Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Exhausted by baby goats...

Well, the testing of the first semester is over at school, and we have just started new classes with new faces.  If that were not enough to wear me out, I also spent last weekend and today at the farm with kidding does because Chuck had to work.  Normally it isn't a big deal, but last Friday and Saturday were unusually cold for this area... like single digit cold with a 20 mph wind.  Yikes. 

Notice the outdoor temperature.  A balmy seven degrees.
Baby goats.
We might get a couple of days this cold every few years, but this time, we have had it on and off for over a week!  Then we had snow on top of the frigid ground.  We had made it so we could sequester the does that were bagging up and looked ready to kid near the barn, so we thought, well, they can go in the barn to kid and they'll have a windbreak (which our pastures sorely lack).  Cool.  We normally have maybe a couple does kid at a time, followed by a few more the next week, and so on and so on.  Since we have bucks on the farm pretty close to the does all the time, we've never really seen the "buck effect," which is when all the does come in heat at one time due to the introduction of a buck and his pheromones.


And more baby goats.
It would appear that some strange alignment of the planets about 150 days ago turned our farm into a giant "love in" of epic proportion.  Chip's goat, Tempy, kidded on the 23rd.  Chuck had picked Chip up a little early from school, so Chip got to be there to see his brand new baby goats.  All well and good.  It was cold, but these guys were doing fine, so no worries.

Chip's baby goats.
The littlest guys so far.
Then, the floodgates opened.  Does started dropping kids right and left (or so it seemed).  The cold remained brutal.  I sat in the car and watched a 50% doe go to a shed, have her kids, and frantically spin from kid to kid, cleaning furiously.  I went to check on them after a few minutes and ice was already forming a crust on the kids' fur, despite her best efforts to warm them.  Fabulous.  I grabbed them up and took them to the car and toweled them off.  I had the heat in the car blasting to the point even I was miserable (did I mention I had all three human kids in the car with me?) and Annalee, Chip, and Virginia were begging me to turn down the heat.  I took the kids back out and the doe came over, but they would get cold again and lose the strength to try to nurse.  Great.  Annalee helped me catch the doe and milk some colostrum into a syringe, and I took the kids back to the car and once they warmed up, they drank some from the syringe.  These kids were quite small, so part of their problem was a sheer lack of body mass.  They just got so cold so fast they lost strength.  The human kids were wailing about starving to death, so I drove the goat kids home with me.  Chuck was about to get off work, and he could drive them back up.  I just knew there was nowhere I could put them that they would have a chance to retain any warmth.

And more baby goats.
By the time I got home, the kids were completely dry and rather invigorated.  I had two tiny little urchins sliding around on the floor trying to nurse everything in sight.  Chuck came home, filled up water jugs with hot water (keeping water available has been a challenge), and took off back to the farm.  He said that when the doe heard her kids, she nearly crawled into his car.  He was able to reunite the family, and the doe took over.  Chuck weighed the kids, and one was a little under four pounds and one just a little over.  Our kids aren't normally that small, but this doe is a second time mom and still growing herself.  We have weights and sized all over the place this year.
Would you believe more baby goats?
Baby goats to old mamas.
Baby goats to new mamas.
School was cancelled today, and it also cancelled tomorrow.  There is an optional teacher workday, and I sure need to go in to play catch up.  Annalee and Chip are on a two hour delay.  I want to post some pictures of the kids, but I will have to finish writing later because I am just that tired and I have laundry to finish.  Oh, how I am looking forward to the more typical temperatures forecast for later this week!  I think we are somewhere around 25 baby goats in the past few days, but I'm not even sure.  It is a bit of a blur...
We even have triplet baby goats.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

Annalee and I did make it to the Christmas Eve Moravian Lovefeast.
If it seems like I missed Christmas, you aren't far off the mark.  I was so happy to leave work Friday afternoon before Christmas - my students had for the most part held it in the road and didn't get too crazy anticipating the holiday.  I had so much to do.  I needed to do all my shopping, decorate the house, and of course, catch up on grading for school.  Nowhere in my plans was time budgeted for what got me Friday night - the same horrendous stomach bug that had been causing student absences on and off all the previous week.  Lovely.  Chuck had been fighting a sinus thing and trying to get all the farm work done after work, which doesn't always work out too well, as our broken hay feeder can attest.  He tried to get the round bale in the center of the feeder out in the dark field, but he missed and managed to knock the bolts loose, so it must be repaired.  The goats are working around it, and a few really like hiding under the trailer.


