Monday, August 24, 2009

Our Foundation Goats (aka Our Teachers)

Meet Minnie and her first born, Lester. She came to us when she was about 8 months old because her previous owner didn't want her to get pregnant. Well, surprise of surprises, she delivered Lester about four months later.

Minnie is a purebred nubian (a dairy goat) but his father is a boer (a meat goat). That makes Lester a boer/nubian cross. I remember waking up one morning noticing 'something white' in Minnie's pen. Mr. Wonderful was hours old, but already on his feet.

This photo is of Lester taking in his new world as he takes his first steps out of his birthhut.

Since this was Minnie's first delivery, she wasn't too sure what this little white thing was.

The look on her face told me that she was still thinking about it. If I were in her place, I'd wonder, too. Ladies, think about it. We know what's happening. Minnie didn't. How you explain the concept of pregnancy, or babies, or birth pains to a goat?

Lady Minnie has had several kids since Lester. She has become so versed in how to push those kids out that her most recent baby went flying about six inches. She has never needed help during her deliveries. She in complete control.

Other dams have needed my assistance, though. I've learned how to be a mid-sife with Minnie's help. She's as good at teaching me as she is in raising babies.

Thanks Minnie.
The Lester Lessons are worthy of an article alllll on its on. More later ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Honoring Bucky Our Breeding Buck

Father's Day may have come and gone this year but we continually honor our big guy. He receives the treatment of Kings so he can keep taking care of his 'ladies'.

Our neighbors knew I had been talking about getting a buck so they called when he arrived. I went to, as I told my husband, 'just look at him'. Thankgoodness I had my checkbook. (Imagine that.)

Love at first sight does exist. My eyes saw him and my heart became mush. I know a good looking guy when I see him. For a two-year-old, he was outstanding. My heart was still beating fast when the words came out of my mouth, "I'll take him. How much do you want for him?" Not the usual order of smart questions, but it worked out.

Knowing that we didn't have the facilities to house him, our neighbors agreed to 'room and board' him until we could properly care for him.

On the way home, I thought about how I'd tell Bob what I had done. Thinking of that, what HAD I just done? The reality of not having goat housing stung -- hard.

Geezzzzze, I've done it again. Husband Bob has (and still is) asking that we do the construction projects first then get the animals. Oh my, maybe he'll be understanding just one more time.
Six months later Bucky moved into his new home and met his mates for the first time. This photo was taken on his first day here. I know now that two-year-olds are not fully developed but I got lucky. He's grown into one super hunk. His disposition is gentle. Apparently he had been a lap-goat in his youth. It showed in his gentleness.

Here he's full-grown and living with Penny, a super lady. What a handsome couple.
He went from living with three ladies to living with eleven. It took it's tole, he lost so much weight and hair, we thought we were going to lose him.
That poor boy was exhausted! The women did their part; so did he.
Just look at his beautiful babies.

Bucky has been with the other guys for several months now. He's rested, eaten, rested and groomed. His hair has grown back and so has his weight.
He'll be ready for more ladies in October. But for now, he's eating well and gaining weight. Bob and I spend as much time with him as possible. He was gentle when we got him, it's up to us to keep him that way.
We honor you Bucky. Thank you for the beautiful babies.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Goats first taste of tree branches

Last week we trimmed a few plants back to managable sizes. It's been a while since we've worked on the landscaping so we had bazillions of 'left-overs'. Not wanting to toss the plants aside, we fed them to our baby goats.

They're amazing. They are so curious and cautious it took them longer to decide whether to approach the strange plants than it did to eat them. Contrary to the rumors, goas do NOT eat everything. They TASTE everything because that's how they sense their world. But it's been our experience that they are picky eaters.

After a very slow approach, the oldest goat in the group (Johnny) took the first sniff. Ashley stepped up slowly and tasted one leaf. OK. Got it. Decision made ... everyone was in on the treat. Needless to say they devowered all the plant trimmings.

