Thursday, August 5, 2021

Our Friend Piper

Tan colored Alpine goat standing inside barn door
Piper checking out her new digs shortly after arriving at
 Alewive Pond Farm in 2012

Piper, and her long-time friend, Simone were the first two goats at our farm. Several years ago, Piper, was bred and had three stillborn kids. We placed the kids in the hay beside her and she licked and nudged their still bodies, encouraging them to come to life.  As time passed and none of them moved she became concerned, looked at us, returned to the kids, and made encouraging sounds.

At the same time we had a young doe who had just given birth to two kids and had no interest or understanding of how to care for them, which we learned, sometimes happens. She was unwilling to stand still for them to nurse, wandered away from them, did not clean them or nuzzle them, and showed no signs of bonding. We were concerned we would have to bottle feed and care for these kids ourselves.

I suggested we put these kids in with Piper who seemed distraught when we removed the lifeless kids from her stall. We carried the kids ignored by the young goat ro Piper's stall and laid them gently in the hay. Piper immediately went to the kids and began licking them, nuzzling them, and encouraging them to stand and nurse.  With her encouragement, the kids began to nurse and immediately bonded. At one point, Bev remembers, Piper came over to her, as she watched from the door, and began licking her hand, as if to say, "Thanks." 

Piper was so attentive as these kids developed. The doeling, Fanny remained a part of our herd, and she and Piper were always close, often eating together and sleeping next to each other in the stall. Piper watched out for Fanny, even as an adult goat, whether they were in the barn or out in the pasture.

Tan goat eating grass next to a smaller black goat
Piper with her daughter Fanny grazing several weeks
before her death this summer

As one of the larger Alpine goats in our herd, Piper was “2nd in Command,” for most of her life in the herd to the herd queen, Simone. Both goats came from farmers Joel and Ann, who made goat cheese to sell at the local farmer's market. Both were  only a year or two when we first saw them at their farm. When we first walked into their barn, Piper greeted us by lopping one of her front legs over the top fence, as if to shake our hands.

Saying goodbye to both goats in the past year signaled a change in both the herd, and where we are with our goat adventure. Six goats remain, all smaller goats. Two of the goats, a brother and sister, Manly and Half-Pint we acquired shortly after they were weaned, within weeks of getting Simone and Piper. They have spent their whole lives at Alewive Pond Farm, and are affectionately called the Bunions, for their ability to keep us on our toes. . The remaining four goats came from other farms over the years.

Looking through the pictures over the years to find these of Piper, was like looking through the history of the farm and brought back some wonderful moments with the goats we’ve had and some of the different, often funny, silly, or contemplative moments.

The tan and white head of a goat looking over the stall
Always curious, Piper kept an inquisitive eye
on all the barn happenings

Tan and white goat with a hen on her back

Well Piper, when you catch up with Simone, say hello from all of us on the farm! You’ve been a wonderful friend, a great mother, and  we will dearly miss you on the farm! 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Putting Up Hay

The first cut of hay is often available in late May or early June, and it arrives about the time we are mearly out from the what was put in late last fall. This year, with near drought conditions through the spring, the first delivery from a local pasture came in early July. 

Most of the hay comes as bales, cut, baled, and delivered in a wagon. It is then put in the hayloft above the barn with a conveyor. For our herd of 7 goats, we will need nearly 300 bales of hay for the year.

Much to Bev's amusement, Steve has taken up hand catting some of the hay with a scythe, the "old-fashioned way." Portions of the field are cut in the morning and the hay left to dry in the sun for the rest of the day or two, depending on the weather. At some point, the hay piles are turned over with a wooden hay rake. Once dried, it is raked onto a tarp, and dragged to the barn where it is stored in a spare stall, or hauled up to the loft for further drying and storage. At one time, this must have been a full time occupation for livestock farmers! Thankfully, it's just a past time for those of us needing to burn a few extra calories!

Man pulling tarp with cut hay and a wooden hay rake

As you can see from the video below, the baled hay, and the conveyor gets the job done more quickly, but Steve is convinced the goats prefer his hand cut, "gourmet" hay better!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Barn Acrobats


Every spring the barn swallows arrive, often it is two pair, and this year it was three. Two had nests in the barn, and this nest was in the outside overhang. Once the chicks hatch the parents are constantly flying in and out from dawn until dusk feeding their chicks with insects they seem to catch in mid-air.

When Homey the cat ventures out, especially when the chicks approach their first flight, the parents often dive-bomb the cat, dropping out of the sky straight for him, only to pull up inches above his head. This high-stakes game goes on through the summer months.

This year, the chicks took their first flights July 6, gathering at one point on the fence, out of the cat's reach, appearing exhausted. By the following day they have taken their practice to the nearby trees, returning only at night to the nest. By week's end the abandoned the nest, and seemed to be taking excursions further afield, to return as acrobats flying circles around and through the barn.

Some years, this year included a pair will have a second nest of chicks, but most often, they leave by mid-July and we eagerly await they return again the following spring, and wonder if these are the parents returning, or their offspring who return for generations to the same barn at Alewive Pond Farm? 


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Goat Notes and Barn Cards

Small white Nigerian goat at an open barn door

 New to the website is the shameless Goat Note and Barn Cards shopping page featuring blank note cards that are great for any occasion. As Bev so often says, "Nothing says 'love' like a goat." Most of the cards feature some of the many characters who live at Alewive Farm, and there are even a couple scenes from around Maine. All the photos are taken by Steve and copyright Steve Kelley.

 Speaking of love, the photo above is Half-Pint, a Nigerian Dwarf goat. She and her brother Manley arrived at Alewive Farm only a few weeks old. They have been inseparable since we call them the :Bunions,: because of their curiosity and ability to find something to get into.

Hope you enjoy the cards! If you don't use PayPal, shuffle over to the Alewive Farm Shop on Etsy where you can use your plastic.