Thursday, May 15th, 2014

all kidding aside

With much anticipation, the kidding day finally arrived on May 7th! In case you’re wondering, kidding is goat speak for mama goat is having a baby, yo! Or three babies in Sugar Cookie’s case. Sugar Cookie’s official due date was May 9th, and the breeder warned us that Nigerian Dwarf goats tend to go about a week early. This means this paranoid newbie started freaking out around two weeks early.

I read up on all the preparation we needed to make which was ‘be waiting with a towel’. Hmmm…can’t you give you a girl a little more help than that? The breeder wasn’t much help either. She said she just kind of ~knows~ when they are ready, but gave us some obscure things to look for like her tail gets mushy. Ok, both goats’ tails always feel mushy to me. Not helpful. Then another “helpful” tip was that mama will start holding her tail up. Well, as far as I can tell they both keep their tails up. All. The. Time. So we basically just started stalking Sugar Cookie every hour on the hour for the week leading up to her due date. Of course, we’d have to go places and be away for hours. I was certainly willing to skip church to stay by Sugar Cookie’s side. Mike not only didn’t want me to do that, but then we drove to IOWA to buy a horse trailer. I was a bit nervous that day, to say the least.

We really didn’t notice any change in Sugar until Wednesday where she had a bad case of the burps in the afternoon. That lady seriously could’ve won a belching contest. So I went with it and started to prep myself for the big event. Then by nightfall she really started getting vocal constantly crying out. I really started panicking. I went back out to check on her after we got the kids in bed. Right as I stepped up to the gate I could see Sugar’s hiney had something “stringy” hanging from it. I went in to tell Mike. Mike wasn’t feeling well and went right to bed, but he requested a video of it. Just what everyone wants to see, a video close-up of goat butt! However, as I was a recording I noticed she was pushing. It was around 10 p.m. I ran in to show/tell Mike, and he said I better get out there. I changed into grubby clothes, grabbed some old t-shirts, water, flashlight, etc. and got back outside about 20 minutes later. Imagine my surprise when I saw that Sugar had had all three of her kids. Unfortunately, one was still wrapped in the sac and looked to be dead already. I quickly tried to free it’s head, but I was too late. I went to get Mike to help me. He overcame his illness long enough to be the proud papa and take in all the baby goatness with me.

Here’s right after Sugar had her babies.

Doesn’t she look like she’s smiling?

The next day I got some better pictures, and thankfully mama had been working hard to clean up her babies. Although the black was awfully gooey that first night, and it took a few days until she was all cleaned up. After another day I finally got brave enough to check for the sex of each. They are both boys, called bucks.

The black and white one has been claimed by Mimi, and she named him Junior.
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As you can see they are quite small only weighing about 2-5 pounds at birth. About the size of small cat and definitely perfect for cuddling with.
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The black one is named Tutankhamun, or King Tut for short. He belongs to Annie. Apparently, Violet has to wait until the next batch to get her claim. The third kid was pure white like mama );
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Despite being a new mama, Sugar Cookie took to motherhood right away and showers her babies with love, and they nurse on her like champs.
IMG_0774.jpgSugar Cookie's Babies born 05/07/14

And here they are today 1 week later, well-adjusted and bouncy like little bunnies.

You can count on more goat baby pictures and videos throughout the summer. And just think we’ll get to do this all over again with Nougat when she kids. Today we had to disbud the kids. This means we had to burn off their horns before they grow in. I know it sounds just horrible, but it’s for the good of everyone. Horns can get caught in fences/gates causing a goat to get injured or die, or they can hurt other goats, animals, or people with them (they sure do like to butt others). 4-H also requires de-horned goats in order to show at the fair. It’s best to just nip it in the bud right away (or 4-10 days after birth). Ha, did you see what I did there?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

diamond is a girl’s best friend

Mimi has been very happy and giddy these days, and it’s because she has a new friend. Her name is Diamond, and we purchased her for Mimi last week. Diamond is an Blue Roan American Paint (blue roan refers to her color). She is 17 years old. I was a little iffy about getting such an “old” horse, but I’ve been assured by several sources that that’s a perfect age for a child just starting riding horses. In the meantime, Diamond is staying where she has been, at the horse farm down the street. It’s where Mimi has her riding lessons, so it just makes more sense to keep Diamond there until at least after the 4-H County Horse Show in June.

Meet Diamond. This is the second time Mimi had ridden Diamond. Mike really wanted to make sure that she and Mimi got along. She was quite stubborn with Mimi the first time she rode her, and Mimi came home a bit disappointed. But by the second ride, Mimi was all smiles and declared that Diamond is her “best friend in the whole wide world”.
Mimi's new horse Diamond

Diamond is still sporting her winter coat, so her blue roan color hasn’t quite emerged yet. Can you guess why Diamond was given that particular name? Hint: Look at her left side.
Mimi's new horse Diamond

I’m pretty sure Mimi would brush Diamond for hours each day if given the chance.
Mimi's new horse Diamond

I think Diamond should have instead been named Polka Dot.
Mimi's new horse Diamond

On Saturday Mimi was invited for a trail ride by her teacher and seller of the horse. Can you tell that Mimi was a little excited? (Ugh, sorry for the poor quality of these indoor shots. These are from my phone.)
Mimi rides Diamond

Mimi and her best friend in the whole wide world!
Mimi loves Diamond

Here is Mimi practicing riding Diamond before the trail ride.

