Sunday, March 13, 2011

Farm Journal: More Photos and News on the Class of 2011

Here I am with Mattie, a two-year-old first-time Mama who had a very large buckling.
So far, Windshadow Farm & Dairy has 27 kids, that's 15 doelings and 12 bucklings--with four more does to deliver!

It's been a tremendous year for new life!

And, there's nothing like a new kid.  Its fur is soft like a cat's.  (In fact, at birth they are about 10 pounds, the size of a cat.)

They love to suck on your finger and lick your face just like human babies.

They are cuddly, have a zest for life, and are fun to watch as they get their "sea legs" and soon learn to leap capriciously.  (After all, the astrological sign of Capricorn is a goat.)

One thing I like about being an "auntie" to the kids is that I have time to play with them, which is one important part of their development.

When the new grass begins to sprout, there will be time to take them on "little pasture walks."  This activity signals that they are ready to graze because their rumens are open for business.  For now, they are feeding on mothers' milk.  For more info on the goat's digestive system, see the explanation below.  It is taken from a 4-H project in New York.

The most outstanding things about the kids is their curiosity and playfulness.  They can be quite a handful, especially when there are so many of them!  But that's a challenge I'm ready to take on.

For example, I spent some time in the kid pen today, which is in the barn.  I helped Suzanne feed the kids and later got inside the pen to play with them.  They jump all over and on top of me and make me laugh.  Goats are rock climbers so I'm their substitute pile of rocks at this early stage of their lives.  This is a big sacrifice, as you can imagine.

For the first week of life they stay inside the Kleins' house, depending on the weather.  Then they are put in the barn's kid pen where they are introduced to straw bedding, a heat lamp and a milking set-up that has several nipples on it for self-feeding.  (Photos to come.  My battery died before I could take pictures of the set-up.  Mon dieu!)

The boy-kid on the left, son of Chantelle who delivered this morning around 3:30, has unusual coloring with a brown top and a white bottom.  He is a son of Sundance from Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery, Tom and Cathy Halinsky's place in Fennville.

A precocious and impish doeling is on the lookout for whatever comes:  milk, time on the floor, scampering around with the other kids, or human cuddling.  Kids stand on four legs within a couple hours of their birth and they bleat with cute, but demanding little voices.  For their first week of life, they stay in Ron and Suzanne's house in big cardboard boxes with torn-up newsprint on the bottom. 

This big kid is anxious to leave its first home and get out to the barn--whatever that is.  The silver-colored kids with a black stripe on their backs are the kin of Tiger, a magnificent-looking French Alpine buck.  (French Alpines have long pointed ears, however, when bred with Lamancha goats, the dominant trait is the short ear.)

If I can hold two kids, can I hold three?  Why not try?  "Resistance is futile."

The kid in the middle is one of Tiger's offspring.  Notice the long pointed ears. 

The Goat's Digestive System

                KID SYSTEM                           ADULT SYSTEM
1- rumen, 2 - reticulum, 3 - omasum, 4 - abomasum 

When a goat kid is born, its rumen, reticulum and omasum are very tiny and not useful.  The goat kid depends on a liquid, milk, not roughage for its feed source.  When the kid swallows milk, the milk goes directly to the abomasum through the esophageal groove. Everytime the kid swallows, a flap of skin at the entrance to the rumen folds over to form a grove that bypasses the rumen and sends the milk straight to the abomasum to be digested by stomach acid.  As the kid gets older,  he starts trying to consume roughage.  The rumen becomes active and starts to enlarge.  Its population of micro-organisms increases. The reticulum and omasum also respond to the changes in diet by getting bigger.  By the time the kid is an adult goat, roughage is his main source of food and his rumen is far larger than his abomasum.  READ MORE

Windshadow Update
Ron and Suzanne are working harder than ever these days to keep up with all the work needed on the farm but they are gratified at this year's successful breeding.

Ron and Mike are still building the new milk parlor in the barn, which will be great demand now that the does are back in production.  Ron is currently milking the goats by hand but eventually he will have a new milking machine, which will cut down the time it takes to milk considerably.  It also will help relieve the muscles in his hands and arms.  It takes a lot of strength to milk goats.  And, since so many of the goats are newbies at milking, they also need to be trained to jump up on the milk stand, stand tall, and cooperate during milking.  More on the new milking machine when it arrives.

Cheese plant under construction last fall
It will be a little while before the cheese making begins, however, because the milk is now being used for the new kids.  The cheese plant is nearly complete with just the final paneling, plumbing and electrical work to do.  The new air handling system is working very well (it has filtered air with balanced air pressure to the interior rooms).  The interior rooms were warm even during the coldest part of winter!

The cheese plant exterior walls are made of SIPs (structure insulated panels) with an R-value of 46, while the interior walls are also SIPs with an R value of 35.  The ceiling is rated at a value of ~R60, which means the entire plant is well insulated!  All of these provisions control the interior environment for making, drying, aging and packaging the cheese. After Ron and Suzanne obtain a Grade A dairy license, production can begin, which they believe will be later this year.

Because the water buffalo are an integral part of the cheese they will be making, they need to have babies, too.  A couple weeks ago the water buffalo were pregnancy checked and the vet believes that calves will be coming in June-July.  Their birth weight ranges from 95-140 pounds, which is going to be interesting given that we are used to 10-pound goats at birth.  I hope they all come out straight! 

1 comment:

  1. You look awe inspired! What beautiful kids! You are a lucky woman.

    Best Wishes,

    Kim Sanwald