Tuesday, March 31, 2015

And now for something NON-Farm related

No cute baby goat pictures.  No goat autopsy pictures.  No rambling on about goat woe's or chicken goings on.

I have to brag a little bit.  About me, me ME!

Well, technically it's all always about me anyhow since this is my blog and you guys read about me.  But I've finally done something I've been meaning to do for a while now (well, besides drop thirty pounds and eat more kale).

I wrote something for a magazine.  And they actually PUBLISHED it!

It's a sort'a new homeschooling magazine called Learning Tangent.  And what back issues I've read online (this issue is their first in print), I really liked.  Not only because it's down to earth and not filled with a bunch of crap advertising, but I like the fact that the lady who started it is still in control of everything.  Which I'm sure is a drain on her, but I gotta give it to someone who's willing to go out and start their own magazine.  And it's also very refreshing to find a homeschooling magazine that doesn't have a religious reference on every single page.  Good luck trying to find a non-Common Core, non-religious homeschooling curriculum, magazine or book.  Not knocking Jesus or anything, but if I'm trying to teach Rhiannon how to add fractions, Jesus doesn't need to be reminding me of his glory after every answer.  And why is Jesus the only one who advocates homeschooling?  Where are all the math homeschooling books with Kali, the Hindu goddess?  If any diety should be in a math book it would be her; she's got like fifteen freaking arms.  You could count to a thousand on her fingers!

"If Jesus had three fish and had to feed twelve apostles, how many more fish would he need to buy?"
None!  He's the freaking Son of God, he can make as many damned fish as he wants!!

BTW, I'm totally going to hell for that one.  See you guys there.  As usual, that went downhill rather quickly.

Anyways.  I'm writing as the Homesteading Homeschooler, and as the title implies, I'm babbling on about homesteading our daughter on our little slice of Ozark insanity heaven.  Coming up with a non-offensive piece of work was a little more challenging than I had imagined.  As my blog followers well know, I have a slight difficulty holding my tongue when it comes to certain topics and my somewhat regular usage of cuss words would probably offend more than a few magazine readers.  But I managed to tone it down enough that the editor OK'd it for print.
I just hope that she doesn't lose too many subscribers.

I'm pretty sure that this will be a regular gig, or at least I'm hoping so.  The magazine is only published quarterly so I only have to write four articles a year (assuming they don't drop me like a hot potato after publishing my "testicles" article).  I doubt that I'll have trouble coming up with some sort of fairly entertaining blathering nonsense for them.

And heck.  Maybe one day I'll get the courage (and find the motivation) to actually finish that darned book I've been working on for like five stinking years.

I know a few of my blog readers have also had their writing published.  First three that come to mind are Amy Dingman (a.k.a. Mama Tea) at A Farmish Kind of Life, Leigh at 5 Acres and a Dream, and Sherri at Small Farm Girl. Anyone else here want to brag?

Come on now, don't be shy....we want to know!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Non-death post

Yesterday afternoon we lost one of the bucklings to what I'm assuming is White Muscle Disease.  His brother isn't doing much better either.  He's still unable to get up on all fours and I have to hold him up to nurse.  So I guess it's good news that he's not dead.  Well, not yet anyhow.

The buckling's death yesterday stung a bit.  Even though he was just a buckling who was going to end up in the freezer this Fall, I still felt crappy about it all day.  And not just because we missed out on some great BBQ and ribs and roasts.  Not sure why it made me feel so crappy; maybe because he was cute, maybe because he was so tiny, maybe because I wasn't ready for it.  And now I'm just holding on to the hope that we can get Dilly's remaining buckling up on his feet and healthy and bouncing around like crazy goat kids are supposed to.

OK, enough of that.

Clover's doeling IS hopping around like a normal, healthy goat kid.  I've already let them out of the maternity confinement since the weather was so warm and beautiful and darnit, if she isn't stinking adorable.

It's 2:30 in the morning as I type this.  I'm up, not because of those old women issues, but because I was sure that Lily was going to pop.  Since I totally missed the other two Boer gals labor signs, I've been extra vigilant on checking on Lily and she had a tiny bit of goo on her behind Sunday afternoon.  She doesn't like being locked up in the kidding pen (she hollers the entire time) so I figured I'd just leave her outside since the temps weren't getting that cold tonight and just check on her every few hours.  Hence my late night / insane early morning blog post.

Of course this means that she will not kid until I finally collapse from lack of sleep, or, just to remind me that I have absolutely no control over, Mother Nature will help Lily kid in the middle of the day, meaning that I didn't have to stay awake all night.  Oh well.  I'm sure I'll get some quality napping time in later on.  Ha.  That's funny.  Maybe if I stick The Muppet Show in the DVD player for Rhiannon I can sneak in some Z's.

Another non-death news tidbit;  Twinkle Toes, the almost-pecked-to-death rooster is up and around and pretty much back to normal.  He was crowing and wanting out of the then-unoccupied kidding pen turned recovery pen after only two days so I let him out.  Although the offending rooster is long gone, I still need to put a few more of them in the soup pot.  Those deaths, however, I won't be getting all teary eyed about.  Rooster soup is good.  Especially with homemade noodles.

Soup and Noodles makes everyone happy.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Autopsy

I went out to the barn this afternoon to check on the goat kids and found one of Dilly's bucklings dead.  It must have happened within an hour because I was out there about two hours earlier and when I went to pick it up it was still warm and floppy.

Dilly kidded five days ago; three days ahead of her official date.  The first kid had back leg problems from the get-go and the second buckling, although able to stand and walk, he never really moved much more than to get up to nurse, then would lay back down.  He also seemed to have problems breathing.  At first I thought that he just had some milk in his lungs, but when that cleared up a day later, he still seemed to be pretty lethargic and would have slightly labored breathing.

