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Posts Tagged ‘Nigerian Dwarf Goats’

Periodically, we have to take inventory of what we have and where we want the farm to go.  This always results in some difficult decisions, because the heart and the head are not always aligned.

We have come to the conclusion, that we are primarily a meat goat and dairy goat farm, with pigs and pork as our secondary livestock and product.

We will continue to raise chickens for eggs, but as mentioned in an earlier post, we are out of the broiler business.  It is not profitable and not sustainable.  We’ll still do a few turkeys every year.

Beef is a difficult one.  We will stick with our two Dexter cows to provide us some meat and some cows milk for cheese.  Our mixed breed heifer will be processed this fall and our bull calf will be processed next year.  We don’t have enough quality pasture to raise large feeder steers for either ourselves or customers.

So, having thought this through, and sitting in my chair praying for wisdom, we are going to make some outstanding animals available for sale.

1.  Our two beautiful Belgian Draft Mules, Laverne and Shirley.  These girls are awesome, but just too much animal for our little place.  They need to go to someone who can work them in harness or ride them.  They are green broke and will need an experienced hand to get them back in practice, but they love attention, stand well for the farrier and load easily. They must go together as they have never been separated.  We paid a handsome price for them, but would let them go for $2,5oo total.  That’s a steal.

2. We are getting out of rabbits.  We have two breeding pair of registered American Chinchilla bunnies.  These are heritage rabbits, barely a year old.  They are worth a great deal and will produce outstanding offspring.  We’ll part with them for $100 a pair.  Again, I know we can get more, but we want to move them.

3. We have some super Nigerian Dwarf Goats we need to sell to make room for bigger goats.  We have some babies, some older girls and even some does in milk.  The milk is awesome, BTW.  We have a couple males as well, one of which has horns, but is positively gorgeous.  If you’re just getting into goats, or have a small place, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the perfect breed. Prices vary according to age, gender and blood line.

4. We have a one year old pair of Black Spanish turkeys.  These two birds are delightful.  They hatched 14 live poults this spring.  They are good parents and pretty well mannered.  Our place is too near busy roads, though, and they are good fliers, so they need a home somewhere more remote.  They have always been free range.  Call me crazy, but I’ll let them go as a pair for $60 and we get more than that for a Thanksgiving bird.

5.  We have a yearling female Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig.  She is a fantastic mother and had no trouble birthing.  Patty probably weighs a little over 100 lbs. She’s a little bit wild, but if you can catch her, you can have her for $50.

We have three or 4 two year old Buff Orpington hens that can go for $15 each.  They will lay for another year or would make great stewing hens now.  If they don’t sell, we’ll put them in the crock pot ourselves.

I think that’s it.  Our miniature donkeys are not for sale at any price, so no need to ask.  They are expecting a foal again this winter, but we will be keeping it to train in harness.

An opportunity like this will probably never happen again from our farm.  These are quality animals at crazy bargain prices.  Our sacrifice is your gain.  Let us know if you’re interested or pass the word along to someone you know who might be.

 

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Baby goats are everywhere.  You all know about Curry and Zorro, our two early bird Nigerians.  What you need caught up to date on, is the wild week we’ve had.  I use we, quite liberally.  Apart from my being around to do some bottle feeding and serve as a human hot water bottle, the lion(ess)’s share has fallen to Brittan.

On Monday night, we got to the farm later than normal to do evening chores and were met with a big, er, small, er, plentiful, surprise.  Nya, one of our Nigerian does, had delivered triplets. There were two bucklings and a stillborn doe.  The boys were quite cold, having been born in the pasture on a very chilly night, and one of them was quite feeble.  I put them inside my jacket to warm them up and went to dispose of the little girl’s body, while Brittan worked on milking Nya.  Since she is a first freshener, that was easier said than done and the stanchion was put away for the winter.  So when I got back, I used my knees to hold Nya’s head in place, while Brittan milked out some colostrum.

We raced the boys back to the house and got some of the colostrum down them, but the one little one was still too feeble to eat or stand.  We had real doubts about him making it.  Brittan slept on the couch to keep him warm and feed him a few drops now and then.  Fortunately, he has pulled through like a champion.  He’s still not as strong as his brother, but he improves a little every hour.

This morning, as I’m beginning a meeting here at the office, Brittan calls me. I answered and mostly all I could hear was a goat screaming.  Brittan said it was one of our Kikos in labor.  She gave birth in about one minute while I was still on the call.

