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I must have been good last year, as Santa was kind enough to upgrade my camera and lenses for Christmas. For the last six years the blog has depended on my old camera, but it had some shortcomings, especially in low light conditions, so I’m quite excited about the upgrade.  I’m still getting used to the differences between them both, as it’s amazing what they can pack into a DSLR these days.

I spent some time with the girls in the barn yard this morning, specifically because the lighting down there is always challenging, as it’s surrounded by tall trees, and this time of year gets a lot of dappled light. I think Lotus approves of the results, though.

"Hey, I like this camera, it makes me look gooooood!"

“Hey, I like this camera, it makes me look gooooood!”

Although we’re currently enjoying a slight lull in farm activities, and using that time to get ready for spring planting, and a new batch of spring chicks, the ladies in the barn are busy making some spring preparations of their own.

"You know what happens on the farm in spring, don't you?"

“You know what happens on the farm in spring, don’t you?”

This season we have five does that are scheduled to have kids between late February and the end of March. The first doe scheduled to kid this year is Lotus, in just over seven more weeks, at the very end of February. I’m not sure that day can come quite fast enough for her though. Poor thing.

When you can't scratch your head with your hoof anymore, a barn wall will do

When you can’t scratch your head with your hoof anymore, a barn wall will do

Lotus only ultrasounded with triplets in November, but I’m seriously questioning now if we missed one.

We could clearly see three, but it can be difficult to get an exact count

We could clearly see three, but it can be difficult to get an exact count

Her girth is already impressive to say the least!

Lotus still has just under two months to go!

Lotus still has just under two months to go!

She always has been an over-achiever, but we love her for it. This is how she looked a few weeks ago, in mid-December…

Notice how much darker the photos were with the old camera?

Notice how much darker the photos were with the old camera?

In livestock, ultrasound isn’t always an exact science, especially when there are multiple babies to count. They can easily hide behind each other, making accurate counts tricky, but we know she’s carrying at least three. It could be more, we’ll have to wait and see.

For some weeks now Lotus eagerly greets me at the barn gate, because she knows that humans have these wonderful inventions called opposable thumbs, and fingernails.

"Might I bother you for a scratch? Pleeeease?"

“Might I bother you for a scratch? Pleeeease?”

Not only can humans fill hay feeders with their nimble digits, which is perhaps the most important thing for them to do, but they can also reach all of those itches that are impossible to scratch with mere teeth, and hooves, this time of year.

Although barn doors and hay feeders work as impromptu scratching posts, too

Although barn doors and hay feeders work as impromptu scratching posts, too

Lotus’ daughter, Lily, is striving to follow in her dam’s footsteps, and is already getting noticeably more round.

Lily isn't even half way through her pregnancy yet!

Lily isn’t even half way through her pregnancy yet!

However, Lily isn’t due to kid until almost a month after Lotus.

She looks quite proud of herself, doesn't she?

She looks quite proud of herself, doesn’t she?

That said, Lily did ultrasound with quadruplets this season, so I expect it’s going to get very crowded in there by the end of March.

Even Minnie is looking a little more round this season, although we expect her to kid with the same number of kids she had last year.

"Minnie, can we show everyone how  round you're getting?"

“Minnie, can we show everyone how round you’re getting?”

Minnie is a little shy, and not always as eager to pose for the camera.

"Do I have to?"

“Do I have to?”

Oh well, maybe we’ll catch a picture when she least expects it.

Gotcha! Sorry, Minnie.

Gotcha! Sorry, Minnie.

Poor Minnie she’s been working hard to maintain her trim figure this season.

"At least I haven't completely let myself go"

“At least I haven’t completely let myself go”

Royalia, though, is the one to watch this season. Like Lily, Royalia ultrasounded with quadruplets back in December, but that’s because we could only fit four of them on the screen at the same time.

We know Royalia has at least quadruplets

We know Royalia has at least quadruplets

There is some considerable question as to whether she might actually be carrying five this season. This time last year, with two more months to go before she kids, Lia didn’t even appear pregnant from the outside. You couldn’t tell just looking at her, but this year she’s already starting to show some increased girth.

Royalia has just over two months to go, and is just starting to really show

Royalia has just over two months to go, and is just starting to really show

Last spring we added one more senior doe to the herd, Ocean Flower, and this season she’s expecting triplets.

Ocean fits in very well with the herd, and you'd never know that she was the most recent new-comer to the farm

Ocean fits in very well with the herd, and you’d never know that she was the most recent new-comer to the farm

Most of our does crave a lot of extra attention when they’re pregnant, and Ocean is no exception.

Ocean is expecting triplets this spring

Ocean is expecting triplets this spring

Every time I look down, she’s usually at my feet, and if I sit down, she immediately comes over and puts her head in my lap.

"Mind if I rest here a while?"

“Mind if I rest here a while?”

If you been counting, while reading this post, you now know that between just five does we’re expecting approximately 17 kids this spring. Although I’m somewhat in denial, I know all too well that the next seven weeks will zip right by, and the sleepless nights, and endless rounds of bottle feeding adorable fuzzy babies will soon be upon us.

So, while the ladies kick back in the barn, for the next few weeks we’ll be busy clearing out the greenhouse, and starting seeds for our late spring and summer crops.

If we continue to get some more rain this winter, we're hoping to plant at least a small garden again in spring

If we continue to get some more rain this winter, we’re hoping to plant at least a small garden again in spring

A new dedicated hay shed is being constructed the first week of February, weather permitting, and a new flock of Dark Brahma chicks will be arriving that week too.

New Brahma chicks, and baby goats. We'll be very busy this spring!

New Brahma chicks, and baby goats. We’ll be very busy this spring!

Then we’ll have just enough time before kidding season starts to reinstall the kidding pens, and then spring on the farm will, once again, be in full swing!