Mimi has increased her riding lessons to two days a week, and her teacher also said she plans to take Mimi on lots of trail rides throughout the summer to get her used to riding by herself. Mimi is beyond happy and immediately wants to go visit Diamond and do horse chores each day when she gets home from school. How can I transfer that excitement to the other chores that she needs to do?

In other news, Annie has finally found a way to keep herself busy.

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

another sunny senior treat

Don't even say it. I'm beating myself up enough about flaking out on the blog these past few months. This latest spell was the worst, and I have no excuses. I think it's partly due to getting a little burnt out on blogging. You know, people, I've been at this thing for over 10 years now. I think we can all agree that 10 years is a long time to stick with something. Yes, I tend to get a little defensive when I know I've been bad. Now onto the actual post.

It happened again! The Smith family flew me down to Florida to take senior pictures of one of their daughters. This time it was Rozzie. Let me just say I'm still in denial about how old all my nieces and nephews are all getting. Sometimes I think that my own children are imposters because the memory of them as babies is still so clear. I certainly can't imagine my own children graduating from high school one day.

The visit to Florida was quite different this time because Jenni and her family are actually in the process of moving. She and the girls are currently staying with a family from church, and I also stayed there. The couple was super nice and didn't seem to mind me barging in on their territory for a few days. I had an entire day to myself (Violet stayed in MN with Grandma during my trip), and I got a head start on summer clothing shopping and also got a haircut. The next day was shooting day, and Rozzie and her mom had it all planned out where they wanted to go and what she'd be wearing. I just had to tag along with my camera. We headed to historic St. Augustine. I had never been there, and it was a real treat. I definitely wouldn't mind vacationing there with my family someday. Speaking of which, Jake, Steph, Dylan, and Maya also happened to be spring breaking in St. Augustine at the same time as my visit, so we met up with them for dinner after pictures.

Rozzie was a beautiful and very easy model to work with. See for yourself. Here's just a few of the shots we took.

 

We couldn't have asked for better weather and backdrops for pictures. Maybe I'll take my girls there for their senior pictures one day.

Another fun part of the trip was getting to dress up! Rozzie and Maddie had their end of the year dance team banquet, and they invited me along. Of course, I was not prepared to be all gussied up, so I borrowed a dress from Rozzie. Here we all are looking gorgeous! And, yes, I look like a miniature human next to all those tallies.

I also snapped a couple pictures of Maddie, too. Doesn't she look lovely?

It's a little sad to think that this will be my last Florida senior shoot for the Smiths, but Maddie already has her vision of doing a fall senior shoot in Minnesota. Thanks to the Smiths for giving me this opportunity again. I hope they love the pictures as much as I do. I'm really looking forward to seeing Jenni and Maddie more often since they'll be living with Grandma Kathy until Maddie finishes up high school. In case you're wondering, Travis the Dad is up in Detroit, Michigan at his new job. The Smiths decided that it wouldn't be a good place for Maddie to finish school, so the decision was made to stay in Minnesota for the time being.

 

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

4-h presentation time

Each year as part of 4-H, the girls get the opportunity to do a presentation or demonstration of some sort. They will do this on Saturday. If they get a purple or blue ribbon, then they can present it at the State Fair, too. This will be Annie’s 3rd year of doing this song and dance, so she’s an ol’ pro at it. Mimi still has much to learn and confidence to build, but this will be a good experience for her.

Mike decided Annie should do her demonstration on making an extension cord. Annie really wanted to do something with science, and this was about the only thing that seemed to fit that bill in the list of “suggested topics”. Mike and Annie put together their extension cord last while I snapped pictures of the process. Annie will next need to put it all into a PowerPoint presentation. Here are some of the pictures I took last night. I did no editing to these pictures, and I can totally tell now. They look so much better and brighter on my iMac (I’m posting this from Mike’s work computer).

Annie shows how the wires need to be attached inside the plug.
Annie's How to Make an Extension Cord 4-H Presentation

Then she demonstrates tightening the screws.
Annie's How to Make an Extension Cord 4-H Presentation

Here she shows how to strip a wire.
Annie's How to Make an Extension Cord 4-H Presentation

The last step is to put the final pieces on and tighten screws. (The presentation will get more detailed than my minimal instructions here because I really don’t know much about all this.)
Annie's How to Make an Extension Cord 4-H Presentation

Finally, Annie shows her completed extension cord.
Annie's How to Make an Extension Cord 4-H Presentation

For Mimi’s presentation, she’s going to talk about how to care for a goat. Here are some of the pictures we took last night before it got dark.
She’s showing the alfalfa that they need to eat daily from their feed bin.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

As you can see, they really like the stuff. They immediately go for the big stash when they are let out of their pen.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

