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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mixing it all up

I have two young does visiting here to be bred.  They are happily cavorting with Deaglan, my Sable buck, but the wether, Dewey, was a bit overwhelmed with this sudden influx of (gasp) new goats!  I moved him out of the stall he shared with Deaglan, but that posed a dilemma--where to put him so he wouldn't be beaten up.  No use just turning him out with the rest of the herd; if 2 goats upset him, 8 would do him in! 

After 2 or 3 combinations, I finally ended up putting Dandy with the two Saanen does, D'Arcy with the two pregnant Sables, and Oreo, Dolly, and Dewey together.  It's amusing how that worked out.  When I put Dewey with an established group, they just beat up on him, and being the timid soul that he is, he wouldn't push back.  Even when he was with Violet, his foster mother, and Dolly, his littermate, Cassie wouldn't let him near the feeder.  With the new mix, though, none of the three have been stalled together at night.  Result?  Everyone's out of the comfort zone and they're all getting along. 

I discovered something else, too.  Dewey's a great little teaser.  I didn't know Oreo was in heat, but she soon started flagging wildly.  What a good boy, Dewey!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easing into winter

Well...not easing, more like jumping.  Two days ago the ground fault interrupter on the receptacle for the stock tank started tripping.  Result:  frozen water.  So I decided to switch the heater, just to see if that's the problem and not the receptable or the wiring.  That one didn't even wait a few minutes; it just tripped the GFI as soon as I plugged it in.  It's 16°F today, which is considerably below the freezing point.  It's wonderful how failures like this never happen until the worst possible moment--or weather. 

Bucket shuffle!  Five gallon heated bucket came out of the Saanen does' stall so Angel could have water.  Extra two gallon bucket went into the stall.  I have to fill the 5-gallon bucket 2 or 3 times a day, but that sure beats carrying water from the house.  I take comfort where I can, and I'm very grateful right about now for that extra heated bucket.

The hay net continues to be a hit.  Beatrice and Leah chase everyone else away when they can.  Angel, of course, is too big for them to intimidate.  I'll be glad when I get a couple more NAG bags.  One is not enough to go around.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A little catch-up

 Life has been busy in the past few months and I've let my blog slip.  Ah, well, today's another day and I'm here now.

It's been an exciting fall.  All of my kids exhibited symptoms of meningeal worm, aka brainworm or deerworm.  I thought they had some kind of mange, but it didn't respond to anything.  I finally called out the vet, who looked at the symmetrical bald spots on one young buck and declared it "brainworm".  The larvae travel through the spinal column, damaging nerve endings and causing the symmetrical damage.  Recommendation:  5 days of Safeguard and 5 days of Ivermectin.  I was reluctant, until my little wether, Dewey, began staggering and falling. As I researched for more information,  on page 15 of a file that I found at Cornell, I saw the exact type of lesions I was seeing on my doelings.  End of hesitation.  Within 2 days Dewey was better.  I've been watching them closely, and recently  I noticed that Deaglan and D'Arcy were showing those bare spots again.  Five days of Land of Havilah herbal wormer 3-4 times a day for a week.  My test--the hair growing in again, no unsteadiness of gait.

It's been  wet year; snails have invaded everywhere.  Here's the life cycle:  Deer are a dead-end host for meningeal worm.  The meningeal worm completes its life cycle, passes the eggs out of its system, and they're little affected.  Along comes a slug or snail, ingests the eggs or larvae, goats or sheep ingest the larvae, and they migrate along the spinal column or into the brain.  Until a goat is a year old, the blood-brain barrier is very weak.  It's no surprise that none of my adults were infected. 

Watching all the hay wasted always has me looking for new solutions.  I've been thinking about a slow feeder for a couple of years, and thought seriously about putting a metal grate in the horse's feeder.  Every time, though, I'd watch a goat jump in there, and just knew someone would get a leg caught, or worse.  I finally found a hay net, made to be a slow feeder--the N.A.G bag. After my usual seemingly endless dithering, I ordered one.  It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and even the goats like it.  Sometimes I hang it, which my goats love, but Angel likes it better on the ground.

This morning I found the hay net half in the stock tank immersed in water, and half on the outside.  Angel was out, probably too disgusted to try to eat.  I took it out of the water, let it drain on the barn floor for a few minutes, than laid it out on the floor.

I'm going to order two smaller ones for stalls.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fostering: Accomplished.

