Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm Still Here!

Things have been a whirlwind around here. I can't believe it's been over a week since I last posted. The (human) kids have had standardized testing this week, which has meant I've been up before 5am milking in thunderstorms each morning.

Onyx moved to her new home last Wednesday. It's been nice not to have kicking during milking. Then Phoebe and her kids moved on Friday. The barn looks half empty! Never fear, Star (my new milker) and Deuce (my new buckling) are coming home this Friday.

This also means I'm having to bottle feed Onyx's kids. Feeding three kids is draining my milk fast, I have got to sell this bucklings. I just haven't had the time to list them!

I got the results back from my first ever DHI milk test. Alice took the prize with a chart topping 4.7% butterfat. Onyx was #2 which surprised me- I would have guessed Trixie. Trixie had the highest protein by far which may be why her milk seems to creamy to me.

 Alice has also adopted Kat's buckling, which is really annoying. No milk for me in the evenings now! Buckling needs a new home. She also lets the other kids have a sip while this boy is nursing.

I've been trying my best to fit cheese making into everything else. Here are two goudas I made last week. I waxed them today.

I ordered a new cheese press on 4/21. I received a tracking number 4/22 but I still don't have the thing and the USPS hasn't updated data on it. I sure hope it gets here soon. I have hopelessly outgrown my original spring press.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Go Trixie Go

Trixie's girls went to their new home on Saturday. Their new owners seem like really nice people and I know that they will take good care of Cheery and Gleeful.

Meanwhile, Trixie has decided to milk for me. She did really well the evening of the milk test and then seemed to hold up in the morning.

Last night she looked like she was going to explode and milked nearly 3 quarts! You have to understand, Trixie is a mini-mancha. She only comes up to about mid-thigh on me. She held up some again this morning, but I think after another couple days with the girls gone, she will be milking just as well morning and night.

That's got me at about 3 gallons a day right now. Most the goats still have their kids on them during the day and I haven't started milking Kat yet. Phoebe and her kids should be moving to their new home this week and I should be getting Star from Florida next week.

I am still planning to sell Onyx. She did better with the machine yesterday and then was awful this morning. I hadn't planned to sell her until after my beach vacation, but if this continues she may go sooner. If y'all know anyone who is interested in a pure bred lamancha doe in milk, send them my way. Just let them know she will need to be hand milked unless they're better goat trainers than I am.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 Kidding Complete

Kat wrapped up kidding season with girl/boy twins this morning.

She was showing signs of labor last night but about 10pm quit contacting and settled down to sleep. I went to bed. 

Asher awakened me barking at the house at 5:40. I knew he was telling me kids were coming. He did the same thing when Scilla kidded before dawn. I ignored him then and missed it. This time I was wiser and listened to my dog. I really need to stop underestimating him- he is an amazing animal. 

When I got out there, the doeling was just getting to her feet. I was there for the buckling's birth.

This is the doeling. She will be joining Onyx and Buttercup's doelings and staying here. I will reassess who stays and goes after kidding next spring. 

And this is the boy. He will need a new home. They both still need names. 

I need to redo some disbudding on the two Alpine bucklings. They are the hardest to disbud! I'm not looking forward to that. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Milk Testing and RIP Cara Bleu

This week has been a whirlwind. Life is usually a bit crazy around here but this week has been out of control.

My sister and her kids were planning a visit for a long weekend. They got in town Thursday afternoon. I had been planning to start DHI milk testing this year and was very overwhelmed by it all. I was on the verge of scrapping the plan when long-time goat dairyman, Joe, said he could come down from Newnan Thursday night and Friday morning. 7:30pm. 7:30am. It's over an hour drive for him and I could hardly turn down his help.

So Thursday morning, I left all the kids in the stall and brought them bottles all day so I could milk at 7:30 that night. Most of them figured out the bottle pretty quickly. Opal and Cara were my two holdouts, wanting to chew on the nipple, but I managed to get a couple of ounces in each.

I noticed that Cara seemed a bit lethargic all day, but attributed it to being separated from Scilla. She and Cash are usually attached to Scilla's underside. After I did the evening test, I let the kids out with the dams for about 45 min so they could all get a little milk and comforting. Then it was back in the stall. I got dinner about 9:45.

Joe showed up at 7:30 the following morning and we did the second half of the test. When I opened the stall door to let all the kids out, Cara Bleu was lying by the door dead. I could hardly believe it.

Joe agreed that there was nothing I'd done wrong. He was impressed with the condition of my stock. I wonder if there was some issue from the anesthesia or medicine she was given at Auburn for her eye. Or maybe there was some hidden infection left from the eye thing. I really don't know. Joe said she was big enough she could have gone without food 48 hours and been fine. But she did get some milk and had also been eating hay and sweet feed. I guess it's just one of those things. Wish it'd been a buck.

Milk testing went well. Scilla milked 8.5lb, Phoebe and Buttercup milked 8lb, Trixie and Onyx milked 7lb, and Alice milked 6.5lb. I could tell most the girls were holding up some for the kids, but I don't think that's too shabby. I was especially pleased with Trixie. She's half Nigerian Dwarf. 7lb is great!

