Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm Still Here! Meet the Willoughby Petting Zoo.

If anyone has been checking my blog they probably wonder if I dropped off the face of the Earth? No. I've just been incredibly busy. Every now and then I'd remind myself that I need to post something but in the evening, when I had some down time, I'd be too tired to make the effort.

What have I been doing? Getting settled in to my new home, trying to whip this acre into shape, and acquiring some farm critters. I moved here with a dog, a cat, a pond goldfish, one hen and one hive. I now have all of that plus....29 more chickens, 2 lambs, 3 goats (and a deposit on a 4th) and 3 more hives. I've been busy.

First I bought a rooster and 4 hens off of Craigslist. I couldn't wait to have a rooster crowing and I wanted my hen, Shirley to have some company. One of those hens turned out to be a rooster and I sold him for $10. He was an Ameraucana.

Shirley greeting the new arrivals.
She wasn't happy and screamed at them for 2 days.
They all get along great now.

5 chickens wasn't going to be enough so I bought 10 chicks. 5 Rhode Island Reds and 5 Black Sexlinks.

 Then I decided to buy 5 Ameraucana chicks so my husband could have the green eggs he likes. This was the day they graduated to the grow out pen.

Next I needed a dairy goat. I found a yearling doe I liked and put a deposit on her but couldn't bring her home until we built a goat shed and found her a friend. This is the shed under construction.

And completed.
We welcomed our goats, Cocoa, the doe and Stewie, the wether. Stewie was a gift from a friend. We knew, right before we brought her home, that Cocoa was expecting. We just didn't know when she was due. However we figured it would be sooner rather than later. My husband built me a milking stand so I could be ready.
The milking stand needed to be out of the weather so my husband added another room to the back of the goat shed.
And it was a good thing we got it done because on June 6th this happened.

I arrived on the scene just in time to see a little face coming out, resting on 2 front feet. The perfect presentation. Cocoa is a first freshener, meaning this was her first birth. She only had the one little boy this time and she has been a wonderful, attentive, protective mother. She loves her little kid and he loves his mom.

He will always have a special place in my heart, being the first animal born on our homestead. His also the first birth I have ever witnessed. I tell him I'm his grandma. I'm the one who cleaned him off and made sure he got something to drink right away. I enjoyed my role as midwife.
Meanwhile I decided I needed to add some multi-purpose chickens to my flock so bought 10 Barred Rock chicks.

But that's not all. The orchard isn't going to mow itself and the ground is too uneven for me to use a lawnmower. I can't put goats in there. They'd eat the trees. Time to get a couple of sheep. Then I can have fleece to spin, too. Luckily there is a couple who raise Romneys just 4 minutes up the road. Meet my 2 lambs, Ebony and Ivory. Ebony is a ewe and Ivory is a wether. He is twice her size even though they were both born in April, 6 days apart.



Of all my animals, I enjoy the goats the most. They are so curious and friendly. I currently have Nubians, although Heath's dad was half Boer so Heath is 75% Nubian. I like the Nubians. Don't get me wrong. However they are LOUD. Especially Stewie. He's my alarm goat. It was his cries that alerted me that Cocoa was giving birth. Poor Stewie was freaking out. LOL
Nubians are also stubborn. I don't see it in Stewie and Heath so much. But my doe is as stubborn as the day is long. And she kicks. I have to hobble her to milk her. I also only have 1/3 of an acre to devote to goat pasture. I read about Mini Nubians and that is what I want to raise. You breed a Nubian doe to a Nigerian Dwarf buck. You get all the wonderful qualities of the friendly Nubians together with the sweeter dispositions and quieter voices of the Nigerian Dwarves. And smaller sheep need less to eat. I want to have a closed flock, anyway, to keep my goats disease free. This means having my own buck on site. A smaller buck is easier to handle. I located a cute Nigerian Dwarf buckling just south of me in Longview, WA. I currently have a deposit on him. He'll be weaned the end of August and I'll bring him home at that time. I am hoping he'll be mature enough to breed Cocoa to this fall.

Well, I think that's enough for this post. I have lots more to share but that will have to be for another day.

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