Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Babies

Snowdrop and Daisy--our two new Saanen-Alpine crosses

'Tis the season for babies! The woods around our little farm are bustling with activity, as the birds, bugs, squirrels and deer begin welcoming wee ones into the world and nurturing them toward adulthood. We also have been gearing up for new members of our barnyard family.  In the past few days, we have placed an order for 26 baby chicks (to arrive in April) and brought home three baby goats.

This time we decided to purchase full-size dairy goats to add to the three Nigerian Dwarfs that have been with us in November. We were lucky to have the opportunity to do our goat shopping at Maple Lane Homestead, a beautiful farm in Concord, NC where Kelly Foster, her mother, and her husband raise dozens of goats and sheep, chickens, turkeys, bees, and a huge garden of lush vegetables and herbs. (You can read Kelly's farm blog here.) Based on the research I had done and Kelly's experience-rich advice, we chose two Saanen-Alpine crosses and one purebred Alpine. Whereas Nigerian Dwarfs offer smaller amounts of milk that is very high in butterfat (and therefore perfect for making cheeses, soaps, and of course, butter), Saanens and Alpines are higher-quantity producers (the two "champion milkers" of the dairy goat world) and provide lower-fat milk--ideal for drinking and making yogurt.

Ezili, the Alpine, tries to suck some milk out of my finger.

We adore these new little ones. They are sweet, gentle, frisky, and a bit shy. But not actually very little.  We were stunned when we went to pick them up to find that two of them had already grown taller than our 6-month-old Nigerians! The good news is that these new whipper-snappers were trained on the bottle before we brought them home, so bottle feeding has been a breeze this time around in comparison to our first try (a recorded in my November 23, 2011 post).

The Nigerians are predictably jealous--bawling piteously as we bottle feed their new compatriots in the stall next door, kicking the walls, and threatening to run away and never come back. Unfortunately, they have also been picking on the new kids quite a bit. We're trying to be patient with our bullies, thinking things will calm down once they re-establish the hierarchy of the herd, or--if not--once the newbies are towering over them in a few weeks!

My daughters, Segi and Simi, have adopted the two Saanen crosses, and I've been allowed the privilege of mothering the Alpine. She's the scrawniest one of the lot, and thus the most harassed. I'm hoping she'll learn to stick up for herself soon. In the meantime, we'll be relishing the pleasures of nurturing our new babies and dreaming of the milk they will hopefully be giving us in return during the years to come.

No comments: