Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Full Days

You know how spring is--time to hustle and bustle!  Lots of things are happening here, and I thought I'd catch you up.

*  The kittens are getting big.  They hit the big 3 week mark yesterday, and were all down the hallway.  They spend most of their time under my daughter's bed, but they have started to venture out.  They are cuties, and I think they'd spend more time walking around, but mama cat is a bit too nervous.  She likes to scoot them right back under the bed when they go out, complaining the entire time. 

Which way am I looking???
 When we do see them, they are very sweet.

*  Spring means lots of eggs, so I've been using them the best I can.  Currently I'm working on pasta.

Multi-purpose drying rack!

I have made egg noodles and regular fettuccini.  I think my next thing will be to make pound cakes to freeze.  Then maybe an Angel Food cake.  Or three.  Maybe that'll get it under control.  :)

*  The gardens are nearly planted--I have the dry beans to get in the ground, which I keep meaning to do, and then either something else comes up, or it rains.  I'm hoping tomorrow morning is the morning.  Otherwise, I'm all planted.  I can tell you that I underestimated the number of seedlings I would need this year.  Going from 2100 square feet to the 3000 square feet was a much bigger jump than I thought it would be, and I ran out of lots of things and was sticking things in willy-nilly.  It should work out, it's just not as organized as I'd like.  But that's ok.  Things will still be delicious.

 I've also got it mostly mulched, which is good, because the weeds are out with a vengeance this year.

*  It looks like it's going to be a good year for strawberries.  Though the pipes are doing "ok", the bed is doing beautifully.

Lots of little strawberry-lings popping up make me very happy!

*  The little Muscovies are thriving, which is wonderful.  They are not thrilled with people, but I didn't get them to be pets, so that's ok with me.  They are growing by leaps and bounds, and I am thrilled to say, that small as they are, they are already trying to eat the flies straight out of the air.  I'm just fine with that!  The flies also seem to be out with a vengeance this year.  Anything they can do to help is just ducky (HA!!).

*  And so we come to the biggest news.  The countdown.  Minerva is due in 6 days.  6 DAYS!  Holy crow!!!

Her plug came out last week, which is no big sign, but it was something.  Her demeanor, however, has changed drastically.  She has completely mellowed out and turned back into MY Minerva.  Snotty-potty head Minerva seems to be gone, and she's back to being my sweet girl again.  She let me feel her tummy the other day (for a half a minute), and I felt a foot.  My bet is that she's got either one big one in there, or two at most.  I don't think there are more than that, but I could be wrong. 

Minerva and I have a special relationship.  We know each other, and that's not something I can explain more than to say that.  I know her, she knows me.  I'm not worried about her giving birth, oddly enough, because I trust her to trust me.  Just because she does.  I know that she will let me do whatever needs to be done, if anything at all needs to be done.  Because I know her.  I know, sounds odd.  But if you've ever had a special animal, you know what I'm talking about.  Minerva's my girl.

You know what I am nervous about?


AAAHH!  Stainless steel!  It scares me!!

Ok............. no.

Milking.  Oh boy.  Milking scares the bejeezus out of me.  Lemme 'splain.  Back when I was a little kiddle, my uncle owned a dairy farm in West Virginia.  I don't remember a lot about it--my long term memory is really bad--but I do remember that he had pigs, which I thought stank, he had blackberry bushes that were huge and full of fruit, which I thought were really cool, and he had goats.  'Cause it was a goat dairy, see?  I don't remember what kind of goats they were, but my mother tells me that they were the ones with the "droopy ears".  So, Nubians.

Stewart says "Nubians rule!  Wanna hear me yodel?"

I remember going into the milking parlor and having him show me how to milk and then letting me try.  And I got not a drop.  Not a single solitary drop.  I have no idea how old I was, or even what I did right or wrong.  As is with memories, I only remember the failure.  Now, years later, I have successfully milked a goat--very briefly--I was testing a friend's goat to see if she had let her milk down for her babies.  So I have sort of redeemed myself.  But still the sting of that past failure persists.  I want so much to milk, I am afraid I'm going to have some sort of handicap.

Of course, Minerva wants to hear none of this.  She doesn't care about my insecurities.  All she wants is someone to alleviate that giant udder of hers when it's time.

