Friday, February 28, 2014

Goats in Totes, Kids in Coats & a Stint in Splints

Nettie's two bucklings at one day old.
Annette's two doelings at three days old.
And then, there's Pickles' buckling.  He had some sort of double-jointed thing going on with his back hocks.  Looked it up and found that it isn't that unusual, some say it's a selenium deficiency (even though we supplement it), other say it's just a "thing".   I tend to think it's because Pickles was a week early.  When I first realized the problem, I though it was going to be a culling situation but then did some internet searching and saw several say that they have splinted them or just let them work it out and in about a week they got better.  I couldn't sit there and watch him struggle so much so I asked Paul make him splints for his back legs.

They worked for a little while; until he pee'd on them and the cardboard got smooshy & no longer supported the bend in the leg.  So then I brought him inside (greeeaaaat, another goat in the house) and did some physical therapy with him.  Which he did not appreciate in the least.  Ingrate.  So I kept the splints off and he did seem to be able to gimp around.  But I still take him to Pickles and hold him up so he can nurse.  I think we're going to try and do the splint again, but this time use some sort of plastic brace.

It was a nice, sunny day yesterday and Nettie was out enjoying the warmth.

Today is much cooler, but she's still out and about.  She's also playing "Auntie Nettie" to Annette's two doelings.  At one point I though we were going to have to intervene as Nettie was claiming the kids as her own and was actually head butting Annette away.  But the kids made their way back to Annette to nurse.....then went back to Nettie to climb on her.

I put out some fresh hay this morning and Nettie dug right in!

It was good to see her appetite coming back.  She had been picking at grain & eating apples, prunes & raisins, but it wasn't until today that I saw her actually excited about a fresh pile of hay.  Nettie still has a long recovery ahead of her, but I'm sooooo happy that she's on the mend.  Thanks for all your cyber well wishes and thoughts for her!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A calm finally settles in

“The only order in the universe is just a cycle of calm and chaos.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

Tuesday came and went without another kidding or life threatening accident.  Mom came over to help with housework.  I actually got a 45 minute nap in.  And last night I slept, mostly uninterrupted, for four hours straight.  I'm ready to take on the world again!

Which, dear Universe, doesn't necessarily mean that I want a re-do of the last week's happenings.  I think I had enough excitement for this year, thank you very much.  Besides, I'm kind'a digging this "personally clean" thing.  Yesterday morning I took a shower and I didn't have to take another one until just this morning.  I actually was able to go through an entire day without blood, uterine fluid, hacked-up medicine mixed with goat spit, and pieces of dried up placenta in my hair.  Oh, I still have poop on my shoes, and hay in my ponytail and milk replacer/baby goat spit on my pants, but I can handle that with no problem.

It's also been two days since I made any emergency runs to the vet or the feed store or the pharmacy.  The pile of used needles on the windowsill that would have made a heroin addict do a double-take has been disposed of and hopefully no new ones will replace the pile.  Nettie had her final shot of penicillin last night and I'm sure she's thrilled that my hands are holding a cookie and not a needle every time I go visit her.

I actually feel a bit of calm coming back to the homestead.

Or it could just be that the cold temperatures have returned and I'm just becoming numb.  Highs in the mid to upper 30's during the day, lows in the 20's at night, and when it does warm up to the 40's on Friday, the weather guys are calling for freezing rain.  Once again, nothing horrible, but there is still one goat that is supposed to kid in the next couple of days I've been doing butt-checks every few hours.  I don't want her kidding out in the weather.

Another thing that happened to calm things down here, is that I sold NewNew.  She went to a family that will use her as their first milker (when she kids next month).  And what was really nice, and somewhat unexpected in a good way, was that this woman not only brought a leash with her (for whatever reason when I sell goats, NObody bothers to bring a leash so I lose one of mine every time), but had a list of questions to ask!  I love an informed and concerned keeper of livestock.

Oh, and it gets better.  They will be taking Nettie's bottle bucklings!  I put them on the local sale page for cheap, but haven't had more than one bite.  So I made her an offer she couldn't refuse: FREE goats! (Bwaahahahahaa!)

You know, back when we first started the goat thing, my goat mentor had given me Chop Suey for basically nothing ($20, if I recall correctly) and then later given my friend a buck goat, Pan (the bastard Nigerian Dwarf buck I eventually inherited from her) for free.  I didn't understand why she was just giving goats away.  Boy, was I naive back then.

We'll disbud Nettie's kids before we let them leave next week and I told her if she needed help castrating them in a couple months that she could bring them back here and we'd show her how.

Now I'm off to calmly walk outside, give Nettie more treats and check on Lily's behind.

All together now.....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Attempting to think positive thinks

So.  What tale of woe, depressing or otherwise horrible story do I have for you today?  Well let me tell you, my avid and loyal blog followers (and also those of you who accidentally clicked on an obscure link that somehow got you here), it just keeps on coming.

But since I hate to sound like such a whiny baby or ingrate for what good things have happened lately (although I have to think really, really hard about what they might be), I'll try to put a more positive spin on my week-long Goat Happenings from Hell.  Try.

Sunshiny Version:  Annette kidded bright and early on Monday morning.  What a beautiful start to the week!

Reality:  Annette decided to give me yet another sleepless night as she started showing early signs of labor around 11pm Sunday night, then started getting down to it at 1am on Monday.

Sunshiny Version: I helped Annette deliver three kids, two of which were doelings!  Yay, Annette!

Reality:  Annette's kids needed repositioning as the first two came head first, but no feet.  Then the third one I had to go in for.  Couldn't tell what was front feet or back feet, seemed really weird.  Noticed some brown, non-typical goo in one of the birth sacks which wasn't a good sign.  Finally pulled a dead, underdeveloped and slightly deformed kid, sex unknown, because I just dumped into the trash bucket.

