Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The kids are born

This morning I got up and headed to the barn in my Pajama's. It was 60 degrees F, so really warm and the sun was out. When I got there, I put the goats out and feed the bottle babies, and then went to clean Buckets pen with fresh straw. She didn't want to come out, so I checked her and she had just the slightest discharge so I knew she would kid very soon. I cleaned her pen, put lots of fresh straw down and quickly finished feeding everyone and then sat with her. She was having contractions for a while and then the kidding began. She had twins, a buckling, AND a doeling! I was so hoping for a doeling off of her. She is my favorite doe, and to be able to have a doeling off her is just so exciting.

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Both kids were in the right positions, I helped with Bean, the first kid, the doeling, and once she dropped, Bucket went to cleaning and I quickly cleaned her nose and mouth and she took a big gasp of air. The buckling came quickly behind and was a lot easier for Bucket. His tongue was hanging out all the way. It's awful when they come out, they don't look alive. Then you remove all the gunk from their noses and mouth and they take that first big gasp of air and breath. My heart stops everytime. I thought she'd have a third because they were so, so, tiny. But just two tiny babies in there and she was done.

She is a wonderful mama. I got Buckets milk flowing and helped get the kids drinking for the first time since they are so wobbly and Bucket cleaned them all off well. I couldn't be happier. What a way to start the morning. I ran in the house when the kids were down and called to Kevin to bring coffee!

This evening things seemed a little off, so I sat with Bucket and the babies for a while. It seemed Bean the doeling was afraid of Bucket and Bucket seemed distressed. I soon learned what was up. Bean who is only about 8 hours old, is a little too independent for the time she's been in this world. She is just full of pee and vinegar. But she is nursing and everything is fine, just wants to explore and do her own thing. I held her and she was too adorable for words, stretching her lips and not fussing a bit. The little buckling was a little more nervous and just wanted his mama.

Kevin and I went for a quick ride to the cedar swamp and not far from the woodyard/goat yard found a fairly fresh, 1-2 day coyote kill. They took an old doe near a very popular bedding area before the cedar swamp. The teeth were almost completely worn out that's how we could tell it was a very old doe... over 5-6 years which in the wild, is old.

We found the remnants of another coyote kill from the winter back on our new road by the creek, but only fur and a few bones, it had been taken out on the ice and the creek is open now. We were sure that was Goofy, our big old doe that went missing along with her fawn earlier this winter. We were pretty sure the fawn that was killed on our pond in front of the house was Socks.

But it wasn't so. Last night after months of being away, Goofy and Socks both showed up in the yard. Safe and sound. Socks is a very, very distinctive fawn, and Goofy has been here for 5 years at least. We were thrilled to see them back and to know that they had not perished over the winter. The coyotes are coming closer and closer every night, now that the snow is almost gone and it's spring, they are hungry and make their presence more known.

We spotted a porcupine out enjoying the sunshine too, and got a good whiff of what smelled exactly like bear, that unmistakable musky, stinky, odor. We didn't spot him though back in the cedar swamp, but the smell was right.

The forest is coming alive again with smells, sights, and sounds. The Red wing blackbirds are back, the geese keep returning home. The Wild turkeys are all decked out in their beautiful colors now that they are looking for a mate. It's amazing how in the dead of winter you forget just how quiet it is. You forget until everything comes alive again in the spring and that silent air is filled up with birds singing, turkeys gobbling, frogs calling, Owls hooting. Soon the Whip-poor-wil will return and sit outside our bedroom window whipping all night long and keeping us awake as he likes to do. Oh the things to look forward to!

Sammy is doing amazing, he's getting bigger and better everyday. Except I am in big trouble, since he's decided he wants me to hold him every evening and sleep in my lap. He can get in the chair on his own too, and as soon as I sit down, there is Sammy climbing up. Kevin is hoping Sammy can go to the barn soon, and I think Sammy is planning on staying.

