Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kid Update

I think I'll keep posting updates about the babies, especially Sprawl, here, so check back periodically for new information at the top of the post.

We've been feeding Sprawl every 3-4 hours today.  Here he is at the 5:30 feeding when I got home.

Here he's snuggling with the most awesome housemate ever, who's helping take care of him while I'm at work.

Therapy time.  At each feeding we let him try to walk on the pebble walkway or dirt, both of which he manages better than the hay covered concrete of the birthing stall. Oops! 

He's walking/standing better today.  We believe he'll be walking within a couple of days.  He's very vigorous, and has already learned to come running towards ankles.

Sprawl has two sibs.  This is the girl, Spot.  She's got daddy's long ears, with a big, dark-colored spot on the back.  (You can tell we're being very thoughtful with the names here.)

We still need a name for the other boy, seen nursing in this photo.  We'd like to keep the alliterative theme going.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dharma's fuzzy babies

Back in January I took Dharma over to my goat-partner-in-crime's for a little goat-on-goat action.  I'd missed getting Dharma bred in 2010, and didn't want to miss another breeding season.  So when I failed to catch her again in heat, I made arrangements for her to go on an extended stay with the buck of our choice. 

She obviously came into heat after just three days of exposure to the buck.  We left them together for three weeks, which should have caught two heat cycles.  Goats have 150 day gestation periods, so I calculated out the first day to watch for labor signs as June 17, with a likely day of June 22.  The days came and went...  No babies... 

I had to conclude that she, as well as Maharani, were in fact not successfully bred this winter. Since they were both obviously pregnant, beginning to resemble extra-wide loads, I had to further conclude that they had gotten themselves knocked up by the Angora buck after we moved to new pastures at the end of February.  We share a barn and pasture with a big beautiful Angora buck, a couple of Angora does and their babies, and several sheep.  Well, my girls decided that they liked this big, fuzzy buck, and perhaps they'd like some fuzzy babies of their own.

So based on moving day, I recalculated the earliest possible day they could possibly deliver as July 22.  Sure enough, Dharma at least didn't take long to make friends with the new hunk in her life as she delivered triplets, two boys and a girl, this morning around 3am.  My housemates heard the commotion; I slept through it all.

And they are fuzzy.  One of the boys has long ears, not a La Mancha trait at all. We have fuzzy babies with some dairy conformation characteristics.

One of the boys, the darkest of the three, was having trouble standing, which meant he couldn't effectively nurse. Luckily I had frozen extra colostrum and milk from Dharam's first lactation two years ago.  We thawed the jars and my housemate began feeding the boy on three hour increments while I went off to work.  After the last feeding this evening, the little boy looks like he might start standing on his own soon, and we can stop the bottle feeding. Dharma is a trooper and is taking care of all three babies.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Processing the Fleece, Part I

Last year I acquired a Romney fleece from Lindsey, and there it sat in a garbage bag in my shed for the remainder of the year.  I knew I could pay to have it sent off to one of the mills to be professionally processed, but I wanted to get hands on with at least one fleece, and this was going to be the one.  I just needed the proverbial rainy day to get started.

So finding out last week that I was going to have some extra time on my hands, I decided it was time to fish out the fleece and get started.  I missed taking a before photo, but lets say that it was a yellowish bunch of wool that filled a large trash bag and weighed many pounds.

The first step is to scour, or clean, the wool, which essentially involves soaking the wool in large tubs with a bit of Dawn.  I used two 15-gallon tubs and split the fleece in two.  The first water bath is hot, to open the scales on the wool.  The water was instantly muddy brown with lanolin and dirt.  These were left to soak and cool for several hours.  The process was repeated three times, each time the water being cooler.  (Note that there are both hot and cold water taps outside the house.  Somebody was thinking ahead!)

You have to be very careful to not felt the fleece during the cleaning stages.  Hot water + soap + agitation = felt, so there is no rubbing or squeezing of the fleece.  In between water baths it was gently lifted out as a mass and placed in a giant colander for straining.

Finally satisfied that the fleece was reasonably clean, it was placed in the bottom of the washing machine for some quick spin action.  Again, no agitation.  We went straight to the spin cycle in an old-fashioned upright for some centripetal action.  Look how fluffy after just a minute!

Finally the fleece, being reasonably clean, is left to dry outside on a rack.  I occasionally shift the masses around to expose all of the fiber to dry evenly.  I suspect it will be dry by this evening, and I'll be able to weigh what I have left after most of the dirt and lanolin were removed.