Sunshiny Version:  Nettie looks to be on the mend.  Her infection seems to be under control. She's drinking more fluids and nibbling on apples and prunes and a few other high-calorie snackies.

Reality:  Nettie may be on the mend, but she looks like hell.  Her udder is trashed.  And although she is voluntarily drinking, I still have to drench her with electrolytes and other goat meds.  She hasn't had any hay and only a few nibbles of alfalfa pellets.

Sunshiny Version:  I let Nettie in the kidding pen with Annette and her kids.  Annette doesn't seem to mind Nettie playing "Auntie Nettie" at all.

Reality:  Can goats get depressed?  Because I reall think that Nettie is.  She still seems to be looking for her kids, softly naa'ing when she hears Pickles or Annette's kids cry.  I feel so badly for her, she just loves being a mother.  I thought about bringing her kids out to her, but I don't want them to get the idea that they can nurse from her.

Sunshiny Version:  Nettie's two surviving bucklings are warm inside, right next to the wood stove. They finished all the colostrum and are now on a goat milk replacer.  Rhiannon is having a ball playing with them in the house.

Reality:  There are goats in the house.  There is goat pee and black, sticky, tar-like goat crap everywhere.  I'm laundering towels like crazy.  And I have to bottle feed them like every three hours.

So, there's your daily update on Nettie & Annette.  I've got more on Pickles & her kids and a slight thinning of the herd.  But right now I'm going to try to take a nap before anybody else needs tended to.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Suckier than sucky

Nettie went into labor this morning around 10:30.  Early, of course.  It would have been too nice to have her be able to rest for another five or six days before kidding.

Not-So-Quick'ish Synopsis of Today's Sucky Events:

First kid had his head presented correctly.  I grabbed what I though were his front legs as they were directly below his head and felt his feet move.  Nettie couldn't push very hard because of her condition so I helped.  And tugged, and pulled.  But nothing, like something was stuck.  And something was stuck.  Those weren't his front feet, they were the front feet of the kid underneath and behind him, both trying to get out at the same time.  I lubed up and had to go in, trying like hell to push the other one back in order to get the first one out.  Nettie was screaming (as much as she was able to).

Finally got first kid out.  Dead.

Grabbed a hold of the second kid's front feet again & looked for his head.  Where the hell was his head?  I was certain these were front feet, why couldn't I find his stinking head?!?  It was bent soooo far back that I was sure he was going to be deformed and/or dead.  I tried like hell to get his head around, but couldn't.  Nettie was yelling as much as she could.  Paul was holding on to her front end while I tried & tried & tried to move the head around; there was no way that the kid would come through her pelvis (or birth canal, or whatever) with his head bent back.  I finally gave up and even though Paul's hands are larger, asked him to try because I could not for the life of me get it around.  Paul tried to no avail.  I went back in after a few minutes (to give Nettie a little rest), and monkeyed around in there for what seemed like forever.  Eventually I managed to twist his neck to bring his head forward; I was certain that I had broken it in the process but didn't care, I just wanted it out of Nettie.  Pulled him out and held him out to drain his mouth/nose/lungs.  No movement, no breathing.  I swung him around just to do it, and was about to put his lifeless body in the bucket with his brother.  Then he moved just a twitch.  So we were on a race to get some life into him.  He was as limp as a rag doll.  No movement in the legs, head, neck; I was still certain that I had paralyzed him and that he was breathing his first - and last - breath of air.  But he slowly became more alert.  I handed him to Paul with some towels and tended to Nettie.  I wanted her to be able to relax now.  She had gone through hell.

But as we all know, it just keeps on getting suckier.  There was another kid in there.  She tried to push, but again I went in.  Breech presentation.  Of course.  But not only breech (as I have easily delivered breech before), but breech with the back legs under, not behind him.  Forfuckssakes.
Had to push him farther back in before I could get even a single back leg back behind him.  I finally managed to get both back legs out & then he came out easily.    And he came out easily as I swear to gawd that Nettie's uterus was now a huge, gaping hole.  I was up to my elbow inside her.  The kid was limp, but I swung him around and he coughed so we got him cleared out and cleaned up.  Nettie wanted to see her babies so badly.  She was softly naaa'ing to them, but couldn't get up to see them or lick them.  We took her babies away from her.  Took them inside to warm them up, to hopefully get them to suck a bottle.  Paul & I took turns with the kids inside and with Nettie outside.  Friends of ours ended up coming by right as we got the kids inside and they helped dry them off and warm them up.  They didn't have sucking reflexes because they were so weak.

I was afraid we were going to have to use a stomach tube to get some colostrum down in their bellies, but we managed to dribble bit by bit of colostrum and Nutridrench down.  Kept doing this for several hours between their naps.  Then, just about an hour ago, they finally "got" the bottle thing.  Thank goodness.

Nettie, however, is a wreck.  She's passed one of the placentas with gentle tugging from me (I know you're not supposed to tug, but I was really only helping when she pushed a bit) there's still one that is half out and I tried to tug when she had a contraction, but then left it as is.  If she hasn't passed the other two by morning I'll call the vet for some concoction to help it out as well as getting something to flush out her udder.  I can't imagine how much damage could have happened or how much "icky" stuff could have gotten up there with all the manhandling of her insides.

She's still not well.  Obviously very, very weak.  I'm continuing her drenching regime of electrolytes, Nutridrench and RedCell, but she really, really needs to get more fluids down her; I'm still debating about using a stomach tube.  She hasn't eaten anything but an apple in almost 48 hours (I think), and although that's something to be worried about, I'm more worried about her becoming severely dehydrated.

