Long Live The King!
Cajun has arrived! Or, well, he has arrived to where he is going to be living. He won't be staying with the herd, but rather will be boarding with my friend Brandee. Cajun is going to be the 2019 herdsire for the Banshee herd, but in the mean time he will be shown in two shows this summer and is scheduled to be LA scored in July. He isn't very friendly at this point and doesn't know anything. It is going to be interesting teaching him to walk on a leash and preen for the shows, but I'll get it done. Oh, and bathing and clipping him is going to be a blast too! LOL! Actually I tease, but I am excited to be showing a buck this year.
Lions and Tigers and BUCKS! Oh My!
Exciting news on the goat front. I'm getting a buck! Agreements have been made and deals decided, all that is left is the logistics. I probably won't be using him for breeding until Dec/Jan, but it was important to get my buck early because I want to take him to the Monroe and Kennewick shows as well as get him graded on the linear appraisal rounds this year. The buck I will be getting is: Sans Gene De Cajun Swing. He is impeccably well bred and I think he will do well at the shows. His mother is a Grand Champion that scores an almost perfect score of EEEV90 and was sired by a buck who scored VEE90 (almost unheard of for a buck), her grandmother is also a Grand Champion that scored the nearly perfect EEEE91. His sire is a nice Sans Gene buck that scored VEE88 and was out of a Grand Champion EEEE91 doe. This boy has got the numbers and I can't wait to see what he produces when crossed to my girls, especially Alani!
No one likes going to the Doctor
Today was the kids' worse day of their life so far. The morning started off well enough with being allowed out of the pen and into the paddock to play with the big girls. Then Sabrina and Natalie came over, which the kids weren't too sure of since they were strangers. Then I rounded up all three kids, stuck them in a dog crate and took them on an hour car ride. Sabrina and Natalie stayed with Alani to make sure she didn't panic and hurt herself, but it sounds like after a few minutes of calling that she gave it up. In the mean time the kids were on their way down to Enumclaw and they made not a single little peep during the entire car ride, which to me says that they were terrified. Once at the vet's a big guy that they didn't know reached in and grabbed them out one by one and stuck them with a needle. Soon they were falling asleep, which was a good thing because what came next was even worse. Once they were out good the vet gave them lidocaine shots in the head and then burned their horn buds, cut the top off, and burned the open wound. It looks and smells as horrific as it sounds. The only saving grace is that the kids are well and truly out of it and don't feel a thing. They slept the entire way home and for a little while even after that. Hero was the first to awaken, perhaps because he is the biggest and wore through the sedative faster. In any case as soon as they woke up I put them all back in with their mother. Alani took them all back easily enough and once they had gotten a drink off her they seemed back to their normal selves. Goats are not allowed to have horns for shows or even for living in my city.
Playing with the Big Girls
Today was the first day that my entire herd was let out to play together. The yearlings, Diva and Tansy, were intrigued by the babies, but they played with them pretty gently. The babies had a blast running all over the place and jumping on everything that would hold still half a second. They are wild and crazy! They have absolutely no fear of anything outside and just want to run around like mad. I don't blame them. Alani seemed absolutely thrilled with being outside. She just seemed to wander around without purpose, but she seemed happy enough. She doesn't like being cooped up with the kids all the time and she has spent basically the last three weeks in a 6 x 6 foot pen. Since they are getting along well I am going to start letting them spend as much time outside as possible. They will still need to be locked up while I am at work until the weather gets a bit better... or they get more common sense... However, I will be letting them out during the days when I am home.
Video of the herd introductions
A Box is a Wonderful Toy
Yesterday I noticed that Darcy had figured out how to jump up into the feed basket. Since his siblings haven't figured it out yet, it is his own personal club house (see last pic). That got me thinking about what else I can do to give the kids something to play with. I didn't have many ideas since their pen is only 6 foot by 6 foot and I didn't want to take up much of their space. However, I thought, maybe a small box. They could stand on it, jump on/off it, and maybe play King of the Mountain or something. Well, that went over as a stellar hit with only one problem. It seems that Hero is convinced that the box belongs to him and him only. He claimed it immediately and does his absolute best to keep his siblings away from it. He has succeeded with Darcy, but shy little Roka was able to climb up on it while he was busy eating. The videos of all this are hysterical and can be found on my FaceBook page. Eventually even Alani got in on the action. I'm not quite sure if she was pulling a "cool mom" moment and showing the kids she could play just like them, or if she was trying to climb the box to escape her kids... either one is possible.
