We have been trying to successfully grow a garden for literally years.
One thing after another came up. First we tried to deal with our extremely heavy clay soil, and after a few years we tried a Pallet Garden. The basic idea is to fill some wooden pallets with good soil, and by-pass the poor soil you have now. Bingo! You should have a much better harvest than you have had in years past with the terrible soil that you have tried to grow in previously! Let me tell you, that year our garden stunk. All my plants grew long, and scraggly, and we got pretty much nothing. But we did spend a lot in water to keep all our poor pitiful plants alive! The problem was that our plants could not penetrate though to the soil underneath boards, and thus, had only a few inches of topsoil to grow in. Needless to say, the next year we went back to our clay soil, and got our regular so-so harvest.
Once we moved, we tried Square Foot gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It has worked wonders for my sister-in-law's garden, so we figured we would give it a try. The only thing I did differently, was that instead of 6 inches of soil, I used 8, and I swapped perlite for the vermeculite. Unfortunately, last year we chose our garden spot where it got a max of 4 hours of sunlight. This year we moved our garden up into the one place that we got enough sun. The chicken pen. We did put a high wire fence around it, and you know what? We have had no problem with insects!
BWAHAHA! No pest can get past the chicken guard! Our garden in PEST FREE!!!!!!!
Sorry, I hate creepy-crawlies, and I'm super glad I don't have to deal with them anymore. At least not in the garden. :)
Any-hoo, this year our garden has TAKEN OFF! This year we planted potatoes, corn, beets, carrots, melons, cucumbers, and summer squash.
In all of our gardening years, this has been the best yet! I can't wait to see what God has in store for our harvest!
Like many people, we started out two doelings, and after they had their fluffy bouncing babies.........you know what happens. Goats are addicting y'all! This year we bred four does and ending up with 11 cute, big-eyed, snuggley, little fuzz balls.
Our herd had:
This is our first set of quads! Aren't they adorable? I sure think so.
This kidding season was pleasantly uneventful. My niece got to see the quads born, but after watching two kids slide out she said "I'm done!" and evacuated. :-) Now my other niece is dying to see kids born too. Maybe next year........
If you want babies of your own next year we still have some kids for sale (hint hint) :)
Who's ready for squishy baby pictures? I am! I am!
As I see it, when you raise goats, the seasons are not divided into traditional spring, summer, autumn and winter, but are instead divided into
kidding, showing, breeding and waiting. Depending on your herd and location, the proportions of each season might be a little different, but in northern California, our show season usually runs from May through September. We recently went to the 1st annual Mother Lode Dairy Goat Association show, and we had an absolute blast! Showing is really exciting, especially when you have nice animals who place good, but even when our does place not-so-good, we still learn a lot and have loads of fun.
I would really, really recommend working with your animals, so they will actually walk nicely in the ring. Just a few minutes several times a week can greatly reduce all the jumping and dragging. I like to use the lead I will use in the ring, for Nigerian Dwarves you can get away with a nylon lead, but ADGA recommends using a chain collar for all breeds.
I use tail pulling as a last result only. At first, I try to coax my does to walk, and use rewards, but there are just some does who even after many walking sessions, just need a firmer hand.
Gather your supplies. When at a show, you will probably not be able to run home and grab the supplies you forgot, so be sure to double check that you have everything. Our show list includes:
When you get to the show location, and get all your goaties settled in their pens with feed and water, now you pretty much just wait. At most ADGA shows, there are several, if not all dairy breeds represented, and if your breed(s) go first, great! If you don't go first, have fun waiting! Don't worry, they usually call each breed when it's time to go. Keep an eye on all the other goats of your breed, and follow their cue.
Finally! Time to show! Grab your goat, keep your registration papers handy, and head to the ring! There is not much to explain about the actually showing. The judge will tell you where to walk, and when. Keep your eye on him/her and you'll be fine. Once you walk/drag your goat into position, just pose her, and that's about it!