I'm off to check on her again.  I hate going out there, I know I have to, and I will, but I feel like such a horrible, horrible mother to her.  Shouldn't have bred her.  This kidding was supposed to be her last kidding.  She's only nine, so I guess technically she had a couple more "good" years of kids, but I was greedy, I wanted one last doeling from her.  And guess what?  Every stinking one of her kids were bucklings.  Guess that's what I deserve.  I just hope that I didn't kill Nettie in the process.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

You've GOT to be kidding me!!!

Week early.  No signs of labor.  Went to the barn to check on Nettie and I hear baby goat cries.

Unassisted.  Cleaned off.  I just put them in the stall & made sure they were drinking.

I hate to say it, but "Good job, Pickles!"

Udderly Ruined

Warning: Graphic Photos

Nettie's fever looks to be under control (102.6 last check).  I'm still giving her two shots of penicillin twice a day (12ml every 12 hours).  But her udder was engorged to the point where it was splitting the skin on the side that was gored.  At first I thought it was just bruising, but Paul said it looked like it was getting worse and that there was actual blood collecting in the left side.  It just kept getting worse and I'm sure the fact that she's been standing most of the time probably isn't helping.  I didn't want to milk her out in fear of rupturing or making her bleed anymore, but I new something had to be done to reduce the swelling.  I wasn't sure if there is some sort of medication that would help or if I should lance the area where the blood was accumulating or what.  So I went into town to sit my butt down at the vet's office, but couldn't get the actual vet to talk to me (although I don't blame him, they were super busy).

My next stop I headed over to the feed store to talk with some cattle people to see if they've ever had a cow with an injured udder.  No such luck there either.  But we were able to come up with sort of a solution for getting her udder drained.

There is a medicine called Tomorrow for treating mastitis in cows & goats.  It's a tube with a thin, plastic tip that is inserted up into the teat orifice and then the plunger is depressed to administer the medication directly into the udder.  So we figured I could use it in the opposite way; squirt the medicine out (into the garbage) and then use the tube to slowly draw the milk out of the udder.

Nettie was finally laying down in the barn so Paul got a towel soaked in ice water and put it on her bruised udder to hopefully reduce some of the swelling.

Once she was used to the cold compress, I massaged Nettie's teat in order to relax the orifice.  Amazingly enough, I just put a little pressure on the teat and it squirted.  So I kept slowly and softly squeezing milk out.  Except it wasn't so much milk as it was a mixture of milk and blood:

There was also some air in the udder.  Again, have no idea if that's a sign of something bad, or how it got in there, but I just kept squirting out everything I could.  All that blood in her udder couldn't be good.

She's standing back up now and I'll go out there once in a while and empty whatever I can from the udder.  She's not eating hay and has only really picked at the alfalfa pellets and handful of grain I gave her.  She ate a few bites of carrot and half an apple, but she needs something in her.  I've given her another round of Probios, B Vitamins and Nutridrench hoping to get her appetite going.

Now we're starting to plan on what to do for her impending kidding.  And there are scenarios going around in my head that aren't nice at all.  If she gives birth naturally, will all the stress cause her to rupture something in her udder again?  Will she even be physically strong enough to go through the labor?  Will any of the vets around her do a c-section for her, and if so, would the recovery from major surgery be more stressful than natural labor?

Then, what happens after kidding?  Assuming the kid(s) are alive, I'm going to have to take them away from Nettie.  Not only am I concerned about her being able to produce blood-free milk by her kidding date, but the kids would end up hurting her udder just by drinking.  Luckily I have frozen colostrum from last year, but I'm still going to have to find a source of fresh goat milk.  Annette is supposed to kid the same day, but she may not have enough to feed her kids and Nettie's kids.

And the worst case (as if it could get any worse)?  Well, let's just say that if Nettie doesn't make it through a kidding here, I've been preparing myself to do an emergency c-section to try and save the kids.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nettie Update

Just got back in from the barn a few minutes ago.  Nettie is still alive (isn't it sad when you have to point that out).

I ended up giving her the banamine shot at 6pm last night even though I was "supposed" to wait 12 hours between shots, which would have been at 10pm.  But to hell with "supposed to" when her fever was edging up again.  I wasn't going to chance her getting any hotter.  And within an hour her internal temperature was going back down.  I checked on her during the night and every time she was standing up.  Not sure if she got up when she heard the gate open or if she's just been standing up the entire time.  Which I guess is better for her rumen and lungs anyhow, but I just wonder if she's in pain when she's putting all that pressure on her belly and udder.

The wound on her udder has healed over just fine.  It's just a smooth scab; no puss, no infection-looking stuff.  If I didn't know any better and just saw this wound (and wasn't there for the actual wounding), I would have just shrugged it off to a scrape.  But just because it's looking fine, it's obvious there's some sort of infection in her bloodstream and I'm wondering if it's from the wound or if it is something else that just so happened to coincide with the udder accident.

I was thinking that her labored breathing yesterday (or was it the day before?  I'm not even sure what day it is, ugh!) was because of the fever, but maybe she had pneumonia?  I don't know and not sure if I'll ever find out, but at least the treatment is the same.

Her temperature earlier this morning (5:30) was 103.6 - only a tenth of a degree above the higher end of normal, so I waited the 12 hours to give her the third shot of banamine.  She also is going to need another round of penicillin in another half hour.
My window sill looks like a drug addict lives here.
The poor girl has been stuck over a dozen times, drenched a dozen more and had a thermometer stuck up her backside just as often.  Luckily I had a bunch of syringes and needles in my medical kit.  Going to have to stock back up after this.

Sorry if this is boring some of you.  But it's nice to have a detailed record of this in addition to my scribbling on the calendar.  You'll be wishing I'd do one of my batshitcrazy Political Rants after this.

And thank you for all your blogosphere well wishings and thoughts for Nettie.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The suck just keeps on getting suckier

This morning / afternoon sucked.  Royally.

