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Shannon Update

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Just a quick little post to let anyone who was wondering know that our sweet little Shannon is doing wonderfully.  Day by day she has gotten stronger and her neck is looking more and more normal.  She is eating well, and even runs and plays with the other 6 goats here at Wynott Farm.  She is so sweet and just loves to sit on my lap.  Perhaps because of all of the neck messages that she got during her early days.  Journey has been an amazing momma and really gave her lots of extra special attention when she was having a little difficulty latching on.  She just nuzzled her gently on till Shannon found the source of all good nutrition.

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Oh, Did I fail to mention that Esther also kidded.  Last week, on Thursday, she delivered two darling moon spotted doelings.  That makes our count for this year 5 does and 2 bucks so far.  Two more does due in June so keep watching

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New Birth

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First Birth at the farm

After much ado, we have babies.  We waited and waited. We woke up every 2 hours to check on goats in the middle of the night.  When their due dates came and went, we worried till we decided that we could not worry any more. Then we gave up and decided that the ladies would have their kids when they were good and ready.  We had 2 glorious full nights of sleep.  Then, on Thursday March 17, as I walked down to the barn to check on the ladies before I left early for a meeting at work, I glanced at Journey’s girl parts.  And what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Two little hoofs sticking out where they usually were definitely not.  I watched for a bit, and when no progress was being made, I decided to give a little assistance.

Bianca and her sweet babies

Bianca and her sweet babies

Now mind you, usually a bubble of slimy liquid presents before little feet, but so does lots of hollering and the latter was definitely not happening.  Just Journey, walking around the goat yard with little feet hanging out.  I have no idea how long this situation was going on, but it seemed like Journey was a little tired so on went the gloves.  With a little lubrication, I felt around a bit right inside and felt a little butt.  This little kid was breach (a perfectly fine birthing position) had her legs pulled up in front of her and just could not come out.  I pulled just a little on her legs and once they straightened, out she came.  Her brother was soon to follow, and the first two kids for the year had arrived.

Off to work I went, with Bob checking on everyone during the day.  Both kids had their colostrum, which is absolutely critical to their ability to make it through the first day, and then their ability to fight infection later.  And both were up moving about some.

By the time I got home from work, I looked at Bianca.  Oh my goodness.  Could she be laboring as well?  Well of course, there it was, a bubble coming from her girl parts.  Oh boy, within the next 30 minutes, 3 more kids were born with absolutely no difficulty at all.  All nursed, got colostrum, and were settled in for the night.

If only everything always went smoothly with kidding…..

Sweet Shannon with her head hanging down

Sweet Shannon with her head hanging down

By Friday, it became obvious that something was a little off with our most beautiful little girl,  Journeys first kid.  She

did not seem to be able to lift her head up.  She was able to nurse with a little assistance, but only with her head tilting to the side so she could get a teat, and only with a little support to keep her head up and in position.

So to the internet I  went.  I could only find 1 person who admitted to seeing anything like this and they suggested birth trauma.  They suggested putting the kid down.  Well that is not my way.  I will not give up!!!

So for now, we will do physical therapy 4 to 5 times per day.  We will help her get stronger and stronger and we will pull her through this birth injury.

Today, day 4, she can lift her head up even with her shoulders (this may not seem like much, but it is) and she can fill her belly by bumping her mommas udder ever so gently and holding her head up enough to grab hold of a teat without assistance.  Journey is amazing and is ever so patient with her sweet little girl…. and we hope and pray for more progress tomorrow.

 

The Waiting Game

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And We Wait

Bianca is due on March 14, that is tomorrow.  And do we have kids yet, is the wait over?

