The next morning. . .

Yesterday I ended up with almost 6 inches of snow. Evidently the one goat shelter was flatter on top and didn’t have the right arc. While the shelter is still functional, the sheep shelter didn’t fare as well.


Fall Surprise

I staggered breedings on does this year, expecting kids in March and August. March came with no kids so I rebred those does and reconciled myself to having all the does kid in August. Then August came and no kids. At the end of the month I rebred all the does for kids in January. One of my does escaped a couple of weeks ago and I found her parading in front of the buck pen — obviously not bred and back in heat.  I did  go ahead and expose her to a buck again, making the appropriate notations in my records.

So imagine my surprise when I went out this morning and found . . .

The gestation period is 150 days plus or minus three for goats, which would mean that this doe was bred the beginning of June. Except she wasn’t. I have no explanation for how I ended up with a kid this morning – and of course, it is a buckling. While normally I prefer doelings, in this case, a buckling is fine. Rather than spend the money verifying parentage which would be necessary before registering the kid, I will just wether him at the appropriate time and plan on butchering him.

So now I just wait to see who else surprises me. . .

Sunday Snaps

The squash is doing well and after several days of only male blossoms, I finally started getting some female blossoms. I currently have three squash developing.

Spaghetti Squash





In ten summers I have yet to actually eat a single apple . . . this year looks to be no exception as I can’t reach the apples that the squirrels and birds have left.





Finally, not all UV protection is equal. I put a “farm” tarp from Harbor Freight on the sheep shelter last October. I replaced the billboard covers I had on the goat shelters a couple of months ago because I wasn’t able to secure them during the high winds. I used tarps from the local True Value which were (allegedly) UV protected. I removed the shreds of both tarps a few days ago and replaced them with “farm” tarps from Harbor Freight this morning. The tarp on the sheep shelter looks almost new.



Seldom Herd DA Cosmos’ First Kids

I bred Quibeyn Chai (Joey’s last daughter) to Cosmos in hopes of getting a doeling to carry on Joey’s milking ability. Chai had snuck in with a buck I was borrowing when she was six months old – way too young for me to want her bred – and she had a kid in June 2016, a single buckling. Since Chai was small and only had a single, her udder development wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but she nevertheless produced a respectable amount of milk and I kept her in milk for almost a full year, drying her off only because I went on vacation last year.

I held off breeding her again until this past fall, wanting her to grow up a bit more. I had put her in with Cosmos at the same time I put Pearl in with Cowikee but a month later Chai went back into season. Cosmos was pretty small at the time so I hadn’t been surprised. I put her back in with Cosmos for another week and he managed to breed her the second time.

I was expecting her to kid on Sunday, but she had other ideas. When I went out to feed Friday morning I found two kids with Chai and after entering the doe pen, discovered a third kid lying next to the fence. I thought the third kid was dead until I picked it up and it cried. No muscle tone and no sucking reflex but since it was a doeling (and the other two bucklings) I wanted to try to save her. First order of business was to try and warm her up. I put her in a sink full of hot water (holding her head up) to bring her core temperature up and then dried her off well with towels. (I don’t own a hair dryer but that will change here shortly.) She was placed in a box with dry towels next to a space heater while I went out and milked out some colostrum from Chai. Since I couldn’t find my kidding supplies, I put her wrapped  in dry towels and a syringe full of colostrum in the car and made a run into the feed store. My usual feed store didn’t have a feeding tube the correct size so I tried the newly opened Tractor Supply. That was a joke and just reinforced my unwillingness to shop there. The next stop was a local vet clinic where I was able (at a very inflated price) to buy a catheter to use as a feeding tube. I tube fed the kid in the car before making one last stop to buy a bottled soft drink (nipples don’t fit on water bottles). I continued to tube feed her throughout the day without seeing any improvement at all and I finally lost her in the early evening.

Chai, thankfully, is doing well, as are her two remaining kids.

