Category Archives: News about our Goats

Cool Wildlife Sightings on the Farm

We’ve had many cool wildlife sightings this summer, while tending to the goats and doing our farm chores. These interesting critters make enduring the summer heat a little more fun!

Nate’s Notes June 2018

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
27
Mom fixed us a good country breakfast this morning. Everything was ready and waiting when I got back in from milking. Later we went on a nature walk. Hopefully no ticks!
28
84° and cloudy today. Mom went back to Ohio this morning. We lounged around most of the day.
29
Back to work bright and early today! Made several batches of soap, portioned out my Body Powders, labeled my lotions and sent off some website orders.
30
Hot and sunny again. The goats are doing great. Orangie still hasn't kidded. I am beginning to think her breeding didn't stick. Got a couple more website orders to put together.
31
90° with a few clouds here and there. I am cranking out as much soap as I can before the Farmers Market on Saturday. Amos came to mow our yard. He is such a great neighbor.
1
It was 79° at milking time this morning. Tennessee's birthday is today. 222 years.
2
Market today. It got up to nearly 90° degrees. First really hot market day so far. Most shoppers cleared out by 11:00. Almost out of shave brushes. One of our hens is down. She's not looking good.
3
84° and sunny. Went to the barn to check on our hen. She was dead. But Orangie was in there and she had a surprise new baby! We thought her breeding didn't take. Wrong!
4
A cool 79° today. New baby is doing great. Had her shots. Noticed Rango, our buck, has milk in one of his teats. Or at least I assume it is milk. I didn't squeeze it.
5
Cool morning, about 50°. Orangie is coming out of the barn for food. It is hard to leave her new baby. Making almond soap today. Its our top seller right now.
6
Lovely day mid 60's°. The new babies are doing good. Shasta (the newborn) is leaving the barn now. Twinkie hurt her back foot. Has a nasty cut.
7
Sunny and 74°. Stopped giving the boys grain. Hopefully that will clear up Balze's runs and dry up Rango's milky boob! Twinkie's foot is pretty bad but not getting worse. We took her to the house to clean and dress her wound. She was very brave through the whole thing.
8
in the 90's° and sunny. Gave some wormer and trimmed some hooves. Twinkie's foot is still healing. She's not putting any weight on it now. Just trying to keep the infection away.
9
Good day at the Farmers Market. Hot and breezy. The boys are only getting beet pulp now. Trying to keep Blaze's weight up while keeping Rango's milk down!
10
Rained last night. Still working on Twinkie's foot. Keeping it clean so far.
11
Hot this morning. Took Twinkie's bandage off. Hopefully it will dry some and scab over. Shasta comes out to eat with the other goats now.
12
90° and humid today. Disbudded Shasta. She did great. Rango is still swole in the teat.
13
Rained last night and this morning. Cooled things off a bit. Did my in-town restocking (Centerville Marketplace and CO-Op). Saw a coo-coo bird in the back yard. Hear them all the time but hardly ever get to see one in the open.
14
84° and foggy this morning. Twinkie's foot is getting better. Not limping now.
15
Foggy again. Hot today, Had to bandage Twinkie's foot this morning. She somehow scraped off her scab.
16
Farmers Market today. Super hot out. I think it got up to 98. Still had a huge crowd.
17
95° and sunny. Still keeping an eye on Twinlie's foot. She's walking on it fine but she still has some healing to do. Found a lizard with her eggs under the boys' water. Cool! I love interesting wildlife sightings.
18
84° this morning. Wormed some goats Made Lemongrass soap.
19
Still super hot. The lizard still has her eggs. Susan Springer from down the road bought Ross from us. He was the only buck we had this year. Bye Ross!
20
89° Rained a little. Got Blaze on some new fancy hay. Hopefully that will balance out his belly. Liberty is missing her little buck Ross. Its sad, but she still has Betsy to look after.
21
Hot. Worked on Balze's coat. Brushed him a bunch. He's looking good. He's just skinny. Lizard eggs haven't hatched yet.
22
Cool and damp this morning. Looks like storms today.
23
Great day at the Franklin Farmers Market. Sold lots of powder. Vanessa stayed home and looked after the goats. Hopefully she didn't leave the hose running like last time.
24
Muggy but not too hot. Lizard still sitting on her eggs. Saw a red legged purse web spider. Vanessa looked it up. Said they are very rare. Should have gotten a pic. Had friends over for beer and BB gun shooting.
25
96° today. Got the grass cut. Catching up on my soap making. Made six batched today.
26
Hot again. Weed-eated the yard. Not fun.
27
Still hot but we had a breeze. Stormed a little. Nothing scary. Saw the female purse web spider. It looked like a small tarantula. They are considered endangered. Probably seeing them because its mating season.
28
81° getting some storms. Wormed some goats this morning. Found a stag beetle under my boots that was as big as my thumb!
29
Had a really big storm yesterday. The worst in years. No damage but really scary. Magic was out in it the whole time, eating leaves that the wind was blowing down.
30
Hottest Farmers Market yet this year. Still did good sales wise. Sold my last shaving brush.

