Friday, September 3, 2010

Goat babies are here again!

Skylark and her new babies a couple of hours after their birth.

On Tuesday, August day after the date I predicted, Skylark gave birth to two baby goats. One girl and one boy. The girl is a sweetheart in almost the exact color markings as her mom (the black kid in the photo) and the boy is mostly white with some black markings. Both are very playful and curious. We anticipate that the boy will eventually be a handful as he's already the more adventurous one. The boy is slightly larger and is older by about 20 minutes.

On Monday, I expected that Skylark was going to be delivering soon. I actually hesitated to go to work on Tuesday morning as my H was still out of town until about noon and I had a feeling she was close. Luckily, she held off until the afternoon until after he'd gotten home. I'd cleaned out the goat shed that morning and left him a note to fill it with fresh straw when he got back. He went out to do just that and goat baby number one was already here and being cleaned off my mom! He threw some straw in the shed and called me at work to let me know. A few minutes later, goat baby number two arrived! What a huge difference from the events of this night, huh? As it turns out, Skylark is a great mom, so we had to do very little at all.

So now we have three things that we need to take care of right away. The first is getting them disbudded. Our disbudding iron is for larger goats, so instead of buying a new one immediately, we've located a woman that will do it for us. She also said that she can do these small breed goats with a full sized iron, so I'd like to watch in order to learn. The difficulty is that we don't yet know if either of these goats will have horns! Skylark has had polled babies before when bred to a polled buck ('polled' means that they naturally have no horns) so there is a good chance that one or both of these babies won't have horns at all. That would be AWESOME because disbudding really, really sucks. It's far worse than weathering the boys (castration) as far as I'm concerned. Rick may feel otherwise! ;-) This is partly why we haven't bred Pepper yet. She is polled and you cannot breed a polled goat to another polled goat or you get other potential deformities. The farm where we bought these two had only two bucks. One was polled (the one we bred to Skylark) and the other was Pepper's sire (can't do that combination!).

So now we need to get Pepper bred. Our plan is to get her bred soon so that she'll deliver in the spring and if we keep rotating like this, we'll have milk year round and babies twice a year! I've found a buck for Pepper who is actually colored exactly like her and who is not polled. Once we arrange a date, we'll take her to the bucks residence for a couple of weeks. She's never had babies before, so hopefully it'll go smoothly and she'll be a good mom.

Thirdly, we need to prep for milking. For the first two weeks, the babies get all the milk, but then we'll separate them at night and milk Sky in the morning (until they get weaned). There are two issues with this. First of all, Sky is much smaller than Sass was and this means that her udders are very close to the ground. There is no room underneath her for our old milking pail. It's too tall! I've found a shorter one that might be a good option for us, so we need to get that ordered. Secondly, since Nigerian Dwarf milk is twice as rich as Alpine milk, we'll need a seperator (or I'll never be able to drink it!). Sass' milk was probably about 3% milkfat (whole cows milk is 4%). Nigerian Dwarf milk can be 6 - 7% milkfat! That'll be like drinking half-half! Ick! The seperator we used when we had Sass was 1) too big - we'd have to collect milk for a week before skimming and 2) not working properly. We've found another one that will probably work, but I need to do a little more investigation first. We will certainly have no trouble making butter and cheese with this milk, that's for sure! Oooh, and ice cream too! Yum!

So all of this plus one more triathlon (Sat, Sept 4th) and the need to do some serious harvesting/canning/drying of both our produce and the local peaches that I want to buy and you have a recipe for a very busy holiday weekend.