Spring!!!

Where is it????

Really, I want to know. Being the type of geek I am, last night I actually looked back at the past four months of weather we had. In the past four months we have had at least half our days with below average temperatures. Now, that doesn’t sound like fun, does it? The interesting part is that as we have gotten closer to spring the more below average temps we have gotten. In fact, this month, being only twenty days in we have had sixteen below average days. The next ten also look like they will be below average. Which means, it is a lot colder than I was working myself up for. Which means I have wanted a fire more. Which means we have been going through more wood than we have all winter. What the hell. I was also looking forward to warmth because long range weather forecasting told me that we were susposed to have have a warmer than average March. Oh yeah? Where is it?

But really as much as that does play a part in our farm life, it actually just plays a part in mine and my mood. My mood hasn’t been great and I am totally blaming it on the dark, dreary, cold days. I’m done. I also have to remind myself though that spring really doesn’t mean anything. We also look forward to it in the cold winter days with the denial of warm days and things growing. Well, in most climates nothing is really growing unless you have a greenhouse of sorts. Oh yes, you can start those seeds indoors, but really we are still getting freezes. We can see signs of warmth starting but just starting. It is so fragile and barely there you can miss it if you aren’t looking. So much though for that early spring we were promised. I am trying to not be bitter…

Onto the farm. We have had an interesting week. Not all good, not all bad. Interesting. We sheared our first sheep. Chev, one of the North Country Cheviots. The interesting thing here is that most of the shearers we have talked to have said that the worst sheep to shear are those. They are flighty, jumpy and crazy. Jack had a special relationship to them though. They love him and he loves them. I thought he was crazy to try and shear one of them first. Why not one of our sheep who is more calm? Nope. Anyway, it went alright. We have hand shears, not electric ones. This is better for a few reasons, one no noise except for snip snip. It is much calmer for them and us. It leaves them for a layer of wool and lanolin to help keep them warm. The problem is that there aren’t a lot of hand shearers out there. Which means that hand shears are hard to find and hand shears aren’t as good as they once were. We did it though. We didn’t do it in the “right” way. We did it the way it worked for us. Jack did really well in not getting many second cuts(where you cut wool again resulting in short wool which isn’t good for spinning) or cut Chev very much. We were both surprised at how wrinkly she was. We weren’t expecting that. However, one source that I have since found does that that Cheviots do have wrinkly skin. Oh so wasn’t expecting that. It also took a good bit of time. We only have eleven to go so this should be interesting.

We also moved the stock this weekend. It took awhile but it went much smoother than it has ever previously. They have much more space than ever also. This time they followed us right to the new pasture with a bale of hay and went on munching until we had the fence put up. All other previous times we have had to herd them into the fence after it was put up. Half of the current fence is permanent. The other half is our movable netting. We have it such that we can still work on the permanent fence with the animals in there. I will be so glad when all we have to do is open a gate and the animals file through. It is really sweet looking out there are all the animals right now. The two bull calves got moved in with everyone else. They are doing well. It took us a few days of looking out and not freaking out though. They are up over the pond so when we look out a window it looks like all of our animals are out. It also doesn’t help that the fence is not very visible.

On Sunday, the day after we moved them, Jack and I went to go check on everyone. We wanted to make sure the fence was holding up. A lot of times when you put the movable netting fence in wet swampy ground it has a tendency to work its way out. I also was thinking Nancy was close close in kidding. Layla seems to be really good at predicting births. From what she had said about Nancy’s condition I knew we were going to see a baby in the next day. As it turns out she was right. The first thing I did was look in our hut and there was a white fluff ball. Nancy was out grazing. She had cleaned up her baby, or someone had at least. So we got her and her little boy moved into their baby moon suite. He is all white and since he was born on St. Patricks day Jack wants to name him Patrick. Though really I find it slightly offensive. Oh well though. Jack rarely names an animal and he seems to really enjoy calling him Patty. We were hoping that Nancy or Luna would have a boy so we could increase some genetics around here. It all went really well. Though during that day we notice Joy making a lot of noise. We went and checked on her a lot but could find nothing wrong. It was really rough. She was nursing she was moving. She seemed a little cold but was fine. We checked her body over put a sweater on her and just watched hoping to see her stop freaking out or get better. After dark we noticed that she had stopped making noise. I went out to check on her, hoping she was curled up next to Megan and asleep. What I saw though was Megan standing over her and looking at me. She really seemed to be saying, “What did I do? What is wrong with her?” For a goat who started out to be a really not good mother she really had changed. I went in and saw Joy barely breathing. I yelled and Natalie came out and took her from me. I went and checked on the other babies and everyone was fine. So back in I went. I started water to heat for a bath to warm Joy up. Jack went out and milked Megan a little so we would have something for her belly. She was pretty much in a coma. She would spasm every so often. We got her into some hot water, the quickest way to warm a kid, but nothing was working. I was furiously researching on the internet. I was posting to the goat health forum and nothing. There was nothing we could do. We lost her. We think now that her “recovery” from weak legs was not so much a recovery. It is called white muscle disease. It is mostly a selenium and vitamin E deficiency. Since we had a drought this past year, well two years really and they were also being fed drought hay, it was all deficient. Now, no one else is really having problems. Which means that Megan may have a harder time than anyone else with those deficiencies. Though we still have two that need to kid. We have gotten some supplements though and hopefully that prevents this all. They all had access to loose minerals, but we think it may not have been enough. Or at least not for Megan. We are having a hard time with her right now. We knew we were going to be culling some animals. At least we “knew” that. Megan gave birth to a weak kid, who later died. She has poor confirmation, meaning her udder is hard to milk from. I have been milking her the past few days since we lost Joy. She isn’t giving much but it is going up every time. We may be culling her. Natalie is having issues with that though. So we are totally putting it off. She isn’t a milk goat. She would have to be a pet goat. We only have so much room for pet goats. So that is a hard spot on our farm right now.

Jack and the girls also started seeds this weekend. It was very sweet. I am not sure if there is any other time that I see Jack that happy. It isn’t so much an outright happiness, it is more like an inner calm and contentedness. There is just something about him and planting or seeding or just working with the dirt. It makes me happy to see. The girls love it too. It is great to see them all having so much fun. I am hopeful for a large and abundant crop this year.

One of the cute things going on this week is Nancy. Like I said, she kidded on Sunday. She was our most aloof goats. You had to be very careful about how you approached her. You couldn’t go near her horns. Since she has been in her baby moon suite she has changed. First Patty is by far the largest kid we have. It is the biggest and the youngest. He is amazing. Though we were worried about him for a couple of days. He always seemed to be sleeping on the very edge of the pen. Not by Nancy. His sides were filled out and he was active but he was always sleeping there. It took us until yesterday to figure it out. He was sleeping up next to the puppies. The puppies are totally loving the kids. They want to love and lick and play with them so bad. Poor puppies. Anyway, we now think Patty is very smart to be cuddling puppies. And Nancy… Well, she has been calling out to us. She now wants her head scratched at all hours of the day. She begs for attention and love. It is very sweet to see how much she has changed. I just hope it lasts past the kidding season.

The girls just came back in from doing first day of spring chores in the snow. Yes, it is snowing out there. The sun peeks out every so often but we actually have a trace of snow on the ground. It is wrong on so many levels. Anyway, Layla told me that Luna has a tight shiny bag with a puffy vulva. Which is Layla saying we don’t have long. She isn’t due until the 27th though. And Luna had a hysterical pregnancy last time. We aren’t quite sure what to expect here. So I leave this blog post with check out our facebook page if you want to see if Luna kids before next week 🙂

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