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!!

July 25, 2011

Katie and her Boys

Katie lying with "her" two boys in front of her


So anytime people tell me that goats don’t think or have feeling or anything like that I might bring this story up.



Katie is a beloved member of the herd. All but one of the full lamanchas born this year originated with her. In many ways she really is the herd matriarch for a good portion of the herd. However, she doesn’t usually make it on our show string. When we have lovely up-and-coming yearlings we want to take out, she usually stays at home. As a result, when a friend of ours asked to borrow a goat she was an easy choice. We thought of it as a 10 day vacation for Katie.


Katie did not feel this way. Outside of her herd she refused to eat and in a matter of 5 days lost almost 20 lbs. Poor Katie was so upset being away from her friends and most importantly away from “her boys”. After Argentina left to be a milker for someone else, we started putting Katie on the milkstand for Argentina’s two boys. Not the way we do it for the girls, but for the boys, it is not nearly as big of a deal. Soon the boys were so excited that they didn’t make it to the milk stand before nursing Katie out. Most does have a big problem with this, but not Katie, she just stood there waiting for them to finish. Then one day, I just opened the kid gate and they went running over to her (you could almost hear them calling in their high pitched voices “Grandma! Grandma!”) and like a perfect angel, Katie just stood there in the pasture letting them eat. Well that was that. The boys just stayed out with her from then on and “magically” her udder was completely empty.


Once she came home Katie was so glad to see those boys – I think she has gotten quite attached to them. Right away she took them back and went running over to the feeder. Within just a few days she had gain most of the weight back and was back to mothering the boys.

July 20, 2011

County Fairs

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind with one county fair after another. First we had 5 4Hers (and 5 goat kids) at our local San Joaquin County Fair. This was followed by taking our “show string” to attend Alameda county fair. County fairs are a lot different than standard goat shows (sometimes called “club shows”) in several ways.



First, you often stay there longer than at a standard show. Most club shows have you come in Friday night or Saturday morning and rarely stay past Sunday afternoon. During a fair you usually stay for the better part of a week.


Second there are rarely public (non-goat people) in attendance at club shows. Not that anyone should think of not coming to a club show who is interested in goats, I love talking to new people at goat shows, but a lot of questions you get at a fair you don’t get at club show. In fact I would say there are 3 popular questions that people ask at a fair.


1. They ask why we cut off their ears (the Lamanchas)? Sometimes the fair has signs up and sometimes we put signs up, but no matter what we do, we always seem to have that question posed to us. I suppose since dogs get their ears cropped the idea of cutting outer cartilage off of an animal’s ear is not that far off. And I feel like we should at least respect that they were willing to go out and get the right answer. Better that, then forever passing around miss information. We, of course, do not cut the ear off – they are born this way. Depending on the other animals around we may get asked if we cut their horns off too. If the only goats around are dairy goats (and they are all disbudded) then we only get that question once maybe twice during the full time there. However if there are other goats in the general area who have horns (either at a petting zoo, or at Alameda the breeding meat goats were nearby) then we get this question a whole lot more.


2. What are those things on their neck? Speaking of course about the wattles. Now to be fair, I think I would ask this question too. I mean, wattles are never seen in the pictures or models. Images nearly always show animal with a smooth neck. And since this is usually the only exposure people have had to goats, it is understandable that this question gets asked. We always try to let them touch the wattles (and most of our goats are totally willing to be petted) and it is highly amusing as people tentatively reach out and touch the goat’s neck. Somehow they are really worried that the goat is just going to turn and bite them I guess. Too bad no one shows pictures of goats not having top front teeth and that they are not going to bite anyone.


3. The third question we get CONSTANTLY is “where are the pigs”. I have no idea what it is about pigs that everyone wants to see. Is it because they are in story books? Or is it because they are so unusual? I have no idea. I personally do not find them all that fascinating but someone does I guess! Most fairs have a rotation of animals (if they are large enough) so that livestock – things that go to market like market lambs, market hogs, and market steer usually come in during a different time than the dairy animals I always feel bad that I have to tell them there are no pigs around.


Please don’t think that I don’t like answering questions. I love fairs because you get to really brighten someone’s day by letting them get close to the livestock. Nothing can beat pulling out a goat kid from the pen and letting a human kid really pet or hug the goat. Personally I feel a deep connection with the fairs because that was when I first encountered goats and really for a child living in a major metropolitan area, where else would you encounter them? Without our local county fair, I can’t even imagine where I would be in life. You never know what little thing will change you life…


July 15, 2011

Watsonville 2011

Watsonville is another of my favorite shows. Maybe it is time to be honest – they are all one of my favorites. However Watsonville always lands right into the middle of the summer. Right about the time when it is reaching 103° in the central valley, right about that time when you think you are going to die of the heat – we head to the coast for a weekend vacation.



