A typical winter night on the Crises’ northern Maine homestead.

CRISE, continued from Page 14 collects around the edges of the shelter. We have a few kidding stalls set up as well. These are left closed all year except for during kidding season. We’ve had success with a completely hands-off approach with our Kikos but we tend to try to be around in case of any complications.

What we’ve found is that in our cold weather if you don’t pro- vide a little support, the new kids struggle. Mommas just can’t dry them off fast enough, no matter how great their mothering instincts are. They lick and lick and lick but if it is below freezing, we let them do the initial drying and then we give them a quick rub down with a towel to make sure they are dry enough while momma attends to the next kid that is on its way or has hit the ground.

These kidding stalls also make sure that the dam is able to bond with her kids before going back to the herd. Usually it is overnight, no more than 48 hours that they hang out in the stall and get a little more pampering than usual.

Kathy is the worrier and if I fix one thing, she worries about

another. She is also the weather watcher and knows when the nights will be the coldest and days might provide some lounging time in the sun. Thanks to her worries, along with the winter barn, we now pro- vide some smaller shelters in the barnyard too.

Dogloos, calf-huts and even dye-totes (meticulously scrubbed out) provide alternate warming and lounging spots. The dogloos pro- vide an excellent deep-bedding “pig-pile” shelter for kids, sometimes as many as 10 to 12. The calf-hut and totes provide the bigger goats an excellent wind-break or spot for multi-generational gatherings with grandma and mom and all their kids to help keep everyone warm. Like most that have a small-to-medium sized operation, we use a tractor with a manure grapple to remove soiled hay from the open air barn once or twice a season. I like to keep it tidy but there is a happy medium. You need that deep bedding to assist with keeping the herd warm on those cold nights and removing some of it makes for easier spring-summer clean up.

Having an open-air barn assists in clean up as I am able to drive through and pick up hay easily with the manure grapple. It makes cleaning a lot less arduous.

An open-air style barn approach isn’t the only approach but it definitely works for our style of management. Our goal is to keep the breed as it was intended with low input and as much as possible, hands off. Cold winters don’t always allow for that but we do our best to let the Kikos be Kikos.

(Josh and Kathy Crise, and their grown children, Amelia and Kevin, operate Marble Creek Acres in Lee, Maine. For interest in a fu- ture year’s Kiko waitlist, questions or if you have topics you might like to read about in a future Goat Rancher, we can be reached at 207-619- 3758, e-mail or

November 2021 | Goat Rancher 39

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