I had to rush off of the call for my meeting and tried to call back as soon as I was done.  No answer. I left a message. For two hours I couldn’t get an answer to phone or email, so I high tailed it to the farm on my lunch break.  I found Brittan shivering in the barn with two mamma goats and 4 kids.  It seems that the Kiko had twins, a boy and a girl.  As soon as she was done, Zeta, on of our Nigerians, also went into labor.  She had twin  black and white girls.  Since Brittan had no towels or rags, she took off her shirts and used them for clean up.  She had on a thin jacket and a cold wind was blowing directly on her.  On top of everything, her phone had gone dead so she couldn’t call.  Not a good morning for the woman I love.

I rushed sped home (any excuse to break the speed limit) and got her a sweatshirt and a heavier jacket along with some cloths and her phone charger.  Unfortunately, I had to dash back to work for some mandatory afternoon meetings.  I got an email from her eventually, saying all was well with the new mothers, except Zeta wouldn’t let down her milk, so she had to feed the baby girls regular goat’s milk.  We’ll try again this evening. I suspect I will be on nursing duties tonight. Fair’s fair.

The Kiko babies (father is a Boer, so they’re really crosses) are feeding nicely and will stay with their mamma.  The Nigerians will come home for a couple days and be bottle fed.  Their mother will join the dairy herd.

Our living room now has 4 goats in residence.  Two boys and two girls.  We will wether the boys and probably offer all 4 for sale.  I’m thinking we will keep both of the meat goats since they have outside bloodlines.  We still have three Alpine does and one more Kiko still to kid.  It’s been quite a time.  Did I mention that we love it?

 

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Meet Curry

We were expecting him, just not quite so soon.  B and I had discussed the fact that Sunny was getting close to giving birth, but was probably a week away.  We talked about getting a stall ready for next weekend.  We were wrong.

On Saturday, I noticed Sunny laying down in the field shelter, but it was a warm day, the shelter was comfortable, so I gave it no more thought.  Sunday morning, when we went out to do chores before Church, she was up at the fence hoping for some grub.  She still looked pregnant.

Sunday afternoon, Brittan and I were in the pasture picking up what mules leave behind, when I heard B exclaim, “Sunny has a baby!”  I dropped my manure fork (I don’t need a lot of encouragement to do that), hustled over to the shelter and sure enough, a little agouti buckling stared up at us from his little napping spot.

What a little cutie.  We noticed, though that he limps on his left front leg.  I don’t know if it was a problem from birthing or if Sunny stepped on him, but he is a bit gimpy.

Brittan picked the little man up, I hoisted Sunny and we took them to a nice stall in the barn.  We got some fresh straw down and settled everyone in.  We didn’t leave until we saw the little man nurse.  We had a bottle ready, just in case.  Once we witnessed him getting a good meal, we felt we could safely go back to other chores.

The limp wasn’t any better yesterday.  He doesn’t like walking around, but will do it.  We are not confident he is eating enough, but he won’t take a bottle, which suggests he is nursing.  He is as cute as a button, but doesn’t look as robust as we’d like.  Time will tell.  Nature has it’s ways.

Sunny is a good mother and very experienced.  She will do what’s right.

We will keep you updated on his progress.  Oh, we named him Curry.  I know, it’s ironic and a little twisted.  What did you expect from us?

 

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Yesterday, Nia and Zeta, our baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats, moved into the pasture with the other goats, sheep and our two donkeys.  We were so busy, I wasn’t able to grab any photos, but the day went smoothly, apart from the sunburn.

First, we had to ‘baby proof’ the pasture.  Two sides of the field are 6 by 6 inch field fence.  The goats could easily walk through that, so we rigged up some cheap netting to go inside the fence.

While we were baby proofing the field, we let the big animals in.  Since it’s fresh, tall and green, they went on a binge.  I love watching the grazers during their first few minutes on a good pasture.

Next, we moved the portable shelter into place, then went to get Nia and Zeta.  Suffice it to say, the girls were underwhelmed.  They are in the process of being weaned, and really wanted a bottle more than fresh browse.  They have taken to browsing ok, but still prefer the now once daily bottle.  Their favorite snack seems to be the blackberry leaves, which is just fine for us.  We have way too many brambles popping up in the fields as it is.  Oddly, unlike the other goats and the sheep, these young girls are not wild about the little privet trees that are scattered along the fence line.  Oh well, that just leaves more for the sheep, who can’t get enough of it.

The next month will be fun, watching the girls fit in with everyone and grow accustomed to their new lives.  Sometime in June, we will have to separate Meshak, our billy goat.  We don’t want him breeding these girls.  They are WAY too young.  So, we’re going to move, Amram the ram, Romeo the donkey, and Meshak the billy goat into a boys only camp.  Chuck the bull gets to stay with Butter until she’s been bred.  We’ll leave Diane with the other boys, because we don’t want her bred.

I’ll try and remember to get some pics tonight, but no promises.  We have to plant herbs.  The garden is still behind schedule.