So during my first morning check, and after holding the gimpy buckling up to nurse, I gave the unknown-to-me-soon-to-be-dead buckling a dose of Vitamin E and a squirt of B-Complex hoping that would perk him up a bit.

I highly doubt that I killed him with the Vitamin E & B-Complex; I suspect that he just wasn't healthy enough to make it.  But it did make me wonder about the White Muscle Disease problem that we most likely have.  White Muscle Disease (WMD) not only affects the muscles of the legs (as in the other gimpy buckling), but the muscles of the heart.  So I did what any farmgirl would do.  I asked my husband to help me with an autopsy.  Which really didn't reveal much.  I was hoping to see obvious white streaks in the heart or legs, but didn't see much.  There was white on the heart, but I'm not certain if white in that particular area is normal or not.  There aren't many actual photographs of a goat's heart with white muscle disease to compare it to.  I bagged up the heart and a back leg and stuck it in the freezer and I may bring it in to the vet tomrrow to see if she'd like to take a stab at it (although I'm definitely not paying lots of $$ for her to do so).
Outside of the heart (cut up).
The flip side (inside of the heart) didn't show any white streaks.
This somewhat recent problem with the WMD is really pissing me off.  I was wondering if it was not only the result of a mineral / vitamin deficiency (Selenium & Vitamin E), but if genetics had anything to do with it.  Pickles' buckling, Gimpy, had the back leg problems last year.  Now Dilly, Pickles' doeling from last year, gave birth to a gimpy and lethargic (and now dead) buckling.  At first I was wondering if Herman could be the culprit, if in fact, it had something to do with hereditary, because Clover had a perfect little doeling and it was sired by Studly Do'right, not Herman.

Last year we were able to save Pickles' gimpy buckling, although not doing it by the "textbook".  "They" say that newborns with WMD can be treated with BoSE, so I managed to get a prescription from the vet for the shot.  Which did nothing.  I honestly think that the daily Vitamin E and B supplements I gave him did more, although we still had to hobble him.

Anyways, back to the genetic stuff.

I'm almost positive that when we picked Pickles up (we got her three years ago as a bottle baby), that the guy selling her tried to give us her brother....who had back leg problems.  This didn't occur to me until just last night.  Then there's the fact that in all the previous twenty-four baby goats born under our supervision, not one of them has had these problems.

The problems started with Pickles' kids.  And now her daughter, Dilly, had kids with the same problem.

The verdict is still out though.  We're waiting for Lily, MamaGoat, Pyewacket, Annette and Lira to kid.  Lira is the only one left who was bred with Herman.  If Lira's kids end up with problems, then it could still be Herman's "fault".  But if Lira's kids are healthy, I'm leaning towards placing the blame not so much on an assumed Selenium and Vitamin E deficiency, but of a line of goats that are predisposed to doing poorly on such a deficiency.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Popping Early

I went out yesterday afternoon to feed the screaming ingrates goats.

You'd think that since they know that they're going to get fed once I clip them to the fence that the little buggers would be thrilled for me to do so.  But no.  They run away from me like I'm the devil herself.

After getting almost everyone clipped up, I went looking for the two remaining stragglers; Lily and her daughter from last year, Clover.  I finally ran Lily down but Clover, who is normally one of the more cooperative goats when it comes to feeding time, wasn't around.  So I did a once-around the barn and saw her under the new lean-to.

With a kid on the ground.

Of course, I was going to meet up with a friend in town right after feeding the goats.  Not so much happening now.

I immediately yelled for Paul (and went into my usual semi-panic mode) and went into the barn to collect towels from the kidding kit, which of course, hadn't been re-supplied since the last surprise kidding two days earlier.  I found a few unsoiled towels and wiped the dirt off the new addition.  Clover had totally cleaned her kid off and was standing next to it.  She didn't appear to have any more kids in her so we picked up the baby and coaxed Clover into one of the kidding pens.  I made sure the kid was able to nurse and did a tail-flip.....a girl!!  I was thrilled.

I know, I know.  Every birth is a blessing yadda-yadda-yadda.  And honestly, the point of us having these Boer goats is to have meat in the freezer, so I shouldn't be unhappy about bucklings, but we're still trying to build up the herd so we need more females.

Dilly kidded three days early.  Clover kidded six days early.  Both had very, very easy kiddings.  And I wasn't able to tell, even up to just a few hours before, that they were about to kid.  Same happened with Pickles and Lily last year; early and easy births.

With my dairy gals, I'm pretty much spot-on with determining when they'll kid.  Which is very convenient as I can put them in the kidding stall just in time.  Not so early that they mess the stall up with too much pee & poop, but not so late that I'm dragging an advanced-stage laboring goat into the pen.

These Boers are a mystery to me.   I love the idea that I haven't had to really assist any of them like I do my dairy gals, but not knowing when they're gonna pop is a little annoying.  Had I fed the goats an hour earlier yesterday I would haven't been there for Clover's kidding.  I'm sure things would have been fine, but we were lucky that she decided to kid when it wasn't raining or storming.  Or when we were both gone from the homestead for five plus hours at the auction later that evening (no, I didn't buy anything......Paul was with).

We still have to figure out the back leg issue thing going on.  Fortunately, Daisy seems like a healthy little squirt.  Dilly's two kids are smaller, and we're still working on one of the bucklings back legs.  But everyone is eating and seemingly happy.  I'll be happy when I can get them out in the goat yard.  It's still going to be a few days because the yard is a poop-soup mess again and we're in the 30's at night.  So until it warms up, everyone is in their goat coats.

Our newest addition, Daisy (Clover's doeling)
The adopted bottle babies, Don & Joe.
Dilly's bucklings (the gimpy one in front).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kids before Kidding

Yesterday we had our first kidding here at Krazo Acres.  Dilly popped out two bucklings with ease Tuesday late afternoon.

But we've had kids here since Saturday.  Some sort of time-flux?   Space worm-hole?

