It was hot, I mean a record-setting heat wave on the homestead this weekend. In spite of the 101 degrees heat and off-the-charts humidity, we accomplished some essential chores, infused some self-reliance training of the grandkiddos in with a play structure project, AND finally welcomed Pearl’s new kids to the barnyard.
Pearl has been waddling around on her three good legs with a vastly swollen belly in heat for weeks. I was so worried the added weight would cause her to fall and injure either one of her good legs or her injured leg even further. Thankfully that did not happen.
Even though Pearl cannot put any weight on the leg that was injured during a dog attack, she still has complete freedom of movement of her point of elbow area and uses that to adjust her leg as needed when she kneels or leans against a tree to eat leaves.
Until the last several nights I put Pearl in her birthing stall just in case she gave birth overnight or in the wee hours of the morning, like she did with her first kid, Rooster. But, she started to adamantly refuse to go into the stall because she was the only goat inside – the ducks typically sleep in the stall too, but apparently their company just did not suffice.
I definitely did not want to let Lagertha or Octavia into the stall because they are standard goats and far too rowdy to be in close quarters with an abundantly pregnant Pearl. At first I was letting Rooster into the stall at night, but ultimately opted against letting him inside as well for the same reasons.
New Kids On The Homestead
Our daughter Brea, my youngest grandkiddos in two and I, had been checking on Pearl about 12 times a day for the past week. We could tell by the way she acted and looked, that she was about to begin kidding. Brea and I really wanted the children to watch the kids be delivered, but we missed it by literally about 30 seconds.
Goats are notorious for needing help while kidding, but not Pearl. She gave birth to Rooster in the wee hours of the morning by herself with no problem and delivered the twins on her own yesterday afternoon like a champ.
The twin kids are so much smaller than Rooster was because Pearl was carrying two babies this time. Typically, goats only have one kid during their first pregnancy and twins in most following pregnancies.
Sometimes a goat will throw three kids. It is not rare, but it is not quite commonplace either. These kids are about as large as a 1-year-old kitten and about the same width. They have Not Negan’s (Pygmy goat) coloring but Pearl’s (Nigerian Dwarf goat) body shape and white tinged ears. Well, Pearl only has one white tinged ear now, she lost the other in the dog attack.
I wish she had not chosen to give birth in my tack room, but that is rather beside the point. Only she and Rooster are small enough to maneuver under the gate and get in the tack room – which is also where the feed tub is located. She feels safe in there and it is nice and cool, even more so than the barn or attached nursing stall. The mini donkeys snuck into her nursing stall at some point during the day, they are rather clever when it comes to getting into small spaces..especially ones where they do not belong.
Photo above: not Negan is standing guard over Pearl and the kids, really wishing he could get inside the nursing stall.
I rode out new-to-use Polaris Ranger down to the barn to dig up some more wood for the playhouse project when I heard what I was sure a baby goat. When I followed the sound back to my tack room, kid #2 must have just emerged because it was still covered in goo, and Pearl was just turning around to clean up her baby.
She still had her after-birth fluid sack attached. Not Negan heard the sound too and busted (I still don’t know how he managed it) through a hog panel that covers an opening between my tack room and the hay room.
Seconds after, he got into the tack room Not Negan checked out each of his offspring briefly and then promptly tried to mount Pearl. Rousting Not Negan out of the tack room was a whole lot of fun. While I was busy herding Not Negan out of the stall, Rooster snuck in.
He was very curious about his younger siblings and wanted to romp and play with them, but they were still mastering walking and were not yet quite ready to be either romped or played with.
I don’t yet know the gender of the kids. I will pick them up later today and investigate before naming them. I do not want a repeat of what happened with the girlie boys. When I was gifted the goats for Mother’s Day, their former keepers told Brea they were 5-year-old nannies. So, I gave them girl names. It never occurred to me to check under their tails. I figured if someone had kept an animal for 5 days, let alone five years, they would know their gender. Well…I was wrong – or the former keepers outright lied and just wanted rid of some wethers.
Either way, they had already learned their names during their free range training so they were not interested in learning new ones – no matter how hard I tried. They are often referred to as the girlie boys around our homestead, or called several other names by my husband when they wander down to the shelter house and dump over the trash can and recycling bin.
After I got Not Negan out of the tack room, I called in back up to relocated Pearl and her kids. Even though the tack room was a lot cooler than anywhere else in the barn – or even our house, I had had more than enough of the heat after Bobby and I chased Pearl in circles for at least 20 minutes to get her out of the tack room and to the nursing stall.
I picked up her kids hoping she would follow me, but she did not want to leave the tack room. They were squirmy and still damy and goey from being cleaned. I reached for a hanging horse feed tub and placed them inside – and then hung the tub back on a gate in the shade until I had their momma situated. They stopped crying and curled up together and napped through the rest of the ordeal.
Pearl did not have any maternal instincts with Rooster until I penned them up together in the nursing stall. I think she just didn’t really know what to do with him at first. This time around, she began nursing immediately and behaved like the perfect little momma.
