Archive for the ‘Goat Care (and General Farm)’ Category

Paring down the herd has been a process.

I pared down in three steps and wrote several blogs posts along the way.  The first post, Selling Goats – How I Changed My Business Mindset, was a collection of my farm and business thoughts geared towards keeping manageable numbers.   I wrote the second post, Pruning- It Isn’t So Easy, after I realized that selling the goats was more difficult than I had originally thought.

Very recently, not long after I published the third blog post, I realized that I needed to pare down the herd even more.  I am so elated to be able to say that no sadness rolled over me when I made the decision to sell.  I was determined.  I knew the end result that I wanted.   I just did it.

We are now down to our original goat herd.  Some of the older gals on our farm are in retirement.  We own a few boer goats that will be bred occasionally.  We have six dairy goats that will bred to keep the girls in milk for Annie’s Goat Hill milk-based products.

We are now purposely breeding for a warmer kidding season.  Gone are the days of kids born in sub-freezing temperatures.  Gone are the days of a barn full of kids.  We are breeding only for exact needs.

Just a few mornings ago, the day after the last sold goats left our farm, new kids were born.  Ask me if I smiled.  Babies (purposely) born in May.  It is warm.  The kids are healthy.   I am totally enjoying the newest dairy youngsters!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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And belly filled with milk.  Water balloon?

Milk (Water) Balloon?


Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps –  Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!


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I just arrived in from a beautiful morning walk.

Some folks call these weeds, I call them wildflowers.

I have lived in the country now for 10 years.  One thing that I have noticed is plants that are colored alike seem to come into season at the same time.  Just last month the wild flowers were all in shades of purple.  Today was a white type of day.

Wild Roses – Smell so sweet!

Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)


One night I went out for a breath of fresh air and stopped in my tracks as I thought I was smelling a beautiful floral perfume.  But it wasn’t a perfectly bottled natural perfume.  It was the sweet aroma hanging in the air as the temperatures dropped from the night-time sky.

Life on the farm.  I treasure it.

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Ahhh…the poor little feller’.

As a business owner I follow strict weekday schedules.  My internal alarm clock tells me to put my feet on the floor at the very same time, each and every day.  I make coffee, feed the furry feline bosses, and flip on the lap top.  I feed the goats, and milk when in season.   The rest of the day is also charted out, with minutes and hours blocked off.  I like production.  I like to see progress.  I like for things to be completed on time.  You get the picture.  I was raised by an Army sergeant.

The last few days,  keeping the tight schedule has been, well, let’s say, challenging.

A certain little bird, with a good set of lungs, has been fairly punctual.  Between midnight and 2:30, he sings, warbles, and because it is dark, I can only imagine he is strutting his stuff as he calls out and looks for a mate.

I hope he finds one soon.  I am now regularly chanting:  To Not Kill A Mockingbird.

This is what I am hearing when I am not feeling so bright and bushy tailed (scroll down to the audio button here) via Northern Mockingbird, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Today, via Facebook, and a group of nature-loving friends, with nothing more than a description of a bird’s song, we successfully identified the poor little feller’ that is trying to convert me to his nocturnal practices.

Perhaps tonight will be the night.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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When was the last time you looked at things in life as through a child’s eyes?

I read a great post today, Once Upon A Child, by Danny Brown.  I love what Danny said, “Our minds are so free as kids. We imagine anything and everything. Our creativity knows no limits and our imagination is boundless.”

Danny made me think.  In fact, I decided to give Annie’s Goat Hill (myself) an assignment.  This month I will be blogging about the things I look at with fresh eyes, allowing myself to look at things with no (fewer?) limits, with imagination.

When I was a child I loved to draw.  I drew a lot of animals (horses, cows, cats and dogs).  Then I started drawing interiors of houses.  Seriously! I drew floor plans, along with furniture and appliances, drawn to-scale.  I even hoarded the family Sears and JC Penny catalogs to see what the latest carpet, paint, and drapery colors were.  I still recognize my love for animals.  But interior design? Not so much.  I was absolutely fascinated by it, with ruler and pencil in hand, hours and hours of imagination.

