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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Maternal Instincts: Both Kiko and Human!

By Amelia Crise

About four years ago my father, Joshua Crise, began his research for what would prove to be both a successful and satisfying adventure. Goats! Meat goats, in particular, were the next bit of life that would make their way to our small ranch in Lee, Maine. But first, he had to decide what breed would best fit our environment, as well as, our lifestyle. In late 2015 to early 2016, he had it narrowed down to two breeds: Kikos or Boers. In the end, it was an easy choice. He landed on Kikos for several very important reasons/attributes.

Kikos have been bred since the 1980s, starting in New Zealand, for some very key characteristics that made the decision of which meat goat breed to raise very easy. The Kiko Advantage! Kikos have exceptional maternal instincts, great parasite resistance, are both aggressive foragers and breeders, less hoof problems, vigorous and fast-growing kids, less producer input, and great carcass yields. All of these characteristics have proven to be true in our experience and we are extremely satisfied with my dad’s decision to raise Kikos.

Here we are three to four years into raising Kikos and I have finally pulled the trigger and decided to invest in my own stock. In October, we travelled to Indiana and participated in the Cream of the Crop Kiko Sale. I came home with two beautiful does, Balu, and Judo, who was confirmed pregnant at the time of the sale. Upon contacting her previous owner, I found that her due date was between January 1st and January 15th: a fifteen-day span where she could kid. This was a very different experience for us. In our previous kidding seasons we knew the exact day all our does had been bred, so we knew roughly when their due dates would be, give or take a few days.

The days leading up to January were slow, but also went by very quickly. All our kidding seasons leading up to this point had gone very well. However, as the days grew nearer to January, I, in particular, started to become very antsy and worried about delivery, largely because the span between when she might have kids was so large. Now remember, we picked Kikos because of their fantastic maternal instincts; keep this in mind.

Goats have some very telling signs that help allow their people to know when the kids are coming. Some of these signs include hoofing the ground, making what seems to be a nest, some become withdrawn, some want more attention, their bags begin to fill and tighten, and they also may become vocal. Another sign can be gauged from the ligaments on the back part of the goat, right near the tail. These ligaments feel almost like two pencils running along the outside of the tail that drop off towards the rear. Within about 12-24 hours of kidding, these ligaments will completely disappear as things begin to loosen for the kids to make their way into the world.

We had heard of this technique before, however, we had never used it on any of our does as we always knew almost precisely what day the kids were coming. However, with Judo, a virtually new goat to the farm, we had no idea what we were going to be looking for. About four days before January, Judo started hoofing the ground; she had yet to do this. All of us thought she must be close! Her bags had begun to fill in, they weren’t huge, but we all remembered that Asia, another one of our Kiko does, had very small bags when the kids first hit the ground.

The days started rolling on by. Still no kids. Judo had been moved to her own kidding stall with a secluded, fenced in area for her to move about. The heat lamp got turned on each night just in case those kids decided to make a surprise arrival in the night, not unknown to us. Now you see, we have a security camera system in place at the barn, in all of the kidding stalls, and around key places in the barn area, but wouldn’t you know, the cameras were acting up and not working properly. Would you get on that Dad!

Now we were into January and still no kids. For days I had been thinking today is the day, today is the day, but to no avail, still no kids. At that point we decided to do some more research on the ligament method. We did a lot of reading and watched several YouTube videos. Through trial and error, and luckily Judo was very patient with us, we finally found the tell-tale ligaments. Over the next couple of days we checked Judo’s ligaments four or five times throughout the day. If ligaments were still ‘feelable’, then she wasn’t close to kidding.

January 2nd I came home around 9:00 PM. My dad had sent me a text that I should go check Judo’s ligaments. Sure enough, her ligaments were starting to disappear. My immediate thought was that she was going to kid in the night. The ligaments weren’t completely gone, but disappearing, and I wasn’t sure how long it would take for them to be gone and then for the kids to come after. So, we set up a night watch. We set alarms in two-hour increments through the night to check on Judo. Now remember again, we picked Kikos in part due to their keen mothering ability, but nevertheless, my mother and I couldn’t help but worry, so we trudged to the barn in the “arctic” temps to see how Judo was doing. While it was in the teens, and considerably cold, I think it felt even colder every time we went out there after getting out of our warm beds.