If you win, GREAT! Congratulations! If you lose, don't worry too much about it. Young jr does, and first fresheners don't usually win a whole lot, especially when put up against older more developed animals. Remember, even if you have a whole line-up of absolutely gorgeous animals, one will need to be at the end. Before I let you go, I need to warn you about some people. Most goat people are really, really nice, and are good winners and losers, but in every competition there will be those people. Some people just get way too competitive with their animals, and feel the need to win every show they go to. Just letting you know, that there will be type those people out there.
Now go out there, and have a great time!
How many times do I have to tell you?
You need to stay on your side of the fence!
What do you mean "your pen isn't fun"? You have an A-frame to climb and play on in your pen. You have hay. You have water. What does this pen have that your pen doesn't have?
You are too old to stay in the doe's pen.
I'm only doing what's best for you.
Boys, boys, boys........
How many times do I have to tell you?
Finally! After going FROM NDGA, THROUGH AGS, and TO ADGA, Doug and Cindy Farms Ella and Doug and Cindy Farms Blossom are both registered with ADGA. Whew! You can read all about the horrible, long and drug out journey through getting our goats registered (yes, I'm exaggerating) here. Now before this post is over, I have a small piece of advice: Before you buy a NDGA registered goat, stop and think about how badly you want that goat. Nevermind. Pretend that I didn't write that and you didn't read that. Now I will rephrase my advice. So before you buy a NDGA registered goat, stop and think about how bady you want that goat to be registered with ADGA. If you honestly don't care/only want to be registered with NDGA, GREAT! Get the goat. If you care a little bit, and figure it might be nice to register with AGS too, GREAT! Get the goat. If you care A LOT, however, and really want to get your goat registered with ADGA, and are willing to pay a bit of money to do so (there are many different variables that may be required, it depends on on the registry of your goat's ancestors), be prepared for a good chunk of paperwork (But you should probably get that goat anyway).
From Taylor (By the way, my FIRST BLOG POST! :D)
PS. I'm very sorry to tell you this, but I lied to you. My 'small' advice was not small (whoops).
Now I just gotta say
I love polled. I like blue eyes, moon spots, frosted ears, and lots of coloring too. Not too crazy about wattles, though. I try to breed my goats for conformation, not color. Colors won't help in the show ring. Although I don't breed specifically for polled, blue eyes, colors etc. Those things just seem to come with the package!
Now I periodically have to check these charts. So I figured: Why not make your own? Ready? Let's start!
Is when a goat is born hornless. Polled is a dominant trait, thankfully, and thus, it is easy to add a few polled goats to your herd. All goats (and pretty much everything else) gets one gene from each parent. If an animal gets two recessive genes, the recessive trait show up. If two horned animals breed, (horned is recessive) then there is no chance of polled babies.
Polled = P (dominant) Horned = H (recessive)
Homozygous is when both genes are the same. Heterozygous is when the genes are different from each other. Here are the situations:
HH x HH = 100% horned kids. (HH homozygous horned. Only able to produce polled offspring if bred to a polled mate.)
PH x HH = 50% polled kids. (PH heterozygous polled. Can still produce horned offspring if bred to a horned mate.)
%50 horned kids. (HH homozygously horned. Only able to produce polled offspring if bred to a polled mate.)
PH x PH = 75% polled kids. (PP homozygous polled 25% or PH heterozygous polled 50% cannot tell which until bred. PP animals cannot produce horned offspring, regardless of mate. PH can still produce horned offspring if bred to a horned mate.)
25% horned kids. (HH cannot produce polled kids unless bred to a polled mate.)
PP x PH = 100% polled kids. (PP homozygous polled 50% or PH heterozygous polled 50% cannot tell which until bred. PP animals cannot produce horned offspring, regardless of mate. PH can still produce horned offspring if bred to a horned mate.)
PP x PP = 100% polled kids. (PP homozygous polled PP animals cannot produce horned offspring, regardless of mate.)
From left to right: Blue, light brown (gold) brown
(Just like polled, blue eyes are a dominant gene. For all you who love those blue eyes, nows the time to celebrate! It is very easy to add blue eyes to your herd.
