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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deflated...

It's been one of those weeks... Where you wonder what is going to happen next...

 Things started off with a phone call for me. I have been in the midst of trying to adopt another "rescue case" goat, who was permanently crippled. He was an Oberhasli wether and his name was Stevie. When he was rescued in 2009, his hooves were over 6 inches long and curled up like elf shoes. He could no longer walk, so he resorted to walking on his knees. It's unsure just how many months or years Stevie had to walk like that, but after he was rescued he had surgery performed on his legs which at least helped him back onto his feet. Despite his hardships, Stevie turned out to be an incredibly affectionate fellow, and was up for adoption to whoever wanted him. Two years passed... No one wanted a crippled, male goat. :( A couple weeks ago, I started hunting around for a special needs goat to adopt. With my birthday coming up, I wanted to give something instead of just getting something, and while watching Heidi one day, I decided I wanted to provide a safe, permanent home to another needy goat.

This is Stevie...



When I found Stevie online, I knew instantly that I wanted him, and him only. Papers were filled out, phone calls were made.... I was ready for my boy.

 Then, after three weeks of impatient waiting, I received a phone call from the rescue where Stevie was. Only two days before my adoption application got to them, someone else asked to adopt him, and the rescue people were calling to say that I was welcome to choose another goat, but Stevie was leaving in a few days. It took a couple minutes for things to sink in. For two whole years, not a single person wanted this poor goat, and then someone beat me to him by two days...

That was the start of things.

On Wednesday afternoon, a hawk flew over head the pasture where the goats were. Chamomile was next to our large livestock gate that happened to have a strand of barbed wire beneath it. When the hawk flew past the goats, it spooked them and they ran for the barn. As they were running, I noticed that Chamomile was crying louder than she normally would. As I approached her, I could easily see part of her ear dangling like an earring, and blood dripping from it. How that little goat managed it, I don't know, but she somehow ripped the tip of her right ear on the barbed wire. :( I was able to stop the bleeding quickly, and tried super gluing it back together (super glue is used in the hospital on humans, as well as by vets on animals), but it was just too ragged of a tear. I called the vet to see how much stitches would cost, and was told it would be somewhere between $400 and $700! Oy! So she now has a most-likely-permanent 3/4" rip in her ear.

 I'll admit that I did cry when I found out that she ripped her ear. I just plunked myself down amongst the goats and cried for who knows how long. For the record, I don't cry easily. Through the years, I've learned to mask my emotions (or at least the majority of them), and keep a straight face. But I figured since no one was in the barn, and it was just me and the goats, I could take the mask off and have a good cry. I was keeping Chamomile specifically as a show goat. Yes, she will most likely be a good brood doe and milker, but I had plans to take her into the ring, and to some big shows next year, but a ripped ear is a disqualification in the bigger shows. So BOOM, all my hopes and dreams for Chamomile went right down the drain before my eyes, as I stared at her pathetic little ear. Heidi was so sweet and made me lean up against her, using her velvety muzzle to nudge me closer to her. I was thankful for the company, and she surprised me by giving me what could only be called a "goat hug". Once she had gotten me next to her shoulder, she wrapped her long neck around me, completely encircling me, and held me like that for a few moments. She licked my tears away, and Poppet sat on my lap.

Today was the latest happening. I normally don't let the goats out to pasture until noon, as the grass is really lush this time of year, and it's wet in the morning. Too much wet, green grass can give goats what is called bloat, which is where they eat too much, and then their rumen creates too much gas inside, causing their stomachs to bloat so much that the animal can die if something is not done quickly. The goats however, were all standing at the gate after milking and batting their eyelashes to be let out. I threw caution aside and let them out. Heidi grazed avidly all day long, and when I went to check on them at 4 PM today, I found poor Heidi standing in the barn with her stomach three times its normal size, and a look on her face that clearly said "I don't feel good!" Fiddlesticks. Her left side was noticeably bigger than her right, which is where the rumen is and that is one of the main symptoms of bloat. She didn't seem to be too far along, so I quickly ran inside and got some olive oil and some baking soda. The oil help the gas bubbles inside to dissipate, and the baking soda helps balance the Ph level in the rumen. After administering the meds, the only thing left to do was to massage her stomach in hopes of getting things moving in there, and keep her walking, which also helps.

My family was not happy with me at the time, since I was supposed to be inside making dinner, not outside rubbing a goat's stomach... Last time we went through this was when one of our horses that we boarded, got colic on my dad's birthday. Oof. Thankfully, after an hour or two of rubbing and walking Heidi, her stomach dramatically deflated to its normal size. Whew.