The new kids are 2-1/2 weeks old now, and Violet well and truly is their mama.  She protects them when other goats threaten, she checks on them, and she feeds them.  It must be confessed that Violet is a rather laid-back mother.  She leaves her kids (whether born to her or fostered) and goes out to pasture, with hardly a glance backward.  However, she does come back periodically to check on them and feed them, and then it's back out to pasture again.  The kids don't mind.  They play happily and explore their new surroundings, extending their boundaries as they get braver.  When they're tired, they find a place to sleep, either outside or tucked away in their familiar stall.

Late last week, they moved out of the paddock area into the rocky area by the lower barn.  Oh, those rocks!  A goat's paradise for playtime!

Friday, June 21, 2013

An experiment in fostering

At the same time that I took the kids, I separated Violet's bucklings and started the weaning process.  I was going to do it last week, but delayed it because I hate milking Violet.  She's a first time freshener and has a "2 finger teat" and I still don't have my milking machine put together, nor does my Henry Milker work on her.  Now was the time, though.  That evening, I let them nurse again, and for the last time on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon, I put the new kids in with Violet, and as Shawn held her while she ate Chaffhaye and grain, I guided their little mouths to her teats.  It took a few times, but they finally latched on.  Ah! here was the milk bar they'd been looking for all along!  Every 2 hours, Shawn and I came out, fed Violet, and guided the kids to the milk station.

Next morning, I tied Violet up while I made sure the goatlings could find their own way, helping only when necessary.  By the end of day 2, they had it down.  By mid-day, all I had to do was hold Violet, no food in hand, and she'd stand while they nursed.  She wouldn't stand without being held, but she wasn't aggressive, either.  Progress!

The one thing that I felt held her back was hearing her bucklings.  They would call, she would answer.  It must have been confusing for her to hear her kids calling, and yet here were these kids suckling on her.  I posted a request online to see if anyone local could take the bucklings for a week or two.

On day 4, Wednesday, I put Violet and the kids into a small enclosure with an electric web fence.  Oh, how hard it is to hold those tiny babies close to the fence until they reach out and touch it!  But how necessary if they're going to learn about electric fences without jumping forward and entangling themselves!  It was wonderful to see them sniffing the grass, playing on the stone steps, then curling up together when they were tired.  Violet was still walking away when they wanted to nurse, so I was still holding her every 2 to 3 hours so they could eat.

Midafternoon came and Violet asked to go in, so I carefully carried the kids, one by one, into the barn, then led her back.  She was not happy.  She wanted out, to choose her own place in the barn or near the barn, or in the pasture, or wherever, but not be locked up with no choice at all! 
Sorry, Violet.  The more time you spend with them, the more likely you are to accept them as your own.

Thursday was a repeat of Wednesday, and the hollering back and forth of Violet and her bucklings was getting me down.  I was convinced that their presence was the final impediment to her truly fostering the new kids.  Thursday night I got an email from another goat breeder in Morrill, offering to keep my bucklings for a couple of weeks so she couldn't hear them.  Today, I packed them into the car--my Goatmobile--and off we went.

Young goats are very resilient.  They took the car trip in stride, settled in to their new digs quickly, and didn't bat an eye.  "Hey! This is cool", they seemed to say.  We like adventure!"

Violet and the kids went into the buck pen, now empty, where there was grass and shelter from the sun.  In the morning, Violet was inside the shelter and the kids were curled up outside.  A couple of  hours later, the kids were inside the shelter and Violet was lying outside.  By early afternoon, the kids were at the back of the shelter, and Violet was also inside.  Progress.  All this time I was still going in every 2-3 hours and holding her so they could nurse, because she was still walking away.  I told her, "Violet, if you want to go out to pasture again, you have to be a mother to them. I promise you that if you take care of them, and I can trust you to watch out for them, you can get out of this small enclosure."  I hoped that would encourage her and show her what was at stake.

Tonight, though, oh tonight!  I went out around 10:00 to feed her a bit of Chaffhaye so they could nurse, while I prepared the feeders for the morning milking.  When I'd finished, I walked back to the stall to turn out the light.  There was Violet, standing looking at me, the kids nursing away, and the feeder across the stall.  She looked briefly back at one of them, touched him with her nose, and gazed at me again.  Success!  GOOD Violet!  You just came that much closer to joining the herd again!

