The best relationships usually begin unexpectedly
Our typical kidding season starts early March. We breed our Nigerian Dwarf goats not only to expand our herd, we also place them in homes where folks want to also live a homesteading lifestyle with dairy goats, have children who participate in 4H/agricultural programs or just love these adorable souls as pets in their backyard. When the babies are weaned, we then begin to milk the moms and use their rich creamy milk for our award winning goat milk soaps. We try to "plan" our births to avoid the colder temperatures that we experience here in New England. During the months of January and February, we have our normal snow storms with many inches of snow, but also these cold snaps where temperatures get down to below zero for 3-5 day stretches. This takes farming to a whole new level as we have to go above and beyond for our animals to keep them safe and healthy. Multiple trips to the barns with warm water, extra hay and layering bedding are some of the ways to keep everyone protected. As we have said, it's a labor of love, and we sure must love our animals when we are trudging in a foot of snow, lugging 5 gallons of water and fighting with frozen gates and latches.
Our goal is to keep our barns at a decent temperature of over 30 degrees to keep everyone comfortable as possible. The girls all stay inside when it's below 20, although they do enjoy the fresh air and sunshine for a few hours mid-day. We have some "retirees" who are 10-13 years old and they don't do as well when the temperatures dip down into single digits. We have found that the deep bedding method works best for maintaining heat. We use straw and pine shavings and as you regularly add a new layer, it provides regular, clean bedding while heat is created through composting (breakdown of manure). Keeping their barn over 30 degrees also helps the water from freezing. Goats (and all livestock) need the extra hydration in winter as well as in the hot months. Also, goats don’t like dirty or stale water so keeping everything clean and fresh is important. Extra hay is given to keep fermentation in the rumen (think of a internal vat), which creates heat for the goat from the inside out.
Now we know we have healthy and happy goats, as my vet kindly reminds me that they have plenty of "weight" on them...otherwise known as chunky girls. A couple of our bigger gals had been looking a little larger than normal and started to develop an udder during the month of December. As mentioned, we typically plan for the babies to start arriving in March but sometimes the girls (and God) have other plans. Especially when there might be a frisky 4 month old buckling hanging with his mama in the pen this past summer. Even though these two mamas are a lot taller than this little guy, we have a saying here; Where there is a hill, there is a way!
Well, New Year's Day, we unexpectedly but joyfully welcomed these three little munchkins into the world...and two days later, another set of QUADS joined our farm family! We are so thankful to God that we were home and able to assist the mamas with delivery as even in the decent temps, the risk of wet babies freezing is super high. Especially in the case of multiples when when the moms have three and four newborns to clean/dry off. We are so blessed to say that all seven babies and mamas are doing so well. One little pipsqueak needs to stay in the house for a while as he was less than a pound at birth. Although moms can typically tend to micro babies, the issue is that his three larger siblings will dominate and he'd never get to nurse. The first 24-48 hours are critical for them to get colostrum, which is rich in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Most importantly, it contains maternal antibodies that help protect the newborn from disease pathogens during the early part of its life. Thankfully we have some colostrum on hand in the freezer from prior births for emergency situations as these. All in all, the first week of January has been wonderful and non-stop!
Well, that's it for now. We hope you enjoyed a little snapshot of our farm-life. Lord willing, we will have many more adorable photos of babies to share over the next few months. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. And don't forget these little blessings are the rockstars of Michelle's Flower Crowns and Tutus project!
Peace, love and goats-
P.S. We have tons of nicknames for the little pipsqueak, still trying to get the best name possible for him....please comment with any suggestions!