First thing in the morning, I start by calling Lula Mae into the barn and situating her in the stanchion for her morning feeding. A stanchion is a simple enough contraption with a bucket for feed, a lock for the goat's head and "hobbles" or ties for the feet of a milking goat.
|Chloe trying out the stanchion. Grain! Omnomnomnomnom|
The nice thing about a stanchion is that it keeps the goat from sitting down or moving while milking, ensuring sweet, clean milk. Even though Lula Mae isn't milking right now, we keep using the stanchion to keep her in the habit. This may look like a medieval torture contraption, but I assure you it's not! The time spent in the stanchion is usually less than 10 minutes and it's not uncomfortable for them.
|Lula Mae getting ready to be milked (a few months back). |
Our milk pail has a lid that covers the top while leaving a small opening for the milk to squirt into (not pictured).
After feeding Lula Mae, I head next door to the duck barn. There, I open the gate to their run so everyone can frolic and forage in our land all day long. (Okay, and the neighbor's land as of late. Something about a field full of dandelions that is proving irresistible to those Khaki Campbells who have no problem sliding through the fence.) Before stepping inside the house to collect eggs, I shut the run again so that if I startle Mama Duck when I go to collect eggs, she'll only flee to the run and then promptly return to her nest. Today, there are 10 eggs in the nest boxes and scattered in various corners of the house. Not bad.
Then I turn my attention to the chickens who are (still) preferring the inside of the house to the beautiful outdoors. I blame this on the fact that they have a very nice screened window that they can look out of and even feel the breeze through without ever having to get a feather wet in the rain. I also blame their obviously inferior intelligence; our ducks instinctively know it's better to roam outside!
|The "baby" chickens, hanging out by their window. Instead of actually going outside.|
I try to coax them down their ladder and out the door, but they refuse. Instead I startle our sitting Mama Duck down below. She'll come back shortly. I use this as an opportunity to check for new eggs that have been deposited in her nest that are far too late to be joining this hatching process. I find 2 eggs and put them in the egg basket.
|Mama Duck angrily leaving the duck house, heading into the run.|
See? Just like I said, simple.
Mr. Bee gets home and I give him the daily report. We stand outside on the back deck, proud of all that we have.
Then we hear something. Chloe is whimpering loudly. Could Lula Mae be in labor early? Mr. Bee rushes toward the goat barn. I rush inside to pee (thanks Baby Bee!). When I finally make my way to the barn, everything is quiet. Lula Mae is on the stanchion eating, with Mr. Bee stroking her gently.
Me: Is everything okay?
Mr. Bee: Yeah... Uh, it's fine now. What time did you feed Lula again?
Me: In the morning, like normal. Why?
Mr. Bee: Looks like she's been here all day then. I think you forgot to get her out.
I'm horrified. Poor pregnant Lula Mae--unable to sit or lay down for an entire day!
Mr. Bee continues: And, uh, it looks like you locked Mama Duck in the duck house and run all day too. And locked the rest of the flock out, which means they didn't have access to their water.
Could it get any worse?
Mr. Bee continues again: And the extra eggs you found under Mama Duck? Yeah, they were actually part of the original batch she's been setting. I guess it's too late to put them back now!
Fortunately...the stress didn't induce labor in Lula Mae and she still happily gets on the stanchion each morning for her feed. As for the ducks, it had at least rained the night before so our flooded land made a nice watering hole for them. And Mama Duck? Well, she is still trying to add 2 more eggs to her nest each day, but at least we have 12 viable eggs remaining.
As Mr. Bee says: Sometimes you're the one stuck in the stanchion and sometimes you're the one that leaves the goat there.
Homestead wisdom at its finest.