Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chevre experiment

When I teach cheesemaking classes, I always say that you have to use pasteurized milk for chevre, and someone usually asks why, and I always have to say that I don't know. Well, I know now! We still have an abundance of milk, and we have so much cheese already in storage that I decided to try chevre with raw milk yesterday.

When I took it out of the mold today, I immediately knew there was a problem, because it looked like this.

It should be much smoother. I'm not saying it should be smooth as glass, but there shouldn't be hundreds of tiny holes. It also felt wrong. It felt spongy, rather than firm. So, I pulled it apart, and I saw this.

The inside should look smooth like cream cheese. We've seen tiny bubbles in cheddar before, and it means that the starter culture has failed. I imagine that's what happened here. Whatever bacteria is in the culture wasn't strong enough to overcome the natural bacteria in the milk. It doesn't necessarily smell bad, so it's going to the pigs.

For the record, I am using the chevre direct set culture from New England Cheesemaking. I suspect that if I were making chevre with a mesophilic culture and rennet, it would probably work. But that's an experiment for another day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blustery day

Blustery is probably understating the situation. Professionals are comparing the winds to a hurricane. My sleep was interrupted at least a couple dozen times last night by scary wind noises. Almost all of the deck furniture has blown off, and with another 24 hours of this craziness predicted, I don't see much point in putting it back on the deck. My poor rosemary plant, which is about two feet tall was standing at a 45-degree angle when I first saw it this morning.

Our greenhouse, which is only two years old, is completely trashed. It was still half covered when I got up this morning, so I was hopeful that we'd be able to fix it, but no such luck. That's really thick plastic, and it's reinforced with threads that run between the layers of plastic, but it is ripped in multiple places. I wanted to look at it more closely, but I nearly got blown away just taking the picture, so I decided to come back inside. It's pointless to look at it more closely anyway. Trashed is trashed. It's probably a good thing we didn't get the low tunnel covers on the raised beds yet.

Someone needs to walk the perimeter of our property later today and again tomorrow. A storm like this usually results in at least one tree falling down, and it usually falls on a fence, which is statistically improbable, but somehow it happens that way. The good news is that we'll have more firewood.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My new solar clothes dryer!

Shortly after moving out here, we put up a clothesline for drying clothes. It was behind the mobile home that was here at the time. We were thinking about where to build our new home and did not like any of the options very much, and then this big storm came through, and when we woke up in the morning, we saw that there was no longer a tree in our backyard. The enormous hickory tree, whose trunk was about two feet in diameter, had been blown down in the storm -- luckily in the opposite direction from the house. The clothesline was completely demolished, but it was certainly preferable to our home being crushed by the tree. It wasn't very long after the tree went down that a light bulb went on, and I realized that the space between the mobile home and the pond was the perfect place for our new home. We simply had never considered it before then, because there was a big, beautiful tree there, which we didn't want to cut down.

I can't believe it's taken us six years to get another clothesline up, but we live on a dusty gravel road, and when we've gone a few weeks without rain (as we just did), a big cloud of dust blows towards us when cars drive past. Luckily, not too many cars drive past, but I didn't see the point in putting up a clothes line if our clothes would be dirtier after drying than they were before washing.

After Mike finished the wood shed a couple months ago, it clicked! Let's put the clothesline south of the wood shed. Then another light bulb went on, and we realized that we could attach one end of the clothesline to the wood shed. So, now our clothesline is an extension of our local fuel preservation station.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A bittersweet ending?
Tune in next spring

Several people asked if I had any idea why Little Man died, and the problem is that I have a lot of ideas. Unfortunately I don't know which one is correct, or if the answer is something I never considered. I decided not to get a necropsy, because they don't seem to be conclusive very often, and most of my theories are things that could not have been avoided.

Little Man and Katherine
I took him out of the pasture with Big Mama when Katy had her cria last month, because I realized that he could get Katy pregnant. After he'd been in the barn about a week, I realized that he hadn't created a dung pile, but being new to llamas, I thought maybe a yearling wouldn't start one on his own. After all, he had to be pooping, right? The poop must have just been falling through the straw like it does for goats and sheep, and I did see a few pebbles on top of the straw. Someone posted on Facebook, in response to my post, that they had a couple llamas die of stomach torsion, which got me to thinking about whether that could have been the problem. I tried searching online but couldn't find anything on the topic.

