Friday, November 21, 2014

Cocoa Bean Has Chili Pepper And Cardamom

First time mom, Cocoa Bean had twin doelings this morning. ;) Both are gorgeous. One will probably be available. Cocoa is a Palisade granddaughter out of Uproar+*S son Sonic Boom *S and two star milker Country Charm. Minnie Me, Cocoa's mom, also earned her stars this year and took best udder at the Rocky Mt NC show in May 2014.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Time for Kudos and Applause for the girls!

I have to share news and congrats on a few of our lovely girls. First, we'll start with some of our 'firsts' here at Firestone Creek. 
First fresh udder Jody
On Firestone Creek HWD Jody Girl, has now earned both of her stars-- AGS and ADGA and is actually in line for possibly meeting top 10 requirements (holding my breath!) for protein and for production for 2014. Hoping she can hold her own and make it to the top. She deserves it for all of the work she's been doing! 


Next, our 'star' doe--On Firestone Creek Palisade has surprised us by becoming our first Superior Genetics doe here at Firestone Creek! We were thrilled to receive the notice in the mail saying she had reached that designation as a SG doe. We have several of her daughters and a granddaughter here, so we hope to continue following that path with production, quality, and transmitting ability.

We do have a Palisade daughter (in milk) available for sale-- Palabra, in addition to a doeling out of the Palisade X NC PromisedLand Bolero cross available for sale. See website or contact for more information.

Minnie Me
Additionally, it looks like Palisade's daughter, Minnie, will also be earning her stars, and so far NC PromisedLand Z Bella has
earned her star with AGS and should have it soon with ADGA. Beyond that, I have my fingers crossed that a few others will earn theirs, too. 

PS Other News: 
It looks like Pistachio and Joy may be bred
Palisade X Rosasharn TL Challenger
for late Nov/Dec. Joy is a Palisade daughter. Joy's would not have been an intentional breeding, and I will be doing DNA on all kids if she does freshen. I had no clue she was in heat, and the only hint I have now is that she hasn't had a heat and is getting a little chubby. If she is pregnant, the kids could belong to either Jacub, Sol, or Rumor. I will be doing DNA if she happens to kid.


CG Sol

I do separate boys from the girls at a little over 2 months, but this time, we had to finish their pasture first, and before it was completed, I had a few partially extending. I witnessed Sol breeding Pistachio. At first, I thought it was just 'practice.' Bucklings do this all of the time. However, I feel that at that point he did fully extend, and I do believe he is now breeding
M Pistachio
successfully, so with that said, Pistachio could be bred, too, by no one else except my spoiled rotten Sol or 'sun.' I like this breeding; those will be some gorgeous babies-- type-wise AND color-wise, pulling in Rosasharn, NC PromisedLand, and Firestone Creek genetics. I know, I know... blue eyes? moonspots? But yes, possible moonspots AND blue eyes, even though I didn't breed for them on purpose. Sometimes things just happen. 
By the way, Pistachio is a daughter of Nutmeg, niece of Acorn, and niece of Jody Girl (see above). Mesa was her father. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Panir -- Paneer -- Queso Fresco -- Whatever you want to call it!

Fresh Cheese

Panir, Paneer, Queso Frescho-- No Matter how you say it, it is Fresh Cheese and one of the easiest things you can make with fresh goat's milk. Many recipes will call for using lemon or vinegar for making fresh cheese, but I've found that using freshly made (or cultured) buttermilk and/or kefir works quite well and makes for a very flavorful cheese. Additionally, you can use fruit juices and even yogurt. Your goal is to raise the acidity of the milk after heating it. For fresh cheese, you heat to the boiling point but DO NOT BOIL. The best temp is around 195-200 F. 

Here's a simple recipe that can also be found on my website at Firestone Creek farm. If you have questions, feel free to ask me here in the comments or you can always add Firestone Creek Farm on Facebook and message me there.



