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2019 Memories of Early Spring

Four weeks after kidding, and it’s time to relax and enjoy the herd. This winter has been wet and gray. But today dawned bright and warm, in spite of the rain predicted. Lots of weeds in the barnyard for a goat morning treat! Sitting and observing is something I do well. It gives me the chance to see the little points of conformation that I can be too busy to notice. Plus, this turns me into something immobile for goat kids to check out and climb on. I should do this more.


Happy Days

The crunch of the first month after kidding is over. The peaceful, settled period has begun. I love this time of morning and evening chores, milking, goat kids happily romping everywhere. Kids sampling the farmer’s hair, mistaking it for hay. Kids muddying up the farmer’s jeans by seeking to climb even me. Kids growing fast on rich goats’ milk. 

As of today, the final decision on who stays has been made. As a business, Adagio Farm will shut down with the sale of every animal except Molly and Marissa. These two does, plus one of Stacy’s bucklings for fall breeding, will remain on the farm as my pets and personal milkers. It’s back to the beginning for me! In 1996, I purchased two does and a buck. What excitement for me starting out on a journey about which I’d dreamed for so long! Today I feel just as excited about the future…minus the weight of business concerns. 

With serious goat breeding comes a long list of extra obligations, on top of the everyday, hands-on labor of animal husbandry. Refreshing bloodlines by researching and bringing in new breeding sires, annual lab reports, websites, advertising….much of this will be behind me. Keeping just a couple of does will allow me the joy of spring kids still, a supply of milk for my household, and the farm presence of the elusively intriguing goat - my much-loved Nubian.

Finished!

All six does kidded within an eight day period. A single, four sets of twins, and one set of triplets make up the twelve kids born at Adagio Farm in 2019. One season a year for kids, and it goes by fast! One minute there are no buyers, and the next, not enough kids to go around. 

Molly and Marissa are being treated for anemia, after coming through their deliveries well. Still not sure if the problem was worm load or nutritional deficiency - either way, it is a slow cure. Both were dewormed in December and January with Ivomec. Perhaps it was ineffective, but I suspect nutrition is at the bottom of it. I went through this two years ago with Antimony, so I have seen it turn around. They are already showing much improvement. 

Four does have been made available as milkers, with two being spoken for at this point. Stacy and Gracie will be going together to the farm of a former buyer. I’d love to see Maggie and Micaela go together.

These are long days and short weeks. I’m very thankful for the overall health of all these critters!

Halfway

Yesterday Micaela kidded. Up until two weeks ago I seriously wondered if this goat was even bred. Her udder was shrunk down and she really didn’t look pregnant. As I had guessed, she was only carrying one - a single buck kid, all frosty and large, like her buck kids last year. She went to the far end of the pasture to kid. Fortunately, I knew where she was and walked out to make sure all was well. I decided to leave her and her boy alone for a while, since he was up and nursing well. 

However, the neighbor’s big black dog decided to inspect my pasture again soon afterward, sending all the sheep and goats up to the barn. Micaela came, too, leaving her newborn. When I first became aware of the dog’s presence, he was circing the area where the kid was. I gathered up the gun (which is totally ineffective at the range from which I can usually get to this dog) and marched out, not straight toward the dog, but at an angle to try to cut off his retreat. He has made a new tunnel under the fence, apparently, which I will have to repair today. As I anticipated, he scrambled home on his four legs much faster than my two. I abandoned the pursuit and went looking for my new kid. I found him safe, tucked under some brambles, and carried him home to his mother.

This kind of stress takes a toll on me more and more as the years of breeding/kidding go by. Gracie’s doe kid has become my kid, as she never has been able to find the udder. Marissa is doing great with her twin does. But we’re only halfway through the kidding season. Then comes the selling season. I’m tired already.

Final Kidding Season

With Gracie’s twins born yesterday, the final kidding season for me has begun. It’s exciting, as always. But the last few years have been mixed with a good deal of sighing, as well; for I am much older than when I began this goat journey. In the fall, my hands began to experience pain pretty regularly, making me wonder about the wisdom of continued hand-milking. It has taken a toll. I made the decision that I wouldn’t milk in 2019.

Goats are so fun for me! Who can explain it? Why goats? I don’t know why, but they are addictive.

But life is short, and we are here to glorify God. That’s what I have wanted to do in the way I have raised goats and done the business of selling them. My heart is moving me in other directions at last. So I’m going to work with these does through one final season of kidding - hopefully enjoying every day of it! And then I’m going to let them go to good homes as future milkers and breeding stock for someone else.

2018 Herd Reduction

This year I actually did it! Selling all kids born, Adagio Farm is now a small operation of six breeding does and one breeding sire. The cut ended up being simple. Molly and her triplet daughters from 2017 are the only does on site now out of years of breeding. Two new does joined the herd this fall, out of my friend Tracy’s herd, and both bred to Wingwood Farm TL Antimony. These represent the best animals with which I’ve ever worked. The Molly X Tim cross has been very successful. Tim provided the main thing Molly lacked (stature), without sacrificing anything in udder and production. He has gone to a new home, but one to which we have access as needed. 

For twenty years, milk goats were my passion. Then my grandchildren began to come! 

New Year’s Thoughts

Agnes lambed during the night - twin ewe and ram, like so many of the others this year. She is the seventh ewe to lamb, with (maybe/probably) two more to go. No-name 005 is probably not bred, since I saw her cycle after the rams left. Felice’s daughter from last year doesn’t look bred. That leaves Hannah (003), who is a favorite of mine. I’m guessing that she is one of Dolores’s daughters from last year. No fear in that girl, just the same gentle, up close and personal disposition of Dolores. Plus, she’s pretty.

Felice’s daughter is extremely wooly. She was born last of the 2018 crop, on Valentine’s Day. She may go to market with the first batch of lambs, along with 005. I really like Felice’s daughter from this year, a single ewe lamb who was big from the get-go. But Felice may go to market, too, when she’s done raising this one. I know I’m going to want to keep a couple ewe lambs. That will mean eliminating some of the adults. 

The original five will stay: Agnes, Beatrice, Clarice, Dolores, and Ethel. Hannah, Isabelle, and Jessie will probably stay, leaving me room for two  of the new ones. I’ll probably only keep one ram lamb for feeding out. My hope is to bring in a good breeding ram for the summer season.

Fall Update

The first new lambs were born yesterday, November 15, 2018. Beatrice gave birth easily to twins, boy and girl. The ram lamb is very masculine, and the ewe lamb is very feminine. It’s so exciting to look out and spy new little ones unexpectedly! It looks like Ethel is due to lamb very soon, as well. 

The two new Nubian does are doing great! Stacy is so long and tall that she “climbs” the oak trees and several other does climb her to get to those elusive, sweet oak leaves. She is very impressive in size, almost more than I can manage. Gracie is a bolder goat, shouldering her way at the feed trough handily. Both are too intrusive on my little red feed bucket, alas. I’m happy with the way they have imbedded themselves in this small herd, now six bred does for the 2019 season.

End and Beginning

Midsummer, and kidding and sales for 2017 are coming to a close. Now is the time for hard decisions on the next breeding season. As of today, there are eleven does at Adagio Farm and three bucks. The bucks will all stay and soon go to work. I had thought (near the beginning of the kidding season, or midway) to try to get down to seven does for next year. Alas, it is doubtful that will happen!

We started the year with nine bred does. Two milkers were sold  very soon after freshening, and two more went to new homes later in the spring. That leaves five "adult" does - four first fresheners and Molly, a seventh freshener. Of the  eighteen kids born, twelve were does. Six of those remain here.

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