Sunday, January 31

Aiko, Calves, and Barn Construction

Aiko is one of our newest goats to join our herd. Aiko is a bottle baby that we acquired from some folks that had a doe that couldn't support all of her kids. She has quickly become the center of attention around the farm. During her first few days she stayed in the house as she was far too weak to survive the cold. Thankfully, due in no small part to Jennifer's care, Aiko and our other bottle goat Estu are doing very well and live in a makeshift pen in the shop building when it's cold. They join the herd for play time when it's warm enough outside.

2010 has started off as a busy one for us. Over the past winter Jennifer and I raised some Jersey bottle calves. The stalls we built out of recycled pallets worked out well. We were told Jersey's were very hard to raise but we had no major issues. Quite a few of the local beef farmers were quite impressed with how healthy our bottle calves were, "these are premium calves" one told us. Jennifer recently sold all six on craigslist and we have a waiting list for the next round (which should begin in February). One key part of the success was getting these calves right off the dairy where they were able to get colostrum and build their strength before coming to us. The other key to this successful endeavor is Jennifer's close watch and quick reactions to problems with all our animals.

We've got a major mess on the farm right now with the weather. We started a major construction project including trenching for frost-free hydrants and electricity as well as construction of a new 30x40 barn designed with our goats in mind. At the moment we have a few inches of snow on the ground, once it thaws I'm sure we'll have quite the mud pit. During the last brief thaw our driveway turned to a slippery mess that required four wheel drive to traverse.

Jennifer also recently brought home a Nubian goat for milking. Patches, as she's known, has been producing close to a gallon a day which is going a long way to Aiko and Etsu's growth and development. I can't get the hang of milking though, my hands won't do what I ask them. Jennifer is pretty good at it but until we either get a mechanism to milk them or I figure out how to do it Jennifer can't leave the farm but for short periods of time (milking occurs twice a day). I think we just made a deal though for an "Udderly EZ" milking kit so I can make myself useful, at least in that aspect. Hopefully it helps as it seems we're in the market for even more dairy goats!