Nope.  I went and picked up two bottle bucklings:

We goat a call from the neighbor asking if we wanted a couple of free eight week old baby Boer goats.  Their son had a friend that was wanting to get rid of them because they were tired of taking care of the goats.  Sure, why not!  As long as we weren't expected to keep them as pets and weren't required to sign off on a statement saying that they wouldn't end up in the BBQ.

Well, it turns out that they weren't so much eight weeks old, but FOUR weeks old.  Which means that they would still need to be fed.  With a bottle.  By me.  For four more weeks.  And they were bucklings.

It also turns out that the guy was hinting that I should pay him for these "free" goats.  He kept asking me what goats were bringing in at the sale barns and when I told him "squat" since the market is currently drowning in baby goats, he mentioned that he could get $150 for one later on.  Which I agreed.  He could.  After spending more money on goat milk replacer, and after bottle feeding them another four plus weeks, and after buying grain, hay and other medical necessities.  Oh and did I mention that I picked up the goats at a house in the city limits?  With NO yard.  And no doubt, without the "permission" of the neighborhood association or the city's blessing.

Wether or not there was a misunderstand between Goat-giver-upper, Goat-giver-upper's friend, Goat-giver-upper's friend's parents, and Goat-taker (me) about the meaning of "Free", I guess I'll never know.  But there was no way I was paying for two buckling bottle babies when I'd have to be buying goat milk replacer to bottle feed them (for FOUR more weeks) until my milkers freshened.  So in the end, I didn't end up paying for the goats, but did end up giving him money for the bag of milk replacer, which I would have had to buy anyhow.  I wasn't rude about anything, but I get the feeling that he thinks he got screwed out of something.  Hope he isn't bashing me on Facebook or anything.  And if he is, I'd be glad to give him his goats back.  After he paid me for disbudding and vaccinating them.

So that's the story of how we got goat kids before actual kidding started.

Paul's Take
She said they were free.  Then they weren't so much free.  If I were with her we would have slammed the car in reverse the moment he started hinting that he wanted money for these goats.

Oh, and do you recall that Carolyn, JUST FIVE BLOG POSTS AGO, was talking about how she hated bottle babies?  Apparently she forgot already.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Just in time

Kidding has officially started (well, technically it "unofficially" started three days ago...but more on that later).  And although it's officially Spring now and we've had some downright gorgeous weather the past two days (mid to upper 70's) it's not here to stay.  We'll be down to the thirties at night in a few days.  That, along with the seemingly constant on & off rain, is making it downright sloppy everywhere.

We (ok, Paul) built another goat hut about a month ago, but we really needed more sheltered areas for the goats and the impending influx of goat kids.  Last year I made a hillbilly hoop house with a tarp on top up against the side of the goat barn to provide another little area for the goats to hang out during inclement weather.  It didn't last long.  The goat kids jumped on top of it, tearing the tarp to shreds in no time at all.  But I still liked the idea of a lean-to up against the barn.

So what did my wonderful husband do for me?

And it was just in time.  It rained the very evening that it was finished and there were goats underneath, nice & dry.  Then, just today, I had another goat using it.

I was about to go pick Rhiannon up from Grandma's house and decided to check on the goats before I left and that's when I noticed that Dilly had hunkered down in the new lean-to.  In labor.  With a bubble already showing.

Dilly wasn't due for another three days, but I figured she was going to pop any time.  Her ligaments have been gone for several days and Pickles, her mother, kidded six days early with her last year.

The birth went very smoothly.  All I did was hold them upside down when they came out to clear their lungs, and wiped some of the goo off.  Dilly got into the mothering thing pretty quickly, softly calling to her kids when they made noise and cleaning them up.  Once it was obvious she was finished, Paul and I picked up her two bucklings and we put them in the kidding pen.

Unfortunately, it looks like both of them have weak back legs.  The smaller of the two was doing better about five hours after birth, but the first one born is still having problems and I'm having to hold it up to nurse.  At least they're both getting milk, but it's really disappointing.  We had this same problem with Dilly's brother last year and attributed it to a selenium deficiency.  So with that in mind, I'd been giving the pregnant does selenium in their grain rations, but it obviously wasn't enough or wasn't really what the problem was.  It could also be hereditary, but from which side?  The mother's side (Pickles and now Dilly) or from the sire's side (Herman)?  Herman's other kids out of Lily didn't have those problems so I'm wondering if it's the dam's side.  I guess we'll find out when the other does kid because Herman is also the sire of Lira's future kids.  Studly Do Right is the sire of Lily and Clover's future kids so if they don't have the same problems, then I'll have to decide the fate of Herman, Pickles and Dilly.  I won't have to worry about Dilly's kids passing on any potential "gimpy" genes as they, cute as they are, are destined for freezer camp later this year.

I gave both bucklings some Vitamin E, Selenium and NutriDrench and hopefully that will pep them up a bit.  I was considering going to the vet to get a shot of Bo-Se like I did last year for Gimpy, but it didn't seem to do anything.  I'll just keep up my hillbilly non-prescription concoction of a crushed up Selenium tablet and Vitamin E capsule (both readily available from Walmart...withOUT a prescription and without breaking the bank) like I did last year with Gimpy.  And hope that it helps.  I do NOT want to go through two weeks of slings, hobbles and constantly having to hold him up to his mother in order to eat.

Time to get off the computer.  It finally stopped storming so I may as well go check on the little guys & their momma.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eating the Weeds - Purple Dead Nettle (and Henbit)

Tammy over at 500 Dollar Tomato did a post on her weed problem.  I clicked on the picture and it was Purple Dead Nettle (or Henbit...or both).  What a coincidence as I had a draft post on it in the works.

I just recently read somewhere that Purple Dead Nettle was made into a tea and used to combat allergies.  My daughter is especially sniffly and occasionally snotty during late winter and early spring as the Eastern Red Cedar (i.e. Juniper) is blasting it's pollen everywhere.  Unfortunately, we have plenty cedars here so it's pretty tough for her this time of year.