Yesterday late afternoon, Nettie was looking more perky.  She was even jonesing to get out of the kidding pen.  But I left her in there figuring it would be less stressful for her and she wouldn't have to worry about other goats getting in her way or annoying her.

Before I gave her the antibiotic (Oxytetracyclene) on day before, I took her temperature.  It was 103.something (I forgot).  Normal goat temperature is 101.5 - 103.5 degrees.

Last night she slept in the kidding pen again, and nothing seemed amiss other than her grunting a little when she was laying down.  I attributed this to being really big and pregnant as she and Annette both have a grunting breathing when laying on that huge belly.

This morning I went out just as dawn approached and Nettie was laying down in the corner, but her breathing was labored.  She didn't get up after some light coaxing so I went inside to grab the thermometer, took her temperature and it was 105.8!  I almost crapped myself!  I ran inside to crush up a baby aspirin (to help with the fever) and mixed it with some water and drenched her with it.  I got her up, walked her around a bit and offered her some more cool water.  She just licked the cold water from my hands, but didn't want to drink so I kept dipping my hand in the cool water and let her lick.  I ended up drenching her with several ounces of cold water to hopefully get her insides cooled down a bit.  I took her temperature about a half hour later and it was now 106.  Shitshitshitshitshitshit!!

The kidding pen was warmer than it was outside so I tried getting her to walk outside but she wouldn't and I didn't want to drag her out.  I wasn't sure if I should have put ice on her head and udder or other area so I just put a cool, wet towel and my cool, wet hands on her head, neck & udder.  She was panting now.  Shit x 20.

I finally got a hold of one of the local vets, told them the situation and asked if I could get some Banamine.  Of course, they wanted me to bring her in.  Not so much going to happen.  I suppose I could have somehow managed to hook up the trailer to the truck, push/pull/heft Nettie into the trailer and then try to drive the truck into town (I've never pulled the trailer more than around the house, and maybe only once), but it would have taken at least an hour and a half after all was said and done.  I convinced the vet to let my Mom come pick up a two day regime of Banamine and Mom rushed it to me within a half hour.  I gave Nettie the Banamine shot (1.5ml, IM)and also a shot of Penicillin (the vet said Penn. was a better antibiotic for puncture wounds) and let her rest for about a half hour before I made her get up.  I took her to a pen outside since it was cooler and the high winds we're having probably helped cool her off.  Of course, on the day I need it to be cooler outside, it's already 65 degrees.

I drenched her with some more cool water, some electrolytes and Nutridrench.  Poor gal shies away from me now when she sees the drenching syringe in my hand.  I gave the Banamine shot to Nettie just before 10 am and her temperature lowered to 104.2 by 11am.  I let her out of the pen to walk around and she wanted to go back to the main goat yard.  I let her in and she wanted to go under the barn.  I didn't really want her under there, but it is much, much cooler down there so figured she knew best.  Another half hour later I found her standing under a shade tarp on the outside of the barn.  Since she was up I took her temperature again and it was 103.8 at 12:30 this afternoon.

I just looked out the window and see she's no longer under the tarp so I'm off to find out where she is.


She's back under the barn.  Took her temp again (1:25pm) and it was 102.8.  At least she's not fighting a fever anymore.

Now I just have to worry about her unborn kid and her going into labor after such an ordeal.  Her first potential kidding date being tomorrow.  Her udder has gotten larger in the past three days, but I'm still hoping that she'll kid on the second date, which is a week from today.

Up to 75 degrees outside now.  But of course, when the kids are supposed to be popping, we'll be back down to mid-40's during the day and below freezing at night.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#^%!*&#?! Horns

I did it to myself.  I said that we weren't going to keep horned goats.  But then came the Boers, Herman and Lily.  Though in my defense, it's basically impossible to get a hornless Boer goat and the only reason Pickles is hornless is that I got her as a two-day old and we disbudded her ourselves.

Then I found MamaGoat, the Mini-Saanen.  Who had horns.  Suckered into that, but she's a great milker for her size.  Then during late Summer last year, I had a friend of mine beg me to take her Nigerian mix doe and her doeling.  Both of which had horns.  I sold the doeling, but NewNew is still with us.

And when I traded Olivia for Penny, a pregnant "Boer" goat three months ago, she also had horns (and also turned out to be not so much 100% Boer but a Boer/Nubian mix).

So much for a hornless herd of goats.

I don't care what you think of horns on goats; you think what you gotta think and do what you gotta do.  I personally think they are very majestic looking and honestly believe that goats should have horns.....but I do not like them on our farm.  Rhiannon has had a few close calls with the horned members of our herd when feeding time comes around.  She now knows that she's not supposed to feed or clip the horned goats.  I don't let her play with them.  And I've been accidentally poked with a rogue horn here or there.  They don't do it on purpose, it's just that those things are just, like, there.

But we did have an "on purpose" horn incident yesterday evening.  Which had me up most of the night with nightmares.

Penny, the horned Boer/Nubian mix is on the bottom of the pecking order.  She gets picked on a lot.  Yesterday I came into the goat pen with some treats and on cue, everyone came running up to me to get a Cheeze It.  Nettie is herd queen so she's first in line and while her front end was occupied munching on cheese flavored snackies, Penny came up behind her and gored her in the udder.  Like gored her so hard Nettie's back end was picked up for a second.  I immediately screamed in my scary banshee like voice for everyone to get the heck out of the way (and of course they played deaf and kept at me because they thought I had more snacks).  I threw the Cheeze Its across the yard and went to look at Nettie's udder.  Which was gushing.  GUSHING blood.  Had I not been so intent on getting Nettie into the barn and away from everyone else I would have put a bullet in Penny's head right then and there (yes, I know, it's not her "fault", yadda, yadda, yadda, but I was beyond pissed).  I got Nettie up in the milk stand and surveyed the situation.  I've never seen such a constant gush of blood.  I put my hand over it to try and stop it, but it only drained right through my fingers and into an increasing sized pool on the barn floor.  I didn't want to leave, but I ran to the house, got a bunch of towels and the blood-stop powder and ran back.  Still bleeding.  Her udder was covered in bright red, her back leg was soaked, the barn was a mess.  It looked like a scene from a horror movie.

