Monday, May 31, 2010

Birthday gifts

May 29th, 2010. Inspirations Zipporah presented me with three fine new kids~

The first one is a sweet doeling who looks just like Mama~
The second is the white buckling, and the third is a tiny black doeling with a white angel on her brow~

This is their story~

This weekend I spend some quality time in the barn. On Saturday morning, I noticed my doe Zipporah was more talkative than usual and seemed to want to follow me around. I knew she was getting close to kidding, so I decided I had better keep a close eye on her. I passed the morning cleaning up her stall, so that we would have a clean, comfy place to have her babies. It was a big job, but I had plenty of clean fresh straw to lay down when it was finally clean. The sun was bright and warm, and I checked on her every half hour during the day, while I weeded and puttered in the garden.
The trick to watching a doe who is getting ready to kid, is to be able to check on her without her realizing it. It isn't too hard to fool a goat, you just have to pretend you are doing something else. The reason for this insincere behavior is simple: some does can and WILL postpone their delivery until you are not watching. Since Zip's first kidding resulted in a dead kid, I needed to be on hand this time in case she had trouble. (I am still relatively new to this business of raising dairy goats. I don't like to leave too much to chance.)
By 9 pm, I was certain Zip was going to deliver during the night ahead, so I began to assemble my goat labor supplies. I put on my warmest grubs, got my flashlight, put my hair up, put my book in one pocket, a bottle of water in another, got my goat delivery bucket and headed to the barn. With our nice clean straw and the other does locked away, we settled down to wait. It was just me, waiting for a treasured animal to give birth. I was willing to do anything to help her, and she trusted me.
She started to push. She got up and down countless times and paced back and forth. At about 10:30, something shifted and we got down to business! When the first kid started coming, Zip began to scream! THAT was a little unnerving. The kid was very large and the right leg was folded back, making the shoulders awkward to pass through the birth canal. The left leg and head were coming through, so I had something to grasp. With a little pulling from me, the big kid was finally delivered, and Zip's screams turned to little bleats of delight. Goats love their kids, too. Talk, talk, lick, lick, lick, she cleaned and encouraged that baby. The kid seemed healthy and vigorous, and looked just like Zip. I grabbed the first towel and began wiping her down. After about a minute, Zip said "unh" and another kid popped right out! Zip didn't seem to notice and kept cleaning her first kid, so I grabbed towel number two and started cleaning up the second kid. BOY! I was going to name him "Slimy." I noticed right away that he was a buckling, and he looked just like his daddy. Mostly white with black accents, he was about half the size of kid one. I hadn't had time to look at the sex of the first kid, so just as I was turning it over to peek, "Splat!" out popped kid three! WOW! Now I was hopping! I put the buckling under Zip's nose, so she could finish cleaning him. I had to sure kid three was breathing. It was a perfect tiny doeling, coal black with marshmallow swirls. She was very small and weak, so I had to really work with her to make sure she was OK. Kid two seemed to be fine, although he too, was much smaller than kid one. I looked over and kid one was already standing up looking for her first meal!
I took the tiny doeling into the house to blow her dry and warm her up. I warmed some colostrum from the freezer, put it in a tiny baby bottle, and fed her a few teaspoons of the warm liquid. Then I took her back to bond with her mother. She seemed to be perking up and getting stronger, so I knew I could head in and get some sleep. It was 2 am. and I was thrilled--Jenna would have been proud!
My herd is growing:)

More SUMMER fun...

The garden is looking lovely! I found a shady place to put a favorite chair under my Pink Lady apple. I can relax and survey my domain. OH NO! I can see the weeds growing!

"We" have made EXCELLENT progress on the new buck barn. I am SO lucky to have such a wonderful HANDY husband. He has designed the perfect barn for goats! Above the wall panels there will be welded wire inserts, creating a shady, breezy goat environment. Then "shutters" will come down on cold nights for protection from cold and damp.
LUCKY, lucky goats.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Divide and Multiply with perennials...