I've been meaning to blog about our chicken processing day, and about one other thing that happened around here (to remain a secret for now!), but I've just been too busy and stressed to sit down and try to write as if my life were perfectly fine, when it's not. I feel deflated right now. I'm too tired to think logically, and keep wondering what is going to happen next. Hopefully things will start to smooth out soon, and then I will try to give y'all the updates that have been promised.

Now, my clock says it is 8 PM, so I must needs go now and milk ma' goats....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Enjoy the Little Things


Goats are my top favorite animal, to be sure. But the second place award would have to go to honey bees....


There was a decent sized gathering of these industrious ladies around the barn spigot this afternoon, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them. :)


I love pretty much everything about bees. Their gentle nature (providing you go slowly around them), the curious look in their eyes as they inspect you, the ticklish feeling when they crawl on you, their funny stripes, and of course, their soothing buzzes.



They say to enjoy the little things in life, and I do believe honey bees count! 

video

Maybe next spring I'll get my own hives....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Countrified Gym

 I always chuckle when people tell me that they're heading off to the gym to work out. I have never been a gym, but never fail to go to bed exhausted, everyday. Here's my "recipe" [wink] to a countrified gym...

Start out by getting up early every morning (about 6 or 6:30 AM should do it) and milking a minimum of three goats. This daily milking routine will tone those forearm muscles very nicely! But please be careful when shaking people's hands; your grip will have undoubtedly gotten firmer! You will notice that your reflexes will become sharper with time, as you get better at whipping the milk pail away from flailing hooves of grumpy caprines, and dodging their attempts at unsettling you.

In between milking sessions, practice stretching your back and upper leg muscles by repeatedly catching the Nigerian Dwarf that escapes every time you open the gate. 6 to 10 of these stretches is about the norm.

Practice your sprinting in between milking and catching the Dwarf by shooing the ducks out of the barn multiple times (they try to eat goat food), and catching ornery goats who have decided that they want to take a holiday from milking. Your lungs will be strengthened considerably after a couple of weeks of running around the round hay bale trying to go faster then the goat in front of you.

Now, give those upper arm muscles, and your ankles a good workout by throwing hay into the manger that stands taller than you. On the count of three, stand up on your tip toes and precariously put the hay where it belongs. Many times, you will end up getting a full body workout, as you repeatedly pull goats away from the hay bucket, extract your toes from beneath hooves, break up fights between two animals who want to be in the same spot, stand on one foot so that the other can keep five goat kids at bay, and attempt to keep your balance when a goat decides she needs to be right where you are standing.

Are you sore yet? We haven't even gotten to the chickens!

Next, you will need to move the chicken tractor. This entails moving a big, wooden frame two inches, and then waiting the the dim witted meat broilers within to realize that they're supposed to move too. Now move it two more inches. Oh fiddlesticks, a chicken got it's leg stuck beneath the frame. Quickly run and extract the poor bird, run back to where you were, and start pulling again. Pull, extract a chicken. Pull, extract a chicken. By the time you have moved the tractor the 8 to 12 feet it needs to go, you have done numerous back, upper leg, arm and shoulder stretches. Either you will be really limber at this point, or you will be groaning.

Don't forget to fill the feeders and waterers! In filling the feeders, you are exercising those upper arm biceps as you carry, lift and set down 30 lbs. of chicken feed. Watering the chickens involves hauling 7 gallons of water, hoisting it over a fence, climbing over the fence (unless of course, you want to go through the gate and let the Dwarf out again!), and then filling the water bucket inside the chicken tractor.Your arms WILL be tired after these chores for a few days, so please be warned.

On some days, it will be necessary to move the chicken tractor into a new pasture, but there is a fence in your way. The solution to this is to let the meat broilers out, haul the chicken tractor through a gate and then go catch all those fat birds. I would like to caution you in not using up too much energy at once in catching those balls of feathers. They are surprisingly fast and agile, and will do their best to stay just out of your clutches. If you have upwards up 40+ birds, catching all of them can take about an hour. By then end you will have done a minimum of 80 back stretches as you stoop to grab a bird, carry it over the the awaiting tractor, stoop again to put it in, and then walk back to catch another one. Your legs will also get a wonderful workout as you walk from one end of the pasture to the other to catch every single bird.

Whew! Is it breakfast time yet!? Before going inside though, don't forget to let the laying hens out, keep an eye on the aggressive rooster who is feeling grumpy today, turn the electric fencing on, make sure all gates are latched, and then put the Dwarf back in the pen when she escapes as you exit the barn.

