Friday, July 29, 2011

Today's Take 7/29/11

* Goats Milk, 9 ounces
* Eggs, 5
* Radishes, 12 ounces (Pulled the last of them, teeny though they were, to make room for another row of corn.)
* Oregano & Lavender, for a birthday bouquet ;)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's Take 7/28/11

The goats' milk production is bouncing back, thank goodness! Adding the alfalfa to their diet seems to have made the difference. I guess that the local orchard grass hay just didn't have enough good stuff in it. Crisis *hopefully* averted. ;)

*Radishes, 1 pound
*Eggs, 7
*Goats Milk, 12 ounces

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things I Learned from Fritzen

Fritzen is the herd boss.  She's the oldest of the mini-lamanchas and the toughest.  She rules the roost and Chardy, Blue, Gertie and all their babies make way for her.  She is a tough old goat and has a beard to match.  I don't think I really knew her though until we started milking.

Every time we think we have the hang of something they throw something new our way.  Two days ago I went outside to milk them and it was windy and cloudy.  Chardy hopped right up on the table because I think she both likes being milked and eating the grain we give them in their bin as a bribe.  She milks out fast and not as much as Fritzen so off she went back into the pen.  I collected Fritzen and hopped her up on the table.

One side of her milked out, it takes more time with Fritzen and I switched to the other.  Then the rain started. By started I don't mean there were a few drops here and there before it went to a steady light shower or drizzle.  I mean God turned on the shower kind of rain.  I was sans coat and Fritzen munched on her grain for a few moments as she watched her babies and pen mates run into their little goat house.  A few moments after that she was pulling back on the milking stand.

Now I'm paranoid about them getting mastitis, an infection and sometimes blockage of their udders.  You avoid that by milking them all the way out each time.  I know their babies are still drinking a bit but still, I worry so there we sit as I quietly encourage her to be patient.  She begins doing the riverdance with her hindquarters, turns her head around, looks at me with her one eye, sticks out her tongue and literally screams at me.  I put my hat on her head to see if that helps her block out the rain.  She screams again.  And again, and again and again......

I wait a few minutes until I know she's milked out a little bit and drag her back to the pen.  She is, needless to say, a bit crabby and I am soaked (even after Chelle sent Livy up with my raincoat).

Lately she has been only letting me milk out one side.  She doesn't let her milk down on the other side for some reason.  Both sides have done this so I know it's by choice.  I try sweet talking her but ever since the rain incident she just looks at me like "you lose buster".  I finally figured out though that she's OK with hand milking the other side.  This is a skill I thought I'd never get down pat but after practicing quite a bit to get them ready for the Henry Milker I seem to be able to pull it off.  It takes some stamina but I think she prefers it.

Last but not least I finally got her tender hoof trimmed up.  It took help from Chelle to hold her head and snuggle her because it hurt but I got it done and got the medication in there.  Today I used the berry treats before and after brushing her hoof with iodine water and medication and she got nervous but seemed OK at the end.

She is a tough old goat but she's tender too.  She can't stand hearing her babies cry and when she's sore she lets you know.  She's as patient as she can be with us as we learn this milking business and sometimes is even tender towards us.  At 6 years old she's second oldest of the pack and a good mama.  Slowly but surely she's training us as much as we're taking care of her.  Words of wisdom that she has passed on to me....

1.  "Never milk an angry goat in the rain"
2.  "I can't take care of my feet so I need you too, even if it hurts"
3.  "I'm in control of if and how you get my milk"
4.  "Learn how to milk by hand, like it or not"

She is our cash cow too so to speak.  She gives easily three times as much as Chardy, even as she's twice as hard to milk.  So today as I drove home thinking about milking the goats in the rain I remembered what Fritzen told me the other day.  Before I got the milker put together I went into the basement and got some nails, rope, a tarp, saw and hammer.  I grabbed a couple of 2x2's and a dowel and went up the hill.  In went two dowels to anchor one side of the tarp and up went the 2x2s and lo and behold the milking stand was dry.  Up went Chardy and was done in a hurry (her right side is finally giving us some more milk) and into the pen I went to get Fritzen.  She was hesitant until I got the leash on her and then up and onto the table she went.  She stayed dry, didn't fight too much when I brushed her hoof and looked over at me with thanks when I gave her the berry treats.  Success!  Then I switched the milker over to the other side.

She wouldn't let down on the left side until I hand milked her.

