Saturday, March 29, 2014

G is for GET OUT!

I opened up one of the covered, raised beds to see what, if anything was going on in there.  Picked out a few weeds and left the glass door open.  Still haven't decided what I'm going to put in there, but it really doesn't matter because approximately fifteen seconds after I left the general area, the chickens ran from all corners of the homestead and had taken over and made it their personal dust bath:

There are only three small raised beds in the front yard along with the Herb garden.  And although I have somewhat chicken-proofed the Herb garden by placing rocks around every plant, the other raised beds must have something to keep the scratching biddies out of there.  I've used plastic deer netting with some success in the past, but I'm not sure if the Giant Sloppy Dog will respect the fence or just plow right into it, over the beds, and on his merry way like he currently does sans netting.  I LOVE the idea of putting up a rustic looking picket fence or one of those wattle fences, but I lack both the ambition and patience.

The Wattle Fence that I'd like to put up.....
The Wattle Fence of my dreams.....
The Wattle Fence, in reality.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

G is for Grease

Bacon Grease.

From OUR bacon.  Paul picked up the cured / smoked ham and bacon this past Sunday and after weighing in the remaining porky goodness, I opened up a package of bacon, fried it up and we were finally eating crispy, delicious, wonderful, beautiful BACON!

And after we consumed too much the bacon, I let the pan of grease cool off and poured it into our "Bacon Grease" jar and put it back in the fridge.  The jar was getting pretty empty so it brought a smile to my face to see it being filled back up.

We also received more pork fat from the other family that didn't want theirs (The fools!  Bwahahaha!!).  Another welcome addition to the Krazo Acres larder (pun most definitely intended).  It will be rendered into lard.  Which I will use, along with the coveted bacon grease, to cook with, bake with, and make my favorite green bean recipe.

I used to store vegetable oil as the primary "fat" in our pantry.  Then we started getting hogs for the freezer and I learned to render the pork fat into lard so I've been letting the vegetable oil stock dwindle.  I'll still buy olive oil, and maybe a container or two of vegetable oil, but from now on our main focus will be on lard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

G is for "Go Ahead"

Nope.  Still no "G" posts from me.  I'm sticking to my week long g--- less sabbatical (although honestly, it's more for my sake than yours).  If you just NEED to see some goat cuteness, go check out Leigh's blog post from yesterday; Ziggy popped out three bundles of caprine cuteness!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"G" is for...


I've been so busy with "those" animals that even though Spring has officially sprung, I haven't done much seed starting or planting or anything remotely close to getting the garden started.  Although our weather hasn't been crazy-cold we're still dipping below the freezing mark several nights this week.

The buds on the peach and nectarine trees are swollen and looks like they'll burst open any day (probably when it gets down to freezing at night, of course) and there's a lot more green out in the pastures than there was just a few days ago.

I pilfered a neighbor's yard for her excess daffodils and planted them in a somewhat-chicken-proof miniature bed surrounded by rocks.

I made an identical rock-lined area for the Iris bulbs Mom gave me (that had been sitting on my front porch since, say, last September) and plan on making a few more to line the front of the berry garden.  I also yanked up some roots from the neighbor's wisteria bush that I have soaking in water now and hoping that I can transplant them into a pot and then into the ground before too long.  I just have to find a suitable place for them as they are known for taking over anything they get their vines on.

The front garden beds need to be surrounded with chicken wire or bird netting before I can plant my peas.  The chickens have decided that those beds make dandy dusting areas and there's no way anything would survive in those beds unless they are fenced off.

I still need to clean out the herb garden and expand it some more.  I think it did pretty well last year after I finally figured out how to chicken-proof the plants growing there.  The yarrow is coming back on it's own as is the oregano and I think even the sage and chocolate mint plants made it through the winter.  I'm planning on putting a variety or two of Basil in there along with some cilantro, parsley and may even try tarragon although I have no idea what I'll do with it.

At least not yet.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Just one more

...before I sign off goats for the week.

This, my dear friends, is why I absolutely hate Pickles.  Not because she's a needy little bottle baby brat, not because she doesn't allow her kids to nurse adequately, but because of THIS:

Speak up, Pickles

This was taken just today (I finally figured out how to use the video on my camera).  Nobody was being beaten or teased or picked on.  I do not keep them tied up all day, they are still clipped to the fence because they just got finished eating supper.

Pickles does this.  All.  Stinking.  Day.

Every.  Stinking.  Day.

PS - I tried uploading it to blogger but it kept coming up as an error message, so this is a link to the FB page.  If anyone knows how to help me upload it here, I wouldn't mind some help!

Those who must not be named

No, I'm not talking about that Voldemort dude from the Harry Potter books.  I'm talking about those, those..... (looks around, whispers) g. o. a. t. s.

Just yesterday I was starting another blog post on the, uhm, four legged creatures that I keep for milk and was thinking, "Man, I sure do talk about _ _ _ _ _ a lot on this blog".  And then just today, I was reminded by SciFiChick that I am, in fact, that blog that everyone goes to if they ever get the urge to start keeping _ _ _ _ _ so they know why they shouldn't keep them.

