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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cabin Fever

Can goats have cabin fever? Two nights ago as I was feeding, I noticed Dandelion, one of my young does,  with a bloody head.  Obviously she's been butting heads with one of the others, the question only remained--who?  White goats are easy to check, and no one else looked like her opponent. When I checked darker heads, it was too hard to be sure, but I suspected Cassie.

Dandy's head looks very sore
Last night I went armed with my trusty camera. Culprit found! As expected, it was Cassie. 
That telltale spot of blood on Cassie's head indeed tells the tale.
Cassie's already cowed D'Arcy, who gives way, however reluctantly.  I've been shuffling stalls around, too, in expectation of kidding season.   Perhaps all those things combined explained why she decided to take on Dandy.

I expect this type of behavior in the spring, when everyone is fresh and full of vim and vigor, happy to get out after being stuck in the barn.  Unless I keep everyone in separate stalls during the day, there's no way to keep fighters separated.  There's more snow on the way and even less chance for them to get outside. I leave the doors open, but they don't seem anxious to take a walk in the snow. 

It's going to be a long winter.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Stormy weather

We've had three storms in 7 or 8 days, all of them dumping anywhere from 8 to 12 inches at a time, an interesting change from the temperature fluctuations of late fall and early winter.

The first storm was almost fun. "Look at all that snow!'  I dug a path to the goats' underbarn sanctuary, and they seemed grateful, or at least interested enough to use the path.

 The does watched with interest, but didn't seem inclined to do more.

 It was a daunting task, and as I looked over the field of snow, I almost changed my mind.  But with Mime following me as I shoveled, patiently waiting for me to dig so he could take a few more steps forward, I persevered.
Once I had completed the dig, the rest of the herd took notice and followed.  You can see them in the background, jumping up and down as they came.

 Three days later another storm hit, the wind howled, snow filled in the path, making it doubtful there had ever been one.  This time I enlistted the help of my son, who maneuvered the snowblower through the barn and out the big doors.  Goats scattered everywhere!  "What's that noise?  Run for your lives!"  

We took turns, slowly making another path through the snow to their favorite haunt.  Zoë delighted in the path, running up and down inspecting everything.

Aren't you coming?

Walls of snow

Zoë through the gate

We took a different path, digging through nearer the feeders.  The drift had looked more doable from our vantage point at the top of the hill, but it proved to be very wide indeed.   The spot where they had come in after the first storm was nothing but a wall now, blocking the way.

The tunnel from the outside...

...and from the inside.

It took a while, but eventually the goats were all under the barn, happily pulling hay out of the feeders and scattering it everywhere.  Little did we know...

The third storm hit Tuesday morning.  It was supposed to start around 9:00, but snow was already falling byt 7:30.  The barn was shut up as tight as I could make it, but since it was built around 1780, there are many little cracks and crannies where snow filters, seeps, and blows through  The first storm blocked up most of those places, but the doors provide opportunity to bring the winter storms right into the barn.  It's always intriguing to see what curious patterns have swirled and mounded inside those doors.  While the storms raged outside, the does relaxed inside, knowing they were snug and warm. 

Today is Friday.  The storm ended around noon yesterday, but opening the doors quickly convinced me that blowing snow could fill the barn just as quickly as the storm itself.  I quickly shut them and left the goats in.  This morning dawned bright and clear, the snow brilliant, the breeze light.  The doors are open, the goats can go outside, but nothing is left of the path that Shawn and I so painstakingly prepared.  It doesn't matter.  Another storm is on its way, and they'll just have make do with staying close.  So far I haven't noticed a hoofprint outside the doors.

Friday, January 30, 2015


            What a beautiful night! It’s still and dark, with a glow that lights up the surroundings.  A light snow is falling, and all is quiet and hushed.  Even my footsteps were muffled in the soft snow.  As I returned from the barn after feeding, I stood outside the door for a few long moments, drinking it in. Instead of taking off my coat and hat as I entered, I called to Zoë and out we went again.  She was on an extendible lead; I could barely see her against the snowy driveway.  We walked about half way up the lane, pausing every now and then for her to sniff and explore and for me to drink in the stillness.  I imagined a white scratch board, just hints of outlines of trees and branches.  I haven’t done a scratchboard in years, haven’t thought of one for almost as long, but the scene cried for a deft hand.  Not mine, I think, but the image hung in the air. 

            Reluctantly I turned and we headed back to the farm; I can’t leave my mother alone too long, but the walk refreshed my soul.

A clean herd

I just received test results from WADDL (Washington Animal Diagnostic Lab).  All my herd are negative for  CL and Johnes, and those tested for CAE are also negative.. Beatrice and Leah have been CAE positive for years, but asymptomatic, so I didn't bother having them tested.

Since I run my herd together, l give everyone CAE nosodes--homeopathic immunization--which I buy from Ainsworth's, a homeopathic pharmacy in England, because they carry a higher potency than what is available in the U.S.  That makes for a more effective immunization program. 

Dr. Isaac Golden, an Australian homeopath, did his doctoral work on the efficacy of homeopathic immunization vs vaccination.  In all cases, homeopathy is just as effective as vaccination; in some cases, it's even more effective.  In the case of CAE, there are NO vaccines, but homeopathy can still protect my herd.  For those wanting more information, his website has a free course for parents.  Though Dr. Golden doesn't treat animals, the principles are the same as for humans.  I do love homeopathy!

I also use homeopathic nosodes to protect my dogs from kennel cough and other diseases, and have used nosodes to protect my horses from Rhinoneumonitis and West Nile Virus.  This is an alternative that I'm grateful for, that is proven, and that, unfortunately, conventional medicine has a field day bashing, because they don't understand how it works.  Frankly, I don't care how homeopathy works.  I'm just glad it does.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A View of the Sanctuary

A blizzard is slated to descend upon us tomorrow, but today dawned bright and clear.  The barn is old, built around 1780, and as it's built on a hill, a sizable area under the barn is a favorite loafing place for all the livestock that have ever lived here.  The area contains two outsize feeders that can be filled from the floor above, and emptied willy-nilly, much of it wasted (from my point of view), but always enjoyed.  There are also wonderfully large, flat stones that the goats love to climb and nap on

I suspect that they won't be venturing forth for a while, probably not until I break trail for them (horses were very good for that, but they're gone now), so it seemed like a good day to capture them in their sanctuary.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Too cold by far

It's been brutally cold this week, below zero several mornings and in the single digits during the day.  Even the warmer days have been below freezing, and the winds have been very cold.  The does have wanted to stay in, only peering out the door occasionally.

There are two large feeders under the barn, and the goats have been heading out that way most of the time, but this week they're content to hang out indoors, doing what goats do.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More trees...

As I suspected, the goats love the new Christmas trees.  Ours went out to them on Saturday the 3rd in the morning, and another was delivered at dusk.  One more to go.  One of our neighbors still has a locally cut (at our farm, in fact) tree that they haven't taken down yet.  In the meantime, the goats are having a feast.
Hannah and Dolly munching on fir...

...while everyone else just watches.  They've already had a turn.

But you know, once one starts eating, they all get interested again.

It looks like the bark is of especial interest.

Goats are so fickle!  Now that there's a new tree, they just know it'll taste even better.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the goats...

And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for the goats.