Yes, ma-am.  Whatever you say ma-am.  You're the boss, Fritzen-big-mama.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New in the Garden 7/12/11

I just picked up a few goodies that I still haven't figured out a place for yet. This is an unfortunate habit of mine. Maybe I'll eventually ditch the lawn altogether and fill it with my goofy nursery finds? ;)

Just bought, haven't yet planted-

*2 Heavenly Blue grape vines
*2 Hinnomaki Gooseberry - one yellow and one red. This is a Finnish variety, so I'm thinking that our low temps here should be no sweat for berries that can tolerate Scandinavian winters.
*4 Basil - Three Genovese and one Amethyst.
*1 Rosemary
*1 Nero de Toscana Kale - the bunnies LOVE this stuff!
*2 Mints - one chocolate mint and one "chewing gum" mint. These were the girls' choice.
*1 "Cheyenne" pepper. Seriously, this says Cheyenne and not Cayenne. I have never heard of this one before, but it was $1.99 and it's already loaded with peppers and blossoms, so I had to take a chance on it. ;)

Now as soon as this drizzle stops, I get to go and wander around the yard to try and figure out where these babies are going. If it weren't for the deer, I think I'd take advantage of our fugly chain link fence out front and pop the grape vines in out there, but if the deer like grapes as much as they like cherry trees, that wouldn't fly too well. Hmmm....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Today's Take 7/11/11 (and other ramblings)

Wow - I just realized that I have been writing the wrong month in these "Today's Take" posts for over a week now. Where is my brain? ;P

I pulled a whole wheelbarrow full of weeds from around the pumpkins and watermelons in the garden today, then fed the lot to some very grateful chickens. The only disappointment was that for all of my weeding, I hardly made a dent in the onslaught. Does that expression "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." apply to the yard and garden too? I hope so!

Speaking of the garden, the radishes are all about ready to come out, and will thus make way for my last few Yukon Chief corn seedlings to pop into their place. The lettuces are finally looking good. What a strange growing year this has been! In an average year (what does that even mean anymore?), my greens would have bolted by now. Then again, I'd also probably have zucchini coming out my ears, and that's not happening either.

The pumpkins and Amish Pie squash are both spreading out and producing nice big leaves and blossoms now. In fact, one of the pumpkins has a baby on it, but I don't think that it's going to make it. It is wee and yellow. Maybe it wasn't fertilized?

With respect to the critters, we're having some ups and downs, as seems to be our new normal. We had to segregate an Australorp roo from the rest of his flock because his testosterone was getting the better of him and making him act like a rather aggressive jerk to the ladies. When we originally ordered our chicks I opted for 10 hens and 2 roos, so that we might have better odds of getting a "good" rooster. A gentleman. For whatever reason, Murray McMurray included a free 3rd Australorp roo, so we feel like we can afford to be that much more picky about our keeper. If we had somehow magically ended up with three saintly boys, we'd have craigs-listed the extra two, but since Captain Crankypants has outed himself as an irredeemable misogynistic thug, he's destined for the frying pan.

As for the goaties, it looks like two of our does, mother and daughter, may have some hoof issues. This is the never-ending issue with goats! The little girl's hooves are so thick that the trimmers won't cut them, and she's walking on just 3 legs right now. Her Mama has dirt, poo, and straw "impacted" in her hoof, and the stuff will. not. budge. I think we need to give her some warm iodine foot baths to get the gunk soften up. Poor babies! I'm going to email the vet, just to see if she feels that they need to been seen or further medicated. I want so badly to give these animals the best life possible, but we just keep hitting these snags. I feel especially bad that it sometimes takes me a little while to figure out that there is a problem, being that I'm still a relative newbie goat owner. Live and learn, I guess, and pray for my babies to stay well and strong.

*Goats Milk, 16 ounces
*Eggs, 3

Friday, July 8, 2011

Today's Take 7/5,6,7/11

*Goat Milk, 38 ounces
*Eggs, 10

We finally had enough milk at once for me to make a small batch of cajeta. I brought it to a friend's house for a dinner party, and it got the thumbs up from her Pops, who is apparently a cajeta fiend. Hooray! All of the crazy goat wrangling and drama leading up to this appears to have been worth it after all. Next stop, cheese. :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Today's Take 7/4/11

*Goat Milk, 9 ounces
*Eggs, 4
*Handful each of sugar snap peas and French breakfast radishes. :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Today's Take 7/3/11

*Goat Milk, 6 ounces +/-
*Eggs, 4

It shouldn't be too much longer before peas and greens find their way onto this list. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Milking - Day 3

I didn't stop to jot it down, but yesterday we got just 5 ounces from a late morning milking and this evening we got over 10 ounces of milk from our goaties. Pics of the milker in action to follow shortly. ;)