Sprucing Up for Mom’s Visit

We spent several days sprucing up for Mom’s visit. It’s a tradition for her to come down Memorial Day weekend, to meet the new goat babies and spend a few quite days on the farm. Luckily she and Vanessa get along great! We look forward to her visit every year.

Nate’s Notes May 2018

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
29
It was in the 50°'s this morning. Did some work in the yard (after milking and feeding). Patched some holes in the fence. The little ones were getting out a lot. No more!
30
Very warm, up to 79° and sunny. The grass is really coming up. Goats are eating less hay now. Made 8 batches of soap. trying to catch up.
1
It got up to 81° today. I Made 3 batches of soap today: Lavender, Bonsai, and Sandalwood. Waiting on my shaving brushes to come in.
2
Sunny again and 82°. I gave Blaze a shot of Vitamin B. I don't think he noticed. It will make him feel good, I hope. Made Peppermint lip balm.
3
Cloudy and 86 °. Too busy to write anything more.
4
Cooler today, 79°. After milking the goats we got everything ready for the Market tomorrow. Had to wrap lots of products and spruce up our displays.
5
First day of Summer Market today. It was warm but rainy. Vanessa came with me. Sales were okay, sold lots of Body Powder.
6
81° and cloudy. The grass is coming up fast in the goat field. Hope they can keep up with it. My mower is broken.
7
It was sunny and 79° this morning. Got a big order from Whole Foods. Have to make soap every day now. Things will not slow down until about August. Lovin' it!
8
Weather is the same as yesterday. Tons of pollen in the air. Orangie and Bluey are getting close to kidding. Gave them both Selenium.
9
Deliveries today! Sold lots of soap at Grinders Switch Winery. Sold lots of Body Powder at Centerville Marketplace. Making Rose soap today.
10
Had to get more hay today. Shouldn't have to buy too much more this summer. The goats stop eating very much hay when the grass is up.
11
88° and sunny. Getting the kidding stall ready for Bluey. She should be due sometime this week. I forgot to write down the date we bred her to Blaze.
12
90° was the high. It was a good day at the Franklin Farmers Market. Sold lots of lotion. Had pasta for lunch which was nice.
13
Hot and sunny today. Brushed all the goat moms for Mothers Day. Ended up brushing everyone because goats get jealous very easy.
14
Got up to 91°. Bluey had two girls this afternoon. She ate her grain in the morning, then ran back to the barn. She was "talking" to her babies even though they weren't born yet. No troubles. She barely needed my help.
15
Bluey's babies are doing good. Gave shots and cleaned their belly buttons. Very important. They can get very sick if the cord doesn't dry up fast.
16
Cooled off to 84° today. Decided to name the babies Amelia and Annie after the pilot and the sharp shooter. Had to rescue a little snake from one of the feed bins.
17
Bluey's girls aren't bouncing around like they should be so I gave them some Selenium. They might have been born a little early. Remember I forgot to write down when she was bred?
18
Kind of cloudy and only got up to 82°. Did a bunch of yard work, weed trimming mostly. I always get poison ivy from that. Saw a box turtle and a ring neck snake.
19
Great weather for the Farmers Market. All of our regulars came out to see us!
20
Back up to 91° today. Went to the plant store to buy hanging baskets. Have to keep the place looking good, plus the humming birds like it.
21
86° with clouds. Lots of soap to make this week. Getting low on shaving soap. My brushes still haven't arrived. Bluey's babies are doing well.
22
84° and mostly sunny. The older kids are teaching the new babies all the fun games to play. Mostly running and jumping onto each other.
23
The weather is about the same as yesterday, maybe a tad hotter. Bluey's milk is coming in good now. Was a little worried that she was not making enough, but she swelled up overnight.
24
Getting the barn spruced up for visitors. The goats like it as well. Amos mowed our yard!
25
High of 90°. Mom is here for a visit. She loves helping with the soap and hanging out with the goats.
26
Me and Mom worked the Farmers Market. She got to meet some of our favorite customers. And it was the best weather ever! Barley hit 80°.
27
Mom fixed us a good country breakfast this morning. Everything was ready and waiting when I got back in from milking. Later we went on a nature walk. Hopefully no ticks!
28
84° and cloudy today. Mom went back to Ohio this morning. We lounged around most of the day.
29
Back to work bright and early today! Made several batches of soap, portioned out my Body Powders, labeled my lotions and sent off some website orders.
30
Hot and sunny again. The goats are doing great. Orangie still hasn't kidded. I am beginning to think her breeding didn't stick. Got a couple more website orders to put together.
31
90° with a few clouds here and there. I am cranking out as much soap as I can before the Farmers Market on Saturday. Amos came to mow our yard. He is such a great neighbor.

