November 1, 2011 – 4-Leggeds Gone

This weekend marked a different kind of milestone – something significant getting subtracted from the farm. We sold the last of the sheep and goats today. It was a bittersweet time as the four-leggeds had been part of the farm for a long time. But realistically, we have no right trying to squeeze the animals into our schedules.

So, this winter, the barn will be silent. We’ll see next spring if we can stand not having any return, but for this winter, so hay sourcing, no trudging to the barn in the cold and dark hours before dawn to attend to food and water before heading off to work.

We might enjoy the spring and not having to be around most of March or April waiting for the ewes and does to give birth. But, the animals also added life to the farm, and we are firm believers in having a complete system of animals and crops. We’ll still have chickens and turkeys to provide some fertility.

September 5, 2011 – Mulberry Treats

It’s that time of year, the time to start cutting down the weedy mulberry trees along the fences and along the edges of the property.

Fortunately, the animals eagerly strip the leaves off before I cart the branches down to the burn piles.  Mulberry is highly digestible, contains up to 28% protein, and contains high levels of many minerals.  It’s a good supplement to late season pastures as well.  The animals love it.  Each day, I can cut  a cartload and slowly free the fences and edges.

one year ago…”Emma’s Car”

May 18, 2010 – Goats on the Ground

Pearl successfully gave birth today.  Last year we just found her two newborns dead.  This year she had two kids and is fairly fierce in guarding them.

They one that looks like her is a male, named Henry and the brown one that looks like her father, Harriet.

After we found them in the pasture, we moved them to a pen to get acquainted and not lose each other.  The children went into look at the kids in the pen and she started pawing the ground, then lowered her head and the children decided it was time to leave.

one year ago…no post

May 12, 2010 – Fern Brings New Goat to High Hopes

Fern delivered her first kid!  Fern is a very undersized doe and we weren’t sure how she’d do with her first delivery.  Because she was so small, we waited two years to breed her.

doe and kid goat

But she delivered her first kid with no problems and we can now introduce you to Hazel.

kid goat

Martin had naming rights to this kid, based on the fact he was the only child home when the baby was discovered – Martin picked Hazel as the name, so Hazel it is.

one year ago…”Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park”

January 23, 2010 – The Ultimate Christmas Tree

Now that we’ve grown our Christmas tree, dug it out of a snowbank, dragged it into the house for the holidays and decorated it, it’s time for the 2nd to last use of the Christmas tree.

Here it is after the animals had a chance to browse the branches and even chew the bark off the tree!  The last step will be for the tree to be dragged to the site of next year’s burn pile to be the base for next December’s bonfire.  Certainly the high hopes version of the giving tree!

one year ago…”Laying Hen Update”

August 10, 2009 – Mulberry Forage

Mulberry is excellent forage – comparing favorably to alfalfa in protein content.  There is so shortage of mulberry around here, so the goats and sheep have been getting a small daily ration of trees cut out of fencelines and other places I don’t want them going.

When the pastures start to fade in late summer, it’s a good boost for the animals.

one year ago…”State Fair Day”

January 12, 2009 – PFI Conference Wrap-Up Part 2/Nellie’s Gone

We had a juxtaposition of events that causes us to rethink how we do some things around the farm. Before Christmas, Nellie,  our two-year old Nubian became thin and we had her stool tested for parasites and found she was indeed in need of treatment, so we did that and she was getting her weight back on.

In this picture from just before Christmas she is furthest to the left. The vet gave us some wormer and she seemed to be on the upswing, and put weight back on.  Last Wednesday when I was in the barn, I heard a goat bawling like one had their head stuck – I looked and everyone looked fine, but it was Nellie bawling.  I thought she may be missing the goat we recently removed from the herd. An hour and a half later Emma went to do chores and Nellie was down.  We called the vet and he was out in an hour and her body temp was 3-4 degrees below normal, he administered the usual antidotes, and asked if we had a heated building to keep her in.  We tried bringing in some heat lamps, but it was not going to keep her warm enough, so she went to the vets.

