More Babies

This past week, we had a welcome addition to the farm.  We finally have more geese!  The geese really didn't lay any eggs the last two springs, and the few they did they didn't sit on, and no one else was feeling broody at the same time.  This year, we are down to 5 geese, only two females, and they both were in the mood for babies this time!  The first was laying quite well about 2 months ago, as evidenced by the number of goose eggshells we were finding around the yard from the dogs.  We eventually located where she was laying, and Liam was great about checking her nest repeatedly and grabbing her eggs before the dogs got them most days.  Once we had collected a dozen of them, we set up a pen around her nest and put the eggs back, and put her in the pen.  She didn't like it at first, but did eventually sit on the nest.  Unfortunately, after a month she didn't hatch anything and we had to throw all those eggs away.  

In the meantime, about 10' away, the second female had started her own nest, and Liam repeated the frequent checking and taking of any eggs.  This time, though, as we collected the goose eggs we traded them for the infertile turkey eggs under the two turkey hens sharing a nest in the garden (we don't have a tom so they were a little too optimistic). This time, we had success - one hen left after a coupleof weeks (I just noticed she has her own nest elsewhere, we should probably go clean out any dud turkey eggs from there ASAP!) but the one that stayed hatched out 3 adorable goslings last week.  They have been living in the garden for the last week - she shows them how to dust-bathe, and they show her how to swim in a little pan we put out :)  She is being a great mama, staying in the same area, chirping and talking to them all day long.  They tumble along after her when she goes foraging, and so far the garden hasn't suffered any damage.  That'll change in about another week, so we'll have to relocate them by then, but for now it's pretty awesome to watch them from the living room window :)  

There were 5 good eggs left in the nest - with the sporadic laying over a period of a couple weeks, they just weren't far enough along to hatch by the time these three did - so we put those under a chicken that's been sitting unsuccessfully in the chicken house -we'll  see what she can manage out of them.  In any case, 3 goslings is 3 more than we've had in several years!  

We also had 2 game hens hatch batches of chicks about a month or so ago, one had 4 or 5 at least, the other something like 11.  They say not to count your chicks before they hatch, but in actuality, that's the only time you CAN count them - after that, the little fluffballs are darting and tumbling around, and there's just no way to be sure how many there are!  

As for calves or crias, nothing yet - although I noticed last night that Corinne has a visible udder, and she is a first-timer this year, so that is fairly significant.  If the cow has calved before, there is an udder developed after that, and often they are still nursing the last one up until close to the next, so it remains visible.  Until that first calf, though, there's really no udder at all, so that should mean Corinne will probably calve within a month or so.  Reba also should be having a cria any time now, she was the first week of June last year, and they go about 1 year from the last one also.  

This year, I'm going to weigh the crias at birth and then weekly, to make sure they're eating well enough.  I'm afraid we lost most of last year's to simply poor nutrition, whether on their part or the mother's.  We've been continuing (until this last weekend, more on that in a moment) to supplementally feed the pacas, so the mamas should be in better shape this year.  We checked the herd a few weeks ago, and they looked pretty good.  No one had signs of anemia, everyone felt somewhere between decently and well-fleshed, so I'm feeling better about this summer so far.  

Now, the not-so-pleasant baby news.  We've lost 4 goat kids in the last few weeks.  The first was the partial bottle-baby Patience - the favorite of all of us :(  We discovered that her mother was very anemic, corrected that, and were able to stop bottle-feeding her within a few days.  When we felt confident that they were all healthy, we put them back in with the main herd of goats and cows.  Right before the boys and I left on our trip, Caleb found her dead in the pasture, with no obvious explanation.  We know she was still eating well, since we knew her personally Caleb could vouch that she'd been active and healthy, coming to greet him every day up until the day before.  We could only conclude that she'd been stepped or lain on by a cow accidentally.  

Then - one morning a couple weeks ago, Caleb found a dead little doeling, again nothing obvious to see.  We thought "wow, I wonder what happened?!"  And then 2 days later, there was another!  This time, Caleb took it to the lab in Nashville, and they reported the cause of death (and only problem at all) to be multiple skull fractures.  Then, 2 days later it happened again with a little buckling, and we decided that there appears to be a cow targeting the baby goats.  We have our suspicions about a particular steer that has always just had something of an attitude, and we tried to separate him from the herd and verify that way.  Unfortunately, he wouldn't go, and all the cows just got really wound up, running in circles and getting pretty riled, so we just turned all the goats and sheep in with the alpacas in the adjacent paddock.  We have had no deaths since then, so it does indeed seem to have been the cows - but which one?  

The other problem with this "solution" is that it voids our attempt to keep the alpacas healthier by separating them from the "sprinkle-poopers", the goats and sheep (as I've talked about in a previous post).  Temporarily, though, it's the only solution to avoid continued goat losses.  We just have to figure out the next step from here...



Great post again

....glad you figured out the cow-goat wars, hope you find a more durable solution.


There is never an end to the detective work you must do, eh? And so proud of Liam and his part in helping you gain some new goslings!

It's always something

Yes, so much of what we do is investigating mysteries, and lot of educated (or semi- or self-educated) guesses.
We still haven't lost any more goats, so it was definitely the cows. If only I could prove it was that steer without sacrificing more goats...

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