More Puppy Pics

The puppies are growing by leaps and bounds. As of a week ago we have assigned a few puppies to groups of goats and/or sheep for them to work with regarding their livestock guardian puppy skills. Even at this age they position themselves BETWEEN the livestock and the “intruder” ( who in this case is the person taking the photo ). They are not behind the animals but in front.
Folks always ask us if we need to train the puppies to guard. The answer is plain to see here – they will position themselves and guard instinctively despite their current small size. What needs to be learned is interspecies socialization — how to interact with people, how they are to behave around the animals they are guarding. Puppies LOVE to play and it is difficult for them to understand that the sheep and goats do not want to play along. We have found it beneficial to have a couple of puppies together in one pasture. They play with each other and do not try to get the livestock to participate. The real trick is to intervene immediately when negative behaviors, such as chasing, are demonstrated so those behaviors do not become routine.
Regardless of “training” it is essential that a would be Maremma owner understand that these pups will not be responsible adults until somewhere between 18 and 24 months of age !

78 Days ‘Til Spring !

Puppies as Promised

We are pleased to introduce you to our first litter of Maremmas in quite a while – about 5 years.
There are 4 female and 5 male pups. This photo is from about two weeks ago prior to eyes opening – so they are all in one place. Kind of a “pile ‘o pups”. Now they are up and about keeping their mother mighty busy keeping track of them all.

Three on a Match

And the first kids of the year are triplets !
Hey it’s a boy, and then another boy and then another boy.
1 in 8 odds of that happening.
The “new kids” arrived on Thursday the 18th.

26 days ’til spring.

Any Day Now

Well, the nannies have been shared for about a week now and the first of our kids is due anytime. Today is a snowy day but not too cold. Nannies seem quite comfortable in the barn.
It’s Mardi Gras in NOLA, it’s one day to kidding and 34 days ’til spring.

What Time Is It ?

It’s Kidding Time ( almost ) !

The first of this year’s kid crop is due to start arriving on Feb. 17th. We’ve spent the past 2 months processing fiber – lots of fiber. Now that we are just about finished with the 2009 clip of mohair and wool, we’ll be shearing the nannies next week and we’ll start right in with 2010.
It seems that there really isn’t a time when there isn’t some fiber to process.
But what we’re really doing now is getting ready for baby goats and a bit later lambs ( due April 1st ). Here’s what we do to get ready :

-Clean the barn and kidding stalls
-Partition the barn into living areas – we house like sized nannies together to avoid un-sportsman like conduct ( translation – slamming ).
-Check and make sure we have enough buckets for each pen ( food and water )
-Test the heat lamps – our heat lamps are held up by chains and have bulb guards.
-Make sure we have plenty of towels for drying
-Blow dryer ( just like the ones used for drying hair ) – for drying kids fast
-Selenium shots – BoSe – each kid gets 1/4cc – we’re in a low selenium area.
-CDT – each kid gets 1cc
-Nutri-drench – each kid gets a couple of squirts
-Ear notch tool – we notch instead of tag kids – tags sometimes rip ears or fall out. We prefer to notch. To see a sample ear notch diagram visit the AAGBA website.
-Feeding tube – in case of chilled kids and a container for the milk from the nanny.
-Prichard Teats – in case we need to supplement nursing kids or for bottle babies
-A couple of plastic soda bottles for the teats ( but no Coca Cola bottles as the threads on the bottle’s neck have been changed and no longer accommodate the Pritchard Teats. )
-Worming paste for the nannies – after the stress of kidding we generally evaluate nannies and worm if needed. Stress can cause a decreased resistance to parasites.
-Something on hand for scours – we use a pepto-bismol like liquid.
-Shear the nannies – keeps the fleece clean and gives the kids a nice mohair-free udder to latch onto. After shearing the nannies stay in the barn until mid-March.
-Put the radio in the barn and tune to WAMC – our local Public Radio Station ( this is a plug for the station. Their fund drive starts in a few days. )
-Wait for the kidding to begin.

18 days ’til baby goats
51 days ’til spring

Spring Has Come

Farm life has been busy these past few days. The goats are just about done kidding. The sheep should start lambing any day now. We’ve spent the last 10 days shearing sheep and goats – 21 Ewes remain to be sheared and about the same number of Bucks. 120 ton of lime has been spread on the pastures and hay fields. A lot of time has been being spent on cleaning up our fence lines which were littered with debris from winter storms – tree limbs down, fence posts heaved and broken, wire needing tensioning. We’re also trying to get fiber prepared for our Spring Fiber Show Schedule. We’ve taken a bunch of new pictures but have not been able to get them posted yet. Maybe this weekend ?