  • 1 quart full-cream goat's milk 
  • buttermilk and/or Kefir (use what you have)
    • **1/2 cup buttermilk AND 1/2 cup kefir 
    • OR 3/4 cup buttermilk 
    • OR 3/4 cup kefir
    • *you may also use yogurt (1/2 buttermilk and 1/2 yogurt)
    • *you can use lemon juice or vinegar, but it tastes differently and the end result isn't as sweet
****When using buttermilk, I always get a much higher yield than when using lemon juice or vinegar.****


  • Pour the milk into a heavy pan that will not allow the milk to scorch while heating. Stir often.
  • As the milk is readied, measure the buttermilk and/or kefir.
    You can use store bought buttermilk, but I prefer to make my own. 

  • Watch the milk closely, stirring to keep it from sticking.
  • When the milk comes to a boil, add the buttermilk/kefir.
  • Reduce the heat and stir.The milk should change colors and begin to separate. Cheese curds will form, leaving a yellowish-greenish colored whey behind. 
  • Stir continuously until the milk is completely curdled.
  • Remove from the heat when the separation of the curds and yellowish whey is complete

  • Pour contents of pot into a strainer lined with clean muslin cloth

  • Wrap the muslin tightly, tie it, and squeeze out excess whey,
    holding it under cold water for approximately a minute to help rinse it clean. 
  • Hang the cheese for 15-20 minutes so that all the whey is drained out.

  • To form a block or circle , sit it into a round cheese strainer and place it under something heavy.
  • After 20+ minutes, remove from muslin, lightly salt, and cut into chunks. 
You are now ready to use your fresh cheese!!! 

Variations: I make a few. I've made salsa cheese, garlic cheese, pineapple cheese, jalapeno cheese and more. Experiment and have fun! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Results of the SNIFF TEST!

At the beginning of kidding season, we decided to have a 'sniff' of all of the does that were due to kid. Why? Because there's a theory that a doe that smells bucky will have bucklings, and a doe that smells like hay will have doelings. 

Following is our results for the 2014 breeding season at Firestone Creek farm.

Doe (Dam)Buck (Sire)Smell / Gestation time# of doelings/bucklings
Muddy Creek B2 PanamaOn Firestone Creek AA Mesa
(history of producing high % of doelings)
Panama's head smells 'bucky' on 2/14; she is due on 2/21. She is pregnant with multiples--looks like three or more. She has a history of having bucklings, so maybe there is a doeling or two in there.
Kidded on Feb 24th with one small doeling and two bucklings, one on the big side! She did have a bucky smell, so I'd say this one was a 'positive.'
On Firestone Creek HWD AcornOn Firestone Creek AA Mesa
(history of producing high % of doelings)
Acorn smelled like hay on 2/14; she is due on 2/15. She has a history of having doelings. She looks like she may be pregnant with one or two kids.
Well, she smelled like hay, and she had one doeling, so we are at 100% right now! :)
NC PromisedLand Z BellaOn Firestone Creek HWD Bo PeepsBella smelled like hay on 2/14; she is due on 2/15. She has a history of having doelings.
Bella kidded 2/22 with TWO bucklings. So this is 100% contrary to how she smelled, which was like hay with no bucky smell at all! I'd say this is -100%
On Firestone Creek Palisade 2*M 5*D*B NC PromisedLand RB Bolero *S On 2/14 Palisade smelled a little bucky. She is not due until 5/15. She has a history of twins and triplets; the triplets are usually bucklings and doelings.Palisade kidded with THREE doelings, which is quite contrary to the bucky smell she had in February.
I'd say this was a big -100%, too, unless maybe I smelled her a bit too early.

On Firestone Creek BJ KukarabishaOn Firestone Creek AA Mesa
(history of producing high % of doelings)
On 2/14 Kuka smelled like hay. She is due on 2/20.
Argh! Kuka smelled like hay but delivered two healthy bucklings on 2/24. This result is another negative--strong one, just like Bella.

