December 11, 2011

The crazy fall of 2011

This fall has been a crazy one. Between school, work, actually feeding and breeding the goats I'm afraid blogging has taking a back burner. Perhaps as winter starts I will be able to pick back up.
November as a whole was a good month. The most interesting thing we have seen this November is more and more people coming and using our bucks. This is only the third fall we have even had bucks around, but this is really the first year I have every had people come and use them. Before that I have always been on the other end - driving to people's house to use their bucks.
Personally I have decided I really like being the one who doesn't have to drive a lot better. Sure you end up smelly and covered in the oder of buck but at least you don't have to get in the car after that. Plus you get to meet lots of cool people you would never have seen before. Yep, this buck service thing is actually pretty cool.
In other news.... WE HAVE BABIES!!!! Yep our July bred does kidded this last week. Antimony kidded with twin bucks by Arabica and Katie gave us a single doe kid from Kastdemur's Vigilante News. A beautiful white kids who being born Lamancha (which equals location name) and born in B year at Christmas time can only be rightfully given 1 name = Bethlehem. Probably as time goes on this will be shortened to Beth.
She lives in the house and is making the puppy and kitten jealous of all the attention. Oh? I didn't mentioned that I have a puppy and kitten now? I told you it had been a busy fall...

Beth and the Kitten - Quiz. He wants to play with Beth soooo badly

We picked up a poor bedraggled kitten when we went back the Sunday after our Delta DGA show to finish cleaning up the fairgrounds. Jenn stopped the car and he ran right into her arms. We knew that he would never survive and he was amazingly good natured. He wanted to be held and cuddled and to top it all off he had a broken leg. So he got to stay. We named him Quiz after a cat in one of my favorite books, fed the remanats of the goat milk and he grew and grew. He is the least of our troublemakers and has really integrated himself into the household. He loves to play with the puppy and just the other day I found him curled with Hannah (the 9 year old dog who lives with the goats) while they were sleeping in the garage.

He was so small and helpless

Not so tiny anymore - but still just as sweet

Puppy too you ask? Yep. When we went up to breed goats we stopped my our friend's house to visit since we were in the area. He breeds Australian Kelpies - a type of herding dog from the land down under. True working dogs who will go and go and go until they drop. He had mentioned a puppy last spring but when his favorite female whelped in August I assumed they would be snapped up. When we were there he said he had one puppy left that we could have if we were interested. Were we interested? Well I had had no plans to get a puppy yet...but I have wanted one for a really long time. I said yes and we brought her home. We called her Mac or MacKenzie after a character from a TV show Jenn and I love. She is much more of a handfull than Quiz, but she is smart and trying. She loves playing with Hannah, playing with Quiz, herding the chickens, and will hike all day if we ask her too. We have taken her everywhere - and she has taken it all in stride.

How could you pass up that face?

She has already grown so much
So I did not lie - it has truely been a crazy fall. Fun but crazy. And just think, more kids in a only a few weeks.

November 11, 2011

Treats for Goats

Sometimes people want to know what we give the goats as a treat. One of their favorite treats is mulberry leaves. Our neighbor has a large tree that doesn't get pruned very often so when they grow over the edge of the fence - we make a point of pruning several large armloads of branches for them.

As you can see they really love it. They consume it so rapidly that soon all that is left is sticks. These of course provide a location for us to trip on for the next several months - but all in the name of enjoyment for the goats.

October 10, 2011

Brief Fall update

Wow - has it really been a month since I blogged? Sometimes I pat myself on the back about how good I am at this, then it all comes crashing down around me.

Clearly school has set in. Although my mind revolves around goats most of the time, come fall, my days return to being filled with school, meetings, classes, projects, etc. Sadly this leaves less time for casually blogging.

So whats been happening around here?

Well of the six does we bred for Dec/Jan kids, five  of them (Katie, Antimony, Azalea, Arizona, Xymphony) came back pregnant!!!! We will be having some very early kids! Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like new baby goats.
Several other does have been bred for Feb kids as well  - including Brioche and Bermuda, bred as yearling milkers. We have had 2 AI attempts (Yodel and Alba) so far this year as well. Having at least 1 set of AI kids a year would be an excellent goal in my mind.

We even have Bamboo bred for early March kids. Actually Bermuda (Brazil's daughter) was bred to Arabica and Bamboo (Arabica's daughter) was bred to Brazil. Since their dams are already related, it should be interesting to compare their kids.

Does should be returning to heat this week if they are going to recycle. I have my fingers crossed and am holding my breath. 

We also have several does due in heat this week. We want to attempt AI on Keegan and repeat our Brazil breeding on Alaska and Thistle - their kids were so nice this year, it is worth it to have another set of them.

Several does still to breed, but it is amazing to me how fast this fall is going. 

In other news, we finished the show season out on a very high note. Note only did our first Delta DGA show go off splendidly, we added dry legs to 3 doe kids (Bolivia, Baltimore, Boysenberry) and 1 RGCH (Buri). Not a bad way to end the 2011 show season.