I wondered if he was depressed about being taken away from his mother, but it had been a month. He would stick his head of out the window and talk to her, and I'd put him in the front yard, where he could also see her and talk to her across the fence.

I wondered if it was parasites, but he's been off the goat pasture for a month, and the other llamas and goats that are still on that pasture are fine.

I wondered if there was just something wrong with him. I don't think he has grown at all since he arrived here in March. We've been putting his halter on exactly the same notch for six months, and he was nine months old when he arrived, so he should have outgrown his cria halter by now. The people who sheared him were very surprised he was still so small at a year. He was less than five feet tall, which was probably one of the things I found so endearing. He was my little buddy, my Little Man.

Someone said that we'll always have a part of him in Big Mama, and it occurred to me yesterday that she may be more correct than she ever intended. I was told that Little Man was gelded when we got him, so I didn't see any problem with leaving him with his mother. At some point, in the middle of the summer, he was in the front yard walking away from me, and when he flicked his tail to the side, I happened to notice something that looked an awful lot like testicles. No, he wasn't gelded. That could explain why Big Mama spit-off Dolce when I introduced them for breeding.

Big Mama was not supposed to be bred when she arrived here, but she wouldn't let my male touch her. That was in June, and she'd been running with Little Man since arriving here in March, so she could have been a month or two pregnant when I introduced her to Dolce. We won't know until next spring, but I have to admit it's tempting to put her in a trailer and haul her down to U of I for an ultrasound. Patience is not my strongest virtue, but I'm trying to learn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Second chances

 Little Man in front of his mother
One of the toughest things about homesteading is that you rarely get second chances. Usually, by the time you realize you've made a mistake, it's too late. This morning was one of those days. I was worried about Little Man, my yearling llama, last night, because I realized he never ate his feed from the night before. He was walking around, however, and looked fine. It seemed reasonable to wait until this morning and then call the U of I vet clinic if he still was not eating. But that turned out to be a mistake.

When I walked into the barn this morning with my milk bucket, I thought I heard him whimper, the way he does when he sees his mother across the pasture. It sounded very weak, so I ran towards his end of the barn. When I saw him laying in the straw with his head twisted around his back and his eyes open, I thought his condition had deteriorated overnight. But as soon as I touched him, I realized he'd been dead for quite some time as he was already cold, and rigor mortise had set in.

I wanted to run back to the house and tell someone, to yell at someone, but there was no one here. I wanted to complain that it wasn't fair. He wasn't supposed to die overnight. I wanted a second chance. But even if there had been someone to listen to me, there was no one who could give me -- who could give Little Man -- a second chance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Patently insane

If you think it's crazy that corporations can sue you for saving seeds, then sit down, because this one is going to really knock you out.

First, a little background -- as you may recall, we've added Irish Dexter cattle to our homestead to expand the types of cheese that we make. We currently make seven or eight different cheeses for ourselves using goat milk, but we thought it would be fun to add cow's milk to the mix. There has been a lot of talk lately on an Internet group about cows having A1 or A2 milk, referring to the beta casein content of the milk. It sounded like the A2 milk might make better cheese, which got my attention, so I started doing a little research.

I could have spent all day reading about this, because the information out there is overwhelming. There are lots of Internet articles, as well as a book, which claim that A1 beta casein is responsible for heart disease, diabetes, Crohn's, autism, and more. Sounds ominous. And the answer is to simply drink goat milk, which several sites claim is all A2 beta casein or drink milk from cows that have all A2. This is where it gets interesting.

A corporation, appropriately named the A2 Corporation, created a test to determine which gene your cows possess. UC Davis will run this test for you, so you can see whether your cattle have the A1 or A2 genes or one of each. However, after you've paid your money to get this test, what can you do with the information? Well, not much. This is where it gets interesting --

Any person who intends to form a herd of animals used to produce A2 MILK®, or milk free of beta casein A1, and/or produces and/or sells such milk, may be infringing A2 Corporation Limited's intellectual property rights.

