Kidding of yesteryears

In 2013 we bought our first goats. Two $75 spanish cashmere crosses we named Murielle and Estelle. They were brought home in dog kennels in the back of our (relatively new at the time) Ford Fusion, and hubby learned then to tarp the back seat any time we brought something home, cage or not!

Murielle (left) and Estelle (right)

The chickens had just been moved to what would come to be known as the coop (and now, the barn), and these two ladies made themselves at home in the 10×10 garden shed where they would spend their first year and a half.

Our first spring with these girls yielded a single buckling, our first kid, Walter. He was born uneventfully while we were at work in the city to a loving and protective herd queen who was proving herself to be a wonderful mother. When we got home from work, Estelle didn’t greet us as normal and we rushed to the shed to find them together. He was fed, dry, bouncing and being chortled to, and we were elated to have our first non-avian to be born on the farm.

Our second round of kidding wouldn’t be so easy. Murielle would give birth without warning to pre-term twin bucklings who were gone when I found them, and the oberhasli and boer does we had acquired would fall victim to large kids crafted by poor advice. As a result of feeding large amounts of grain on the advice of other goat owners so they would ‘be able to survive our harsh climate’, the does, after much struggle and assistance from me, finally gave birth to massive single bucklings, both well over 10lbs. It was, perhaps, one of the greatest series of lessons I wouldn’t know I had received until later. I spent a total of 3 hours learning to pull kids because of those girls, horrified I wouldn’t be able to get them out and that I would lose the girls. However, both of those girls would go on to have more kids.

We stopped graining, and the next year we stopped heating and massive kids have not come up since. We also learned how much of a difference with kidding ease Selon-E (BoSe is the American equivalent) can make. I’m not sure the link between selenium and/or vitamin E and kid positioning, but on years we haven’t given Selon-E a month before kidding, we have had far more presentation issues then on years with those we have.

The years after that haven’t always been good, but they have provided the learning experience that really sticks: practical, hands on, in the moment. We have had years where the only assistance needed was drying due to the cold, and other years where every single kid was malpositioned and required assistance. These experiences have taught me how to pull the most difficult, twisted kids, how to untangle multiples, that breach kids pop out easier than standard presentations, and that kids with one leg back can be delivered without assistance. We have learned minis are difficult due to space but if you need to push back they can handle it, and that difficulties are rarely due to kid size.

Our best advice is learn to pull your own kids as you will save many more that way than by waiting for a vet. You are their greatest asset.

Let the early 2020 kidding season begin!

Clear Vision for 2020

The first major cold snap of the 2019/2020 winter has come and gone after a soft exit from the year. Our temperatures plummeted from average temperatures of -11C to -30C or lower, not factoring in wind chill. Less than three days ago that temperature remained and today we are expecting 0C and temperatures not much lower for the foreseeable future. Saskatchewan’s predictably unpredictable winter has chosen an excellent time for a mild break in the weather as we begin the 2020 kidding season on February 2nd, and I am unexpectedly booked to work for three days when several does are due.

I am fortunate enough to work nearby, to have fabulous neighbours and friends and a husband (who claims to not be as invested as I) who will check in on the goats on regular intervals to assure their health and dry babies. Should an emergency come about, there are people more than capable of helping out just a call away. I am looking into rigging up an old cell phone and connecting it to the house WiFi so I can live feed the girls and keep an eye out myself, but I’m not sure if our signal will reach that end of the barn.

We are coming into 2020 without a couple animals who have meant the world to us, as 2019 held several losses. Happy Hoof Acres Madeline died during kidding due to complications, Rose and Sweet Solstice Nugget were put down due to illness, and my old Poplar girl just didn’t make it into winter. She wasn’t able to hold weight and when I had finally decided it was time to say my goodbyes, I went out to find her down. Our 2019 kids, however, are growing beautifully and I am really enjoying watching their progress. Even in their winter clothes, they impress me on a daily basis.

Our social media presence has been limited to Instagram as Facebook had become a huge time waster, so I removed myself by disabling my account and it has freed up so much time to get a clear vision in place for 2020. Our reduced social media will be exchanged for an increased Youtube and presence as we pursue our channels there in order to connect with our audience and reach people who are interested in our lifestyle. We have watched several channels on a regular basis for the past few years, each one unique to those living their lives on it, and we have learned a lot; it would be nice to share our experience as well. I also plan to keep this blog updated on at least a monthly basis as a supplement to the channel.

We will soon be offering a resource page that will include information on our natural methods, our experiences with conventional and traditional medicines on the farm, recipes for the remedies and supplementation we use for illnesses and day to day farm troubles and so on so if people are looking to change things up on their farm or in their home, they can add our methods to the list of things to try for them. To help with this, I have embarked on herbalism training to add to a knowledge base I have gleaned from years of independent research, looking for my own answers, and will be adding to it with other traditional modalities over the coming year.

Several projects are absolute must-do’s this year: the roofs on the garage and doe barn, a new enclosure for the buck barn, insulation of our basement and the expansion of our garden to the old pig pen. Some other projects on the ever growing do-this-asap-list are the fencing will need to be adjusted, the pigs being moved to another area and to create a boar pen, the tractor needs some work done, the pasture some top seeding and, perhaps, fertilization; a milking barn constructed, new bird pens, removal of the old barn and grain bin pads, remove the old oil tank from the basement, re-do the stair stringers, paint, finish the kitchen cabinets and the list goes on and on!

Will you join us on this journey? What would you like to learn with us? What kind of videos do you look for from your favorite channels?

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