October 31, 2008

Hannah & Kirby

The view from the front porch yesterday morning

That’s Hannah, a Great Pyrenees - Anatolian Shepherd cross, one of our livestock guardian dogs. She is the guardian of the front door as well as assists in patrolling the whole farm.
The better half calls her one of the ugliest dogs in the world. You see Hannah and her sister Sadie developed Demodectic mange when they were roughly 6 months old. They lost hair from their heads, legs, and body well basically we had bald dogs.

Demodectic mange is a type of mange caused by a mite. From what I understand the mite is on all dogs, though some breeds seem to be more prone to infestation than others and is also an inherited problem.
Thankfully they survived, though we pretty much went broke treating their condition.

I am so happy as well as surprised to say that Kirby has finally decided I am worthy of his attention.

You see the horn that is turning into his head, we are going to attempt to band the tip to stop the growth. We have heard this method works well.
Isn't he just adorable :)

Indian Summer is back. Our forecast is calling for about 5 days with the highs in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s. Happy, happy, joy, joy! I really wasn’t ready for winter.

October 30, 2008

Out With The Goats

Woke to a frosty cold morning, 21ยบ. Had a nice afternoon warming to 66. Deciding to take advantage of maybe one of the last warm afternoons for a "baby walk". Took most of the goats out for a walk about.

On the way back Camel decides she wants to play king of the mountain (dog house)

Bella decides she is king, well queen of the mountain. I can see the look in her eyes...

and the fight is on.

Being able to blog has been causing me a bit of grief lately. Dunno what's up with not being able to see the photos I upload, linking sites isn't working, even when I sign in it says I don't have the cookies. I also noticed my list of blog I follow isn't updating as others post new blogs. Humm.

October 29, 2008

Wooly Boys

View from the front porch this morning...Angus, Aberdeen and Kelly. Kirby is still camera shy and a bit skittish.

October 27, 2008

Spinning Wheel Gotta Go Round

So last evening I decide to sit down and attempt to spin a bit more. Will admit beginner spinner here. Most likely will remain a beginner spinner. At the rate things are going am wondering if I ever want to be anything other than a beginner spinner. Not sure exactly what I am doing wrong, have sorted some things out (like going too slow or too fast, not letting the yarn pile up on the bobbin in one place). Could be my lack of coordination (Dad always said I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time). Just need to bite the bullet and buy that DVD (Spinning Wool-Basics & Beyond) to help sort it all out.
Actually the spinning is the better half’s craft though he is never home to spin. About the only action the wheel sees is when I dutifully dust and polish it or a bored visiting child spins the flywheel. He has the drop spindle on the truck with him and a bit of fleece to work if he gets the chance, though the chance never seems to arise.
The wheel was inherited from the better half’s mother. It came to us in a crushed mutilated box that had been in storage for eons. Surprisingly all pieces were there, one or two were broken, but repairable. The box was marked handmade spinning wheel, 1956, from Aunt Fern. If you were to look close you can see the imperfections in the craftsmanship, it’s Ok, they add to it’s charm and character. We took it to an Amish woodworker who restored the wheel to working condition. He even added a few decorative points.
The flyer was one of the pieces broken.
The treadle and footman are connected with wooden pegs.
The tension knob, maidens and mother of all had decorative tips added.

I believe it is still missing one piece on one end of the bobbin, though those who see it reassure me there isn’t.
Much of the time the poor wheel just sits there, staring and calling my name, begging and pleading to be used. Every so often I give in. I just can't sit still long enough to accomplish much or I'm just not holding my mouth right.

October 26, 2008

Some Change Is Good

I mentioned I had pulled out the Barn Journal to reminisce of years past on the farm. In reading back I am amazed at how things and I myself have changed over the years.

At one point in the beginning an old country vet told me that I had no business raising livestock. My asking for oral medication for one of the goats that needed medication prompted his comment.
It went something like…
Vet – You need to give goat this (hands me a bottle of liquid).
Me – Orally?
Vet – Nope, never. Can’t give goats any medication orally, has to be injections Girly.
Me – There are no oral medications for goats? I really really can’t give shots.
Vet - You need to learn Girly. You are going to have to if you want to raise livestock.
Me - But I can't.
Vet - You have no business living on a farm raising animals Girly.
Better Half – I can give their shots Doc.