I got Nettie out of the milk stand and into the clean kidding pen and finally got the wound to clot a bit.  She eventually laid down and I didn't get her back up right away afraid that it would start bleeding again.

I have no idea how much blood a goat can lose before going into shock.  I'm surprised that I didn't go into shock.  But I bet she lost a pint of blood.  I stayed with her in the barn for a while.  She was still laying down but grunting more.  Although she's been grunting for a few days now since she's large from being pregnant and, of course, due to kid in a week.  Great.

I eventually got Nettie more comfortable (or at least that's what I'm telling myself) and was able to get some Probios & B12 down her maw (figured it wouldn't hurt) and a shot of oxytetracyclene (antibiotic to ward of infection from the wound).  She was still interested in grain so I gave her a few hand fulls.  Checked on her right before bed, once during the night and around 5:30 this morning.  She's still laying down, but has been moving around a little bit because there are three piles of goat turds in the pen.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the wound yet.  I think that I'll just make sure it doesn't open up again at least until I can get Paul to help me later today.  I may have to open it up to clean it out or if it's really bad, maybe stitch it together (or use super glue?  I've heard of that).

The last time she had a small tear in her udder, I just kept irrigating it with hydrogen peroxide and gave her an antibiotic shot.  Oh, didn't I tell you?  I found her with a smaller tear in her udder just a week and a half ago.  And at the time I couldn't figure out how she got it, but now I'm pretty sure it was Penny.

Penny is in a separate pen, awaiting a decision on my part.  NewNew (the other horned goat) has been in the local sale paper since last night.  MamaGoat I really want to keep so she will have her horns banded this weekend. And as for Herman and Lily?  I don't like the horns, but they are kind of a different shape.  Not pointy like Penny's or NewNews horns, they lay back so they really aren't a "poking or puncturing" kind'a horn.  And since they are much larger, I don't want to band them.  Besides, if I can find a newborn Boer buckling this spring I'll buy him, disbud him and get rid of Herman; we'll be needing new bloodlines anyhow.  So that will just leave Lily with horns.

It's starting to get light outside now so I'm going back out to check on Nettie again.  Fun times I'm telling ya, fun times.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We left, it left

We celebrated Rhiannon's birthday this weekend and took our first "real" family vacation.  Vacation meaning that we were all away from the homestead for more than 24 hours. We were actually gone for a total of twenty-six hours!  I know, it doesn't sound like much, but as those of you who have critters to take care of, getting away for any more than twelve hours at a time usually poses technical difficulties.

I  occasionally farm-sit for a friend down the road so I asked her to return the favor.  The goats still weren't due to pop so there were no kiddings to (really) worry about and since the weather was only supposed to dip down into the mid-to-low 30's at night, there wouldn't be much ice, if any, to bust out of water buckets.  She just had to close up the chickens at night, come back in the morning to let them out, feed everyone breakfast and make sure nobody was dead or dying.  It's really not hard to do, but somebody does have to do it.

The morning of our trip, we crammed the car with much more stuff than one would normally feel obligated to bring for just an overnight stay, I fed everyone in the barnyard their breakfast and then we left for the bright lights and bit city of.....Branson!  It's off season, so there were quite a few attractions that weren't open, but Rhiannon didn't care one bit.  She was ready to go swimming!  No, I didn't let my daughter swim in the frigid waters of Table Rock Lake; we went to an indoor water park / hotel.  Where Rhiannon had a blast.  And not only at the actual water attraction.  She was just as amazed and had as much fun just in the hotel room (which she kept calling a show-n-tell-room for some reason).  Two beds!  Teeny-tiny refrigerator!  And a TV (with cartoons!!!) that you could watch.....while in BED!  Then we told her we were going to have breakfast the next morning in the hotel, her eyes widened to saucers and she said, "They make you breakfast here?!?"  She was totally blown away.

After several hours of water park fun, we drove down to The Landing to Joe's Crab Shack for supper.  Lots of people, lots of lights, lots of noise.  Perfect entertainment for a 5-year old who doesn't leave the farm much. Rhiannon ate her entire steam pot of crab legs and then continued to scarf mine down.  At one point, while furiously cracking crustacean shells in order to keep her insatiable appetite appeased, she chomped down on my finger.  I never knew a child could consume so much seafood at one sitting.

Of course, the next day she was sad to leave.  But I told her that if she was a good girl that we would come back again.  (Although, technically, I didn't say when.)  There are a few places that I wouldn't mind going and I'm sure I can convince both Grandma & Grandpa to come along with us again.

We got home exactly twenty-six hours after we had left.  Everyone was alive.  No kids born.  Charlie and Outside Kitty hadn't run away.  And there was no longer that little patch of ice on the driveway.  The snow & ice had finally left!  And left a muddy, mucky, poop-soupy barnyard mess in it's absence.  Well, it's better than the white stuff.

We (well, maybe not Paul) enjoyed our time away from home but I was happy to be back to it.  Mud and all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's gift 100 days in the making

Look what Rhiannon & and I planted this afternoon:

Brussels Sprouts!  Rhiannon and I are both avid Sprouts of Brussels fans.  And hopefully, if the weather cooperates, if the rains fall from the sky and if the planets are in alignment, we will be munching on our very own crop of miniature cabbages come the beginning of June.

These seeds were from my dear Susan (no, not the cat. that would just be....weird) and we planted an entire tray of them.  So now we're just waiting for their little seedling heads to pop out of the trays.  There were enough in the packet that I'm also going to plan on a fall planting.  I've never grown Brussels sprouts so this is going to be a first here on the farm.  With thirty-six potential plants, I wonder if we'll just be total gluttons and eat Brussels sprouts for breakfast, lunch and supper or if there will be enough to freeze.