Drum role please…….. NO

Bianca in the foreground is hanging low

Bianca in the foreground is hanging low

The waiting game is absolutely killer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love kidding season.  I love the babies, I love watching the mommas and their natural, innate ability to care for their little ones.  I love watching the sweet kids nursing from their mothers and seeing the amazing way that God has provided just the perfect food for the baby goats in their mothers milk.  I love the bouncing kids that seem to hop and dance with joy at the smallest provocation.  I love watching how Ethel and Lucy, the livestock guard dogs, care for and watch out for the baby goats in a way that I never thought a dog could care for a goat.  I love the sweet little high pitched squeaks that come from the little babies when they are looking for their mommas just around the corner.  I love the sweet little tiny noses nuzzling my hand for a little petting.  And I love the milk that we get to enjoy in our bellies after the kids get a little older.

But what I do not enjoy is the waiting game.

The gang waits

The gang waits

I do not like the wonder about the safety of our beloved goats.  I do not like the fear of a birthing gone wrong, or a kid getting stuck.  And most of all, I do not like the idea that our friends will have trouble kidding and I will not know about it because I am not home.

So I get up every 2 hours at night and check on the goats in the barn looking for any sign that kidding is imminent.  I come home at lunch time to check for those tell tale signs that a baby is hours away, and does that change anything.  No….. I still wait

Two weeks ago, I noticed that Biancas udder was getting noticably bigger. Last Thursday, Bianca’s girl parts softened up, clearly a sign that things were drawing closer.  On Friday,  those babies dropped.  I mean Bianca’s belly was a foot closer to the ground (ok, may just an inch or 2, but closer none the less) and all of a sudden, her hip bones were much more pronounced.  I could see the babies kicking and jostling in her belly, and her ligaments were softening up. (there are two ligaments that run from those hip bones to her tail that get soft and disappear as kidding draws near).  The only sign not showing is that her udder has not gotten noticably more tight, but that sometimes doesn’t happen till after kidding so no issue there.  So every sign is on target, yet I wait.

Come On Bianca!!   Oh, and dare I forget, Journey is due two days later and Esther 1 week later…….So we wait some more.

Keep checking back because I will surely have some stories to tell when all is said and done.

Soapy Saturday

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A Saturday Full of Soap-ing

Last year, it became obvious that we needed to increase our manufacturing capacity this year so we ordered a s

Doesn't the swirl on the left look like a goat...a little?

Doesn’t the swirl on the left look like a goat…a little?

econd mold.  That means that we can now make 240 bars  in a day instead of the previous 120 bars per day.  So what did we do Saturday?  We made 240 bars of soap.  We made a batch of Clove bud, and a batch of Cedarwood.  That was lovely in itself, but we even tried something fun.  We used green mica powder to add a green swirl to the cedar

wood soap.  I love the way the swirls look, and I really think it adds a new dimension to the product.  Color is wonderful!.  I think we will continue to make some plain bars too in each of the scents for any of you all that want just plain bars, but isn’t the swirl pretty.  Perhaps people will want it for their lovely green guest room.

After we did our regular soap making, we tried a few other things.   We have been talking with The Virginia Distillery Company, and are working on creating a whiskey soap using the draff (Draff is the mash that is left over after the first phase of the whiskey making process) as an exfoliant, and a bit of whiskey as a scent.  This is our 3rd try at this recipe as we want to make a product that both the Virginia Distillery Company and we can be proud of.  We made this small batch and look forward to seeing how it cures.20160305_143311

And lastly, we worked  on our liquid soap recipe.  After doing a bunch of research, I found out that making liquid soap using our regular bar recipe as a base works, but has some big draw backs.  The liquid soap that we made first works great, smells wonderful, but after it sits for a while, has the consistency of snot.  Who wants to wash their hands with snot….not me!!!  So what I learned is that the lye that is used for a liquid soap is different than the lye used for bar soap.  Instead of sodium hydroxide, you use potassium hydroxide.  The potassium hydroxide creates a base that is a pasty consistency to which you add additional water to make a liquid soap.