On Firestone Creek R PalabraProctor Hill Farm B Cuervo Gold *SOn 2/14, Palabra smelled a little bucky. Due on 3/13.
Buckling and a doeling. This would be a positive, I suppose, since she did smell just a little bucky.
On Firestone Creek UP Sunnee DayProctor Hill Farm B Cuervo Gold *S
 Will smell again next week. She could tell I was up to something and didn't want to be sniffed. Perhaps she thought I was going to nibble her or make her wear deodorant. Who knows! :)



While we did have bucklings out of some of the girls that smelled bucky, we also had THREE (3) --yes, you heard right-- THREE doelings out of a doe that smelled a bit bucky! I would say that was a big NEGATIVE. We also had one doe that smelled like hay that had only bucklings, which is also a big resounding NEGATIVE result. Essentially, I have to say:

SORRY, FOLKS! The sniff test doesn't seem to work 100% of the time. In fact, the results were sketchy at best. Oh well... we are talking about goats after all. You didn't think they would make it THAT easy for us, did you? Guess we'll have keep playing the waiting game...

Let's Talk about Udders-- Part 2

Teat Growth: Is It Udderly Possible?

In the last article, I offered some info on the importance of teat length and diameter. Not only do both of these help the handmilker when it comes to comfort, they also offer some aid in the udder's 'health' department when it comes to keeping away bacteria (more on that later). I left off with an important question, one that many breeders and homesteaders, especially those new to dairy goats, often ask: Do teats actually grow more in length and diameter with each lactation?

So, Some People say...

When we bought our first goats, all were doelings, and of course, no one can tell much about teat size on a newly weaned or bottlebaby unless the teats are going to be extraordinarily huge when the animal is an adult (Sometimes bigger ISN'T better-- new article soon!). Nigerians, for the most part, are short, and since they are miniature goats, everything about them is miniature. Yes, this includes teats. Some standard breeds (Alpines, Saanen, Nubian, etc) have teats that are 3 - 4+ inches in length, and diameter in those can be the same and then some larger (3+ inches). 

If you have a first freshening doe, or even if you buy a doe who is a couple of years old that has freshened a few times, are you stuck with the teat size you see at freshening? As a newbie, I asked this question because I saw quite a few Nigerians with small teats. I have small hands, and it would have been difficult (even for me) to handmilk those animals. At the same time, I didn't have the money to invest in a milk machine, and many of the handmilkers did not seem to work very well, and I knew, in that case, that I would end up having to handmilk one way or the other. When shopping for goats, one thing I shopped for was teat size and placement (more on that later). I ran into several problems. Not only were the animals that I found with 'large' teats a LOT more expensive, but there was a controversy over teat growth when it came to those with the smaller teats. Some people said that the teats continued growing after year one, right along with the udder. Others --some from reputable herds, who had been in the business for a while-- said that there would be a lot of udder growth over the years but not a lot of teat growth, if any at all, and if I wanted size, I needed to make sure I 'bought' it from the start. Of course, as I said before, the majority of people who had 'size' also wanted more for their animals, especially does already in milk that could 'prove' their milking ability. 

After getting my herd together and breeding for several years, I saw a range in teat size from tiny to great. I also saw that some tended to have daughters with the same overall 'look' to the udder and others tended to not transmit that as readily (especially when I wanted them to). I did notice a little bit of growth in some teats, but not a lot, and in a few, I noticed none at all. I decided I needed to document this because numbers don't lie. I also figured out a few notable things-- see the **Notes below.

An Experiment

Last year, I decided to record data on the goats I had here on the farm that were in milk. A few have since moved on, and I have also added some since then. Next year, I hope to use comparison data from daughters to see if there's any change when comparing mom's, daughters, and granddaughters--even throwing in corresponding info from the sire's dam and so on when I have it available. I am on milk test this year, so I can also include some of that data next year. When measuring the girls, I measured them full at their morning milking and about 3 months into lactation. Length is measured from the udder floor to the tip of the teat. Diameter was measured around the top of the teat. I will probably also include a 'mid' teat measurement for next year to see if this area also grows in width. After all, inquiring minds want to know!