The morning of January 3rd I went and checked on my girl around 7:00 AM. Still no kids, BUT, the ligaments were completely gone, nothing to be felt anymore. She wasn’t really showing any other signs at that point, so I went back inside and continued watching a movie to pass the time. At that point my dad had figured out a way to make the security cameras work by capturing movement and then sending a recording to our phones. The recordings were delayed; however, they did the trick!

I was bound and determined to be there for the birth of my first kid or kids. I put on three layers of pants and six layers of shirts and jackets and trekked to the barn with three blankets and a folding chair. I sat outside for about 45 minutes, off to the side of the stall to give Judo some privacy. My dad made his way outside, and at that point I was freezing. I could barely move my fingers, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Begrudgingly my dad convinced me to come inside, to trust the camera system.

At about 11:00 AM, inside my warm house, the security camera caught a segment of video and I knew it was time! Judo was kind of propped on her side, a position that many of our does had kidded in. I raced outside in my seven layers of shirts and jackets…to find Judo was back outside eating...facepalm. False alarm? A contraction? I really didn’t know! I went back inside and kept all my clothes on so I didn’t have to get dressed again and went back to watching my movie.

Shortly after, another segment of video came through showing the same thing: Judo propped on her side, kind of moving around uncomfortably. I raced back outside, and this time Judo was still on her side, grunting and groaning. I knew for sure it was time for the 2019 kidding season to begin!

The last kidding season it was all hands-on deck. Everybody was out there pitching in somehow. This was not the case this year. My mom was gone an hour away to work, my brother was at his job two hours away, my grandpa was at his job 20 minutes away, and my dad was upstairs working from home, on a call with someone on the other side of the globe. Normally, he would be able to sneak out to help with something like this, perks of working from home, BUT, of course, he was in a meeting, and actually giving the presentation and could not leave. Wouldn’t you know it, my grandma and I were the only ones available to be there in case Judo needed help, both of us only ever helping dry the kids off before. We picked Kikos for the very reason that they were great when kidding and rarely had any problems, but there I was, still worrying that we were going to have problems. I just wanted a healthy kid or kids! Of course, I was worried. Naturally, I was even more worried because the experienced people couldn’t help.

A few more contractions that didn’t bear any fruit and then it was finally time. With another push, I could see what I thought was a nose sticking out. I quickly texted grandma that she should come out. I hadn’t had her come out yet because it was so cold; I didn’t want her to freeze before the fun had even started.

Side story to all of this, Judo had only been on our farm three months at this point, however, she had taken to all of us. Generally, when new Kikos come to our ranch from another farm they have not been handled much, as they likely came from a large farm. We could immediately tell Judo had been handled. She was constantly under foot and always wanting our attention. Goats really are just like dogs; they even nudge your hand when you stop petting them. Needless to say, she was the sweetest out of all our does when kidding. She wanted to lay right next to me, so that’s just what I let her do. I sat on the bench and she ended up laying right on top of my feet.

Grandma and I were both at the barn. It had been about 20 minutes and it seemed like Judo wasn’t making any progress. A little nose was still sticking out, but nothing else. At that point I am getting worked up. I know the kid was in the right position, but it seemed like it was taking way too long. All the other does had a few contractions and then out popped the kids quite fast. So, I started doing some Googling. Phew! We were still in good shape. Google told me that I should only begin to worry after about an hour. Still doing good then!

We could tell Judo was very uncomfortable. She was getting up and down into that propped, leaning position. She had a few more contractions and then finally we got a peek at the nose and two front feet: perfect position for a nose dive. Things were idle for a few minutes and then the real grunting and groaning began. Grandma whipped out her camera; she was in perfect position to capture the whole birth.