Video of the babies playing on their box
Registrations and Banshee Beginnings
Today I sent in the registration paperwork for Alani's kids. This is the first time I am registering animals that I have bred since I was a kid. I have registered tons of animals since then (mostly horses), but none were animals that I had bred. I am a bit nervous. I went over and over my paperwork and I think I have everything... but there is nothing to do now but to wait and see what happens. It could be weeks before I know. The names that I put forward for the kids are: Banshee Alani Roka, Banshee Mister Darcy and Banshee Little Hero. Banshee is my herd name, of course. I am registering the boys, even though they will probably end up as wethers and it is not normal to bother registering wethers. There are two reasons for this... I plan to show the boys at two shows in order to find out if they are quality enough to consider keeping as a buck, and of course they have to be registered in order to be shown. The other reason is that even if they are wethered, being registered means that they can be used in 4-H as dairy wethers for the kids to use for show and showmanship. Yeah, they will probably just end up as pets, but I would like to keep as many roads open for them as possible. I specifically picked the Nigerian Dwarf as the goat breed I wanted to be involved with because I disliked the practice of butchering unwanted boys and it seems that Nigerian Dwarf boys can almost always find homes as pets.
The Great Outdoors!
Today the babies are 10 days old and I decided that it was time for their first excursion outside. If they had been born in the summer, they would probably already be part of the herd and living outside at least during the day. My hope is in the next week or so to introduce them to the yearlings and, depending on how that goes, transition them to living outside during the day and locked up in the shelter at night.
I had previously let them out of their pen so that they could run around inside the rest of the shelter, but today was the first time they were to be allowed outside. The moment I opened the doors for them Alani booked it outside as fast as she could - no waiting for the babies! Perhaps she thought I was a suitable babysitter and she was making a run for it before I changed my mind. In any case the babies were reluctant to go outside at first. They would go out a few feet and then at the slightest sound or breeze would run back inside screaming. That didn't last long, however. Before you knew it they were running around outside like they owned the place. Run! Jump! Slide! Run! Hop! They are little maniacs! They mostly stayed on the cement and it seemed like they were afraid of the grass, but hey, it's their first time. Roka, as usual, stayed right by her mother which means she actually got exposed to the most (grass, bushes, puddles), while the boys ran around like mad but didn't follow mom off the beaten path.
Video of the babies outside
Another video of the babies outside
Best Mother Award
Alani is a fantastic mother. Not only did she deliver her kids by herself without any problems, but she has continued that level of care. She lives her days now stuck in a 6 foot by 6 foot pen with three kids who are probably equivalent to human toddlers. She feeds them, cleans up after them, and keeps them warm by snuggling up with them at night. She is always on guard and at the slightest sound she pushes them away from the edge and stands between them and the door. No coyotes are getting HER babies! What's more, she is their only source of entertainment. That means that they are ALWAYS bothering her. They have even gotten to the point where they consider her a jungle gym and climb all over her. I can't imagine those hard little hooves feel good, but she puts up with all of it with the patience of a saint.