Monday, June 17, 2013

New kids

Bella kidded on Saturday, two healthy strong kids.

I don't know where my head was.  I felt her ligaments while she was eating her morning feed and they had completely relaxed.  "Oh," I said aloud, "looks like she'll be going soon.  I'll have to check her later."  Then I completed spaced it out until early afternoon.  Shawn and I were standing near the barn and he was chiding me because I "freak out too easily".  I heard a loud bawl, and took off running toward the barn. "See?" he exclaimed, "there you go again!".  I hollered back over my shoulder, "No, I'm not!  I have a doe ready to kid and I think she just dropped the first one!"  

There in the middle of the communal stall (instead of the nice, clean stall I'd prepared), was a wet, gooey baby.  I ran in, grabbed the kid, and called to Shawn, "I'll be right back!"  Into the house I sprinted, grabbed a towel, and went back outside.  There I laid the kid in the sunny grass and toweled him (for it was a buck) dry, vigorously rubbing, and clearing his nose and mouth of any fluids.  I made note of the time and estimated that the kid had been born at 1:10.  I picked him up and carried him in to my mother, who continued toweling him down while I trotted off to the barn.

I got there just in time to see the second kid being born, completely enclosed in the sack; the water hadn't even broken.  Before Bella gave the final thrust, I broke the sack and water gushed out.  Thank goodness!  Now that baby could start breathing, and none too soon!  A moment later she was on the ground, and I grabbed her and took her away, leaving Bella bemused.

The biggest problem I have with CAE positive does is that I have to remove the kids or chances are they'll contract the disease.  These two kids are not going to have CAE, because they'll never consume infected colostrum or milk, but does love their kids, and it's hard to take them away.

Bella was fine the first day, gave 6 cups of colostrum, which I heat treated to kill the virus, but the next day, the bawling began.  I gave her Ignatia, a homeopathic remedy that's very good for grief, but she still bawled herself hoarse.  By the end of the day, she sounded like one of my neighbor's cows.  Today she's better, but still blubbering a bit.  Though she never really saw and bonded with those kids, at some level she still knows they're missing.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lovely, lovely dandelions

When I was 21 and newly married, we moved from California to Iowa, where my husband had grown up.  One of my fondest memories is the fields and fields of yellow, dandelion carpets stretching across the landscape.  Originally planted by the Amana society, the dandelions were used for dandelion wine.  How could people say that dandelions were pests and weeds?  Just look how lovely they were!

Later I learned that the much-maligned dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, is a wonderful food, herb, and medicinal plant.  I've been eating dandelion blossoms and leaves for years.  I love the slightly bitter leaves in a salad or steamed like spinach.  The flowers are wonderful sautéed with beaten egg and feta cheese, or stir-fried with fresh asparagus and fiddleheads.

We have a bumper crop of dandelions this year, and the flowers are both copious and large.

I picked several earlier this week that spanned two finger-widths.  I say I picked them, but actually I snipped the petals with as little of the sepals as I could manage, and filled a large bowl full of petals, all for the joy of dandelion blossom syrup.

Dandelion petals in the bowl

If you've never had it, you have missed one of life's little delights.  Many recipes call for lemon or orange peel and juice; I prefer just the taste of the dandelion itself, so I leave out the citrus. It took about a half hour to fill the bowl, but the time was spent in the afternoon sunshine on a warm and breezy May afternoon, and I got to watch a native bee buzzing from blossom to blossom gathering pollen as I gathered flowers.  I had a bee's eye view, one might say.

Once I had enough, the petals were covered with water and brought to a boil in a gallon pot, then covered and left to steep overnight.

Steeping the petals
This morning, I drained the blossoms in a sieve, squeezing the petals of all their liquid.

I measured 82 ounces of the liquid by weight, added the same weight of evaporated cane syrup, and heated it slowly while I stirred the sugar

Once it reached a boil, I let it simmer for 2-3 hours, until it reached about 215° F, a nice rich syrup, then hot packed it into jelly jars.  Of course, I left a jar out for immediate use, but oh! it's so nice to see that syrup lined up and waiting!

Dandelion Blossom Syrup is delicious. It's hard to describe the taste, at once light and sweet. One friend that I let try it says "It tastes like sunshine." 