Following is the information, discussion, and results of what I have seen thus far in my own herd.
TL= Teat Length in inches                    TD = Teat Diameter in inches
Doe's Name #fresh 2013 data and freshening # TL TD 2014 data TL TD **Notes:
NC Promisedland Z Bella 2 1 doeling; freshening #1 1.15 2 2 bucklings; freshening #2 1.44 2.13 Hooray! There's an increase in size here.
On Firestone Creek R Palabra 2 1 kid; dead after delivery. Freshening #1 1 1.75 2 kids; doeling and buckling for freshening #2 1.25 1.85 Some growth, but not a lot. However, Palabra did not milk more than 3 weeks on her first freshening. I had too many others to milk, so I let her dry up. She is currently for sale, but if she is still here next year, (or if the new owner wants to keep a record) we will see if another freshening brings on more changes.
On Firestone Creek Acorn 3 1 doeling; freshening #2 1.75 2.75 1 doeling; freshening #3 1.95 2.85 Third freshener. She has been sold. I do have her daughter and her niece that I can evaluate next year, in addition to a few cousins. I wish everyone had this teat size!
On Firestone Creek Sunnee Day 2 1 buckling; freshening #1 1.25 2 1 buckling; freshening #2 1.5 2.9 Sunnee had quite a bit of growth from last year to this year!
On Firestone Creek P Palisade 4 3 doelings; freshening #4 1.75 2.15 We will record more of Palisade's data next year, and we will have more of her daughters data to add as well. Right now, Palabra is the only data we have.

Results and Conclusion:

So, thus far, I saw an almost 90% increase in one doe in regard to teat diameter and overall growth in both areas for all does. I'd have to conclude from the above data that there is growth from one freshening to the next along with an improvement in udder capacity. The only doe who had very little growth did not nurse any kids, and she was allowed to dry off quickly after delivery.

So should you take a chance on a first freshener with small teats? I would say that as long as you can milk her comfortably the first year, give her a try! She might just surprise you the next time. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Let's Talk about Udders!

Let's Talk UDDERS!

So you like this one?


But maybe not this one? 


Why not? What's the difference? Obviously, the second doe has more fill on the left side, and her teats are not perfectly plumb. She is not symmetrical either with teat position, and the trained eye would see that her attachments are not perfect. She is also a few years older than the first doe, probably had kids nursing on her (who tugged and pulled and changed the udder structure a bit), and has a 'clip' job that is not as nice as the first doe. All of those things come together to make one wonder whether she's getting the bad side of the deal here. Maybe she is as nice as the doe on the left and just hasn't had the opportunities to prove it? Maybe not?

Over the next few weeks, I want to take the time to break down the parts of the udder and examine them, not only to further educate myself, but to help anyone else out there who is interested in learning about it. I want to start with information I've been collecting over the past two years on two important topics-- teat diameter and teat length in Nigerian dwarfs. We'll start in this article by discussing diameter.

Teat Diameter

Teat diameter is the circumference of the teat where it attaches to the udder. Diameter is important, obviously, because 1) if a person is handmilking, the diameter will affect how the hand is positioned and how much effort it takes to extract milk from the udder; 2) if a person is machine milking, size could call for the use of various size inflations and possible teat damage if using improper sizes. A doe with small diameter, even if she has larger orifices, will take longer to milk--hand or machine--because not as much milk fills the teat at each expression. Is this a buying/selling point for owners? It can be, especially if you own a dairy or your main goal is to have a productive (and fast) milker. 

