Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kidding Season in Full Swing

It feels like kids are arriving left and right these days!  It could be much more fast and furious (it was last year), but so far we've had eight does give birth to 25 kids- 14 bucks, 11 does. 
All that work of being born is so tiring!
It seems as though every year, or every couple of years, we end up changing around the kidding stalls for one reason or another, usually having to do with more does kidding at a time.  I don't have pictures of the various set-ups since I'm more focused on trying to get pictures of the baby goats during kidding season, which is sort of a shame, because the set up has really evolved.

The garage is where we set up the kidding pens- it's sort of an awkward size, so we don't use it for the cars, but we can hear the does go into labor while getting other tasks in the house accomplished.  Just how convenient this is was driven home by having our first three kiddings happen in the barn.  Sometimes, a doe will start to show signs of early labor and have kids on the ground in 20 minutes.  Sometimes, you catch the doe in early labor and four hours later, you're still sitting in the barn waiting to catch and dry off kids, not wanting to leave for fear that you'll miss something important, but also not getting anything done.

The original pen was made out of two 16 foot no-climb welded wire horse panels cut in half and made into a giant square.  I'm pretty sure that when I bought the panels, I was just looking for holes small enough that baby goats couldn't climb through them- after a couple of years, the five foot tall panels seemed pretty ridiculous, and I decided to get some hog panels instead.  The hog panels were shorter, and we were able to do two pens, so there could be a pen just for kids, and just for does.  This was to keep either the bottle babies from bugging the pregnant does, and to keep the pregnant does from getting too aggressive with the bottle babies. 

Eventually, we were up to three kidding pens which could also be split in half if many does were kidding at once. One Saturday last year found me arriving home from the farmer's market just in time to deal with six does kidding over a span of four or five hours, all in their own little kidding chambers.  We had added some plywood as the backing for the stalls- mainly to protect the drywall since the kids of 2010 had eaten holes through it- and used metal loops to attach the hog panels.  This freed up a couple of the hog panels, which are now mainly being used to patch up holes Bert and Ernie have created in the buck pasture fence.  But I digress.

Last year, I became somewhat disenchanted with the kidding pen set up.  Here's the thing- does like to step up on the hog panel wires.  When they do this, whatever is on their feet gets on the wire.  Then, baby goats, exploring the world with their mouths as they do, get that gunk in their mouths.  The panels are difficult to disinfect, and there just weren't good barriers between the stalls.  I craved solid, impervious surfaces that could be easily wiped down. 

The new design: all three stalls are a little over 5'x10', and the walls are made of vinyl covered plywood- very slick and solid.  The front of the pens have doors still made of hog panel, but there shouldn't be cross contamination.  Should we decide we need to divide the stalls, it will be more difficult than just clipping wire panels to wire panels, but I'm hoping that the easier-to-clean aspect will make up for the loss of convenience. The solid walls also seem to keep the areas under the heat lamps warmer, and there should be less of a draft from the garage door. 

Our first kids of the year have grown up a bit in the last few weeks:

Luna's daughter- Selenehelion- always keeping an eye on me

Roxanne's kids are over towards the right, one of Luna's bucks is the lounge lizard in the middle, and the dark kid top center and top left are Sapphire's, with one of Boo's kids in the lower left-hand corner.

CRF Castle Rock Roxanne had our first February kids- three does and a buck sired by Castle Rock Bentley.  Roxanne is from a line of does who are very slow to mature, and I've been waiting very patiently to see this third freshening udder, and it is all I was hoping for.  I hope to get a picture soon, but there's a decent chance that her buck kid will be sold as a herd sire.

Castle Rock Sun Sapphire was the next doe to kid with twin bucks by Bentley; both bucks are polled, and one appears to have his mother's blue eyes as well.  Sapphire was very talkative during her long, uneventful labor, while I was pretty deep into a very bad cold that had moved into my sinuses and was affecting my hearing in weird ways- human voices were hard to hear, but clinking glass or bleating goats were all amplified and painful.  I just wanted the kids to come out so I wouldn't have to hear the bleating any more! 

Ghost Pine gave us our first Chicago Peace kids- two bucks that look just like tiny versions of their mother, and a light buckskin doe who is going home with a very excited 4-H family in a couple of days.

The next day, without making a sound, Bailey presented us with quads

Can you tell which one of these five is not Bailey's?
I am quite surprised that a brown doe (out of a chamoisee doe and by a gold buck who throws a lot of chocolate) and a gold and white buck (Castle Rock Harvest Moon- out of a gold and white doe and by a buckskin and white buck) would produce four solid buckskin kids, but there we go.  The buck has blue eyes, and I think one of the does has blue eyes too, but they are so similar that it is a challenge to tell them apart. 

The little mostly white doe in the picture came out of Saranade, as did her look-alike sister and two darker buckskin bucks.  Chicago Peace is the sire of these kids as well, and they are all very sharp and dairy kids.  The two does look very much like SnowFluryCeanothus- an older half sister of Saranade, and it is incredibly tempting to keep one of the does based on just that, but I am trying really hard to limit how many does I keep this year- last year I retained 14 junior does, and I cannot do that again this year if I want to keep the herd at a manageable size.

Snownamie had triplet bucks by Chicago Peace- not what I was hoping for, but at least we had some variation on the all buckskin, all the time, with two of the bucks being black and white and super friendly. They took turns keeping me company while Coral Bells was in labor.

Some serious napping taking place

I'd bred Coral Bells to Barnaby as a repeat of the previous year's breeding that produced twin bucklings that were long and gorgeous, but hoping this time for a doe to retain.  Looks like it was not meant to be- Cora had one normal buck, and one very underdeveloped buck that had clearly stopped developing a while ago.  This occasionally happens in all animals- for some reason, the fetus just stops developing at a certain point.  With the exception of not having as much milk right now as I would have anticipated, Cora seems fine and is not showing any ill effects, though we are definitely keeping an eye on her.

At the rate we're going- 25 kids from eight does- it is entirely possible that despite my plans to have less kids this year, we'll come close to last year's total of over 100 kids.  I guess on the bright side- this year's kiddings are more spread out than last year's.



Lynda said...

Such beautiful pictures! Glad to hear your season is off to a good start -- and maybe slightly less insane than it was last year.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Despite what the calendar might say, there's no question it's spring at Castle Rock Farm...and I thought we were busy! I hope you find a chance to catch up on some well earned sleep from time to time ;)