The next day I made another batch.  Good thing, too, because the day after that the rains came, and they're staying for a while.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kent State University

43 years ago today, 4 students were shot down by the National Guard on the campus of Kent State University, Ohio.  I will never forget the stunned disbelief that I felt, and 43 years later, if feels like yesterday.  So much has happened since then, so much government corruption and power grabs.  As I sit here tonight, I hear Eric Holder saying, in answer to the question, "Will our troops ever fire on U.S. citizens?", "Absolutely not."  But it has already happened.  I hear the voices of government saying, "The Military Commission Act is not going to apply to U.S. Citizens", but that, too, has already happened:  The Boston bomber is a naturalized citizen, entitled to a civilian trial, not a military trial.  Should Timothy McVeigh have been labeled a terrorist and denied a trial?

As I remember the Kent State shootings, I'm heartsick.  Too much has happened, too much liberty lost.  Lest we forget, lest we forget...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Life with kids

They're cute, no doubt about it.  There's probably nothing cuter than a bouncing goat kid, except maybe a few of them together.  However!  There's only so many times one can be jumped on before it gets very old, very fast.  I mean, these kids are going to grow up to be full size goats, and what's cute now will be downright dangerous then. This week was training time for kids.

Every time they came near, my knees came up, I wiggled and squirmed, and I'm sure if someone had walked in unannounced, I'd have been a sight.  It took a few days, but my babies are learning that I'm not one of the herd and they can't jump on me without repercussions.

Kids grow quickly.  It's hard to believe they were tiny, tottering babes less than four weeks ago  They're into everything, and since the gates have wide gaps, they're out playing everywhere.  The large stone at the edge of the yard is a favorite.  Can we climb it?  Or can we not?  Up they race it to see if they can reach the top, balancing precariously before losing their balance and jumping (or sliding) off.

They've become the unofficial welcoming committee for all visitors to the farm, and most of the time the world is their oyster.  What?  Stay in the paddock or pasture with the others?  Don't be silly!

That's not to say they're always out.  No, there are alllurements within as well.  It's wonderful just how attractive a wooden pallet can be for a tired kid.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Offally good

I was at a friend's house a few weeks ago, and she offered me a few organ meats, called offal in other locales, to take home:  liver, heart, and tongue, to be specific.  I gladly accepted.  My grandparents were farmers, and they wasted nothing.  Scrapple and head cheese were common fare, and I loved second helpings on kidneys and liver.

Yesterday found me in a bit of a quandry.  What should I cook for supper?  I betook myself to the freezer to ponder the situation.  Aha!  Tongue!  Just the thing!  I dumped it unceremoniously into a pot and covered it with water.  When it had cooked enough to thaw, I emptied the water, stuck a few cloves in various locations, cut up and onion and a carrot, and added a couple of fresh bay leaves and some dried thyme. 

Cooking tongue

The afternoon turned out to be a bit hectic, so I picked up a pizza for a quick meal and let the tongue simmer all evening.

Today I reheated the tongue, pulled off the skin, then sliced it and served it with potatoes and a horseradish mustard. As I savored every bite, I thought of my friend gratefully  

Sliced and ready to serve
Ahhh!  Her loss, my gain.  I'm so glad for my rural roots.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Feeding bottle babies

I admit that it's far easier to dam-raise kids rather than bottle feed.  However, there are sound reasons to bottle raise.  I own three of them:  CAE-positive does.  These does are healthy and strong, though Leah does freshen with congested udder, which resolves pretty quickly using homeopathic remedies, but I really don't want their kids contracting the disease (Caprine Athritis Encephalitis) when it can so easily be avoided.

I started out using 16 oz pop bottles with Pritchard nipples. As I was mulling over how to keep the milk warm while feeding one kid at a time, I perceived that a gloved potholder would hold the warmth admirably.  They gave an added bonus of fitting into a gallon pot in such a way that nothing fell over, as the bottles were wont to do without that extra help.  And the kids thought it was great fun to sniff around in there!

Snowball checking out dinner
After 3 days, I surmised that I really had to do this differently.  Besides the three that were on either end of the feeding line nibbling and climbing on me, I was soon going to run out of time.  I'd thought about a lambar before, but now I got serious.

I took a 5 gallon food-grade bucket and drilled 1/2 inch holes in it,

bought lambar nipples and food-grade clear plastic tubing, flutter valves so the milk, once sucked into the tubes, wouldn't fall back into the bucket, a metal bucket ring to hold the bucket, and began rigging the lambar.  

