Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet the Herd: Dreamer and Ebony

Yeah, I'm still working my way through the herd... Between caring for hundreds of meat chickens and getting the hang of owning dairy animals, we've been busy. So, right now I'd like to introduce you to Dreamer and Ebony. 

Everyone loves a good adoption story, no? Then you throw in some cute critters and a heart-wrenching loss and you have the makings for a Hallmark movie. 

Okay, I'll lose the sarcasm. It's just that when my sisters and I are surfing the channels, we tend to avoid that particular channel since everything so gosh-darn predictable and scripted. Mom likes it since it's easy to watch. ;) 

Anyways... I'll spare you the family drama.

Ebony was just barely old enough to separate from her mamma. Then you throw in the stress of the move, not getting enough to eat, being pushed around by the other goats, and not having someone to stand by her and comfort her. Let's just say that we had a perfect recipe for a lonely, sickly doeling who didn't have a mother to take care of her. 

In a different corner of the barn, Dreamer and her newborn were cuddled up next to a heat lamp. Dreamer kept talking to the little guy but he wouldn't respond; he could barely stand on his own two feet to nurse. He didn't have the vitality, vivaciousness, or gusto that a kid should have. His twin sister was a still-born that morning, and he could hardly cling to life. Poor Dreamer was doing her best. When the baby was in the house in the makeshift NICU, Dreamer constantly screamed for him. When she looked at you, it was almost as if she was begging you to find her baby. The little guy hung on for almost 4 days then slipped away one morning just before we woke up... 

Ebony was hungry and desperate. So she became the opportunist. If one of the mammas was nursing their babes, then Ebony would sneak in for a couple of sips before the doe figured out what was going on. When we were milking, she would hop up and try to nurse even more. 
We have a mamma who needs a baby... and a baby who needs a mamma. 
But how on earth would we get Dreamer to adopt Ebony?! 

I really don't think that it was anything that we did. But as we let Ebony nurse while we held Dreamer, little missy must have started to smell like her soon-to-be-new-mom. I don't know. But it was quite the day when we found Dreamer, on her own accord, cleaning and nursing Ebony. If Ebony gets into trouble with one of the other goats, she's able to seek refuge with Dreamer, Dreamer is much quieter now that she has a baby to take care of, and we don't have to try to bottle feed a baby that's never seen a bottle before. 

We've still got a ways to go to bring Ebony back to her perky self, but as Ebony nursed, that was one less burden that we were carrying. Thank you, Lord! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Kitty Saunter

Cat's got 'tude 

What did I say about taking any more pictures?! 

Barn Cats

There's something about a cat on the farm. Something wild yet tame. Something sweet and cuddly yet fierce. But then you meet our cats. :P They're just big love bugs who want 100% of your attention all the time, but it has to be on their terms. They could be rolling around on the gravel begging for a belly rub, but as soon as you stoop to give them what they ask, they jump away and start rolling around again. Please explain this to me... 

And then there's good 'ol Tony. He's probably old enough in cat years to be considered an elderly,  discerning sage. He may look like an overweight geezer, but you lift him up and he's all fur - thick, silky fur. I say we should sheer the dude and spin it; Dad says that when Tony finally purrs his last, we stuff him. Yeah, this cat is the stuff of legends. Everyone in the area knows who Tony is. He's orange. He's big. He's cool. He's awesome. He's half blind in one eye yet gets around like he has better than 20/20 vision. He's even decided to help with milking. Up onto the stanchion jumps Mr. Swagger, and he sits. Sometimes he'll meow as if to say, 'Excuse me, you're supposed to give me attention.' Other times he'll just sit there and rub his head against my arm and purr. If he's lucky, he gets first dibs on the milk stripping bowl. It all depends on who's milking. ;) 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Willakenzie Lavender Farm

We decided to go on an impromptu adventure to a lavender farm. The Lavender festival was going on this weekend, but the calender was booked. Once we got to Sunday afternoon, we (Oma, my mom, sisters and me) loaded up in the car for a change of pace. Lavender can do that to you - change your pace that is. ;) 

I can't decide which of these two pictures I like more. The centered subject or the off-center. Hmm...