1st phase looks all creamy

1st phase looks all creamy

This is the gel phase after cooking for 6 hours. Ready to make liquid soap

This is the gel phase after cooking for 6 hours. Ready to make liquid soap

So after making regular, whiskey draff , and liquid soaps we are ready to rest.  We will be really excited to add the new products to our offerings at the Charlottesville City Market this spring.  Cant wait to see you all there in only 4 weeks.  Spring is almost here, YEEHA

A Quilting Weekend

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This weekend was a completely different type of weekend for me.  Instead of working with the goats and making soap, I took some time for myself and had a quilting weekend with the girls.

In my “spare” time (all 5 minutes a week),  I love to quilt.  I am not a particularly skillful quilter.  I use patterns a lot, adding my own touches.  I  tend to use lots of scraps and rarely ever use a complete line of quilting fabric.  I sew in fits and spurts when I can find the time, and I love it.  I love the feel of the fabric in my hands, I love the way fabric colors play and dance on a quilt, I love the way the cut up bits of fabric come together to form intricate designs, and most importantly, I love the way it feels to cuddle up at the end of the day under a blanket that I have stitched with my hands and formed into a functional piece of household art.

So this weekend, I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival.  I enjoyed some time away from the house and the animals and drove to Hampton, Virginia, with 2 friends Mary Beth and Sharon, to stay in the home of Mary Beth’s sister, Teresa.  We spent a good solid day admiring the beautiful quilts of talented quilters, shopped in the shops at the venue, and generally had a wonderful time enjoying the sights and watching the people.

A Quilting Weekend with Friends

Pieced, quilted, and now ready for binding!!

We also ate lots of steamed, spiced shrimp and sewed, sewed, sewed.  I had a quilt top all pieced together about 6 months ago, and this weekend, I had a chance to quilt the quilt sandwich together.  I love this phase of the process as I bring to culmination the hours of quilt construction. The only thing left to do before I use it or give it away for use is to put on the binding, the covering at the edge of the quilt.  And quilting is what I did for most of the day on Saturday.

Now my appetite is whetted for more sewing.  I would love to know how I will find the time to sew for the hours and hours that I would like to dedicate to that hobby.  I really simply do not know how I will find the time to take care of the animals or milk the goats or make chicken coop adjustments because I have too much sewing to do.

Chicken quilting on new quilt

Chicken Quilting on My New Quilt

I do not have time to dedicate to the goat kids that will arrive in two week or the fences that need mending.  I do not have time to make or wrap soap or arrange baskets for the market, or turn shaving brush handles….. I have too much quilting to do.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Next week when the sweet faces of the goats look up at me and the kids are arriving and the sweet smell of lavender soap calls to me from the drying rack, all will come into balance again. But for now, I’m enamored with quilts.

Goat Kidding Preparations

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One of the most exciting times of year is kidding season.  We absolutely love it.  We are busy with goat kidding preparations and making sure that our does are in perfect condition to have healthy happy kids and watching closely for any signs of pending delivery. This time is the culmination of 6 months of planning and preparation.

Our goat kidding preparations include being sure we're ready for what may be Esther's twins.

Esther must have at least a couple in there.

We are continuing our goat kidding preparations while we wait to see if Cody is pregnant.

Only time will tell if Cody is expecting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Goat Kidding Preparations

In the fall, we carefully consider the attributes of our bucks and does and make plans for which pairs will make the best babies.  Sometimes, we have had a wonderful breeding that we want to repeat, and sometimes we want to pair a doe with certain characteristics with a buck with other complimentary characteristics.  (For this year’s pairings, see our 2015-2016 Breeding Plan.)

By fall, we are looking at our spring calendar to make sure births do not occur during vacations and do occur when we have the ideal times for kidding. We count backward 5 months, and that is when we aim for breedings to take place.

Before that time, we make sure the does are healthy, wormed if necessary, and have their hoofs trimmed.  They are all still being milked, so it is important that they are not too thin or too fat at that time of year.

In the fall of 2015,  the 3 does we wanted to kid before a trip in April all cycled (became breedable and interesting to the buck) on the 15th and 16th of November.  We put our buck Bramble with each of them for only about an hour each, and voila, the breedings were done, and kids were on the way.

