Farm Updates for November
This is probably the longest I've gone without a blog update in a year or two. Activities around the farm remain as busy as ever, and our herd of animals is looking forward to growing again.
As mentioned in my last post, we're on our way to pick up our first Livestock Guardian Dog this weekend. Our puppy is a ten week old Maremma sheepdog. It has been almost a year since we've had a dog in our lives and this will be the first canine to join us at the new home. Our old hound dog, who definitely wasn't a livestock guardian, passed away early last spring.
A LGD will require time and training, but will end up being an important part of our farm. While we are mainly getting him to work with the goats, he'll help protect the chickens and geese as well, and his scent will keep many predators from even considering coming near the barn. To prepare, we're building him a private area near the goats, stocking up on puppy food, and reading up on LGD training.
Also keeping us busy are plans to breed Tater and Sweet Pea. In order to milk goats next year, we first have to breed them and celebrate the arrival of their kids in the spring. Nigerian Dwarf goats are exceptional in a few ways, including the fact that they can be bred at any time of the year. This gives us some nice flexibility, and we will be breeding them in December or January for later spring or early summer kids. Both of the girls are now eight months old, and have shown signs of going into heat at least once.
We considered a few options when it came to breeding our goats. Very few farms offer a leasing program for their bucks due to concerns about farm biosecurity. In general keeping a closed herd is the best way to know you have a healthy herd, and farms take hygiene seriously to make sure their goats stay safe from diseases. One option was to buy a buck and resell him, but this also presents some biosecurity risks and has the disadvantage of having to find a new home for the buck come spring.
We settled on a driveway breeding for our goats, which means that when we notice that the girls are in heat we bring them to a local farm with a buck to have them bred. We were lucky to find a great farm nearby which has registered Nigerian Dwarf bucks and was willing to have our girls over to breed with their bucks. So we'll be on the lookout for signs of heat, at which point we'll be taking Tater and Sweet Pea out for a date.
And of course we keep busy maintaining the wood stove, caring for the geese and chickens, and playing with the cats. My writing work outside this blog has gotten extremely busy in the past few weeks, and I look forward to announcing a new venture come the New Year. I'll be keeping you up to date as we work on training Stanley and bringing new kids to our farm!