After the gorgeous weather last week, the rain gods have come to turn the dry pasture soft, and bring spring's green paint. I mind a little, as I'll likely be soggy for the entireity, spring stops for no one. The farm role call is lengthy now, and Kim gets up early for chores in the morning to help me keep the pace at a steady crawl towards success. While she works in the barn feeding the noisy residents, I get our two goats milked and reunited with their kids on my finish.
At a dairy operation, the farmers usually separate out the kids at birth- but here we leave them on during the day but pen them in overnight. The mothers are then ready for milking in the morning, and the kids are still well fed. I've never seen such vibrant little goat kids- they are solid and happy. And our fridge is stocked with milk. It's a perfect set up for us, for home use dairy. Milking has been an adjustment, it's certainly an added chore- but it's manageable at only once a day and half of the two is pleasaant enough. Noelle, being an alpine fully and generally a sweet girl, takes no time at all and hops up on the stand with little fan fare. Fiona, (always the brute) is like wrestling with a hog, still. She's obstinent and quickly showing us that she may not be cut out for this dairy life. We'll give her a few more days, but Noelle is producing well and we should still have plenty of milk with just her. Fiona will definitely be replaced for the home dairy at least next season, and we'll use either Noelle's little doeling- called Blanche, or another kid we bought earlier this season we call Fancy. Fiona gets a pass from the butcher though too, she had sturdy twins and can stay on as a meat production mama. Plus, she provides comic relief.
Speaking of goats, the steady warm drizzle after last night's thunderstorm won't stop today's task! The kids from the winter are finally ready for the pasture! The electric netting came in yesterday's mail, so after the second cup of coffee I'll be headed out to get it set up, tested, grounded and ready. Then, I'll build a sturdy weather shelter using pallets and plywood (the most invaluable things you can have on a farm). The shelter will get a coat of paint when it dries out. Usually I'd get everyone moved down to the pasture and then build the shelter so I can monitor their fence minding and keep them calm- but goats HATE rain. If I don't have a shelter up, it'll be goat kids everywhere. Along with the kids, Kermit the buck and June the ewe will be out to the pasture too. The bucklings will all be castrated, and the one doeling (Fancy) will be pulled from that particular grazing paddock before breeding age. In the meantime, everyone can enjoy the company and spring greens, finally out of the winter barns and paddocks. Then it will be time to clean and finally set up that barn with proper stalls and turkey grow-out pens, rather than the 'we're moving into a new farm and it's winter' nonsense. The whole project may take more than just today, depending on the rain and what supplies we're out of when I get to it- but before Wednesdays done we'll have them eating fresh grass.
If all goes well, next week will be the first processing of fresh poultry on the farm for the year! The new facility is no where near done (bit of a hang up getting started, contractor is busy due to the late spring) so I'll be setting up our current equipment so we don't get behind in production. It's not ideal, but you've got to roll with the punches and keep the farm moving. We'll be doing a test batch of a small group of the heritage birds, I want to make sure my eye isn't fuzzy from winter and they are of proper size before we take the majority. Sometimes a winter off can make judging size tricky, so I'd rather take a few and see where we are. The chickens, with the new pasture paddocks are absolutely thriving! The new permanent fencing makes life significantly easier, once it's up. We are pushing so hard to get the farm into a position where it's easier to work, but we have a few seasons left of real expense and struggle. This is just the reality of moving, and of finally establishing our permanent base. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
I can now see the bottom of the coffee cup, so it's just about time to get back to it!