A few very intense and loud grunts and then out popped a completely white kid. All white! This was a huge surprise! Judo is belted in color; her hind end is brown, the middle is white, and her front is brown. So when all white came out I was completely shocked. Somehow it must of been the milk man or the mailman. Everything seemed to be in order, and Judo immediately started doing her job: licking her kid clean so she would be nice and dry.

At that point we weren’t sure if there were any more kids coming. Judo was still pretty large, so we had a gut feeling there was at least one more. We let Judo keep licking. Baby was already wiggling around trying to find her legs. Judo had been standing up for this part. Suddenly she flopped back down into that propped position and started groaning. Either another baby was coming, or she was passing the afterbirth.

I picked up the first baby and began to dry her. It was in the teens outside so we wanted to make sure they were nice and dry so they didn’t freeze. So while Judo was preoccupied with something else, we assisted to make sure the first kid was all wiped off. I’m sure the kid would have been fine on her own, but hey, I was still worrying over here and I needed everything to go perfectly.

A few groans later, happening very quickly compared to the first, an all brown baby slipped right out. Again, completely taken by surprise when she was a solid color! At that point Judo was completely hollowed out. Her sides were caved in and she looked like nothing could be left inside her. Twins! My first goat kidded twins: perfection.

Judo worked on the second kid, licking her all over. We let her do this for awhile and then I switched and took the second baby so we could get her nice and dry too. Knock knock knock… Thank goodness, it was my dad! He finished his presentation and came out to help. It was perfect timing. While Kikos are very good at the whole kidding process, we still assist sometimes because it would be terrible to lose a kid, especially if we could have helped prevent it. It was perfect timing for him to come out because the last thing we make sure happens is to tie off and cut the umbilical cord, and then iodine the area to prevent infection. I was so glad my dad stepped out at that point because I had never done that part before.

Smooth sailing…that’s how I would describe the entire process. As much as I worried and fussed over everything, things went perfectly. With the kids dried off and tied off, Judo worked efficiently nudging them and stimulating them to make sure they were both up and moving and searching for milk. Both were already trying to suckle anything they could find. With just a little guidance, both kids had latched on: colostrum and first milk!

My Judo kidded two beautiful little doelings. The first, the white one, I named Ichi, which means ‘one’ in Japanese, because she was born first. The second, the little brown one, I named Kata, which in karate, are the positions you learn: both keeping with the kind of Asian/Karate name Judo holds.

Everything went perfect. SO much better than I could ever have imagined. Through all my anxiety and fretting, the Kiko breed pulled through, and with amazing accuracy in regard to everything we have seen in our research. Judo has been protecting her kids for the last three and a half months, though they now hold their own quite well. Ichi and Kata continue to gain weight phenomenally, keeping up with Nani, our monster doeling from last season. They are so much fun: energetic, full of life, and love to play with their humans.

All I can say is that I should have trusted everything I read about these powerful maternal instincts. These are truly amazing animals. Solid pick Dad in choosing Kikos!

I’d also like to pat myself on the back…I purchased a pregnant doe at an auction, with Dr. Fred Brown sitting behind me, whispering, “that is a good buy, you can’t go wrong with that investment.” He wasn’t wrong. Thanks Fred for the encouragement. She kidded two girls! That was everything I hoped for and more. She’s already proven to be a money maker. Boy, do I really know how to pick ‘em!

Hopefully I will have just as great of luck in May when we go to the Mountain Premier Invitational Conference and Sale in West Virginia if I decide to further expand my little co-farm!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Moral of the Story

Adapted from Sketchite

Adapted from Sketchite

By Josh Crise (written in May)

The bugs in Maine this time of year are horrendous so you often find yourself swatting, slapping and just being aggravated for a few weeks. The problem is that in this area of Maine, you are constantly saying … awe I can’t do it or that because it is below zero, raining, too hot, too muggy, snowing, the bugs will carry you away, etc. The list never ends for why you can’t do something. As some of you know, I am always working on something from framing a new barn to building a green house or repairing the swimming pool. I am also constantly harping on my family that there is always going to be a reason not to do something so just get out there and 'gettah' done.