We meant to get the hay off the trailer but Chuck broke the hay feeder trying to aim at it in the dark...
As it turns out, I had a minor Christmas miracle as I felt well enough Christmas Eve to pick up some food to cook on Christmas day, and to buy my gifts.  Christmas morning, I realized I might have overdone it with my trip to the Mall with Virginia, who had scooted on her back across the floor like a deranged crab/inchworm at several stores when my hands were too full to hold her in my arms, and who had me darting through clothing racks hot on her trail as she ran away from me, giggling with glee.  Virginia was a very easy baby, but I am really paying for it now that she is two.

Wondering if this mom and daughters (best of 2013) are bred.
So, as the Grinch discovered in the Dr. Seuss classic... Christmas came just the same.  We managed to visit my Mom at her assisted living before the end of the day.  Santa Claus made it, so it all turned out okay in the end.  As of day before yesterday, I was actually able to eat real food again, which was a welcome development indeed.  I am a week behind in the work I needed to do for school, and we haven't cleaned out the barn to prepare it for the kidding does since Chuck won't be able to check the farm as often as he used to before getting a retail job.  The barn is an absolute wreck.  I have told Chuck a few times I am going to tote off all his chickens myself.  Since the chickens and turkeys have run of the place and they aren't potty trained, it is pretty gross.  We also had a few of the goats who broke out of the field over the past few months go in and complete the job of trashing the place.  Very little was left standing.  I have a plan for what I want to do in the barn to create two separate goat areas completely shielded from the weather while retaining most of the space for storage, but since I was sick for most of Chuck's days off, it doesn't look like it will happen any time soon, and certainly not soon enough to be of use for kidding.  It would appear from looking at some of the does that their kids will be like Christmas - they are going to come, just the same.
Brown doe looking a little grubby, but bagging up.
I'm still not ecstatic with the does' condition going into kidding.  They have adequate weight and for the most part the Famacha scores are really good, but several look kinda grubby.  I've added some black oil sunflower seed to see if it will add what they need and improve their haircoat.  I also want to be sure they have a milk booster since there is nothing green growing at all.  We caught does and gave CD&Ts to anyone showing signs of an udder.  There are several who appear to be gearing up and I am looking forward to seeing what they have this time.



Different ages from the same mom - one Boomer's and one Ace's.
 
I'm really able to see the differences in the kids sired by Boomer and Ace now that I've seen what several does produce with each.  Boomer adds length but not height.  His does have nice udders, and they have remarkably good feet, as in never having to trim but always look perfect feet on a couple of his does.  Ace, on the other hand, adds height, bone, and bulk.  Even his doelings are little body builders.  He also adds a tremendous amount of hair.  I don't know if this is really a desirable trait or not, but in the winter, I don't worry about the Ace doelings being cold.


Mudbug, an Ace doeling sporting the Ace body and hair.


The white one is bagging up, but I'm not sure the biped is still bred.
Right now, the odds are on this white doe to be the first to kid.  She is one of the does Chuck bought at Cream of the Crop, and she was confirmed carrying twins by ultrasound.  I'm not sure if the brown and white doe standing against the fence (she stands a lot) was ultrasounded, but she sold as exposed/bred, although I'm not thinking she still is.  Oh well.  It happens.  Since this white doe is new, we know nothing about how she does with kids, but she is at least still in the small quarantine pen.  This is a doe I wouldn't mind getting a buck from, although I usually want does.  She is a Raiz-N-Kane daughter bred to Cherokee Fiddler, a Loverboy son, so her kids will be very heavily Loverboy.  This could produce a nice buck to use in the future, but only time will tell.  Right now just getting the kids here healthy and in an uncomplicated fashion would suffice.  That may be a tall order if January and February prove to be wet and icy.  Cold, they can handle, but wet and cold is another story.  Here's hoping for a little dry weather! 

Here's also hoping for a wonderful New Year for each and every one of you.  The New Year is really something I have started to appreciate.  It is carte blanche to leave behind anything that wasn't working in order to improve and be our very best.  Life is mighty short.  We might as well really make it count.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's been a busy month with school (we're gearing up for those tests that measure one moment in time but are responsible for how we are all judged) and the general day to day challenges at home and farm.  I wanted to be sure I took a moment to stop and wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.  I hope this one finds you all well and with those you love!  It is so easy in this materialistic world to stress over the things we can't afford, rather than being appreciative of the wonderful things we do have.  Thanksgiving is always a good reality check moment for me.  I may not have much, but I have what counts.
Happy Thanksgiving!


