Breeding Season
We are just a few days away from the beginning of breeding season at Seco Creek Farm. This is always an exciting time! My thoughts are full of dreams of superstar kids. We have been keeping track of the does' estrus cycles for a couple of months so that we can move them in with the appropriate buck when the time is right. If everything goes as planned, Emma, Tamryn, Agnes, Bandera, and Sandy will have kids in February. Most of our junior does, Concan, Coy, Coconut Pie, Sylvia, and Terese will be bred in November for April kids. Thirty days after we think they have bred, we will take a blood sample from each doe, label it, and send it off to a lab for pregnancy testing. Within a week of taking the sample we have our results!

Speaking of breeding...I will be taking an articicial insemination (AI) class in the middle of September. I have also acquired a semen tank! So, it looks like I will be trying my hand at AI. Now all I need to do is by some equipment and start shopping for semen.

(one of our bucks: Alamo)
Kidding Season
Well...apparently it's been a really long time since my last blog entry. I promise I'll to do better this year.

It's kidding season at Seco Creek Farm. This is the time of year that all of our does have their babies, which means we have fresh goat milk! If you follow us on facebook you've seen me post about being at the barn all day because a certain goat was in labor. I know some of you are probably thinking, "Why is she out at the barn all day? Haven't goats been having babies by themselves for thousands of years?" Let me give you a glimpse into "kidding day" at the farm.

When it is breeding time we put an individual doe in the pen with a buck and watch them closely. We usually know when they are bred, which means we have an exact due date. A doe can kid five days before or after her due date and still fall in the normal range. As time approaches her due date we begin to look for signs of approaching labor. The doe's udder will fill up, she will have loose ligaments on either side of her tail. She may even want to hang out in the barn or stay by herself when she is really close.

As part of our herd health program, we attend all births at the farm. When we start to see signs of labor we watch the doe very closely. We begin with checks every couple of hours, then move to hourly and even thirty minute checks. Once we start to see that a doe is pushing or we see the amniotic sac, we stay with her. For the most part we leave the doe alone and just monitor the birth. We note the time that she starts pushing and the time the amniotic sac breaks. If the labor seems to be taking a long time, or the doe seems to be having trouble I put on my exam glove, lube up, and check. I am checking to see if the kid is in the proper position. I want to feel two front feet and a head. If I don't I may need to reposition the kid for delivery.

Assuming everything is fine, I hang back with my towels and wait to catch kids! Twins are normal for goats but it is not uncommom to have a single or triplets. We actually had a nice set of triplets born this morning! As the kids are born I dry them off, wrap them in a towel and set them aside. Once everyone is out the doe is given some water, hay, and grain and left alone to relax a little until she passes her placenta.

While this is happening the kids are taken to the house and put in a very large rubbermaid type container. Each kid is given a temporary collar with their dam's name and their birth number. For example (Angie 1) (Angie 2) & (Angie 3). We need to know the birth order for tatooing purposes. We weigh each kid, give them a vitamin E capsule, a little dab of probias, and a BoSe (vitamin E and Selenium) injection. We also clamp their naval cord and spray the cord and their hooves with iodine. Each kid is bottle-fed their first colostrum and then they take a nap.

At this point it is time to go back out to the barn to check on the doe. We check to see if she has passed her placenta. If she doesn't do this with the first few hours after delivery we consider giving her an injection of oxytocin to speed up the process. Milking her can help move things along, so we usually milk her for the first time at this point. Once she is done we usually turn the doe back into the pen with the other does. They are more relaxed when they are with their friends.

The colostrum gets taken back to the house where it is strained and heat treated. The new kids will be bottle-fed four to five times the first day, then four times a day for the first week and a half. Keep in mind that all of this is going on while I have three year old, two year old, and three month old human boys to care for. I can only hope that kiddings happen on days that my husband will be home from work! ;)

Here are the babies from today!

Pasted Graphic

We have been working hard since last weekend building a new milk parlor in our barn. This room is just one of the many steps we need to take to get our Grade A permit. We now have a closed in room with a small window unit where we milk our goats. The girls come in from the pasture and go into a holding pen before being milked. One at a time they go in one door and jump up on the milk stand, where they find a feed trough with grain waiting on them. We clean the goat's udder then milk a couple of squirts from each teat into a small can called a strip cup. This is done so that we can check the milk to make sure it is perfect before we start milking. Once we have finished milking we dip each teat in a solution that helps prevent bacteria from getting in the teat and helps prevent infection. The goat then jumps off the milk stand and exits the milk parlor through a different door, into a "loafing pen." While in the loafing pen they get to relax and eat some alfalfa pellets while waiting on the other girls to be milked.
Next on the construction list is a milk processing room. Keep following our blog to see our construction updates!
Vegetable Garden
We had a very busy weekend here at Seco Creek Farm. Besides all of the daily goat related chores and activities, which included trimming hooves, we planted a 35' by 50' vegetable garden! My muscles are sure paying for it today. We spent last week preparing the soil, discing and tilling, and making rows. Cooper, who is two and a half, spent his time running up and down the rows with the occasional tumble, causing Grandpa and me to fix it. He had a blast though so I really didn't mind!
We planted greenbeans, yellow wax beans, lima beans, black eyed peas, purple hull peas, bell peppers (red, orange, and green), jalapenos, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, watermelon, canteloupe, and tomato (homestead, roma, cherry, and yellow). I still need to plant some okra, but I think we are all set...and I will be canning a lot during the summer! I guess I'd better learn how to do that! We also have a container garden with oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, and rosemary! Let the weeding begin!