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.
The GCH, CH, MCH, ARMCH, or PGCH titles
for awarded for becoming a Permanent Grand Champion. To become a Permanent Champion a doe must win a minimum of 3 Grand Champion titles in a sanctioned show.
A doe may win one champion 'leg' dry, either as an adult, or a kid.
Bucks can also win CH, MCH, and PGCH.
CH, GCH, SG and SGCH are awarded from the American Dairy Goat Association.
MCH and ARMCH are awarded from the American Goat Society.
PGCH is awarded from the Nigerian Dairy Goat Association.
All those letters can make your head spin! (Just wait till I start explaining the *'s and +'s! Go get the Aspirin now.)
It's really quite simple, listen closely:
CH means that they have won Grand Champion at a sanctioned show 3 times.
GCH means that along with the Grand Champion title, the doe has earned a Milk Star (see below)
MCH means pretty much the same as CH. MCH stands for 'Master Champion.'
ARMCH means the same as GCH. Except to get AR (Advanced Registry) the doe needs to earn her milk star BEFORE the 305 deadline. If the doe has earned her AR without earning her championship, the AR is still placed in front of the name.
PGCH means is the same as CH and MCH. Bucks however need four Grand Champion show-ring wins to earn this title.
SG means 'superior genetics'. This means that this goat is in the top %15 of production for his/her breed.
SGCH means that the doe/buck in question has his/her SG AND his/her CH title.
Take the Aspirin, we are starting *'s and +'s.
* is a Milk production award, it is called 'star'. It is earned by a doe producing either enough pounds of milk, butterfat or protein in either a one-day test, or a 305-day test. Any animal can earn these through their progeny or parentage.
+ is an award for bucks, they can earn these from their parent's and progeny's awards. In ADGA and AGS the + is only for the bucks, but in NDGA a doe can also earn her + award.
"But I have seen so many *'s and +'s! Sometimes there are multiple symbols, and letters and numbers mixed in! Isn't it complicated? How do you keep track?"
Well my confused friend, as with the champion titles, each registry has their own set of symbols and letters.
American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA)
M = Doe B = Buck
American Goat Society (AGS)
D, AR = Doe S = Buck
Nigerian Dairy Goat Association (NDGA)
DLT, DAR, DS, DD, DP = Doe DS, DAR, DG =B Buck
The numbers mean generations of does who have earned their awards. Lets say that Ella earns her 1*M. Her daughter Charisma also earns her *M. Charisma's title would be
Fun Size Farm Charisma 2*M.
If Charisma has a daughter who earns her *M, she would have a 3*M etc.
See? Very simple.
*DLT can be earned by making the requirements in either milk or butterfat, while milking the whole 305 days.
*DLT+ can be earned by making the poundage in both milk AND butterfat, if milked the entire 305 days.
*M/*D can be earned by making the poundage and/or butterfat. In ADGA this can be earned by protien too.
AR *D/*DAR can be earned by making the required pounds before the deadline.
*DD can be earned on a one-day test.
*DAR+ can be earned if the amounts are made before the deadline in BOTH milk and butterfat.
Parent/Progeny Awards (To be eligible for awards, the goat needs to be registered/recorded with that certain registry. If a buck/doe is registered with NDGA they cannot earn their *S without being registered with AGS. All progeny and mates should be registered with the SAME registry that you are getting the award from.)
*DP/*M can be earned by a doe for having:
3 daughters by at least 2 different sires, who have a *, OR
2 sons by 2 different sires, who have their progeny Awards, OR
2 daughters by at least 2 different sires, who each have a *, and 1 son who has their +DS Award.
+DS/+B/+S can be earned by a buck for having:
3 daughters out of 3 different dams, who have earned their * (In AGS they must earn AR.) OR
2 sons out of 2 different dams, who have earned their progeny Award, (+S in AGS.) OR
2 daughters out of 2 different dams, who have earned their * and a son who has earned his progeny award. (In AGS the awards must be AR * and +S.)
