How to milk a goat

Ever since we started having baby goats, we saw the need to milk our goat, either because she had too much milk, which caused her pain, or because we had to tube feed the kids

In order to milk a goat, many people use a milking stand, as we do not yet own one, we have a second person hold the goat. Before starting, you should wash the goat's teats and udder so that no dirt or hair gets in the milk. For this, we use very diluted dish washer.

To start milking, you must prevent the milk from flowing back by securing the top of the teat with your thumb and forefinger. After this, squeeze the milk out by applying pressure first with your middle finger, then with your ring finger and, finally, with your pinky finger, until the teat is empty. Then release the pressure to let the milk flow back to the teat and start over. Repeat these steps until both teats are empty.

Be careful not to pull on the teats, as this would only hurt the goat and would not make the milk flow any faster.

Here is a video of how to do it:

New baby goats

Back in April the goat finally went into labor and delivered three baby goats. No one was around to help and by the time we got there one of the babies was already dead. We don't know if he was born dead or died after but we were certainly not expecting three. All of them were pretty small and weak. Here's our first picture of the two that survived:

Initially we were afraid they weren't going to make it. They weren't very active and didn't seem to have much of an instinct to go feed. After trying to bottle feed them and not having much luck we went on youtube and figured out we needed to intubate. We used a kit similar to this one to do it.

After a couple of days of regular feeding with their mother's milk they started getting stronger and feeding by themselves. By the end of the weekend they were active and already showing their insticts by climbing on things. The flickr stream has a few more photos and videos.

Building an owl box

"Corujas" means "owls" in portuguese. Since it's the name of the farm and since owls look great and hunt mice we've always wanted to have one. But we don't want a pet owl. We went to a bird-of-prey exhibition and were told that if you get a tamed owl you'll have to feed it yourself. We wondered how you'd get a wild one and the response was "How do you know you don't have one now?". That made sense. We often see hawks and eagles flying over the farm and sometimes hear owl-like calls at night. Since owls are exclusively night animals we figured there was a good chance one was around already. The matter was settled when I was out for a jog at night in the city (not the farm) and saw a beautiful white owl flying overhead between two fields close to our house.

So the way to get an owl to permanently move in was to just provide it with a place to nest. You can buy pre-made boxes but we looked up plans online and decided on building our own box. The best plans seem to be this PDF based on an original design by Steve Simmons. We didn't follow the plans exactly. Our initial setup was basically a 50cm cube:

We painted all the outside with an Ikea wood protector (any wood preservative should do) and used a dremel to create some footholds and a jigsaw to open up the entrance hole:

We put in a hinged door to make it easy to go in and clean the box once it's in place and folded a metal sheet to create a roof, since that's the part most exposed to the rain.

We picked the spot to put it up.  Here's the box installed on the top of an old stone pillar that was originally supporting a traditional wine vineyard:

We went a little overboard in making sure the box was properly attached. We attached it with three shelf brackets as well as to the metal pole already attached to the stone pillar with some metal strips.

Hopefully we'll be able to attract an owl to nest in the box. We were too late this year as the nesting period is late winter. Hopefully next year we'll have some luck. And owl should help with reducing mice populations. We should consider building a bat house to help with mosquitoes. We're sure we have bats as we often see them flying around at dusk.