So typically I roll out of bed at about 4 – 4:30. Sun is coming up, I have had enough sleep and my wife is just in her slumber, not to be disturbed. It works well for me because I am up and available to work most days with Lorenzo (one of my remote colleagues across the ocean in Barcelona, Spain) for a few hours early before everyone else is in for the day. Of course today I took a slightly different approach.

This week I am working on a roof, for the lean-to attached to the barn expansion. Each night, my helpers say there is something going on or come up with some other excuse like the bugs are terrible. So this morning I woke up, rolled out of bed and went outside to work putting up metal roof panels on the lean-to by myself. Now mind you they are 3 feet wide and it isn’t a solid roof, just uses wood strapping so you can’t get on the roof, you have to lean way out to drive the screws into the panel. 3 feet doesn’t seem like a long ways but it is further than you think when you are standing on the top step of the ladder (YES ... a no-no) and teetering on one foot on your tip toes to reach the furthest screw point on the panel.

This is where it gets good … so I am in that position, tippy toes, one foot, other leg out balancing myself in midair like a cheetah’s tail would in hot pursuit (Brady thank you for teaching me the use of similes in everyday language!) and on the top step of a 6 foot ladder leaning way out to get that screw in when all of the sudden the ladder is no longer under my foot … I am now pivoting in midair half on the roof and half off the roof and I hear the ladder crash to the ground.

Now wait, I want to reiterate I am working by myself at 5 am in the morning and the whole rest of the house is asleep and the lean-to in question, attached to the infamous goat barn is 150’ away from the house, where no one can hear me if I do scream like a pansy for help.

So back to the ladder that has now crashed to the ground and the teetering big guy hovering neither on the roof nor hanging from the roof, sandwiched in a 2 feet by 2 feet square area where I can’t easily let myself down 8 feet to the ground nor scramble up onto the roof that is only strapped with 2 inch wood strips and not sheathed with plywood.

So I manage to get my foot up behind me, and onto the strapping, in my 2 feet square area and push/pull my way to the roof, 8 feet off the ground, scramble around and sit on the 2 inch by 6 inch tall stringer holding the roof together. Out of breath, looking down on the crashed ladder, what can I do but just sigh and laugh.

But now what? Jump, scream for help to the fam jam (as Kelly Davis would say), cry, weep, curse … yes cursing (I am a sailor not like Lorenzo who takes every chance to get out on a sailboat he can, even dragging is wife Grisel when he can) always makes you feel better about not falling to your death or breaking a leg/arm in the process. Still now what … screaming is not going to work they are all asleep and too far away.

Oh wait … as I ponder my situation and consider just how long I may be stuck on said lean-to roof, it dawns on me I have my cell phone in my pocket. Yes, this is why I keep my cell phone in my pocket even when working because a few years back my sister in law (name that shall not be named ... Elaine) didn’t have her cell phone and she laid there for quite a while after slipping and falling on the ice. In the end she crawled back to the house after dislocating her shoulder. Damn … I have my cell phone in my pocket so … I place the call to the wife who must be sleeping, yes likely in REM sleep … for the love of God answer the phone ... success, she answers the phone … I am saved … NO … she sends Kevin to set the ladder up for me … but wait what 17 year old wouldn’t have something sarcastic to say to his dad after being woke up to come save his dad who is stuck on the roof. Who walks out in just his skivvies barking, “Hey dad … need some help … how did you get yourself into this predicament.”

So the moral of the story … and no the moral of the story is NOT to, not be out at 5 am working, while the whole house is sleeping, nor to NOT stand on the top step of the ladder, nor NOT to stand on your tippy toes, on one leg with your cheetah like leg extended way out to balance you (again thank you to the master Brady for his simile rich language) … it is in fact to make sure you have your cell phone with you so you can beg for help!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Trust Your Gut!

