It’s a snowy day on the farm, and the goats are enjoying it!
It’s not helping the construction to get completed, however.
But the retail room is open, despite the snow!
Snow may be pretty, but I much prefer the Spring!
There are lots of different goat breeds out there. We’ve had many (but not all) of them over the first several years of owning goats. I knew I didn’t want to maintain separate breeds (mostly because of requiring different breeds of bucks). One of the reasons we decided to have a herd of Alpine Dairy goats is the range of colors and patterns.
We love kidding season for the excitement of finding out not only how many kids each doe has, and the sex of each kid, but also what each one will look like. Over the years we’ve learned that although some families tend to reproduce themselves pretty well, there is always the potential for a complete surprise!
Alpine goats (also known as “French Alpines”) have French color names. If you are interested in what each of the color patterns looks like, you can find them on our website: Alpine Goat Color Patterns.
This year, we used mostly black and sundgau (black with white markings) colored bucks. Do you know that meant? Yep, lots and lots of black and sundgau babies.
But we did get a few adorable chamoisee (brown) ones as well.
Our biggest surprise was Zelena! Who knew that…
would equal Zelena?
Yep! Colors make our Alpine Goats a lot more fun!! Do you have a favorite color?
In 2014, Anne was the last baby born. Her mom had miscarried and then got bred again; so Anne was significantly later than the rest of the babies born in 2014. When we started breeding season this year, Anne was about 20 pounds too light to have her bred and not have possible health issues come up. As soon as we got her to a healthy weight of 70 pounds, we decided we should see if she would come into heat with one of the younger bucks. It must have been fate for those two! Anne was bred immediately and we were excited to see what colors she might throw with the combination of her and the bucks genes. Anne had a very happy, healthy pregnancy and didn’t show much until the last week.
Anne is from a great line of goats, who are all strong milkers and well-behaved so we were very excited to see what she would do. “Bagging up” is one of the tell-tale signs that a goat is ready to kid. When a goat “bags up”, it means her udder starts to fill up and become noticeably larger. Since Anne is from a line of such great milkers, her udder started filling up and she was on a close watch to make sure we could help her with her birth. There were no complications at all with her birth and she had two beautiful babies. One buckling who we named Ammunition and one doeling who we named Arctic thanks to her clean, white coat. Both of them were healthy.
A group of people that were on a tour of the farm were in the barn and they got to witness two brand new baby goats come into the world. That was the most exciting part! They loved it. We were so proud of Anne and we are super excited to see how she milks in the future. Way to go Anne!
Things are always busy and a tad bit crazy here at Goat Milk Stuff. Kidding season is no exception. Just like the holiday season for the soap, kidding season for the goats is all hands on deck.
Well, all hands on deck is hard to accomplish if we get a last minute publicity event 12 hours away in Wisconsin. We have developed some awesome relationships with other local goat owners and we also know that we can count on our employees to step it up while we’re gone. With all that said, Zany was ready to burst and we had to leave. We didn’t have an exact date on her but we could tell she was getting very close. Our friend who helps in the barn was staying here to watch the house, feed the goats, and just overall keep an eye on things. I asked him specifically to keep an eye on Zany because she was my favorite baby from last year.
Zany did an excellent job and so did Andrew! He called the guys in the soap room to come down and help him get the babies dried off while he took care of Zany. Overall it was a great team effort from the entire Goat Milk Stuff crew.
It was so exciting to come home and see the newborn kids!
It’s starting to get hot here in Indiana. The goats have lots of woods to escape to that are much cooler, yet for some strange reason, they prefer to hang out at the barn where it is hottest.
The black goats are the ones that feel it the most, so we’ve started giving them their summer hair cuts.
There is a LOT of hair that gets shaved off:
We generally just do their bodies (and not their heads and necks).
We always think they look a little silly, but they feel a lot better!
We usually don’t shave the baby goats unless we have a baby with an unusually thick coat of hair.
It was a pretty typical day the day Tapioca gave birth. Everyone was tired, kidding season was wearing down as were we, and the milk room was a mess from all the first fresheners running around during milking and not being used to the way we bring them in and out. Like I said, typical day. Its not uncommon for a goat to give birth while we were in the milk room. I think they can hear us in there and decide that then and there is a good time to go since were so close by. Lucky us! We finished milking, got everything cleaned up and checked on our one stall that holds the mamas that are expected to go at any time. Tapioca looked at us, and instantly started pushing.
She was so tight and confused that it took what seemed like forever. It was cold and late but we know our responsibilities and we helped Tapioca make the process as easy as possible. Both babies came out fast once they started coming out and they were both properly presented. She had one buckling and one doeling. We named them Tabasco and Teaberry.
We expected very pretty babies from Tapioca as she is such a good looking momma.
She delivered! Awesome looking babies.