First off, I really can’t give shots. Secondly, goats can be and are given oral medications. Thirdly, I strive to keep all our animals healthy so they do not require medical attention. Lastly, Girly fired the vet.

Here's another improvement...I can now pick up afterbirth. Don’t laugh, it’s a big step for me, I couldn’t do it before. I just have to think of it as snot. After all being a mother I have wiped many snotty noses in my time.

In the beginning the better half and I also established we would not criticize the other for their shortcomings. I would do what I was able to do, he would pick up the slack. I can handle the "3 P’s in life" (puke, pee & pooh) without any problem (he can’t). I am most excellent at feeding, petting and comforting. I can wake during the night to tend to animals, can sleep in the barn on baby watch or with a sick animal if needed (he can’t). He has no problems handling the shots, dressing wounds, etc. (I can’t). We compliment each other and have worked out a good system.

We are also blessed to have family willing to lend a helping hand with the animals on the farm, a BIL that is a paramedic; a mother who is a retired nurse and a neighbor (I call her the goat midwife) who can glove up and go in without batting an eyelash. They are my support system while the better half is gone on the road.

Kidding season remains a stressful time for me, panic still sets in, but now I am able to collect myself, breathe deeply and try to work through it. That's another marked improvement. Yes really, BIL, Mom and others have stated they never thought I would have lasted this long.

I have learned some kidding lessons over the years I thought I would share.

*I wish someone had told me to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. Most would just say not to panic though none ever said to be prepared. I suppose the preparedness comes with experience, to prepare for a variety of events that could happen. Not always bad things, just things.

*To have a small kidding area set up a good two weeks if not longer ahead of time because due dates can be iffy.
First time freshners (mothers) can and sometimes will walk off from the kids. Having them in a small holding area will basically force them to stay and care for their kids.

*Have all the supplies handy and organized close to if not already in the kidding area, blankets, towels, med bag, etc. You can't be in two places at one time when you are alone.

*How to help dispel an afterbirth that just won't release.
Called 2 vets for help with this, one said leave alone it will get stuck on a fence or tree and pull out. OMG. One said give a shot of oxcytocyin(sp?)...no help there, back to the I can't give a shot issue. Goat mentor said lightly bounce under belly and rub belly a few times. You know it worked like a charm! The afterbirth dropped within about 20 minutes after lightly bouncing. Also if you start milking the doe, her hormones should kick in and will help release the afterbirth. It does works.

*What items to have on hand if the mums milk doesn't come in or the mum won't accept the kid. Do you have colostrum (fresh) or colostrum powder mix ?
Ever heard of rubbing afterbirth from one kid she accepted onto the kid she won't or grinding feed up to rub on the kid so the mum will clean it?
If you happen to be kidding a rather wild doe, if you rub some of the afterbirth on your hand or arm (another tip from goat mentor but I can’t seem to bring myself to do yet ICK!) allow her to lick/clean you this may help her bond with you and calm down.

*Be prepared to bottlefeed and have those supplies on hand before time.
There are times that the mums milk may not come in or let down, you may have an udder issue or weak kid that won’t nurse.

*Have a goat medicine bag, stock it with all items that will help with the "could happen" things. Better safe than sorry.
I’ll get a list of what we keep on hand and post it later on.

*Have your vet lined up, a goat mentor, neighbor or someone who can help you if you are alone and the goat is in distress.

*If you are going to be milking the mum, have a plan before hand. Decide if you will remove the babies completely, milk her out, then bottle feed. Or are you leaving them on to nurse, milk once a day, etc. Have the bottles and pails ready to go.

*Be prepared to bring them in house.
Many folks will bulk at this. (I have no problems with different views of caring for animals, each to their own.) But for me, I have found myself out in the dead of winter, freezing temperatures, with chilled or weak kids. For my comfort as well as theirs I bring them in the house if needed. I have two playpens and a large dog crate that will house the kids while they are getting up on their little hooves. Newborns also require a bottle every two hours or so, easy to do in the house also.