The first set

The first set

By Amelia Crise

It’s been 24 hours now since our second kidding season kicked off. And if we’ve learned anything, it’s this; if you have a gut feeling, follow it. Yesterday morning, March 14, 2018, around 10:00 AM, we saw Kona, one of our pregnant does acting a little like it might have been time to deliver. She was scratching at the ground, looking like she was trying to make a nest area. We went outside and got her all set up in her own pen, but then decided to let her out because she wasn’t showing any other signs. We have heard that goats are generally very mouthy when they are ready to kid, however, Kona showed nothing of the sorts. So, she went about her business, and we went about ours.

I forgot to mention; March 14, 2018 we experienced a major snow storm, dropping almost two feet of snow. We lost power early in the morning, but eventually it came back on. While the power was off, however, our cameras, which run off the WiFi, were also down. So, while the power was out, we went out several times to make sure Kona hadn’t had her kids; she hadn’t yet. Later, the power went out again. I tried for probably 15 minutes to get on the camera just to check things out. I still couldn’t get it on, so I decided to head outside just to make sure everything was okay.

As I was on my way up the path to the goat barn, probably about halfway there, I heard a strange noise; kind of like a whining noise. I didn’t really think anything of it, so I just kept walking. Then, I heard it again. I finally realized what it was, or what I thought it to be: a baby goat! So I raced out to the barn; sure enough, Kona had two tiny kids hobbling around at her feet in the open pen!

I was so excited! Thankfully, I had remembered to bring out my phone, so I ripped it out of my pocket and called up my dad. As soon as he answered I said, “You need to get out here right now! Kona had her babies!” In reply, he said, “Nuh uh!” He really didn’t believe me! I had been joking for weeks every time we went out there that the babies had been born. Inevitably, he didn’t believe me when it was the real deal! Eventually, I got him out there. He had actually seen me rip my phone out of my pocket as he watched from a bedroom window on our second floor; that’s what convinced him this was the real deal.

He arrived outside and we immediately got to work. One of the babies seemed very strong, while the other seemed a little wobbly on his feet. Unfortunately, none of us saw the births, but I believe the stronger one was born first, as it was also a little dryer. We took both kids into Kona’s stall and I began drying both of them. We had a hard time getting Kona to come into the stall while I was in there. We’ve had Kona now for about two years and she still is very timid around people. She won’t let you touch her and only comes up to you if she thinks you have a treat for her.

Eventually, we got her inside with me and the babies, with the help of a few more hands. Once we had the kids mostly dry, we had to work on their umbilical cords. Kona had the cords pretty short, so all we had to do was tie them off close to the belly and put iodine on them. At that point, we found out we had a boy and a girl! We were all extremely excited to have a girl, as last year we only got boys! We already had names picked out. Both were to get Hawaiian names, just like their mother. We named the boy Honu, which means turtle in Hawaiian, and the girl was named Nani, meaning beautiful in Hawaiian.

All parts seemed to be in working order, so we proceeded with a very crucial part. It is extremely important that the kids get drinking mom's colostrum within the first 45 minutes after being born: the quicker, the better. We immediately started guiding the kids to Kona’s teats. Honu was already searching for his first meal from mom's teats, so he was fairly easy to get latched on. Nani was a completely different story. We probably worked with her for 20 minutes trying to get her to nurse. It was to no avail, however. We could never get her drinking.

Kona did so well through all of this! It was a huge surprise to us. I was very nervous getting right down at her level at first. I wasn’t sure how she would react; would she run away from me, would she try and butt me in the head as I was touching her kids? She did great though! She was very nervous, but she never once tried to hurt me or bolt away. She even let me pull on her teats to get the milk flowing, as we thought that may been the reason why Nani wouldn’t drink.

It had been about an hour and Nani still hadn’t nursed. We were getting a little worried. Honu did so well, and we just could not figure out what was going on with Nani. We even tried sticking honey on our fingers to get her sucking: nothing. My dad was extremely prepared for something like this; he retrieved artificial colostrum paste and we attempted to shoot that down Nani’s throat. She gobbled up the first dose, but she wasn’t having the second batch. I was worried something was wrong with her stomach or throat, but I couldn’t find anything.