We did make sure that these plants weren't toxic. Actually, we don't grow ANY toxic plants on our property. This way we can toss all our garden trimming waste to the goats.

How 'green' is that?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Goat Advertising for Local Parade

Lester, Lester, Lester what has Jordon done to you? This picture is priceless because if anyone is a bully, it's Lester. He soooooooo deserves this treatment.

I say this with affection because Lester was our FIRST little surprise. We got his mama, Minnie, because she was little and her previous owner didn't want her to get pregnant. Little did we know that she would deliver a little gift.

Minnie was our first doe who taught us how to care for goats; the deworming, the feeding dry matter versus grain, coccidia, parasites, hoof trimming ... all those things. She's my best goat friend.

One morning I looked out in her pen, as I usually do every day, when I noticed 'something white' in her pen with her. I ran out to the front pasture, in jammies of course, and found this little bundle of joy. Oh yes, we have pictures of himself. Tons and tons of pictures. He was our first goat baby. Of course, we have pictures.

Lester is almost six now and still growing. He's up to over two-hundred pounds and owns the pasture. Being a boer-nubian mix, he has an extremely thick coat that we shear every spring. Otherwise, he'd fry in the summer months. Actually, we shear all the goats for this reason. It's just HOT here in North Carolina.

Any way, Jordan was feeling fiesty, as usual, when she got a bit goat-creative. All for the good because her designs inspired me to offer advertising to a few local merchants for a parade. It didn't sell because they wanted ME to walk him in the three-mile up-hill-down-hill parade. ah ... no thanks.

Apparently we need to re-think this concept. Once we get the bugs out of our Lester Advertising program, I'll let you know more about it. Who knows, you might want to advertise on Lester one of these day. :)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

FAMACHA testing saved our goats

Today is really a day of rest. I'm the only awake; Bob is zonked out and the dogs are sleeping (two at my feet, one in the living room, and the other on the porch).

Naming our place Sleeping Dog Ranch was a stroke of genius, even though we didn't realize it at the time. Our pace setters are sleeping dogs, napping cats, and dozing goats; the chickens are the only ones out scratching. What a perfect time for relaxing, renewing, and reflecting.

Last week's work load was steady. That's always good because we can pace ourselves for the next week. The goats are looking good, firm body condition, pink eyes, and steady appetite. Their coats are shinny and healthy looking. Their weight is holding.

I get the feeling that our FAMACHA program is working. That’s refreshing because we’ve put so much effort in maintaining their health. I had no idea that we had such a BAD internal parasite infestation. I just couldn’t understand why our babies died. They looked good to me.

Duh … the light finally went on. Unfortunately it took the life of a 7-week-old baby and a buckling to cause a major response. What ever we were doing wasn’t enough.

We’ve had the equipment and chemicals to perform FAMACHA for several months but we didn’t have a place to put it. (Didn’t count: You GOTTA DO THOSE TESTS -- REGIOUSLY.)

OK, need established. Bob and I bought two counter base units and a 6 foot counter top on Saturday. He found a place near our soap factory to put it and built the workstation on Sunday. On Monday Jordan and I were collecting fecal matter.

That was ab0ut two months ago, maybe three. My days sort of run together. Anyway, we sorted about 30 goats based on care need: eye color combined with body condition (gender of course, we already had 18 babies to care for).

No ONE was clear of internal parasites. Jordan discovered that coccidia was a major issue; our vet told us that if you see ONE coccidia in the microscope, you administer Corid to that goat. Fortunately or not, we found many, many coccidia so the entire herd was treated – immediately. We medicated them in their water and with their feed.

Jordan also discovered several different types of internal parasites. (She’s now an export.) I’ve kept records of who-got-what-when for years so we administered Cydectin to everyone; it was next on the list of rotation dewormers.

Ten days later everyone received their Cydectin dosage – again.
Ten days after this, Jordan started taking fecal samples – again.
From these records, we know which goat has a propensity for getting internal parasites; some immune systems are stronger than others. This will make a difference in our breeding program.