Then the goats will need to supplement themselves with mineral (salt mixture), and supposedly will take it as they need it. How do you like our little PVC pipe rig?
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

Mimi is demonstrating that you can give them a grain treat every so often. The lady we bought them from gave them about a cup daily, but we noticed all her goats were quite plump (even the non-pregnant goats). The goat blogs we’ve been following don’t believe in giving grains but maybe only as a small treat while they milk. We won’t make them wait until nursing time, but we are definitely cutting back their rations. Unfortunately, they are quite accustomed to their “treat” and practically attack us when we give it to them.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

Mimi shows how to brush them.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

Then, of course, we have to show them frolicking outside for some daily fresh air and exercise.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

Lastly, Mimi shows how they must be secured each night safe from meany predators.
Mimi's Caring for Goats 4-H Presentation

I’m sure the girls will do fine on their presentations. Mimi will need to practice a lot because she gets real shy and quiet about this kind of stuff. Wish them luck!

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

now entering goatland

I fought for a long time to only have chickens, but then Mike showed up with cows. Ok, cows and chickens, it is. However, Mike had no intention of stopping there. As you well know, we’ve also had pigs (and will again this spring), pheasants (not sure if we’ll get more since we’ve such bad luck with keeping them alive), guinea fowl (again, those suckers can’t stay alive to save their lives), and peacocks (much like the guinea fowl, they can’t seem to stay alive). Mike has been saying from day one that he wants to get goats. It seems like everyone around here has only horror stories to tell and recommend sheep instead if we must go down that road. So I tried unsuccessfully with all my might to talk Mike into sheep. We actually did have some of the neighbors’ sheep for a few weeks to help mow a wooded area, but they went back to their home once they cleared the land.

Then Mimi fell in love with the goats at the fair last summer, and that was enough to convince Mike we needed goats. I was belligerent reluctant at first, but Mike found a wonderful blog where she educates about raising goats and how to milk them once freshened (that’s goat talk for a female goat who’s had babies). I’ll admit it didn’t take long to get sucked in. If you read her articles about goat’s milk, then you’ll be convinced you need to start drinking it, too. (In fact, she’s become quite the expert on much else, and I’ve been soaking it all up.) There are also so many possibilities for goat’s milk: yogurt, cheese, soap, lotion, and more. We’re already familiar with making soap and really love having it on hand, so I’m excited to try to make goat’s milk soap.

Mike thought he had the goats we’d be getting already picked out. They were Alpine Goats which are full-size goats. However, I kept reading online all these horror stories about full-size goats being quite the escape artists that love to eat and destroy just about everything. Mike calmly explained that he had it all figured out, but I was still pretty freaked out about what I was reading from experienced goat owners. In pursuit of more information, I decided that we may want to instead get Nigerian Dwarf goats because they are smaller (about the size of Lucy, our hunting dog) and are a pretty calm breed. Also some Googling about the breed revealed that most people think Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is the best tasting, even better than cow’s milk. Mike needed a few days of convincing, but he finally relented after I found some local Nigerian Dwarf breeders (who have very informative websites). The breeder we went with confirmed that Nigerian Dwarf goats are great goats for beginners.

After some wheeling and dealing we are now the owners of two bred goats (meaning they are both knocked up). Again, I was a bit panicked about having to birth goat babies, but the mamas will do all the work and actually get nervous if the owners help too much. The Nigerian Dwarf goat breed is actually quite popular, so we shouldn’t have trouble selling the babies once they are weened. So how about I introduce you to our ladies.

Meet Nougat. She belongs to Annie, and Annie named her. Her due date is in the middle of June. Nougat is just over a year old and will be a first time Mama. Her coat is so soft, as soft as my Persian cat’s coat. You can see from the second picture that the Nigerian Dwarf is small enough to fit into a dog kennel which is how we transported them home. Much easier than how we would have had to transport a full-sized goat.
Introducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Nougat, Annie's Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Mimi’s goat is named Sugar Cookie (this was her name already). Sugar Cookie’s due date is May 9. Apparently, the Nigerian Dwarf goats tend to deliver early though, so we’ll have to start watching her at the end of April. She is a little over two years old and will also be a first time Mama.
Introducing Sugar Cookie, Mimi's Nigerian Dwarf GoatIntroducing Sugar Cookie, Mimi's Nigerian Dwarf Goat

We are very excited about having the babies. The Nigerian Dwarves typically have 3-4 babies in a litter. The breeder had a lot of mamas with babies, and they are about the cutest things you’ll ever see. The babies are around 2-5 pounds when they are born. Here is a video I took of our two does meeting each other (they were kept in separate pens), but you can also see a few babies bouncing around that are only a couple of weeks old. Now tell me those babies aren’t irresistible!

Here the goats are all settled into the new home. Once the weather gets warmer outside we’ll make an outside pen for them. In the meantime, the girls will walk them daily on a leash. So far they really aren’t interested in leaving their pen. We will have to put each mama into their own pen once they have babies because they get very protective and territorial.

This is certainly going to be an adventure for us, but everyone is excited and ready for it! We hope to get visitors to come see the babies once they are born.