It was dinner time, so we got everything cleaned up and went in for dinner. We decided just to leave the kids and Kona and see how things turned out. As Mother Nature had dumped two feet of snow on us, we had to go dig the cars out. We worked at that for an hour or so and then decided to go back out to the barn. Much to our surprise, both kids were nursing when we arrived out there! A major success in our books!

Needless to say, we now have two beautiful, healthy kids, and a very healthy momma who is doing a fabulous job! We have two more pregnant does who we think will be delivering early next week! Lesson learned though; listen to whatever that gut feeling is telling you!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Rock Garden

A slow progression ... like an iceberg

A slow progression ... like an iceberg

By Karen Crise

Born and raised in California, my husband Paul and I retired, in 2015, to Northern Maine. We live with our oldest son Josh, his wife Kathy and two of our grandchildren Amelia and Kevin as well as Kathy’s dad Pete who joins us from Florida each May through August.

When we moved to Maine, we knew it would be different from anything we’d ever experienced. We did not expect that our son would decide to become a goat rancher. Yet here we are living on a goat ranch, Marble Creek Acres.

As my son was enticing us to choose Maine as a place to come and retire, he used my love of gardening to help persuade me his place was the right place. He said he had the perfect spot for my garden. Immediately my imagination began to plan how I would make this the garden of all gardens. Little did I know that my perfect spot was a heap of boulders, weeds, brush, bushes, and small trees. By small I mean less than a foot tall. Also included was a tall Maple tree that I fell in love with as well as a couple of Pine trees and one lonely Birch tree. The Maple tree bit the dust the very first Fall. It had a big split in it from the Winter before. The men took a chainsaw and my beautiful Maple became firewood.

I still had no clue how to proceed with the mess of what was to become my garden. My son came to the rescue and showed me how we could push boulders into a circle to make a planter. We dug out the junk in the middle of the first circle of boulders, draped landscape paper and filled it with top soil. I planted the first plant. A lovely bush that gets little pink flowers in the Spring. I cleaned up around the new planter and had the start of my garden.

The garden developed a little at a time. The biggest rocks were moved by my grandson, husband and son. Anything I could move or roll I did myself. The biggest rocks were moved by the tractor. One big rock was flat on the bottom and my grandson was able to flip it with the tractor so that it became a place to sit and reflect.

It was during the second year of work on the garden that our son decided he was going to raise Kiko goats. He had been thinking about it for quite a while. I was all for it. I love animals and always wanted to live on a farm. He started with a small barn and fenced in an area for the goats. He brought home the first goats, Zulu and History bucks from Vermont. Then came Asia and Kona, does from New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, I lost one of my Pine trees as it was in the designated goat paddock. Oh well, that didn’t seem so bad until the goats started reaching over their fence and eating my second Pine tree. Ugh! My Maple tree and two Pine trees were now gone! I had saved two of the foot high Pine trees during the garden cleanup and they were far enough away from the goats that they couldn’t reach them. My Birch was safe and my two little Pine trees. Someday I’ll have some shade.

It has taken more work than I imagined to have a garden here in Maine. The garden continues to develop and I’m loving every minute of the work. I have a love hate relationship with the goats. The goats escape their pen and when they do, they head straight for my garden. Apparently my plants and flowers are quite delectable to Kiko goats. I can see the future and the future is showing a picket fence around my garden.

Zulu is the proud papa of Mojo and Cuba born last spring. He’s also the proud papa of our newest kids, Honu (male) and Nani (female) born yesterday March 14, 2018. Two more of our does are pregnant and due any day. We have chickens as well as our goats. The chickens provide an abundance of eggs. Yummy!

My husband Paul likes a different kind of garden, the food kind. He grows tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, zucchini, pumpkins, corn and many other things. Last year he even tried growing watermelon and cantaloupe. Last summer the family built a vegetable stand to sell our produce from his garden. He has his garden, I have mine. His feeds our stomachs and mine feeds our souls.