Red flutter valves, gray lambar nipples, and clear plastic tubing
Ha!  Easier said than done!

The red flutter valves was 1/4 inch, and the inside diameter of the tubing was 1/4 inch  Clearly, the tubing had to be stretched.  I tried several different ways, but the way that worked the best was heating a Phillips screwdriver heat and inserting it into the tube just far enough and long enough to stretch the tubing and yet not melt it.  Finally I perfected the technique:  heat the screwdriver tip just enough to warm the tubing and insert the screwdriver, 

Heating the plastic tube end
then warm the tubing over the flame to encourage the stretch, let it cool slowly, and then, before it's completely cool, remove the screwdriver and quickly insert the flutter valve.

Getting the length of the tubes was a bit tricky, too.  Because I wanted to monitor how much each kid was getting, I poured the milk rations into separate quart bottles.

Once the bottles were filled, I could put a lid on the bucket, carry it to the barn, and feed all four kids at once.  
At least, that was the theory.  In practice, it took another 3 or 4 days. First I had to switch the Pritchard nipples to the grey nipples and get them used to that, then they had to be standing and nursing, rather than sitting in my lap.  Once they reached that point, I could transfer them to the lambar.  A couple caught on immediately, the other two took some coaxing.  Dally, true to her name (actually, that's how she came by her name), dilly-dallied and was the last to embrace the lambar.  Did I mention that the bucket holder is welded to an old tire?  That raises the bucket to the perfect height for kids.  Works great!

I don't use the quart jars to track their feediings anymore.  Now I fill the jars with water to displace and raise the level of the milk, making it easier for the kids to suck, and I pour the milk directly into the plastic bucket, enough to last a couple of meals.  I check it mid-afternoon and add milk then; if it isn't empty, it's pretty darned close.  They've actually backed off eating as much.  They know it's there, and I've slowly dropped the temperature of the milk so they eat more naturally. Instead of guzzling 16 ounces all at once, they're more likely to have snacks throughout the day, just as they would were they nursing their dams.

I watched Violet and her bucklings today.  They nurse for a minute or two, and then she walks off.  "That's enough, boys.  You can have more later."

I love the lambar.  I still check to make sure they're eating on demand, and when I find it empty, I know they are.  Sometimes I encourage them to nurse while I'm there, but usually they're already full.  Today I rigged the stall door so they can go in and out and play outside.  Life is good.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beatrice...or Stressful day(s) on the farm

Since Leah kidded early, Beatrice decided to delay a day.  Friday morning, her due date, her sides had sunk and her ligaments were soft, but she showed not the slightest inclination to stay in.  Fine.  Out she went.

Saturday morning, she still wanted out, but there was something in her actions...just a little something...that made me want to keep an eye on her.  Sometime midmorning, I laid out my clothes and towels to take a shower.  As I headed for the bathroom, I decided to take one last look at Beatrice, and get her into her stall.  I just wasn't comfortable with her being out and the gate closed to keep the others out of there.  I called her and she came and immediately went into the stall.  Now that's different; Beatrice likes to be outside.  I knew the time was approaching.  I watched her for a few minutes as she stood quietly looking back at me. I thought, "I have time to take a shower," and went back to the house.  I checked my email, busied myself with odds and ends for a few minutes...and headed back to the barn.

Again Bea stood looking back at me, but as I watched, she turned and looked at her side.  A few minutes later, she pawed the bedding.  11:00.  She walked around a bit, lay down, and did nothing.  A few minutes later she started to push, and soon there was a nose and two front hooves sticking out of her.  Whenever she got a contraction, she'd push, but barely.  After 45 minute, she was still walking around with a nose and two hooves sticking out. I gave her 3 doses of Caulophylum 30C, 5 minutes apart, and within 15 minutes of the first dose, she pushed the baby out.  Well...almost.  The kid was hanging down with its hips still caught inside her, and she wasn't pushing.  She kept turning and I was sure she was going to swing that kid against a wall!  I grabbed her collar to stop her swinging around, rotated my fingers around the kid's hips to see if there was a malplaced leg, and when all seemed fine, I grasped the kid (pretty hard to do when they're so slippery) and when the next contraction came, pulled it out and down.  Birth, finally!  And a doe!  Beatrice loves to have bucklings, so I was very happy, even it it isn't a Sable.