A few years ago when we really started to get serious about the goat breeding (after we were both ready to work hard with our breeding program) we started to notice we began moving up the line. Going from the bottom half to the middle third of the line. This year I am happy to say that few exceptions we stood at the top ½ of the line consistently. The Lamanchas are very competitive in that area and it felt great to get three of our girls in the champion line-up. Berkeley, our rising star of the show, took 2 reserve grand champion awards. Bolivia stood at the top of her class and looked lovely in the champion line-up. Bamboo took a reserve champion in the first ring and then earned her dry leg with a grand champion win in the second ring. Biscotti was the big surprise – we added her in the last ring to make up for pulling Bamboo out so there would be enough goats to make the win count. As the only jr kid, she won her class, however I was stunned when the judge decided to go down to her for the Grand champion. What makes her win even more ironic is that she was for sale all weekend!


The young yearling milkers did respectable with Arizona standing at the top of her class or near the top in all the classes. Keegan also did very well standing second to the doe who went Grand Champion in the AOP division.


Overall we had a great few days getting away from the heat and hanging out on the coast.


Next adventure is taking the Lamancha does up to a show in Oregon. The first out of state show exhibition in the history of the Cadence herd! Exciting!!

July 01, 2011

Katie and her Boys

So anytime people tell me that goats don’t think or have feeling or anything like that I might bring this story up.



Katie is a beloved member of the herd. All but one of the full lamanchas born this year originated with her. In many ways she really is the herd matriarch for a good portion of the herd. However, she doesn’t usually make it on our show string. When we have lovely up-and-coming yearlings we want to take out, she usually stays at home. As a result, when a friend of ours asked to borrow a goat she was an easy choice. We thought of it as a 10 day vacation for Katie.


Katie did not feel this way. Outside of her herd she refused to eat and in a matter of 5 days lost almost 20 lbs. Poor Katie was so upset being away from her friends and most importantly away from “her boys”. After Argentina left to be a milker for someone else, we started putting Katie on the milkstand for Argentina’s two boys. Not the way we do it for the girls, but for the boys, it is not nearly as big of a deal. Soon the boys were so excited that they didn’t make it to the milk stand before nursing Katie out. Most does have a big problem with this, but not Katie, she just stood there waiting for them to finish. Then one day, I just opened the kid gate and they went running over to her (you could almost hear them calling in their high pitched voices “Grandma! Grandma!”) and like a perfect angel, Katie just stood there in the pasture letting them eat. Well that was that. The boys just stayed out with her from then on and “magically” her udder was completely empty.



Katie relaxing with her boys
 Once she came home Katie was so glad to see those boys – I think she has gotten quite attached to them. Right away she took them back and went running on to the feeder. Within a day she was looking better and within a week she had gained the weight back. I think she just missed home and “her” boys

June 10, 2011

Tattooing Lamancha Tails

As a Lamancha breeder there comes a time each year when you have to get the tattoo pliers out and put a tattoo in the poor little kid’s tails. The Saanens and Toggenburgs don’t know how easy they have it – their tattoos go in the ear, the poor Lamanchas get theirs in their tail.



So let’s start with the obvious question, why tattoo at all? Even though it is not a fun job, I would encourage every goat owner to get their animal tattooed. This is important method of identification. Even if you only have a goat in your backyard and never want to take your goat across state lines or even down the road, things can happen. You never know when a goat is going to discover a weak point in your fence and push its way under the fence for a tour of the neighborhood. And, much sadder, there are always the case of stolen animals. I once had a young animal taken directly from its pen and thankfully I was able to tell the police that, yes I did have a defining mark on it – it had already been tattooed. Why not microchips you ask? Well for pets this is a great option, but the reality of having a working herd of dairy goats is that not all animals will forever be a pet and microchips could become a big problem if the goat ever entered the meat market.


So how do you begin? Well first you wait. The Toggs and Saanens could probably get tattooed at a day old (although we try to group them so they are usually around 3 weeks) but the Lamanchas need time to grow those tails. We don’t usually bother tattooing them until at least 2 months old. You want to make sure there is enough tissue on both sides of the bone so that you can get letters into the tail. In my opinion it is better to lose a jr leg on 1 month old kid because she has no tattoo then to have to re-tattoo her at 1 year old because the tattoo is no longer readable.