We’ve divided our pastures into paddocks so we can manage the grasses better.

Lessons Learned:
· Implement testing procedures immediately
· Maintain records
· Manage pastures (rotate, fertilize)
· Maintain Goat Exam Calendar in barn where everyone sees it
· Reduce population (This is the hard one for me.)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Barn activities continue ...

Sure we have enough milk (freezers are full). The goats are delivering milk faster than I can make soaps and lotions. But we just can't stop milking them. We want our does to develop thoroughly. Our goal is develop the best goats we can. By best I also mean healthiest.

The first picture is Jordan giving Minnie a bath. After Minnie is dry she'll be sheared for the summer. It gets HOT here in North Carolina. Ah, while Minnie is on the stanchion Jordan will retrieve a bit of fecal matter for testing. Jordan has really gotten good and fast in that retrieval.

We employ the FAMACHA technique and guage eye color weekly. We conduct our own fecal tests, do the math, and record the data.

Moving data from Excel to Access will further help us manage our herd better. It's amazing how much better goats look and feel when they're parasite free.

The other pictures of of Ashley catching babies for their fecal testing. Here Ashley is holding Natalie following her fecal contribution.

The third picture is of Natalie following Ashley to the feed bin. No stress here. We're very gentle with our goats. All of them.

If you're interested in a baby nubian, let me know. Many yearling does are for sale.

Trace broke his leg

What a heart breaker! Trace hobbled around the common area all day before I realized that he wasn't putting ANY weight on his leg. But he moved around quite well on three legs. Mind you, this little guy is about 5 weeks old; his whole life in front of him. I had to help him.

Needless to say, catching his wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. He could move on those three legs. But catch him, I did. Our vet Dr. Amy Betka xrayed his leg to locate the precise break. YUP, Trace had broken his leg BUT it was a good break. (That had to be good.) Even a 'good break' still hurts.

She put on a cast, gave some pain medication, then sent us on our way.

Back at the ranch ... everyone was curious about his cast.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cheesemaking with Goat Milk

With so much milk in our freezers, I've turned to making cheese batches everyday. One or two gallons of milk yields about 1.5 pounds of cheese, sorta maybe. Wanna guess what our friends and family will be getting for Christmas? Didn't think so.
So far I've made soft or cherve-type cheeses. Some have pepper, some have added cream, but all are goat milk cheeses. What fun these are to make and it is so easy.
If you're interested in learning how to make cheeses, contact New England Cheesemaking Supply company. Ricki Carroll is knowledgable and shares information in her newsletter. They have a nice beginner supply list, books, and equipment. (
Working with goats, we always have plenty of milk. That's why we make goat milk bath soaps & beauty lotions professionally. Check out our website: Gran' Nanny's Goat Milk Soaps (
Working with milk everyday is kinda cool. I'm either making soaps, lotions, or cheeses. What fun!
Let me know if you're interested in learning how to make goat milk soaps. I'm thinking about adding a Recipe section to my website.
Thanks for visiting,

Saturday, August 01, 2009

We have so much milk now that I'm making cheeses almost every day. Whew! What fun!

Goat milk is my drug of choice so this is a wonderful experience. Imagine making goat milk cheeses in the morning and goat milk soaps in the afternoon. Need I say how much we love it out here.

It's also nice to share our passion with friends and family. For example, I'm a member of the Stanly County Art Guild and we're having a contest on decorating shoes. (It's an art thing and a whole lotta fun.) Any way, I delivered my entry last night and took some goat milk cheeses for the gang. To my surprise, the Guild was hosting a reception for a summer art explosion and the cheeses came in handy on the refreshment tables. (I definately need to be more efficient with my calender events.) We have some outstanding artists in Stanly County. I'm honored to be a member of the Guild.

Our gallery is Falling Rivers Art Gallery
Check it out. We're good and having fun.