Huh? So, if we send in our cow's milk and discover that she's got two A2 genes, and we use her to produce milk, we're infringing on your intellectual property rights? You're going to sue me for milking my cow because I used your test to determine that she has two A2 genes? I would say that this is crazy, except that I'd also say it's crazy that farmers get sued for saving their seed, so apparently the Patent Office doesn't care what I think. So, this corporation thinks (and the Patent Office agrees) that since they own the test for the genes, they have the sole right use those genes -- even though I own the cow, feed the cow, and take care of all her needs. From a legal perspective, it sounds a lot like the deal with using patented seeds -- you do all the work, but the big corporation gets to tell you what you can do with the end product.

From my perspective, however, it sounds like being told that I can't use the results of my milk tests that I send in monthly to the lab. I send in my goat milk every month to a lab in New York, and they test it for butterfat and protein. I can use that information for whatever -- put it in advertising, brag about it on Facebook, or use it to make breeding decisions in the hope that my offspring will produce higher butterfat. The lab doesn't claim to own the results, and they certainly don't tell me what I can do as far as production. Yeah, yeah, I know, but supposedly the A2 Corporation actually discovered all of this intellectual property about A2 beta casein, whereas the lab in New York just tests for butterfat and protein, which no one owns as intellectual property.

So, maybe this is where the real story begins. I was seriously starting to rethink my plan to milk cows as I was reading A1 Beta Casein: The Devil in Your Milk by Vin Miller, and then I read through the comments. The last comment really made me start asking questions. Supposedly all mammals had only A2 genes until a few thousand years ago, and then there was a mutation that caused some cows to start producing A1. I'd love to know how they figured out what was in cows milk a few thousand years ago, since this test was just developed. Anyway, if A1 is responsible for all those diseases, then why didn't the incidence of those diseases go up when cows started producing A1 thousands of years ago? Why have those diseases only sky-rocketed in the last generation? If those diseases have anything to do with dairy consumption, maybe it has more to do with how dairies have changed in the last generation.

And in case you decide to do a little reading, the college professor in me just has to point out, which looks like this lovely, informative, unbiased website. And it's exactly the type of site that I would have jumped all over if a student had used it in a speech or paper when I was teaching. Many people incorrectly assume that all dot-org sites are non-profits. Although that was the original idea, those sites are often sponsored by corporations that want to get their info out there and make it look like an independent source. This site has no author, is sponsored by no one, and has no physical address, phone number, or email for providing feedback, which are all of the red flags for a corporate-sponsored site. Did I mention that the A2 Corporation sells A2 milk in New Zealand?

I'm glad I finally took a little time to do some reading on this topic, because I can now say that I won't be doing A2 testing, and I don't care which casein is in my cows' milk. If people have been consuming it for thousands of years already, I really don't think it's responsible for all of today's maladies. However, if I were a big corporation wanting to make some money off of a test that I'd created, I might feel differently.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whatever happened to . . . ?

Following my last post, someone asked about Trouper and Merlot, and I realized that there are probably a lot of stories with loose ends. So, to catch up --

Merlot is the gorgeous Shagya Arabian gelding whose owner deserted him here. He was supposed to be a pasture mate for Katherine's horse, but when Buddy died and I called Merlot's owner to tell her he was alone, she said she didn't want him any longer, "and if you're going to desert him, you can just put him down." Well, I wasn't going to do that, so Merlot is still here. He had lost some weight over the winter, but he is in great shape now. I can't even find his ribs. He has a bad case of arthritis in one of his hocks, which he's had forever, but otherwise he's doing great.

Midknight is the other horse that was here, and when I told his owner that Midknight could no longer stay here, he sold him. We thought the buyers might also take Merlot, but they decided against it.

Trouper was the dog that someone dumped on our road. He was pit bull, and he was injured badly. The pit bull rescues were full, and the mixed breed rescues wouldn't take him because they said some cities banned ownership of pit bulls, which created a variety of problems for them. He had a broken pelvis, which caused him to be incontinent, and without surgery that would have cost a few thousand dollars, there was really no hope that he would regain bladder control. As he began to get around better, he started chasing chickens, and he killed two geese. Then he and our livestock guardian had issues. I was able to break up the first fight myself. It took three of us to break up the second fight. After the third fight, Trouper was so badly injured it would have meant more vet bills, which we simply couldn't afford, especially for a dog that had so many things going against him, so we made the very hard decision to put him down. We still miss him, and I'm certain that there will be more pit bulls in my future, because he was a very sweet dog who simply had too many strikes against him.