Busy Season Begins!

The busy season begins with April as we ramp up soap production in preparation for summer at the Franklin Farmers Market. Not to mention milking every morning and latching the kids at night. It’s always a fun challenge to keep up with the extra goat care, yard work and soap inventory that Spring brings.

Nate’s Notes April 2018

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
1
54° and mostly cloudy today. We latched the kids last night, in their own stall, so the moms had a lot of milk to give this morning. Now that they are over two weeks old, we will do that every night. In the day, they are all together.
2
48 ° and partly sunny this morning. I am cranking out as much soap as I can now that the milk is flowing again and the busy season is approaching. Made 8 batches: 2 Lavender, 2 Oats 'n Honey, 2 Sandalwood, 2 Almond.
3
72° and a little cloudy.
Goats are looking good. I have been brushing them in the morning so their new coats can come in.
4
46° and sunny. Much chillier than yesterday. Our friend Beth and her son Solomon came from Atlanta to meet the new baby goats.
5
52° when I went out to milk this morning. Gucci and Miranda have been sparring. They both broke off a scur and are bleeding all over. No danger though. They are just messy.
6
Took our guests to Zanders, in Dickson, for wood-fired pizza. Before they went back to Atlanta. Solomon also went with me to the Co-Op and by Vanessa's work to pick up a tiller. It's time to clean the barn again. My favorite thing (not).
7
Market today. It was super cold and windy for this time of year though, so lots of people stayed home. Makes me appreciate the regulars even more, who come out on cold days like this.
8
40° and partly sunny. Went to Nashville to see Frank (Vanessa's dad) and hang out with family at Nanny's house. She lives in East Nashville. Very hip.
9
50's° and sunny. Getting warmer. Have a vulture that keeps trying to land in the goat field. Paris is having none of that. She barks at them, even when they are just flying over the farm. It gives her something to do in the daytime.
10
57° this morning. The grass is coming up good now, because of the warmer weather. Daisy is getting "jelly neck" from grazing with her head down all day. The fluid builds up in her face and makes her neck swell. I will keep my eye on it, to make sure its not bottle jaw (caused from barber poll worms).
11
Sleeping with the windows open these days. Its nice. Diamond got stuck between the fence and a closed gate. This is why when people ask, "What do goats do in the wild?" I say, "They die."
12
It was 75° at 6am. Beautiful day. First I milked the goats. Next I made Bonsai, Nag Champa and Pipe Tobacco soap. Then I fixed our tax problem... don't ask!
13
Another beautiful day. Played with the goats a bunch this morning. The big girls can't stop eating the new grass that's coming up.
14
Market today. It rained like crazy. I still sold some soap, however. Sandalwood is one of my best sellers lately.
15
38° and overcast this morning. Stopped raining. Vanessa left the hose on yesterday morning. I noticed it was running when I went out to milk. The water trough is the cleanest its ever been. Can't wait to see our bill.
16
35° and cloudy. Got two big orders today. One from Nashville; the other from our old neighborhood store in Atlanta. It's called Candler Park Market. Vanessa and I met for the first time right next to that place, back in the day.
17
50° and sunny! Starting to feel like Spring again. Made soap, Bay Rum and Egyptian Musk. Magic is still giving the most milk. Its not a contest though.
18
43° windy. Saw some toads having babies in our driveway puddle. So much drama out here.
19
40° or so. I didn't check. Found a lizard in the hay, a little brown one. The baby goats are getting big fast. I have to make a noise when I pick them up now.
20
48° and sunny. Barn cleaning day. Not the best job on this farm. Later we took a nature walk over in Bon Aqua at the John Noel Natural Area. Saw lots of super old trees and wildflowers.
21
55° Market today. Had great sales. Godiva cut her leg pretty bad on something. We had to get a bandage wrapped around it quick. I don't have sutures.
22
46° Rain. Godiva's leg has stopped bleeding. Keeping it clean is the tough part now.
23
55° Overcast. Godiva's leg is healing nicely. She knows we are helping so she just stands there while we doctor her up.
24
53° Rainy. Making tons of soap these days. Today's line up was Peaches 'n Cream, Almond, Cranberry Woods, and Sea Salt. Plus Rosemary Mint and Unscented lotion.
25
55° Looked like rain all day, but it never did. Found a little brown snake in the hay; a blue tailed lizard too. They must have been having a meeting.
58° Rain. Took the bandage off Godiva's leg today. Looks like she is healing pretty good. No limping. Made lots of soap: Beach Bum, Barber Shop, Mountain Heather, Lemongrass and Bonsai.27
Saw a box turtle this morning. He was in the boys' field. Vanessa and I trimmed around the trees and along the driveway. It is a messy business, running the weed-eaters. Probably got poison ivy in the process.
28
High of 72°. Went to the Franklin Farmers Market today. Had really good crowd and sold a lot. Need to make more body powder now.
29
It was in the 50°'s this morning. Did some work in the yard (after milking and feeding). Patched some holes in the fence. The little ones were getting out a lot. No more!
30
Very warm, up to 79° and sunny. The grass is really coming up. Goats are eating less hay now. Made 8 batches of soap. trying to catch up.