 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More toxic plants and Cream of the Crop

Now that I have a moment, I'd like to post a better picture of toxic Perilla Mint.  It is starting to lose its leaves in my neck of the woods, but this is what it looks like in late summer.  If you pull it up or mow it, you'll know it by its pungent, minty odor.  It almost smells nice, but not quite.
Perilla Mint - toxic plant

I need to post some good pictures of wild cherry leaves and the distinctive bark on the wild cherry trees, but most folks have a pretty good idea what that looks like. 
A surprise this August.  This should be the driveway.

A close-up of the wild cherry leaves.

I wish I could find any good information about how long wild cherry leaves remain toxic after they begin to wilt.  The cyanide apparently dissipates, but how do you know when it is safe?  This particular tree was chopped up and the leaves were brown within the typical week, but we found that the cherry trees we cut in the top pasture stayed green nearly three weeks after they were cut and on the ground.  It was insane.  I wanted to get goats moved in, but was afraid to do it as long as there was any green in the leaves - and these were quite green.  When we investigated to see if somehow they were still attached by a small bit, we found that the trunks were far away from the stumps, but when we scratched the bark, the green layer just inside the bark (is it cambium or am I confusing it with a geologic era?) was still green and juicy at the two week mark.  Could there have been so much moisture this summer that it preserved them like cut flowers in water?  Who knows.  I finally bit the bullet one day when I had the kids at the farm, and the four of us, two buckets of feed, and the gator herded Boomer's does up the hill and into the fresh field.  Nobody perished, so I apparently waited long enough.
My summer and weekend help, on a break.

I have some tall flowering weeds in one field that I have no idea what are.  They are about five feet tall in huge clumps with broad leaves, and they have a showy yellow flower.  The goats won't eat them, so I need to find out how to get rid of them.
Does and hay in front of the unidentified yellow flowering weed.
On a more interesting note, the typical quarantine pens made of goat panels that we use for new does are containing the ones purchased at both sales Chuck attended quite nicely.  Nobody has attempted to escape (or at least, nobody has succeeded), and the does are settling in fine.  There are bred does in this second group, so they will likely stay in quarantine quite a while, but it will depend on how much fresh ground we have to slide them around on.  I like to use these moving pens because they are on clean digs every few days and they have fresh forage all the time, but it is harder for Chuck to pull off since his farm time is divided with his work time.
Two of the CofC does, in a pen Chuck is sliding down an empty fenceline.


Now that Cream of the Crop is over, I am not sure Chuck is going to be allowed to go to the goat sales without me.  He apparently got frustrated when a woman bid on every goat he wanted, and she would just put up her number and hold it up until she got the goat.  She got Aggie's sister this way, and I think maybe  the doeling named Anna Leigh that Annalee wanted for purely sentimental reasons.  After all, you don't find a goat with a name like yours every day, especially when you have a bit of an unusual name.  Now, there is a male parent koi at a koi breeder in New Jersey named Chuck that we had owned for a bit, but that is another story.

This Anna Leigh was purely a coincidence, and our Annalee was disappointed that she did not get her goat.  She also had wanted us to buy Aggie's sister, and since we like Aggie, how she mothers, and what she produces, we planned to bid on her.  Aggie (GHK Iron Agate) was a triplet, and we had bought her and one solid black sister (who we found dead in a field without good shade on a day the heat index topped 110 degrees).  The third triplet went elsewhere, so when we saw her for sale, we thought, "How wonderful - we can reunite the sisters!" 

That thought didn't last long, because Aggie's triplet sister was the high sale goat at this year's Cream of the Crop, selling for $3,700 bred.  Yikes.  Well, I guess it can't be a bad thing to have your doe's sister be a high selling goat - unless you wanted to buy her yourself, of course.