So the first step is cleaning the tail. You will want at least 1 helper for the whole procedure. Although it is possible to do it solo – it is not fun or easy. Have your helper secure the hind of the kid. Whether this means putting the kid’s head in the milk stand and securing its back legs and rump or if it means holding the kid between the helper’s legs so that the kid’s legs can be held and the helper’s legs secure the middle section so the kid can’t go running forward. Clean the tail with rubbing alcohol so that it does not have dirt or anything to block the pins. Baby wipes work well to clean all the dirt off and then a paper towel or second baby wipe with alcohol to sterilize the area. Once the tail is clean keep hold of the kid so it can’t go running around and get dust in your clean work.



Cleaning the tail


Clean and alcohol sterilized tail

Get you tattoo pliers set up with the correct letters for either the herd tattoo or for the year tattoo. CHECK THE SEQUENCE ON PAPER FIRST!!!! It is not fun to have to put an extra tattoo in the ear or tail if you mess up!!!



Once the tail is clean, have the helper hold the tail up, but don’t stretch it tight. When you stretch it you take away skin that you can punch. Ideally you want the tattoo positioned about 2/3 of the way down the tail. It is hard to read when it is hidden in the tail web, but it is harder to read when it is up near the end of the tail because there is not enough skin. Find a place where you can reach enough skin to punch successfully. You can line it up over and over again before you punch – but you only want to punch once.



Add the pliers up before you punch
  
Once you have the tail still and the pins lined up, punch. Punch ONCE! And Punch HARD! It is supposed to bleed a little. If it doesn’t bleed you may not have punched hard enough. At least there should be holes that you can see easily in the tail. 

Aim for towards the center of the tail web or 2/3 down from the end of the tail. (you should be able to see the holes in this skin on the right side of the picture)

Once you have punched one side take your pliers back and swap letters. You could start rubbing ink into the side you just punched, but we find that the pliers and the tattoo letters stay cleaner if you do all the punching and then rub the ink in. Punch the other side the same way that you punched the first side.

Line up for second punch

There will be blood - that is alright, it means you got a good clean punch.
*** The Herd tattoo goes on the goat’s RIGHT side (or right tail web) and the Year tattoo goes on the goat’s LEFT side***



Once you have punched both sides, rub ink all over the tail and rub hard into the holes. I have always found a finger works better than a brush or anything like that because you can really push the ink into the holes.


Rub the ink in well so that you cannot see the dots any more.


Finally let the poor tortured kid go and eat something – they always feel better after food. Ideally you want to leave the tail alone until the ink falls off on its own. This is ensure the proper healing occurs. Don’t wipe it off just for curiosity sake – you will just mess with it, better to wait several weeks so that you have a good tattoo.

June 03, 2011

REDGA 2011

The Redwood Empire Dairy Goat Assn or REDGA puts on a two day show every year over memorial day weekend and it is one of the best shows of the year for several reasons.


First, nationally known breeders bring their animals out for a spectacular show. Last year the judge was so moved by the champion Saanen line-up, she actually got choked up over the mic. The quality of animals brought to this show is really impressive. When you choose animals to go you really have your “REDGA” quality animals and the rest of the herd.


Secondly their junior show is done “four ring circus” style so that you get to let other people help and you get to help other people show their goats. There is nothing quite like being handed an animal to make it look good only to have it move up 4 or 5 places. The second most important thing about showmanship is to feel comfortable and look confident. The best way to do that is to practice, practice, practice, and there is no better place to practice than in lots of breed classes all at once. It really makes you feel more comfortable about being in the show ring. It reminds you that the show ring is not some scary place, but a place to show off the animals you have. We love having 4Her come out and try their hand at showing.


Finally they do an amazing job of recognizing the youth exibitors. As someone who came up through the 4H program and is now a 4H leader, I think it is so important to recognize those exhibitors. On both Saturday and Sunday they have 1 ring which recognizes the best youth owned doe in show. They also give the kids shirts and make sure to have fun activities (like a costume contest) that adults may not enjoy but that the younger exhibitors really get excited about. Many of the exibitors only know a few other people who raise goats – so it is shows like these which get the kids interacting to really make friendship of people with mutual interests.