Then I felt like I should maybe change the background on my blog to reflect the fact that I spend a majority of my blogging posts focused on them.  But I scratched that idea when I remembered how difficult it was to put the Pop-Tart Rainbow Kitty on my background.  And come on, who doesn't like mass produced sugary pastries with a feline head that farts rainbows?  Besides, it throws off the NSA guys.

I didn't mean for this to be a "G" blog, really I didn't.  But every spring, obviously around kidding time, they totally consume my blog and almost all of my waking hours.  Which is an inordinate amount of waking hours because I don't sleep more than fours at a time.

So in order to give you, my loyal and probably a little insane readers a caprine reprieve, I promise not to even type the "G" word for an entire week.  Can I do it?  I'm not quite sure, but I'll try.  So starting tomorrow, I will attempt to amuse you with the things going on here at Krazo Acres other than those involving the time, money and sanity-sucking monsters that have taken over my life.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

2014 Kidding Season is O.V.E.R.

This kidding season was the absolute worst we've ever had.  If this had been our first year with goats, I would have immediately packed them up and sold them to the first person that came up the drive.

Once again, I kind'a got in over my head.  I had taken on an additional two female goats last fall and then went and had them bred.  Had I not sold NewNew and Olivia, I would have had a total of eight pregnant does to deal with (you know, instead of just six).

Pickles was the first to kid, and she did so a week early.  I actually went out one night to check on the critters and she had had both kids, unassisted and was drying them off when I found them.  Her male kid had (has) leg problems since birth and we splinted, hobbled and slung him, got him a shot of Bo-Se, medicated him for a week with Vitamin E, and took him to the vet.  Pickles basically abandoned him (as we probably should have) and refuses to let him nurse.  I have to hold her down so he can nurse or I let him up on the milk stand with me when I'm milking one of the other does and let him sneak a meal from them.  He's on all four legs now and gets around pretty well, but there is obviously still something wrong with him.  He's destined for freezer camp anyhow, but I still wonder if all the work is worth it.

Nettie had her horrible, horrible kidding the very next day.  Three kids, all tangled up together, I had to go in and rearrange each one of them.  One of them was born dead, the other two were males (of course).  This was going to be Nettie's last kidding and I was hoping for one more doeling out of her.  Of course.  She was still suffering from her gored udder and subsequent infection / fever; I am amazed that she is alive.  We gave away her bucklings as bottle babies as Nettie didn't have an udder for them to nurse from.

Annette kidded the day after Nettie.  She had three kids; two doelings and a malformed, dead kid, sex unknown.  I had to reposition the second kid to get the front feet out and I had to pull the last dead kid.  Her surviving doelings are doing fine as is Annette.  Nettie took over Auntie duties.

Lily kidded three days later with one buckling and one doeling, unassisted.  I had put her in the kidding pen just hours earlier and when I went to check on her, she had popped 'em out and was drying them off.  The male was significantly smaller than the female and a few days later we lost him to hypothermia.  Her doeling is doing very well.

I had a five day kidding reprieve and then Penny kidded.  I had no idea when her due date was as the lady I bought her from let the buck run with the does.  I saw signs of impending kidding the day before and kept an eye on her, put her in the kidding pen and she had her single doeling pretty much unassisted.  Penny was supposed to be bred to a Boer (you know, like how Penny herself was supposed to be a Boer) but her doeling looks more dairy than meat goat.  She's doing well though and I'll decide if she'll be bred to a meat or dairy buck next year.

Got another reprieve, this time for a whole two & a half weeks and our final pregnant goat, MamaGoat, popped out this little girl yesterday afternoon:

MamaGoat didn't really show any of the normal "I'm going to pop" signs.  Even today, her actual due date, I wasn't sure that her ligaments were really loosened up enough.  She didn't really get that hollow look under her spine.  She wasn't hunching up or making any noise.  The only sign I had was that she was pretty much staying inside the kidding pen (which I had purposely left open) most of the day.  I went out to check on her and finally caught her lying down and grunting a little.  I moseyed my way into the house to take off my rings and get some clean towels, and by the time I got back to the barn she was pushing in earnest and yelling.  A correctly presented kid!  And I only grabbed the kid's feet at the last push to slide her out.  A single doeling!  Since she didn't really need help birthing, I figured we'd just help clean off the goo and then let the kid find her way to nurse.  Which she did!  Easiest kidding ever.

So here are the 2014 Kidding Totals: 

Pickles - One doeling and one buckling
Nettie - Three bucklings, one dead
Annette - Two doelings, one dead, sex unknown
Lily - One doeling and one buckling who later died
Penny - One doeling
MamaGoat - One doeling

Twelve kids total; six doelings & six bucklings (probably).  
Three dead bucklings; two bucklings dead in the womb, one died from hypothermia.
Gave away two bucklings.
Bought one buckling.