Alice in wonderland chairs! I'm going to look into getting some for the herb garden. 

Yeah, I shot a honey bee. ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Huge Relieved Sigh

An alternate title for this should be 'Meet the Herd: Oliver'... but it didn't really fit... 

When we brought our buck home, we finally got a good look at the little guy (and boy, howdy, is he little for a 13 month old buck). He was bony and losing hair. He also had a boil, bubble, abscess, whatever-you-want-to-call-it on his cheek. Since it wasn't on his jaw bone, a friend of ours didn't think that it was CL. A couple days later it burst without our knowing it. 

So we sent off a little vial of blood to the lab to be checked for CL. Just to be sure. An ounce of prevention... If it was CL, we didn't want the other goats to be anywhere that the buck had been. After a week of waiting, the tests came back negative. 

Then, a week and a half ago, he got another one. It was bigger, it was rounder, it was more swollen, and it was on his jaw bone...

We interrupt this post for random factoids: 

CL stands for 'Caseous Lymphadentitis.' Translation - it's a ruminant infection that ends up in the lymph nodes and then creates abscesses in those areas (jaw bone, shoulder, rump, etc...). The microbes that spread CL from animal to animal are released when the abscess ruptures. We had three different locations that the first abscess could have burst. 

And now back to your regularly scheduled post...

Long story short - Mom and Dad spent 4 hours of Mom's birthday at the vet. When she (the vet) lanced the abscess, she said that it was about a day away from exploding (rupturing is a nice way of saying it) and that it was highly suspicious for CL. So the abscess material was sent off to the lab. Apparently the puss test is more accurate than the blood test. Mom was about ready to throw in the towel and put the little guy down. Dad wasn't quite ready to raise the white flag just yet. The vet made the point, "Would you be okay with putting Oliver down only to find out that the test comes back negative?" Okay, we'll cross that bridge after we get the results... 

In order to lance the abscess, the vet trimmed up little Oliver's beard. But only half of it. So he was a lopsided Chinese wise man until we decided that he should get an even haircut. I won't humiliate the guy by posting pictures of how pathetic he looked after his 'spa' day at the vet's.

We waited. And waited. All the while, treating the buck like a biohazard. Only one person goes in to care for him. That person cannot work with the other goats. The clothes that the person wore had to be cleaned asap and kept separate from the rest of the laundry. The special person also has a special pair of shoes that can only be used in Oliver's pen. There is a shovel that can only be used in Oliver's stall and the bedding material cannot go to the compost pile - if we took it out then it's to be burned. 

For a week we toiled, all the while holding our breath hoping that it wasn't CL. If it was, our little goat adventure would be done, and the cow just might have to come home... We hardly had even a glimmer of hope while waiting. Dad decided that he should dig out a deep hole in the back of the property since we had the neighbor's excavator. Wouldn't want to be digging a 6-8 foot deep hole with a spade. Finally, we had to call the vet, "Have you gotten those test results by any chance? No? Do you know when those will come in? You'll give them a call in the morning? Okay. Question for you - how often do you see a CL blood test come back negative and the culture come back positive? Oh really... That's interesting. Well, we'll have to look into that. Thank you!" So... What did the vet tech say?! I didn't find out until later...

The fated phone call finally arrived. Should we answer it or let them leave a message? Inhale, exhale, repeat. Hmm... Here, run and give the phone to Mom! :cue drum roll: We're CL negative!!! :D :D :D

But what caused those boils on his face? One of our does was getting bumps on her side now too... Well, the vet tech's sister-in-law had similar problems and dealing with the same conundrum that we were.

Lo-and-behold, there were thistles in the alfalfa.

You read that right. Thistles. We reached in to their feed and got ourselves stuck with the nasties too. We've been running around in circles and bending over backwards, and it's thistles. They had lodged their spiny little stickers into the goat's cheek, or in our doe's case, she was sleeping in the alfalfa - hence the scabs and bumps... oh the little stinker. 

Looking back on the last couple of weeks, the verse in Proverbs where it talks about how God will make foolishness of man's wisdom pretty much sums it all up. Yeah, we've learned that one first hand. :P

Until next time!