The PDN isn't very tall yet, but I know for a fact that it grows all along our driveway and there are patches of it in the garden.
Purple Dead Nettle
Purple Dead Nettle flowers kinda-close-up.
It, along with it's close look-alike, Henbit, are common "weeds" here and I am constantly pulling Henbit from the garden beds.  I've used Henbit in scrambled eggs or omelettes in the early spring just to get some fresh greens in our diet, but they aren't much to write home about.  Green?  Yes?  Chock full of vitamins?  Yes.  Flavorful?  Nope.  But I still add them to our breakfast on occasion just so I get some satisfaction out of the fact that I'm able to use these stupid things for something.
Henbit with flower buds.
The open flowers look almost identical to PDN.
Anyways.  Back to the PDN.  Since there isn't much to harvest yet, I've haven't made any tea yet, although I have eaten a few of the leaves. It pretty much tastes like grass.  Fuzzy grass.  I much prefer the Henbit, and I'm not even crazy about that.  But I don't intend on eating it, but gathering the PDN for tea and I figure if I put enough honey in it, all will be well.  I'll take the tea for a few days before I give any to Rhiannon, and even just a few days worth may not be enough to discern if it's doing anything to help with the allergy problem, but I figure it can't hurt.

Well, hopefully not.  I'll let you know when I start drinking it and if you don't hear from me in a few days.....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

And then there were six

Two freaky / disturbing chicken pictures back to back.  One from Friday, and one for today:
The picture doesn't do his wounds justice.
He was a bloody mess yestereay.
The above picture is of one of my older, sort'a lame rooster after he had taken a nasty, probably life threatening, pummeling from another of the younger roosters yesterday.  He's now in the "Hospital Pen" of the barn.

He's got foot problems.  We hatched him out a few years ago and his toes don't spread out all the way so he basically walks around on chicken-tippy-toes.  When he was smaller I had thought about doing him in, but he managed to get around pretty well so I figured I'd let nature take care of him.  If he survived, great, if not, no big loss.

He doesn't pick any fights with the other roosters, probably because he knows he'd totally lose, and he's nice to the lady chickens.  He's never attempted to rush, peck or flog me or my daughter.  As far as roosters go, he's a pretty nice fella.  Anyways, up until yesterday, he'd been holding is own in the flock.  Then, for whatever chicken-brained reason, the Rhode Island Red rooster decided to take whatever poultry frustrations he had out on ol' Twinkle Toes.  Paul said he had seen them running around the yard earlier in the day, but I had just seen the attacks later that afternoon.  The RIR rooster was relentless in chasing Twinkle Toes and the poor guy, not being able to run, let alone walk / gimp very fast, was literally being pecked to death.  His head and neck were covered in blood.  The RIR bastard managed to corner him in one of the goat huts and was just pecking the living crap out of him.

Normally I let the roosters go at it....I actually kind of enjoy the show.  Yes, I'm horrible, get over it.  They (with the exception of T.T.) are all pretty much evenly matched and the brawls don't last very long before one concedes the fight and is able to run off to avoid any serious injury.  But apparently the RIR was in a particularly pissy mood and Twinkle Toes was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Paul was throwing rocks at the pair to try and break it up but the the RIR just kept at it.  We both went into the pen and I was able to get close to them because the RIR was so fixated on pecking Twinkle Toes that he was oblivious to the 5'-4" woman wielding a stout stick.  I missed my mark (his chicken skull) but managed to whack him hard enough that he was thrown several feet across the yard and hightailed it to a sheltered area under the barn.  Where he (smartly) remained the rest of the day.
Not a home run, but definitely a base hit.
I know that there has to be a pecking order in the flock.  But this went beyond pecking order.  So I, being the Head Pecker in Charge (I might get a t-shirt with that on it.  Maybe not.), wielded my ultimate authority in the guise of a cedar bludgeoning device.

I picked up the beaten and bloodied Twinkle Toes and put him in the infirmary (i.e. small kidding pen) with a pan of water and chicken scratch.  One of his eyes was swollen shut and there was a lot of blood on his neck feathers and his comb and wattles were bloodied.  Even though he looked pretty bad, there didn't seem to be any major cuts or injuries, although I have no doubt that if we didn't intervene he would have been pecked to death.  He'll get a few more days of rest in the pen and if / when he looks ready to go back to join the flock, I'll let him out.

That evening when I went to shut the chickens up, I found the RIR rooster in his usual (very annoying) roosting spot; on the milk parlor door.  I can usually pick him up somewhat easily and take him to where he is supposed to roost (you know, in the coop, with the rest of the chickens) but he obviously still had that afternoon's beating fresh in his chicken cranium and he wasn't going to have anything to do with me.  He flew right at me and in the process scratched up my arm with his spurs.  I don't care if it was an "accident" or not.  I grabbed him, bashed his skull in with the cedar stick (still conveniently located near the coop) and that was the end.

Well, not really the end.  I skinned him and cut him up for Charlie's supper.  I would have made soup out of him, but it was late and I was lazy.

There is no room for mean livestock on our homestead.  Charlie's supper was also known to chase Rhiannon around the barn until I told her it was OK for her to chase the roosters.  Which she now does on a somewhat regular basis and seems to enjoy (maybe a little too much).  I don't let Rhiannon chase any other animal on our farm.  Is it cruel to let her run the roosters down?  I don't think so.  They get more of a workout from being chased by their other male flock mates and I honestly think it helps to reduce or eliminate the tendency of the roosters to chase after her when they realize she'll spin around the chase them (sometimes with a long stick).

We still have six roosters here and that's about four too many.  I really needed to thin them out ages ago, but I'm lazy.  Maybe we'll have us some rooster soup this week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's FINALLY here!

