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
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.