Winter Goat Kidding Preparations

We allow our does to continue to produce milk into the beginning of winter, but by about 2-3 months before kids are due, we dry them off so that they can put their energy into growing their babies instead of making milk.  For most of the winter, they eat only great quality Orchard Grass/Alfalfa hay.  Then, about 1 month before they are due to kid, we introduce a small amount of grain into their diet.  We also make sure that all of our goats have access to mineral all of the time so that we know they are in the best condition possible.

That is where we are now. We are just getting ready to start them on some grain.

Spring Goat Kidding Preparations

We also make sure that we have a kidding bucket with all of our supplies, ready for delivery. At a minimum, we have:

  • Nitrile gloves for keeping our hands clean during delivery, and making sure that the bacteria on our hands does not     affect momma or baby
  • Lubricating jelly to be used on our gloved hand in case we need to assist in delivery
  • Providone iodine to be used to dip umbilical cord on the  kid after delivery. This helps to dry out the cord and also kills bacteria that could cause illness in the baby
  • Lots of towels, cloth and paper. We need these to help dry off kids after delivery.  This is especially important if it is cold outside.
  • Flashlight. It always seems that goats need assistance in the middle of the night 🙂
  • Scissors for cutting the cord or opening a tough bag of feed, if needed.
  • Dental floss for tying off a cord, if necessary.
  • Bulb syringe to help get fluids out of the mouth/throat of a kid, if necessary.
  • Grain and warm water for momma after a job well done
  • Trash bag to gather up all of the afterbirth and trash that seems to accumulate
  • Nutri-drench. We like to give two pumps of this vitamin liquid to all kids right after birth to give them a good start.

The best part of goat kidding preparations is the kids themselves. Once we have all of our supplies ready, we wait, and wait, and wait for that wonderful day.  We try our best to attend all births, but sometimes they don’t give us any notice or choose the busiest day at our day jobs to deliver, and then we pray that all goes well.  Of course, most of the time it does, and for that, we are grateful.

We also have two of the best nurse maids and birth helpers that the goats could have in Ethel and Lucy, our livestock guardian dogs.  They love kids and are always available to help clean up and lick a sluggish baby until they stand and move around.  They are the best.

If you are interested in getting on our waiting list for spring kids, just email us – bob@wynottfarm.com –  and we can talk more. 

 

10 Tips For Raising Goats

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Raising Goats - Their Precious Hay

Here, you fill find our ten greatest insights about raising goats, every bit of wisdom tinged with our own special blend of Wynott sarcasm. 🙂

  1. Goats like to eat a variety of things. Grass, bark, oats, grain, poison ivy, kudzu, occasional bits of paper, their own milk, the dogs’ food, and hay.  With all of this variety, the hay must be the most expensive and of the best quality, but whatever you do, do not let the hay touch the ground, or it becomes tasteless and bitter, almost worse than life itself.
  2. Male goats will go to great efforts to attract and woo their “women.”  This includes blubbering, spitting, moaning, and screaming.  The most important thing for them, Raising Goats - Our Beautiful Galshowever, is to pee everywhere: on other males, on the aforementioned hay (which then becomes inedible), their own legs, and most importantly their own faces.
  3. Milking goats can be lots of fun.  This is especially true of first fresheners (goats being milked for the first time) and slightly wild goats because they can kick and jump and twist like flamenco dancers while keeping their heads still solidly in the grain bucket.
  4. Female goats will choose the most inopportune time to have their kids.  They will choose a rainstorm, a snow storm, the middle of the night, or the very time that your dinner party starts.
  5. Goats love to climb.  They will choose any and everything provided (or not) to climb on.  They will climb on low branches, tires buried on end in the ground, large wooden electric spools, picnic tables, and your newest car, given the opportunity.
  6. Goats are very affectionate.  They love attention if they are raised with it and will show their attachment in a variety of ways.  They will rub against you after enjoying a meal of poison ivy; they will nibble at your hands at the same time as they chew a mouthful of lovely cud; and they will jump up to greet you after walking through the mud in the yard.Raising Goats - We love their affection.
  7. Goats hate to get wet.  They will avoid the rain and snow with great effort, even if it means staying in the barn for days at a time.
  8. They love a routine and prefer the status quo.  It may take you weeks to entice them to a new area of pasture, and setting up a new and cleaner milking area might cause slight panic in their goaty brains.
  9. Most herds have a very distinct herd hierarchy.  A herd queen controls most herd activity.   New goats might get chased out of the barn with the energy of a Tasmanian devil and the vehemence of a Roman soldier.
  10. Goats love and need clean water at all times.  They will, however, do everything they possibly can to make this impossible.  They drop hay in the water, they drool in the water, they step in the water, and best of all, if they can accomplish it, they will poop in the water.