The Vernal Equinox commeth!  As well as a total solar eclipse (although those of us in the US won't be seeing a lick of it) and a "super moon".  

If that isn't a triple-whammy-reason to do something Spring-like or Pagan'ish then I don't know what is.

I just hope that my Pagan sacrifices (the slicing of bread, the burnt offerings of bacon, and the breaking of eggs) will appease the heathen god/desses and they will bless me with a successful spring planting this year.

Because I sure shit don't want them punishing me with some freaky thing like this:

I was looking up pictures to put in my blog today.  You know, happy, flower-filled, green-grass kind'a pictures.  And then I saw ^ that.  That is not a happy spring picture.  That is a vernal freak of nature.  And totally creepy to boot.  The picture reminds me of those people that go out into the forest preserves with a jar of honey and tempt bears to lick it off their hands.  It just ain't gonna end well.

Can you imagine the havoc that freaky monstrosity of a baby chicken would wreak upon you and your barnyard?  The next picture in the series would go something like this;  Goliath chick stabs woman in the brain through her eye, then steps on top of her chest and eviscerates her with it's chickenshitstained velociraptor-like feet and feeds on the woman's soft innards before moving on to the next homestead where it stabs and claws it's next victims.

Well then.  That went downhill quickly now, didn't it?

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So much for....

.....posting every day until Spring.

But we have been busy.  Really, we have.  Well, Paul's been busy.  I've been busy keeping him busy, so that counts, right?

In about two weeks, kidding season will be upon us.  For two and a half weeks, I will be in and out of the barn, checking goat nether regions, watching for signs of labor, lifting tails to check for mucus plugs, and generally making my goats cringe every time I walk into the goat pen.

We have seven pregnant goats; the Boers - Lily, Clover, Dilly and Lira, and the Dairy gals - Annette, MamaGoat and Pyewacket.  There should be eight pregnant goats, but Pickles never got bred.

We will be keeping all the Boer kids, either for breeding stock (the females) or for putting in the freezer (the males).  I don't plan on keeping any of the dairy kids.  I already have two seasoned milkers (Annette and MamaGoat) and this will be Pyewacket's first freshening so I'm anxious to see how she puts out in the milk pail.  Any kids I don't plan on keeping are put up for sale in the local paper or on the local Facebook page.  I normally post the Awwww-how-stinking-cute newborn pictures along with some 8 week old pictures on the sale pages and hope that I get them sold by 12 weeks old.  But this year I'm going to try something different.

For whatever reason, it seems like a bunch of people are always looking for bottle babies.  I have no idea why.  I bottle fed Pickles, Studly Do Right as well as two of Nettie's bucklings from last year and I have absolutely NO urge to do so again.  I figure that unless there's some medical emergency or death of the mother, the babies are better off getting their milk right from the tap.  But hey, that's just me.  I hear that people like bottle babies because they're more friendly.  This may be true, as the Boer kids from last year (who were dam raised, then sent off to the FFA barn to be spoiled by some teenagers) absolutely hated  me.  Well, the doelings did.  The wether, who ended up being butchered, was the nicest goat.  Go figure.

Anyways.  Since I don't plan on keeping any of the dairy kids this year, I figured that the sooner I could get them sold, the better.  Someone want's a bottle baby?  Got one right here for ya!  I already put out the word that I would be having kids in the next few weeks and I already have a request for a buckling.  So my plan is to sell the kids as soon as possible.  I'm not sure how well a kid would take to the bottle if it's been nursing off it's mother for too long, so I'm hoping to have them sold within a few days after being born.

I do feel a little guilty about it though; tearing the kids away from their mother so soon.  But if somebody really wants a bottle baby, I guess they'll be the mother, and probably a more doting one at that.  Those freaky goat people and their bottle babies.....probably have the kids in the house, by the fireplace, wrapped up in one of those Snuggie blanket things, and wearing a diaper.

Ok, Ok....so I did have goat kids inside.  And by the fireplace.  But I did NOT buy them a Snuggie (my goat goats were hand made).  And I did NOT put them in diapers (although it probably would have been a good idea now that I think about it).

It's all those "other" people who are the freaks.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gimpy's Goodness

Gimpy was Pickle's kid from last year.  Right from birth, he had issues with his back legs.  Not sure if it was because of a Selenium deficiency or what, but we ended up working with him for weeks before he could walk own his own.

At first, we tried making him splints.  The splints didn't work very well so we tried something else.

We hung him up in a sling for hours at a time to see if he would be able to gain strength in his back legs.  But he swung around so much it didn't do much and he bawled most of the time.

Then we hobbled his back legs together.  This was the simplest solution, and of course, the one that worked best.

During this entire goat-leg-problem fiasco, there were times when both Paul and I were about to give up and just slaughter him.  We even brought him to the vet (basically just to get a stinking prescription shot of BoSe, which I don't think helped that much anyhow), who just said that the hobble was the best way to handle it.

But eventually he was able to walk on his own.

The fact that his mom, Pickles, rejected him and wanted nothing to do with him was just another pain in the rear thing we had to deal with as I had to tie her up just so he could nurse.  But eventually, he was able to walk on his own and filled out nicely.  He was one of the three Boer kids we let the local FFA group use as their County Fair projects and when he came back home last Fall, you would have never known that he had leg problems.

Gimpy's future was sealed as soon as we found out about his back leg problems.  Although if it were really a Selenium deficiency that caused his problems, it wouldn't be something that he would pass on to his offspring, but we weren't going to take any chances and decided to wether him.  Of course, he ended up being bigger than our current herd sire, Studly Do Right.  But being bigger wasn't really that much of a "problem" as he was destined for Freezer Camp anyhow.  And this weekend we finally butchered him.

He was way past butchering.  In fact, we probably should have butchered him shortly after getting him back from the Fair, but for whatever reason we didn't get around to it until now.  And I totally forgot to weigh the carcass.  And we ate almost all of the front legs and ribs, so I can't even weigh the meat.  Oh well.