The +DS can be awarded more than once for the same buck, but no offspring can be used more than once. Example: 6 does out of 6 different dams, = 2+DS
+DAR can be earned by a buck for having 3 daughters out of 3 different dams, who have earned their *DLT or their *DLT+
*DS/*B/*S Can be earned by a buck for having:
A dam who has her *DAR+ or *DD/*D/*M or and his sire has his +DS or +DAR/+S or *S/+B OR
A dam who has her *DAR+ or *DD/*D/*M and his sire's dam has her star also.
*DG Can be earned by having a mother who has her *DP. This award shows that this buck has the potential for being a great herdsire.
++S/++B Can be earned by a buck for having 3 (in AGS AR) * daughters, and 2 +S/+B sons.
++*S/++*B Can be earned by a buck for having 3 (in AGS AR) * daughters, 2 +S/+B sons, a sire who has earned his +S or *S/+B and a dam who has earned her *.
Explaination of how Champion "leg" is earned
In the ring the goats are separated into different categories, so that animals are only judged with animals of their own breed and approximate age. After all the ages groups are judged, all the 1st place blue-ribbon winners, are judged for either Senior or Junior Champion.
If the JR. and SR. show-rings are sanctioned separately, then the Champions of each ring earn one of their Legs. If the senior and junior rings are NOT separately sanctioned, but are a Combined Show, then the Senior and Junior Champions do NOT win a Leg. If this is the case, the Senior Champion and Junior Champions compete for Grand Champion. Only the winner earns a Leg.
In ADGA, if the Grand Champion is already a Permanant Grand Champion, the Reserve Grand Champion earns his/her leg.
ADGA Milk Requirements for Nigerian Dwarf goats:
AGS and NDGA Milk requirements for Nigerian Dwarf goats:
If I have forgotten anything or if you have any new information, please, comment. Hope this really helps! <3 Tessa
It looks like a furry white blob from outerspace!
Oh my! IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!
Whew! Its only you Blossom.
Whatcha doing down there?
Ok. Finish your breakfast and then we'll practice show-ring walking.
Now that we've got all the basic ingrediants down
Who's ready to make soap? I am! I am! First thing that we need to discuss, is SAFETY FIRST! When working with Lye, you need to wear gloves. Lye is caustic, and can give chemical burns. I would also recommend wearing long-sleeves, and goggles. If you happen to wear glasses like me, perfect! You are already wearing eye-protection. Oh, it can't be that bad, if I'm careful, I won't get burned. Yes, that is exactly what I thought. For a while I didn't use gloves, or roll my sleeves down, and I got burned for it. Not ER-bad burns, just little dots of skin where lye got splashed. Got you gloves on? Sleeves rolled-down, and glasses/goggles on? Great! Let's start!
First step, is to make or find a recipe. There are many wonderful recipes out there, and if you like to experiment, you can always make one yourself here. Here's a really nice place for recipes. Recipe Link
I know you hear all these terms 'Stearic acid' 'Lauric acid' 'Oleic acid' and the like. I didn't really know about it myself until I read this post. It explains it better than I could.
The Actual Soap-Making
Ready for the real soap-making? First weigh all your oils, and place them in a stainless steel pan. Heat on low, till you hit about 100 degrees. Set aside. Weigh milk and lye, and place frozen/slushy-like milk in a metal or glass bowl, and sprinkle your lye over top. Stir until dissolved, and check with thermometer. The lye and oil blend should be within 10 degrees of each other.
In our last soap post
we talked about a oils and their different properties in soap. In this post, we'll discuss additives and all that other fun stuff! Prepare for a long read, additives, like oils are almost uncountable. ;)
Additives are (big surprise) anything that you add to soap, that is not oil, lye or necessary liquids. There are many categories of additives. Exfoliants, dyes, salts, botanicals, and more. Check out more here.
Fine-ground Oatmeal, Fine-ground Pumice, Baking Soda, and Fine-ground Bamboo extract.
Walnut Shells, Jojoba beads, Sugar, Salt, Shredded Loofa sponge, Crushed Grape seeds, and Ground Pumpkin seeds.