This year our breed placings were both exciting and pleasing. The big star was Keegan, who, at less than 2 weeks fresh won Reserve Grand Champion in the Togg specialty ring. We were so excited!!!! We also got to see her mother who looked beautiful at 10 years old and still milking! Argentina received a second Reserve Grand Champion award and all the other kids stood near the tops of their classes. The unfortunate thing about the “4 ring circus” is that if you are showing more than one breed – you often miss that is going on in one of your other breeds. I was monitoring the Lamancha and grade show (making sure the right kids took the right kids into the ring) and didn’t get to see the Saanen show at all – I guess that is what next year is for!!

May 26, 2011

Weekend activity?

Bored up in the Bay Area this weekend? Want to come see a goat show? Come over to REDGA Saturday or Sunday and enjoy one of the best shows of the season!



Go to www.redga.org for full flyer details!

(and I am sure I will blog about the results next week sometime)

May 22, 2011

Red Bluff (NVDGA) Show 2011

We attended the Red Bluff – North Valley DGA show last year for the first time. The fairgrounds have a lovely set up with pens large enough for the does to spread out and a beautiful grassy area where the owners can set up tents.  Last year we had a great time camping and enjoying the people.  This year we enjoyed seeing people – but the weather was as uncooperative as possible.
After a few days of 90° weather in late April we were inspired to clip everyone enough to be ready for the show. All the kids got a full clip and the milkers were mostly clipped (with an udder clip). Boy did the weather play a trick on us. The balmy 70-80’s dropped down into the 40’s with a wind and rain chill. Few things are less fun than tent camping in the rain with water blowing into the tent.
The does (who now have almost no hair) were very cold and miserable. They do not like being cold and the fact that water was involved was just too much. They all looked hunched up and cold. Even looking that way, Arizona had a great weekend. She placed first on the first day and second on the second day! Out of a large class of almost 8 other goats, we couldn’t be prouder! The rest of our does fell somewhere in the middle of their classes, but with that weather – I couldn’t fault them if they lay down on the ground and refused to get up. I certainly felt like doing that.
Our kids were somewhat of a mixed bag. Most of them we put coats on in an attempt to keep them warm. While it made it possible to keep them comfortable while in their pens, I think it made them colder when we took them off to put them in the show ring – creating the same hunched up appearance as their older counterparts.
Bermuda looked beautiful and incredible long and won her junior leg. This means that she probably won’t come with us in many future shows this year but still I’m excited to have another doe with that start to her show career. Bamboo took first in one ring and almost made reserve junior champion. When the judge announced she was going with a different goat, Bamboo was royally offended and turned and screamed (and yes, she screamed, not just hollered or maa’ed) at the judge. Thankfully the judge was good natured enough to laugh along with us at Bamboo. Berkeley really impressed us by placing second in her class several times just behind or in several cases, between several animals out of top herds.  Overall we were really proud of our junior does and how they did in their classes.
Even our successes did not outweigh the relief we felt upon returning to our house which was significantly drier and a tad bit warmer. All the goats were glad to be able to wait out the storm in their own shelter and huddle with the rest of the herd for warmth.
Hopefully the next show coming up this weekend will be just as enjoyable with the people and the goats and several times more enjoyable with the weather.

May 10, 2011

First Show 2011

For the past few years we have been on a schedule – the show season starts with the closest show. At only 40 minutes away, we can bring lots of kids, we can bring all our 4Hers, and overall a great show to ease into the season.
Last Saturday as we were discussing who to bring and who the 4Hers could do showmanship with, we were suddenly confronted with an upheaval to our nice little plans. They were looking for an emergency replacement judge down in Chino for a 3 ring, 1 day show. Taking one for the team (and because it sounded really fun!), we agreed to head down south and bypass the close show.
We still sent a few 4Hers with their leased goats up north to do showmanship and practice. Reports indicate that one of our 4Her’s even got a special trophy for the Lamamcha specialty show! Sometimes it is good to know some things can run without us.
Since I would be the only one showing, we had to make sure we had only one goat per class. Most shows we can get away with more goats in each class since we can both be showing. Additionally because we see most of the same people at all the shows we normally go to  - we can always ask our friends to help us out. This time around I was going solo and wanted to make sure I was only showing one per class. So we took 3 senior does to show (Arizona, Alba, Xymphony) and 4 jr does (Bolivia, Brea, Bianca, and Ballad). A mishap with Brea’s papers meant that we did not get to show her and Yodel came along for the ride since she would be very uncomfortable without Ballad.
I got the opportunity to deliver the second Saanen wether to his new home where he is to be a slightly spoiled pack goat. I had seen the ad asking for a bottle baby Saanen back in February and figured there was no way I would be able to get a goat all the way down there, even if one of my boys was a good fit. This trip made it all work out. There is nothing that warms your heart more than seeing one of your animals go to a new loving home. I have no doubt he will be very happy down there.
It was cool to see so many other people who we don’t normally see and compete against lots of animals you don’t on a regular basis. The highlight of the show was Bolivia going Reserve Jr champion. She walked out in the that ring like she was a star. Ballad and Bianca did not act as polite (although they placed respectably in their classes). Bianca walked through the ring hunched up and cold while Ballad danced on 2 legs most of the time. That is part of what the show season is for – teach the animals a few manners and how to behave like little ladies.
After a 7 hour drive down and a 12+ hour day of showing and judging we loaded everyone back up and headed home. Although we arrived at 4am (and had to milk a very angry Katie) it was a really fun experience and a great change of pace.