September 05, 2011

So here is an interesting thought for you - do the goats like going to the show?

As you encounter more and more goats you realize that goats have a personality somewhere between a dog and a cat depending on which goat you talk to (metaphorically speaking). Most goats are independant like a cat but still enjoy human attention like a dog. And certainly their intelligence stands as high as any pet.

So this begs the question - do goats like going to the shows? 
This picture I took of Xymphony says a lot in my opinion. I think it is hard to argue that she is smiling at the camera:

Can't you see her smile?
There are certainly goats who do not enjoy the show ring. We had one goat that refused to stand still and another who seemed to get car-sick driving anywhere (including to a show). Those are animals who we find nice pet homes for where they can live their life in peace and not deal with the attention of being shown. However for most of our show string - they do love the attention. They enjoy the grooming and handling ahead of time. The love to meet the people at fairs. Lots of our goats stand on the fence as people pass by and try to get their attention. If those goats don't love showing - it is hard to say what loving being there would look like.

August 31, 2011

One more reason to love AI

There are so many reason to love AI – artificial insemination. Last night I was reminded of one of my top reasons – you can actually do something when your doe is in heat

Like so many goat breeders, our life outside of dairy goats is insane. We try to plan and sync does who need to be taken off the property to get bred to come into heat at a time when we are available. This is truly so we can take animals where we want them and use bucks we choose. We only have 3 bucks on the property and only 2 of the breeds we own could be bred to these 2 bucks for purebred kids. At the bare minimum we if we see them in heat we at least mark it so that we can make plans for 3 weeks later. This is maddening though if you want early kids. Sometimes does only cycle once in September or they cycle so late that “three weeks later” is no longer possible for senior kids. There is nothing more frustrating than having a doe in a strong, standing heat and not being able to do anything about it because you have class or something else keeping you from dropping everything and breeding her.

That was the case last night. Yodel was in a strong heat and willing to stand for a buck. So far we have had no showable doe kids from Yodel – so crossing her was not really an option this early in the year. Instead we thought we would breed her to Flash- our new young Togg buck (that is why he is there after all). Well, being an April kid he was very excited and had no idea what to do. I’m sure that if a doe kid we didn’t want bred was in heat around him he would figure it out…but since we wanted him to breed a doe – no such luck. The idea was there, the action wasn’t. Now what are you going to do? You can’t drive her anywhere this late, your Togg buck won’t do anything – saving the day once again is the magic of AI.

It was literally as simple as we looked at our semen list, picked out a buck to use and decided to give it a go. Inseminate her and hope it works. Now reality is she may not settle. In fact there is a high possibly she will have to be re-bred in 3 weeks. However she most certainly would have to be rebred if we did nothing.

We’ll know in in 3 weeks if it takes but even if it doesn’t – at least I don’t go to bed figuring I wasted the chance to breed a doe in heat. If for no other reason – this has to be one of the greatest reasons to start seriously looking at AI for a herd. No one can keep all the bucks they need for a small herd – this makes it possible to actually breed does the way you want to.

August 23, 2011

North Valley Summer Show

North Valley DGA, known for their May show up in Red Bluff, decided to do something different this summer and put on a mid August show for Sr does only.

I will admit that I dragged my feet a little on one more show. After a show nearly every weekend I wanted a break. But being the good sport I am (read humor here) I agreed to give it a try. Boy was I glad we did.

First let me say that normally that area in mid-summer is HOT but it was actually not to bad. We choose to get up early Saturday morning and drive up then instead of spending the night up there. Just like I sleep better in my own bed, I think the does do better when they can sleep in their own pasture and relax. It makes for an early morning, but as long as you have udders clipped and goats ready to go - it actually isn't that bad.

We only took our Togg milkers. Lanney came too just to be sure we had the numbers, but we did not end up needing her so she was not shown. The show was divided up in a 4-ring circus style so that 4 breeds show at once. This is great because you get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time, however if you bring more than one breed it is very difficult. With the exception of Thistle, who is not a strong saanen competitor, the Toggs are our only older does. Yearlings have a really hard time winning in a big show. Judges feedback is important, but for this show we were packing light and trying to do it easy by just bringing one breed.

All three of our does placed really well. Yodel placed 2nd in 3 rings (standing right behind the champion twice), Xymphony placed first in every ring, and Keegan was second in all 4 rings. The best part was both Xymphony and Keegan earned a Reserve Grand Champion award!! A big reward in the competitive Togg area.

Overall I came home with a very positive feeling. Not only are the Toggs headed in the right area, we are starting to be known among the larger breeders. People are beginning to see us as comrades and there is nothing more exciting than seeing your hard work start to pay off.

Only a few more shows to go this season and we finish with the big hurrah of putting on our own show - it will be crazy!

July 31, 2011

Boys will be boys

We took several of the goats hiking (post to follow at some point) and this picture was just too good not to share. As it turns out the idea that boys cannot pass a stick without picking them up is not a concept limited to human males. Arabica (in the picture) had to grab a stick and play with it when he saw it! Such a clown!!