So…today I forced myself to not touch a computer  ALL DAY LONG.  Instead I raked (most) of the goat barn.  I hand washed my truck.  I did a lot of healthy things, outdoorsy things, things that got me up and active.  We all need that! But, guess what else I did? I sat in the barn with the goats.  One by one the dairy girls came in and nibbled on my chin.  Even Annie, the farm namesake, a boer goat with an attitude, came in to visit.  I recently read a story about a photographer who got down on the ground, and in the water, at eye level, with the alligators.  I wouldn’t want to take that risk, but he did.  He found himself understanding the creatures at a level he didn’t expect to know, and he took photographs that were extremely unique.  He used his imagination, and he set his fear aside.  He learned a lot.  We can learn a lot by getting down to eye level, as I did today.  We don’t just feed the hay and the grain, we see the magic of the animals that we tend to.  We see the magic of the world that surrounds us.

Tomorrow I will continue this challenge (both business and personal).  It should be enjoyable and I look forward to sharing the adventure with you.  If you want to join me in this trek, leave your comments.  I would love to hear what you discover!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Feel and Smell the goodness!

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Chameaqua – Snubian Dairy Goat

I fed the last bottle of the season today.  This is always a bittersweet day on our farm.  And it also reminds me that I promised a bottle feeding article!

There are several cautions that I want to give regarding bottle feeding.  First, never over feed a kid goat.  In the case of newborn and young goats,  love (through heavy feedings) can kill.  Secondly, if you are not feeding goat milk to the kid, select a well-balanced milk replacer.  The milk replacer label must state that it can be fed to kid goats, and the replacer must contain copper (a very necessary mineral to a goat) .   When mixing the milk replacer carefully follow the package instructions, it is much better to add slightly less replacer to the warm water than it is too much (too rich formula).  Be consistent with your measurements each and every feeding.

In the past we fed our newborn and young goats until their bellies felt full, and until they began “playing with the nipple” (showing a lack of interest, indicating fullness).  We fed up to 20 ounces per bottle, 3 times a day, to the kids that were at least several weeks old.  The bottle fed goats became sick more often than the dam fed goats.  We now feel that the problems we were experiencing were due to overfeeding, leading to bloat, and leading to the kids not having an interest in hay or grain.

To get an idea of how much to feed a kid goat, watch one nursing on their mother.  The dam allows the kid to nurse but not for long periods of time.  She basically allows the kid to drink a little (almost a “slurp” as we lovingly call it), then she makes the kid stop.  Kids nurse often, but not for an extended period of time.  Hence, when we bottle feed very large quantities of milk, we are allowing the kid to drink more than he would if he were “on” his mother.  Overfeeding leads to deadly bloat, scours, and other over-eating issues.

This is the bottle feeding schedule we follow:

  • Day One – Always feed colostrum! Up to 6 ounces per feeding, every 4 hours.
  • Day Two – Colostrum.  Up to 8 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Day Three – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day (gradually lower the amount of colostrum in the mix).
  • Day Four – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Next Two Weeks – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Up to 2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 3 times a day.
  • Up to 2 1/2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 2 times a day.
  • At 2 1/2 months old begin weaning.  Lower the amount of milk per feeding by about an ounce per day (or two ounces if the kid eats hay very readily).  This encourages the kid to eat more hay and grain, depending upon the bottle less each day.

We wean our kids between 2 1/2 and 3 months old.

From the beginning of a kid’s life, always provide access to good quality hay.  A kid will eat hay better if he is near other kids that eat hay.  Goats learn to eat hay by example (normally from their dam on the day they are born)! We provide a creep feeder.  It is a feeder that allows the kid(s) to enter a feeding area, where they have access to hay, without competition from larger goats.

We offer a very small amount of grain to our kid goats.  Normally, the dairy grain that we feed to the goats that are being milked is also offered to the kid goats.  Again, do NOT overfeed, a small handful (1/4 cup per kid) is plenty.  Encourage hay eating, especially a good quality alfalfa mix.  In colder temperatures, hay is what keeps a goat warm, through digestion (their rumen).

We prefer Pritchard brand nipples.  There are other brands of “lambing” nipples on the market.  The nipple hole in a Pritchard can be cut very small (for a newborn) or larger for a goat several weeks old.  Also, Pritchard’s have a valve ball that helps to control the milk flow and air.

Always feed a goat kid in a fashion that makes them hold their head up, similar to how they reach up to the udder when nursing from their dam.  Following this practice helps ensure milk does not enter their lungs, and helps to prevent bloat as well.