Video of Alani with her babies
The babies are here! After no babies on Tuesday or Wednesday, I decided that I might as well go to work today. People joked about how as soon as I went back to work that would be the time she would have her babies... and I decided to take them up on it. I did have the spy cam up on one of my monitors so that I could keep an eye on Alani just in case she decided to do anything interesting. At 10:02 am I saw her laying on her side and it looked a bit suspicious to me. I posted the video and asked my FB friends if that was labor. They said it looked like the early stages and that I should head home from work. Away I went rushing home at 10:21. My friend Sabrina's daughter, Natalie, was monitoring the cameras while I was driving home. As I was getting off the freeway on my way towards home, Natalie started shouting at me (I was talking to Sabrina on the phone). Babies! Two of them! By the time I had reached the hill by my house a third baby! Afterwards I was able to check camera footage and see that the doeling was born at 10:41 and that less than 30 seconds after her birth the lighter buckling was born. The dark buckling was born at 10:46. I arrived home at 10:51. The babies were still all nasty wet and the last buckling was still covered in his birthing bag. I got right in there and got him cleaned up and helped Alani to dry the other two. She seemed grateful for my help and didn't fuss at all about me messing with her kids. Then she ate the afterbirth and placenta... nasty. The kids all were up and nursing in no time, but the little doeling couldn't figure it out and I had to show her what to do. She may have been born first, but she looks to be the runt of the litter... which is a bit disappointing since she will be the one I keep. Unfortunately within the first hour or so of birth, Alani managed to step on the last-born buckling while he was laying on his side. She just stood there on him with her foot planted square in his stomach until I finally just picked her up and shoved her off. She looked at me as though I were a horrible person, but her baby definitely was hurt. For the next couple hours he just sort of stood there with his head down looking really shaky. However, eventually he seemed to "walk it off" and be more or less normal. Still, I will have to keep an eye on him.
Video of the babies at 3 days old
Due Dates are for Bills
I've been watching Alani like a hawk for the last few days. This weekend I actually had a conference I was supposed to go to, but Alani looked too close and I decided to stay home with her instead. Monday I went to work, but checked in on her via spy cam quite often. Today was her due date and when I checked on her before work she looked (to me) like she was in labor, so I called in to work and took the day off. No babies all day. Alani is definitely loving the attention, but I don't know when to expect these babies. All the signs are there as far as I can tell, but my own inexperience is undoubtedly hindering me. It has become obvious that Alani is not aware of such things as due dates or scheduling.
As the weeks have gone by I have been steadily building out the carport barn. Today I built up the area for Alani's kidding. She is due next Tuesday, but of course, could go a couple days early or late. I want to be ready for her and figure the earlier that I get things set up the more time she has to get familiar with the new environment. I have divided the carport entry into both a goat entry and a human entry. The human entry also includes a two-part gate system so that there is a holding area to trap any goats who manage to sneak through underfoot. Once inside the shelter, the main part is also divided into a goat and a human side. The human side contains my chair, a storage bin of goat equipment, the camera, etc. The goat side is a lane going back to the far side where there are hay feed bins, mineral tubs, and a dog house for them to sleep in or climb on as they choose. In the middle is the 6x6 chainlink kennel with another hay feed bin and a huge amount of straw. I had thought that we would need two bales of straw, but it turns out that two bales is way too much... oh well. I still need to stick a water bucket in there and secure it in such a way that it can't be knocked over, but that isn't very hard at all. I plan to start locking Alani in to the kidding pen from Saturday on. Even after she has had the kids, I may keep them all locked into the shelter (even if not the kennel) due to the season. It has been a fairly warm winter, but it is still winter and I want to make sure my first goat kids do well. The two doelings, Diva and Tansy, seem especially excited with the new developments in the shelter. They have been playing near non-stop in the straw. Rearing, headbutting, running, jumping, digging and even eating the straw. Silly girls!
This weekend I got to work more on the carport shelter. It is almost ready for Alani's use as a kidding pen - which is good because she is getting close! In about two weeks I expect to see bouncing Banshee babies running all around. This weekend I got my new fencing set up to make a gate with a holding pool outside the carport. I got 2 of these excercise pen for Christmas and I already had one, so now I have 3. These are great because they allow me to move the fencing when and where I want. Since they are 4 foot all and made for outside use, I can use them to supplement the fencing I already have, or to make new temporary pens. They are great. Anyways, I needed to make a new gate area outside of the carport, but I also wanted to have a catch pool in case one (or more) of the goats escaped while I came in the gate. That had been a big problem with my old gate and now it is fixed. I also used the temp fencing to divide the carport so that there is now a goat zone and a human zone. This will be important during the kidding season and will allow me to have a goat-free zone to store things etc. In addition to all of that, Brandee came out today and we did goat trims on everyone, lice dusted, and then Brandee gave Alani her CDT vaccine and shaved her udder. The goats had only been 7 weeks from the last hoof trim, but their feet are faring poorly in this wet weather. They are overgrown, a bit curled, and have wall separation. From now on the goats will be trimmed every 6 weeks or even more often, although I expect this problem to fix itself as the weather dries up and even as the goats slowly move into the drier carport.
