Saturday, March 26, 2011

Speedy (Goat) Delivery Service

When you've survived another day on this goat ranch, you know it by the back pain, extreme fatigue, and inability to string sentences together.

I've been working pretty much twelve hour days for the last week.  My little UTV is outfitted with two vented plastic picnic baskets, lined with clean towels and a dog leash.  I bought those picnic baskets many years ago in a Big Lots in Orlando, Florida.  I had no idea what they'd be good for, but at five dollars apiece, it seemed like a good buy.

My little UTV travels uphill and down and all around the pastures, picking up mothers and babies who have been born al fresco and delivering them to the barns where mothers get food, hay, and water and semi-private digs.  Mothers are usually tied onto the handhold of the UTV and I slowly proceed with them in tow.  Babies naval cords are iodined; the date, mother's tag number and the babies new herd numbers are entered in my little notebook; paper collars containing the same information are placed on little baby necks and kisses and congratulations are given all around.

There are also a good number of overnight births in the barn.  This morning, my husband and I worked to sort out a dozen new births, clean out the biggest space in the bottom of the barn and figure out a strategy for housing all in some sort of orderly fashion.

I've just done a count from my notebook.  We have had 64 live births so far.  Many sets of triplets and two sets of quads so far.  Most births are twins, but today we had a couple of singles -- all bucklings.

So, those of you who love baby goat time at Brambleberry Farm and want to help out for a few hours (you know who you are), come on out or give me a call or email to set up a time.  I figure we are only about half way through.

The picnic baskets were a great buy and the UTV was a great buy in terms of useful tools.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Sprung

The apricot trees are in full bloom, as is an early Magnolia.  I decided to "Spring Up" the blog in celebration.  There is some rain in the forecast, and I'm glad of it.

The briar project continues, but I'm nearing the end.  Huge piles of cut brambles have been generated and await removal by tractor or truck. 

Jonquils are blooming, but not all yet.  Restraint is good.  I see tulip leaves up, but no buds yet. 

Much of the pre-baby work is done in the barns.  Maternity checks are daily events.

Meanwhile, I struggle to learn to use Open Source Software on the theory that exercising the brain is good.  Mostly, I get a mild headache and smoke comes out of my ears, but some progress is being made.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I Love Puzzles

My current project is cutting down a large stand of brambles near our front gate. It is a complicated and treacherous puzzle. You could really get hurt unraveling this puzzle.

It's not the first time in fourteen years that I've done this, but I swear it will be the last time! I've got plans to keep this stuff in check. There are lovely perennial bulbs planted there which, some years, are never seen and appreciated.

I work for an hour or just a half hour and then need to rest. This is not for the faint of heart. I'll work outside as long as I can each day and tackle the pruning and cleaning of flower beds during Spring. When the Summer heat comes it'll be all over!

I planted some peppers in the greenhouse yesterday.

The newborn calves run like crazy when I drive down the hill. The interesting thing is that they run to Papa Tom, our horned Dexter bull. He's been known to lay in the pasture with a group of young calves all around him. How do they know he's the pater familias? Is it instinct? He is a lovely boy and I am fond of him

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

March Came in Like a Lamb

Will March go out like a lion?  Stay tuned.

Severe thunderstorms and possible tornados were predicted on February 28th.  It kept me on edge the whole day.  Thankfully, they never materialized.   We did get some nice rain.

It was up in the 70s F.  The next day, March 1st it was 20 degrees cooler.  Good.  That's more normal.

I'm aware that France near the Swiss border is experiencing much the same Spring-like weather, with daffodils and tulips starting to bloom.  The drive to prune and weed was strong yesterday.  I tired myself out just calculating how much work needs to be done.  I managed to plant some tomato seeds in the greenhouse -- but I would have done that no matter the weather outside. 

Meanwhile, the logistics of goat kidding is taking up some brain space.  The maternity barn is pretty well fitted out, but it won't hold all, so I must start strategizing how we will use the big barn stalls. 

'Bet you city dwellers didn't know that farmers have to do so much thinking and planning.  Don't plan and you'll reap the consequences in terms of chaos.

I'm reading Bringing It to the Table, by Wendell Berry and just at the point where I may learn the secrets of large herd management of sheep, which are close enough to goat herd management.  I'm hoping there will be some gems of wisdom included.