Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Hay Fairy & Vanishing Youth

Oh yes…there is such a thing as a “Hay Fairy”. In this case, the one I’m referring to as the "Hay Fairy" is my father in law…..though truth be told I’m not sure if he’d happily adopt that title.

We've also had to deal with the "Sex Change Fairy"... THAT lil' fairy is insanely annoying....changing my doe rabbits into bucks, and more recently, my pullets that I paid a pretty penny for, have magically been transformed into roosters (4 girls so far have converted and are now happy, annoying roosters) by that blasted Sex Change Fairy!

ANYWHO....back to the "Hay Fairy"..

On our recent trip to east Texas, my father in law graciously sent home 3 round bales of hay from one of his fields. Honestly not sure what plants are included in these bales as it has some weeds in it, but this hay is pure perfection for goats! This drought has been a horrible thing, hay has been fed year around due to the lack of rain & vegetation and hay prices have sky rocketed. Poor quality coastal square bales (in the 50lb range) are selling for $11.50 a bale, and truth be told I was in a slight panic over how I was going to provide quality forage for my goats and not completely break the bank…So this gift was perfectly timed and I couldn’t be more thankful….Hence the gracious awarding of the title “Hay Fairy”.

Being freshly baled, it smells GREAT and once we rolled the bales into the pens my goats were in hog heaven! I so wish I had my camera handy…Bleuberry stood on her hind legs, leaned into the bale and proceeded to rub all over it and appeared to give it a By their reaction you’d think they had never even seen hay before. All the goats took turns rubbing on the bale, burying their faces in it and circling round & round as if to find the most divine place to chow down.

Bleuberry looking for the best bits

Tootsie, Bleuberry & 'Brina in the background


Ella- "Queen of the Bale" Lilly munching, Tootsie in background
Sabrina chowing dow

The girls made short work of theirs and there is barely a moment I don’t see at least one of them eating on it. It’s not unusual to find Lilly or Ella laying on top of the bale while eating..

The boys however have been a bit kinder to their bale if you can believe that! They did the same silly antics as the girls when it first arrived, but the fascination didn’t last long and gave way to the demands and stresses of hormones.

Here’s where that whole “Vanishings Youth” bit comes in on the title…My sweet baby boys, who I’ve spoiled, loved and bottle raised are growing up. It seems just yesterday lil Sambo was in the house watching TV with me…. LOL

Yes, I know that sounds strange, but when we brought him home last minute, his pen was not ready and he lacked a companion, so he lived in the house, diapered and slept in a dog kennel by my bed.

Now that sweet, fuzz ball of an Alpine buck is a “Man Goat” as my daughter so wisely puts it. Beards have grown in, the art of aiming streams of urine is perfecting & necks have doubled in size (see the boys sporting their new "man" collars?)

Houston, my mom’s miniature buck has been in full "pee on the face, stinking to high heaven" rut for quite a while. He was so bad in fact that I had to move the adult chickens from the pen…

Why you ask?

Well Houston’s inappropriate affections earned him the title “The Chicken Rapist” and my poor girls weren’t faring well at all….. Now they have the younger group of chickens who have finally feathered out as their pen mates and thankfully Houston seems to only like mature poultry companions.

Boys enjoying their present from the Hay Fairy
Anywho.. On August 1st, Tootsie, my miniature Alpine doe came into season and so I took dear Houston for a visit. Much to my delight he prefers goats to chickens so I think the future of my birds is looking better.

This was an awkward, but educational experience for the kiddos….. Got to have that dreaded, detailed “Birds & The Bees” talk that I’ve been in quite a panic over for a while now….

They’ve witnessed birth, knew it took a male & female to create babies but this was the first time we’ve ventured into the mechanics of the whole process…..I was blunt, to the point, using all correct terms and sparing no details on questions that made me inwardly squirm.

I really wanted to use the typical cop out stories of storks delivering babies, but dishonesty & foolish stories would not have benefited my kids, so I went with straight faced honesty.

I think I did quite well hiding my embarrassment and though loads of adult content details in regards to human reproduction wasn’t shared (other than “No, grown ups don’t do it like that & men do not pee on their faces to make women like them”) I did get them to understand how male & females create new life..

Or as Shayla happily proclaims “Oh!! Now I know how that baby gets in the tummy!”……

Jerimiah, the coward, simply stated he was happy to miss the whole fiasco.