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We ran into town today to grab a few things and one of the ladies in one of the stores whom we see once and a while, asked if we were up at the cottage for the weekend. Both Kevin and I were in our farm clothes, I had a tape measure hanging from my pants. I didn't think she was talking to us. But then I realized she thought we were cottage people because she sees us only once and a blue moon. It made me realize how little we do leave the farm, especially in winter. The only place we go is the feed store! We stopped there today also to buy more milk replacer for Izzie the calf, and a few other supplies. Our lane is in full mud mode so we are trying to stay off it as much as possible.

I made french toast the other day and I used one of our store bought eggs we had leftover and a couple of my fresh eggs from my hens. Can you believe the difference in color? It's because of the lifestyle and diet of a hen raised on a large egg farm, to one that is raised on a more natural diet. It's quite remarkable.

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the orange one is our farm egg, and bright yellow is the store bought

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I will get more pictures tomorrow. It's been a very long and very busy day! But it's been a great day :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Start of spring

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As you can see from this picture, no one here gets along very well! I loved this picture. The sheep, Buckwheat the buckling, and Izzie the calf, all relaxing together. The turkeys were there too. They are just all loving the sunshine we've been getting and the warmer weather. Everyone is so excited spring is coming and they all love lying in the manure.

The weather has improved and things are starting to getting busier around the farm. Lily had her very first Lamb on Sunday, a little black ram. She wasn't sure at first if she should be bothered with him but finally came around, and saved me from having yet another bottle baby.
Levi

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Lila had her lamb yesterday, a pure white ewe lamb. This is her third year having a ewe lamb, amazing. They are doing really well. Lila's lamb was huge, the biggest lamb she's ever had, or we've ever had.
Lilac

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Kevin has started work on the livingroom walls again, which is a huge job and has been an ongoing one. But with the nicer weather it's a lot easier to work inside and outside of the house. It's going really well and we are making some major progress with it.

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I've started spring cleaning in the barn and house. Sammy, our house goat, is doing really, really, well. He continues to get better everyday and is such an absolute sweetheart.

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The sap run was super short this year - it's not going below freezing at night and today much to our complete amazement, we heard a tree frog singing. That means it's done. Our Canadian geese were at the pond today, walking on the ice. They are ready to reclaim their pond but it's still completely frozen so they are not sure what to do. I look forward to the babies in the spring, two years in a row now the geese have had babies in our pond and they bring up to the house in the early morning to eat grass. It's so much fun to watch. The Robins are also back as well, we noticed them for the first time yesterday.

Bucket is close to kidding but her ligaments (above her tail) have not yet gone soft, so she's close, but not quite ready. I'm having to watch her closely though. I thought yesterday was the day, but nothing has changed since. So we wait. I told Kevin today that Bucket was driving me crazy and he said "no you are driving yourself crazy!" and it's true. She's quite happy and not worried one little bit about this and I'm pacing the floors.

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Bucket says "I'll kid when I'm ready!"

There is much work ahead of us now the weather is just perfect. The heat of the summer is no time to work so we need to accomplish as much as we can before then. April and May we have our work cut out for us, but hopefully we'll get more done in March than we planned on if this nice weather stays. The animals are telling us spring is here, not just the weather. I think all of us are more than ready for it!
oh and I found some time to add a few new recipes :) www.backwoodskitchen.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A stranger in the yard

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Torn Ear by the house

Monday morning when I was heading out to do the barn chores, I spotted someone running along the marsh in front of the house. To my surprise he didn't run, and just sat down and started yelling at me. It was a mink. I have never seen a mink since I've been living here or in this area. The last time I saw mink, they were on a mink farm in Southern Ontario. They are really pretty animals, with their long tails and sleek black coats. He was yelling at me to leave. Bossy little things.

It was neat to see him but I am not at all thrilled to see him so close to the house. If he gets in my barn, he'll kill every chicken and rabbit he can. He's also small, so I'm not sure if the dogs would notice him or not. I have to trust that they would. I'm sure he would not be afraid of the dogs. Our old chicken coop is down by the marsh in the front yard and at first I thought he was checking to see if we put any new chickens in it, which we will in the late spring. But I think it's more likely he had found something to eat in the marsh, possibly a muskrat since we have many of those in that pond. That's why he was telling me to get lost.