Not Quite A Manger
During Black Friday I purchased a large Shelter Logic carport tent for my goaty girls. It has been a bit of a project to get this set up and it has been happening over a couple weeks and isn't fully done yet. Brandee started putting it together Thanksgiving weekend, but got rained out and so came back to finish putting it together on 12/4. Then on 12/10 Will helped me to put the kennel inside of the canopy and to lash down the canopy so that the wind couldn't lift it. A third of the canopy will be set up as a feeding/sleeping area for the girls, but I need to come up with a dog-door type portal for them through the canopy wall on that side. Then the kennel will be in the middle. On the near side will be a storage area and small milk parlor. I will keep extra hay, grain, supplements and supplies there as well as having a sitting area for watching over Alani and the milking stand too.
The kennel will be set up in the middle as a kidding pen for Alani. I've still got to figure out the internal configuration of the shelter, but it will probably go something like the diagram above. I will need to purchase some fencing, a gate, a couple more t-post, etc to build out the inside. Then I will need lots of straw and maybe some plywood to help insulate the kidding pen. I am thinking of lifting it off the ground with a pallet that has a piece of plywood on top, then layering a nice thick layer of straw on top of that. I also want to put plywood along the back of the kennel between the chainlink and the carport wall. I might also do half-walls with plywood along two of the other sides of the kennel too. The point is to try and keep the kennel as cozy as possible since we are expecting late winter kids from Alani.
This is very much a work in progress. It has to be ready by the end of January, but that is still 6 weeks away. I have time to make it all perfect. I hope.
This year the annual sport of Black Friday was taken over by goat shopping. Both of my big purchases were for my goaty girls. The first was a carport to turn into a shelter and kidding area, but more on that in a later entry. The second purchase was an Arlo Pro wireless camera system. There were 3 cameras included in this, but I will be buying 1-2 more cameras later. This system is completely wireless which means that I can put them wherever I want, especially in the goat pen. There are some bugs (mainly dealing with ice, rain and condensation fogging up my view) that I need to work out and figure out the best camera placement. This might be a work in progress over the next couple months, which makes me glad that I started so early in preparation of Alani's kidding. Here are a couple pictures already.
Tansy knows there is something different, but she isn't sure what. It sure does make for a cute picture, though.
Alani during her great escape. She was walking around proud as a peacock, but she seemed more interested in finding a way back into the goat pen than in causing mischief.
Video of Alani on her escape
The girls eating. Yep, this is the most common view that I see day or night. They are always eating, eating, eating.
These are not the best of pictures, but I was trying to get pictures to have an idea of how wide Alani is. She is, right now, half-way through her pregnancy with kids due Jan 30, 2018. She is supposed to have at least twins, but possibly more. To me she doesn't look very fat and so I worry (have I mentioned that I'm a bit paranoid where Alani is concerned?). Other folks have been posting pictures of their pregnant does and they all appear to be fatter than Alani. However, everyone assures me that I am worrying for nothing and that Alani is normal. So, I have decided to take periodic pictures to try and see if she is getting bigger... which would help me to feel better about it. Also, today I tried to measure her height for her records. It was a bit trickier than I had anticipated and so I think she is 21.25", but am not positive. In any case, she is under the 22.5" limit for her gender/breed and that is really all that matters.