Throughout the day, you also have the privilege of weeding the garden (countless exercises in that!), catching escapee goats, hauling 5 gallons of water every few hours to refill the chickens water bucket, shooing the ducks away from the house, trying to keep the goat kids off of the tarp roof on the chicken tractor, and then guess what!!

By 8 'o' clock PM, you get to do those morning chores all over again as you milk your goats in the evening, and get everything ready for the night.

Sounds like a fun life, huh? I sleep really good at night.... ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coming Soon...

 When you have surplus goat milk in the fridge, and you have the ability to make soap you.....

Make goat milk soap! 


The goat milk soap has actually been a carefully thought out plot of mine for a few weeks now, my first "experimental" batch just finished curing. :)


To say that the soap is divine seems sort of like an understatement. The store bought stuff doesn't even begin to compare!


Made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, shea butter and fresh goat milk, this is a lovely indulgence. :)


Coming soon to local stores in McMinnville...

Gossipy Hens


"I'm telling you, I really did see it!"
"Where?"
"Over near the fallen tree, and it was big!"
"What color was it?"
"Gray and white. And it -- Oh shhhh! The human is looking at us!"

An interesting tidbit I heard in the barn yesterday from the hens. Now I'm curious....

Time Well Spent

I like to spend my afternoon with the animals. To just sit down in the hay with them, and admire the many things about them that there are to admire.

Such as....

Badger stripes and belled ears on Ivy... This girl is a piece of art; I love looking at her. :)


Curly tails on Poppet!


Maybe it's just me, but I think it's cute...


Beautiful amber eyes belonging to Heidi...


Little, tiny ears... Alas, these wee ones got sunburned yesterday. :(


Spots...


More spots!


Beady chicken eyes...


Fluffy chicken feathers... ;)


Perhaps to some, this is wasted time. Sitting in a barn and watching life dreamily slip by... But I like doing it. And I know my animals do too... :)

Enjoyin' the sunshine!

Chickens -- And One Little Goat






Summer Pranks

Upon entering the barn not too long ago, I happened to glance at the window that shows the chicken coop. Then I did a double take as my mind registered a really big, really white chicken, in the coop that didn't belong!

The perpetrator? 


Heidi.

How on earth that 200+ lb. goat got into the coop, I do not know. But in there she was, showing a mix of feeling sheepish guilt for being caught, and smugness for her ability to boggle me.


I had the fleeting thought of leaving her in there.... But she pulled the 'I'm-so-sad-right-now" look, since she could hear the other goats munching on fresh hay; so I let her out. :)

Hope you're enjoying the first day of summer!

Monday, June 20, 2011

An Evening With The Goats

Evenings with the goats are always so fun. I love getting to chat with each individual about their day, put the goat kids to bed, get the next day's breakfast ready....

 This evening was no different. The ladies all sang their 'Hellos' to me, and then routine began. Capri and Ivy came out and ate their dinner, while I threw hay in the manger and talked with Penny.

Me: "Hello Penny dear, how was your day today?"

Penny: "Umph... Don't ask."

I cast a sideways glance at her pregnant waistline, and ask if she's going to be able to make it to June 30th.

Penny: "We'll find out. I feel like a overstuffed chair with this big belly on me!"

I give her my sympathy and then turn to the rambunctious goat kids who are all jumping up on me. They each try to talk louder than the others and I am bombarded with pleas for raisins, and requests for me to sing 'Jingle Bells'. ;) Oh, and I have to sing the song twice.

 Seeing that the kids got to hear their favorite song, the older ladies complain that I'm showing favoritism and demand to hear their favorite songs too.

Me: "Alright, which ones do y'all want?"

Goats: "Caledonia!" "Into the West!" "Isle of Inisfree!" "Send me a Song!"

Finally, all songs are sung, Heidi is milked and the milk has been dealt with for the night. There is hay in the manger, fresh water in the buckets, the kids are sleeping in their special stall, and there's one thing left to do:

Extract the Dwarf from her dinner crumbs and put her to bed as well.


Poppet has been begging me for days now, to let her eat her dinner in the "big goat" pail. She was tired of eating off of a bucket lid (the only thing those short legs of hers could accommodate) and was ready to be a big girl.

"Pleeeeze Ma?" She would say, "That nice pail looks soooo elegant, and it makes such a nice sound!"

So I relented, and this is how she has managed to eat out of a bucket that is taller than she is.