Rhiannon knew that Gimpy was for eating, but when we told her that we were going to butcher him, she was a little upset because she liked him.  Oh,  Did I mention that he was also the nicest of the Boer kids?  Of course.  The biggest and the nicest ends up in the freezer.  But anyway, Rhiannon said she wanted to be there for butchering so we let her, and she wasn't upset at all once things got started.  And she was particularly fascinated with the fact that the skinless, gutless and headless goat was still moving parts of it's muscles.  Not entirely strange, but it still kind'a freaks me out, especially when there's a goat leg in the meat bucket in the kitchen and you go to pick it up and it's twitching in your hand.  (Hope my Mom isn't reading this.)

Anyways, we gave Gimpy everything we could to make his time on earth enjoyable, and in turn, he gave us amazing meals when his time was up.  We had friends (that help us with butchering) over for goat ribs and BBQ pulled goat sandwiches.  It was delicious.  During supper, Rhiannon kissed her sandwich and said, "Thank you Gimpy".  I think I got a little teary-eyed.  Then wiped my eyes with a BBQ stained napkin and wolfed down my sandwich.

Although this wasn't our first taste of goat, this was our first official meal from a "Meat" goat.  We've butchered several dairy wethers, but this was the first official homegrown Boer goat.  Since we only had two bucklings last year and one died of hypothermia a few days after birth, it will also be our last for several months.  Even though we need Boer doelings to build up our breeding stock, I wouldn't be too disappointed in any bucklings so we can build up our freezer stock.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Perturbed Poultry and Saturated Strawberries

It was 70 degrees on Wednesday.  Or was it Friday?  I don't quite recall as it seems like it's been weeks since I've seen the sun or been outside without the muck threatening to suck the boots right off my feet.

Regardless, on that wonderful, warm, sunny day, I got around to some gardening stuff.  Stuff that should have been done, say, back in November or December, but who's keeping track, right?

Anyways, which ever day the sun was shining and it wasn't raining, there was no way I was staying out of the garden, regardless of how squishy everything was because of the previous rain and snow melt.

I finally weeded the big tractor tire bed.  Last year we put a bunch of wood chips in the bottom, then a load of mullien (weed leaves) and topped it off with goat and mule manure.  I didn't plan on planting anything in it, but I let a bunch of wild Lambs Quarters last summer grow.  It did well, although it probably would have done well anywhere that I watered.

After the tire was relatively weed-free, I dug out the asparagus plants my mother donated to me last fall and planed on shoving them in there.  "Planned" being the operative word.  They're still in the bucket, but at least they're closer to getting in the dirt than they were a few days ago.  Hopefully some of them survived the winter in the bucket in the garage and will provide us with our first homegrown asparagus harvest this year (if I'm not too late) or next year.

I also have to re-establish the strawberry bed.  Last year the beds were totally overgrown so I yanked all the wandering plants out of the bed paths and stuck them in a bucket next to the asparagus.  I also weeded the bed itself, which was totally overgrown with clover, and probably tore up 90% of the strawberries in the process.  Now I'm wondering if I should put the strawberries back where they were, or move them someplace else.  I wish we had more of those huge tractor tires to use as beds because I'd put them there where they'd be less likely to "wander" out of their bed.

But now, both asparagus and strawberry plants sit in their respective buckets, awaiting a day when it's not constantly raining.  I know we need the rain.  I know I'll be complaining about lack of moisture in the dead of Summer, but right now I don't like the rain, the goats don't like the rain, and the chickens, well, they don't seem to care for it much either.  I'm not exactly where the phrase "Madder than a wet hen" came from, of if drenched poultry are actually angry, but they sure look pretty pathetic:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sprung Loose

Yesterday afternoon Paul came in the house to announce that two of the goats were out of their pen.  He got them back inside without much ado, but couldn't figure out how they were getting out.  Did they suddenly have a Spring in their Step, and figured out that they could climb over the fence, or was there a break someplace?

He put a t-post in one of the areas where it seemed a little wobbly, but there weren't any other obvious signs of gate malfunction or downed panels.  Then a few hours later, he tells me that there's a goat in the yard again.  He dutifully returns the rogue goat to it's proper enclosure and I join him outside to go over the fence line again.  I check the gates and where I open / close the cattle panels with the clippy do-dads, but all was secure.  So I mosey over to the bale of hay so I can pitch some over for the goats to waste eat, and notice that there is a "hole" in the cattle panel fence.  The buggers have pushed so hard on the fence where they stick their heads through to get at the hay that they actually busted the welds on three of the fence squares.  And I though that this was pretty much goat-indestructible fencing.
Stupid goats durn busted threw da the cattle panels.
In any other section of the enclosure, this would be a pretty quick and easy fix.  The panels are attached to t-posts with metal wire, so in theory one would just snip the wires, remove the busted panel, and replace it with a new panel.  But because as you all know, absolutely nothing is quick or easy when it comes to farming or animals.  The bottom of the panel was buried in wasted hay about a foot thick, completely saturated by the melted snow and trampled on by the pointy feet of a dozen goat hooves.
Yuck.  Double yuck on the smell.
Oh, and partially composted (i.e. really, really rank when you pulled it up).  Which is good for my compost pile, but not very nice on the nostrils.

Luckily we have the tractor and put it to good use.  So instead of us mucking out the muck by hand, Paul put the forks on the front and lifted the smelly mass out from the area and dumped it over the fence.  There was still manual pitch forking to do, but the tractor saved an hour of time and hours of later complaints about back aches and pulled muscles.

Paul pulled the broken panel out, put the new one on, and we were back to normal.  Well, as normal as it gets around here, that is.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Ahead

Yeah, I know, what an original blog post for the day, talking about what everyone else in the country is talking about....the dreaded Daylight Savings.