Although all of these things are true about raising goats, and yet, goats are also the best, most fun, and most amusing farm animals that I can ever imagine, and we can not imagine life without them!!!

Raising Goats - Herd Social Dynamics

Herd Social Dynamics In Action

Snowmageddon at Wynott Farm

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When there is a prediction for 24-36 inches of snow on the small but sturdy Wynott Farm, what is a person to do but PREPARE?

Snow Prep at Wynott FarmThe Wynott Farm goats, all together for warmth during the blizzardOn Thursday afternoon, as we approached the beginning of what was predicted to be a record breaking storm. I reviewed the checklist of things I did not want to forget to do to prepare the animals and their housing.  As an animal owner, it is our responsibility to do everything that we can to keep our animals safe and warm.  Of course, sometimes the unavoidable happens, and an animal wanders out away from the rest of the herd and can’t find the way back, or (as my friend Maryann can attest) a weasel decides to attack the chickens the night of a major storm and the poor dears freeze to death out of fear of going into their coop.  But we do what we can.

Thursday’s Checklist for Wynott Farm

  • Fill up the water trough and disconnect the hose so the plow can get through without tearing it up. — Done.
  • Carry 14 bales of hay to the barn so that we will have plenty when we can’t get the gator there for 2 weeks. — Done.
  • Reinforce the overhang in the chicken run so the snow doesn’t tear down the entire run. —
  • Get extra animal food. — Done.
  • Move the 2 goats from the small pen to the large one so all 7 goats can keep each other warm. — Done.
  • Get extra gas for the generator. — Done.
  • Move snow shovels to the porch so we can start to shovel after the snow. — Done.
  • Make sure we have plenty of propane in the tank for a couple of weeks. — Done.
  • Move the cars to the front part of the road so we can get out of our icy drive. — Done.
  • Last but certainly not least, go to the grocery store, and buy coffee and milk and bread.  What else would a Virginian do when snow is coming? — Done.

So ready we were.  But all of the preparation did not calm my nervous heart as I anticipated this huge storm and the potential for power outages and days closed into the house. . . . But we were ready.

Tomorrow, stop by to hear about the beauty of the snow and the adventures of the day here at Wynott Farm over the weekend. . .

Atlas, The Boxer, Our Family’s Best Friend

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Christmas holidays this year were a bit different here at Wynott Farm.  Our family did not come to visit until close to New Year’s, and Christmas itself was a bit of a challenge.  We lost an amazing pet and one of our “best friends.”  Although he did not start as a farm dog, he became an excellent one.  And although he started as a stud muffin, he became a member of our family.Always Attention, Atlas the Boxer

In January of 2004, the best little boxer puppy in all the world was born in a small town in Scotland.

In a previous life, before goats, Bob and I bred boxers and were in the midst of striving to develop a strong line of American boxers.  We had 4 adult boxers and a couple of puppies and made arrangements to import a boxer with great Italian breeding from a wonderful breeder, Camsail Boxers, in Scotland, as the corner stone of our breeding program.

