Friday, July 20, 2012

Morning Of Bedlam

Bedlam: "A scene of mad confusion".

That was my morning.

Most days start out quite simply and easily: I milk the cows and goats without a fuss, the goat kids wake up right as I finish milking chores and are fed their morning bottles; the turkeys chirp impatiently for their breakfast, and Peaches gives me happy grunts in her happiness to see me. It's usually quite nice.

Today was not like that at all.

Upon opening the barn door, the first thing I find is that the turkeys had "flown the coop" (sorry, couldn't resist. LOL.) and are out of their brooder that is 4' tall. There are only seven of them now, and they were all enjoying their freedom. Meanwhile, Mattie the cow has decided that I am horribly late (By five whole minutes!) and begins bellowing. This spooks the goats and what do they do but start screaming themselves. I've always said I liked Nubians for their voices, but this was a little much. The noise from the milkers woke Frodo and Snickers (Metty's kids) and they too began shrieking at the top of their lungs.

Then I noticed it: Ivy had been up against a wall and beside her, hiding in her shadow, were two newly born goat kids. PANIC!!! I bottle feed all of my goat kids, so I was not happy at all to see that I had missed the birth. Had the kids nursed yet? Would I be able to get them to take a bottle now? Were they bonded to Ivy too much? How long had they been there!? I scuttled over to the fuzzy whippersnappers and gave them a look over; One was a red roan male with a huge splash of white on his forehead, black boots on his legs, and the cutest little dorsal and badger stripes. The second kid was a light brown female (hurray!!!) with a white facial splash of her own, chestnut badger stripes, and a few demure white patches on her sides. Both had milk mustaches on them; guilty as charged my wee ones. 

Now, what on earth to do first??? This year, I had planned on putting my goat kids in a 3'x3' wooden box that I use for many purposes (cold frame, chick brooder, goat kid pen) until they were a week or two old, but we had just gotten a small batch of layer chicks on Wednesday, and my kidding box had to go to them. Where do I put these kids so Ivy can still see, smell, and touch her babies, but they can't nurse her?

The cow was still bellowing. All the goats were still screaming. The turkeys were now taking turns climbing up my stack of hay and flying off of it. The new goat kids were beginning to look for their next meal on Ivy, and I had virtually no idea what to do first. Milk the animals, catch the turkeys, or deal with the kids? Milking the animals won out and Ivy's kids were whisked into a kidding stall. Ivy complained about the disappearance of her babies but didn't stress.

Milking seemed to take forever today. The machine was malfunctioning and there was no suction on two of the inflations; Metty wouldn't come into the milking room, and then stubbornly refused to eat her grain. Sombrita yelled and yelled until it was finally her turn.

Next up, feed the kids! Frantic after screaming for 45 minutes, the kids were so keyed up that they kept on pulling the nipple off their bottles. Grrr. While I worked on putting the nipples back on, the kids took the opportunity to bite my legs. Ow, you little fiends!

Now, what to do with the kids? I needed that brooder box that the chicks were in. There was no way around it, something had to happen. In a split second I made the decision that the turkeys would have to be moved out of their brooder and put in the chicken tractor. They're still a bit too young to be out from the heat lamp but I'm hoping that the warm weather will make things a bit easier for them. While putting the turkeys in the tractor, I had the "brilliant" idea of trimming their wings beforehand so they would stop flying. I learned the hard way that turkeys are a little different from chickens, and they have blood vessels half way up on their primary wing feathers. In short, I had bloody wings on two unfortunate birds. "Oh they'll be fine," I told myself as I left them to rush off to the next chore. Now that the turkey brooder was empty, the layer chicks needed to be moved into there. That was easier. Moving chicks simply involves scooping them up in great handfuls.

Having finally dealt with the poultry, I hauled the heavy wooden box into the barn pen and plunked the kids in there. They seemed content, and Ivy was happy that they were close. I went to go fill water buckets and on my return I found, to my horror, that Ivy had jumped inside the box and the kids were smugly nursing. Noooooooo!!! Ivy Rose, that's not allowed! Frustrated, hungry, and tired, I pulled the kids off her and put them back in the kidding stall. Ivy didn't even make a peep this time; she has never really cared about her kids.

Almost done with chores! All that's left is to give water and feed to the turkeys! I plod out there and to my great dismay I find that the two injured birds are still bleeding and their wings were dripping blood down their sides and legs. Great. I grab some flour inside and spend the next fifteen minutes with my hand covered in flour and blood, trying to stop the flow. The bleeding did eventually stop, and I left the birds alone. It wasn't even 10 in the morning yet and already I was covered with turkey blood, cow manure, milk, dirt, and amniotic fluid. 

I came inside and felt ready to back to bed. That was pandemonium out there... Oy. 

But on the bright side, I am tickled pink about Ivy's kids. I'll get some pictures for y'all later. They are drop dead GORGEOUS!! In color, they're normal, but in conformation and potential they are breathtaking. I knew this would be a good cross to breed Ivy to Bob, but I didn't expect the kids to be this nice! Both are being retained, and the buckling shall remain intact. :) Oh yes, and they already have names. I'm doing musical themed names for all my kids from now on (except wethers like Frodo and Snickers), to go with my herd name of 'Goat Song'. So the buckling will be registered as 'Goat Song's Chad Gadya' and the doeling will be 'Goat Song's Duet'. 

Alrighty, I must needs go now! The clock says it's time to feed the kids again!


Lindsey said...

What a morning!

Congrats on Ivy's kids - yay for getting your Chad Gadya! And how nice that he'll be Goat Song's Chad Gadya, rather than another breeder's name as you originally thought! :)

nancy said...

Congrats and I got tired just reading this! It reminded me of when I worked in a day care center years ago- keep changing diapers, then one threw up and broke the flow! Oh my!!! Now what do I do??? Is it good the new babies got some of the colustrum?

Tayet Silverspoon said...

Why do you bottle feed the kids? Wouldn't it be easier to let their mom nurse and raise them?

Goat Song said...

Nancy, I always feed the kids colostrum immediately, so it's actually not so great that they nursed... They do get all their milk from their dam though, since my does are all CAE/CL free.

Tayet, I bottle feed for multiple reasons:
1. The kids are WAY friendlier! I have almost zero problems with first freshening does (they can sometimes be brats on the milk stand) when I bottle feed them.

2. It's better for the doe. Today's goats have been bred to have huge udders and kids will ruin them in short order. If you've ever seen a kid nurse off a doe then you know how rough they are! They break down the udder attachments and shorten a doe's milking life.

3. I get maximum milk from my goats when I pull the kids. If you leave the kids on, then the does milk supply goes down to what the kids can handle which is often 1 to 2 quarts a day. By pulling the kids and handmilking, it's much more possible to get 10 to 12 lbs. (8 lbs. = 1 gallon) from a doe who has good bloodlines.

4. It is just about impossible to wean kids that have been on the dam. Once they know where they can get a meal, they will nurse even into adult hood. With a bottle, it's much easier to wean!

5. It's easier to monitor how much milk a doe produces in a year since there are no kids to steal her milk.

6. It's healthier for the doe. The heavier producers can get mastitis a little easier if their kids nurse off them.

In the end, I don't like dam raised goats and try to steer clear of them. Just my opinion though. ;)

gz said...

The joys of working alone!

Aloe Vera gel is a good healer for stock and humans. (the fire service here uses AV gel impregnated dressings for burns)

Mary Ann said...

I'm worn out and I just read it... I'm glad I didn't live it!

Hannah said...

It was great to see your farm yesterday Caitie! You are doing such a great job. I always enjoy seeing your animals and of course you and your sisters too. :)