Kidding Season is Here

Kidding season is here now! We always enjoy getting ready for the babies and the excitement they bring to our farm. The weather is warming, grass growing, and milk flowing.

Nate’s Notes March 2018

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
25
Amos came over. I showed him around.
26
Happy Birthday to me, 44 years.
27
Enjoying some time away.
28
Rained today but I don't care because I am sitting in a hot tub hundreds of miles away from the farm.
1
Back from our trip. Glad to be home. Everyone made it without us.
2
The water has gone off again, hopefully not for too many days. Can't make soap without running water.
3
Market today. Sales were good. Crowds are big.
4
Celebrated my birthday today with friends at the creek. It was warm and windy, just like springtime.
5
51° and sunny. Back to work. The water is back on; can't drink it yet.
6
Cooler this morning. Blaze is doing a lot better. I brushed him really well. His skin is very flaky. That's a good thing. It means he is shedding.
7
Brushed all the goats today. They love it. Can't do it very long though. It turns them into greedy jerks.
8
Cold and sunny. Blaze looks like he is finally gaining weight!
9
Another gorgeous day. Drove to Nashville to visit family.
10
Market today. The weather was very kind to us. I had lots of regular customers. They keep our little business going strong!
11
Getting the girls' kidding stall ready. Got straw and wood chips down for them.
12
13
Sunny and cool. Trimmed the expecting moms' tails. Well, one side of their tails! They wouldn't hold still for both sides. They don't like being touched back there. Can't blame them.
14
Getting ready for the babies. Put up the baby cam. The first one is due tomorrow.
15
No babies yet. Magic is usually late. It is always a surprise when her babies show up.
16
Daisy had two girls! We didn't even have to help. She is a great mom. Vanessa named them Twinkie and Ho-Ho.
17
Liberty had her babies today. Vanessa was there to help. It took several hours to get through her labor. She had a girl and a boy. I named them Betsy and Ross.
18
Finally Magic had her kids! Two girls this time, without any problems. We are calling them Diamond and Silk.
19
The babies have had their cords dipped and tetanus shots. Today I took the moms to the milk room for a little TLC. Trimmed their hooves and gave them snacks.
20
Had to milk Magic down. She has so much milk its amazing, especially for a 9 year old!
21
22
Sunny and frosty this morning. Looks very pretty. Magic's babies got stuck behind the electric fence I put up around the big oak tree. Luckily I had unplugged the fence when I set up the baby monitor, so no one got zapped.
23
Had to disbud the kids today. Worst job on the farm. Everyone came out fine, even me. Then I took some selfies with the kids.
24
Market today. warm but windy and threatening to rain. Folks are starting to buy the Lilac and Green Thumb soap.
25
Looks like rain today. Amos came over and mowed the grass. Not much grass grows in our yard however. It is mostly weeds and wildflowers.
26
Had to save Twinkie from being stuck behind a barrel in the barn. If there is something to get trapped in or hurt by the baby goats always find it!
27
Disbudded Diamond and Silk today. Won't have to do that again for a while, thankfully.
29
Milking Magic regularly now. She is the best milker I have. I am letting the others give all the milk to their babies for now.
30
Trying to keep the babies friendly. We play with them at least once a day so they don't turn shy. They get a little afraid of me after being disbudded.
31
Market today. Going through the frequent shopper cards like crazy.I only had three left at the end of the day.