This book, I call it our barn bible, if you have goats, it is a good reference to have in your home library.

October 24, 2008

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus

Happy, Happy Birthday Dad!

When Mom and Dad came out for dinner on Sunday I noticed his beard looked a bit unkempt. Then I realized it is rapidly approaching the holidays. About this time of year he allows his normally well-groomed and closely trimmed white beard to grow out long, full and fluffy. Dad volunteers his time as Santa for the local veterans, nursing homes, senior centers, a few charitable organizations, local businesses and various individuals.
It’s also about time for his yearly Santa photo shoot. He goes to Wal-Mart where the photo gallery staff does a collection of him as Santa. (One year the girls entered his photos in a nation wide contest of some sort and he won. He really enjoyed that.) The wallet sized photos he carries in his checkbook to hand out to children. Many times when we have been out for dinner, families with children seated close to us have a tendency to stare, point and whisper. When the children or we are leaving, Dad will stop and speak, asking one of those oh so pertinent questions like "Have you been a good boy or girl?" then pull out one of his Santa photos. Many times he will ask their names, sign the photo "To __…Merry Christmas Santa and date it. Other times when a total stranger will mention to him in passing that he looks like Santa, he will also hand them a photo, smile and say this is where he vacations.
One year (when I lived in TN and they were visiting) we were out shopping, a store manager approached Dad and asked if he would be their in-store Santa, he said he wished he could but he had to get back North. He wasn’t fibbing LOL MO is north of TN. The company I worked for at the time also thought he would also make a wonderful Santa for the annual Christmas party (he didn't). Last year a local optometrist asked him to be Santa in their holiday advertisements for the paper. Each year he volunteers for one new Santa gig as he calls them, plus has many that he turns down. He stays busy for 6 weeks during November and December.

The photo above is from last year at our Christmas family gathering. Dad the eldest member of our family at 77 years young holding his 3rd great grand child(son) at 7 months old.

October 22, 2008

Bottle Baby Pics

These are a few of the bottle babies from last year. All but the Sundance Kid have moved to new farms.
The Sundance Kid helping with dishes.
Holly napping in the rocker.
Merrygold and Whitey, newborns in their playpen.
Merrygold waiting for bottle.
This & That
Thought I would change things up a bit on the blog, different template, maybe change photos. Wanted to add a bit of color and warmth for the fall and winter. Dunno for sure right now, we will see where this goes.
I was so impressed by the wooly boys yesterday afternoon! Have been working on a daily routine of feeding them in the morning, then turning them out to graze during the day, about 5 or 6 putting them back up in their holding pen for the night. Yesterday, I went out to put them up, they were already in their pen, just kicked back relaxing and chewing their cud. They have only been in training since Saturday. Who says sheep aren't smart!
My baby boy is coming home for a visit! Happy, happy, joy, joy! For a week at Thanksgiving!

October 21, 2008

Barn Journal

Saturday evening we were reminiscing over the past years on the farm. Realizing how things had changed so over the years. I pulled out my journal I have kept of our experiences to compare "then" and "now".
I found an entry from Oct. 2003 I thought I would share.

This weekend the better half was home, being an over the road trucker he tries to come in as close to kidding time as possible. One reason being I am a faint if I see blood, panic if anything gets a boo-boo type woman. And kidding is harder on me than the goats. Ok, not really but you get the idea. I think I am getting so much better as time goes on.
Thinking this was the weekend things could start popping he decided to be here.
While I was busy with daily chores and routine activities, Jim was concentrating on his never-ending "Honey Do List". Knowing he was home his mother and sister came out for a little assistance in car repairs. Our closest neighbors (a mile away) saw Jim's truck coming in the night before and dropped by unexpectedly to visit. All the activities and unexpected guest throw me in a tizzy and I start to rush through chores to finish up quickly in order to spend some time with our guests.
Rushing by the kidding pens (we put expectant mothers in 4x5 stalls with 16 foot runs) I saw Inga a first time mom- to -be curled up with something black laying next to her hind legs. I heard this little noise coming from the black lump.
Not wearing my glasses (you just might as well hang it up on seeing anything but what is an arm length away) I think to myself, oh my Inga is having her babies, she's not moving, she's having problems... what to do... what to do! Panic mode sets in. Instead of calmly opening the gate, walking in to look, I yell in front of God and everyone.... Jim, come here quick! Jim, Inga is having...as the words were coming out of my mouth, one of our free range chickens stood up and walked away from the back of Inga's legs.
I look up, see the herd of unexpected guests and Jim trotting down the hill at about the same time I said...a chicken.

