Our Farm Family is growing. What started with six little baby chicks in April has now evolved into 9 chickens, 1 rooster, 1 swiss mountain dog and 4 goats. If that isn’t enough there is a good chance that one of the goats is pregnant and due in March. Little kids… and I’m keeping them!!
I thought maybe you folks might enjoy seeing a few pictures of the crew. Again. 🙂
I had to throw this in here because it just cracks me up. He’s trying to look all serious but then his ear just makes him look so silly! Poor Dutch is having a hard time with all these new friends on the farm. He is still just a puppy and although he is extremely good natured around everyone he just wants to run and play. Or eat everyones food. Sometimes I think he even gets a little confused and thinks he is a chicken trying to join in on their dust bathing, or a goat when he tries to eat leaves off the trees on our walks. Such a silly puppy!
The Hippie Chicks hold a special place in my heart. They were the first in our farm family and we raised them from babies. I watched as they grew and changed and learned to trust me. They are easy to keep and more then content to go about their business, scratching for food, bathing in the sun and laying their eggs. They are always happy and will follow you around where ever you go. Frank too has been a joy to have. He was our rescue. He started out skinny, stinky, and scared and is now looking more like what a fine rooster should. He has become a proud rooster and a watchful rooster. Frank takes his job of guarding the girls and waking up the neighborhood very seriously.
Bambi and Cajeta are Nubian goats. They have long, soft floppy ears and are known for their inquisitive, friendly personalities. They are called the ‘Jersey’ of the dairy goats producing a creamy milk with a a high butterfat content making it perfect for cheese, yogurt and soap making. Cajeta is going to make an excellent momma if and when the time comes. She is ever watchful of Bambi and will stand in the way to protect her if need be. She also supplies me with almost 2 quarts of the creamiest, milk everyday. She is easy to milk because of her size although she has been known to try to sit on me when she felt she had enough or her food ran out during milking. She is my little momma.
Bambi is my baby. When I saw her face I just fell in love. Her given name is Da Lovely and she absolutely is. She stands at the gate and cries “Ma” whenever she sees me. Most times I find myself tripping over her because she likes to get right up by your side. She is trusting and loving as all these goats are but what’s different with Bambi is the way she looks to you for guidance. She always checks first before she “tests the water”.
Shaniqe is a LaMancha goat. LaManchas are known for their very small ears and gentle temperament. Their milk is also high in butterfat and they are excellent producers. Shaniqe is a pleasure to milk, always more then happy to go right up the on the milking stand and happily eat all her pellets while I get 1 quart of yummy milk. When we are finished she waits for her brushing, her hugs and kisses and her animal cracker for a job well done. Always a pleasure.
Dutchess is a Nigerian dwarf goat. They are dairy goats in miniature and their milk has the highest butterfat of any dairy goat breed in the United States. They can be a little hard to milk because they have very small teats. Or in the case of Dutchess here, she is stubborn and does not want to share her milk with me at all. IF I can get her into the milking stand she leans on me or tries to sit down making this already difficult task even harder. She also likes to give me a hard time about going to bed at night and I have to chase her down. I guess she thinks she should be able to stay up later then the others because after all she is the oldest! Dutchess and I have come to an agreement. I let her keep her milk and she goes to bed with the rest of the herd when I say so.
After reading about all the health benefits of goats milk and all the wonderful things to be made with goats milk I knew we had to get some. What I didn’t know was just how wonderful goats are. They are like dogs in a way. They are loyal, trusting, loving. They come when you call them and they are always right by your side. They love hugs, kisses and raisins or animal crackers. They love their chest and under their arms scratched. I can easily let them out to forage and know that they will never go far. They keep me and each other in eye sight at all times. I was always under the impression that goats ate anything and everything. It is not true. They are actually very picky eaters and don’t like to graze like cows do, but rather reach up high and pluck the leaves off a tree. You have to be careful about their diet as well because they have 5 stomaches and if you give them too much of something it can cause bloat (gas) and it can kill them. That has been the hardest part for me because I want nothing more to do then to feed them treats and yummies all day. Just as I feed the chickens oyster shells, free choice for the added calcium they need when they lay eggs, I must also feed the goats baking soda, free choice to add in their digestion.
Goat herds are hierarchical. It has been extremely difficult to stand by and watch as Shaniqe lets everyone know she is the queen. Every herd has a herd queen or dominant female. She is the goat that leads the way, tests new plants to make sure they are safe and edible and stands off predators. She is also the one that gets the best spot in the barn to sleep, the first one to be milked and she gets the primo spot at the feeder. She makes her position known to the rest of the herd by head butting and pushing everyone out of her way. Herd queens will keep their position in the herd until the day they die or they are challenged by another female. Her kids are considered royalty by birth and she will share everything with them and defend them if any other goats try to get in the way.
The first week we brought Shaniqe and Dutchess home was not an easy one. I had to stand by and watch as Shaniqe made her position known to Dutchess and to us. It got so bad that one morning Shaniqe had an open area on top of her head and Dutchess had the matching blood stain on hers. I think that was part of the reason Dutchess would run when nighttime fell and I tried to lock them in the same barn at night. She was getting the crap beat out of her. Dutchess is still very timid around Shaniqe and always maintains a safe distance. After all of the goings on between those two for the first week it is amazing to see how they both interact now. Each one knows their place and they seem to respect that. As rotten as Shaniqe has been she still always makes sure that Dutchess is ok and will protect her if Dutch tries to get too playful. On the other hand that little Dutchess is a feisty one and she does stand up for herself at all costs. She did give Shaniqe the business when she had too much, which was good because I was silently cheering her on. All the books say not to interfere unless there is danger of someone getting hurt. It is just the way of the herd, it is nature and you have to let nature run its course. Well I ended up separating them at night because I just couldn’t take it, but even that was hard because they would cry and I could hear them trying to reach up over the wall in the barn to be with each other. I just didn’t know what the right thing to do was at the time. So that led us to getting 2 more goats. We were going to wait until spring but the opportunity presented itself and we felt that maybe that would ease some of the pressure off of poor little Dutchess. The first few nights the whole thing started all over again this time Shaniqe was after everybody including the baby Bambi. The hubs immedietaley built a wall dividing the barn in half and we separated everyone once again. Dutchess moved in with Cajeta and Bambi and Shaniqe was on her own. It has been a week now and I’m happy and relieved to say that all is well. They all share the same side of the barn now, sleeping in their chosen spots, together as one herd. There is no blood, or boo-boos and Bambi is nestled snuggly with Cajeta. Dutchess is still a loner but that too I believe is in her nature. Even with us she keeps to herself and isn’t overly affectionate.
Yesterday I let everyone loose to do their own thing and see how they would all get along (except the Dutch who I had to keep on leash until he learns a little more self control). Chickens, Roo and Goats all doing what chickens, roos and goats should be doing, and doing it together. I think our farm family will be just fine, like with any family there is always someone that has to be a pain but you can’t help but love them anyway. I do. I love them all anyway.
Look at that face. How could I not?