Number of kids running around the barnyard as of today:  A crapload.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

You paid for that? With, like, money?

"Didn't you just GIVE away two goats and now you just BOUGHT one?!"

Those were some of Paul's first comments after laying eyes on this little bugger:
Would you look at that little tail wagging like it's gonn'a fly right off!
I think subsequent comments were, "Don't we have enough freaking goats", followed by a "You're not allowed to go on the goat FB pages anymore" and finished with the usual "I only agreed to chickens".

But we do need another Boer buck to replace Herman.  And since I wanted to make sure we only brought in hornless goats, I had to get a very young one.  This guy is only two weeks old.  Tomorrow he's going under the disubdding iron.

As you have probably noticed, I have myself a bottle buckling.  I h.a.t.e. bottle raising kids.  But since he is going to stay a he (and not be wethered), I need him to be friendly.  Like really friendly.  And I'm hoping that the fact that he's being bottle raised will help that.  Herman is an asshat....with horns.  Not as bad as Pan was, but at least he was hornless and I could manage to wrestle him down to the ground if I had to.  There's no way I'd be able to get Herman down on the ground without some serious hurting.

I'm still doing my figuring on who's breeding whom this fall.  We committed livestock husbandry blasphemy last fall when I had Herman breed his sister Lily.  She kidded with a buckling & doeling easily, but the buckling was smaller and died of hypothermia several days later.  I place the fact he even got hypothermic squarely on my shoulders, but I wonder if the breeding brother to sister had anything to do with the smaller size of the buckling.  Not sure if we'll ever know.

Technically Herman could breed everyone this fall with the exception of Lily's doeling, Clover.  I don't want to chance fate with him breeding her since he's Clover's father and her uncle.  Talk about hillbilly inbreeding....

So the new buckling could be used on Lily and Clover and there wouldn't be any of that funky inbreeding (or as it's called when you don't want to sound like a hillbilly; Line-Breeding).

Pickles (if I keep her sorry ass) and her doeling Dilly and Penny and her doeling Lira would be bred to Herman as long as I'm happy with how the kids fatten up by fall.  If they aren't looking how I'd like them to, Herman is out and the new kid on the block will have the entire Krazo Acres Boer harem to himself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The sound of my arteries slamming shut

Even though the two days of hog butchering is behind us now, there is still plenty of piggy-progress to be made.

The bag o' fat that we brought home with us was picked through to separate it into "freezer fat" and lard.  The freezer fat is the better grade strips of fat that we will use to add to venison and other lean meats when we make sausage and is kept in the freezer until we need it.  The remaining fat was chunked up and immediately put into the crockpots.

I've tried rendering lard on the stove top, in the oven and in a crockpot.  But my favorite, and by far the easiest way to render lard is in a crock pot.  I filled the crockpots about 2/3rd full, turned them on low, put the lid on.....and walked away.  About ten hours later I had a pot full of rendered lard mixed with cracklins.

I strained the liquid fat through a kitchen sieve into a glass jar, let it cool a bit, then transferred it to some hillbilly tupperware and stuck it in the fridge.

The cracklins were squeezed a little to get some of the additional liquid fat out of them, put back in a hot cast iron skillet, stirred them around with some salt & then put them on a paper towel lined plate to cool off.

Heck, who am I kidding.  I didn't let them cool off for more than thirteen seconds before I popped a bunch in my maw.  Got second-degree burns on the roof of my mouth, but it was a darned delicious second degree burn.  After Paul yelled at me for eating them all showing some restraint, I put the rest of the salted cracklins in a zippy bag and popped it into the freezer so I couldn't eat them all to use in future cornbread recipes.

We also experimented with a new breakfast sausage recipe that Paul found online (sorry, I don't know how to find the owner of the original recipe to thank them).  The ingredients sounded a little odd, but we tried it anyhow.  And it was really good.  Different, and not exactly what one would think of as a breakfast sausage, but good enough that we made seven pounds of it.  It's got an almost sweet taste to it, and very yummy, although I wouldn't make sausage gravy with it.  Here's the recipe for those of you who have a bit of ground pork sitting around:

1 lb. ground, fatty pork
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. EACH ground pepper, nutmeg, thyme, paprika
1/8 tsp. ginger
1 3/4 oz. water
 Mix all together, let sit in the refrigerator several hours before cooking

We also had fried pork livers for supper a few days ago:
I am the luckiest Mom in the world.  This kid eats EVERYthing!
The porkfest was broken up on Tuesday when we had a late St. Patrick's Day supper consisting of the obligatory Corned Beef & Cabbage.  But this morning, pork was back on the plate in the form of breakfast sausage patties next to eggs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gett'n Personal with a Pork Chop, Part 2

Rhiannon wasn't feeling well so we didn't get to Day 2 of the hog butchering until after the majority of the big cutting was already finished.  You know, the stuff I really wanted to learn how to do.  But according to Paul, it went something like this:

They transferred the hog carcasses from the cooler to the cutting table.  The back feet were cut off, then the hams (back legs) were cut off, trimmed and hung in the other cooler (they have two coolers!!! I'm so insanely jealous.).