Blue eyed = Bl (dominant) Brown eyed = Br (recessive)
Here are the situations:
BrBr x BrBr = 100% brown eyed kids (HH homozygous brown eyed. Only able to produce blue eyed offspring if bred to a blue eyed mate.)
BlBr x BrBr = 50% blue eyed kids. (BlBr heterozygous blue eyed. Can still produce brown eyed offspring if bred to a brown eyed mate.)
50% brown eyed kids. (BrBr homozygously brown eyed. Only able to produce blue eyed offspring if bred to a blue eyed mate.)
BlBr x BlBr = 75% blue eyed kids. (BlBl homozygous blue eyd 25% or BlBr heterozygous blue eyed 50% cannot tell which until bred. BlBl animals cannot produce brown eyed offspring, regardless of mate. BlBr can still produce brown eyed offspring if bred to a brown eyed mate.)
25% brown eyed kids. (BrBr cannot produce blue eyed kids unless bred to a blue eyed mate.)
BlBl x BlBr = 100% blue eyed kids (PP homozygous blue eyed 50% or PH heterozygous blue eyed 50% cannot tell which until bred. BlBl animals cannot produce brown eyes, regardless of mate. BlBr can still produce brown eyes if bred to a brown eyed mate.)
BlBl x BlBl = 100% blue eyed kids. (BlBl homozygous blue eyed animals cannot produce brown eyed offspring, regardless of mate.)
It seems that all the 'extras' are dominant genes! In my research I found that polled, blue eyes, and wattles are all dominant genes!
Some people like their goats with "jewelry" and some don't. I personally don't really care for it, but I would take a quality goat with or without wattles.
W = wattles (dominant) N = Un wattled (recessive)
NN x NN = 100% brown eyed kids (NN homozygous non wattled. Only able to produce wattled offspring if bred to a wattled mate.)
WN x NN = 50% wattled kids. (WW heterozygous wattled. Can still produce un-wattled offspring if bred to an non wattled mate.)
50% non-wattled kids. (NN homozygously un-wattled. Only able to produce wattles offspring if bred to a wattled mate.)
WN x WN = 75% wattled kids. (WW homozygous Wattled 25% or WN heterozygous wattled 50% cannot tell which until bred. WW animals cannot produce Non wattled offspring, regardless of mate. WN can still produce non wattled offspring if bred to a un-wattled mate.)
25% Non wattled kids. (NN cannot produce wattled kids unless bred to a wattled mate.)
WW x WN = 100% wattled kids (WW homozygous wattled 50% or WN heterozygous wattled 50% cannot tell which until bred. WW animals cannot produce un-wattled, regardless of mate. WN can still produce no wattled if bred to a non wattled mate.)
WW x WW = 100% wattled kids. (WW homozygous wattled animals cannot produce un-wattled offspring, regardless of mate.)
These are just the possibilities of what you could get. Since the genes that kids get are random, like the flip of a coin, you could end up with more or less. River Edge had one set of quadruplets, the mother was BrBr/PH and the father was BlBr/HH and out of the 4 kids, 3 polled, and 2 were blue eyed. One woman we know who owns a blue eyed buck has had mostly blue eyes, even though her buck is actually heterozygous blue eyed! On the other hand, I've heard of polled bucks who almost always "throw" horns.
Now as I mentioned, I would not breed just for these outward characteristics. Especially if you are breeding with the intention to show, appraise, or do production testing.
In this post I have to mention that there is a rumor that breeding polled to polled will result in animals that are hermaphrodites, that is, are not exclusively male or female, but have intersex features, and are sterile. I must tell you, that this is not true. The gene for hermaphroditism is closely related to the gene for polled, but that doesn't mean that every kid will be a hermaphrodite. Just because those two genes are close relatives, that does not mean to be polled the goat must carry the "hermie" gene. The "hermie" gene is recessive, and the kid needs two sets of the gene to be a hermaphrodite. There have also been horned hermaphrodites. It all depends whether the parents carry the gene.
Have fun breeding! TTYL - Tessa
Ah, how time flies.