We'll find out in a hundred days!

Thanks again, Susan!  I've got your peach and ground cherry seeds in an envelope and another two seed requests just waiting to drop in the mailbox.  And if my other seed-hungry blogging buddies haven't already done so, shoot me an email with what seeds you'd like.  If you're quick I can get them out with this batch.

Spread the seed wealth :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seed Swap Brainfart

I got a request from a blog follower requesting some seeds from the Seed Swap tab listed on the top of my blog.  And although I now have her address & requested seeds, I have lost the addresses for Kelly and her list and probably another one or two bloggers.  My email box mysteriously "emptied" a few weeks ago and I have yet to figure out how to find them.

So hopefully those of you who have asked for seed will see this and can forgive me for not only my lack of computer savviness but procrastination in getting them to you earlier.

If you would kindly re-send me your seed requests and mailing address, I PROMISE I'll get seeds to the post office at the end of the week (when we thaw out).  Check the Seed Swap tab for what I have and for my email address and please put "seeds" in the subject line of the email so I know it's not somebody trying to sell me Viagra or tell me I need to claim an inheritance from Abdul in the Middle East.

Spring is coming!  Really.  It is.

Monday, February 10, 2014

J.I.T. Just doesn't cut it

I remember when working at my "real" job back in the 'burbs, JIT (Just-In-Time) was all the rage.

Materials came in just the second you needed them.  Products shipped out just the second they needed to.  Inventory was kept low to save overhead costs and save space and everything was hunky dory because everything was calculated to the very second/minute/hour/day.

But you know what?  If something - anything - went wrong in that long line last-second logistics, some of those materials didn't make it to our dock in time.  And that meant either we had to work overtime, pay extra for expediting items or have our products ship out behind schedule.  Having been out of the manufacturing industry for almost nine years now, I can't tell you if JIT is still "in" or not, but I'm assuming for behemoth companies like Wal-Mart it's just a fact of doing business.

I understand the theory behind it.  It may work for "competent" companies (ours was a little on the wonky side, and that's being nice), or in situations where there aren't a lot of variables.  But here in my world, JIT just means that someone (usually me) has been slacking.

We've had a bitter cold winter so far and our wood pile has suffered immensely.  We've been lucky the past two winters and didn't go through a lot of wood so I think that made me complacent.  Paul has taken down & limbed more than enough trees to last us several years, but I haven't been out there to cut or split them.  Paul does 99% of the fire wood chores.  He fells them, hauls them, limbs them and cuts them into logs and he had justifiably hoped that I would at least take over splitting and stacking.  And I haven't.  Although in my defense, it is difficult to split wood with a five year old running around you.

Anyways.  We only have a few days worth of seasoned, split & stacked firewood left.  Paul has been working 12 hour shifts since last Sunday because of the weather and had it not let up on Saturday, would still be working.  So this Saturday and Sunday he was outside cutting up logs and I was moving the "good enough" to burn ones to the house.

There is still a lot to be split and hauled.  We won't have to stack much of it because it's going to be used almost on an "as needed" basis.  In our case, JIT firewood is not a good thing.  Actually, I think JIT anything is pretty much crap when running a homestead or a family.

Unfortunately I think that too many people are using this business model to run their lives.  Everyone is trying to cram more and more activities into their lives.  Running here and there with barely a minute to spare.  Cupboards as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's.  Savings neglected in order to buy the newest iPhone.  Because they feel like there will always be time to run to the grocery store, time to save for retirement, time to work on that project, time to spend time with the kids.  And more often than not, that time never comes.  Or, when that time does come, there are no goods on the grocery store shelves, retirement comes but there's no nest egg, and your children have grown and it's too late to take that walk through the woods with little Johnny.

Don't live your lives on a Just-In-Time schedule.  Think ahead to the future.  Prepare for the future.  Prepare for an uncertain future, as best as you can.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Barnyard Icecapades

We just may get out of the below-freezing daytime temps (and single digits at night) today so the ice that has been causing so much trouble may be gone by later this afternoon.  The ice we had on top of the snow has made everything an ice rink outside.  Rhiannon is enjoying it though, says she's ice skating in her boots and has been able to do some sledding.

I've been struggling to haul wood in the wheelbarrow without slipping and hauling the two 5-gallon buckets of water to the goats/chickens without falling is like an Olympic challenge.  Guess it's time to get some of those ice walkers, although Paul has said my outdoor muck boots are thick enough that he can drive some screws through the soles.  I may let him do that, but then that means that I won't be able to come in the house with them (which I occasionally do).

The goats are doing ok on the ice, probably because their pointy little hooves can break through the ice more easily than big boots or Giant Sloppy Dog feet.  Even Charlie has had his fill of slipping and he's now walking kind'a funky so he doesn't end up on his behind.

We still have avoided any major livestock mishaps because of the frigid weather, although I did have to play detective after spotting this in the yard:

Apparently the two dominant roosters are at it again.  I found both of them, very much alive, but very much bloodied up.  Not life-threatening, but blood enough around their combs, wattles and neck feathers to make one go, "ewwwww".  I really need to get rid of some of the roosters.  I had a lead on somebody that was supposed to come get three weeks ago, but it seems that most people can't bother either showing up, calling ahead or other socially polite norms when receiving free livestock.  It never ceases to amaze me.  So we'll try again.  Or they're getting made into soup.

Paul made me three little cedar suet feeders a while back and the woodpeckers & wrens have finally been using them.  Filled them up today with a peanut butter and lard mixture and put them back outside.  It's nice to watch them come up to the house.

