This is our 8th kidding season. And I can't wait to see what we are going to get - More boys or girls? Spots? Black-headed? Quads? Every day during kidding season until that very last mamma kids is a joyful surprise to see what it brings!
So we can no longer consider ourselves newbies but trust that the mommas and babies will once again throw something new at us to keep us wondering if we really know what we're doing. This year our preparation has added a more crucial piece that we will call "predator management." Here's a look at what we have been doing -
In previous years we have kept all the pregnant mommas together. This year we are separating into more manageable groups that will all kid about the same time and get along. As they kid, we may further divide them into a "twins pen" and a "3 or more pen" so that we can increase the feed for the mommas who need that extra energy. We also now have a couple of aged goats so we keep them separate so they can eat at their own pace and not compete with the other goats who are sure they are about to starve and eat their rations in double time.
It has worked well except for one goat - Kong who is not like the others. And unfortunately for Kong, her bullying behavior now stands out since everyone else gets along within their herd group. I woke up in the middle of the night making plans for operation "Taming Kong." I wonder if GusGus could teach her some manners?
Adding a Kid-Only park
This will be their special place for the new kids to have their own pellets (grain) and quiet places to hang out without mom interfering or eating their food. They need to be able to have free choice grain starting when they are a couple of weeks old and mommas, nice as they are, do not share grain well with their babies. And we will have a special place to hangout with the babies too.
Hunting the Wily Coyote
Coyotes are cool when sleeping with the windows open and listening to them howl. You would swear they are right behind the house.
Unfortunately, they are -- right behind the house. We have really seen an increase of coyotes in the area. Dear husband with the help of friends are working to reduce the threat to especially the newborn kids. We really wish we wouldn't have to do it. But coyotes are pretty brazen and have been found in the neighbor's corrals a short mile away munching on lambs. DH (dear husband) and friends have taken care of 5 more coyotes within a couple hundred yards of the house and goat barns. As you can imagine, this makes me a tad nervous for kidding season this year. Ugh...not happy at all!
My brother has the coolest game shelter-belt on his land that abuts a water source that separates his land from our land, his land from our goat pens. My dad planted his trees as a sanctuary for deer and pheasants and it creates this neat canopy that protects animals in winter or other bad weather. Dear husband says the pheasants and deer are not in it this year. Our assumption is that the coyotes have displaced them for now. Which would mean the population is way too high.
Possibly my favorite pre-kidding activity involves a lot of hanging out with the goats, staring at baby bumps, checking body condition, giving ear scratches and back rubs. The mommas get more and more friendly as the day approaches and I love attempting to guess who's going to go first, who's going to have twins, triplets or (please, no) quads. With 3 weeks away, they are still tightly guarding their secret. My best guess is that Lucky is going to have the most but she hasn't told me how many that is yet. And here is JoJo, one of my favorites. A leading candidate for twins. She has never had triplets, but... Nope! I'm sticking with the twins. April 3rd is technically their due date based on when we put Commander, our buck, in the pen. I'm expecting the first ones closer to April 6th. Watch and see! There will be lots of pics at www.facebook.com/444Farm