No Rest in the Winter!

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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Winter time is a very busy time at Stony Knolls Farm! You would think that it would be a time of rest and relaxation, but we’ve done an awful lot during the last few months! In my last blog I included a photo of our Saturday morning winter market, which we attend on a weekly basis.

I have over 80 gallons of frozen goat milk in our chest freezers so that I can continue to make cheese over the winter to supply our customers, both at the market and those who come to our farm.

Before we left for California at the beginning of December, we started our winter by getting all of our girls bred to our two very handsome bucks. Yes, you read correctly, California, where Karen Dunst of Dunroth Farm in Bradbury, CA hosted a “Goat School on the Road” along with a soap and cheese making class. I had never been to the west coast so it was quite an experience. The folks attending as well as our host Karen, were really great! A Mainer in warm Los Angeles…very interesting.

The holidays seemed to fly right by and pretty soon we were back on the road again, this time to Vermont. Vermont Goat School was held at Cold Moon Farm in Jamaica VT this past weekend, January 21st and 22nd , and was great fun…again. Back in February 2011, we held our first Vermont Goat School there. A soap and cheese making class was held on Monday.
We left our farm in Saint Albans, Maine on Friday in the midst of some light snow showers so the roads were a bit slick, but heading south the road was pretty dry and driving improved greatly. So, you would think the trip home on Monday would be uneventful? Not so much. This time it was rain, drizzle, freezing rain and lots of slushy ice! My husband, Ken, has years of winter driving experience winter driver, so we made it safely home and without incident 7 hours later.
In this day of almost instant communication, we are never far away from a cell phone or WiFi, we always have our home phone on call forward to our cell so as not to miss a call.
A very delightful, young woman from Texas called me with what she thought was a real problem. This was not the first time I’ve gotten this inquiry, so I thought it would be a great time and place to go explain her dilemma.
Her question was this: “My newborn kid’s hoofs look really weird! The top 2/3 of the hoof looks normal, but the bottom 1/3 is all gummy, peeling, and bits of them are falling off! What’s wrong and what should I do?”
My answer: “Stop for a minute and think about where the kid has been and also it’s journey to life. He’s been inside his mom’s uterus, then had to make the long trip down the birth canal. If he had hard, sharp, little hoofs he would have torn his dam up during his entrance in to the world!”
Nature has taken care of potential rips and tears in both the uterus and the birth canal by forming a gummy pad on the bottom of the babies’ hooves! It’s usually white, sticky, and if you look closely, little parts and pieces of it are already starting to come off. Normally, in less than 24 hours the little goats are running around and they are doing it on beautifully shaped, solid, little hoofies.
Because kidding season is coming up really quickly, in fact, lots of farms in warmer climates have already begun, I will be covering some of the ins and outs, ups and downs of kidding over the next few weeks. This is my favorite time of year! I love those little tykes and am always in awe of the whole process of birthing, one, two, three, and sometimes four or more babies.

If you are interested in attending our next Goat School which will be held June 2nd and 3rd, here in Saint Albans Maine, or if you might want to explore the possibilities of bringing “Goat School on the Road” to your farm to share with your friends, relatives, and acquaintances, visit our website