April 29, 2011

Adorable Pictures

You know those shots that are too cute for words? Enjoy a picture one of our newest Lamancha kids - Belize.

April 24, 2011

Spring continues...

There is so much to write about and no time to actually do it (I gave you fair warning didn’t I???) I will try to finish my ½ written blog about our newest purchased herd addition because getting her was quite an adventure both in the preordering her and then actually obtaining her. However I think that it really deserves its own entry to I will leave that story for later.



In all brief updates (other blogs I should write) there are many animals who have left the herd as well. This year Zaire, Zinfandel, Annie, and Fritter were all sold to new homes. Ysis left to go live at a dairy although we will receive doe kids in the future back from her. When we dropped her off she took one look at the large empty feed bunk and didn’t hesitate. I have no doubt that she is having a delightful time eating as much as she wants as often as she wants in exchange for milking.


Several of the kids have gone too. Katie’s boys both went as herd sires to herds up north. One of Arizona boys also went as a herd sire and the other has a wonderful home as a pet where I have no doubt he is cuddled and well loved. One of Yodel’s boys went as a herd sire on the coast and one Saanen boy is leaving soon as well. Three other boys were also sold and it makes the pasture look much more reasonable to have a few less animals.


All the other kids have collar now too. They are wearing the large plastic chained collars which stretch and break should they actually get caught. Plus it means we do not have to pick them up and carry them because we can all practice leading and walking by the collar (in preparation for show season that starts in a mere 2 weeks!!)


Finally we had nearly our last set of kids born this week. The remaining two alpines bred to Brazil came over and gave us buck doe twins each. Ziggy seems rather surprised to see them at our house. They look a lot like her so it was pretty funny to watch her get confuse why we brought them here. Zulu’s doe is a beautiful solid black with a lot of personality. Zulu comes from a dancer line so I think the kid is getting the name Bossanova. Kahlua’s doe is beautifully colored and her coloring is similar to her half-brother, Kastdemur’s Watch Yourself with black front and back and a large white belt with spots intermixed. As she is from a dessert line, her daughter is named Biscotti.


Argentina surprised us to know end by delivering triplets – 2 bucks and 1 doe. Quite a lot of kid for one little yearling! The doe came inside for a few days so that mom could concentrate on feeding 2 kids. 3 kids is just a little overwhelming for a first time mom. When Artemis kidded a few days later with a single doe kid, we graphed Belize (Argentina’s daughter) on to her so that she now has a mom to look after her in the field. She may still get extra bottles here and there (or more accurately Artemis’s daughter Buri may get a bottle since Belize is pretty quick to that udder) to help her grow well, but now she has a goat mom to teach her how to be a goat.


Wheeeew, I think that is all the important things that have been happening here. More about shows as they happen, although with the quarter as crazy as it has been I doubt I will be back on a regular blogging frequency until after I finish with school.

April 01, 2011

Saanen Doe kid

 Since I am the one who is writing this entry – I am going to write about my beautiful Saanen doe. I really need to stop telling people “Oh we are breeding 3 saanens, I’m sure that we will have lots of Saanen doe kids.” Yea, every time I say this I end up with nothing. This year Azalea tricked us; she gave us a doe, but it was not a Saanen. Well then Zinfandel gave me Saanen kids but no does. So that meant it was down to Alba. What’s more is Alba had more than just this year’s hopes resting on her. She was bred to a buck (Auric) who is just gorgeous and I love dearly and this is the third year I have used him.

Auric - beautiful sire

The first year I used him was way back when Thistle was a 2 year old first freshener. Sadly she kidded when no one was around and the kids did not survive. Then I used him again when Vanilla (Willow’s older full sister by one year) was a first freshener but she kidded with a giant single buck kid, still no doe kids. Since Auric is getting older, I figured Alba was probably my last chance to get a doe kid from him. Needless to say A LOT was riding on this breeding and I was definitely holding my breath.