Retirement continues to evolve for me. I love living in rural Maine on a goat ranch and I’m sure there will be many more changes. I’ve even tried my hand at building and painting bird houses. Whatever happens it will always be fun here in Maine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Due date… where are the kids?

Kona, Asia and Ratu

Kona, Asia and Ratu

By Kathy Crise

Welcome Storm Skylar, we are expecting up to 20 inches of fresh March snow and today is the first due date for three of our does. Yes, I am still worrying about everything “goat” related and I am a big baby when it comes to the actual birth part.

We are technology junkies and have security cameras in several areas of the barns to keep an eye on the girls as the day arrives and as the days go by, with less than five hours to go and the does will be “overdue”.

150 days ago, on a beautiful fall afternoon, Zulu and the three does got to do their goat thing. Then the count was on. We were having the herd tested for Johne’s Disease, Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE) and Caseous Lymphadinitis (CL) and we also made sure to have pregnancy tests completed. The results came back positive for all three does: Ratu, Kona, and Asia. After Christmas, the extreme cold stretch, more snow, spring weather, more snow, ice and everything in between, we started giving the pregnant does their grain ration about 6 weeks ago. They also got their hooves trimmed one last time. And then the wait…

Here we are on the first of two due dates and if you ask me, Kona is going to have her kid(s) first. Her bags have been showing the most growth signs compared to the other girls, but what do I know? Ratu had twins last year and I don’t think she is as big as she was last year. So she is either having a single or going to wait until next week. Asia is actually the smallest goat of the three moms-to-be and we are hoping she will surprise us with twins!

Over the weekend we played with names for the new goats. Our naming scheme isn’t fancy but consistent. All of the goats have four letter, two syllable names and until we have 26 named goats, the letters of the alphabet cannot be repeated. Right now we have Asia, Cuba, Eden, Gaia, Ibis, Kona, Mojo, Ratu and Zulu. I won’t reveal any names here but there are a few theme type names, like Hawaiian sounding names for Kona’s kids.

So where are these darn kids? It’s their darn due date!

I just peeked in on the goats and here’s what the moms-to-be are doing this snowy evening…

Thursday, March 1, 2018

"The Worrier" Published in the Goat Rancher

Published in the March edition, pg. 45-46

Published in the March edition, pg. 45-46

By Josh Crise

Just a quick update to Kathy's blog post, "The Worrier". Kathy was featured in the March edition of the Goat Rancher, titled "Maine winters can't help but create a worrier", on pages 45-46. The Goat Rancher is a magazine which has been in circulation for more than two decades, covering every aspect of the goat industry, from the producer with 1000 head to the small rancher. There are articles from producers and veterinarians as well as other columnist with anecdotal stories and advice about goat husbandry. The magazine is available in most Tractor Supply Company stores throughout the country.

If interested, for more detailed information on the Goat Rancher, a subscription or digital subscription, visit

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Worrier


By Kathy Crise

As you dive into this post, be sure to read it with Patty Smyth’s “The Warrior” playing as the sound track in your head.

The mother of Marble Creek Acres, that’s me. The rancher’s wife, mom of two fantastic teens, daughter-in-law to in-laws that I woudn’t trade if I could, I go by many names.

Mom, momma, Kathy, Wifey, and here on the farm, “The Worrier”. That is my role, The Worrier! I worry about everything from the chickens to the crops and now the goats. I am the worrier.

Initially, I was resistant to this idea of starting a farm, but you can guess, I lost. (That is a story for another day.)

Winter weather is always a worry for me. I could insert a load of facts right here but I will just say this, it’s only mid-January and it has been colder than I ever remember and the snow…I’m ready to pack the kids up and move south (I will let you decide how many legs and feet or hooves said kids have)! I am the worrier.

Kikos are a hardy goat I have been told, again and again. I watched the herd’s coat change as they prepared for cold days and nights ahead through the autumn. This is only our 2nd winter with goats and admittedly I don’t remember their coats bulking up like this last year. Was this a wive’s tale that I was not aware of? I am a study of the wive’s tale and all signs pointed to a long, snowy, cold winter. Were the goats trying to tell me something? I am the worrier.

