Over the winter we noticed that Leeloo had developed walnut-sized lumps under each teat. As spring came these lumps grew into a cantelope-sized udder. Since all three does have recently tested negative for CAE and CL, we ruled out those diseases. The udder is a firm, but even and not hot and she seems to be in otherwise good health. The likely explanation (and our vet agrees) is that she has developed a precocious udder – an udder filling with milk even though the doe has not been bred. This is typically caused by an imbalance in hormones, usually in goats that come from high milking stock. For now we’ve opted to let it be and not milk her. Hopefully she will eventually reabsorb the “milk” and be a good milker once she is bred, kids, and begins a true lactation next year.
We are taking the gals to the Northeast Dairy Goat Classic at Altamont for their first show this weekend. Hoping to get more opinions on Leeloo’s condition from more experienced breeders while we’re there.
The new fence is finished and the gals got to explore their new area a bit this past weekend. We still have a little clean up to do before they can run free, so for now they’re enjoying the expanded space (and yummy trees) next to the barn.
If you’ve been following our Twitter feed, you may already know some of this month’s highlights. But just in case, here’s a quick rundown:
At at 8:00am on March 9th, we set 37 eggs (14 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, 15 New Hampshires, & 8 Swedish Flower Hens) in the incubator. We had the eggs shipped to us from breeders in 3 different states: OH, CA, & FL. Shipping eggs is always a bit of a risk. Even if they all arrive intact, they usually still have a lower hatch rate due to rough handling in transit. We candled the eggs seven days after setting and removed 12 that were not developing. The remaining 25 still looked good when we candled again at day 14. We will candle one last time tomorrow morning before preparing for hatch day. Looks like our Easter chicks are on schedule! If all goes well, we will attempt hatching some turkey eggs in April.
Day 14 candling
The same weekend we set the eggs, we also started some veggie seeds. Broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herb seedlings are well on their way. However, late Spring snow has stalled new garden bed preparation. If we can’t get new raised beds built by mid-April, we will try a straw bale bed. I’ve been curious about this technique for a while, and a recent article in the New York Times rekindled my interest.
The goats had a visit from the vet last week to get annual vaccinations and blood taken for CAE/CL testing. We’re anxiously awaiting the results, but hopeful for a clean bill of health.
Barn cat, Neo, is turning into a real mush, begging for pats and playtime every chance he can. A real turn around from when we first got him. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about our (yet unnamed) second feral rescue. He ran off the first chance he could. He’s been sighted at our neighbor’s house, and we’re working with them to recapture him. We know he’s able to fend for himself, but prefer to see him safely home soon. Hoping some more time in the acclimation pen (in a quieter location) and Neo’s companionship will convince him to stay.
January & February were quiet months: The critters were content to stay in the barn (and out of the snow) and we fell into a steady routine of de-icing water buckets, highlighted by weekend hikes with the goats. Recently, the slightly warmer weather and longer daylight hours have brought about a bit more activity in the barnyard:
The guinea fowl discovered our neighbor’s yard and now enjoy hiking 1/4 mile through the woods to hang out in their apple tree on sunny afternoons. (Might have something to do with the bird feeder they hang in the tree.) We also witnessed a few more guinea matings, but since they typically don’t start laying until April we don’t expect keets anytime soon.
Our Rhode Island Red hen laid consistently throughout winter, but the other 3 hens took a winter break. We’ve recently started getting 2 eggs/day so we’re hoping that’s a sign their vacation is coming to an end.
We rescued a second feral cat for the barn and he seems to be settling in well. He’s even shyer than Neo, so no photos yet. We’ll try to get one when we let him out of his pen for the first time this weekend.
The deep bedding in the goat’s pen started to get a little too deep allowing acrobatic Leeloo to escape over the stall walls twice this past weekend. The second break out prompted a emergency, late night partial mucking to lower the bedding about 6″. We’re hoping that holds her for a few more weeks until the weather turns and we can do a thorough spring cleaning.
In addition to the barn cleaning, we have a lot of other projects planned for spring. We expect to start work on a permanent fence for the goats later this month. We’d also like to expand the garden and build some more raised garden beds, and a chicken coop so we can move the poultry out of the goat barn. We bought an incubator and ordered some hatching eggs. We expect 40 Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, New Hampshire, and Swedish Flower Hens eggs to arrive sometime next week in time to set for Easter chicks.
Spring is in the Air!
When the weather cooperates, I take the gals out for hikes around the hill on weekends. They seem to enjoy the exercise, break in routine, and tasty treats they find.
Today we’re ok with snow, tomorrow we won’t be.
We got a couple inches of snow this week (with more on the way) and the goats are refusing to leave their nice, cozy shelter again. Smart goats! So for everyone who’s snowed in, I thought I’d share a flashback to warmer weather.
We got a little more snow this weekend, and again the goats didn’t want anything to do with it. But after a day of being cooped up in the stall (self-imposed) they were more than ready to brave the fluffy white stuff to take a little browsing hike with me on Sunday. They got used to it pretty quickly, and even found something to eat.
Of course, the guineas and chickens don’t mind snow at all and followed us around on our hike.
The gals weren’t so sure about the white stuff and opted to stay indoors for the day.
Even treats couldn’t lure them out. Not a hoof touched the ground until the next day when it all melted away.