2015 kid count: 32 doelings, 33 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 29 does kidded, 4 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 14 set of twins, 5 singles
We were never sure if Galaxy was even pregnant until the last week before she kidded. She stayed rather under the radar and was very active during her pregnancy. Notoriously, Galaxy is a strange goat. She is never hanging around a certain goat crowd, or sleeping next to her siblings, or really doing anything that is consistent with our other goats behaviors. It was great to see her start bagging up as her babies were wanting to come out.
Our two year old first fresheners had done so well up to this point and we had hardly any problems with their births. Galaxy, as usual, did not fit our pattern! She was tight. She didn’t want to push. She wouldn’t stay still. All things that make our job more difficult! We should have expected this from Galaxy. Gaston came out first after Emery coaxed her into pushing and helping him. He was very tangled up but Emery always does a good job at straightening out the babies before the births become too complicated and can put the momma does at risk.
Gepetto was second out and he was so tangled up and wrongly positioned that we pulled him out breech (backwards of normal position). Galaxy was extremely happy to have her babies out. This was a tough one, but her two boys were happy and healthy. Good job Galaxy!
2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 32 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 28 does kidded, 5 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 13 set of twins, 5 singles
Tempest is one of our most beautiful goats. Her udder filled up beautifully throughout her pregnancy and there is not a weak part about her buildup. Even her attitude is great.
Tempest had dropped so low that anyone who didn’t know goats would have thought she had 10 babies in her. We had been watching her closely out of pure excitement of what she might throw. We knew exactly when she would go into labor and we were correct. It was late at night and goat watches had just started. She had a difficult time learning how to push and figuring out what was going on. I really had to get in there and get the first baby straightened out so she could have as easy a birth as possible. Once I had everything lined up, Tempest realized I couldn’t do all the work myself and helped push the baby out. What a huge baby! It was an 11 pound boy. She seemed oddly relieved after pushing out Tablet.
I went back in to check her and was disappointed to find that there was no other babies. Tempest had done a great job with this baby and we were very proud of her. We’re already excited for next year to see if she will throw any girls! She turned out to be one of our best milkers, along with one of our most beautiful goats. You rock Tempest.
2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 30 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 27 does kidded, 6 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 12 set of twins, 5 singles
Goats don’t seem to care what we’re doing when they give birth. Whether its the middle of the super bowl, or the start of milking, when they are ready, they are ready! Halfway through the milking Hera had her pre-birth goo. That meant time to stop milking and time to take care of Hera. Greyden is the one who discovered that she was ready to get her babies out. The look on his face when he walked back into the milk room was priceless. It’s the look of “ok, stop what you’re doing, baby goats on the way”.
First fresheners are funny because they always seem so confused and uncomfortable. She circled the stall what seemed like 20 times before she finally parked herself in the corner and started pushing. When we bring the babies in our milk room to get them cleaned up and fed, one job that isn’t the most fun but is absolutely necessary is cleaning and drying them off. We typically use towels. On this birth, we decided to use a hair dryer. Genius idea. After removing the birthing goo, a hair dryer can clean a baby in roughly half the time that it takes with towels. We discovered this a little late in kidding season, but needless to say we continued this technique for the rest of kidding season. It always helps when we finder quicker, yet still efficient ways of doing our jobs!
2015 kid count: 31 doelings, 29 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 26 does kidded, 7 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 12 set of twins, 4 singles
During kidding season, things are busy at Goat Milk Stuff. Very busy. Prioritizing is key. Taking care of the goats is busiest in late winter/early spring. The soap room work is busiest October through the holidays. Making sure people are where they need to be can be a daunting task. Being at every goat birth is a hard task, but it is one we handle very well at Goat Milk Stuff.
Happenstance hardly showed that she was pregnant at all. She didn’t have the usual signs, besides a slight filling up of her udder. February 19th was a very cold morning. My brothers and I were wearing down from roughly 20 days of goat births and bottle feeding. We were in the middle of the morning milking when Greyden went to check on the stall with our goats that were on high alert. Happenstance had recently given birth to her two babies. We rushed them in the milk room to warm them up and get them clean. They were doing ok, but were obviously cold. We warmed them up fast and they seemed to be doing well.
2015 kid count: 29 doelings, 29 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 25 does kidded, 8 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 11 set of twins, 4 singles
Unlike Jericho (read about her birth story), Idina was clearly pregnant. She is a very active, very curious goat but throughout the last month of her pregnancy, she became more protective of herself and spent more time in the stalls than she usually does.
She’s usually one to be out in the woods, leading the herd on a wild adventure to the best greenery to browse on. Her belly was also was dropping very low (that’s where the does keep their babies).
Idina did a great job giving birth. We were sure there was more than one baby, but we’ve also learned that you can never guess how many are inside a momma doe.
