Monday, February 28, 2011

Graining Sheep

I'm trying to get the sheep to be a little bit more friendly before they lamb so I now sit down with their grain bowl at night so they have to get close to me to eat.

Gardenia is the least skittish of them all so she has no problem getting close to me.

She will get close, but not too close.

Jeepers sure looks different close up.


Whoa Jeepers, not too close!

I'm not sure if this will make them any more friendly but it sure is fun seeing them up close for a change.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sheep Talk

Kia is a very attractive sheep.

Orchid, "They always take Kia's picture, she is such a ham."

"I'm not a ham, I'm photogenic!"

"Gardenia, quit smiling you'll only encourage her."

"No one pays ole Jeepers any attention because I have a broken horn."

"Come stand by me Jeepers, I'd like a picture of us together."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do You Think I'm Pretty?

I was surprised about the number of questions I got from readers concerning Guinea Hens, I thought they were a farm staple. We got them to eat bugs, they are supposedly experts at tick eradication. Guineas come in three colors, Lavender (pictured above), Royals (bluish grey), and white. To get the full effect of some of these pictures I highly recommend clicking on them to get full sized views.

A Royal is on the left while another Lavender is to the right. Guineas heads are bald, it looks like some sort of pale grey paste has been slathered on their heads.

Guineas have odd bumps on their heads, with shark like fins crowning their domes. Note the hair like feathers that add extra beauty.

They have colorful beaks, ear holes instead of ears, and lovely beak like bags hanging out of their cheeks.

The white dots on their feathers add spectacular sparkle and sheen in the sunlight.

Guineas are excellent watchdogs, they cry out in alarm whenever anything out of the ordinary or just the every day normal is occurring. In fact they cry out when just about anything happens, including absolutely nothing.

Did I mention that Guineas are loud? They are by far the loudest and consistently noisy birds I have ever seen (or heard). It is initially annoying and it doesn't get any better over time. I guess they grow on you because I can't imagine trying to run this farm without them. I think they are beautiful!

Anyone who has serious question about Guineas may want to visit Razzberry Corner because that is where I go for information.

Guinea Fowl Song!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What was the Groundhog Thinking!

The mid-west got pounded by another snowstorm this past weekend. As I look out my window the snow is coming sideways and the wind is HOWLING at 25-30 knots. Minneapolis just set a record for the 2nd highest snowfall in a Winter, and we still have a ways to go. Chip came outside for a bit to peek about and didn't like what he saw.

Gidget is ready for more Winter, she is currently sporting her new purple/turquoise sweater. Goat fashions, who can keep up?

A few folks have inquired in the comments section on how Addison was feeling so here is a quick update. Addison was back to eating grain this morning and picking at her hay. When Addison doesn't feel well she prefers to eat a really course hay, almost straw like, I guess it is her comfort food. We have some stored in the sheep barn for just such emergencies and after a short wait Addy was munching away happily.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tummy Ache

When I went out to see the goats the other morning Addison did not look like she was feeling well. Look at that sad face.  She wouldn't eat her grain and she was wandering off outside all by herself. She has done this self isolation routine in the past when she wasn't feeling well so I knew something was definitely wrong.

I broke out the medical kit and prepared a Vitamin B complex shot, a Gatorade drench for electrolytes, some pro-biotics, and some raisins.

Have you ever smelled a goats cud? Yuk! A Gatorade drench followed by the vitamin shot did not leave Addy in a good mood.  When I took her temperature she registered a little low and she started shivering. I decided to take her into the house to warm up a bit.

The rest of the goats were in a tizzy, they did not like being separated from their queen. When I was bringing Addison into the house the other goats stood at the fence and screamed at the top of their lungs!

I started by putting Addy into Sara's kennel, but that didn't last too long as she stared crying.  Sara, the lover of goats, was pacing the floor at a rate that would have worn it out in less than an hour so I needed to get Addy out.

I decided to sit with her in the middle of the floor on a throw rug. Good thing the rug was there because it caught the poo that she decided to drop. Sara would not leave her side, I'm not sure if she was jealous of the attention Addy was getting or if she was just worried.  I could tell Addy was perking up as she headbutted Patch and gave Mocha and Chai long stares.  After she warmed up it was time to give her a few "medicinal" raisins and to take her back outside.

She seemed to be somewhat better as she nibbled a bit of hay upon her return to the goat barn. I will keep a close eye on her for the next few days, she is due to deliver for the first time in about six weeks.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Anonymous Mischief

The Guinea was in the tree going crazy, but was this the normal crazy or the something odd is happening out here crazy? It is hard to tell with Guineas, both situations provide the listener with quite an earful!

When I got outside I checked the goats, no problems. The rams, nothing...the chickens were fine too. That left the girls and when I got out to their barn I found someone had gotten into hay and grain stall.

What is it they say? The criminals always return to the scene of the crime? If that is true then there they are, peeking around the corner.

I don't know how they got in there, sheep aren't as mischievous as goats you know, but yet they did. I guess pregnant (hopefully) ewes need snacks, but next time they need to ask!

Don't forget to visit Verde Farm for Farm Friend Friday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lights! (Goat) Camera! Action!!!

Yesterday after I got home from getting a hair cut I sat down in front of my computer and decided to watch the Pelican Acres Goat Cam.