Chuck's frustration turned into determination to get at least one of the does he had driven there to buy.  He did so, but when I saw what he had paid, I nearly had an apoplexy.  She is confirmed bred with twins, but my rule of thumb is not to pay more for a doe than I think she will return with a set of twins in our market.  Our local market is still ruled by a relatively depressed economy, so we tend to have our goats priced accordingly.  We don't have the basic free time to haul does to sales (and even in a normal year, we tend to sell out of doelings), so we just price them to get them out there.  They need to be producing for people in our climate.  That, for me, is the true test of our doelings.  If they can get out there and produce for the typical goat keeper in our area without much trouble or intervention, I'm happy.  Our climate is a challenge.  We have hot, humid summers, but also can have plenty of ice and sleet and the occasional snow in the winter.   We have huge temperature swings in spring and fall.  We have droughty times. and saturated times.  This year was the latter - the tobacco guys said their wheat was a loss because it all sprouted, the soybeans had a fungus, and they said the tobacco "went to lace" when cured.  This was a very difficult year all around in these parts.

CofC does.  Chuck was in a lot of trouble over the big white one.

 
There were a couple of Marshmallow granddaughters in this sale - one of which we particularly would like to have purchased because she was bred and she had the body type we are after.  We think so much of Marshmallow.  Part of me hopes she begins to only have singles soon, because she is going to be an eleven year old this upcoming Spring, but I sure hope she has a doeling we can keep.  Unfortunately, someone else was even more enchanted with Marshmallow's granddaughter, because she shot right out of our price range. 

The two does that Chuck was able to land were also more than I wanted to spend, but hey.  They are a brown and white doeling that is very closely related to our Puddin' doe (who always does a great job) and also has CCR Ms Moneybag as a maternal grandmother.  With that particular cross, I don't see how she cannot develop a body style similar to Puddin'.  Chuck also picked up a red Rusty daughter to cross back on the Ace line and the Shaw line.  We'll see how it all worked out in a couple of years.  His big splurge was the white doe.  She is a Raiz'N'Kane daughter out of a Boulder Hill's S77 daughter.  Our Jesse is a BH S77 daughter and always has good kids, so we hope this new doe does the same.  She better, or Chuck will hear about it.  We need a new slogan, I think.  Goat friends, don't let Chuck bid frustrated at the goat sales.
The new girls.  Two are confirmed bred, one is exposed.  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Well, three of the big Kiko sales of the season have come and gone in the past few weeks.  The Appalachian Kiko sale and the Chatham, Virginia sale were the same weekend, so Chuck went to the sale in Virginia.  It was so much closer it allowed him to get back home in short order, which was important, because it was on Annalee's birthday.  We had asked her if she wanted to go to the goat sale and eat breakfast out, or if she wanted to play soccer, and she went back and forth a few times until she finally decided to stick with her soccer team.  She had a good game, although she wore out before the end of the game.  All the kids were pretty flat by the last few minutes.  I'm trying to teach her to push through being tired, because as we all know, it only gets crazier and busier as we get older.

At her game during the Cream of the Crop sale, which I will write about when I have more time, I intended to get an action shot of her running the ball down the field (I get a guilty vicarious thrill when she runs down and takes the ball from the boys a full head taller than she is), but this was more than I bargained for - I got her running right out of her shoe!  Anyone who has had kids at the soccer field knows that losing a shoe is a pretty common occurrence, but this is the first time I have captured it for posterity.
Annalee in action (notice the shoes)

While Annalee was playing, Chuck was emailing me pictures of goats from the sale.  This is how a sale works when I'm back on the home front.  The two of us study the catalog and see what bloodlines look like a good fit.  I have currently been seeking close relatives of some of our best does.  We have a few does that are the total package - they are great mothers, have great deep bodies, good udders, and rarely need deworming even in our challenging situation.  Since losing goats in that storm this summer, I have been scared into trying to have the best of the best on our farm heavily represented.  I don't want to lose an entire lineage in one doe.

doeling - Generator/Onyx bloodlines
mature doe - Nick/Lightin'/GUL/Chantelle
It is not easy to find daughters and granddaughters of some of the great does of the breed.  Bucks have lots of offspring, but does, even when flushed, only have a handful at most each year.  After I have researched the bloodlines, Chuck takes pictures of the does at the sale that look strong in person, and we match the "good on paper" to the "good in person," and try to come up with a bidding strategy.  Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't.  At Chatham, we got a doeling that is a Generator granddaughter on the top side, and a Tay Onyx great granddaughter on the bottom side.  We also got a large doe who is related to the late, great doe, "Fifty," who we lost in the hay bale collapse this summer.  This one is more of a gamble.  We've been burnt before buying "used" does.  Some, when you get them, are pretty well used up.  Others have become extremely productive members of our herd, like old Marshmallow.  I hope this doe has some productivity left in her because she has a great body type and strong old bloodlines (Nick, Lightin', Goats Unlimited, and Five C Chantelle). 



