Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lonesome Buckling Blues

Must be winter.
As you can see, we're back on the horn. TOOT TOOT.
T'is true, the snow is a'fallin! And we are getting that old, giddy ski season feeling again.
Opening day at Big Sky Ski Resort is on Thanksgiving! Isn't that, like, next week?!
While we are spending our time adjusting snow plows, rifling through closets for matching mittens, and throwing logs on the fire, the goats are readying themselves for the upcoming season as well!
Just yesterday, Jennifer came to visit from the goat farm in Bozeman and picked up our three "Ladies in Waiting" while she was here. Goats go into heat every three weeks, and are most easily impregnated in the fall, sometime between Thanksgiving and New Years. Their gestation period runs a solid five months, so not only is this the optimal time of year to get the process started, but it also leads to spring kidding (or, for us Eskimos, a very late winter kidding) which we all know is Mother Nature's favorite time of year for birth.
Back at Farm 51, where our small herd originated, our three does will spend their time showing off to the rented buck of choice. They will stay in captivity with the buck for a solid three weeks, to ensure him a chance at each girl's heat cycle. How romantic. Janet is surely in heaven with all the attention. I hope she will come home someday...
Because Jennifer knows much more than I do about registered/unregistered, purebred/mutts, gene pools, ancestry lines, vaccinations, size, health and the general quality of Nubians, I completely trust her on pairing my girls with the right 'guy'. And because she rents her bucks of choice from a breeder, there is a fee associated with each doe averaging $25-35, depending on the line, that I am more than happy to pay for quality service.
Poooooooor Cheap Trick.
"MAAAAAaaaaaa!!!" a goat's pathetic bleat, has never held more meaning.
Left behind at the Double F, while his three buddies, Mom included, go off for a few weeks of Bozeman fun.
Sooooooo sad.
Goats are not meant to be alone, they are pack animals and become very vocal when upset or lonely. Needless to say, I hear ya buddy.
To add insult to injury, we started a week of fore casted heavy snow today. Goats and precipitation do not mix, hence he watches the road for any sign of goat buddies from beneath the lone tree in the pasture.
Little guy is gonna need some therapy in a few days. Penny?

Quite uninhibited by the snow, on the other hand, are those crazy chickens! Once one goes outside (usually Delilah Jones, my veteran barred rock, who laughs in the face of cold weather) they ALL go out, regardless of weather. Happily scratching around in the snow for any lingering grass or bugs that the freezing temperatures haven't gotten hold of quite yet.
My latest struggle has been to keep the water troughs (see below) from freezing solid. I haven't gotten into Bozeman since our 'real' winter has set in, where I can visit the feed store to purchase a floating 1500v stock tank heater. So each morning and evening, I traipse out to the iceberg ridden water containers with my shovel and smash the ice to bits. Dehydration can play a large role in winter illness among livestock, so I must be sure to keep all water ice free as much as I can.
The chickens get off kind of easy as they have unfrozen water containers in their coop, constantly kept warm by a heat lamp. In the last three weeks, a few of my young hens have begun to lay eggs! Generally, a hen will begin to lay between 16-22 weeks of age, and wouldn't you know it, they are 20 weeks old on November 15. Good job girls. Keep it up! To keep them interested in the nesting boxes, I have been keeping the heat lamp turned on 24/7. This allows the coop to stay warm, perhaps allowing the hens to sit on the nest longer due to warmth. Another reason to leave the lamp on this time of year, is that chickens respond best (their laying cycle, that is) to 16 hours of daylight. Once the days become shorter, if you don't supply supplemental lighting in the coop, they could be sent into a winter laying lull.
Hmm....No thanks.
Cheap Trick enjoys a stiff water on the rocks while my three veteran layers ham it up for the camera.

Snow! Keep it coming, MN. Ed is out plowing as I type this blog, in fact.

Well. That's all for now. You can be expecting lots more tooting to come in the next five months.
Hugs and dog hair from the crew at 807 Jack Creek Road.

1 comment:

  1. i am so glad you are posting again from beautiful jack creek - great details and pics of montana...that's the life i lead in my dreams....keep it coming! mignon (alex's mom)