Sterling the llama was having dental issues last winter, and they seem to have somehow resolved themselves. I'm wondering if the abscessed tooth fell out? Everything I learned about abscessed teeth in llamas sounded dreadful, and I'm glad that it cleared up without having to have a hole drilled through the bottom of his jaw, which is what they recommended at the U of I vet clinic.

The baby llama is a month old now, and we decided to name him Lance for two reasons. It looks like he's wearing biker shorts, so there's Lance Armstrong, and since he's going to be a guardian, naming him after Lancelot seemed like a good idea. I'm sorry I don't remember if it was a blog reader or a Facebook fan that came up with the name, but I love it! After I told a farm guest the baby's name one day, she thought it also worked because knights used lances!

If there's anything else that I need to update, just let me know!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

To do in October

Ever wonder what I'm doing when I'm not blogging? I sometimes wish I had a little personal assistant to just follow me around and do everything that I mention -- or at least write it down -- so I don't have a chance to forget about it. I feel more than a little overwhelmed this time of year.

There are apples and pears to pick and preserve. There are goats and sheep to breed. There are gardening tasks that need to be done. And we're still making cheese about every other day now.

We need to get the sheep separated into breeding groups, or at least get the rams out of the pasture. Since they're seasonal breeders, we let the rams run with the ewes in the summer, because the ewes are not normally coming into heat during that time of year. But as the days get shorter, they will start coming into heat. And it never seems like we have enough pens.

The other problem with the sheep is that most of my rams are related to most of my ewes, so it is getting to be more challenging every year to figure out breeding pairs. I think I should just sell all the rams and start over.

Then there is the goat breeding. I swore I'd never do pen breeding for winter kidding, but I'm doing it. I want the kids to be born by March, because they seem to grow faster than the later kids, so I'm pen breeding as many does as I can. In other words, if a goat isn't milking, she's locked up with a buck. But we get into that same problem of not having enough pens. Having all the goats kids by March will also help with cheese production over the summer, because all the kids will be old enough that they can be sold, or at least they don't have to nurse all the time, so we can take more of the milk.

Speaking of the goats -- they're all in need of pedicures. (I call hoof trimming "pedicures" because I thought they might enjoy it more that way.)

This year, we're creating low tunnels (little hoop houses) in the garden so we can grow lettuce, raddichio, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts into winter. I was also planning to plant spinach and arugula, but I can't find the seeds. We have the poles and hoops in place. But we need to get the plastic cover on, and we need to get it on there in such a way that we can easily get into the low tunnels during the winter when we want a salad.

I still need to plant my spring flowering bulbs and garlic. Last year, I didn't get garlic planted until November, and it still did okay, but I think I just got lucky because it stayed warm that long. I can't expect to get so lucky every year. I think it might be too late to divide my daylilies, and I still have daffodils that I needed to separate, because they're getting so thick in one area that they'll start dieing out soon. I have two mums that I bought a month ago that have already died on me.

I ordered strawberry plants from Gurney's on September 9, and they are still not here, which is terribly disappointing. I think it's too late to plant them now. I should probably call and cancel the order.

I don't know when we'll get drain tiles in the yard before the ground freezes. That's been on the to-do list for several years, because the yard gets so disgustingly muddy in spring. And it's time to start making soap for Christmas. We've been wanting to get up a clothes line, but . . . when?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Garden review: Dragon carrots

I've never tried very hard to grow carrots for two reasons. First, carrots are one of the cheapest vegetables to buy, even organic carrots, so there has never been a financial incentive. Second, I never was a big fan of carrots. They were okay, but honestly, I only ate them because I knew they were good for me.

This is what happens when you don't thin carrot seedlings enough.
Two carrots wrapped around each other.
They were still perfectly delicious for eating.
Well, that has now changed! I planted a four-foot row of dragon carrots in the garden this year, and we've only started to harvest them, because they're slow to germinate and grow, but I am in love. I never knew a carrot could taste so delicious with absolutely nothing on it. Normally, I dip raw carrots in a ranch dressing, and I dress up cooked carrots with butter and sometimes brown sugar. But I just can't get enough of these lovely little gems, and I don't even care if there is anything on them. They're so sweet and have absolutely no hint of bitterness, which is what I don't like about store-bought raw carrots.

And it's just a bonus that they're a beautiful reddish-purple color on the outside. They are yellow and/or orange inside, which makes for a beautiful presentation on your plate.