Poppy seeds, Coffee grounds, Cranberry seeds, Loofa sponge, and Strawberry seeds.
Credit goes to the Soap Queen for the list above
There are a few more such as Rice, Barley, and Almonds.
Exfoliants remove dead skin, which helps your live layer of skin underneath look cleaner and healthier, along with giving soap a scrubby texture.
Gentle exfoliants are best used on sensitive areas like the face. If you are looking for a scrubby feel, medium or large exfoliants will meet your needs better, since the gentle exfoliants mentioned above are ground so fine that they are reduced to dust.
Medium and large exfoliants can be used for body or hands, but are a bit scratchy to be used on the face.
Dyes fall into two categories, synthetic and natural. Synthetic dyes are made in a laboratory, and is the smaller category of dyes. Natural dyes however, range from micas and oxides, to herbs and charcoal.
I don't have much experience with dyes yet, but the following link will show you how to get started. Click me!
As the name explains, botanicals are herbs or extracts that can be put into your cold-process soap to give scents and/or vitamins. I've composed a list of botanicals which is by no means complete.
Almonds, Anise, Basil, Barley, Bay, Calendula petals, Catnip leaves, Chamomile flowers, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coconut, Coffee, Comfrey, Fennel, Grapefruit peel, Juniper berries, Kelp, Lavender buds, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Lemon peel,
Lime peel, Luffa sponge, Madder root, Majoram, Marsh Mallow root, Oatmeal,
Orange peel, Peppermint leaves, Plantain (the herb, not the banana-looking thing), Poppy seeds, Rose petals, Rosemary, Safflower powder, Sage leaves,
Spearmint leaves, Thyme, Yarrow flower.
Scents, like dyes, come in the forms of synthetic and natural. Synthetic scents are the ones that you usually buy at the store, with scents that you can't usually get in nature. E.g Almond biscotti, Cotton candy, Beach breeze, Fresh linen, etc.
Natural scents come in the form of Essential oils. Some people cannot tolerate fragrances, but soap can be just as easily made without them. It does take a lot of oil to scent soap, 0.5-1.0 oz, by weight, per pound of soap.
I had to make an 'extras' category for those that just didn't fit in any other categories, but deserve an honorable mention.
Milk, Honey, and Beer.
Milk has wonderful properties in soap. Goats milk soap is great for conditions such as eczema, dry skin, and acne. The cream is excellent for moisturizer, which really helps in the winter months when many people's hands, including yours truly, get chapped and red. There are many vitamins and minerals in milk, such as vitamin A, D, B6, C, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, and magnesium.
NOTE: I recommend raw milk, as a feel it is superior to the homoginized, cooked, standardized stuff from the store.
Honey is a Humectant or Hydroscopic, and helps naturally moisturize, thus helping dry or damaged skin. Honey is also an antimicrobial, and helps with acne. It contains Antioxidants which helps the skin look younger, and protects from sun damage. It also adds a bit of lather to the soap.
Beer contains skin softening amino acids, and the yeast is an antibacterial agent which helps with acne. Soap containing beer has a nice lather. It also has vitamin B along with other vitamins that help moisturize.
Back in October
We were looking for a buck to breed our does, and were trying to find one who would improve MSL, attachment, and just keep the quality and good traits comin'. We looked at Castle Rock, Kickipoo Creek, CABrandywine, Harley Hillside, Mini Prints, and Stitch In Thyme. Then we found Castle Rock Kentucky, at Split Rail Family Farms. His dam is Castle Rock Alum Root is double-finished permanent grand champion, with milk-stars, superior genetics award, and to top that off, a LA score of VEEE 92. His sire Rosasharn's Sitka Spruce, who has sired champions, and can be found in the pedigrees of farms such as Algedi farms, Castle Rock, and Grass valley. So of course we had to use him, and Mr. Kentucky came for a 1-month visit to our farm. He sure knows his job, because with the ultrasound, 5 out of 5 does were pregnant. It was super cool! We saw spines, skulls, heartbeats, placenta, and even the umbilical cords! Unfortunately, our does were too far along in their pregnancies to count the kids accurately. As the kids grow, and take up more and more room, they tend to twist around, and hide behind each other. Kidding season this year will be from mid-March to mid-April, and I'll try to post a video of one of the births. Thanks for reading! :)
So you wanna make your own soap, huh?