The first baby to come out was a buckling who had some difficulty coming on. It was a normal presentation, but just a slow process. We helped clean the baby and got him off to the side and Emery was checking for another one and we were shocked to find nothing else inside her. Idina was huge, and we were positive there was more than one. First fresheners typically have one or two babies, but its not unheard of to even have three.
We named the buckling iGoat! What a funny name with there being an “i” everything in today’s world. Our surprise was quickly resolved when we weighed iGoat. He weighed a whopping 11 pounds and 7 ounces. Now it made sense why she only had one, but looked like she had 6! iGoat was a quick eater and a super strong buckling.
We were very proud of Idina, and she was very proud of what she had done!
2015 kid count: 28 doelings, 28 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 24 does kidded, 9 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 4 singles
We are so excited about our herd of goats and how great they are. When we first got goats – they were ok. But even though we loved them, it wasn’t hard to find a ‘fault’, even if it was just a matter of preference. As we would get new goats or retain babies that were born, we would sell the ones with the most pressing ‘fault’. Sometimes their feet were harder to maintain, sometimes it was their personality, sometimes we didn’t like the shape or placement of their teats. Whatever the reason, it was pretty easy to decide whom to sell.
But now? Now all we have are really good goats. They’re all easy to milk. They’re all easy keepers. They’re all heavy milkers. And they all have great personalities. But because we’ve been retaining bucks that have been born here, our herd is starting to lack genetic diversity. This a good thing because it makes it so that the baby goats that are born are fairly predictable as to what kind of milker they will be.
But because we are building the certified kitchen and getting ready to add food products, the herd is growing. That means we need to use a few more bucks to breed everybody. And since we need some new bucks, we decided it was a good time to bring in some new bloodlines.
Meet our new bucks – Rachmaninoff and Vladimir!
They are from a goat dairy in Sebastapol, California. Why the Russian names? The boys were fighting for names like “Captain” or “Gladiator”. But we decided that since Sebastopol is part of the Russian River Valley, we would give the bucks Russian names. Rachmaninoff is one of my favorite composers, so I suggested his name. And Vladimir was one of the characters in the animated film, Anastasia.
When we got them home, after feeding them, the boys took them into the field and ran around with them for several hours. Since they had been cooped up in the crate for so long, they really enjoyed the exercise!
They were very happy to be free!
They are currently in quarantine away from the other goats to make sure they didn’t bring any sickness with them. But they’re enjoying the specialized attention that brings.
They both have excellent genetics behind them. Rocky (brown one) is a little bit younger than Vlad and a little bit smaller because he was one of quads.
Can’t wait to see how they grow and what their kids look like in the future.
Do you like the names?
Sometimes there are goats who just don’t show that they’re pregnant. One day they will act like they are bred, and the next day they are running around like crazy and you’re almost positive that they aren’t. If they only have one baby, they can stay really small, and you’re not sure if they’re pregnant or just fat.
Jericho was definitely one of those goats. She just wasn’t showing that she was pregnant, and didn’t act like it most days. We were only sure that she was pregnant when she started going into labor.
She had a super easy birth for a first freshener and to our surprise, had a healthy, pretty big doeling. We named her Jacinta.
What’s interesting about Jacinta is that she was a fantastic eater. We bottle raise all the kids, and usually after a week or so we can transition them to the lambar, where they eat with all the older bucklings and doelings. Jacinta was on the lambar at only 2 days old! She saw how the other kids were eating, and wanted to join them. When Greyden noticed it, he made us all come look because it was so unusual. It was very impressive.
2015 kid count: 28 doelings, 27 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 23 does kidded, 10 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 3 singles
I was looking through our picture folders when I found these pictures of the goats in the woods, taken a year or so ago.
They were happily trying to eat everything in sight.
Except for the babies, who would rather climb onto the feed containers.
By now, they’ve eaten most of the green stuff that covered the ground close to the barn, and they’re having to go farther out into their pasture. But while the pasture has changed, one thing hasn’t – they still spend lots of time climbing on the feed containers!
We put the feed out at night and encourage the goats to eat after the evening milking. That also helps encourage births during the daytime. Well, Zeyda didn’t seem to care about that.
During kidding season, we take shifts overnight to make sure if any momma does go into labor, that we are there to assist in healthy births for both the babies and the does. My shift was ending at midnight, and Greyden was coming out to relieve me and watch until 3, but when my shift was done I knew Zeyda was very close to going so Greyden and I just watched her and waited until it was the proper time to start assisting.
We were very pleased to have triplets from Zeyda! All the does in our Z line are great milk producers. Well done Zeyda! (There may be a future post asking for help with Z names in early February next year!!)
2015 kid count: 27 doelings, 27 bucklings
2015 doe status (33 total): 22 does kidded, 11 left to go
2 set of quads, 8 sets of triplets, 10 set of twins, 2 singles