It was cute listening to her giggle inside the pail, and sounding something akin to Winnie the Pooh.

"Hehe, listen Ma! My voice sounds funny in here!"


"Hellooooo!" Echo, echo!"


Poppet dear, it's time for bed now. And with that, the little imp is spirited away from the remains of her crumbs, and is set gently into the pen with the big girls.

I prepare to leave, but first stop to visit with the ducks for a moment. 

Me: "Hello ducks, what goes on in your wide world today?"

Ducks: "Ah, much is going on! The worm population has seemingly exploded with all this nice rain, but the beetles have been a little scarce. No doubt they will return when the heat comes back... The butterflies are also getting easier to catch, which is quite nice; quite nice."

We discuss duck politics for a few more minutes and then part our separate ways for the night.

So my evening ended. Nothing big happened, just normal, everyday things. I love having goats to talk with...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Something Besides Goats

Hmmm, it has occurred to me to my posts of the late have been revolving around goats to a certain degree.... Hehe, I thought I would surprise y'all and give you an update about something besides goats!


The meat chickens seemed like a good choice...


Weighing in at an average of 6 - 7 lbs. each, these guys are whoppers! 


Our chicken tractor is still holding up pretty well, surprisingly. The goat kids found out that the tarp on top of it makes an excellent trampoline, and have been ecstatically jumping on and off of it. Thankfully, the meat birds are too dim witted to mind the noise. ;)


With processing day coming up in less than two weeks, people have started coming and asking if they could help me with the work load, and I have answered YES, YES, YES! ;) Processing a chicken is really easy once you get the hang of it, but having other people to help makes the day a lot more enjoyable, and it makes everything go faster!


Our pasture looks so beautiful where the chicken tractor has been, so that's an added plus to having these big birds around! The grass is noticeably more green and lush, compared with areas that they didn't cover. I think I might put our heritage layers in the tractor after the meat birds, just so I can keep on going through the different paddocks with it! 


Stay tuned, June 27th is the big day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Poppet...

Got One done!

I am slowly getting conformation pictures of all my goats. Slowly.

Goat kids are the absolute worst to get pics of since they don't like to be still, but here's Chamomile at least!


Ain't she pretty?


One down, 9+ to go...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Picture Of The Day...

'Tis so nice having photographers in the family...

Frodo....

Duckling Update

I really, truly, honestly didn't forget to update y'all on our duckling hatch! But with this lovely weather, I've been outside in the garden when not in the barn, or at a goat show! :-/

So without further ado...

We ended up with two teeny, tiny ducklings!


Bad picture, sorry. :-/  There was a total of 6 eggs in the incubator, but two died at three weeks into the incubation, and then the other two died after pipping (cracking) the eggshell. :( 

But I at least got these two, so I'm happy. 

Goat Show!

[sigh] T'was a good day... :)

Today we braved the hot weather (a high of 83 degrees! Score!) and went to the goat show!

I thought I had died and gone to heaven... 


Admittedly, it was a smaller show. Maybe somewhere between 50 and 70 goats? But I still really enjoyed getting to see all the goats, getting to talk with goat people, and seeing what sort of competition I'll be up against next year.


What a sweet face on this Nigerian gal!


Some ladies patiently waiting at the ringside...


I love this gal's aristocratic head! What a face! 


Aaaaaand yes, there were a LOT of impressive udders there. 




  There were a lot of seriously nice Nubian does there; competition will be fierce next year! However, after studying the senior does that were in the ring, I think Penny could beat 'em. Maybe I'm just biased though... With luck, Penny will be in the ring next year so we'll see how she measures up!


And - um-- there's one more thing...

I was bad today...

But I'm also a little pleased with myself....

I came home with a new goat kid on my lap!! 

Please meet: 'Firelight's Poppet'....


A 7 week old, blue-eyed, Nigerian Dwarf doeling. 


This wasn't a impulse buy either! Please be proud of me! ;) I had been e-mailing with Poppet's owner for a few weeks now, and since she was going to be at the show anyway, she brought Poppet for me. :) 


 I have been looking at getting a Nigie for a little over a year now, but could never find one that I liked, that was in my price range, and was near me. So Poppet was pretty much perfect.


It's amazing just how tiny she is! She's older than all of my Nubian kids and still only half their size. I think she's around 13 inches tall? Pretty close to that. Even our chickens are bigger than her! The goats all accepted her into the herd relatively well, which was nice. Heidi loves her, Ivy detests her, Penny's afraid of her and Capri ignores her; so somehow it all works out! ;) 


Love my goats...