"Mudbug" earlier this summer, sporting a tick on one ear.
A more recent picture of Mudbug.  Ace doelings are generally chunky.
After the sale, Chuck got a call from a friend of ours who bought a buckling from us a few years ago and who has been carefully selecting does to build his own herd.  We've seen him at sales, and he has gone home with some does we wish we could have taken home with us!  If any of you have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember little Longstem.  Chuck found his brother dead and Longstem nearly dead in a freezing puddle after Louisianna's first kidding.  He warmed him on the dashboard and got him some colostrum, and we were able to reunite the two the next day.  Louisianna cleaned him as if he were brand new, and took over from there.  We don't know what happened that night, but Longstem was always a tough little nut, and when we sold him, Annalee was angry at us for days.  Well, at the Tennessee sale, a Longstem buckling brought a premium price for Josh.  We were thrilled, as all his hard work is paying off for him.
Over the years, we've seen that Boomer always outproduces himself, and Louisianna also has really strong kids.  The combination worked the next year and this year, Louisianna had two good Ace kids for us.  We are keeping her doeling, and she will become "GNX Ace's Mudbug."  She's a little goofy, but so is Louisianna, and she's turning into a solid little doe.  
Virginia's doe, "Thomas" - by Boomer and out of Marshmallow
After Chuck got home, we were able to get the important items of the day done.  Annalee wanted to go to Build-A-Bear, so she was able to craft the perfect Rainbow Dash for her birthday.  She liked the goats okay, but it was Virginia who declared that the little one was, "So cute!" and would be hers.  She had already named Marshmallow's yearling doe "Thomas" (yes, so we have a doe named Thomas), so now Virginia has two goats she can claim as her own.
And the most important work of the day...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A couple of helpful links...

I've had some folks ask questions about this or that with the goats lately, so while I think I have posted several of these before, I'm going to do it again.  When we have any sort of strangeness with the goats (and when do we not), I try to decide if this is something that I need to call the vet about (Kitty's compound fracture being a case in point), or is this some management thing I need to figure out.  Considering our local vet is pretty expensive, even for a consult, I usually try to figure it out myself first or ask around to some of the vets who own and work goats out there in the larger Kiko community.  They may not be close by, but they "get" goats and have hands on experience with them.  I find that is key for any sort of vet work.  Vet school is darn hard to get in, but not all vets have an innate "feel" for animals.  That goes for doctors, too - especially pediatricians.  When you find a good one, you stick with him or her.  We are fortunate in the Kiko community to have some very good goat vets among our number.  I appreciate all the long distance advice they have given me over the years.

Since I am sometimes on my own on a weekend or in the middle of the night with an issue, I have found some websites that offer what I consider to be helpful information.  I am not officially endorsing them as the be all end all, and I know some vets that cast a dim view of them, but I will let you decide for yourself and offer the suggestion that I use - if it doesn't agree with my own animal experience and own sense of what make sense - I don't try it on my goats.   That being said, I have been able to glean helpful information from the following non-vet sites:

www.fiascofarm.com
www.jackmauldin.com
www.tennesseemeatgoats.com
www.dairygoatjournal.com
http://www.acsrpc.org (this one has scientific backing)

I also search and read the goat chat boards.  Sometimes you read crazy sounding stuff, but there are some mighty experienced goat people out there, and much can be learned from reading the exchanges between producers.  I of course still love to read The Goat Rancher and always learn from it, although I have less time to really enjoy it now that I am always re-reading classroom texts. 

I hope these links are helpful to anyone having a problem and unable to get veterinary help.  Again, I am not a vet and don't claim to be.  For better or worse, I have had many animals over my years, and had horses when I was a broke college and graduate student.  I learned how to take care of a lot on my own in those ramen-noodle filled years.

We have recently used my experience gained while keeping a horse at a stable with gravel on a hill to the pature, and a farm worker who thought it was cool to turn my horse out last so she would run like a bat out of you know where to get to the rest of the herd.  I had lots and lots of stone bruises that turned to abcesses to work through that year - and even had one work its way up and out my horse's coronary band.   Ace and Tonto had a fight a while back, and Ace's hoof must have been bruised, because now, he has had an abscess just like my mare used to have.  This is pretty inconvenient as it is breeding season, so I suggested to Chuck to use an epsom salt poultice to draw out any infection.  I think a lot of epsom salts for drawing out infection.  I think much less of Tonto causing trouble.  He does not love being the mature buck who has no does.  Not even a little bit.  Luckily he is easy to catch, but he doesn't lead terribly well and he is much stronger than I am, so the Gator helps me tote him back where he needs to be.  He moves along with the Gator pretty well, although we can tell from his expression that he is just fuming about the indignity of it all.