Blame it on the Rain

According to Mayor Jacobs we haven’t had this much rain in February since 1890. Apparently the equipment a the water treatment plant was impressed enough with that historical fact to take a few days off from working. Turned out to be a good idea for us to take a short vacation too, before the baby goats start coming and milking season kicks into full gear.

Nate’s Notes February 2018

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
28
46° Sunny and nice. Rained hard last night. Had a flock of grackles in the front yard. Caught a coyote on the trail cam.
29
41° Windy today. Gave blaze a shot of iron in the leg.
30
31
38° Gave Blaze more de-wormer. He's still not growing his hair back like I would like.
1
Phil the groundhog saw his shadow. What a strange and wonderful tradition.
2
3
Franklin Farmers Market today. Crowds not very big. Maybe everyone is getting ready for the Superbowl.
4
37° wet and gloomy today. Blaze got his copper bolus and Ivomec shot.
5
26° Paris got skunked last night BIG TIME! We could smell it through the walls of the house.
6
7
36° Lots of rain last night. Gave the pregnant does some alfalfa hay this morning. They were in heaven. I took a video of them chowing down. It was almost embarrassing!
8
Cold this morning. Sunny, however. Paris still stinks but she's getting better day by day.
9
Warm and sunny today. We started the barn cleaning project. Worst job ever! Our goat Magic turned 9 years old today.
10
Market today. Warm but non-stop rain. The wettest my soap has ever gotten at that market.
11
Our water is off! Its the whole town, not just us.
12
Water still off. No word as to why or when it will come back on. Some say its because of all the rain. I don't get it.
13
Water is back. Can't drink it yet but it beats none at all. Glad to have a hot shower!
14
Warm and raining. Gave the bucks sunflower seeds. They love it! Good for their skin and hair.
15
Still warm. Got footage of some coyotes on the trail cam.
16
Warm and windy. Supposed to rain more tonight. It has been a wet month.
17
Market today. Cold and rainy. Worst sales day in years. On the bright side I won't have as much catching up to do for when the water was off.
18
Gave Blaze more worm medicine. He is starting to get some pink back in his eyelids. That is how I can tell it is working.
19
2021
Extra warm today. The water went off again this morning.What century is this?! Utilities are very sub-par out here.
22
Rained a lot again last night. The storm kept waking me up. Gave Blaze Cydectin this morning. We are throwing the book at him.
23
Blaze has the runs. I think its from all the meds. Hoping to get it cleared up before our vacation.
24
Market today. It was a good one. Lots of sales! Getting excited about trip to NC.
25
Amos came over. I showed him around where all the feed is etc. He is going to take care of the farm while we are gone. Leaving early tomorrow morning for Hot Springs. Looking forward to a break.
26
Happy Birthday to me, 44 years.
27
Enjoying some time away.
28
Rained today but I don't care because I am sitting in a hot tub hundreds of miles away from the farm.

Kidding Season

Kidding SeasonIt’s kidding season on Tottys Bend Soap Farm which means spring is just around the corner and new baby goats are bouncing around in our field. Kidding season is exciting and there are many things to anticipate. Will the deliveries go well? Will everyone be strong and healthy? Are we going to have to get up in the middle of the night and assist with a difficult birth in freezing cold weather? These are all things we worry about during kidding season. But so far so good! Our first two does have had successful and relatively stress free deliveries, blessing us with two girls and two boys. Our does will continue kidding from now until the end of May. When our last doe has kidded we will have between six and twelve new baby goats on our farm. Baby goats are just about the most adorable things you will ever see! The cuteness overload of kidding season makes up for all the worrying we do this time of year.