Never force feed a goat kid.  We published an article here:  Colostrum – The Most Important Nutrition In A Kid’s Life, and here, Reviving Chilled Kid Goats (that discusses kid goats unable to nurse).

You may also enjoy reading, Dam Vs. Bottle Raised Kids.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – where you can Smell and Feed the Goodness!

Note: Adjust the feeding amount for smaller breed goats. The feeding schedule remains the same, but you will need to adjust. On average, our kids ranged from 6-9 pounds at birth.

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I did not plan on a part II, but here it is.  Part two of (the blog post) Selling Goats – How I Changed My Business Mind-Set.

Pruning really is not so easy.

Today we pulled the ad that had listed goats for sale.  The last goats that went into trailers, down the road to their new homes, were dams with babies by their side.  One side of me loved seeing the small families stay together.  Another side of me was sad because I sold goats that we had raised from the bottle, raised for several years.  They are now grown, raising their own kids.

This is where pruning is not so easy.  It  is necessary.  It is needed in life.  It is needed in our homes.  It is needed in our businesses.  It hurts.  It stings.  It does not feel natural.

One of my favorite scriptures, however, ties this up perfectly, John 15:1-2.  I convert it to my life, my business life, my farm life.  In part, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

So, I take huge leaps, and I take baby steps.  I do this with a goal in mind – to do what is right, not what is easy, not what is comfortable, to produce fruitful branches.

Taking the leap of faith.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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An average day on the farm begins with computer work before daybreak, feeding and milking at daybreak, and then the day moves on to whatever is electronically scheduled (soap/lotion production, packaging, and anything else – what really soaks up the time – involving the “real” nitty-gritty operating of a business).  The day ends with another feeding and milking, and additional computer work, planning for the next day, or week, or month.

I have learned to pare down products to manageable numbers (the base soap list, the base lotion scents), and now I am learning to do the same with the goats.  The difference is, though, a pair of eyes, a history, a relationship, and some warm-air-breathing enjoyment coming from my lifetime passion – animals.

But, here is the scoop.  Goat overhead is also a big part of my business.  I must be careful.  I feed.  I fill the water buckets.  I become the resident vet.  And time is money.  The balance to that is, I raise goats so other people can enjoy them.  This is where my heart is finally trained to set aside the attachment.  I make my life and pocketbook easier to manage, and I add happiness to someone else’s life (and possibly a business if they so choose).

There you have it.  Another solid business decision made.  I am slow at these things, I will admit.  The heart has had to toughen up.  It has been a work in progress.

The motto on the farm:  keep one, sell one (goat).  Keep a soap type (discontinue a soap type).  It is all manageable.  It is all good.  It is smart.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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We scraped the goat barn out a few days ago.

While Bob, my husband, ran the tractor over the barn floor, I supervised.  The goats follow us wherever we go. They don’t like the tractor much, but a few still hang around inside the barn while the tractor is working, as long as I am still in place.

The process reminded me of why I love the goats.

Iris stood beside me through the entire job.  Sometimes she rubbed her head on my hands, my legs, my hips.  At other times she watched the tractor.  She never missed a move.  It was quite interesting watching her watch the process.  She was both full of intent and she was content.

I sat down on a pallet to rest my legs.  Along came more girls.  One of the nubian does nibbled on my nose, my chin, my cheeks.  She hummed as she showered me with attention.  It was hard to not wipe off my cheeks and chin, to make her move away.  The love was very special coming from her, she was off her feet for two weeks last month.  We nearly lost her.  I now call her my “miracle child.”

When I have days like the barn cleaning day I am reminded that the small things in life are precious.  The love of goats is too.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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We are changing our website, switching to a storefront.  Sreamlining for 2012.  Our thinking is why have both a blog and a website? There’s a lot of writing and reading going on, with current product information here, at our blog.

Over the next several weeks I am going to copy photos from our current website over to our blog, to ensure what people enjoy now on the website, will still be available (via the blog).

At the same time, I am going to throw in some of Annie’s Goat Hill original photos.  I hope you enjoy looking back and seeing some “faces” and stories you haven’t seen in a while.

In this photo, to the left is a doe that we currently own that is wild, but one great mother.  The middle doe is Sarah, one of our favorite grown up gals.  She is vocal.  Always “maaa’s” up to us at the house when she sees us outdoors.

Love you all! Enjoy!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feed the Goodness!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.         Romans 12:2

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