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.

February 14, 2011

The Dark Side of Raising Livestock

This weekend we had a doe kid with premature kids. They were beautiful buck/doe twins out of our young buck. They were not planned but once we realized she was pregnant we were very excited to have them. Sadly they did not make it through the weekend.
This is the sad reality of raising animals. It is the part they don’t tell you about and the part that is hard, no matter how many years you have been doing it.
What is interesting to me is how different I feel when I lose a newborn kid as oppose to when I send a kid to the butcher. When I send a kid to be butchered I feel like I have given it a good life. It got to spend several months playing with its siblings and with its mother. It was able to run around freely without a care in the world. It slept in the warm sun, jumped off the straw bales, and climbed on anything it could. Overall it had a good life. Maybe it was a short life, but to the best of my abilities it was a good life.
The newborns who die never had that shot. They were taken from their warm womb into a colder world and weren’t able to get past that point. They never got to have a life. They never had the chance to run with their siblings or sleep with their mother.  It just seems overwhelmingly sad. The two kids this weekend were particularly sad because they tried so hard to live. They kept breathing and eating until they couldn’t last any longer.
I know this is part of reality. I know that life and death happen. Kids are born and kids die – this is the cycle of life. We’ve learned to not get too attached until we know they are going to live. Kids don’t get names until we know they can make it. We really try to buffer ourselves from being too torn up about these loses, but somewhere deep inside I still feel sad. On one hand I should get used to the death, but on the other hand, being sad makes me a little more human. I never truly want to become so callused that these lost little lives don’t affect me.

February 10, 2011

Morning Nap Time

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post this picture. I went out to feed this morning and found Ysis' kids all warm and snuggled up in the feeder for their early morning nap. Nothing makes a better bed than remnants of alfalfa and brother's back!

February 08, 2011

Pictures of the Weekend's kids

Whew! All 15 of the little kids!

At a slightly different angle.

After last year's mostly cream/white kids - look at all the color!!!

Kidding Weekend Extravaganza 2011

We started kidding season out with a bang. Of course we knew we would – this is what happens when you bred 9 does in 2 days, but at least we get to have a head start on looking at our kids and evaluating them.
We timed our kiddings out so that ideally we would have 8 does kid over the weekend and they would be nearly evenly split between the two days. We didn’t want all the first fresheners to kids first because we wanted to make sure there was enough colostrum to go around. The advantage of having a clean herd is that we can feed milk and colostrum around without worries. Everyone has tested clean so it’s safe to use. We were going to start out with 3 does Saturday morning, 2 Saturday evening and 3 Sunday morning. Being animals they had to play games with us but at least they did all kid successfully.
Saturday morning started out going to check on Yodel at 7am (hours before anyone was supposed to start kidding). We found her in the later stages of labor and by 7:30 she had produced a beautiful set of triplets for us. 2 bucks and 1 doe – believe it or not, it works out perfectly since we had a buck reservation and we wanted to be sure we had a buck for ourselves and one doe to complete the package. A perfect early surprise.
There was then a long holding pattern (much to the disappointments of the first set of 4Hers) where no one wanted to kid. Well they must have decided collectively that the sun was at the right position in the sky because Katie, Ziggy, and Ysis all kidded within 40 minutes of each other. Katie, who has given us 4 does in 3 years and nothing else, decided to change things up and deliver 2 bucks this year. Personally I think she is regretting the decision since she seems to be fed up with their desire to wander in opposite directions instead of sleeping where she put them. Boys! Ziggy gave us a lovely set of buck/doe twins nearly all black. She delivered nearly sitting in her owner’s lap – but we all need moral support now and then right? Both kids seem to be doing great although Ziggy seems to be overwhelmed at times with this mothering thing. Last year Ysis gave us cream and white triplets. This year she gave us buck/doe twins who are somewhere between silver and brown. Beautiful, leggy and amazing color. As a Saanen breeder I am always stunned by the colors we get.
Fritter waited until late in evening and had an overall rough time with the whole kidding process. Since Ziggy will be leaving us to go home to her owner about the time that we need to start weaning doe kids we had decided that if we could swap doe kids we are keeping with any buck kids she had this would work great. Once mommy is gone weaning becomes much easier. So we took Fritter’s lovely Togg colored doe and swapped it for Ziggy’s little boy. He seemed fine with the whole thing and Fritter took him with absolutely no argument. Ziggy was a little surprised with the change but judging from the doe’s stomach this morning – Ziggy is feeding and mothering her with no objections and doesn’t seem to notice that her “daughters” have different shaped ears.
The next day (Sunday) we had 3 more does to kid. Arizona and Zaire kidded within 30 minutes of each other and seemed to be trying to support each other during labor since they were laying nearby for a large portion of the time. Arizona – who was bred to Arabica for our desired senior Lamancha kids from him, delivered twin bucks. They are gorgeous both in terms of their apricot white color and their long frame and flat bones – I just wish they were girls. Arizona has been rather miserable for the last week and half or so and although the kidding was not a difficult delivery, she seemed to be exhausted afterwards. We gave her some pain medication and is doing much better. Zaire gave us our only full Lamancha senior kid. A beautiful solid black/brown doe with what apparently in rabbits is termed “gold tipped fur”. Already a stunning kid she was up and eating faster than her light chamoise brother, she definitely has a lot of spunk.
Thistle was the last to kid and took a very long time with the processes. She is a stunning example of why does should kid out young and not wait until they are older. One goat keeper explained it to us that the bones seem to fuse together making delivery that much harder. Her first doe kid was not that large but somehow the head was positioned slightly wrong so it took extra effort to get her out. She gave us a beautiful second doe kid next for a set of twin doe kids. Devastatingly when I went out to check on her and her kids, no more than an hour later, she had accidently laid on the second kid, most likely in a contraction, and had killed it. I know these things happen and she didn’t do it on purpose, but it doesn’t make them any easier. Fortunately she still had the first doe kid and seems to be mothering her well. Another beautiful white Saancha kid to add to our lovely grades from this weekend.
In conclusion the total currently stands at 6 doe 9 bucks
Yodel: 2 bucks 1 doe (Toggs)
Ysis: 1 buck 1 doe (3/4 Lamancha)
Katie: 2 bucks (Lamancha)
Zaire: 1 buck 1 doe (LM)
Ziggy: 1 buck 1 doe (½ LM ½ Alpine)
Arizona: 2 bucks (LM)
Fritter: 1 doe (3/4 Togg)
Thistle 1 doe (½ LM ½ Saanen)

February 05, 2011

Kidding 2011 starts!

Kidding season started today. After 4 does kidding today with a total of 9 kids born and one more still out there thinking about it, I'll admit that I am too tired to write all about the day. So instead I will leave you with some pictures to enjoy

The day started off with triplet Toggs from Yodel! A beautiful little doe kid and two large buck kids

Our six beautiful Brazil kids. Solid black kid on the far right is a doe from Ziggy (the alpine) and the brownish kid next to her is a doe from Ysis. All the rest are boys, including twin bucks from Katie. She must be proving that she CAN have bucks after having 3 pregnancies with 4 doe kids. A proof that I never really needed but that okay - lots more kids to come!