Back to the boys though…. Houston, after having a raging good time in the morning, and one more visit in the evening was feeling very manly and returned to the buck pen strutting and smelling of GIRLS….. Since that day it’s been nothing but turmoil.

This hit to the hormones has now spread to Tonka & Sam….fights are the norm, though thankfully nothing too serious. Food is being left, ignored and forgotten the feeder and the pitiful calls & cries from the boys are nerve racking.

Did I mention the smell by chance?? Good grief it’s pungent!!! I must watch myself when I enter the pen as that seems to be the signal for the boys to perfume themselves and the streams of urine are horribly accurate….

Being sprayed with goat pee happens more times than I care to admit. I've tried a few different tactics to avoid walking out of their pen carrying the pungent scent of bucks, but so far I haven't had much luck.

Once I gathered multiple tree branches, tossed them over the fence on the opposite side of the pen as the feeder...made a mad dash for the feeder, filled it and ran back out...the only contact I had was to put my hand on Tonka's head to keep him from rubbing on me.. I promptly went inside, washed my hands, and arms for good measure, and yet somehow, despite all of that, my clothes, and even my hair had that "Man Goat" smell.... Ugh...

Sam is highly possessive of me. Thankfully he’s a very gentle buck and very easy to handle, but he worships the ground I walk on…..he must touch me, lick me and never be away from me if I’m in the pen….and heaven help Houston if he tries to get in on the attention.

Tonka, though going through the motions of being a “Man Goat” isn’t as bad as the other two (yet..)…He rarely engages in the quarrels and if they start getting very rough, Tonka calmly gets up and walks in between the battling Sam & Houston to break things up.

Tonka is allowed to get scratches from me and makes room for Sam to have his attention…but both rally together to keep Houston at bay…

I swear I honestly think they are holding a grudge against him since he got to go visit the girls and they didn’t.. lol I think both Tonka & Sam find their virginal states to be humiliating…. Most especially when a little miniature buck, half their size, no longer carries the sad virgin title..

I’m thinking of breeding Blueberry & Sabrina late September or early October and Lilly in November or December. Since Lilly is a mutt herself, I’m thinking of letting Tonka have her for freezer camp kids just so he isn’t left out of all the good parts of being in rut…….After all, the poor guy already gets ragged on for being the lone earless wonder.. I certainly can’t have the other boys taunting him for being an earless virgin for an entire season until I bring home some Lamancha does…

Oh..and this is just for added giggles... One day I heard this blood chilling goaty scream... I dash out of the house as fast as possible thinking the worst.. Perhaps the neighbor's dog got out & has my goats.....A million horrible senerios are coursing through my brain...When I arrive at the pen however I find Tonka like this...Goober broke the potter, and wedged his lil' pea brained head inside of the hole he made...

Don't just stand there snapping pictures...HELP ME!


Oat Bucket Farm said...

Oh my goodness this is a funny read. The boys sure don't take long to go from a sweet little buckling, to a blubbering,peeing,single minded,doe crazed,ball of stinky hormones.

Oh and as for the sex change fairy that visits rabbits, if you remember when you look at the baby rabbits that boys are doughnuts, girls are tacos, you will get them right more often than not.

As far as chickens...can't help you there. I have two young 'hens' that are starting crow out in my pen. I haven't figured out how to discourage the sex change fairy from visiting my chicken pen.

* Crystal * said...

No.... sadly, sweet bucklings turn into nasty man goats way too fast :(

So.... that sadistic lil sex change fairy attacked your house too eh? I have 4 pullets that have turned into roos.... plus a batch of chicks that are still "unknowns"..... 1/2 of my Jersey Giant pullets were roosters! Gave one to my mom so I wouldn't have 5 roosters...

As to bunnies... my 1st litter I did really well sexing them with the ever scientific "Taco/Donut" method...Was only wrong on one. Next two litters however I was wrong on about 85% of them!!!! So, I'm now positive that the sex change fairy does exist....

Sarah Rachele said...

Oh my gosh, that was hysterical! Our buck is ready from some action too but our girls haven't come into heat heat. I'm excited though! I sure hope the sex change fairy doesn't pay you a visit anytime soon. :)

* Crystal * said...

Thanks Sarah!

None of my standard girls are cycling yet, but my miniatures are. The mini buck is only 6 months old, is the youngest boy but has the longest beard & is the smelliest.... He bred Tootsie already so I should know soon whether or not it took...