It has already been almost 4 weeks since we got our Fuzzy-Wuzzy Maxie. When we got home with him, we were sure Millie was gonna put up a fuss, but surprisingly, no. All Miss Mill's did was sniff him, and try to steal his supper.
Millie quickly set out to teach Max everything. Good, (wrestling and ball-chasing) and bad (digging). Recently she has taught Max that chicken and goat poop is a delicacy. (Sigh) Millie loves Max, and they both squash themselves into one dog-house, but sometimes he gets on her nerves with all his energy.
Max is actually pretty mellow and calm for a puppy. He still acts like a puppy in some ways, by jumping on everyone (we're working on that one), chasing chickens (we're really working on that one), and chewing on everything that looks chewable, listed but not limited to: Metal water bowl, Plastic water bowl, ball, chew-bone, sticks, fingers, and pant legs while walking along side an unsuspecting human. Max and Millie are partners in crime, ganging up on chickens until Taylor or I come to scold, and then Millie acts all innocent, and tries to turn Max into her fall-guy. Little stinker.
I love dogs, after only almost 4 weeks here, Max is twice as big as Millie. It's so funny to watch Max, he acts like a big dog already. Very different from little energeticc Millie.
Millie: Races towards you (put-put-put), hops down the steps, (thump-thump-thump) and puts both muddy feet on your nice clean jeans (soft thwack).
Max: Lopes slowly towards you (wump-wump-wump), clambers down the steps (Ga-lump. Ga-lump. Ga-lump.), and then paws, (not jumps) at your leg with a muddy paw.
I love my dogs. Feel free to tell me abaout yours in the comments!
I love, love, love kidding season
You get to see bouncing balls of baby fuzz, everyone's udder at full production, and hopefully, you get to see how wondrously your mother goats raise up the next generation with such love and patience. One of my favorite parts, is watching the kids being born. Last year, Blossom and Ella were in with the buck for 2 months, and what do they do, but get pregnant at the last possible moment. We were out there staring at their backsides, and feeling their ligaments for a whole month before the kids arrived. When they finally arrived, Ella was simple. 3 minutes, no complications, and one blue-eyed little beauty. Blossom had a little more trouble, 2 LARGE bucklings, and one had a bit of trouble breathing, but after that it was smooth sailing. Months before we had assembled our kidding kit, lovingly dubbed the 'Goat Tote'. I'm very glad that there weren't any emergencies, and I hope never to run into one, but as Mom says:
"Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."
Basic supplies list:
%7 Iodine for dipping umbilical cords. Last year one of Glenda's kids contracted Navel ill, and didn't make it. Dipping the cords in Iodine is a simple way to make sure that the tragedy of losing a kid to Navel ill, doesn't happen to you.
The Nose-sucker-thing also known as the 'Snucker' is life-saver, and only $0.99-2.99! I mentioned that one of Blossie's boys had problems breathing, and we just sucked out his nose and mouth, and he was fine.
Pritchard nipples with bottles are an easy back-up in case of rejection or death. Be sure to check that the nipples fit correctly on the bottles.
Lubricant in case of kidding problems. We keep a bottle handy in case.
Towel or puppy-pads are great for helping to dry kids if the weather is cold or if Mom has multiples and can't lick them all at the same time.
Disposable/OB Gloves for keeping the inside of the doe clean in case of an emergency.
Warm Molasses water is greatly appreciated by your new Momma after delivery, for Iron and energy.
Flashlight just in case your doe decides to follow Murphey's Law and has her kid at 1:30 AM.
Phone with Emergency numbers are a must when dealing with births. Goats don't tend to have many problems, but if they do, you do not want to be scrambling through the house looking for the vet's number. Everything seems to take twice as long in a panicked state, and when a doe is in trouble, every minute counts.
Here is the Nice-to-have list:
Stomach tube in case the kid is too weak to take a bottle.
Preparation H is nice to have to help with swelling.
Baby Monitors are really nice to check if your doe is in labor without tromping up to the barn at 3.00 AM. There is a very good chance that if they are in Labor you will be able hear them with the baby monitor. (Ones with a camera are especially nice.)
