Friday, February 23, 2007

Goat News

The 2007 kidding season has begun at Brambleberry Farm!

I came up for lunch and a little rest at 1:30 p.m. and thought I'd let the world know all about it.

The first thing I heard when entering the barn this morning was the distinctive crying that signals new babies. Simone, a rather thin goat who has only had a single birth in the past surprised me with three decent looking kids -- two females, one male. I did all the normal stuff: feed mama, get her clean water, help dry off the babies since it's chilly; iodine their navels; check sexes; supply hay; clean up afterbirth...

Because they are triplets to a small doe, I also decided to use a bottle of that frozen liquid gold, colostrum, as insurance. I drove up the hill and placed the frozen bottle in some warm water to thaw; finished the animal chores and did a little pruning, then back up for the colostrum and my palm pilot for keeping records.

When the babies were fed and all quiet, I decided to walk up the hilly pasture and check to see what else might be going on. The first thing I saw was Tatum and Harvey Llama alone on the side of the hill with some suspicious looking white lumps on the ground. Tatum was licking off her second kid, female, which had obviously just been born. The cord wasn't yet trimmed off. Meanwhile, the first male kid was being watched over higher up the hill by Harvey. My palm pilot has a camera, so I took some photos.

I gave Harvey, the midwife, a hug and brought the little guy to his mom so that she could tend both as I sat down on the hillside and watched. I guess there's something to be said about being born in the sunshine, but there was a stiff wind, so after she had done the majority of the clean up, I took the babies and lured her down the hill. Since the new nursery barn was closest, I put them in there to dry off. Thank goodness I had spent the morning sweeping up and preparing the little stalls yesterday morning. The tools and junk are still in the barn, but at least there were clean stalls and the hay baskets and feeders.

I did the new baby routine once again and then headed up for lunch. I entered the data about the new births and edited the photos.

In a little while, I'll go out again and roam the hills checking for more births or impending births. I had time to think about names for the triplets. They'll be Wilhelm, Wilhelmina, and Willa. 'Haven't quite decided on the twins' names yet. Rest time is over for this farmer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

I almost forgot!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Letter "W"

No goat babies yet. That's the most frequent question being asked of me lately. If you read this blog regularly, you'll be the first to know.

As a part of getting ready, I've been lining up names starting with the letter W, this season's letter of the alphabet. Did you know that there are lots of male names starting with W, but not that many female names?

I've got Wendy, Whitney, Wynona, Wilma, Wren, Whisper, Willow, Waffles, Winifred,Wanda, Waverly...

I need more "W" names for the girls. Anyone with suggestions, please leave a comment. As soon as the babies start arriving, I'll announce it and list the names along the right hand column.

Meanwhile, weatherwise it isn't pretty. We're getting rain and freezing temperatures overnight -- that lovely combo that makes outdoor activity treacherous.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Create a Bluegrass Song

Winter gettin' you down? Need a little diversion? Go to Virginia's Crooked Road website and create a song for someone special.

Snowy Day Adventure

Tuesday morning’s temperature was 5 degrees F. The wind chill was below zero, and it sure felt like it, especially on my frozen finger tips. During the day, it warmed up and by six p.m. the snowfall started.

There was snow on the ground this morning, something I dread because of the difficulty of getting around to do the animal chores. I waited until about ten a.m. and suited up. I have found that the hand warmer packs I bought at a check-out somewhere are great. They are dry chemicals in little packs which are activated by shaking after being taken out of their foil packets. I placed one in each of my knit mittens and wore knitted gloves. The mittens, which have both a thumb and a forefinger, went over the knitted gloves. Good enough. I know from yesterday that those heat packs will last all day.

My mistake was in miscalculating the amount of snow on the ground. I thought it was only an inch or so and put on my normal “muckies” -- everyday muck shoes, which slip on and off. I should have used my Muck Boots, which would have covered my ankles and the bottoms of my pants. There was actually about four inches of snow on the ground. So, I had warm hands but cold, wet feet before the morning’s chores were done.

Because I knew I might not be able to get back up the hill with my pickup, I drove the Kawasaki Mule down. It is presently covered with the soft enclosure I bought from Cabelas. It fits perfectly and has vinyl windows on four sides. Heavy-duty zippers allow me to get in and out when the weather’s cold and windy. When it first came in the mail, I wondered if I’d just wasted my money, even though it was a tenth of the $3,000.00 that a hard enclosure would have cost. So far, so good. I’m happy to be able to ride around in the rain and snow. If the sun’s out, the enclosure is solar heated and pretty comfortable. The doors can either be rolled up or zipped out when I don’t need protection from the cold.

I did all my rounds and actually got up the hill using the four-wheel drive. That’s all I can ask and am convinced that the Mule was a good buy. I only use about a gallon of gas a week and can go all over the farm without totally overextending myself physically. Going in snow is a wonderful bonus! Another practical problem solved.

This afternoon, I'm staying in. I took a container of homemade applesauce out of the freezer and made two applesauce cakes. When they cool, I'm planning on making browned butter icing for them. One will go in the freezer.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Old Man Moon is the night watchman these days, shining his brilliant light into my room at about 4 a.m. each day. He creeps around corners from the Northwest to the East in the morning, but is obviously in the Eastern sky in early evening. He gets around.

His light was obscured this morning, by snow-laden clouds just waiting to let loose.

At mid-morning, it is gray and sharply cold. There’s no snow yet, although the radio tells me that in various other ridges and valleys the “winter event” is already ongoing. Sleet and another ice storm is reported to be on the agenda for later today.

The weather geeks mostly exaggerate in their predictions, although there have been a few memorable times when they grossly UNDERestimated and we were caught out driving in a serious ice storm that snapped power lines and allowed for numerous vehicle accidents. In some ridge or valley, somewhere in the region, it is safe to say, the weather predictions will be spot on for any given day.

The goats are still baby-less, although some udders are now about as big as they can get. That tells me I better be ready. This morning, I prepared another stall with waste hay and a filled hay feeder, closing and latching the gate behind me to keep it clean until needed. The goat nursery is close to done in the green barn. Gates are up and sides, but the fronts need to be finished before we can clean up and get them in use.

I got the safe heat lamp housing ready and have a plastic bin to use as an emergency warm-up crib. I’ve even figured out where to hang the lamp. An old jacket with a fake lamb’s wool lining is inside the bin for comfort.

The one problem is that I can’t find the long list of great “W” names that my grandson sent last kidding season. It’s got to be around here somewhere…