Yes, we whisked her away quickly, after toweling her off a bit.  I "bounced' Beatrice and it felt like there was another kid in there, so I left the rest of the cleaning up to my son when he carried her to the house, and watched to see what would happen.

Again, nothing.  I milked her out, hoping to stimulate further contractions.  One side of her udder was almost devoid of colostrum, and the other gave me only 1/2 gallon.  Not good.  This doe usually freshens with a gallon or more.

After an hour I called my vet.  The second kid should have appeared by now.

"Scrub up and go in," she said.
"How far?" says I.
 "As far as you need to," she replied.
"How far is that?"
 "Oh, probably you won't have to go farther than a couple of inches of wrist."

Oh, goody.

I scrubbed my entire arm. grabbed hold of her collar with the other arm, and slowly inserted my fingers.  Nothing.  There are easier tasks than trying to put your hand  inside a goat's birthing canal while holding her with the other hand and trying to keep her still.  I finally just pinned her in a corner and against a wall.  The goo from her last kid was the lubricant, and I made sure I smeared it all over as I went in.  All the way to my wrist.  A little farther. I felt..something squishy.  I felt around a bit more.  Nope, no limbs, no head, nothing hard that would indicate another kid.  Must be just the placenta.  I extracted my hand, disappointed.

Shawn left and came back.  When he came into the house, he said, "I think you need to come in the barn.  I think she's having another kid.  I swear I saw something that looked like hooves and nose."
"Can't be," I replied.  "I felt around in there. There was nothing solid, just soft and squooshy."
"Come and look anyway," he said. " I saw a red bubble."

Now I was sure it was the afterbirth, and when we got out there, a small red sack was hanging from  her.  I saw nothing else, and neither did he.  I did not check closer, silly me.  "Well," said he, "maybe I was mistaken."  He left again,, taking my car to repair the struts.  I took the new doeling and put her in with Leah's two kids.

I spent the next hour or more heat-treating her colostrum. That's a chore in itself.  The colostrum has to be held at 135° F for one hour.  I did that by filling the sink with 140° F water, and checking both the temperature of the water and the temperature of the colostrum every 5 minutes, so the colostrum didn't go above 139° and turn into pudding.  Whenever the water temperature fell below 136°, I took out two quarts and added back in two quarts of boiling water. 

 When I finished, I went to the barn to see if she'd passed the afterbirth yet.  There in the hay stood a kid, wobbling on its new legs, still damp, and Beatrice licking the placenta.  I figure the kid, another doe!--had been born between 3:30 and 4:00, and most probably within the last 15 minutes.  I covered her with a towel and whisked her off to the house.  After a few minutes, she greedily took some colostrum and once she was almost dry, I left her with the brood.

Is there anything cuter than newborn kids? They stumbled and semi-hopped over to greet the newcomer.  Later when I went to feed them, they were all piled in the corner together.
 Beatrice's kids are strong! Violet's bucklings, Snowball, and Oreo took a couple of days to climb onto the low pallet.  Dandelion (#1 kid) and Dilly-Dally (#2 kid) were climbing onto it the first day.  Leah's kids look more delicate, Beatrice's kids look more stout.

The next morning I was up at 6:00, hoping to get kids fed, does milked, shower, and out the door by 9:00.  It didn't happen.  Violet is not an easy milker.  She stands quietly, but her teats are so small that it takes forever to milk her.  First there was the heating of the colostrum for the newborns and milk for the older kids, out to feed,  milk three does, warm packs on Leah for her udder edema, feed the horses and poultry...

Oh, forget it!  I let all the Guineas and Silkies out.  It was a beautiful day, they'd been in for weeks, and the snow was gone.  Let them fend for themselves today!

My sister and brother-in-law showed up to say Happy Easter to my mother, and Laura and I headed out to the barn so she could see the new kids.  Two in the corner piled up, one sleeping on the tall pallet, and ... the fourth was missing. I checked to see if she could have wedged her way under the door.  Nope.  We walked around and looked at the pallets lying one on top of the other, and little entryways into the innards.  Laura took one end, and I took the other, and we gently lifted it and moved it off the bottom pallets.  A little, dirty-faced goating looked up and mewled.  I lifted her oh-so-tenderly and carefully out of there, felt to assure that she was okay, and set her down on wobbly legs with the others, then we put back the top pallet...and filled every place of ingress with bunches of hay.  The nice thing about that hay sticking out is it gives the kids easy access to start nibbling.  There's a bright side to everything.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A busy day.

