When you own goats, a milk stand proves to be an invaluable piece of equipment. Whether you're milking or not, it can be used for trimming hooves, giving shots, drawing blood, and performing ultrasounds. It also makes a pretty good place for your barn kitten to eat her food in peace so the puppy doesn't bother her. Well... as much.
Purchased milk stands are wildy expensive, and honestly, I'm not all that impressed with them. Unless you pay someone to build you one, they come pretty standard size. I however, am not standard size, so these milk stands are too short for me which makes milking and trimming hooves uncomfortable. They also are meant for a certain sized goats, so "for nigerian dwarfs" or "for nubians". But, what if you're like me and you have both? This simply was not going to cut it for me. So, naturally I bribed by husband and he built me a customized milk stand that suited my needs. Did I mention that it was made out of scrap? So yes, a highly functional milk stand was made out of scrap wood we had lying around and it ended up saving us several hundred dollars. And it's better! I have used this stand now for about a year for milking, trimming hooves, shots, and ultrasounds. It has served me quite well for all of my goats, and there is quite literally nothing about it I would change.
Now, let me be clear this post is not a "how to build a milk stand". I am not a wood worker, and I am not going to walk you through step by step how my husband cut the angles, etc. This merely is a guide that gives the dimensions and little creative ideas to guide you to build your own.
Here we are already, less than two weeks from Christmas and over halfway through Big Marie's pregnancy. It's hard for me to believe that she's over halfway through her 114 day gestation period already. I also still have a hard time believing that Big Marie got pregnant via artificial insemination on my first time trying despite all of the warnings I got from people saying that she was "too fat and too old" to be bred. Granted those were valuable lessons to learn, but I am still partly in disbelief that she took the first go around.
Now that she is confirmed pregnant and we are getting further along in her gestation, there are certain preparations I am making to ensure that the piglets are getting everything they need to develop properly as well as keeping her as healthy as possible.
Taking care of livestock in the winter is where the men are separated from the boys. Well below freezing temperatures, deep snow, ripping winds, frozen water...these are some of the challenges winter brings. Living in north central Massachusetts, we get the snow and frigid subzero temperatures, so winter is real around here. I get asked a lot about how we care for our animals in the cold months, as it seems to be a concern for people new to keeping livestock. When it comes to the goats, there really are two things that are of the upmost importance: they need to be dry and in as draft free of an area as possible. They can handle the coldest of temperatures as long as they are dry, their bedding is dry, and they have protection from drafts.
While my goats are spoiled rotten with their organic/soy free/non gmo feed, organic second cut hay, and constant doting, I consider myself to be pretty old school when it comes to animal husbandry. I am a firm believer that animals were built to handle inclement weather. They have thick coats, snuggle to stay warm, and as ruminants their fermenting bellies act like internal space heaters. So, this means no heat lamps or additional heat sources in the barn. Now not saying these couldn't or shouldn't be used in life or death situations. But, these supplemental heat sources throw their bodies out of whack and make it difficult for them to self regulate with constant exposure. Not to mention the extreme danger of a fire. I have been known however to wake up 1-2 times in the middle of the night when we have real bad cold snaps (like last year when it was -20F+ for weeks on end) to suit up and go check on the girls. So, what do I do to keep our herd going throughout the cold months? Read on friends.
Love is in the air here folks! The hormones are flying and we have a packed breeding plan to keep us in babies from February until July. Big Marie has been artificially inseminated and is confirmed pregnant, while Audrey and Alison have had their date with their suitors. Time will tell if they are in fact pregnant, and Ruby is my final girl to be bred. My calendar is chocked full of heat dates, bred dates, and potential due dates. So who was bred when and when can we we anticipate bouncing babies? Read on!
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