The juncos have been visiting lately and are taking advantage of the weed seeds still left from summer:

I only seem to see them when there's snow on the ground.  I wonder if they are what people refer to as "snow birds" down here.  Not sure if you only see them when it snows because they stand out more or if they really are here all the time and just blend in with the darker, snow-free landscape.

Hope you're able to find some enjoyment from all the snow.  I'm trying :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Right to Warm Weather

Warning: Political Soap Box Rant Ahead

Yes, sheeple Citizens of the United States, you have the right to warm weather!  It is your gawd-given RIGHT to have balmy temperatures even if you chose to live north of the Mason-Dixon line!  Are you sick and tired of twenty-six inches of snow and sub-zero weather every day for four months at a time up in Minnesota?  Well then, vote for ME for Congress!  I will make sure that you will receive a plane ticket to your choice of southern states on the taxpayer's dime for free as well as taxpayer-funded government-subsidized housing in your chosen southern state.  Don't worry about having to find a job there either!  You can ride rely on the disabled / unemployed / underemployed gravy train government assistant programs regardless of your actual ability to work.  And if you get too hot down south, just fill out the coupon for a free air conditioning unit.

Year-round warm weather is every citizens right and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that you vote for me your rights are being upheld!


Sooooo.......what got me all in a political uproar this crisp and brilliant (i.e. freaking cold) Friday, you ask?  Well, two things actually.  Last night I was reading some online news regarding something (I have already forgotten), but what I remember was the last line of the article stating that "Health, education and nutritious food are a human right."  Then this morning I saw a little quote on Google (yes, Paul, I know it's evil, just like Facebook) that said, "The practice of sport is a human right." - Olympic Charter.

Ok, in essence those things are a right; as in you should be free to undertake whichever (non-aggressive) paths lead to those goals.  But I am sick and freaking unbelievably tired of seeing every. stinking. thing. being claimed as a human right....and provided by the government.  Now don't get me wrong.  I'm a big fan of the part in The United States Declaration Independence where it states that,

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

But where does it say that life, liberty, and happiness are supposed to be provided by the government?  Meaning by the money that the government steals from other people.  The government's only purpose is to make sure that no one else infringes upon those rights, not to make sure you're given things that you equate with those rights.

It says that the PURSUIT of those things are an unalienable right.  If you're too lazy to work when you can, you are not entitled to a paycheck just because.  If you're not happy where you are financially, physically or mentally, then do something to change that; you are not entitled to have someone else make you happy.  And most importantly, if you are giving up your Constitutional rights little by little, or are voting to take OTHER people's rights away, then you should not expect to keep YOUR Liberty.

Most of you know that I'm not talking about taking food out of children's mouths (that's ALWAYS the case the left-wing, bleeding heart wacko's bring up).  Why do they always bring up Children or The Elderly or The Disabled or Cute Little Puppies?  It's always the same; A child with a cute little starving puppy is being killed every five seconds because of guns/reduced food stamp benefits/lack of better education/lack of "free" health care.  Sick of it.

At what point does the government mandate that EVERYthing is a human right and that those rights have to be "upheld" by them?  Meaning that if you aren't feeling quite up to snuff with the Robinsons next door, just cry "nutritional, educational, sexual, financial, etc." discrimination and bingo!  you've got yourself a new free cell phone (with internet capabilities, of course).

Ironically, while our asinine government is providing all these make believe rights (at your expense), they are destroying the rights that truly matter.  Day by day, minute by minute, they are outlawing, over-regulating, abolishing, eroding and erasing those silly things written in the Bill of Rights.  If you'd like, I can give scathing examples of tyrannical abuse for all but the Third and Seventh Amendments (although give me five minutes and I'm sure I can come up with something).

Come on, somebody ask me to list the specific ways each of the Amendments are trampled on a daily basis!  I'm in a fighting mood today.  Although I'm sure you've had enough crappy political ranting for the day.

So, what's the reasoning and moral of my crazed-political-blog post for this morning?  I suppose that too many people are being immoral.  That they'd rather have someone else do the pursuing of happiness for them instead of getting off their lazy duffs to do it for themselves.  I also needed to vent.  Although it's pretty much preaching to the choir here.

Oh, and I'm cranky from all the cold.  And we're running out of seasoned, split wood for the stove so that means I gott'a get my butt out on the splitter or we're gonn'a be having to wear five layers of clothing in the house.

Wonder if Obama has a program for free firewood.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Caprine Ready-To-Wear

Lily & Pickles first potential due date has passed without any sign of labor.  Both are starting to bag up, but Lily's udder is more full.  Not like dairy goat full udder, but definitely larger than they were a month ago.  Pickles still doesn't look very heavy, but I'm hoping the fact that she is starting to develop an udder is a sure sign of pregnancy.  I've been massaging their bellies and haven't been able to confirm a baby in there, which I am a bit surprised at.  When I was massaging Nettie during her bloat incident this past weekend, I was able to feel at least one kid kicking around like crazy.
Next kidding date for Lily & Pickles is on February 28th.

And the day before that, Nettie and Annette are due to kid.  So if you guys don't see or hear from me at the end of February, rest assured that I'll be in the barn up to my eyeballs in afterbirth and wobbly goat kids.

In anticipation of The Insane Goat Baby Fest of 2014, I decided to check how many goat coats I had in my stash.  Last year (or was it the year before??) was the earliest I had ever scheduled kiddings and the nighttime temps dipped into the 30's so I was scrambling to make some sort of goat kid covering and ended up with a butt ugly goat coat..

Susan must have been horrified at my hasty attempt and was kind enough to send me a couple of homemade kid coats.  But even with those two beautiful goat coats and the three dog sweaters I picked up at Walmart end-of-season for like two bucks, I'm still going to be needing a few more.  Four goats due in two days times an average of two kids each and, well, I really need to make a few more goat coats is what I'm getting at.  Although I'm hoping we'll eventually get through these insnae cold-snaps we've been getting, knowing my luck we'll continue this trend just through kidding season so I want to be prepared.