I'm sure that many of you harbor the same resentment of this "Spring Ahead" b.s. that I do.  Although I do not resent the coming of Spring and warm weather and green things, I detest the loss of an hour of sleep.

There is no "saving" of daylight anywhere but in the minds of some dipstick bureaucrat that thinks that taking away an hour of my light in the morning and giving it back to me in the evening is doing me a favor.  Typical government program.  I'm half surprised that the IRS hasn't found a way to tax me for the "income" of an additional hour.

But since it seems that we're stuck with this bi-yearly messing with our clocks, I may as well enjoy it and focus on the fact that it's still light outside at 6 pm now.  More (ha!) time to get all those evening barn chores finished.

What did YOU do with your "extra" hour of daylight?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spring Studies

It was such a beautiful, Spring'y day that I thought it would be a good idea to have school outside today:

I'm sure you already know, but I absolutely love homeschooling.  Well, we haven't really been "officially" homeschooling for that long, and I'm sure that you'll see future posts from me with the title "I want to pull my hair out" regarding school activities.  But right now, we're doing great.

Not only did we take our school work outside, but we did it on a weekend. Oh, the horrors!  Making my daughter do school on a Saturday.  I'm just horrible, I know.  But Rhiannon doesn't know, nor care, that one isn't "supposed" to be having school on a day that starts with an "S".

But she also doesn't mind, nor do I, that we don't really get started on school projects until the afternoon.  And there was that time, just a few weeks ago, that Rhiannon wanted to do more math at night....eleven o'clock at night.  Heck, why not!

Things seem to even out.  For example, last week's Everyone-Is-Sick marathon.  She went probably five full days without a lick of math or science or spelling because we were all pretty much useless, sniffling, tired slugs.  Our neglect of anything remotely resembling educational instruction for those five or six days didn't require me to drag her to the doctor's office in order to beg for a "Note" to give to the principal in order to justify her excessive absence.  And more importantly, I didn't feel forced into making her go to school.  How many parents make their obviously still-sick kids go to school because they'd have to get an "official" note from their physician?  Just send the kid to school and let him/her spread those germs around.   Nice, hugh?

So we keep our sniffles to ourselves and we keep our homeschooling schedule up in the air...and OUT in the air, weather permitting :)

Friday, March 6, 2015


Raindrops are falling on Herman's head
And just like the goat who's horns
Are too big for his hut
Nothing seems to fit
Those raindrops
Are falling on his head
They keep falling.

(I dare you to NOT sing that)

For months, Herman hasn't had any shelter other than under the cedar trees,  It's not because we lack a goat hut, or because I'm a heartless witch (well, it's not the main reason), but because the stupid bugger doesn't use the hut.  It would be pouring rain in the summer and he'd just stand on top of it.  He also had an annoying habit of bashing it around his pen and flipping it over.  So eventually I would take it back out of his pen so he didn't totally destroy it.

But with the coming of winter, I felt badly and put the hut back in his pen.  Which he didn't seem to use.  And constantly flipped over.  But it made me feel a little better knowing that at least I had provided him with a shelter.  If he was too stupid to use it, well then, that was his fault.

Another annoying thing about Herman is that he has horns and because we have cattle panel fencing, we have to rig his noggin up with some rather interesting headgear to prevent him from shoving his head through the panels and subsequently getting stuck.  Attaching the pvc pipe to his horns makes the overall size of his noggin too large to fit through the panels.

One morning, after a nighttime sleet storm, I went to check on the critters and was surprised to see that Herman was actually in his goat hut.  First time I've ever seen him in there.  So I went about my morning barn chores and later noticed that Herman was still in his goat hut.  And bawling.

Apparently he managed to get himself into the hut with his headgear, but was unable to get back out of the hut.  Of course, this was when I was sick, so I was not in the mood to wrestle with a stupid goat stuck in a plastic dog hut.  But I went in his pen and tried to "coax" him out.  Which means that I shook the hut, tilted the hut over, yelled at him, and banged on the hut with my boot.  I finally gave up and slogged myself back into the house and told Paul that he had to get Herman out.

I left the goat-extrication to my husband, flopped back in bed and dozed off in a NyQuill induced sleep.  When I awoke (some hours later), I went back outside to find this:

My wonderful husband had rigged a shelter up using some pallets, scrap plywood and some pieces of metal roofing.  He finished up Herman's new pad with a bunch of wasted hay and called it "Good".  Which it is.  And is much roomier than the plastic dog hut.

Herman's new shelter has been up for a week now and he hasn't managed to bust it up.  And if he does, well, then he can just sit on top of it and get rained on while he looks at all the other goats inside their nice, dry goat huts.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Winter Storm "Thor"

Not sure if it's just a regional thing, or if this entire storm system is named "Thor", but here's what I envision when our local stations keep calling it by it's official name:

Our area got anywhere from 4" - 6" of the white stuff, so even though it's pretty significant for around here, I wouldn't compare it to the massive hammer wielding Norse god. A certain Northern Tundra friend of mine also questioned the reasoning behind naming storm systems.  I mean, do we really have to give every meteorological event a name?  Will we soon be bestowing monikers upon each lightning strike or early morning fog advisory?  Is the news that desperate to make every stinking mundane thing into a big deal?  Yes, it's snowing.  It's winter.  Go figure.  But I guess it's more interesting than having the local news guru saying "We're going to get some snow".

Apparently Thor wielded a much larger snow-hammer elsewhere in the country.  I just saw a blurb about an interstate in Kentucky where people were stranded in their vehicles for close to fourteen hours because something like two feet of snow came down.  I can only hope (but assume most didn't) that people had the foresight to already have blankets, extra coats and maybe even some water / snacks in the trunk of their vehicles.