It's enormous.  Especially when you consider she's a first freshener.   This pic can't even capture it really, it is so full and round.   If I compare it to Lilly's,

who is also a first freshener, the difference is huge.  Of course, Min is a precocial milker, so I'm not that surprised.  Lilly is not.  Still, we'll see who proves out in the end.

Anywho, I worry that I will not be able to milk my girls, and then I really worry that I won't like it.  Having the animals was so natural to me, I fell into the routine of feedings and cleanings and puttings-in like it was breathing.  Now I can't imagine my life without all the animals and all their routines.  How empty it would be.  I am hoping that milking is going to be like breathing--natural.  I'm worried it won't.  I guess I'll find out, either way, next week.

In the meantime, I am prepared.  The stainless steel above is a milking pail, a strainer, and the strip cup.  I also have filters and teat wash and balm and the whole nine.  And of course, I have this:

OHH!  Snazzy!  My millions of thanks to Fiasco Farm, who did all the thinking for me and designed this baby.  All I had to do was build it.  It took me an hour and a half and not much in lumber, and it's beautiful.  And functional.  I figured I'd take it for a test drive before I had to actually milk, so I put everyone in it for a hoof trim and haircut.  Why haircut?  Because it's going to be 90 degrees here on Friday, and my girls and boys are still in their somewhat winter hair.

Here's their before:

And Maxwell and Cynthia too:

They is cutie patooties! 
Don't mind the pen.  It's been raining here A LOT and it's all muddy and gross.  I can't wait for it to dry out!
Lots of shaggy butts!  So I put them in the milking stand like so,

Cleo really needed very little in way of a haircut.  She needed her feet done. 
Max is helping her eat her grain.

trimmed their feet, and shaved them down.  Now they is beyoo-tee-full!


So sleek and shiny! 

Lilly actually changed colors.


Ok, not really.  That's just the way her hair is.  Light on the tip, dark underneath.  Now that she's shaved down, though, she looks very different.  I think she's a bit self conscious about it, too.  She was hiding when I put them away for the night.  She looked embarrassed.

I had fun, though.  I love working with my animals.  I decorated me,

 and the driveway in goat hair.

But I am hoping they feel better in the heat.  I still have to do their bellies, which I could not do because the trimmer couldn't handle it.  Just a note:  people haircutting trimmers do not work well on goats.  I bought an inexpensive Wahl people hair trimmer to do my goats with, and though it worked, it could not do the long hair on their bellies.  And I burned out the motor.  Ooops.  I think it would be ok on a short haired goat like Cleo, but forget the dairy breeds.  It can't handle it.  I will be investing in a big-girl trimmer soon, so I can do bellies and the spots I missed.

And I think that's all!  Oh, if you are curious about the Replamin I've been giving the goats, this has been my experience so far: it works ok.  They shined up a little, and under the crappy browning, I can tell that they are starting to blacken back up, but it's nothing miraculous.  I'm three weeks in with it, and I'm not seeing miracles, by any chance.  They look a little better. 

I decided a week ago that I was going to redo the entire feeding system and scrap the feed they were being given.  I have given up the molasses-covered gack that they were eating and have put them on a diet of horse pellets, oats, beet pulp, BOSS, and alfalfa pellets.  THEY LOVE IT!  Not only that, but their coats' appearances have improved immensely.  They are glossy and soft again.  The color is still not great, though.  I think it may take bolusing to get it right.  But the feed change is here to stay.  I am thrilled with it, and so are they. 

Ok, THAT'S all the news that's fit to print.  Have a wonderful night everyone!
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  1. Oh girl....let go of your fears about seem to do everything naturally and well. You are going to just sit down and do it. I love seeing your stand....we built the same one from the Fiasco plans....I sit right on the edge and lean my head against the girls' is the best time of the morning. You are going to love it.

  2. The kittens are so cute! And so are the baby ducks. And I have to say I've never given a goat a hair cut so you're one up on me there, Girl.

    Milking first fresheners can sometimes be a challenge (so says Molly at Fiasco), so I didn't bother with my Lily this first year. I'll let her twins work on her teats for me to get a better handle on next year, LOL. New kids are very exciting and I know you'll take it all in stride.

  3. Such cute goats and kittens you have! I can only imagine your nervousness about milking. I know I'll have the same worries next year when my goats kid for the first time! I do have a question for you, what is your new feed recipe? I'm interested in making my own, but want to look into the cost first. It's awesome that they love it, AND wonderful their coats are improving!


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