Thursday, January 7, 2010

The New Kid Nursery

Since moving to the "new" farm just over a year ago, we have been constantly working on remodeling projects to make life easier for us and the goats. (See the earlier posts for some of the remodeling!) 

A new addition for this year's kidding season is a set of nursery pens for the bottle babies.... down in the basement!   Yes, in the basement.  One of the cool things about houses built in 1940 is the basement.  Ours is unfinished with a gravel floor.

I got to thinking .... Hummm .... since it's going to be cold when the kids start being born ... and since we start bottle feed them when they're only around 3 days old.... why should we carry all those warm bottles of goat milk out to the barn?  So .... I had this brilliant idea to build a new Kid Nursery in the corner of the basement.

Of course the first thing I had to do was to move the tubs and boxes of camping gear and other stuff that had occupied the corner of the basement that I wanted to use. 

The basement corner cleaned out

When that was done, I put down some heavy plastic over the gravel floor.  This would prevent any ground moisture during heavy spring rains from getting the bedding in the kid pens damp.  This will also make it easier to take the used bedding out to use as mulch around the fruit trees this summer when the kids are all out of the nursery!

 Heavy Plastic went down first

I had some 16 foot heavy welded wire panels that are 32 inches tall around the garden last year.  I thought the kid pens would be a better place for the panels at this time ..... so I brought 7 of them into the basement and started cutting them to the lengths I needed.  This was HARD work and took a couple of afternoons to get finished.

Cutting the panels

I put one of the 16 foot panels along the north wall of the basement and then wired 4 foot sections of the panels that I had cut onto the back panel along the wall.  This will give us 8 pens that are 4 foot square ... 4 along the north wall and 4 along the east wall ... in an L shape.

Some of the divider panels in place (front view)

Some of the divider panels in place (side view)

Before I wired on the 16 foot front panel, I realized that I probably should install some additional electrical outlets for the heat lamps that we'll be using to keep the kids warm.  There was only one outlet on that side of the basement and with 8 kid pens, we would need more than that.  I'm so glad my Dad showed me how to run the wire and correctly wire up the outlets while we were remodeling the milk parlor and cheese room!  That experience sure came in handy with this project.  I installed 3 new sets of outlets.  Dad is coming to wire them into the breaker box.  I'm not quite comfortable with working inside the breaker box yet!

New outlets installed

I got 8 large bags of pine shavings from the feed store and put a whole bag in each pen.  This gave about 6 to 8 inches of soft fluffy bedding for the kids.  It makes the basement smell good too!

Pine shavings for bedding (side view)

Pine shavings for bedding (front view)

I'm getting pretty excited about this year's kidding season.  I think having the new kid nursery in the basement will make it so much easier at feeding time. 

My Mom (who is 71) lives with us and takes care of most of the bottle feeding of the kids.  She likes the idea of having the bottle kids in the basement too.  She doesn't enjoy dragging a large cooler full of warm milk bottles out to the barn to feed the kids.  She did this last year and was not looking forward to it again this year!

Mom feeding the Kids out in the barn last kidding season

We still have the pens out in the barn, but they'll be used as kidding stalls this year.  With 48 does to have kids ... we'll need all the room we can get!


~Tonia said...

Is that Latte and Fandango?? It looks so good and Organized!! lol I am interested in what you come up with to get the bottles down there....

Brenda said...

Yes, that's Latte and Fandango in the photo with my Mom. You're pretty good! Considering this is a photo of them when they're babies!

I'm thinking about a pulley system to hook onto the cooler with the bottles inside to lower the cooler down the stairs ... so my Mom doesn't have to carry the cooler down the stairs. Or ... I'd be up for suggestions if anyone has other ideas ??

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am impressed, first let me say you are very organized. Love what you have done in the basement. Great job cutting the fence panels. I am in awe of your electrical work. You go girl! I am so looking forward to keeping up with all the new kids. Oh, I would like to include that your mother is amazing. It is nice you have her to help out with the kids.

Feral Female said...

Those are great looking kid pens, and in the basement no less! Superb idea!! I agree with your mom, it`s no fun having to lug milk down to the goat barn!

Brenda said...

Thank you for the kind words! Yes, Mom is a great help with getting the bottles ready and feeding the kids. During kidding season ... I'm so busy on labor watch and delivery, milking, and the regular chores ... it wonderful to know she's taking care of feeding the kids. Last year we had a couple of temporary pens in the basement for the very young kids and that worked out really well. We got the kids out of the pens to run and play in the basement really often. They are hilarious to watch when they're running and kicking sideways!

Marg said...

Well, I really appreciate all your kind words. Since Brenda is busy 34 hours a day, I try to help her all I can. No that is not a typo, she really is busy 24 7. When I first moved up here, and the baby kids started coming and I saw it took her 2 to 3 days to get the baby to start taking a bottle, I said that is not for me, she had the nack and the experience of teaching them to eat. Not me, all I have done with pets is raise chihuahuas, well, and also birds. They are easy to take care of when they are babies.
So one day I told her that I would like to try and give it my best. It is really a struggle to get the new kids to take the bottle, they just refuse it completely, and on the start I had to get her to take over with 2 or 3 a few times. I watched closely and saw how she did it, and I got the right idea. Ya have to hold them on your lap and they try to jump off, as they are stout and strog. But it seemed if they folded the front legs and were contrary on the start, just let their hind legs hang over my lap. That way they can't jump off the lap so easily.
I fed 48 twice a day. So as they got bigger, it was exciting as I got inside each pen of 6 babies, and sat on the cooler. They of course all want to eat at once, so ya have the other 5 jumping and trying to get on my lap also. Then as they got a lot bigger, she rigged a wire holder for all 6 bottles to hang on the ourside of the pens.
But I only did one pen at a time, as they enjoyed their bottles so much, when they would butt, the bottle would go flying. lol
No, I would not say it was an easy job, but fulfilling and interesting. A bottle fed baby goat is always gentle and I would not have a wild one that has not been bottle fed to own.
These last winter's babies are about grown, and ya get in the corral with them, and they still give ya kisses and get up to set on your lap.
Since being new to the goat family, I never knew how personable they are. Every goat here has a name desiginated to them, and they all know their name. They are extremaly intelligent.
When I bottle fed those last winter, I would open the barn door and say "Hello Kids" and they knew their bottle was coming, and they were so excited and began talking to me. They still do today, when I go out there and say Hello Kids. They think of us as their Mother and never forget us.
I am looking farward to the new babies this season. Like when I raised chihuahuas, it is exciting what color each baby turns out to be.
I have to remember each baby by the color and name, so one don't get fed twice and one is skipped at that feeding. I am glad I am like Brenda and have a computer brain. lol This may sound funny, but the way I have exercised my brain is playing Nintendo and doing cross word puzzles books in my spare time. I started playing Nintendo with my grandkids back in 1977 and was surprised that I enjoyed playing it, as much as they did. Although I have given away most of my larger systems, with their video games, I still keep the little portable gameboy by my chair, so when I have a boring moment. lol I would recomend it to everyone, no matter the age.
I didn't want to write a book here, but enjoyed Brenda's blog, and just had to write my comment. She enjoys reading everyone's comment, so keep them coming.