The fatback (the "premium" fat) was pulled from the inside of the chest cavity and set aside.  Then the ribs were cut from each half, the bacon/belly cut from that, and then I have no idea what else.  I was hoping to have a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to cut up the pork, but all I have are pictures of what happened after the major cutting.  So if you'd like more detail, go take a look-see at Ohio Farmgal's and MamaTea's blog posts on cutt'n up hogs.

Anywho......Rhiannon and I drove up to the main processing building......

and this is what Rhiannon and I walked in on when we finally arrived:

Hunks o' pork, ready to be made into pork chops and neck roasts.
Aaron slicing the back hunk o' meat into the more familiar pork chops.
Whadd'a you know....looks just like a pork chop!  Amazing, hugh?
Scraps of meat/fat being put into the to-be-ground pile.
And viola!  Ground pork.
This bucket of bones / scraps will be going to
"The Wolf Man".  Not an exceptionally hairy male,
but a man who breeds/raises wolves.  Really.
With the exception of the stomach, intestines & gall bladder, nothing was wasted.  We took all five livers (for us) and the kidneys and hearts for Charlie the GSD.  The fat from the five hogs was split between us and another family.  Although I wouldn't mind trying to make head cheese, I figured I had enough to do so all five heads went to the owners of the facility.  And all the extras went into that bucked pictured above for wolf snackies.

I had originally instructed Paul to keep only one ham and have the second ham and both shoulders ground up but Paul said that the hams looked so good that he kept both of them, one sliced into ham steaks and the other left whole.  The whole ham and the two sides of bacon were already back in the cooler awaiting the curing process.

Rhiannon and I gathered our porky goodness and brought it home.  I weighed everything, lovingly put it into the large chest freezer, then just sat back and admired it :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gett'n Personal with a Pork Chop

We've been without breakfast sausage for several weeks.  Haven't had a ham or pork chop in months.  And bacon?  What's that?  It's been so long since I've fried up a pan of thick sliced bacon that I'm not sure I know how to anymore.

This is the last package of pork-anything in our freezer:

But there is light at the end of the proverbial pork tunnel and it's the headlamps of the Chevy truck that was pulling the stock trailer full of these beautiful beasties:

The scene above is usually the last of our involvement in what ends up as a grilled pork chop on our suppler plates.  The last two years we've been getting our hog from a farmer / friend just a few miles up the road and then had it taken to the local butcher, just a few more miles away.  But this year we wanted to experience more of what it actually takes to get select cuts of Porky Pig wrapped up in that nice, white butcher paper.  So when we found out that a couple other friends were ordering hogs and  having a butchering day, we said that we wanted in on it.

These hogs came from a small farm in West Plains, MO.  Not that we didn't like the last hogs we got, but this is where the other people were getting them and we figured we'd spread the pork-chop-wealth around a bit.  We met the husband and wife, I asked stupid questions like, "Ooo, do I get to pick MY pig?!", money exchanged hands and the five hogs were brought down to the farm where we were doing the butchering and thus began our first stint in hog butchering.

The farm we were doing the processing in is already set up for massive meat movement.  They process deer on the side for extra money and have all the equipment, including a walk-in cooler!  We showed up at 9 am on Friday morning and anxiously awaited the arrival of the hogs.  My heart almost skipped a beat when in the distance I heard the familiar sound of a large vehicle crunching gravel under it's tires and the tell-tale squeaking of a stock trailer being pulled behind.  There were a total of five hogs (one of them with our name on it) and four of us there to help.

The first phase of butchering, the skinning & gutting, wasn't rocket science.  The pigs' time on this earth was ended quickly and humanely by the skillful hand of Eagle Eye Aaron.  They were drug out of the trailer and underneath a very large tree then their throats were slit to allow the blood to drain.  If you've ever skinned and gutted anything before, it's pretty much the same thing, just bigger.  And, well, it helps to have some larger scale hanging equipment and a very sturdy tree limb to suspend said equipment from:

The largest animal we've processed has been a hundred plus pound deer and my chosen pig weighed in at 290 pounds.  If we were to do this at our place, we'd have to invest in some heavy duty pulleys, cable and find ourselves a nice tree because the rafters in the garage (where we usually process our deer) wouldn't last long with one of those piggies hanging from it.  Wonder if our homeowner's insurance would cover the collapse of the garage by "excessive pork chop weight"?

Their chosen way of removing the hair and hide from pigs is by skinning them.  I know that others scald them in boiling water, but honestly, where does one get a pot large enough to do this?  Initial cuts are made through the skin around the bum, around the back feet, down the legs and then down the belly.