I purchased the seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, and we'll definitely be planting more of these next year! We'll be planting a lot more!

Thanks to Katherine for the photos!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Volunteer squash

I know what you're thinking -- provided that you are aware that squash cross-pollinate -- How can you have volunteers of something that cross-pollinates? Well, the fun part is that you never know exactly what you're going to get. It's like Christmas. We had one volunteer that looked a lot like a spaghetti squash. It was a little sweeter than spaghetti squash, and it wasn't quite as stringy, but it was delicious, and we enjoyed every bite. This is the first year that I decided to eat the volunteer squash that grew next to a compost pile. It seems silly that we never did it before. This one looks like a cross between an acorn squash and something. Aren't they beautiful!

If you're new to gardening and wondering what I'm talking about -- well, you can't save squash seeds and expect to get the same squash again if you grew more than one variety. You'll get some odd cross between the two. Not everything in the garden will cross pollinate, but squash is one that will. So, if you want to save seeds from your squash, you can only grow one variety, or you can put them in isolation tents and hand pollinate, which I'm not going to do.

Thanks to Katherine for the photos!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Canning crunch time

Wonder why you haven't heard much from me lately? We're madly rushing to get everything canned before the first frost, which usually occurs around October 15 here in central Illinois, but we were seriously concerned with the predicted overnight lows for the last couple nights. The basil was severely damaged by the frost, as well as a few pepper plants, but otherwise everything still looks good. The fall lettuce is beautiful. It looks like the garden is safe now, at least for a week or two, so we can relax briefly.
Last weekend, we were canning all day Saturday. We canned seven quarts of hot Hungarian peppers, six pints of jalapeño jelly, two quarts and one pint of jalapeño peppers, and three half-pints of habañero hot sauce. We use the Hungarian peppers whenever a recipe calls for canned chilies, and we use jalapeños on most of our Mexican food.
Jalapeño peppers
Friday, we canned six pints of apple preserves. We still have a long way to go to get all the apples saved, but at least we finished most of the peppers.  

Photos by Katherine

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Garden review: Dakota black popcorn

We love popcorn as a snack, and we don't feel guilty eating it, because it's all natural. This year, we finally decided to try growing our own, and we are certainly happy we did! I chose Dakota black popcorn from the Baker Creek catalog.

The ears are only about four to six inches long, so they cute to use as decoration, but the best thing is that they pop up beautifully. We've only popped one year so far, and all but one kernel popped. The taste was outstanding. This one definitely gets five stars, and we'll be growing it again.

Thanks to Katherine for the photos!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's chick time!

Our Ameraucana chicks arrived at the post office this morning! Yes, I know most people think of chicks in spring, but I'm totally sold on the idea of fall chicks. Spring chicks wind up laying very little in their first year, whereas fall chicks lay more and bigger eggs their first year. Spring chicks mature in the summer at four to six months, depending upon the breed, and they lay tiny pullet eggs for months. Fall hatched chicks start laying in the spring when they're six or seven months old, and they lay full-size eggs from the beginning. Ultimately, spring chicks only lay for about five or six months their first year, and the eggs are not very big, whereas the fall chicks provide nine or ten months of large eggs.

I mentioned a couple years ago that I had this experiment planned to become self sufficient with chickens, but I'll recap again. Last year, we butchered all of our old hens, which were three to five years old and averaging an egg a week, which was not exactly cost effective. Over the years, we would get four different breeds every spring so my daughters could show them in 4-H at the summer fair -- two breeds per daughter. After they quit showing, we quit buying chicks, and we wound up with a flock of mostly older hens with a few young, mixed-breed chicks that had been hatched by them. We had no idea who was laying what or how much.

Last fall, I ordered 50 New Hampshire red pullets, knowing there would be a few roosters in the bunch to provide us with the capability to make more. We wound up with five or six roosters. This year, I ordered 25 Ameraucana pullets, and I'm sure there are a couple roosters in there too. (I don't know anyone who has received 100% pullets in their pullet orders.) Depending upon how the New Hampshires lay next year, I may or may not add a white egg layer to the flock. You see, I'll know how the New Hampshire girls are laying because they lay brown eggs, and the Ameraucanas lay blue-green eggs.