The goat barn and the coop are watched by the tech-worriers in the house. The rancher likes, eh loves his technology and we are able to login to from our smart phones and check the security cameras in the barns. The app also tells us the current temperature in the stall and outside the barn. As a major Christmas snowstorm covered…blanketed…inundated our area, the goats’ area shrunk from their fenced in range to the space covered by the lean-to. The doe side gets afternoon sun, so they are able to stand in their hoof-to-hoof, hunched up, warming sun-soaking position. The buck side is shaded during the day so the mighty teen-son shoveled Zulu an area, at my worried request, where he could sun himself. I am the worrier.

The mercury dipped night after night with little relief during the day. It barely made it into the single digits, and of course, the wind was howling day and night. The wind chills were dipping dangerously low and I watched the girls’ on their camera at night when they bedded down in their stall. Warmer weather finds our 2-year old Kona as the watch-goat. She stands on the bench night after night, occasionally getting off her hooves, but still away from the other goats. She’s a curious but solitary loner. As the weather got colder, Kona got closer. I am the worrier.

Morning chores usually brings a beautiful goat chorus as you move closer to the magic barn doors. You know what’s behind the doors! HAY! Give us hay! Hey we want hay!!! Faster, faster, please, faster, why are you moving so slow human? You know this cacophony if you’ve ever been on morning duty! I am the worrier.

You’ve goat to be kidding me, not a single goat came out to greet us. Ratu (aka Big Momma the queen of the 8 girls) peaked her muzzle out, providing the humans relief that they weren’t all “goat-sicles”. Eventually, as the hay was being chucked into the feeder, all 8 goats came out to eat breakfast. They were cold and I don’t blame them for coming out slowly, it was so cold! I am the worrier.

Most of my worries go unheard. Okay, they hear me but don’t always react as fast as I like. Actually if eye-rolls count as hearing…whoops did I type that out loud? The goat barn doors close down to a small port for them and help keep the weather out. The windblast pushed right through their open port day and night. Although the stalls are small and hay-lined, they were extra cold during this time. I am the worrier.

As the 2-legged family sat down to lunch one afternoon, I proposed a stall-warming tactic that I was certain would go unrecognized. My worries are usually just that, my worries. Sometimes it is just being the last to know or not knowing at all. This particular approach reminded me of walk-in freezers with the dangling thick plastic blanket thingy! I proposed if we could hang a blanket in their small doors to cut the gale from gusting straight into the stall, they would indeed be warmer. I am the worrier.

The planet may have tilted a little off its axis that afternoon because the other 2-leggeds, including the head-rancher-in-charge, agreed that this was a great idea. To the barns I headed with the capable drill-toting 17 year-old armed with an old wool blanket, scissors, and a pocket of screws and washers. The girls were curious as we flung their doors wide open, allowing what little warmth that had accumulated to escape. We cut the blanket in half and Kevin set to attaching it to the small port. The “littles” (3 of this spring’s does) pushed their way in and nibbled on Kevin’s fingers hoping that they were a small snack adding to the exposure of bare-skin to the cold misery that Kevin was bravely tolerating to provide the girls some protection from the elements. I am the worrier.

That evening as we looked in at the family, the camera thermometer registered -11 Fahrenheit outside the stall and -3 Fahrenheit inside the stall. Even Kona was cuddled up in a pig er I mean goat-pile! I am the worrier.

While in the stall, Kevin and I were remarking that it was kind of cozy in there with the fresh droppings helping to warm up the stall. Out of the wind, that’s what I have been told, out of the wind. As long as these hardy goats can get out of the wind, they can weather the weather. By morning, the camera had stopped working and not a goat came out to meet the rancher for fresh hay. It was cold, air temperature according to the internet was around -20 degrees and the breeze had abated some. Future forecast predictions were for a warming trend, with a balmy 10 degrees predicted the following day. We made it through the cold spell. I am the worrier.

Amelia captured this cuddly picture from the security camera. Can you see all 8 goats?