This is a daylily ~~an excellent perennial for propagating...
Yes, it is a wild, unruly mess, but I LOVE it :)

My garden was never meticulously planned. It has evolved. I was not even sure what would survive in our soil and elevation. I started with several kinds of hardy basic perennials. I built a bed alongside my main pathway and filled it with daylilies. (LuLu, remember when we dreamed of having a daylily farm? I get it now :) They thrived. I started a few sweet violets here and there. They EXPLODED! I planted a cat mint and it has become a wonderful self sower. Same goes for the rudbeckia. Lambs ears--one plant has become twenty in one year. Echinacea is very good, several forms of sage perform well, and penstemon is very showy. ALL the lavenders are excellent, but I especially love "Buena Vista" with it's compact form and long clusters of dark purple flowers. I dig in a few six-packs of allysum and I get two years worth of seedlings. The wallflower was sickly at first, then became a solid purple, bumble-bee magnet.
Now that I have a good handle on the perennials that do best in our soil, climate and weather conditions, I am multiplying! Most perennials can be propagated, and I LOVE to do it :)

I use three main methods:
  • I divide some by digging up a large one and "dividing" it into smaller plants. This works best with daylilies, rudbeckia and lambs ears.

  • I start some new plants with tip cuttings. I take tip cuttings of the lavenders, cat mint, and wallflowers.

  • Still others such as rudebeckia, sage, and echinacea give generous amounts of seedlings, which I am happy to dig up and rearrange with excellent success.

The problem with multiplying plants, is that as they soon fill out and become ready to plant, then you have to decide where to plant them.

Time to build more beds!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hollyhocks, First Salad, new barn project

These are "My Favorite" lilacs and Lady Banks roses, excellent companions! It looks like I will also have some hollyhocks this summer. My grandma, Esther Sullivan loved her hollyhocks, so I try to include some in my gardens. She sent seeds from her plants back to her sisters in Wisconsin, and my great-aunts still grow them there. The family connection remains strong, and I think of them often :)

We had our first salad of the year from the garden. The lettuce is crisp and mild, and I added fresh parsley, some beet greens, swiss chard, and some tangy chives. Outstanding! Rick said it was pretty good~for lettuce ;)

Saturday was nice and sunny with just a small breeze. Rick got a start on the new buck barn. We have a pretty hilly property, and our options for level building places are limited. However, phase one is going smoothly. He is smart and patient, and has a pretty good helper (me!) ~~of course his idea of me helping is me standing out of the way and keeping the animals off him. AND calling him in when lunch is ready. (In other words, he doesn't like me to play with his tools, but I am an adequate cook.... )

The next day was Mother's day and we spent some time with my Mom and Dad in Pine Grove. We enjoyed a delicious, decadent dinner. On Monday, the clouds came rolling in and with it a big rain and hail storm. Californians do experience an occasional hail storm, with nice, pea sized hail, for a couple of minutes here and there, but this one lasted twenty five minutes! All together on Monday I measured two inches of rain and an INCH of hail! I should have run out and pulled my truck out of the garage, it could have used a good scouring :)
In spite of the freezing night temps, the hail and all the unexpected rain, my garden thrives.
All is well....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Earthbound Birds

It was lovely spring day! Sunny and warm, with enough breeze to keep things fresh. My dog, Tilly found this incredible nest this morning. It is snuggled up under the edge of a big rock, and is crafted with tiny twigs, pine needles, and dry grasses and lined with goat hair! Inside the nest are two tiny, speckled eggs about the size of the end of my little finger. This is the first time I have seen a ground nest like this, but it belongs to a tiny bird that looks like a bush tit. I didn't get a close look at her, but she is the right size and color.

A little while later I watched as a robin flew into the window, knocking herself silly. She seemed OK, but she was staggering a little. I watched her for about an hour while working in my garden. She walked around the whole area, avoiding me, but not too worried. She must have had one whopper of a headache. Finally, she just hung her little head and seemed to give up. I walked over and caught her in my hands. She seemed to be intact and started to squawk and struggle. Soon she relaxed a little, I opened my hands and she FLEW up over the fence and into the top of the tallest pine! (Nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get your feathers ruffled!)

On Saturday, Rachel brought our granddaughters Madison, Allison, and Taylor up for a visit. We met at the fairgrounds to see the local goat show, then drove up and had lunch at FiddleSong Farm. We always enjoy their visits so much, their antics keep us smiling for days. The weather was especially nice this weekend, so we all spent quite a bit of time visiting in the garden while Madison and Allison dug for worms :) They are SO easy to entertain. Little Taylor helped Grandma find the eggs in the chicken coop, and carried the heavy bucket around until her bucket muscles were sore. (I now see that we need some chairs out there, so I will work on that.) We had sandwiches and fruit for lunch. It was Rachel's birthday last Wednesday, so we had an excuse for cake! I hope Rachel stripped those girls before letting them into her house, they all carried a little "farm" home on their clothes...

It was the best weekend that I can remember, but finished all too soon....