What a day! Because it was chilly last night, and they were still a little damp,  I brought Leah's kids into the house and left them in the dog crate, which sees more use for kids than it does for the dog.  I gave them their last feeding around 11:00 and rose this morning around 6:00 to feed them.  Snowball took her bottle easily, but Oreo resisted.  Yesterday, she'd been the one that grasped quickly what that bottle was about, but I couldn't get more than a few slurps out of her.

Around 11:00, a friend came over, a retired nurse.  She's my Visiting Teacher from the Church, but first and foremost my friend. Another friend and neighbor showed up a few minutes later.  "Hey!" she cried, "where are the kids?"  Just in time!  We fed Snowball, no problem,

and then she curled up under Marylee's chair.

Oreo just didn't seem interested,though, even when Laura, who has raised many a lamb, tried to coax her.  After Laura left, we sat there discussing what I could do to get her to eat, while my mother held her close.

Cuddling Oreo
 Marylee says she really comes over to see "her" kids, so I decided to put her to the test. "Okay," I started, "you must have put in feeding tubes when you were nursing, right?"
 "Sure," she replied.
"Would you show me how to do it?  I really think I need to tube feed this kid.  She refuses to eat."

After some conversation about what I'd need, I realized I had a tube feeding kit in the barn, unopened, one of those things I have in my kidding kit "just in case" and hope I ever have to use.  We watched a couple of videos on how to do it--she probably didn't need to watch them, but it made me feel better--and then I held Oreo while Marylee inserted the tube and fed the kid 2 ounces of milk.

That must have kick-started her little system.  I took them out to the barn to the big stall where they had room to play and a corner to snuggle in.  When I came out again 4 hours later, Oreo was ready and willing to nurse.  Yay!

Happy endings.  That's the way life's supposed to be.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I woke up this morning thinking "Leah's going to kid today."  I wish I would listen to myself.  I kept thinking, "I need to give her Apis so she won't have congested udder", but kept getting distracted.  She didn't LOOK like she was ready to kid in the morning.  In the afternoon, I went out to check the goats, and to give Leah some Apis Mellifica.  She was in her stall, bleating softly.  Uh oh, where have I seen this before?  I hustled the other does out, gave her the Apis and closed the gate so no one else could get in. 

Leah in labor
 Two more doses of Apis and 45 minutes later she gave birth to her first doeling, all white.  Ten minutes later, out popped a Sable doeling.  Shawn was busy cleaning the first, while I cleaned the second.
Leah's kids
Off to the house we carried them.  Poor Leah, she never even got a chance to know her kids.  This is the worst thing about CAE, having to separate kids and mother at birth.  Happily, Violet had provided me enough colostrum to feed Leah's kids for the first two or three days, and I have both colostrum gel and powdered colostrum for Bea's kids when they arrive.  I'll give them that until I can milk her and pasteurize the colostrum, then they'll get the real thing.

I went out to the barn again later to milk her out.  Unfortunately, she has a congested udder, so I got only about a pint.  A dose of Phytolacca, and we're off and running again, hopefully only for 3 or 4 days, like last year, and not 4 weeks, like the first time she freshened.  I think this is the last time I'll breed Leah.  She produces lovely babies, but she needs just to be milked through for the next few years.  Once this resolves, she'll be her usual easy milking self and can have a job providing good milk.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kids and kids coming

I went out to the barn to milk and feed, glanced in at the kids, who were now on their second day of being separated from Violet at night, and all seemed well.  I finished the feeding and milking, then went back to the house and got the kids' bottles ready.  I've decided that for now I'll leave them with her during the day, but I want them to be bottle-savvy, as you never know when they'll need supplements or other things that are much easier to give via the milk.

I went into the stall, sat on the pallet, looked up to call them over...and gasped!  Spotty's head was covered with blood!  I left the bottles, scooped him up, and carried him quickly to the house.  He either scratched himself with his hind hoof and broke through the disbudding scar, or smacked his head against something, or...who knows?  He's a kid!  Anything could have happened!  My mother held him while I cleaned him up first the head, then the face, then the head, then his legs, then the head, then her hand...that wound would not stop bleeding. 

Cleaned up but still bleeding
I had her hold the damp cloth on his head while I searched for bandages.  An hour passed, still bleeding.  Suddenly I thought, "Maybe I shouldn't have a damp cloth on it.  Maybe it's keeping it from coagulating."  Oh, the obvious truths that smack us between the eyes betimes!