Once the flaps are made, you just grab yourself a hunk of skin and peel and cut until you make it down to the neck.  The skinning wasn't as easy as a deer hide; it had to be pulled and cut and pulled and cut and then pulled and cut some more.

If you don't care about the lard (are you nuts?!?) you don't have to be as careful cutting the skin from the hide, but you'll lose a lot of that potential lard.  And you definitely have to be extra careful around the belly because you don't want to lose any of that delicious soon-to-be-bacon.

Once the skin is pulled off down to the neck, a cut is carefully made into the belly and the insides are pulled outside.  No pictures of this as I was there with a bag to catch the "keeping" inside parts (i.e. heart, kidney, liver).  Once everything is out the head and front feet are cut off, the carcass is given a good once-over with the hose and the saw is used to cut the carcass down the middle of the spine:

More hose action and when things have had a few minutes to drip-dry, convince one of the three burly menfolk to heft a side of pork on his shoulder and get those babies hung up in the cooler for your daughter to admire:

Tomorrow we'll get into cutting those slabs of meat into the more familiar chops, hams and slabs of B.A.C.O.N. ! ! !

Stay tuned :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gimping a'long

Since the day he was born, Pickles' male kid has had a problem with his front and hind legs.  His back hocks would hyperextend like he was double-jointed and his front legs splayed out to the sides.  This made it impossible for him to nurse so Paul and I held him up to Pickles every few hours so he could get some milk.  To make things worse, as the hours and days wore one, Pickles seemed to ignore him more and more, making it even more difficult for him or us to get milk into him.  He was significantly smaller than his sister at birth and was now dependent on us going out to the barn to help him nurse so was not gaining weight as quickly as she was.

I've read about white muscle disease, an ailment resulting from lack of selenium and vitamin E.  During most of the year, but especially for the last few months of the does pregnancy, I top dress their feed with a Selenium & Vitamin E powder.  I'm not sure if I wasn't giving them enough, if it was just the fact that Pickles kidded a week early or if they even had a Selenium deficiency in their diets.  I posted the question on a goat forum and several people said that they've had kids with the same problems but that in a few days the kids improved on their own or they were given a shot of Bo-Se (an injectable form of concentrated Selenium and Vitamin E).  Some even splinted the front or back legs to help the kids stand until their tendons tightened up.  So Paul splinted the back legs and seemed to be able to stand better.

The splints failed after a day or two because of the constant urine soaking they received (they were only made from cardboard stiffeners).  We took the splints off and hoped that being forced to use his legs would strengthen then up.  Which it did for a short time, but then he seemed to regress back to his helpless stance.  Paul put another pair of plastic splints on his back legs and we hoped for the best.

I really wanted to try getting some Bo-Se into him, but for whatever gawdforsaken reason, it is available by prescription only.  Add the prescription problem to the fact that I couldn't get out of the house for five days because of the ice on the driveway and it was almost two weeks before I could get out to get the Bo-Se shot.  And in order to get the Bo-Se shot, I had to practically beg the vet to sell it to me.  As soon as I could get out of the driveway, I ran out to the vet's office and picked up the single 2mL dose.  I wasn't sure if giving him the shot at this point was too late, but spent the $12 on the shot (and luckily didn't have to spend an additional $45 on an office visit).  If I had to bring him in for an office visit, I would have just said forget it and we would just kill him.  It sounds heartless, but he is obviously not a "keeping" goat, so would have been wethered anyhow and end up in the freezer.  He is not an animal that is worth the financial drain.

According to my internet research, his situation should have visibly improved within 24 hours of the shot.  Which it didn't.  So we took the second pair of plastic splints off and prepared to end his (and our) suffering.  But then Paul suggested making him a sling.  We had been slinging him with a towel around his midsection in order to give his legs a work out, but it wasn't working well and we just weren't out there long enough and often enough to make it effective.  Paul cut an old pair of jeans into an improvised harness and we tied him up to the rafters of the barn where he could "stand" unsupervised.

I left him in his sling for several hours during the day, took him out to rest, put him in it for another few hours, then took him out of it for the night.  On the second day of slinging he did seem to improve a bit.  But honestly, not enough to make all this fuss over him worth it.  Since Pickles still had to be held in order to let him nurse we were still constantly going out there to let him nurse.
Pickles (the total asshat) running away from her offspring.
At one point I think were were just about to commit to putting a bullet in his skull but then I said, "lets wait one more day".  And in that one day, there was an improvement.

I'm not sure if the Bo-Se finally kicked in, if the daily doses of Vitamin E were helping, if the splints helped or hurt, or if the sling helped or hurt.   But he was able to stand, still very much splayed out, but he was gimping his way around and following Pickles with much eagerness.  And Pickles continued walking away from him, adding to my eagerness to smack her upside the head.  So even though I have to hold her still for him to nurse, at least I didn't have to hold him up.  His front legs are still splayed out, so we hobbled them together a bit.  He took to the hobble quickly so is moving around quite well, albeit in a very gimpy fashion.