Awww I think she is smiling
Thankfully Alba came through for me! She delivered (by herself, without our help) a beautiful single doe kid – full Saanen and thoroughly lovable. Perfectly white with the correct upright ears – all Saanen.



For a name, AlbariƱo is a type of grapes, so then I wanted another name that was a variety of grapes. Finally we settled on Bianchetta (which literally means, little white grapes, but is also a variety of grapes) or Bianca for short.


March 27, 2011

Rain and Mud

First Disclaimer: This is the end of spring break (which isn’t actually a break for graduate students, just a “go to lab everyday” time) and the next quarter promises to be very difficult with a combination of teaching and taking a very difficult class. You will have to forgive me for 10 weeks if I don’t get many blogs posted. I’ll try, but they might be short and infrequent.
Rain has hit us hard here. Now, I know many people across the country have to deal with snow, but since I don’t, I can only talk about the rain. It is not so bad that there is water falling from the sky, which makes hay wet and everything else wet, but goats are allergic to water. I mean they like it in a bucket and need it to drink, but if it is on them! Oh the drama!
Plus with the rain bring the wind and the mud.
The wind is easy enough to take care of – you but up some boards and make sure there are plenty of wind blocks (in lots of directions because somehow as soon as you break the southernly wind the northern one starts up. But the mud!
Oh the mud is everywhere. There are puddles that don’t drain in the middle of the pasture. There are places where my feet get stuck to the point of pulling my boot off! Then there are the goats. They look horrible they are muddy and spotty and dirty and just plain gross. The white does are in no way white and the brown does seem to have lighter brown spots on them. The kids legs are muddy and they put horrible muddy foot prints on all your clothes. I have gone through more jeans this week because of it!!
I know we need the rain, but I need the sun!! I need the pasture to dry out! I need the clover to grow back. Right now nothing can grow. All the little tomatoes I planted – dying of water overload and wind. It is really all too much.
But in the wise words – This too shall pass. Until then, time for mud boots.

March 21, 2011

One Thousand Page Views!!

Thank you to EVERYONE who has read the blog, once, twice, or regularly. We have crossed one thousand page views!!! I'm so excited you all enjoy reading the blog!!!

Buying Grain - in bulk

Once upon a time I owned one small goat. We feed her one bag of grain a month (spread out of course). Once that little doe was milking we bought a couple 50lb bags a month. Eventually when her daughters were milking too I got up to 5 bags or so a month. Never in a million years did I think I would every buy grain by the ½ ton – honestly I didn’t even know it existed until a few years back. Now that is the most popular way we buy grain.



Every year we start off buying the first few rounds of grain in sacks. It is easy when we need 1 or 2 bags to get us through a few weeks. Plus it helps to replenish our grain sack stash. After you use the bags for a year or more they start to really wear out.


Then once the milkers start producing and we have plenty of milkers, it is time to go buy in bulk. Find a sunny day, line to bed of the truck with a clean tarp, and off we go.


The cool thing about buying in bulk is that you can decide what you want to milk in. Sometimes we want to add a little extra molasses, sometimes we feel like we want to boost the protein, or maybe we want some other feed additive put in – whatever we want, we can put in! So then we wait around while the feed gets mixed up and ready for us. We position the truck under the shoot and shortly they are dumping it into the bed of the truck.


Of course the real work begins when we get home. We have the great fun of shoveling (and I do mean shoveling – with a shovel) into a bags and a trash can to actually feed to the goats. 1000lbs of grain usually goes into 10 or 11 full bags of grain, or a trash can and a few less bags.










Here’s hoping that it will last a few months at least!