Hope your girls starting coming I'm soon, & I how the sex change fairy doesn't visit your home anytime soon! lol

petey said...

Too funny! The buck we borrowed last year was in a 20 acre pasture, but that didn't keep the cowboys from gagging and tossing cookies when they were trying to saddle up! I actually went on the goat boards and asked if there was anything I could deodorize him with. The answer was, "Don't touch him, and if you do, burn your clothes!" LOL

* Crystal * said...

LOL! I can just pictures those manly cowboys doing their best to be as far from the smelly goat as possible....Too funny!

When anyone complains about the smell, I tell them to breathe deep, they're smelling future goat babies!!! :)

Caliann said...

Not sure about the "Taco and Donut" method of sexing rabbits...but I have had really great luck with feather sexing chicks. Before they have completely feathered out, in any group of young chicks, the females have more mature feathering than the males. Works best at about 3-5 days old when they are first starting to develop real wing feathers. The girls will have real ones a couple of days before the boys will. So far, I am at 100% accuracy!

* Crystal * said...

Caliann! Where the heck have you been stranger?? You need to pics updated pics of your critters on HT.....And as always, if Bamboo is troublesome your more than welcome to send her my way ;)

Thanks on the sexing chickens tip..... I honestly didn't care what gender I had as long as the majority were hens..... I bought more than needed mainly for bug control :)

Leigh said...

Good grief the price of hay in your area is scary. Ours is about half that, which is still high, but not impossible. I've noticed my goats love the weedy stuff too. I have to say that your goats all look so healthy! I have one skinny, picky doe that refuses to gain weight.

* Crystal * said...

Hi Leigh! Thank you.....they are spoiled rotten to say the least. On your hard keeper you might try adding beet pulp & rice bran to her grain ration.

Sabrina is a heavy producer.....for a while she was milking 1 gallon per day, while nursing a kid 24/7 in this awful heat.....Her doeling hit 67lbs at 4 months, lol. Anywho, I started adding 1/4 cup of rice bran & 1/2 cup of beet pulp shreds to her milk stand grain (gradually worked up to 1 cup of rice bran per milking & 2 cups beet pulp shreds) & she started putting on weight.... I bought the rice bran meal, but if you can find the pellets they are easier to feed... If you can only find the meal you can dampen it & roll into balls to make it easier...Rice bran has more fat, more vitamin E & more selinium than black oil sun flower seeds :)

I kept up Sabrina's max amounts for about 2 weeks, then gradually backed off to the amounts I started her on just to maintain her condition.

Oh, and those hay prices have since gone up even higher! :(

So happy your back online....looking forward to blog updates from you!

Leigh said...

Crystal, thank you for that. I've seen beet pulp shreds around, so I know I can get those, but not the rice bran. Of course I've not looked for it either. Her appetite is good, she just remains skinny, LOL.

It's tough when hay jumps. We had that problem several years ago when the area was in an official severe drought. Hay was scarce and expensive. I didn't own goats then, so it was just an item I noticed on the news.

* Crystal * said...

Leigh, rice bran is usually carried for horses....TSC carries rice bran under the name Max-E-Glow. Price tag seems steeps, but I've had the same bag for almost 6 months & I still have about 10-15lbs left.

On the beet pulp I've found mine prefer the shreds to the pellets. You don't have to soak them like you do for horses, they can eat them dry. I've fed soaked pellets before, but only because they were huge pellets & soaking made them easier for the goat's to eat. :)

Leigh said...

I'll look for both at TSC. I find whole oats in the horse feed section, but never looked for the rice bran obviously. I think ours carries only one type of dried beets. For some reason I'm thinking it's pellets, but I'll have to look closely at the bag. I know they sell alfalfa in pellets or cubes; I get the pellets for that as the cubes seem to big for the goats to manage. I do sometimes chop beets from the garden for the goats and they love them fresh. This fall I'm going to plant mangels for them. I'm hoping to feed them more fresh from the garden this winter, to make up for lack of forage.

* Crystal * said...

TSC carries beet pulp shreds from the Standlee hay company.....they are in a grey/black bag.

I bet the goats will love the fresh garden goodies being added to their menu! :)

Raymondyqdg said...

TSC carries beet pulp shreds from the Standlee hay company.....they are in a grey/black bag. I bet the goats will love the fresh garden goodies being added to their menu! :)