Fur vs Coats
A few folks have been wondering why I have Alani in a coat and neither Diva nor Tansy in one. They have even gone so far as to accuse me of playing favorites. Alani may or may not be my favorite, I will not comment, however the reason she wears a coat is medical not preferential. Diva and Tansy both have nice, thick, beautifully warm coats that are natural and healthy. They have no trouble keeping warm at all. However, Alani was shaved for show back in August and her full coat has not yet grown back in. This has led her to getting chilled when the other goats were perfectly comfortable. Since goats have a hard time regulating their temperature once they get cold and they can go downhill fast and even die, I have decided that Alani will be wearing a coat. I have gotten her a coat that fits her well and she doesn't seem to mind it at all. At this point, unless there was a compelling reason to take it off of her, she will be wearing her coat until probably March.
One family, or in this case herd. Alani took over the big cedar house about a week ago and Tansy and Diva were forced to sleep in the dog igloo. This wasn't great because it left Alani without anyone to help keep her warm, and at the same time the doelings weren't happy because they wanted to be in the cedar house. Well, finally they are all sleeping together. It is a bit crowded in there and I'm going to need to get them a bigger house (especially once Alani's kids come), but in the mean time they are all snug and warm. However it is a bit difficult to get a picture of them in there together because as soon as they see me they want to hop out and see if I have anything for them. In this picture I was able to keep them in place by shining my super bright flashlight in there and I think kinda blinding them long enough to get the picture. You can see Tansy complaining about it in the back.
Alani not feeling so hot
We have had a sudden unseasonable cold snap this last week and it hasn't done well by Alani. I came home from work on Friday night to feed and noticed that Alani wasn't as quick to the food as normal, but since she eventually came, I shrugged it off and went inside. The next morning I noticed that again she was slow to feed but otherwise seemed fine. However, by the night feed she was eating, but was kinda hunched up and visibly shivering. Oh no! Upon taking her temperature it was well below the healthy level. I know that goats are really bad about managing their temperature and that getting cold is often a precursor to extreme illness and/or sudden death. This hadn't happened to me before as my goats have always had massively shaggy warm coats, however Alani was showing late in the season so had been shaved and now didn't have a full coat yet. I immediately called up Brenda who has been helping me with my goats and she had a bunch of suggestions and help for me. I ordered a couple coats for her, including one from Amazon to be delivered Sunday morning. In the mean time I put an old sweater on Alani. I gave Alani warm water with molasses in it to help warm her up and give her energy. The next day I got more straw for the goat houses, I got alfalfa hay instead of timothy hay and I put on the good dog coat that Amazon brought me. I watched Alani through the day and she appeared to be doing better. For this last week, I have been on guard with her and it has been extremely stressful for me because I am really paranoid with her especially since she is pregnant. She does seem to be doing okay now though and I am starting to relax.
Cotton Gets a New Home
Today Cotton left for his new home. I am really sad about this as I loved Cotton and had had him since he was a baby. I had gotten him early this year as a little ball of fluffy cuteness. My plan was that he would be a friend for the coming doelings. He is super friendly and loves people... he also likes the dogs and the goatlings, even if they don't like him. Yes, it is sad but true that the doelings aren't fans of his. Or rather, that Tansy is afraid of him. I think if it was just Diva that she would be friends with Cotton as she isn't actually afraid of him and used to play with him when they were both babies. Unfortunately Tansy is absolutely terrified of Cotton and runs like a maniac whenever he comes near... which isn't helped because Cotton will chase anything that runs. Diva knows that Cotton is playing, but Tansy is convinced that when he catches her that he will eat her. I have left them to their own to see if she would figure it out, but she will literally run herself to exhaustion and then collapse before she figures out he won't hurt her. That is certainly not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and so Cotton has had to live by himself. It isn't fair to keep a sheep by himself and I could tell that he was lonely. So, I found him a home where he will get to live with an old mare and two big, friendly goats.
I carved my pumpkin and it is just a basic carving, but it will do the job! What job? Well, superstition says that if you don't carve a pumpkin and put it out on Halloween night that spooky beasties of some kind might come calling. Do I believe that? No... but I watch a lot of scary movies and it just seems prudent to carve a pumpkin. Besides, it's fun and then I get to feed the pumpkin guts to the goats! Do they like pumpkin guts? I don't know, but the folks online say they do. I plan to test the theory.