I went through my stash of material and found some fleece blankets that I was eventually going to do "something" with:

The Sponge Bob pattern was selected as the first prototype, because honestly, I can't think of anything else I'd really want to do with it.  I was going to make Outside Kitty a pillow using it but when I showed it to him he rolled his eyeballs and with an audible "humpff" trotted off, butthole puckering his disgust at the thought of having to sleep on something so silly.

So I'm off to make some slightly-less-butt-ugly goat coats.  I'll let you know how they turn out.  That is, if I manage to finish them before the kids hit the ground.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Diospyros Virginiana, Weather Oracle

Yesterday I did a post on the winter fortune telling abilities of our local American Persimmon trees (Diospyros Virginiana).  Well, it's not the trees themselves with the psychic abilities, but their seeds.  If you split one open lenghtwise, it will reveal either a knife, a fork or a spoon.  Finding a knife will mean you're in for some bitter cold winds that cut like a knife.  Opening one to reveal a spoon / shovel means you'll be digging out your driveway on a regular basis.  And one can only hope for a fork, as that signifies a mild winter and good eating.

Not sure if it's just Ozark Hillbilly Snockered on Moonshine kind'a folklore or if it applies to wherever persimmon trees abound.
Where American Persimmons can be found.
The Arkansas Champion Persimmon tree is located in Yell County and has a 151" circumference and is 96' tall (as measured in 2004).  Our persimmons are skinny, tall and lanky with a circumference less than 12" and I seem to have more standing dead ones than live ones.  Not sure if we just don't have the right soil for them, if there's some sort of persimmon disease in our woods or what.  I just try to make sure that Paul doesn't doze them over.

Did you know that the seeds of the Persimmon were used as buttons by the Confederate Army during the American Civil War?  And the roasted, ground seeds can be used as a coffee extender / substitute.

I know that my Northern blogging buddies are jealous of my Southern Oracle Tree so I did some research and came upon the seeds of the Great Northern Persimmon (Holycrapus Damitscoldus). I split it open and this is what it revealed:

I'm thinking you guys are pretty much screwed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Persimmon Doesn't Lie

Local folklore has it that if you split a persimmon seed in half ( know, the difficult way), it will tell you how severe the upcoming winter will be.  If there's a knife inside, it will be a bitter cold winter, if there's a spoon/shovel inside be prepared for lots of snow, and if there's a fork inside you're lucky and will have a mild winter (apparently the fork represents good eat'n).

We've done this several years now, and the 'simmons (as Rhiannon calls them) have been pretty much on spot.  This year we got a spoon four out of five seeds.  The fifth one was "kind'a" fork-like, almost like a spork.
Spoons. Definitely Spoons.
Fork?  Spork?!
I was hoping that the spork seed would mean "kind'a good eat'n", but apparently it was more shovel/spoon than a spork because this is what we got yesterday:

This is our third major snow this winter.  Need I mention that we were working outside just this Saturday in the mid-50's weather?  And on top of our 3-4" of snow we're supposed to get some more snow & freezing rain with temps in the upper 20's to lower 30's....meaning it will be a mess for the next week at least.

So I suppose it's good that Pickles and Lily didn't end up taking their first breeding go-around because not only would I have to put goat coats on the kids, but I'd have to look into fitting them for ice skates.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Paul was outside yesterday evening around dusk and put the chickens up for me.  Then he comes in and says that he thinks Nettie is in labor.  

WHAT?!  I exclaim with an expletive or two thrown in for good measure.  I wouldn't have been so surprised if he had said it was Pickles or Lily (who have gone past their first kidding date) but Nettie wasn't due for another month.  I hastily throw on jacket, boots & grab my head lamp and on the way to the barn wonder how I would handle a premature goat birth.  

I get to the barn & Paul is in one of the open pens and Nettie is in laying down in the corner, head craned out and moaning a bit.  I check her backside and other than being a little more puffy than usual, she isn't dilated, there isn't any goo and she doesn't seem to be straining from labor pains.  But she is in pain.

I make her get to her feet, check her ligaments (still there) and feel her udder (no new milk).  So I'm pretty sure she's not in labor, but has bloat.  I'm not sure what she would have gotten into that day.  They all got the same ol' same ol' hay that morning and fed the same grain rations just hours earlier.  For whatever reason, Nettie seems to be predisposed to getting bloat.  I think she's had it four or five times.  At least now I've got the routine down and I head back to the house and break open my animal med kit and start preparing a drench for her.

I put a cup of vegetable oil in a jar and then add 3 Tablespoons of baking soda to it and mix it up well.  I brought that, the drenching gun and a thermometer back to the barn and had Paul hold Nettie so I could drench her with the oil / soda mixture.  We got a good ounce down her then Paul & I took turns walking her around, massaging her stomach and drenched her again until I got all the oil / soda mixture down her.

After about five minutes of walking her around, we got some gurgling, a burp and a fart.  Paul and I continued the walking / massaging for about an hour and drenched her once more before leaving her be for a while.  I went out later that night to check on her and found her in one of the goat huts.  I got her up, walked her around, got another couple good farts out of her (yes, I know I could say "gas", but fart sounds so much more phonetic, and let's face it, saying ffffarttt like it actually sounds is fun) and let her rest for the night.

I got up before dawn this morning to check on her and she seemed much improved.  She saw me wielding the drenching gun and made a bee-line for anywhere I wasn't going.  I got her in to the milk stand with a promise of a handful of cracked corn, locked her in the stanchion and drenched her with 5ml of Probios and 5ml of Vitamin B complex.  

It's all fun and games until somebody can't fart.  (Fffffaaaaarrrtttttttt!)