Soooooo, after a whole bunch of build-up for our first winter storm and frantically replacing the tarp on our hay shelter and getting a load of firewood dropped off and moving *some* things into safer and drier spots (the kids did it in kid fashion), we had a whole bunch of wind and black clouds blew in and…we woke up to clear and sunny skies. The kids have been merrily burning our wood, though, keeping the living room in the mid-seventies. Time to turn on the evaporative cooler. It is cloudy and cooler today and in the mid-50s, but still no rain. We are really hoping to fill up our nearly-dry pond over the winter, though, as the goat shelter still only has a small section (about 4×8) roofed, I’m not looking forward to dealing with their wintertime mud-and-manure floor, or soggy, rotting hay in their feeder. In time, in time….and we’ll be so glad and grateful when we finally get everything built up the way we’d like to!
We ran out of both chicken feed and goat grains just in time for my husband to get sick. The chickens went hungry and ate their own eggs (didn’t find out about that until after the fact) and I got online to find recipes for homemade chow for lactating goats. I wanted sufficient protein in my mix, but was really nervous about rapidly introducing new foods into their diet and messing up their rumens, so I decided to keep it to just two ingredients, barley and sunflower seeds. I soaked the barley overnight in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar to improve its digestibility and then when I got ready to milk, I mixed in a little bit of sucanat since they were used to a sweet feed with molasses. Well, Penelope hopped up on the stand and got a mouthful before she knew what was going on, winced and snorted a bit, but ended up eating it all down. Angel, on the other hand, smelled something weird as she was coming into the garage/milking parlor and needed a bit of coaxing to even get up on the stand. She pushed her head into the stanchion while Penny’s mostly empty bucket (I put their grains over a bucket full of chopped hay) was still in place, I replaced it with her full bucket and she literally turned up her nose and wouldn’t touch it, despite my coaxing and cajoling. After a few minutes, I scooped off as much of the grain as I could, rubbed her chest, hobbled her back legs and she decided to eat and let me milk her despite the fact that I was obviously trying to kill her.
All right, that’s the story of Sunday’s milking. Now, to dry up a goat, one of the things you do is to start withholding grain, so I had certain expectations heading into Monday’s milking. Monday evening we had their normal feed again, and I was generous in their helpings because I really like having milk…I’m really sad about having to dry them up this month… Anyhow, Penelope, who ate the grain was down nearly a full cup (to 3 1/4 cups), and Angel, who did not eat the grain, was up to a full pint again! I have no idea what to expect tonight.
I am working on a family history-related Christmas present for my kids and spent most of Sunday going through my grandfather’s last four years of letters, copying and pasting family stories into a word processing file so they will have copies of these. I’m so grateful that he was a letter-writer and that he recorded all he did. Letter-writing and journal-keeping are things that I was really good about in my younger years and really terrible at since marrying and having children. I am hoping to do better. This blog is part of that effort!