Pickles daughter is doing fine because she is physically able to keep up with Pickles when she moves away, but we're still going out there to make sure gimpy is getting milk every four hours. All this hassle and extra expense just to keep him alive long enough to eventually end his life eight months later via a lead projectile to the brain.

Humane?  Heartless?  Insane?  Pointless?

I'm still not sure.  But it is what it is.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Go(a)t Milk?

We sure do!  And it's about time.

I finally got my lazybum in a milking routine.  I normally let the kids stay on their dam for a week, then put them up in the kidding pen at night so I can have the morning milk.  But I've been a sloth and just started milking a few days ago.  Seems like I'm messing around with every other thing goat-related except what we actually have the goats for:
Mmmmm, Mmmmm....Milk!
Oh, I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to have fresh milk in the refrigerator!  With the exception of grandma bringing over a half-gallon of store bought milk about a month ago, our house has been milk-free since about the first of the year.  I didn't freeze nearly enough milk from last fall so our supply only lasted less than a month and even then I saved it for Rhiannon only.  When a recipe called for milk I used powdered milk, or sprinkled some in my hot tea.  I've tried drinking reconstituted powdered milk, but I just couldn't do it.  Just the smell makes me want to yack.  I've even tried adding a bit of vanilla to it, but still ended up pouring it in the chicken bucket.  Probably a bad attitude to have about it, but it's not going to kill us to go through a few months without fresh milk.

Our dairy does here are Annette (Mini-Saanen), MamaGoat (Mini-Saanen) and Nettie (Saanen), although after the Udder Incident, I've decided to let Nettie dry up. 

But that pint of milk pictured above wasn't from my any of my dairy gals, it was from Lily, one of the Boer gals.  Boers are a meat goat.  But she has such a nice, large udder that I figured I'd try getting her on the milk stand and it went really well.  We lost her buckling a few days ago to hypothermia so I figured I really wasn't hurting her milk production by taking some for us because she would have been producing it for her now deceased kid.  And her surviving doeling is pretty much a chunky-monkey so I'm not worried about her getting enough to eat.

I also started Penny the "supposed to be a Boer" goat on the milk stand.  Since she obviously has Nubian in her, I figured she'd be a good candidate for milking.  Her single doeling is favoring one side of the udder so I've been milking out the other side.  Penny is kicky on the milk stand, but we're working on it.  As long as she has a bowl full of grain to occupy her I can milk her without too much trouble.

Now that we're back in the milk business, I can start making yogurt and cheese again.....Yee-haw!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some Semblance of Normalcy

It's been a whole two days since I've had my hands up the backside of a laboring goat.  I've been showering on a regular basis.  Donned a pair of "non-farm" pants today and put on some makeup.  I haven't had my "bling" on for over two weeks (since the afternoon of Nettie's udder accident) so today I decided to put my rings back on:
The blood red of the spot where the hen pecked me
compliments my rings nicely, wouldn't you say?
This morning wasn't quite as hectic so I was able to sit down and enjoy what is, in my unsolicited opinion, the only good thing about cold winter weather:
Roses? Kittens? Kettles? Mittens? Naw....
THESE ^ are a few of my favorite things.
(Try not to sing along)
The nighttime temps are going to be relatively mild (in the upper 20's to mid 30's) starting tonight so I turned off my "go check the goats" alarm which was jolting me awake every one hundred and fifty minutes in the wee hours of the night to make sure none of the goat kids had turned into caprine-sicles.  The kids, with the exception of Pickles' still gimpy buckling, are doing well.  Jumping around like crazy, well, goat kids and having a darned good time chasing the chickens around the barnyard.

The snow on the roads & driveway is just about gone (leaving a muddy, boot-sucking-off mess).  I'm was also able to finally get out of the driveway without having Paul pull the car up the road with the tractor (had to do that yesterday so he could take the car to work).  Which is a good thing since I needed to go the the vet today to pick up some Bo-Se for the gimpy goat and dog food for the GSD (Giant Sloppy Dog).  And since I was out anyhow, I got another week's worth of fresh fruits and veggies.

Have you thawed out from the latest Polar Bear Rolex event?  I'm talking to the people who live where there isn't normally a foot of snow on the ground in March.  I don't suspect we'll hear about anything green or snow-free from the Tundra Queens until, say, June.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Running out of room at the Inn

I don't know how we managed, but even though we only have one kidding/laboring pen and one kid "lock-up" pen, there seemed to be juuuusssst enough room in the barn for everybody.

I ended up making the main aisle of the barn a kidding stall by closing the front doors so there were actually three kidding areas in the barn.  Which was good as I had put Lily in the impromptu area just about an hour and a half before she popped out her kids last week and then used it for rearranging other goats for Penny's kidding yesterday.

Anyways, even with the barely adequate room in the barn, I still have one more pregnant goat.  But I'm actually going to get a little bit of a rest now since she's not due until the 21st of March.