Pearl is munching on some “hay” that I piled into the Ranger earlier this morning. Bobby cut the lower left pasture yesterday because it was not supposed to rain for at least three days. He had only been back up on our hill and relaxing for maybe two hours before we got a pop up storm.
It rained just hard enough and long enough to make it even more humid and to destroy the hay. Ruminants can safely eat hay that horses can’t. That doesn’t mean they can eat really moldy hay, but it does not have to be perfectly dry to make it safe for them to consume.
Pearl will not be out browsing for food for quite a long time. So I salvaged some of the hay to make sure she would still be getting her natural and routine diet while she is confined to the birthing stall. At least a small portion of that hay field won’t be a total loss. We are not going to waste time either baling it or using pitch forks to put it on the hay wagon and salt in – hoping for the best.
It is just not worth taking a chance with wet hay. I manually raked enough for Pearl and the goat herds so it can dry out enough to make it safe for them to eat. I saved enough to feed Pearl for at least five days and just go buy some round bales to give her after that, so she had good hay until she is out free ranging at least for a few hours each day in between nursing sessions.
I also poured some molasses onto her feed. The nutrients in the molasses are extremely helpful to goats just prior to and after kidding. It seems to help them not only garner some extra energy and strength, but also helps facilitate proper milk production.
When I was situating Pearl and her kids into the nursing stall I found chicken eggs – a whole bunch of chicken eggs.It has been a constant battle to get the chickens to either lay in their new nestings boxes or in one consistent place since the coop coup over the winter.
The youngest grandkiddos think it is a lot of fun going on an Easter egg hunt on a daily basis year round – I could do without the added chore!
Building a Raised Platform Playhouse Structure
This weekend on the homestead we also worked on building a raised platform two playhouse structure with an adjoining porch. I was not about to buy overpriced plastic junk – and tiny, playhouses for the kids to play in – and equally importantly, get all of their little toys and big ride on toys out of my shelter house.
My husband, like most husbands, loathes Pinterest. I just don’t get it. The cool ideas I get from Pinterest always save us money and turn out so cool. Must be a man thing. Anyway, I revamped some playhouse plans I found on Pinterest to suit my needs and space.
I raided a few of Bobby’s junk piles (maybe that is why he hates Pinterest) to scrounge up enough building materials to construct at least 95% of the project. He used his trusty Massey Ferguson tractor to pull some old railroad ties out of the ground that were used as fence posts for the old corral to use at the platform supports.
The entire playhouse structure is 16 feet long by 8 feet deep. Building something that large would have cost about one thousand dollars if it was going to mirror any of the playhouses pinned on Pinterest. This one cost us less than $300. It would be difficult to buy a plastic playhouse for less than that.
I will give you a sneak peek of the playhouse beginnings below. You will have to visit New Life On A Homestead again in the near future to see the “how to” build a playhouse on the cheap instructions and the final awesome result. It is supposed to be finished in the next two days – weather permitting. Right about now I would like to kick the weather guy after the hay field loss.
I traded a couple of guys who have done work for us in the past, an old row boat and its trailer, for the labor on the playhouse. The boat needs a rivet welded and the tires on the trailer are dry rotted and must be replaced, but they know how to do the work and jumped at the chance to have a boat to take down the road to the lake and use for fishing – and date night.
We are making a climbing wall using plywood and wood pieces cut from the 2X4’s used in the framing for foot and hand hold spots to get into the playhouse. There will be steps too, for parents who have to go up to the platform to remove their children who aren’t quite yet done playing.
An old swing set slide that I found in one of barns is going to be attached to the platform next to the climbing wall for a bit of added fun. A basketball hoop will be attached to the back wall. The interior of the back center wall will become a chalkboard.
The ground space beneath the playhouse platform will be used on one side as a parking garage for ride on toys and on the other side it will be used as a sandbox.
One of my favorite parts of the playhouse project was the chance it gave us to introduce some new skills to our youngest grandkiddos. At one point, Colt (3 ½) instinctively picked up his toy drill and went over to the playhouse frame and pretended to screw in the nails the guys had just hammered in. He “helped” them with the nails that held the floor joists for about 15 minutes.
I bought a vintage white table with flip up sides at a yard sale last year for $5. I am going to paint it lavender and put it inside the girls’ playhouse. I already have a little camo table for the boys’ side.
The table had layer after layer of good old enamel paint on it. While I was sanding away using a combination of power tools and a wood sanding block, Colt and Auddie became curious about what I was doing and came over to watch…then wanted their own sandpaper so they could help.
If you look into the background on the left side of the photo, you will get a good idea of what it looks like when the kiddos dump the outside toy tubs – and why I am ever so anxious for all of their toys to be relocated inside the playhouses.
So, how was life on your homestead this week? Please share you thoughts and questions in the comments section below.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day. her homesteading skills are unmatched, she raises chickens, goats, horses, a wide variety of vegetables, not to mention she’s an expert is all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping and many, many more.