Scissors and Alcohol are great if the Umbilical cords are too long and need a little trim.
Selenium-E paste for preventing White Muscle Disease. It's not absolutely necessary, but it can't hurt to be cautious, just be sure not to over-dose.
Frozen or fresh Colostrum is wonderful to have on hand in the case of rejection or if a kid is orphaned. Please be sure to use real Colostrum. Some replacers have accidentally harmed or killed kids, and they just can't stand up to the mother's milk with all it's antibodies and protective goodness.
A Camera is something that I love to have on hand. Many times while I'm in the Goat Pen, I wish I had a camera with me. The times I have, I get photos like this:
and this, and this, and this:
Happy Kidding Season!
Yay! My doe's having babies! Now what? One aspect of owning a pregnant doe, is feed. There are many, many, many different feeds, and ways to feed. I am in no ways an expert, but here's my 2 ¢'s. For the first 3 months of pregnancy, the expectant mother needs only good grass hay. By the end of the first 12 weeks, the unborn kids are about the size of newborn kittens. A newborn Nigerian Dwarf goat weighs about 10 times the weight of a newborn kitten, and the unborn kids must gain this weight and size in only 8 weeks. Needless to say, the 2 months before kidding is when the kids pull the most nutrition from the doe to fuel their growth. If the doe is underfed, she may lose weight, she may not produce enough milk to feed her offspring, or she may develop life-threatening conditions like Hypocalcemia (also known as 'Milk-fever'), Ketosis, or Pregnancy toxemia. At the start of the 13th week, gradually start giving your doe a handful of grain, and a little alfalfa. Very slowly, boost the grain and alfalfa, so by the 2nd-to last week, she is getting about 1-2 cups of grain, and 1-2 lbs. of alfalfa. If your doe is HUGE feel free to give her a little more as you feel necessary. She is your goat, and that means you can feed her however you want. But remember, if you let her free-choice her grain, her kids could (and probably will) grow so big that she will have a hard time delivering. If you choose to have your mother-to-be ultrasounded, lucky you! You now have an accurate idea of how many Mom is eating for, and can adjust accordingly. It doesn't really matter if the alfalfa is pelleted or in hay-form, because the doe is still consuming lots of grass-hay for roughage. I must say, that loose alfalfa is better for her, and is a little cheaper, ($15.95 per 100 lb bale vs $11.49 per 40 lb bag) but pellets are much less messy, and less likely to be wasted.
That's about it! Re-cap: grass-hay free-choice, grain and alfalfa the last 2 months. Easy!
Last December, our dear sweet Molly passed away. After her funeral, we started looking at puppies. We like starting with babies, their easier to train, and of course who wants to miss that cute fuzzy-wuzzy-chew-everything-in-sight stage? Not me. I reaaally wanted a Livestock Guardian Dog. We have only lost a few chickens so far, and we lock the goats in their little house every night, but who wants to take any chances? We looked around, but mostly we would either find Adults ,or out of our price range. We also had a couple of restrictions, since we live in a rented home. No Huskies, Akitas, Pitts, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Wolf crosses, etc. Basically if it is known for being on the aggressive side, we couldn't have one. We looked on Craigslist, Facebook, and animals shelters. We mentioned to a friend, that we were looking, and she referred us to a friend who had some Great Pyrenees/Chocolate Lab oops mix puppies. We texted back and forth, and after a while had a deposit down on a male puppy. After several weeks of waiting for the puppies to be weaned, we went to pick up our pup. While waiting, we had already named whichever puppy we got 'Max.' Once we got there, we were over run with FLUFFY. And that was only all the adult Great Pyrs. When we got to meet the puppies, it was like beautiful fluffy stuffed animals. There were 4 chocolate colored ones, and 1 brindle boy. After lots of debate and cuddles, we picked the brindled boy. Once we got him home, we introduced him to our dog Millie. Max is super mellow and sweet, and smart. He immediately settled into his role of 'lowly puppy'. It's so funny to see Millie and Max together, since Max is already as big as Millie. Now they snuggle together at night, and I'm sure that soon they will be best friends, and partners in crime.