We kicked off kidding season with the birth of two beautiful does, Godiva and Gucci. Godiva was the first born and is the more outgoing of the two. She is brown with white ears. Gucci was born within minutes of her twin sister. She is the first solid white goat kid to be born on our farm. Gucci is a little shy. Daisy is their momma. Daisy is four years old and is an experienced momma. She gave birth on a Saturday afternoon while I was at home and Nate was at the Franklin Farmers Market. We knew Daisy’s due date was near so we were keeping a close eye on her. You can determine a goat’s due date by counting 150 days on your calendar from the time of their breeding or you can use an online due date calculator programmed for goats, assuming you know the exact date of the breeding.

Gucci & N8On our first day of kidding season Daisy ate grain for breakfast and then went out with the herd to nibble on some grass until about noon. That is when I saw her go into the barn by herself. Goats rarely leave the rest of the herd so I knew this was a sign that the babies were on their way! I went to the barn to keep her company and to make sure she didn’t need any help. I sat with Daisy for a couple of hours as her contractions came and went. Soon the contractions were getting pretty close together. She stretched and yawned, pawed at the floor, and began to push when the time finally arrived. Both of Daisy’s does were born in the diving position which is one foot in front, then the face and then the other foot. This is the ideal position because it allows their head and shoulders to pass through the birth canal easily. I was relieved because I didn’t have to reach in and reposition either of her kids which can be very stressful for everyone. As the babies were born I picked them up one at a time and placed each one in front of Daisy so that she could clean them off. This is an important part of the bonding process for momma and baby goats. They learn how each other smells and this will be how they recognize one another. Within ten minutes both babies were standing and walking. Soon they found their momma’s teats and had their first taste of colostrum. I was extremely proud of Daisy for bringing us two healthy, beautiful does. When she was ready I gave her a treat of warm water with molasses and a big basket of hay. She and her new babies stayed in their special stall for a couple of days until it was Windy’s turn to kid.

RockyWindy is two years old. This is her first kidding season. We anxiously anticipated the arrival of her babies because Windy is very shy and does not like to be handled by people. It is always hard to predict how new mommas will react to their first babies, and to us if we need to help. Sometimes new moms get confused and do not want to accept their babies at first. When the time came Windy delivered two bucklings, who we named Rocky and Jimbo. Her baby boys were delivered in the diving position without any complications. It took Windy a few minutes to get warmed up to her new babies but soon her instincts kicked in and she began to clean them off. This was a relief. The next step was to get the boys to eat. This task was more of a challenge because Windy’s udder was very small and the boys couldn’t find her teats on their own. We had to help. Helping newborn goats eat for the first time is extremely tedious! They are clueless and will nibble on just about everything except for the teat that you are desperately trying to place in their tiny mouths. Eventually each of Windy’s new bucklings had a taste of her colostrum and we knew Windy had bonded with them. It took a couple more days for Windy’s udder to fill with milk. In the mean time we supplemented Rocky and Jimbo’s diet with goat kid formula which we fed them from a bottle. Rocky was the first born and was a little bigger than Jimbo. He seemed to be getting enough from his momma and wasn’t very interested in the bottle. But little Jimbo happily took his bottles until Windy had enough for both baby boys. We are still keeping an eye on the boys to make sure they are getting enough to eat and growing like they should. We are also supplementing Windy’s afternoon grain with a top dressing called Mo’ Milk. This supplement is formulated to increase milk production. We haven’t used it before so we are interested to see how it works.

Now the babies are a couple of weeks old and they are running, playing and getting into everything. One of their favorite games is chasing each other around the oak tree. This is the time during kidding season when we are the happiest and most proud because we know our goat herd is healthy and their offspring are starting their little lives off on the right foot.

Winter Goat Care

Winter Goat CareWinter goat care on our farm means stocking up on nutritious feed, administering supplements, and preparing for kidding season. While there is no milking to do at this time there are still daily chores and special preparations to make. My favorite part of winter goat care is getting ready for the baby goats to arrive!