I am having a hard time with Onyx with the milking machine. She likes to kick the inflations off every day and about 4 times a week kicks the pail causing milk to get in the vacuum line. As I was lying awake at 4am the other night, I decided to sell her. She's making milking stressful to me and I don't need that. I'll keep her until I have my beach vacation so she can take care of her kids (I'm keeping her daughter) and then I'm listing her for sale.

In the middle of all this other chaos, I had to go to my friend Courtney's farm daily to check on Fawn and April. You may recall that she bought Onyx's doelings from last spring. Well, she is stuck out of town with a very sick child and it was time for the girls to kid. He farm watcher didn't have a clue.

April had twin bucklings on Tuesday.

The spotted one is the tiniest goat I've ever seen. That's him in the middle of the chickens. Look how small!

Fawn had a single buckling on Friday. I feel so bad for her getting all bucks. At least she'll have milk now! Please be praying for her daughter.

I'm playing hooky from church this morning. I'm too exhausted and need a down day. As if those exist this time of year!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Milk Handling

I have had a couple of questions about my milk recently. I am licensed to sell fresh "raw" milk in Georgia "for pet consumption". This is the only way it is legal to sell unpasteurized milk in the state of Georgia.
Here are the steps I take to insure that my milk is of the highest quality.

Each morning, I pack up my basket of paper towels, udder wash, teat dip, and milking pail and trudge up to the barn. Rain or shine. I am cheerfully greeted by my hungry and uncomfortably large ladies.

I invite a goat to hop up on the milking stand where I put her head in a stanchion and give her breakfast. My girls are given free choice grass hay, pasture, and minerals. On the stand, they are given a small amount of goat feed, black oil sunflower seeds, and a non-GMO fermented alfalfa called Chaffehay. I have been able to reduce the grain they receive on the stand by half this year by sprouting trays of wheatgrass fodder to feed them each day.

Once she has her breakfast, I wash that big, beautiful udder with clean paper towels and a solution of water, Clorox, and Dawn dish detergent. Then I squeeze out a bit from each teat before I start the actual milking.

This year, I invested in a milking machine. It is a closed system. The sealed pail is placed under the doe on the milking stand. I attach the inflations to her teats and milking begins. When milk flow stops, I remove the inflations and dip the teats to prevent mastitis. It takes me about 30 minutes to milk all the girls.

When I'm done milking, I haul my pails back down to the house where I strain all the milk through filters designed specifically for this purpose. One of these white filter pads fits down in the stainless contraption pictured above and the whole thing fits snuggly on a clean wide-mouth jar. This filters out any small bits of hay or hair that may have slipped through.

The jars get put in the freezer for about 90 minutes to cool them down as quickly as possible. When the timer goes off, they get transferred to the fridge. We won't talk about how many times I've broken jars by letting milk freeze in them. Ugh!

All of my equipment is then washed and sterilized with a cleaner made just for milking equipment.

I also do routine CMT (California Mastitis Test) tests on my milk to make sure that there is no infection I'm not seeing. I have only had one case of mastitis here and it was on a doe I am convinced had it when I bought her. I had her at Auburn U. two days after I brought her home.

With my small herd of goats, I know every last little thing that's going on with them, from a fluctuation in weight, to a sniffle. I strive to produce the cleanest, most delicious and healthful milk I can.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I'll Admit It...

...I have a problem. I'm addicted to goats. I just can't seem to get enough. There should be a "GA", like "AA" or "NA".

Anyway, here's our newest addition- Tickles Me Pink Comin'Atcha. We are calling her Alice.
She's a first freshener. She just freshened on Saturday and is milking about 6lb a day. Pretty good for a first timer, and she'll still pick up more this season.

And she's mine. All mine. Every drop of her milk is going to my family. Yes, I'm going to be that way. I need to remember to pay myself first.

Her breeder sold her because her teats aren't centered. I'm okay with that. She's practically perfect in every other way. :)

So Phoebe will be leaving us in the next couple of weeks. Star and our new buckling, Deuce, should be here end of April. My plan is 10 milkers, 2 bucks. If Kat gives me a girl, that will give us 10.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2 Weeks to Go

My poor girl isn't due until April 19th. She's miserable. I have never seen a goat so huge before. She is literally a yard across- and that's when she's standing up! If Betty Buttercup popped out two and hardly looked pregnant, what's in this belly?!

Her udder is starting to fill a little now. I feel terrible for her when the kids use her as a playground. Little hooves can't feel good on that belly.

I got over a gallon and a half this morning! There's a pot of feta on the stove.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Market Day

My first ever farmers' market was a rip-roarin' success! I was pushing it to get there on time and was frantically setting up my table at the 4:00 start time. By the time my pricing board was filled out, I had a line!

I was sold out of milk in the first 3 customers and out of cheese and eggs within the first hour! I believe I could have sold 5x as much if I'd had the product.

A big thank you to my parents and my kids for helping out. Couldn't have done it without you. I even brought little Cash and Cara along. They were a hit with everyone.

Come see me Saturday at 2:00. And come early.

 Bucket List- Check!