In April of that year, we shipped this cute little puppy from overseas and picked him up from the baggage area at the airport.  Was he scared, shivering, and anxious after his trip in the airplane?  Absolutely not…. He bounded out of the air crate with a happy face and a look in his eye that seemed to say “OK, so what great adventure comes next?”

Although for a variety of reasons we really only had a couple litters of puppies after we got Atlas, we have never been sorry that we brought him home.

Our Boxer Atlas Keeps An Eye on the FarmyardAtlas loved to spend time with our family.  Although some male dogs wander to find the nearest attractive female and get blustery around other male dogs, that was never Atlas.  He enjoyed nothing more than the opportunity to carry a very large stick and hang around with the family and his other doggy buddies in the yard.  He was a dog that took great joy in his toys and was quite intense in his desire to get and maintain control of them.  Yet, he was welcoming of any other animal to our yard and into our home as long as we, his family, welcomed them.  He enjoyed watching the chickens and never chased one (boxers have a very strong prey drive, but if we told him no, no it was).  He loved to visit Ethel and Lucy through the goats’ fence and never got into as much as a tiff with them.

Atlas adored our children.  He greeted them with a full hearty wag of his little stubby tail from day one, and loved nothing more than seeing our kids walking through the front door.  He loved my mom when she came to live with us and seemed to have a sense of the care he needed to take around her as she walked with her walker.

Thus was our life with Atlas.  This wonderful dog, after 12 years as our family companion and pet, and 12 years of unabashed faithfulness, passed away on December 26.

Our Boxer Atlas, resting.

Atlas loved his head on a pillow. Almost human.

We will miss Atlas and his vibrance for doggy life, and Bob will truly miss his buddy….

 

Turning Handles – New Badger-Hair Shave Brushes

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Bob and I are, well, let’s just say that we are not spring chickens any more.  It seems that learning new tasks is just a bit more challenging than it once was.  Enter the handles for our new badger-hair shave brushes.

In building our soap business, we started to consider adding items to our inventory that would compliment our soap. One idea that came to mind a year ago was shaving brushes.  You see we produce a wonderful shaving soap in a puck form, and at the Charlottesville City Market, we sell some hand-thrown ceramic shaving mugs to use with the shaving soap, but up until now, we did not have a source for really nice shaving brushes with handles.

Finding the Materials

Bob found a source for lovely badger hair brushes that feel really wonderful on your face (or so I am told since I, Kathy,  have never experienced the facial shave), but we needed a source for handles.  Where oh where could our new handles come from?

Turning Handles for our new badger-hair shave brushesTurning Handles for our new badger-hair shave brushesBob is an amazing shopper.  He can find a used anything for an amazing price.  He set his mind to finding a lathe, and that he did.  A 1950’s Craftsman lathe.  It is a thing of beauty, a machine built for many, many years of service.  The stand is made of cast iron and requires 2 men to move it, and the motor runs as if it was made yesterday.  The leather belt that turns the machine is in amazing shape. This lathe was clearly well-cared-for; 50 years later, the paint is in excellent condition, and it works like a charm.

Making the Handles

We cut some dogwood into pieces about a year ago with this process in mind so they were nice and dry, and ready for turning, so a couple of weeks ago, we turned on the lathe and got to work.  Our son Derek has had some limited experience with a lathe, and I had a very small amount of experience just a “few” years ago when I (yes, I Kathy) took a shop class in high school (no comments from the peanut gallery on how long ago that must have been).  We put a piece of wood on the lathe and turned away.  It has been sort of fun to look at the shapes and finishes that we like, and we are quite pleaOne of our new handles for our badger-hair shave brushessed with the results that we have been able to produce so far.

Today, our friend Ricky, who has had some experience turning items on a lathe, came over to help us with some ideas.  He showed us an amazing product called Shellawax that when paired with some really fine grit sandpaper and a bit of elbow grease puts a really nice finish on the shaving brush handles.  Take a look at this handle turned today, soon to be paired up with a silvertip badger hair brush.

How about that? Old dogs really can learn new tricks.