I gave Flavious his first egg the other night. Max loves when he gets an egg from the coop, it's his favorite treat ever. He quite delicately takes it from my hand, the entire egg, and carries it off to where he wants to eat it. Then he drops it gently to the ground - so it does not break. He then cracks it open and eats the inside. A lot of dogs love the shells. I had a German Shepard mix and a Chow mix that loved the entire egg, but Max doesn't eat shells, ever. Flavious did the same thing, gently took it from me so it wouldn't break and put it down to sniff it, then he broke it open. But Flavious ate the entire egg, and Max's shell too.

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We picked up the new hens yesterday from a local guy who sells off his hens when they reach a year and their production slows down. But they will give plenty of eggs for us. I wanted 4 but he gave me a fifth one. He said she was a runt. Everyone is getting along fine this morning, sharing food, and getting used to their new home and new friends.

Two nights ago I gave Sammy the goat kid some more penicillin. The next morning he came out of his kennel and jumped around and had improved so much. I gave him more last night and today he's not 100% but he is still getting better. He didn't get enough the first round obviously. As soon as we stopped the penicillin he went quickly downhill. So I will continue the penicillin. I cannot believe how much better he is right now. Hopefully he will continue to improve with the penicillin and vitamin paste he's getting. He's still coughing but he's not just getting up and then going back in his kennel like he was before. He's out playing, looking for trouble, and trying to eat everything, what a goat should be doing! I plan on having him around for a long time doing the "Sammy shuffle" which is what I call his walk. He slides across the floor because it's easier to walk, since it's slippery. So he does the Sammy shuffle to get around when he's not doing the goatie springs and hops. He is not doing many springs right now, but he did two today which is more than he's done in a week.

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I got these great new PJ's. I think they are the best ones I've found yet! It's too big, but it was too adorable to pass up. It says "I'm the queen on the EWE- niverse!" Although, Lila, is true queen of the ewe-niverse.
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I was cooking dinner the other night and was working at the stove and I turned around to see Douglas the pug puppy, Norman the Chihuahua, and Sammy the goat kid all sitting on the rug in the kitchen together staring at me waiting for a handout. Last night Sammy started gnawing on Norman's back, he doesn't bite, just sucks on everything in sight, so he mouthed back and forth on Norman's back and Norman just loved that since it was like a massage. So Norman stood there with his head up in the air, eyes closed, back stretched out, getting a massage from Sammy. Sammy even tried sucking Noel the Mini Rex's ears and she just sat there and let him do that too! The interactions between our animal family is just incredible and so much fun to watch. How can you not smile and laugh when you see things like that? Doesn't matter how bad of a day you are having or how awful of a mood you are in. It's priceless.

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I caught Flavious sleeping on the job this morning. He looks like a polar bear passed out on the rock. I can see he's really doing a good job of guarding! Looks like he had a busy night, so the boys got to catch some shut eye when he can. Especially while the sun is shining.

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Izzie went outside today to get some exercise. She is adorable. She has doubled in size and is growing really well. She loves running, I mean she just runs and jumps, and hops in the snow. It's warm today and the sun is out so I figured it's a good afternoon for her to be out with the sheep for a while playing.

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After we got a load of wood in we went for a ride in the mule on our trails that Kevin had plowed. Buddy dog came along for the ride. Saturday we'll go out and set up our sugar camp and start tapping trees. By the weather forecast there should be a pretty good run this week, so hopefully we'll get some of that. As of Friday my goats are due anytime this week. So it's going to be an interesting week!

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Kevin & Buddy on the trail

For now, it's bedtime for all of us. I leave you with a couple pictures of Norman and Douglas (who weighs 7 pounds now!)

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Douglas says "who is it?"

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Norman waiting for bedtime

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