Stopping dead in their paths, I heard someone say "What did she say?".
Laughing hysterically Jim says call me when she has a goat!

Oct. 31, Halloween 2003
Inga kidded. Surprisingly and thankfully L (my goat mentor) was here just to visit. L sat beside Inga, held the little hooves and nose as the twins (Magic & Merlin) came into the world. She helped clean them, clipped and dipped the cords, made sure they were nursing and seem to have enjoyed every single second of the unexpected delivery.
I called Jim and told him Inga had 2 goats.

October 20, 2008

The Weekend

Look what the better half brought home :)

Sunday we let the sheep out of their holding pen to wander about the farm, hoping they would go out and graze. Angus, Aberdeen and Kirby headed straight for the hay room.
Baa Baa Black Sheep Kirby was the only one in the bunch to start nibbling at grass.
While we were working on the new milk room Sarah Beth came to check things out.

October 18, 2008

Just Another Day

Friday was up at 5 a.m., let inside dogs out for morning walk, milk, feed, water and hay critters. Pull goat head out of fence. 7:30 out the door to Dr.s office for 8:15 appt. On way out of town stopped by feed store for feed and peppermint oil. On way home stopped by neighbors over the back ridge to pick up rabbits for butcher (better half coming home for weekend). Also stopped and talked to farmhand about coming out this weekend to work on odds and ends projects.
Back to farm by 12:30, let inside dogs out for walk, unload feed, put out afternoon hay. Started laundry, dishwasher, ran vac, swept off porches, windex glass on front door, hung rugs on clothes line to air out. Check email. Pay a few bills, balance check book. Back outside to work around the farm, check on and sit with wooly boys, pull goat head out of fence.

Better half arrives home about 5’ish. Neighbor saw better half come home, comes down to talk to better half, discusses politics(so tired of this topic) and dogs(ours and theirs). Also wants to discuss price of gas, price of food, growing more of own food, yada, yada, yada.
Pull goat head out of fence.

Fix dinner about 6’ish, clean off table and put away leftovers. About 7'ish milk, feed, water and hay critters. Bring rugs in off line, switch laundry out of machines, fold and put away from dryer, run milking equipment and dinner dishes through dishwasher. Back outside to pull goat head out of fence. 8’ish let dogs out for evening walk. Try to watch TV, fall asleep on couch. Sarah Beth has decided that the water is better on the other side of the fence. Even though she has her own water trough in her own pen she has found that sticking her head through the cattle panels she can enjoy the water in the sheep’s holding pen. For some reason she can't figure how to get back out. ( Myth... if a goat gets its head stuck in a fence it normally can get it back out...NOT)

This little problem will be taken care of today. We will either move the water away from the fence line or put a sheet of plywood between the fence and water trough.
I would have put a stop to it when it first started, but seems I have pulled a muscle in my left shoulder and am now restricted to what I can and can not lift and move. 50 lb. feed sacks, hay bales and water troughs not on list of can do’s. Thankfully the better half is home til Monday to give me and the shoulder a much needed break.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

October 15, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hummmmm

I was cleaning out and reorganizing a closet, which happened to hold a bit of my fiber stash. Decided to try to clear out some of the odds and ends. Sorting through I found I had a small bit of white mohair roving. Not enough to really spin into anything, so thought I would make a few felted balls.
These little balls make great pet toys, baby toys, pin cushions and the teenage nephews have tossed them around like hacky sacks. (Have been tested by friends and family in all manners mentioned above.) This year I'm using them as stocking stuffers for the kiddos.