At least around here, Thor will be nothing but a distant memory come tomorrow afternoon or Saturday the latest because the temps are going to be in the 50's.  And "supposed" to be up to 65 by Wednesday.  Go ahead, say nasty things about me.  You Northerners will get some satisfaction when it's a hundred and thirteen degrees here in the summer and I'm bitching about how I want to die it's so freaking hot.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In Defiance of Spring

Rhiannon's snowman lasted through yesterday's Spring'ish temperatures and stood defiantly, even through the evening rains.

It's headless, severely emaciated, drastically shorter in stature and not really anything resembling a snowman, but still it remains.  A visual reminder that Winter will not give up it's grip on this Ozark homestead and it mocks me every time I open the front door.

There were only a few spots of snow still on the ground before dark last night, but the thicker patches of ice no doubt remained, now being covered under a fresh blanket of sleet on which I will eventually step through, slip on, and end up on my rear end while attending to barn chores later this afternoon.

At least the poop soup slushy mixture will soon be frozen and if we do end up getting the 2" - 4" of snow forecast later today, the scenery will look cleaner than it does now with all the muck.

Not sure how I'm going to convince the goats to come out of their huts for feeding time.  We'll see how hungry they are.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Our frozen, wintry weather has turned more Spring'is......for like a nanosecond.   Today's high is supposed to be around 55 degrees.  Yesterday topped 40 degrees.  But the next two days are in the lower 30's, and 2" - 4" of snow expected between tonight and tomorrow.  Wish Mother Nature would make up her mind.  It seems as soon as a thaw starts, a freeze comes right after it and returns everything back to an ice rink.  I wonder how the fruit trees are taking it.  They've been covered in ice three times now so I'm hoping the buds have survived.

The barnyard, and just about everywhere else around here, is one big slushy mess.  Remember when those Slushy drinks were all the rage?  I remember when they first came out.  My girlfriend and I would go to the local park and then with our saved up allowance in pocket, would walk across the "busy" road and fill up the largest "Super Slurpy" cup with an sugar-filled, icy, slushy Coca-Cola.  Much like the yard, except the caramel coloring of the slushy outside my door isn't so much from a cola beverage, but from mud and animal poop.  Yummy, hugh?

Time to go out and do the afternoon barn check.  Got to find my muck boots.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cold Winter & Winter Colds

Well, technically not a cold, but a stomach bug.  Both Rhiannon and I have been hit with what I can only assume is a nasty case of gastroenteritis, or the "Stomach Flu".  Paul, so far, has been spared the gut wrenching sickness and although I hope he's in the clear now, I'm still anticipating having to eventually dote upon him (as he did for me) if he turns ill.

I don't remember the last time I threw up.  It's been years, and I hope it's years again before I have that horrible, horrible feeling.  Rhiannon has been a real trooper; much more than I as a matter of fact.  She's already trained for the "puke bucket" so there aren't any big messes to clean up.  I remember the "puke bucket" we had at Dad's house when my sister and I were kids.  It was a yellow - no - Harvest Gold colored trash can, about the size of one you'd keep underneath your desk or in the bathroom.  And it was shaped like an upside down lampshade with the large pleats.  Not sure why that exact trash bin was designated as the receptacle for undigested stomach contents, but whenever someone in the house was ill, the bucket came out from wherever it was normally housed in non-sick times, and brought to the bedside of the poor, afflicted family member.
Imagine this in a Harvest Gold color, then flipped
upside down.  That's exactly what our puke bucket
looked like.  Does that give you a flashback, Christine?
When my Dad was sick, I don't recall the bucket so much as going into the kitchen to make him tea and dry toast.  When my sister or I were sick, Mom would bring us red jello and warm 7-up.  To this day, I can't drink 7-up, warm or cold.  Makes me want to, well, you know.


I was about to write that being sick in the winter doesn't suck as much as being sick in the spring or summer, but then I'd have to take that back.  I hate being sick in warm weather because all I want to do is be outside and instead, am stuck inside.  But even though there isn't anything "fun" calling me to the outdoors during the winter, there are still the animals to take care of.  Even when horribly, horribly sick.

Luckily, I have Paul.  He's been the sole critter-caretaker for two days.  I went out the second day in the morning and totally exhausted myself just trying to pitch some hay.  So I came back inside, admitted defeat, and asked Paul to continue barn chores for me.

I've been on the mend since yesterday, but I still find myself out of breath after doing anything much more than get up to change the movie in the DVD player.  Rhiannon, of course, has thoroughly enjoyed the "DVD week".  We'll have to do double duty to catch up on our homeschooling studies.

I think this week's Science lesson will be on viruses, the digestive system....and good hygienic practices.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Twenty Days of......

.....posting things I need to do before Spring.

Yes dear humans living in the Northern Hemisphere, the Vernal Equinox is just twenty days away!  And in anticipation of this glorious astrological event, I will attempt to blog every day until Spring cometh.

I'm not quite exactly sure what the theme of the next twenty days will be.  I was thinking of one of the following:

Twenty reasons that winter really, really sucks.
Twenty reasons I should have moved farther South.
Twenty days of pictures showing green grass, flowers and warm beaches.
Twenty days of pictures focusing on snow blower accidents.
Twenty items only a Northerner could identify. (Think roof rakes and snow shoes)
Twenty days of me cussing at the lack of warmth outside.
Twenty day pictorial showing the progression of the black & blue mark from me falling on the ice.

But then I thought to myself, "Myself...Why so pessimistic?  Why not focus on the good that is to come?  Why not write about how wonderful it will be once Spring has sprung?"

And then I smacked myself because you all know darned well that I'm not that optimistic.  

So until March 20th, I will try to entertain you with pictures of cats peeing ice cubes in the snow:

Or tease you with the promise of the eventual return of warm weather and green things:

Or I will just bitch and moan about how stinking cold it still is here.  My daughter built this snowman on February 17th:

It is still with us, albeit a bit thinner, and it's March 1st:

But the fact that it is still here after twelve days is a chilling reminder that it is still Winter.