Teat Length

Teat length is the length of tissue beginning where the udder joins with the teat and ending at the orifice. Again, like diameter, it is important for comfort for the handmilker, for more 'fill' and faster expression of the milk into the pail with each expression, and importantly, for protection from invasive bacteria and bacteria already in the udder. Anyone who has ever tried to milk a goat with tiny teats knows how difficult it can be, especially if you are a man or if you are a woman with larger hands. Sometimes a Henry milker or some other milking device or machine must be used because handmilking can become painful. At the same time, longer teats mean that more milk (especially with larger diameter) is able to fill the teat and re-fill quickly with every milking stroke. This enables the udder to be emptied much faster than smaller teats. Lastly, during milking (and kids nursing), bacteria can easily enter the orifice into the udder. If there is already bacteria present, it usually settles into the lower portion of the teat; this is why it is advisable to milk out a few test 'squirts', check for blood, etc, and then continue milking. If teats are short, it seems that less distance would make it easier for bacteria to attain access into the udder tissue or settle into the udder, possibly making the animal more susceptible to infections, including mastitis. 

So, we want diameter, and we want length! However, we are talking Nigerians here, not Alpines, LaManchas, Saanen, or Obies. Everything about a Nigerian is little, right? Especially in first fresheners. And the teats don't really grow, do they? Hmmmm.... 

Come back for MORE to come in the next article! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Mighty Mite and More Milk Tests

They say 'Rome was not built in a day,' and neither was a dairy farm.
The junior herd

Well, no one said farm life was easy, and that certainly holds true when it comes to maintaining does and keeping their milk capacity where you want it to be. We're small, so we haven't had many does freshen this year--only seven, in fact. We've still had our fair share of the fun with those thus far. Sometimes I can't even imagine doing this on a large scale, but I guess if it was my only job, and I had some additional help, it might be a little easier.

So far this kidding season--

First, because of the long winter and plenty of time spent by does in the barn, where we deep pile our hay for extra warmth, we had an issue with mites. I've seen the critters before, but this year was the worst ever! This is a new barn and much larger than the other barn, so I have to say I was a bit surprised, but then again, this winter was colder than the norm with several bouts of ice and snow. I'm thinking this had something to do with it. I noticed some 'dandruff' and a bit of scaly skin in a few of the does, especially those who were pregnant, so I treated what I knew was mites and/or lice. I thought I'd had it all taken care of. I was wrong.

A few of the girls developed a few 'bumps' or papules with the mites--mainly a couple of the does I was milking, and this might have been demodectic mange. According to Justin Talley and Dave Sparks, D.V.M, these papules contain more mites, are often found on the face, neck, and axillary regions, along with the udder, and can infect other animals:

The goat follicle mite causes dermal papules and nodules [sic] and this resulting condition is known as demodectic mange in goats. These papules or nodules are caused by hair follicles or gland ducts becoming obstructed and producing these swellings, trapping the mites within these lesions. These continue to enlarge as the mites multiply, sometimes reaching several thousand mites per lesion... Nodules can rupture and exude mites [transmitting to the other animals]. "External Parasites"

Dairy and pregnant/nursing animals seem to be particularly susceptible to the mites. I deduce it is because kids are nursing, we clip the udders (possibly with infected clippers), and udders can be exposed to more skin irritants hand/machine milking. This type of mange isn't the only threat! Another form of infection, chorioptic mange, also has similar symptoms with "formation of raised pustules on the skin, crusting, hair loss, reddening of the skin and eventually ulceration. These signs are first seen on the lower limbs, scrotum, udder and between the thighs. Rubbing and scratching is common" (Hutchens "Enough to Make"). Staphylococcal dermatitis--a secondary bacterial infection, often follows the infestation due to scratching, etc.

Some sources, including some discussion boards, say to 'pop' the papules (whether 'mange' papules or staph infection) since some do contain a pus-like substance. However, after witnessing the results, I do not suggest doing this. From my own experience, I noticed that those that had papules that I 'popped' tended to develop a much worse infection than the others; the action seemed to spread the infection, so I stopped popping and only treated. When left alone, the lesions seemed to scab over and heal very fast.