Winter goat care begins with acquiring and storing high quality hay. During the winter, our goats are unable to get enough fresh, green forage from the pasture so they rely on us to provide them with an abundant supply of good hay. We seek out certain types of hay like clover, alfalfa (which is very hard to find where we live), orchard grass, perennial weeds and Bermuda. Alfalfa is the preferred choice for many dairy goat breeders because it has a high level of digestible calcium and protein. Goats need lots of calcium and protein when they are in milk production. Milking goats can develop hypocalcemia if they do not consume enough of these important nutrients. This dangerous condition, also known as milk fever, can result in death. Therefore, if we can’t find alfalfa hay for our winter goat care, we will feehayd alfalfa pellets. These pellets can be purchased in 50 pound bags from our local Co-op. They are a great source of calcium and protein for our winter goat care.

Winter goat care also means administering oral supplements to every goat in our herd. In our region of Tennessee, the soil does not have enough copper or selenium to meet the dietary demands of our goats. When a goat doesn’t get enough of these minerals in they become anemic and their milk production drops. Signs of copper deficiency include a faded and rough coat, balding tail and face, and very dry skin. Selenium deficiency can cause weak kids and white muscle disease. In years past our goats have experienced these symptoms due to not enough copper and selenium. Thankfully we learned what to do and we now give them supplements that are formulated specifically for dairy goats.

We purchase winter goat care supplements from Valley Vet Supply. We prefer the selenium that comes in a paste form over the inject-able selenium. It is easy to administer and less likely to cause an overdose. The copper comes in capsules. Each capsule contains tiny rods of copper which are released into the goat’s system over a period of time. These are much harder to administer than the selenium paste. We have to load each copper capsule into a contraption called a bolus gun and then Suplimentsforce it down the goat’s throat so the capsule is deposited in their stomach without being chewed. When a goat chews the capsule the copper rods get broken and will not work properly. If this happens or if the goat spits out the capsule, we have to start over with another capsule. Administering supplements for winter goat care can be frustrating but when its finished and every goat has had her share, we feel confident that our herd will have a healthy kidding season when spring comes.

Preparing for kidding season is another important part of winter goat care. Our kidding will start a little early this year. Daisy will be the first to kid. She is due any day now. In the mean time we will be setting up our new video monitor so that we can see what is going on in the barn at night from the comfort of our cozy bed. In the past, when a goat was due to kid, Nate would get up every couple hours and go to the barn to First Kidscheck for signs of labor. Hopefully the video monitor will work out well and he won’t have to go out there in the freezing cold dark night! In addition to setting up the monitor, we will be stocking up on emergency milk replacer, puppy pads (which we put under the newborn kids while their mamma cleans them off), iodine to dip their navels, and treats for mamma goats to have after their labor is over.

Each of these chores is a labor of love because we know we are doing our very best to keep our goats healthy and happy. Like we always say, happy goats make great soaps!

Fall Leaves

autumnleavesHere in Duck River, Tennessee, we are having one of the most beautiful displays of fall leaves I can remember. The view from our back deck is a kaleidoscope of color. The oaks are showing their deep red, leathery foliage. The thin, crisp fall leaves of the maples turn bright yellow and orange while the poplars and sweet gums are covered in magnificent golden yellow fall leaves. Even the fiery red leaves of the sumacs add touch of beauty to this year’s fall splendor. The peak time to see fall leaves in Tennessee usually begins in mid to late October in East Tennessee, reaches into Middle Tennessee in early November, and spreads to West Tennessee by mid to late November.

Fall Leaves 1While we are enjoying the scenic views this autumn, our goats are loving it because fall leaves are a prized treat. They spend hours each day hoovering up as many leaves as possible. Dried hardwood leaves are a wonderful source of nutrition for goats because they are loaded with many deep-earth minerals like carbon, calcium, silicon, potassium, and trace elements. However, some fall leaves are toxic to goats, especially wilted cherry and azalea leaves. Even a small amount of these poisonous plants can be fatal to goats. Luckily we do not have any azalea bushes and the few cherry trees on our property are out of range. The most abundant hardwoods growing in and around our pasture are white and red oaks, silver maples, hickories, sweet gums, and poplars. We also have a few pines and cedars which make good winter snacks for our herd. It would be awesome if we could rely on our goats to keep the fall leaves from piling up in our front yard. But unfortunately our goats can’t keep up with the huge amount of leaves that fall in our yard each autumn.

