This past couple of weeks, when not battling the flu, the emphasis has been on getting ready for baby goats! The first babies are expected in the last half of May, when we should be busy planting! Better to get all the preparation done now, when we have the leisure. Farmer Man has been re-decorating the barn - preparing a nursery, for all practical purposes. No pastel wallpapers or anything like that, but a separate fenced pen with a draft-free box that will accommodate one new Momma and her offspring. The goat part of the barn has been completely emptied, swept, new pens and fencing constructed and new straw installed.
Along with babies, of course, will come the milk! The whole point of this little herd is to collect milk and for that we need a milking stand. As is usual around Aagaard Farms, we were looking to make our own! Found some great plans for a little stand on Fias Co Farms website. I think we've mentioned it before, but if you have goats you really need to check out Fias Co Farms - they're sharing lots of great info for goat owners! We downloaded a great set of plans (all they ask is a small donation) and Farmer Man got busy, using all pieces of wood and plywood that were here already! I think the only purchase was a feed bucket which hooks over the front 2x4, which we found at Total Farm Supply in Brandon. Today was the day to test it out, and start to get the girls used to it. We'll get them well acquainted with it now, using it to groom and trim hooves, so they are completely comfortable when it comes time to milk.
The first problem is that our little herd of four is pretty close. They go everywhere together! So, how do you get one on the milking stand, give them a little grain treat in the bucket and have them stay calm while three others are prancing around trying to get at the treat? The obvious answer seemed to be to keep the stand in Farmer Man's shop and bring the goats in one at a time. Now, we haven't trained the goatlings for a collar or bridle, so separating one out, getting her through the door solo and then shutting the door turned into a bit of a comedy show. Farmer Man did the door, seizing on the closest goat and directed her in while I headed off the other three. Mabel was first, and it all went quite well! She took quite calmly to being installed in the stand, showing just a little resistance when the yoke closed on her neck. As soon as her grain ration was in the bucket, she paid little mind while Farmer Man trimmed her hooves. The problem came when we decided we were done, and she didn't want to leave! She kept looking around for more treats!
We eventually got Mabel out by leading her with the treat scoop. Goldie was next, again with little problems. Next, aiming for Chocolate, Randi made it in the door - seemingly quite anxious to see what was going on! Always adaptable, we put him on the stand and used the same format to trim his hooves and give him a nice little brushing! Finally, Choco was done and the milking stand, and the goatlings, were 'broken in'. We'll continue to do this every three or four days; hopefully, the girls will get into a routine, including waiting patiently for their turn each time! They're going to be well groomed little goats in the next little while!