I try to treat holistically when at all possible; if natural medicine is not working, I refuse to watch an animal suffer, and I will treat with antibiotics and other medications, if necessary. I used lime and DE on the barn along with manuka oil, tea tree oil, and garlic on everyone. I also treated some with lime sulphur dip, which was recommended at a 4X treatment over a month long period by Hutchens ("Enough to Make"). However, one treatment of lime dip in addition to the tea tree and manuka oil seemed to actually clear up the problem. I did clip hair on those showing evidence of major infestation. Everyone cleared up fine with these treatments EXCEPT two does who seemed to have an allergy, perhaps, to the treatments. They did not respond well to the oils, and both worsened with lime dip and had more break outs. One really had an 'itchy' result on her udder and stomach area with many papules. Worried that this was a resultant irritation from the treatment itself, I did go ahead and use some Pen-G [for secondary bacterial infection, which was a probability], Chlorhexidine scrub [to destroy bacteria, fungus, etc], and topical antibacterial cream on these two does; this had immediate results--within 3 - 4 days, so it is very probable that the resultant irritation was probably due to secondary bacterial infection--possibly staphylococcal dermatitis. Thankfully, the whole herd is doing well now and recovering from winter's latent wrath. I did want to share my research and results in hopes that anyone else who is struggling can find some solace and aid with the problem.

*NOTE: I did treat with injectable Ivermectin when results seemed 'slow.' It was completely ineffective, and it seems to be noted that it often is when dealing with specific mites. I saw no changes whatsoever --even in a week's time, which should have been more than long enough for mite die-off. The key for removal seems to be killing, repelling, disinfecting, and treating secondary infection.

The keys to treatment:
1) Clean the barn-- keep it dry and destroy all infected bedding (burning is best)
2) Treat sleeping premises (I used lime and DE)
3) Treat ALL animals  (see articles and choose your own method according to your herd management beliefs)

Milk Test Results so far 

No one ever explains (before you go on test) that all of those 'little things' that drop production in your animals don't mean a thing when you are on test. While heats, illnesses, etc, are noted in CAR codes on DHIR tests as abnormalities, this doesn't change the overall results. One illness or low milk day (for any reason--even the weather!) can be enough to knock your animal out of the running for their star even if they are an excellent milker the rest of the time.

Bella --With all of the issues with the mites, we've had production drop some. I've sold Bella's kid, and with my work load, secondary bacterial infection from the mites, and issues with my carpal tunnel, her production has fell from her whopping 6.6 lbs a day to about 1/2 that. She is 4-00 with production at 43 lbs of fat, 30 lbs of protein, and projected production of milk lbs = 812 at this point in lactation (77 days). This has began climbing again with her infection clearing up, so I hope this amount does go up. She 'should' earn her star.

Sunnee -- Sunnee is doing well on test. She will be 'close' simply because I've had a lot on my plate and haven't milked exactly on schedule a few times, throwing her weights off a bit. I will make another post later with her weights.

Palabra -- Palabra is for sale for $350. She is on target to earn her star. The only reason I have her for sale is because 1) I own her mom; 2) I am retaining her daughter; 3) I also have several half-sisters. 

Acorn -- for sale for $400. Acorn will probably not earn her star, BUT it is NOT her fault. It's her nieces fault, in addition to the mite issue, which reduced her production after the first test. Her numbers were going to be close, but then on the last test, Pistachio, her niece, escaped (you know the type--able to leap tall buildings in a single bound) from the pen on milk test morning and emptied her udder before the test! This ruined the morning test. She would have had over 3 lbs for the day, but instead only had about 1.5 for the whole day, partly because she likes to feed her kid, Karuka, through the fence. She's impossible to get a good milk weight on unless you have a very good way to separate her from anyone who wants to eat. :) 

Palisade -- Kidded on Mother's day, so she will be on the next test. She already has her milk stars. 2*D 5*M