We sell them from the vending tent for $1.00 - $2.00. They sell, not a top seller, but they do sell. They are made from the fleece of our Angora goats. That's it. Pure fleece. Fleece that has been washed, carded, then rolled into balls and felted. Like I mentioned usually from bits and pieces of roving.
So while the little guys were drying, I go surfing the internet looking for info on felted wool balls. Thinking I may find some new ideas or just see what others were saying.

Check this out.

Can't say we are organic but we do use all natural farm fiber, the ones I make (like in photo above are 7 & 8 inches in diameter, yep, I took a tape measure and measured the diameter). Ours are usually all white, with a few strands of Kool Aid dyed fiber strands mixed in for a hint of color. They are made in the USA.

So am I selling myself short....

October 14, 2008

A Two Mile Walk In The Country

A mile to the mail box, a mile back, if I walked it daily I would be fit and trim. Which I don't and I am not. I've walked the two mile hike maybe 4 times. Once when the pigs got loose and I had to round them back up and herd them home. The other times when for some odd reason I felt energetic, full of vim and vigor. That rarely occurs. During the summer I walk half way up and back to the blackberry patches quite a few times. But not the full 2 mile course.

Heading out and up our access road.

Stopping to get the mail, looking left. You can't really see them, but one of the neighbors horses are at the fence line on the opposite side of the road. That's our nice neighbors field. We use to buy hay from him.
Now we are coming back down the road towards the farm, about a half mile in, we are close to the property line of our "not so nice neighbor" on the right. The No Trespassing sign is the marker.
And the color purple...trees, poles, posts...anything he could... he painted purple. There is a MO statute that says that any person trespassing onto property marked by purple paint can be found guilty of a first-degree trespassing charge.
As long as I stay on the road, we are safe. Just can't step off very far or will venture past the 20 ft. easement. Wouldn't want to do that now would we.
I love the splashes of red. In a week or two the colors should be more vibrant.
We are about home. Around the curve up there.

October 13, 2008

Indian Summer Weekend

We have just had 2 extremely warm sunny days for autumn.

Highs in the 80’s, the warm gusty winds didn’t help cool the house. Had to turn the air on. The winds wrapped the welcome flag tightly around the pole.

The peacocks were perched on the shaded porch railings to escape the heat. (In the background behind the peacock you can see my current work in progress half done...a new milking area and stall for Sarah Beth.)Buffy wanted to see what Mom was up to
Look at the baby belly...she's due to kid in December.
Here's Axle... the proud papa.
Jabber Jaws our lone guinea(who thinks he is a Peacock) was out and about chasing bugs.
Brother and nephew came in from Texas for a brief weekend visit. Thomas(nephew) loves to explore the farm and visit with the animals. I was so happy to show off the wooly boys.

I am pleased to report that Aberdeen has now decided to trust me. No longer wanting to ram the hand that feeds him, he enjoys pets, scratches and attention. Now to work with Kirby...he just won't cooperate. 3 out of 4 tamed to new mom in a little over a week isn't bad really.

October 8, 2008

Wooly Boys Day 5

The wooly boys seem to be settling in fine, each day we make progress. They come running each morning to see what "New Mom" has for them. Actually anytime I am near their pen they come to check things out. I think they are hoping for a cookie.
Sarah Beth (dairy goat) has her own way of saying hello. She seems to want them to know that it is her farm and she can scratch on whatever fence she wants. The boys aren't really phased by her or her horns.
They do keep an eye out to make sure she will not intrude on their morning meal. As long as there is a fence between them they seem to have no worries.
Kirby still prefers to keep this end towards and a bit of distance between him and New Mom. Aberdeen not being so contrary as time goes on.
Angus loves to be scratched on his chest. He gets a far away look in his eyes, his lids start getting heavy, if I kept scratching long enough I do believe he would fall asleep.
Not many photos of Baa Baa black sheep this morning. Kelly and Angus were having a little brewhaha about something... headbutting. I noticed one of Kelly's horn scurs missing. There were a few droplets of blood, I attempted to catch him to clean and dress it, he wasn't going to have anything to do with me after that.
I do believe in a couple of weeks all will be fine. They should be able to be turned out on pasture with no problems.