We're going to be needing more goat shelters and lounging areas.  Right now we have the large goat hut, four "dog" houses (one in Herman's pen, which he refuses to use even in the sleet/rain) and the three blue barrels.  Last week I had a crazy idea that I'd build a quick lean-to on the goat/chicken shed while Paul was at work (oh, it will only take a few hours. shit.) but have learned (slowly....very slowly) that things take much, much, MUCH longer to do than I initially anticipate.

So instead of building a "real" lean-to on the side of the shed, I made myself a hoop house using some salvaged tarp, four t-posts, a bent cattle panel and stuck the blue barrels underneath it to help support it from the weight of baby goats wanting to jump on the hoop structure (imagine that).
Pickles and her two kids, lounging away.
This won't be ideal for really cold, windy nights but it will be just fine to provide an additional "lounging" area for the goats and the twenty million kids.  And it looks just hillbilly enough to fit right in here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Wait is Over

Which isn't necessarily a good thing.

Lily's little buckling who had hypothermia, thanks to me, didn't make it.  He hadn't moved much since bringing him in and slept the entire time.  I was waiting for some sign, either of improvement or worse.  Around 5 pm I went out to the barn to do my hourly goat check and when I came back in he had stopped breathing and passed.  Even though we were able to warm him up and get some nourishment in him, it was obviously too little too late.  In hindsight (of course) I should have brought him in last night knowing it was going to be so cold out.  I knew he was smaller than his sister and not as fat, but I figured he would be fine with the sweater, under the heat lamp, in a pile with the other goat kids.

That last goat check I did before he passed took longer than my usual, "Nobody's dead, everyone's running around looking good" because I had just in the last hour put Penny in the just cleaned out kidding pen.  And she was in labor.  Not moaning or grunting labor, just laying down & getting up & laying back down so I knew it was close.  I went inside to cram some cold asparagus and broccoli in my maw (which was what was left of supper after Rhiannon & Paul ate) and was about to grab a drink when I heard definite goat labor pains over the baby monitor.  I put my still-warm coat back on, yanked on my muck boots and headed back out to the barn to see Penny laying on her side and a head and two feel sticking out her backside.  I resisted the urge to immediately help and let her push a few more times before finally giving in and hooking my fingers over the feet and gently pulled when she pushed one last time.

I wiped most of the goo off and put the kid in front of Penny, who didn't seem the least bit interested.  I got some of the goo on my finger & put it on Penny's nose and she still seemed kind'a dazed.  When the kid finally let out a yell something must have clicked and she started licking it.  I helped her dry the kid off since it was still cool outside and the kid was frantically searching for milk.  But Penny still stayed on her side.  I thought that maybe she had another kid in there but there wasn't.  This kid was hungry and Penny didn't know what to do, or didn't care.  So I got a scoop full of grain, put it in a bowl on the opposite side of the kidding pen and Penny immediately got up.  At which point I brought the kid over to her and helped her find her first meal.  Which wasn't easy, as anyone who has ever tried to "help" a baby goat find the teat, especially since Penny kept kicking and moving away.  More interested in the bowl of grain than her newborn.

After the grain had been consumed, she calmed down a bit and eventually let her little doeling nurse (I even forgot to check if it was a male or female until just then).  I went back in to clean myself off and tend to the supper leftovers and dishes and brought a goat sweater back out with me.

Penny & her doeling seem to be doing ok.  I'm not overly impressed with Penny's mothering skills, but she is a first timer.  I hope she does better as the days go on.  Tonight I'll be tuned into the baby monitor and be making more frequent visits to the barn to make sure nobody is getting too cold and bring the mothers into the barn to provide some late night warm milk snacks for the kids. Last night was 7 degrees, tonight is going to be "warmer" but still only 19 degrees.  I didn't want to have to bring kids in the house, but I'm not going to lose another one to the cold so I'll be checking on them throughout the night.

Hypothermic Goat Kid

Last night was forecast to be another doozy of a cold night, 9 degrees and colder with the wind.  So I cleaned out the main area and put some more dry bedding down.  All the goat kids had their coats on and I piled them all up in the small pen with the heat lamp for the night.

I also drug Penny out of her pen (I had separated her from the rest of the herd after she gored Nettie) and brought her inside the barn because she was looking like she may be kidding soon; I didn't want her having the kids out in the open and succumb to hypothermia.  The lady I got her from said she was in with the buck from July to the middle of October so we're getting down to the last week before her last due date.  And I know she's pregnant as not only has her udder been filling up but I massaged her right side and felt a kid in there.  I turned the baby monitor on and went back inside.

About 2 am I went out to check on everyone, mostly because I didn't hear a peep from any of the goats (which kind'a worried me....quite goats usually equal mischievous goats).  Four of the goat kids has moved to the other corner and gimpy and Lily's buckling were in the other corner, Pickles gimpy kid was yelling (imagine that) so I brought Pickles in to give him a late night snack.  Lily's buckling was still curled up and snoozing so I didn't want to wake him.