To make a long story short, while we were attending the PFI conference, we were getting updates on Nellie, none of them good.  The vet thought she ended up with some neurological damage, and cautioned us that there was a remote chance she could be suffering from rabies.  By Saturday morning it was clear she was not going to come out of it and she was put down.

All this was against the backdrop of a 3 hour session I attended by holistic veterinarian Will Winter who opened our eyes to many things we have been somewhat (opposite of proactive) about.  He made a very string case linking pasture health, mineral content of soil, and pasture brix level to herd health, particularly parasite control.  We just started using the pasture and creating separate paddocks within the last couple of years and have done some overseeding to increase plant diversity and medicinal herbs, but we have not yet performed a soil sample to see what kinds of mineral deficiencies we may have in our soil, and therefore in our pasture plants, therefore in our animals, and ultimately in us. So this spring brings a renewed emphasis on pasture improvement.

But back to the unpleasantries. So this morning, I  arrived at the vet clinic at 8:00 to deliver the goat head to the Iowa State Vet School for rabies testing.  I must admit it was unsettling to pick up a sealed foam cooler that contains the head of your goat to get a test that could lead to a series of… oh well, let’s just stop there and wait for the results.

one year ago…”Trip Redux – Six-Year-Old Style”

January 3, 2009 – Reusing Christmas Tree

After serving as a Christmas three,  it finds one more use before being the first piece thrown on next year’s burn pile. Although spruce is not the tastiest of all forages, nonetheless in deep winter the goats appreciate some fresh browse.

They are nibbling at the newest branches with the most tender needles.

one year ago…”The Grand Canyon”

June 30, 2008 – Nellie the Goat

Here Nellie sticks her head out of the barn door as if to say “what ya got for me today?”

They’ve had a smorbasboard of different foods this spring. An acquaintance of a friend keeps buying 50 lb bags of various plant materials, hoping to use them for dye. They don’t quite work out as he planned, so we are the beneficiaries of 49 lbs of beet pulp, 49 lbs of ground alfalfa, and a 5 gallon container of liquid molasses. When you are a goat, it’s all good in small quantities!

one year ago…”Trees Gone Wild”

April 18, 2008 – I Feel the Earth Move

Last night was the 5.2 quake centered in Illinois. It was felt west of Des Moines, so we were in a place where we could have felt it. We think we did, but never would have thought twice about it and didn’t realize it at the time. We both woke up (this was at about 4:30 am) and it sounded like a large animal was chewing on a door or some woodwork. Linda asked what it was – I said “It sounds like a big animal chewing on the door” and not wanting to actually find a big animal in the house chewing on the door, rolled over and went back to sleep, chalking it up as “old house” or “farm noise.”

Milo is having some troubles. This morning he looked dead, with a faint heartbeat. We brought him in the house and for the first time, tubed an animal. That involved taking a tube and shoving it down the kid’s mouth about 10-12 inches down into the stomach and them injecting milk from a syringe into the stomach, via the tube. It’s one of those things that is a bit unnerving the first time you do it – put it accidently into the lungs and you drown the goat. But this goat was virtually totally unresponsive and we had nothing to lose by trying.

So Linda gave it a try. Milo laid motionless for about two hours after that on a heating pad in the house. Then he blurted out once and I was able to get him to drink some more out of a bottle. He then actually got up. Then he slept for a few more hours and ate again and seemed miraculously vibrant. I thought since he was walking around, he should go back to momma, so brought him back in the barn – but within a few hours later, he was cold and sleepy again, so he came back into the house and was used as a “lap goat” on the couch and spent the night in the house.

one year ago…”Martin Brings Home a Tree”

April 16, 2008 – Milo and Fern

We’ve been anxiously awaiting Nellie’s first birthing experience as first timers can have problems until they figure it out. Paullina gave birth 2 1/2 weeks ago. Here are Milo and Fern – a girl and boy. They are very small but seem like they might be ok. Nellie has an “oh shi#*” look in her eyes, but seems to be licking the kids and murmering to them in the proper goat way.

Here they are a few hours after birth, Fern on the left, Milo on the right.

Compared to their barn mate Solo (being held by Emma) they are shrimps. Solo was born 17 days ago and was not a multiple birth and so he looks like a giant.
one year ago…”New Driveway Gravel”