This weekend the barn stalls were cleaned out, the boys moved to the back-half of the pen near the house and all of our lady goats were moved up near the house (last year's winter pasture) to prepare them for birthing.
SCI goats are noted for great mothering instincts and easy births, and we are leaving the sheep down below. So why the move?
In part it's a matter of age. The sheep are all older and experiences moms. Next year, when their are lots of new moms in the sheep world, we may make different plans, but for this year, we sincerely hope they've got this! We will still put a baby monitor down in their pasture and plan to be present for all the births, but we are more confident that - if they sneak one by us - that it will be okay.
The goats, however, are all first time mothers and some of them are smaller than average. We felt it would be safer to have them closer to the house (and the cars!) in case of emergency. Especially if something goes wrong while Sherri is home alone! Petal is our first goat due (four weeks!), and her mother had triplets her first birthing, so we are especially eager to be present for her babies. Sunflower we know is having twins, and Violet is so huge already that she is either carrying multiples or a BIG baby!
We were also concerned about diets. We both recently read Goats Giving Birth: what to expect during kidding season by Deborah Neimann and decided we wanted to make a few changes to encourage the best outcomes for the future kids.
Running sheep and goats together means it can be hard to make sure the goats have enough copper in their diet. While none of ours have shown signs of deficiency, our readings suggested that even those who look well might deliver underweight kids. By moving the goats up by the house, we can make sure they have more consistent access to supplementary minerals that might otherwise hard the sheep.
We hope that by moving the goats out for a couple of months that the sheep will feel more comfortable with defending their own shares of the food and will hold their own a little better against by adorable little bullies.
And finally, we are working on formal events for both families and schools that will be easier if we can show off the animals one at a time. Separating the goats and sheep will also make it easier to show off the new babies during our spring tours!
We have four April tours scheduled and we hope to see everyone there!