Well it couldn't be easier! In this 3-part blog will show you exactly how to make your own Goats milk (or cows/sheep/nut/coconut/yak/horse/soy/etc. milk) soap. The first step is choosing the oil that you want to make soap out of. We use a combination of Olive oil, Coconut oil, Canola oil, Shea butter, Grapeseed oil, Vegetable oil and Lard to make ours. We hope to add a few more like: Sweet Almond oil, Rice Bran oil, Meadowfoam oil, and Castor oil. I probably left out a few, because the types of oils that you can choose are almost unlimited. I'll run you through the few that we use.
Olice oil is a soft/hard oil, meaning that soap made from olive oil will start out soft, but will cure into a nice firm bar over time. Olive oil is a humectant which will attract moisture to the skin. It also is good for sensitive skin, and contains vitamins A, E and antioxidants. Olive oil has nice conditioning properties, and has slippery lather with not much foam.
Coconut oil is a hard oil, which means that the resulting soap will harden faster and produce a firmer bar. Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidants. Coconut oil is good for superfatting, and helps nourish and moisturize the skin. Coconut oil produces soap with big fluffy bubbles, and good cleansing.
Shea butter is a hard oil like Coconut oil, but produces smaller, creamy lotion-y like bubbles. Shea butter is a great moisturizer, and contains vitamins A, E, and C. Shea also helps aging.
Canola oil contains vitamin E, an antioxidant, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which helps with pre-mature aging, and dry skin. Soap made with Canola oil has a nice dense creamy lather. However if used alone, (like all soft oils) the finished soap will be too soft.
Lard is rendered pork fat–HEY! Stop scrolling and read this. I know 'rendered pork fat' makes you think 'bacon grease' but Lard is wonderful for soap. And yes. I know what I'm doing. Lard is a hard fat, and produces a firm bar with a creamy conditioning lather. Lard tends to make soap a nice pretty white too, so if you like nice white, firm bars, Lard is for you!
Grape seed oil
Grape seed oil is a soft oil, and results in a soft bar of soap with mild cleansing and medium lather. Grape seed oil has antioxidants, and is good for sensitive skin.
The Vegetable oil that you pick up at Walmart in really Soybean oil. We got this to make cheap soap, but as soon as we run out, we are omitting it from our recipes. The quality of Veggie oil is just is a bit lower than I like in soap. Soy bean oil, however, have a nice creamy conditioning lather, and if added with Palm, or Coconut oil, can help make a firmer bar.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
When we started out with goats, we bought 2 doeling who were registered with NDGA. After deciding that we wanted to get into big-time breeding, we decided that we wanted to re-register them with one of the largest dairy goat registries in the US, the American Dairy Goat Association. We had a stumbling block, however, because ADGA does not accept NDGA paperwork for registration. Thankfully the American Goat Society will check NDGA paperwork to see if it is possible to register with them, and after your goat is registered with AGS, you can re-register with ADGA. So long story short, we got our does registered with AGS, and sent the paperwork into ADGA to be re-registered. Our paperwork came back, but turns out we were supposed to send in a Transfer Record Request form from AGS. We also had to tattoo our doe's tails with the letter "Q".
Transfering can be a bit confusing, and somewhat expensive if you have more than a few goats to register. Since couldn't register Ella and Blossom with AGS without registering 1 grandma, and both parents, it cost us $59, plus a membership. I'm SUPER glad now that we have the AGS membership, since I plan to register my babies with them, so I'm not complaining. From what I can tell, registering babies born on your farm is easier. Thanks for reading!
Years ago Mom said that she had a
She was a 7 week-old German Shepherd/Australian Shepherd cross, and we went through a long list of names trying to figure out the right name. We had settled on 'Muffin' when Taylor decided that Muffin wasn't the right name, and we needed to choose a different one. Mom suggested 'Molly', and that's what we went with.