What is a goat cam you ask? Well certain breeders have cameras in their barns showing live shots of goats that are soon to give birth or are in the process of actually birthing. Since I am expecting "kids" and "lambs" around April 1st and have never seen little ones born I hoped that watching some live births (live) would be educational.

So shortly after I started watching one of Karen's goats started to give birth. I was so excited but also a little concerned as it appeared that no one was in the barn (and Karen is normally always there) to make sure the mama and the little ones were OK. The first kid came right out but the moma kind of rolled over on to it and began birthing a second. Things happened so fast as the second kid was born and didn't seem to be moving.

Fortunately I knew Karen as she was the breeder who provided me with Addison and provided the buck that bred her and Becca Boo this Fall. I called her house phone, no answer. I called her cell, no answer. I left messages on both but I was now really worried as the first kid looked like it was getting crushed and the second wasn't moving. I decided to call Karen's mother-in-law (who runs a lodge just down the road) and let her know of the looming tragedy in the birthing stall. Shortly thereafter I saw Karen (via the goat cam)rush into the barn and begin to revive the little motionless kid. In the process she moved the mama off the first born and after a bit of frantic work she got the second kid on its feet. Whew, both kids survived and can be see on Karen's web Site, Pelican Acres.

If you have some time to kill and want to catch the goings on click on the link to the goat cam, it was worth it for me!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heartache and Headache

The time had come to break up our lone breading group and hopefully get things sorted out for lambing. Alder, the big white lug in the back, wasn't going to be parted from his girls easily.

In preparation for the move Ironwood and Killarney were lured into the ramshackle shed with some grain and then they were closed inside. Since the gate couldn't close because it was blocked by about two feet of ice we had to run some extra fencing in front of their opening.

Alder was captured with the same grain trick, but we had a long way to go to get him in with the other rams. The Commander started out by carrying him while I held his horns, but the struggling only allowed us to make it one third of the way before he had to be put down. Next we "escorted" him by each taking a horn and led him down the ice trail. Unfortunately the trail was only wide enough for Alder, so the Commander and I had to trudge through the deep snow on either side. This was exhausting, so the last third of the trip had the Commander carrying Alder once again.

At this point Alder was introduced back into the ramshackle shed with his two compadres. The idea was that in the tight quarters no one would have room to really get a running start to hurt anyone else. It was like a wrestling match in there, headbutting, head swinging, snorting, and general wrestling around. Once they calmed down a bit we went inside to get some other chores done.

After about an hour I came outside to check on them and was shocked at what I saw. The air was foggy like after a hard rain, all three of them were panting heavily. Killarney had blood dripping off from his right horn and Alder had blood on his right side! I thought that Killarney had somehow stabbed poor Alder - we killed him! I quickly ran inside for my medical kit and got the Commander to come help me sort out this mess.

The Commander went in and drug them out one by one, starting with Killarney. It seems Killarney had cut his ear and that was where the dripping blood was coming from, whew. I put some peroxide on it and he ran off. Next was Ironwood and he had a small cut at the base of one of his horns, a little bloodstop fixed that right up. Finally Alder had his turn and a quick exam showed some blood on his wool but not a single cut or wound.

The three of them were now loose in the small pasture and decided to continue their battle, but with room to get up a full head of steam prior to ramming one another. We couldn't have that so the Commander grabbed a broom and started chasing them around their enclosure hoping to wear them out so they would be too tired to fight. I wish I had taken some pictures because the chase was hilarious; rams crashing through deep snow with the Commander waving a broom and slipping and sliding behind them. Sara wouldn't help and stood well clear of the action.

The Commander chased them for 20-30 minutes until everyone was exhausted, including him. During the chase the rams intermingled and occasionally butted one another, but finally decided the Commander was the greatest threat. After the Commander gave up the chase the boys sniffed around each other but were too tired to fight. After a while I went back out and got a picture of them all lounging by the feed bowl together, probably nursing their bumps and bruises.

I didn't notice any fighting today but next year we are going to have a better enclosure for them, one that will allow us to reintroduce them in a more sensible manner. Happy Valentines Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spooling up for Spring

The last week has had temperatures well down below -15 degrees, so It has been too cold to do anything outside. I promised Farmgirl from Critter Farm that once it warmed up a little that I would sit on the goat spool for her.

The snow was way too deep to get in to the spool from the gate!

We tried opening the pasture door from inside the barn but the bottom was frozen with several inches of ice blocking it tight.

That left only one option, through the goat door we all went!

Gidget wasn't too sure what we were up to but didn't want to get left out.

The Commander had to break a trail several times before Sara and Becka Boo would even attempt to plow through the deep snow to get to the spool.

We ended up with a one way traffic jam, no room to go forward or to be able to turn around and go back. One step off the path meant instant floundering in knee deep (for humans) or over their head deep (for goats and dogs) snow!

The Commander shoveled off half the spool so you could see how much snow was compacted on it. I'm not short and it was knee high to me!

Sitting on the snow was odd because it was very solid, very little give.

The snow on the spool was taller than Gidget!

"What is that sound behind me, is it a Yeti?"

The rest of the goats decided it was safer to stay on the ice trails then to go back wading into the snow. "We will wait for Spring before playing on the spool thank you."

"Unless you want to dig out the balance beam of course...."