Having a Little Fun

I was expecting Chai to kid out Sunday or Monday so was planning on moving Pearl and her doeling into the newly kid proofed pen this weekend. However, Chai had other plans and kidded Friday morning so I had to move Pearl and her kid out to free up the lambing jugs.

The still un-named doeling is very happy with her new accommodations.


16 hours (plus or minus)

In the daylight, after being cleaned up and dried off, the doeling is actually a tri-color. She weighed 3 lbs when I weighed her this morning.

The dam is Blunderosa Minnie Pearl and the sire is CBF KS Cowikee. I generally try to name kids in a theme with the dam but in this instance will just use the “Pearl” — so the doeling needs a gem name. Suggestions are welcome.

A day early

I was expecting Pearl to kid anytime between tomorrow and the end of the week. However, this evening as I was heading out to feed (later than usual) I heard her crying. Hoping that didn’t indicate she was in distress, I swung by the barn to fill the hay cart and then stopped at the house to pick up a headlamp as it was already dark. As I approached the goat pens I heard a kid – with very good lungs – crying. Pearl had kidded and didn’t appear to be in distress though she was definitely unhappy with Fix bouncing around. After filling feeders, I filled a water bucket for the lambing jugs and went back to the barn for another flake of hay. I then put the dogs back in the house and milked Charmin. After finishing milking I put Charmin back in the pen and picked up the kid. Pearl did not follow me to the lambing jugs, though her two pen mates did. I went back for Pearl and put her in with her kid and caught the other does and put them back in their pen. After a quick dinner I went back out to see if Pearl had a second kid. It looks like just the single, but it is a doeling so that is good.

It looks like she is black and white like her mom but with more white. I’ll have a better idea in the morning when it is daylight and she has been fully cleaned off. I’ll also weigh her then.

Farm Dog 101: Working Livestock with Your English Shepherd – an Overview

English Shepherds are/should be control freaks. They understand rules and want those rules followed. That is one of the things that makes it easier to work with them on your own stock and one of the things that often makes it frustrating to work them off your property and with strange stock.

English Shepherds are “loose eyed” dogs and thus work closer in to their stock than border collies. While some dogs will bark at particularly stubborn stock, if a dog is barking almost constantly it lacks confidence and you will have to be extra careful in starting that dog to build confidence.

The first thing I do when starting a young dog (and young isn’t age related but determined by experience) is develop a bond with the dog. This means I spend time with the dog in a variety of situations, teaching the dog to respect me and fostering its desire to be with me. I will take the dog with me doing chores. Depending upon the dog and the situation, this may mean the dog is dragging a line to ensure I can control its behavior. While I don’t directly focus on the dog, after all I am doing chores, I do make sure the dog isn’t getting into trouble and is staying close (how close is a personal choice.) When I have a dog that is sticking with me doing chores, coming back to check in frequently on off-leash walks and has rudimentary obedience skills as well as self-control I’ll evaluate whether or not the dog is mentally and physically mature enough to start working stock. This is also dependent upon my stock. I won’t work a young dog on ewes with young lambs.

If I’m going to work stock with a dog, I will wait to do serious obedience training until AFTER I have started working stock. While I want the dog responsive to me, I want the dog’s focus on stock. A dog who focuses on the handler is either going to be less effective in working stock or, worse case scenario, is going to get hurt by not paying attention to the stock. It is very important to remember that if you want a partner, you have to ensure the dog is capable of making decisions and not expecting you to make all the decisions for him/her. All the dogs I train are taught self-control early on so that the dog is making GOOD decisions on its own and so that I’m not constantly telling the dog to do or not to do something.

It is also critical that you set your dog up to be successful and not to fail. While corrections are, in my opinion, a necessary part of training, corrections rarely have a place in “teaching”. Until the dog understands what is required and knows how to avoid a correction, it isn’t fair to correct the dog. Once I move out of teaching and into training, I can set it up so the dog has to make the right decision under more challenging circumstances, but again I have to ensure the dog is prepared for the challenge and I’m not expecting something I can’t reasonably expect.