In hindsight, I should have.

I got up around 6 to check on everyone again.  Dawn was breaking and the snow cover on everything made it look much lighter than usual so everyone wanted to get up and nurse and out of the barn and jump around.  All except Lily's little buckling.  I picked him up and he seemed sleepy still.  I stood him up and nudged him towards Lily to nurse, but he didn't seem interested at all.  He hadn't nursed since the evening before so I was worried.  After more prodding and rubbing, he still didn't want to do anything but stand there so I brought him inside figuring he was cold and I'd just warm him up by the fire for a little bit to get him going again.  After about fifteen minutes by the fire, I stood him up and he kind'a hunched up and just stood there.

Not wanting to move, not wanting to do anything at all.  Then I remembered just recently reading a blog about hypothermia in goats & lambs and that the hunched up stance was a sign of hypothermia.   I got out the animal thermometer and it read 97.8.  NOT good!  I took off his sweater and put him in a plastic tub lined with towels and put it closer to the fire (made to sure to turn him around so he didn't cook).

While he was warming up, I got the stomach tube and syringe out, made a concoction of goat milk replacer, Nutridrench and some Dextrose, warmed it up to 100 degrees and got ready to do my first emergency tube feeding.  Took his temperature right before tubing him and it was up to 99.  Paul had just got home so he held the little guy in his lap while I slowly pushed the tube in the side of his mouth and then down into his stomach.  The kid was pretty weak so there wasn't much of a struggle at all.  He did some swallowing reflexes and when I was pretty sure I had the tube down into his stomach, slowly pushed the plunger on the syringe and gave him the hopefully life-giving concoction.

I only gave him an ounce in fear of pumping him too full too soon.  About a half hour or so later his temperature was up to 100.1 so I tube fed him another ounce of the milk mixture.  This time he wasn't as subdued and didn't want the tube in his mouth but I got it down without too much trouble.  I stood him up and he stayed up for about five minutes, then slowly laid back down.  He's now sleeping on a pile of towels in front of the fire.  His temp is up to 101.7 but I'll keep him inside until he starts walking around and looking more alert.  That is, if I wasn't too late to help him.

Right now I'm going back outside to see what other goat emergencies await me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Winter, Part 3

Getting real sick of this winter stuff.  Not one, not two, but three ice storms this year.  Fortunately none nearly as bad as the one that left us without power for two weeks back in February of 2009, but still annoying as heck.  We'll hit a low of around 10 degrees tonight, then slowly make our way up to above freezing tomorrow afternoon.  Then almost sixty by Friday.  Ah, winters in Arkansas.

The baby goats aren't really sure what to think of all the snow.  They mostly jump in & out of it then make their way back in or under the barn where there is none of that cold, white stuff or run out to where momma is to grab a bite to eat and go back.  

I tried to shovel a path for the stupid chickens to get to their feeder, but there's a layer of ice pellets underneath so it still looks like snow to them and don't like to venture out in it.  I put a bowl of warm water and scoops of scratch under the barn where they're hiding out and called it "good enough". 

Hauling warm water to the goats & chickens is what usually fills my barn chore list on below-freezing days.  I can chip ice out of the stock tanks, but they usually only sip at the water.  When they seem me hauling buckets to the pen, everyone comes a'running for a warm drink.

Everyone in the warm spot!
Most of the goat kids are doing well.  Everyone has a sweater (a few with some rather ugly SpongeBob patterns) and seems to be doing fine as far as the cold weather.  Pickles buckling, however, is still having problems standing.  Paul splinted his back legs with a plastic brace this time and it seems to be doing the job, but now his front legs aren't keeping him up; they splay outwards instead of just forwards now.  So I'm still having to go out there every few hours to help him nurse.  Both Paul & I have seen him semi-standing under Pickles and nursing, but not often.  At first I though I was doing him a disservice by helping him so much because it seemed that he was doing better and using those muscles, but now it almost seems like he doesn't even want to bother trying to get up.  He's yelling plenty (imagine that, one of Pickles' offspring a yeller) and has a full belly, but I don't know what I'm going to do about his inability to walk on his own.  

I've read several places that this floppy leg thing wasn't that unusual and that it would clear itself up in a few days, but that doesn't seem like the case here.  Pickles had kidded a week early so I was figuring being premature that he'd need a little more time to get things worked out, but his sister is doing well.  She's also noticeably fatter than he is which I suppose shouldn't be that much of a surprise as she is able to walk up to Pickles and nurse whenever she wants while he has to wait until I help him.  I've been told to give him some Bo-Se as supposedly a selenium deficiency could cause his problems, but I haven't been able to get to the vet to get any and seeing as I won't be able to actually get out of the driveway until probably Wednesday it will have to wait until then.  If there is no improvement in another week I'm sorry to say that we'll probably have to cull him.  Sorry to have to kill a kid goat and sorry that we'll lose out on a good supper.  Probably a hypocritical thought, but oh well, that's how my mind works.