He could drain his bottle in seconds. Blessing needed a bit more encouragement to finish her bottle, but by about 18 hours old, she was draining bottles as fast as her brother.
And, in case you're curious, these babies already have a new home! Thanks to the family with a deposit on these two. They will be going home together after staying at Russell Homestead for a few days. We will enjoy them while they are here.
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Goat kidding season 2018 has flown by without me having time to journal the experience as I did last year. (Though that’s not quite accurate because I have one girl who still has not kidded yet, but it feels like the bulk of kidding season is over around here.)
Let me back up and say our goat herd has undergone some changes since last spring. We had 4 does kidding last spring; two of those – Oakley and Emma – have moved onto to other homes as they were not quite what we were looking for in our herd, and two remain with us – Nickel and Llama. We also added another doeling to the herd last May named Lily. We also used a different breeding buck this fall named Warrior.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with raising dairy goats, typically goats are bred in the fall for spring kids. Goats tend to be somewhat seasonal breeders (like white tail deer). A goat’s gestation is 5 months. A goat can be milked 3 months into pregnancy and then dried up for the last 2 months before birth. However, for us, we are tired of milking by the time the fall breeding season has rolled around. In addition, milk production usually declines by the fall. Therefore, we like to dry them up and breed in August or September. Ours are often dry for their entire pregnancy, which is good for them, but means we have no milk. The only risky factor in breeding early is having kids in freezing weather in December or January. However, ours got bred late last year and had kids in freezing weather in mid-March. So, we’ve decided to just breed when we want to and hope for fair weather over kidding time! Goats seem to have a knack for snowstorms - be it December or March.
To breed our goats, we put the buck in with the herd and allow nature to take its course. We watch closely and can often pick up on when the deed is being done to be able to calculate an approximate due date. 1-2 months after we think they are all bred, we do a blood test for pregnancy. This year when we tested our three girls, Lily came back negative for pregnancy. This was actually a good thing. Lily was born in February 2017, which means in August 2017 when we introduced our buck to the herd, she was quite young. While it is common to breed a dairy goat her first fall, breeding late rather than early gives them a few more months to grow. We tossed around the idea of separating her, but she was a good size and separation from the herd causes a lot of stress for goats. Weighing all the pros and cons, we decided to see what happens.
Upon receiving the negative pregnancy test, we were glad she had not taken early. Our buck then made a visit to another farm for a few weeks. When he returned, we made sure he was healthy and ready to move onto a new home. We had him advertised for only a short time before we found him a new farm. The week before he left, we noticed he was quite interested in Lily. We hoped she would be bred before he left. We chose not to test her because, even if she wasn’t bred, we weren’t going to get in another buck in January. Thus, we’ve just been watching her closely and hoping. The most obvious sign, especially in a first-timer, is the development of an udder 1-4 weeks before birth. Lily is due in about 1 week, and she has a promising udder taking shape, as well as bulging sides.
Back to the other girls – Nickel & Llama. In typical goat fashion, they delivered their kids within days of each other. Nickel had twins – Lightning & Star – on January 31, and Llama had twins – Hero & Susie – on February 2. Below are some pictures.
As you may have noticed, this year we decided to bottle feed all the babies. We fed them raw milk from their moms. (We test for CAE when we test for pregnancy. [CAE is a disease that can be passed through the milk of infected mothers.] Since our girls are negative, we feed the milk to the babies.) We sold all four of the kids within 2 weeks after their birth. This was, of course, a bit sad for the human kids around here, but they were glad to see them go to good homes and be relieved of the bottle-feeding duties.
And now we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors in the past months – fresh, raw goat milk! For those of you who just gagged a bit, I challenge you to find a home dairy where the milk has been handled and chilled with care to see for yourself. We have many people say it tastes "just like milk!"
Stay tuned and check out our goat page to see Lily’s kids!
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I’m excited to introduce to you a new mini schnauzer at Russell Homestead. Her name is Tachianna Faith. We call her Tachi (ta-chee) for short. Tachi is a dark salt and pepper gal who is sweet, submissive, and smart!
Let me begin with the story of her name. As we were picking names for our children, my husband and I usually saw eye-to-eye with fairly common, solid names. We had a boy and girl name picked out long before our first child was born. When boy #1 came along, we used the boy name and tucked away the girl name for later. When expecting child #2, we picked a new boy name and pulled the girl name out of reserve. If you know our story, we had boy #2 and boy #3, but still the original girl name endured. However, sometime after boy #3 was here, my husband heard the name “Tachianna” on a radio show. He fell in love with it instantly! Now, I don’t share my kids’ real names on my blog, but let me assure you this name does not have the flavor of our three boy names. Think something like this – “Here are my children-Nate, Collin, Ben, and Tachianna.” I just couldn’t imagine myself introducing my family using this name, and I just wasn't sure I liked it. However, at the time, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl. Since I was guessing it was boy #4, I made a deal with husband to make him happy. I told him IF we have a girl and IF she has red hair (a rare, but not impossible thing for our family), I would name her Tachianna. I felt pretty safe in my deal, since I didn’t even think we were having a girl.
Well, lo and behold, we did have a girl! At birth, she appeared to have a little bit of blonde/light brown hair. So, we named her the girl name we had picked out since the birth of our first child. In about 15 minutes, as the nurses weighed her and cleaned her up, her hair had an undeniable red tint. My husband quickly pointed this out and declared I was lucky she didn’t have that tint at birth or her name would be Tachianna!
Since my dear husband did not get to name his daughter Tachianna, we named one of our goat kids, born just a few days after our daughter, Tachianna. But she quickly went to her new home. So, it was only natural when we got our next female schnauzer to name her Tachianna.
Tachi has been a great dog for us! She passed the AKC S.T.A.R. puppy program and basic obedience school through Berks County Dog Training Club in the summer and fall of 2017. She is currently in training to receive her therapy dog certification through Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
Tachi is a ball of fire in some ways and a complete snuggle bug in other ways. She loves to romp and play with our other dogs. She is very bonded to me and follows me all over. She has a very gentle, cuddly side that shines through when she does therapy visits. We are very happy with how she has matured, and we are eager to see her first litter of puppies (likely to arrive in early 2019.) You can see more pictures below or visit her page.
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Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
Independent Field Representative