March 14, 2011

Bippity Boppity Boo

I am a little behind but mostly I think that is simply from too many things to do and not enough hours to do it. However I briefly had to post about Annie’s little twins.
Annie was our last kid born last year, at the beginning of May and as a result she was handled less than our older girls. She was a bit wild and a bit skittish. If you caught her she calmed down and behaved fine, but first you had to catch her. This is the down side to having a herd that is over a certain number. The animals who are friendly get more attention and as long as the less friendly ones are eating and seem content you don’t chase them down and handle them. Annie fell to the second set. We would see her eating with her mother, we would see her happily lying in the sunshine, and we would catch her to trim hooves and make sure she was alright but we didn’t handle her daily. As a result we missed the fact that she was definitely pregnant.
Sure we noticed she was round, but she was also VERY furry. I mean, for goodness sakes, she is a Togg. Then we noticed she was growing a small udder, but it was pretty covered with fur and she comes from strong milking lines so there was always a possibility that it was just a precocious udder. We went round and round in our own minds. She was so small… when could she have gotten bred? Wouldn’t we have noticed?
Finally over our “kidding weekend” one of our friends asked when Annie was due. Sigh, I guess it was time to face reality. So finally after Azalea kidded we tried chasing her down. It took quite some effort but we finally caught her. Sure enough – there was definitely a baby we could feel. Since we didn’t want to run around the pasture every time we wanted to catch her – we put her in with Arabica (well! She was already pregnant at this point!)
A week and a half later Annie delivered a beautiful set of buck/doe twins. They are the most adorable things ever. Perfect Toggenburg markings with little Lamancha ears, truly precious. Annie was such a good mother and a good milker. Shortly after she went to live at her new home where her milk is helping to raise calves, but the two kids stayed with us. I’m sure there will be many pictures of the two of them, but for now here is one shot of them and yes, we are calling the doe Bippity Boppity Boo.

March 04, 2011

Saanen kids at last

I am a skeptic. Maybe I secretly hope for the best but I plan for the worst and expect it to come. I suppose in some ways this means life occasionally gives me good surprises but mostly it means when good things come my friends have one more thing to tease me about.
Well it was the same last fall when Zinfandel didn’t come back into heat  after 21 days I held my breath. We had tried breeding her by AI twice and I was only going to give it 2 rounds before I took her for natural service. AI – or artificial insemination tends to be a hit and miss thing. In 2009 we bred 2 lamanchas (one time for one and two times for the other) and had 2 sets of kids. We also bred 1 Toggenburg and had no Togg AI kids. In 2010 we bred 1 Saanen twice and 1 Togg 3 times (she didn’t settle by AI at all). Zinfandel didn’t come back into heat BUT I caught Arabica out at least once near the time when she was in heat. I told my friends I would not believe that the AI had worked until those kids came out with long white ears.
To make me even more skeptical and worried Azalea ends up with a little grade Lamancha cross after breeding her specifically to a Saanen buck. Now I was truly worried. The doe that I have taken to the breeder to have serviced by a live buck and I never saw even close to the Lamancha pen kids with a cross so what was going to happen to the doe that I AI’ed and saw near the Lamancha buck pen.
Saturday morning rolled around and Zinfandel looked to definitely be in labor. She kidded with no problems and no assistant needed and guess what… the kids had perfectly shaped Saanen ears and were white all over!!!! It worked!!! I can now say I have successfully settled a doe with AI!!!  The small downside was that they were both bucks so no does this year (last year our 2 sets of AI kids ended up being 3 does) but now I can add AI bucks to the list of potential sires. And yes – I am already plotting next year’s breeding plans including some cool AI crosses. I’m sure the skeptic will be back soon but until then I will go have a long chat with Alba about some Saanen doe kids ;-)

March 02, 2011

Creative weekend

This weekend seemed to spur creativity. I feel like I totally accomplished so much including planting radishes and beets and starting to set up another area for a small garden bed. However my best moment came when I had the brilliant idea to recycle.



So you know those really gross jobs that come with raising animals? The ones that involve lots of poo or other smelly things? We have two large dog carriers that we use to hold animals. Sometimes it is for transport and sometimes it is just for storing young animals. The last things these carriers were used for was holding the sheep (who we are raising up for meat) and they really needed a good cleaning before we wanted to put any little goats in them. Well then the question is what do you use to scrub them out? You want something stronger than paper towels, but you also want to throw it away after wards.


Then it hit me – before I throw away that nasty scrubbing pad that I have nearly killed doing the dishes – give it one last hurrah. So the old dish scrubber pad gets used (it was headed out anyway) and then it gets tossed!


This was again repeated (with a different scrubber pad) when I had to clean out the tub. When a kid is not looking strong or quite right and we want it to not have to maintain its body temperature, we often bring it in the house and put it in the (dry) tub. Well you can guess that the sick baby does not leave the tub spot less – so it is really nasty once it is strong enough to go back outside to mother. Once again – brilliant idea. Normally we just put a towel underneath, but why not put a paper bag. The bag is disposable and very inexpensive and it can be changed if the kid remains in the tub – so the poor thing is not rolling in the manure. Then at the end – everything can get scrubbed out with a pad to then toss.


This all worked perfectly until I found myself this morning with a clean tub and a different weak kid. Oh well – I tried.

February 24, 2011

Surprise, Surprise!

