Goat Rodeos and Cow Wrangling

It’s been an eventful stressful 24 hours.  Yesterday about this time, I put Gwen and her calf friend down into the lower pasture.  Around 5:30 PM, Wally and I walked down to bring them up, but we couldn’t find them.  We walked around and around the pasture looking for them.  I went back to the house, got the ATV and started to look outside the pasture.  Again, I drove around and around and no cow or calf to be seen.  It was already pretty dark AND COLD!, the lights on the ATV are not too bright and looking for brown cows in the dark is really not easy.  While I was looking below, Wally took the truck and went out to the road to see if they had headed out there.  We looked for several hours but couldn’t find them.  That meant another night of little sleep because I kept getting up to look out into the yard to see if she had come back.  That she didn’t come up to the milk parlor by 7:00 PM meant that either she had gone off too far to get back, was stuck somewhere or someone stole her.  I had visions of her stuck in the river or worst, lined up at an auction or Brown’s Packing Plant (where she was destined to go if I didn’t buy her in 2010).

I got up at 5 AM and went outside with the flashlight to see if she was back.  Nope.  As soon as it got light enough to see, I headed out with the dogs on foot.  We walked through the pastures, I called her name and Gel cast out looking for her.  Finally we found both Gwen and the calf holed up in the woods in an area of the property where she’s never been.  What I think happened was the calf went through the woods at the lower part of the pasture, Gwen followed and they both wandered further than Gwen has ever gone away from the house.  Needless to say, they are both on house arrest until I can figure out where they got out.

I believe I have created a fussy eater in Gwen.  Wally and I talked about this when he called me later in the morning to see if I found her.  At this point in time, if she doesn’t want to eat what I feed her, then she can go hungry.  We offer her the highest quality grass-based grain and hay and if she’s going to hold out for corn and soy candy, then she can go hungry.

The Goat Rodeo: darned, getting some of those goats back into the milking routine is a pain in the ass.  I forgot how difficult it can be to get does to leave their babies when they don’t want to.  There are some I don’t have to milk, but I really want to get them back in the routine, but it seems the ones I don’t need to milk are the ones that are willing to come out of the pasture; the ones I have to milk because they have single kids on them are the ones that are proving difficult.  It doesn’t help that two of those does with single kids are first time fresheners so they don’t know the ropes at all.

Last year I installed three milk stands in the parlor.  That way I can have three goats in at one time which gives each goat more time to eat.  Well, the third milk stand is cursed, or so some of the goats think.  There are some that will readily get on it, but others, you need a crane to get them on it.  We do not have a crane in the milk parlor and my hands and arms are getting really sore between having to catch goats that don’t want to be caught and picking up those that don’t want to go on the cursed third milk stand.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to try a new tactic:  I’m going to use Gel to run everybody up into the back of the goat shelter, shut the door and then take the does out one by one.  I’ll lead the difficult/over protective does out into the milk parlor and use Gel to move the others.  In a few weeks, it will settle down and become pretty close to seamless, well, as seamless as dealing with goats can be.  Every year it seems to get that much more difficult, but every year we have more does in milk and more babies.  Rounding up 17 babies is going to give Gel a run for his money.  He’s been getting his exercise lately between last night looking for Gwen (Narley ran with us too) and this morning during the Goat Rodeo.

It’s tentative, but I think Gwen’s production has come up some since the calf arrived.  Fingers crossed.  I saved some of the goat milk yesterday, but the flavor is a bit sharp right now.  It always is right after they freshen.  In a week or two, it will taste good; not as good as Gwen’s milk, but raw milk is raw milk.

I moved some rabbits around this afternoon.  A Chin doe, Isabel, is due to kindle any time now; Isabel is the only survivor of a quad of Chins I bought from a local couple.  I don’t know when she was bred because I couldn’t get her to cage breed so I put her in the pen with a buck.  Yesterday I could tell she was pregnant so I went ahead and put her in a cage with a nesting box.  I put the new Chin doe (I named her China) up as well.  She won’t be due for another couple of weeks, but she’s a very calm doe, as is Isabel.  I moved the Silver Fox buck and Claude Hopper, the Chin buck, into the outside hutch.  While I have commercial breeds of meat rabbits, I want to get back to just heritage breeds so I’m trying to do all I can to make sure that I have successful litters of heritage rabbits.  I have four Californian/New Zealand X does, hopefully pregnant, in the pen and I may leave them there to kindle.  We’ll see how much digging they do.  I have a Creme doe, Kerri, that is due to be bred next weekend and once she’s bred, I’ll see if she can join the colony in the pen to free up a cage.  Cage space, at least the good cage space, is at a premium.

Getting closer to getting seeds in the ground.  I worked on the beds a little bit today; but primarily I picked a tub of Chickweed and Henbit for the rabbits.  Amazingly, I’m hoping the garden produces lots of weeds this year so I can feed the rabbits more weeds than grain and alfalfa pellets.  I might take the dogs out for a run this afternoon and look for more sheltered areas where I know there will be ample chickweed to harvest.

I best get my butt in gear and get the afternoon chores done before Wally gets home.

Until later …