The age you start a dog is not critical as long as the dog is mentally and physically ready to start. What is critical is that you haven’t done things to “turn the dog off”. I’ve seen pups that were put on stock too young and a single bad experience was sufficient to turn the dog off working stock permanently. I’ve seen older dogs that had been discouraged as pups from interacting with livestock who wouldn’t work as they got older. I’ve also seen dogs bounce back from traumas that you would have thought sufficient to turn them off permanently — my first ES got kicked by a steer so hard it knocked him across a pen, gave him a concussion and broke a molar. He tried, unsuccessfully because of the concussion, to get up and continue working.

Working poultry (chicken, turkeys, ducks), sheep, cattle and goats is challenging in different ways and some dogs will excel on one type of stock and yet may not be a good worker on another type of stock. The dog might be ready to work poultry very early on and not be ready for sheep, goats or cattle until much later. So just because your pup or dog doesn’t seem interested in working one type of livestock or another, don’t be discouraged. It may need more time just accompanying you doing chores or you may want to try starting on a different type of livestock. While I do use my ES to handle my American Guinea Hogs, I don’t recommend starting an inexperienced dog on hogs and I personally will NEVER use a dog to work horses. There are several reasons for that but it can be boiled down to a safety issue for both the dog and rider.

NOTE: The above was originally written a few years ago, when I was raising Katahdin sheep for lamb and was pasture raising American Guinea Hogs. I have downsized the number of sheep I have and the hogs are now in various freezers.

Random Farm Photos

The chicks turned 6 weeks old on Monday. I started opening up the pop door to the outside run for the chicks this past weekend and they have been having a grand time with the extra room. I had bought a Hen Hydrator which is a 5 gallon bucket that hangs with nipples for the chickens to drink from because I was tired of having to clean out the trays on the ground waterers. It plainly states it is not for chicks, but I went ahead and lowered it to chick height and  the chicks have been happily using it for the past few days.

The bantam chicks are noticeably smaller than the other chicks


The frizzles look like they stuck their beaks in a light socket











Cosmos, the youngest buckling, does not quite understand the proper way to go down a slide.









The kids are three weeks old today.




And here is Fix – who is starting to mature into a very nice looking dog.

Warm and fuzzy . . . NOT

I had bought two does exposed to bucks in May. Just Charmin kidded out a week ago this past Thursday. My absolute least favorite part of owning goats is disbudding. I have tried using a paste, which produced hit and miss results (heavily weighted to the miss), and banding, more successful IF bands are replaced promptly when they break. Last year I finally ordered a disbudding iron. The first one was damaged when I opened the box and by the time the replacement arrived it was too late for a successful disbudding of the kids. I should have disbudded Charmin’s kids, or at least the buckling, no later than Monday morning, but he was so small I put it off. Then the usual number of things happened so it wasn’t until last evening that I managed to disbud both kids and give them CDT vaccinations to guard against tetanus. It was a miserable experience for all concerned and I am hoping that it was successful and we didn’t all go through the trauma for naught. Evidently from what I’ve read and heard, Nigerian Dwarfs are the hardest of all the dairy goats to disbud and the bucklings are the hardest, with most developing scurs even at the best of times.

This came on the heels of the second doe, who never bagged up so I wasn’t sure she had been bred, suddenly going into labor Thursday late afternoon. Luckily I was home as I ended up having to pull a kid – which was stillborn. Buttons still isn’t out of the woods yet so I’m hoping I don’t lose her as well.

I enjoy the farm and the various animals. There is nothing cuter than a goat kid sproinging about. However, there is a downside to breeding any animals — the very real likelihood of not only the loss of the offspring but also the dam. WHO estimated that in 2015 303,000 women would die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Actually, I’m always surprised at the low number of complications I’ve had with my sheep and goats over the years when one considers all of the things that could go wrong.