We only had 1 doe due to kid last weekend. Azalea is a Saanen yearling milker who was born last January and we decided to freshen in February so we would have some Saanen senior kids. You can recall our breeding/hiking adventure with Azalea back in September. Remember how she angry she was about getting taken all over the mountain? Remember how she did not enjoy the hiking at all? Well I’m afraid she got the last laugh.





Her daughter was born late Monday evening and while Azalea will tell you it was a horrible process it was not extremely eventful – until we saw the kid. Little Bamboo has tiny little elf ears! And instead of being solid white like Azalea and any good Saanen should be she has the palest brown patterning! In fact her brown pattern looks remarkably similar to her ½ brothers – Arizona’s boys. So instead of a senior Saanen kid Azalea gave us our senior Arabica kid we had been hoping for in the early does. Although I would have loved a Saanen doe, I’m grateful for another doe kid and if you’re going to have and experimental, a beautiful doe is the best way to have them.

February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteading

Normally I try to keep my posts based on our goats and the world of goats. However, even the title says “sometimes the lives of their owners” so I feel as though I am justified to write about something in the world around me.



There is a lot of hoopla going around the blogosphere right now on the topic of copyrighting and trademarking common terms including the terms Urban Homesteading. While I believe in private property, sometimes things get a little out of hand. In response (you can read more at many different sites – google it) people around the country are writing about what urban homesteading means to them.


I can’t honestly say that I consider myself an urban farmer. However, I would be hard pressed to consider myself a full time farmer, so I guess I fall somewhere in between. The goats provide us with milk and occasionally meat and we (try to) grow many vegetables in the summer time (okay – so I TOTALLY failed last year – but this year I am determined to improve).


But, all that aside, that is not way urban farming is so important to me. No, the reason why I feel like it is so important is because I was raised as a city kid but with this incredible streak of agriculture. We always had a large vegetable garden and my mom was canning fruits since I was very small. Homemade food was the norm, not the exception. However, my life took and even large ag based when I started into goats. When I was in 4th or 5th grade I decided I wanted to own an animal I could get my own milk from. Since I lived in the heart of San Jose, I figured my mother would never let me have a cow (she told me later I was right about that) so I set about finding a way to get a goat. Reading every book in the library and writing reports on the topic were the start. Then I spent a year cleaning up other peoples goats. After many hoops and convincing my parents this was not just a whim, I was able to get a goat right before I started high school. 4 years may not seem like long to an adult – but it felt like forever for me.


Regardless, I soon became that strange goat girl. Lots of “getting your goat” jokes. I have talked to friends who grew up in a more rural area, and somehow being in 4H or raising livestock didn’t make them stand out. It wasn’t the only thing anyone ever remembered about them. For me, I was weird and so were all my weird habits – like breeding goats, watching goats kid, or milking 2x a day. But you know what – I was connected to my food. I understood that what I put in the animal was what I could get out. Milk didn’t just come from a carton, no more than vegetables only come in a plastic bag to be microwaved.


This is why urban farming is so important to me. It takes people back to where their food came from. It makes more “weird” people like me who have crazy schedules so they can be home to milk twice a day. It makes people excited about agriculture again. It reminds people that what you put into your animals it what you get out. I am not here to bash modern agriculture practices and I don’t think that being a supporter of urban agriculture doesn’t mean I can’t be a strong supporter in modern agriculture. It is about connecting people to their food and the land that feeds them and the more of my fellow “city kids” I see excited about my passion – the more excited about urban homesteading I get.

February 19, 2011

Photographing Kids

So this year we have several people inquiring about buck kids. This is such a cool experience and I am excited to send them out. However before we confirm sales we need to send pictures. This makes a lot of sense; people want to know what animals look like before they purchase anything. If you have been to our website, or really most goat websites, you have seen goats posed from the side or rear to show them off. They stand still, they pinch down, overall they look really nice. Kids don’t really understand this – or adhere to the stand still policy…ever.


The weather was nice today so we went and found a few small collars and decided to embark on the “getting kid pictures” expedition.

I think this story is best told in pictures:


THIS is what kids do normally.

 
This is what they do when you put them on a collar. A few seconds before he was kicking his front legs like the toddler in the store.


This is what they do when you are not taking their pictures
But when you do try to take their pictures – well they scream
Which brings their worried mother running over…
  

Alternatively if they don't scream they become stiff

And then they climb on you instead of standing properly


And don't even bother trying to walk them around

Sigh, What are you going to do?



And then, as soon as you give up, they start peeing and pose themselves.