Next year, we'll hatch 50 eggs from the best New Hampshire girls, assuming they will be 50% cockerels for meat and 50% pullets for replacement layers. We'll keep them separate from the older hens, and in December when the older girls stop laying, they'll become stew meat. The following year we'll hatch 50 Ameraucana chicks and do the same thing. I'm still debating whether or not to add a white egg layer and make a three-year cycle. Everyone says they really don't lay well in their third year, but since we've never known who was laying what, I really don't know for sure. And I'm always one of those people who wants to test things, so there could be some white egg layers in our future. And I am rather enamored with silver spangled Hamburg chickens.

Sorry the photos are not great. I'm still using my cell phone, and the chicks are in a horse water trough, which makes it kind of tough to take photos.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goat breeding fun and frustration

Clare, a la mancha, and her baby, the only first generation
mini mancha born at Antiquity Oaks so far.

You probably don't know this, but I've been trying to create my own line of mini manchas (a miniature la mancha) for three years. I have two la mancha does, and I've been trying to breed them to my Nigerian bucks. It has not been working, which is why you haven't heard anything. Clare did get pregnant and have a single buckling two years ago, but that doesn't count for much. Although the la manchas are very friendly, they don't like me messing with them when they're in heat, and the ND bucks need a little help mounting a doe that's so big. I've heard of other breeders providing a hay pallet or milk stand or some other thing for a buck to stand on, and they back up the doe to the buck.

Wednesday was a very exciting day. Viola was bred by Mardi with no help from me at all. It took him about 15 minutes, and he started doubting himself and mounting her sideways, since the usual way wasn't working for him. But he eventually got in the right place and had enough spring in his back feet to get him up high enough to do the deed. Woo hoo!

I should have known that it was just too much to expect to have Clare bred today. She was obviously in heat. A wether was mounting her, and she was just standing there, so we brought her into the barn to be with Draco, who was in a ten-by-ten stall. Poor boy started out with such enthusiasm, blubbering and peeing all over his beard, but he just could not get the required altitude to be successful, so I brought in the footrest of an Adirondack chair. I figured he could go up only as high as he needed to, in order to breed Clare. Nope, didn't work. The footrest flipped over. It was also too high. I realized he only needed an inch or two, so I found a two-inch thick shelf and put it in the middle of the stall. Being made of plywood, it was too slippery, so I got a hay pallet. Clare wouldn't stand still, and I tried to back her up to Draco, but she was not cooperating. I spent 15 minutes trying to get her to stand in just the right place, so Draco could stand on the hay pallet and breed her.

I was standing in the corner of the barn in frustration, wondering what to do next, when Draco walked up to me and started blubbering. "Yeah, right, mister," I said with a chuckle. "Don't look at me that way. I'm not your girlfriend." He whipped his head around to his back end and peed on his beard, then he looked me in the eyes and curled his upper lip. I laughed. "No way!" He rubbed his head on my leg. "Ugh! Now, I'm really gonna stink!" Mike walked up about that time.

"I think Draco is a little confused here about who he's supposed to be breeding!" I said to Mike. Draco was completely ignoring Clare at this point. He only had eyes for me -- quite literally. I've never had a goat maintain eye contact for so long. Mike laughed. I asked, "Aren't you a little concerned about his attitude?" The buck was again rubbing his head against my leg. If I were a lady goat, I would have been quite enamored.

"Leave," was Mike's answer.

"But then we'll never get Claire bred."

After discussing it for a few minutes, we decided to take Clare with us and get another buck. Draco had clearly given up on her.

So, we decided to get Pegasus, who is a shorter buck, but we hoped we could hold her in front of the hay pallet just long enough for Pegasus to do the deed. It really only takes a second for goats -- no kidding. We tried for another 15 minutes to get Clare to stand in just the right place, so Pegasus could breed her, but we never saw it happen. In frustration, we left the two of them together for the rest of the day, which amounted to another six hours. I have no idea if she was ever bred. I'll mark the calendar and keep an eye on her in three weeks, and if she doesn't come into heat, maybe I'll try that blood test that they now have available for goats to determine if they're pregnant. I'd love to raise my own line of mini manchas, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Maybe I should just buy doelings and sell them after their first freshening? A seven-month-old la mancha is just the right size for a ND buck.

The good news about breeding, however, is that five Nigerian does have been bred in the last two days. So, if you need to find me the last week of February, I'll be in the kidding barn.


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