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.
Thanks for stopping by!
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!
Thanks for stopping by!
"Not doing well...brought them both in...see if we can save them..."
These weren't the words I wanted to start my week with, but that's how things got started Monday morning around 5:30AM. Let me back up and say that Emma surprised us by kidding before Nickel. I caught her in the pushing stage on one of many checks to the goat pen on Sunday afternoon. I was able to sit with her as Abe & Moses were born. It was a fairly normal delivery, except for one thing. Goats are usually born in a diving position with their two front feet by their heads. (Both back feet first is also considered a normal birth position, but I've never seen this.)
When Abe (brown one) was emerging, I only saw one hoof and a nose, which isn't good. Before I intervened, I saw his second foot just back a bit further. Because of his "off" position, Emma had a bit of a hard time getting him out. It was also her first baby, too. Moses (black one) was born minutes after in a perfect position.
Emma is a first time Mom. So, we watched to see if she would take care of her babies. They were quite tiny at birth, but otherwise healthy. Emma began licking Moses right away, but didn't seem too concerned about Abe. She would lick Abe if we placed him under her nose, but then would soon be off to Moses again. Moses was a bit stronger from the start. We made sure the boys nursed and let them be to bond.
We checked on them periodically through the day Sunday. Abe didn't seem to be doing well. He was weak, but he would nurse well when we hooked him up. Emma seemed increasingly annoyed at the babies nursing and would kick them off.
We decided, since she was a first time Mom, to give her a few hours to adjust. We got up twice during the night Sunday to check on them. The first check was promising, but the second check found Abe pretty weak. Again, we decided to try to let Emma handle things.
When we checked them early Monday morning, Abe was very weak. He could no longer stand or hold his head. Moses, too, was showing signs of losing strength. Thus, the words I heard at the beginning of this post on Monday morning from my husband who found them this way.
He brought them inside to the wood stove, and we began rubbing them with towels to warm them up. We milked Emma and tried bottles. Abe couldn't suck, but Moses could. Soon, I realized the wood stove and towels weren't warming Abe enough. I gave him a warm bath in our laundry room sink and moved his legs to get his circulation going. This seemed to really perk him up. I also gave him 5ml of fluids subcutaneously (under his skin) and rubbed molasses on his tongue and cheeks. Slowly, but surely, he showed signs of improvement. In a few hours, he could weakly suck a bottle. He took small (0.25oz to 1oz) feedings all day Monday while Moses drank double that each time. But, this morning, they both downed over 2oz! Abe can now stand and take steps-a dramatic turn around from where he was yesterday morning. They are now enjoying a life of luxury in our basement by the wood stove. I had to put them in a laundry basket because Moses was getting quite curious and wandering all over!
Aaaaand, in other news, Nickel the goat has beat April the giraffe!
We decided to get up once during the night Monday night to feed Abe & Moses. After feeding them, I went out to the barn to check Nickel. I found her cleaning off her first baby - Jefferson (darker brown one). I was able to watch her deliver Jackson (light brown one) & Little Penny (black one) minutes later; all in beautiful diving birth positions. Little Penny was the first one I ever witnessed completely in the sack after being born. I helped tear the sack off, but Nickel did the rest. This is Nickel's second batch of triplets and her third kidding.
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