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Just wanted to post a couple of pics of Zeta and Nia, our baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  They are about 7 weeks old now and are getting close to weaning time.  They will go in with the big goats sometime next week as a transition from bottle feeding to full time pasture.  We just have some baby proofing to do to the fences first.

The first pic is just the two girls together.  Zeta is the black one.  She is named after Catherine Zeta Jones.  Nia (pronouced nigh ya) is, then, the ‘painted’ one.

Second shot is Nia on the dog/goat house.  She is all goat and loves to climb.

The third photo is Brittan putting the chickens to bed in the evening.  Zeta is the acting herding goat.  This picture gives some perspective on the size of the goats.  As you can see, they are not much bigger than the laying hens.

Have a happy and blessed Easter, everyone.

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Here are a few random snaps from last week, in no particular order.  For some reason I didn’t grab any pics of the rabbits or dogs.  Oh well, maybe next time.

 

B and Romeo

 

Hay Time

 

Buff Orpingtons

 

Bonding Time

 

Dixie Rainbows

 

Sun Bathing

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First, my apologies to Irving Stone, for taking liberties with the title of his novel, to Hollywoood for playing off a classic Charlton Heston flick, and to Michelangelo because this post has absolutely nothing to do with him or with his life.

Now that we have that out of the way:  I am emotionally drained and it’s only 6:30 in the a.m. on Saturday.  Yesterday morning’s events are well documented (eloquently by Brittan and briefly by me), but the effects and aftershocks linger.  On the one hand, our tragedy is nothing compared to what the people of Japan or Libya or a hundred other hot spots are enduring, but it is wearying nonetheless.

I first saw the killing fields last night after getting home from work when we went out to collect eggs.  The pasture is littered with feathers.  As we walked the fields looking for signs of which direction the intruder may have come and gone, we also found the spot where our last predator (the same one?) consumed his rabbit.  It was an emotional walk.

As I gathered the eggs from the pen that had been attacked, I noticed a hen just standing there, unable to move.  Brittan had told me there was an injured hen, so I was expecting something.  What I found was a chicken that was sliced open from stem to stern, exposing her organs.  I had to put her down immediately.  It’s so different than processing chickens.  I was crest fallen.  Brittan wept openly.

A few minutes later B spied another hen cowering behind a stump in a corner of the field.  As I picked her up I could tell she was in shock.  Upon examination, we found she had been bitten from behind.  She had several large puncture wounds, but we had hope we could nurse her, so we brought her home as we have done with sick and injured animals before.  We put her in a large dog crate with bedding, food and water.  Brittan also applied antibiotic cream to her wounds.

The hen ate a little and nestled down for the night.  This morning, it appears that Brittan’s assumption that the chicken’s hips are broken appears to be true.  The hen can’t get up.  We’ll give her a few more hours to see what happens, but I fear that I will have to euthanize her before the day ends.  Sigh.

These are not the images of farming we had considered when we first leaped headlong into this lifestyle.  But they are a genuine, and all too frequent, part of the picture.  Sometimes, the emotions of farming are harder than the work itself.

There is, however, another side.  As we were following the killer’s path along a roadside fence line, a car pulled up and a cheery mother and daughter greeted us with, “Hello again! Remember us?  We stopped last week and talked to you about how we love your animals.  It was pouring rain?  Remember?”  It was the rain that made me remember.

“We really love having you all here.  The animals are such a delight.  It’s especially fun watching the chickens range all over the fields.”

We smiled and thanked them, then made some small talk.  After a few moments, they drove on down the street towards their home while we carried a traumatized hen and a carcass back to the truck.

Upon arrival at the house, one of our customers, who’s family have become friends, was waiting on the front porch to get his bi-weekly order of eggs and to take some rabbit meat home for his daughter’s dogs.  We talked at length about work, weather and how good real eggs are.  It was a pleasant break in a difficult afternoon.

While Brittan was nursing the injured hen, I went out to the truck to dispose of the dead one.  I opened the front door to discover a small SUV in our driveway.  The driver was a very nice young lady we met the week before when the environmental educators came over for a work project.  She was bringing us some bucket containers for gardening and a tray of native honeysuckle to plant as pollinator attractors.  How nice is that?  In return, I gave her a dozen eggs and a promise to provide her some tomatillo plants in a couple weeks when they are ready to go.

God moves in mysterious ways.  Yesterday was such a bad day for us, but it was fringed with random moments of joy.  I thought of those moments this morning as I bottle fed our two wiggly, affectionate, baby goats.  They wag their tails, jump in my lap and snuggle down for a good meal, and I think about all the blessings that cushion our challenges.  Someone once said, “There are people who complain that God put thorns on roses, while others marvel that He put roses on thorns.”  I guess I’d rather marvel than complain.  The agony is conquered by the ecstasy…every time.

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