The big band-aid I put on him only kept it in for a short time, long enough to give him a bit more milk.

I found some grocery-store cheesecloth, the kind that looks like gauze.  Cutting a large strip with the scissors, I folded it neatly and pressed it to his wound.  "Stop!" cried my mother, "You're hurting him!"  Yeh, I knew that, but it's pretty hard to apply pressure to a bleeding wound without causing pain, so I explained carefully while I kept the pressure on, then had her hold the gauze while I wrapped his head with enough bandage and tape to hold it on.

My mother loves animals, and loves babies of all kinds.  She was in her element, crooning to Spotty and singing him lullabies.  When my son showed up and she wanted to show him the wound, I decided it was time for Spotty to go into the dog crate until the bleeding had stopped completely.  An hour later, the gauze had fallen out, blood had stopped flowing, and I removed the rest of the bandage.  Spotty was so glad to get back to his momma and have a noon snack.  So much better than a bottle!

With that taken care of, I commenced cleaning the Saanens' stall.  I had cleaned the big stall where Violet had kidded the day before, but it was a piece of cake, as well should it be, having been stripped only 2 weeks before.  It's amazing how stalls can look reasonably clean until you start stripping away all the wet, compacted mess underneath the top layer of dry hay annd bedding.  A minimum of 13 or 14 much bucket loads later, I was able to put down fresh shavings and cover it with coarse hay, fill the feeders, clean and refill the water buckets, and know that all was prepared for the coming kids.

They're due on Friday and Saturday.  Okay, girls!  You have permission to kid now!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Violet's kids

Violet had two bucklings.  The first, with a spot on his forehead, weighed 7 lbs 10 oz, the second weighed 9 lbs 2 oz. She had me coming and going for a while, though.   

Early on, I though that maybe, just maybe, Violet was going to kid today.  She didn’t finish her breakfast and when I opened the door to let her out of her stall, she didn’t want to go.  In fact, Bella stood there trying to go in, and Violet didn’t even challenge her.  She just looked at me and gave a soft little bleat.  I closed the stall door and watched her for a few minutes.  She was bleating softly, little bleats here and there, then went and stood with just her front feet on the pallets, stretching, so it seemed, whimpering, looking at me as if I might be able to help.  Could it be?  Could it really be that she’s was in labor?  That she would kid today?

As time wore on, Violet would push, but ineffectually, and as if she really weren’t putting, or maybe even couldn’t put, a lot of effort into it. After observing her for quite a long time, l gave her a couple of pillules of Pulsatilla, just in case there were a malpresentation.   A while later I noticed that when she’d get a contraction and push, there were crackling noises.  And about an hour after that, the noises were gone and labor commenced fairly quickly.  At 3:30 the first buckling was born, and at 3:38 the second came along.  Violet was so busy licking clean the first that she hardly had notice for the second.  I cleaned him off thoroughly; it seemed as if he might have aspirated some fluid, though, because right away he was coughing and sounding like he had fluid in his lungs.  I sucked at his nostrils to get out any fluid, but there really wasn’t any way I knew of to take fluid from his lungs.  After a few more minutes, I placed him in front of Violet so she could clean him, too. 
Licking Kid #1 clean, while Kid #2 struggles to get up

Kid #2 finally meeting Mama.  Kid #1 is hidden by Violet's head.
It's wondeful to watch how quickly kids get to their feet, and nothing short of amusing to watch them try to figure out where the lunch spigot is.  They nibbled on her legs, on her chest, on her belly, on the inside of her thighs; they came from behind and nibbled on her hocks, tottered under her belly once again, and finally--TA DA!-- latch on!  

They both nursed well, and surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly) the smaller of the two was the more vigorous.  But then, he did get to the birth canal first, didn't he?  

I watched them for a while, intermittently, leaving Violet alone but checking in several times.  Kid #2 still had a rattle when he breathed.  At 10:00, it was no better, so I gave him a nosode, Pneumococcinum, hoping it was the right remedy. It was.  The next morning, his lungs were clear.

Violet is such a good mother, and (okay, here I go with anthropomorphizing) is pleased as punch with her two kids.  I had to milk her out twice the first day, and 3 times today.  Once those kids start growing, though, they'll take it all.
Day 2

Encouraging the kids to step up

Proud mama