Wet Goats 1If it rains on the fallen leaves, the goats refuse to eat them. Contrary to popular lore goats are picky little creatures, as they should be. Too much water in their diet can cause them to become bloated, which is a dangerous condition that can result in death. We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately and there’s nothing our goats hate more than getting wet. They don’t seem to mind the fog or misty fall mornings but as soon as a single drop of real rain hits the ground the entire herd heads for the barn as fast as possible. They will camp out in the barn all day long if it is raining. As soon as the rain stops the goats will come outside again but they will not eat soggy hay nor will they eat the wet fall leaves.

Autumn TreesSoon the fall leaves will be gone, or at least they will have all fallen. Chances are that a good bit of them will stay piled in our gutters and on our “lawn” (a term I use loosely) until spring. We tend to procrastinate when it comes to yard work, especially raking leaves. Right now there are leaves on our roof, on the front porch and the back deck. There are leaves covering the tops of our boxwoods and piled all along our walkway. There are leaves practically everywhere you look. But around here there is always something more important to do than raking leaves, like making a batch of goat milk soap, playing with the baby goats, milking the mamma goats, or enjoying an afternoon view of the autumn trees.

Our Goat Zelda Died

Sadly our goat Zelda died a few days after my last blog about her. The hot, wet weather we had in Tennessee this summer only made the situation worse for poor Zelda. We tried everything we could think of to keep her going but in the end she was just not strong enough to make a recovery.

Zelda was born on our farm in 2012. She was a single doe kid out of Trudy and Blaze. Her mother Trudy, was our favorite goat and was the number one doe in our herd for many years. No doubt with time Zelda would have preceded Trudy as the Herd Matriarch. During her short life Zelda blessed us with three doelings. The first one, Beatrice, is just over a year old now. At her death Zelda left us with 8 week old twin does to care for. We call these girls the “Nuts”. One is named Hazel Nut and the other is Honey Nut.

Our Goat Zelda DiedFortunately our new goat Daisy has graciously adopted the Nuts. They graze with her and find comfort in cuddling with her during loafing hours when all the goats lounge around chewing their cud. Daisy is very attentive to the Nuts and keeps an eye out for them most of the time. Our goat Magic also seems to take an interest in the little orphans. She doesn’t feed them like Daisy does but she likes to babysit every now and then.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the herd reacts to the gap Zelda left in the group and to Daisy’s decision to take on her legacy. Who will the next Matriarch be? Where will Daisy fit into the pecking order? Will the Nuts inherit their birth mother’s ranking or will they be left on the fringes? Will Magic’s kindness to Zelda’s kids improve her status in the herd? All this will unfold in the months to come as the herd responds to the loss of a sister, mother, auntie and friend.

Our New Goat Daisy is Helping Out

New GoatOur new goat, Miss Daisy, is being a foster mom to Zelda’s twin baby does. We bought Daisy a couple of weeks ago from our friend Bridget. Daisy is originally from South Dakota but she has been a Tennessee girl since she was just a few months old. We are happy to have her as the newest addition to our little goat farm. Thankfully our new goat, Daisy, is a great milker and we have been able to put Zelda’s babies on her for their morning breakfast ever since Zelda got sick.

Zelda hasn’t improved very much since yesterday’s post. She is still grinding her teeth and turning away from everything we offer her to eat and drink. She did like her nutrient drench with extra iron. We are going to try to build her iron back up because the worms have caused her to become very anemic. We gave her an injection of iron in addition to the drench. She is still enjoying her fan and I keep her water fresh and cool for when she is ready to have a drink. If we do not see her drink on her own we will have to syringe it into her mouth to keep her hydrated. She will not get up by herself either but she is able to stand for a few minutes if we help her get on her feet. It is a very touch and go situation and it is hard on all of us emotionally. It is hard not to get discouraged.

Daisy, the new goat, is a bright spot for us during this difficult time. No matter what the outcome is for Zelda, we know Daisy will take care of Zelda’s baby does. Zelda’s doelings still know and love Zelda as their mother but they are no longer dependent on her for milk. That has given Zelda much needed time and energy to focus on getting healthy again. Miss Daisy couldn’t have joined us at a more critical time. We are grateful for her smiling face and all the nutritious milk she provides.