I move Tonto however I can when he decides to be where he ought not be.  He really needs some does of his own.
Chuck described Ace as less than appreciative of the attention, but he did seem to enjoy the warm soak.  After a day or two, we thought we would use another home remedy that draws infection well - bentonite clay.  Chuck spoke with a particularly helpful vet who knows goats, and he suggested supplemental antibiotics.  Chuck had already given one shot to him, so he continued on.  Hopefully it will heal completely with time.  I remember losing a lot of training time with my mare to those blasted abscesses.


Ace, being pitiful with his sore foot
Today, I am hobbling around because I tried to take a flying leap to catch one of our new does that is in quarantine.  She has been sticking her head through the fence, and I had the bright idea to tape a stick to her horns.  She zigged and I zagged, and my old foot twisted a direction it apparently could not go.  Great.  I just love goats.  I will be reminded of just how much when I have to go up all the flights of stairs to get to my classroom in the morning. 

I wanted to leave with a picture of one of the toxic plants we have on the farm.  Seems we have more than our share, and this one has normally been relegated to the shady pasture edges, but the soggy summer has it growing even out in full sun this year.  This is Perilla Mint, and it really does have a minty aroma when cut.  It causes symptoms that mimic pneumonia.  I have seen our goats take a bite or two of it, and although I freaked out, it appears to not always be immediately deadly.  I read somewhere that the toxicity could vary.  Keep an eye out for it, as it was introduced as a landscape plant and went invasive.  This picture was earlier in the summer, but this time of year, it is tall and has a skinny seed spike.
Perilla Mint - just another toxic plant here in the Southeast

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bananarama and Rice Paddies

 
At least the cool summer has been good for the July kids

Wasn't it the Eighties group Bananarama that had that song, "Cruel Summer?"  It really has been a cruel one here, although the weather itself has been almost unbelievably mild.  This morning, on August 17 in the upper South, it is 62 degrees and drizzling.  That's right folks - 62.  The normal high for August, per Intellicast.com, is 87 degrees.  The other unusual thing around here has been the rain.  We have not had the July and August dry spell that we usually have.  Our winter temperatures are not cold enough for long enough to kill off any parasites to speak of.  In a "normal" summer, the dry spell causes the pastures to quit growing and the goats (or cows, or horses) eat them down short, so the hot sun can bake the fields and reduce the parasite load somewhat.  That isn't going to happen this summer, so I will be deworming does after they kid during our cold snap to reduce the load next spring, and we really need to get some more areas fenced so we can properly rest a field.
the unexpected - green grass and kids in July
If you've read my blog at all, you know I don't typically deworm the goats much, but we were going through a rough patch with them and they looked, for lack of a better word, like crap.  I tried to use Ivermectin.  I didn't see much improvement, so I used COWP (copper wire particles) as usual because I know they are proven to be effective against Barber Pole worm, although only against Barber Pole.  I noticed some improvement in the goats, but just some, although a BIG improvement in the richness of coat color on the black and red goats I have.  I had forgotten just how much copper the goats on our farm seem to need just to maintain.  The iron in our soil is so high, it must be keeping the goats from absorbing enough copper from our mineral mix.

Red goat - she was rawhide colored before the copper, and is even redder now.
Several of the goats still appeared unthrifty - even the ones with Famacha scores of 1.  I started reading all I could find about the specific symptoms I was seeing, and I came across a mention of goats not shedding well and goats with guard hairs standing up.  Now, that was one thing I noticed about several of the does - they constantly looked like they had stuck a finger in a light socket.  Their hairs were always standing on end.  The cause of this for the person writing about it?  Liver flukes.  Ahhhh.  Now that made sense in our situation this year.  Our pastures never dried out.  I didn't see snails, but Chip caught enough slugs in the fields that I know the conditions were right for them.  I got some Ivomec Plus injectible, and lo and behold, the goats that were looking poorly are now shedding and getting shiny and sleek.  Live and learn.  Knowing we've had the liver fluke problem, my dewormer of choice for the newly kidded does this winter is going to be Ivomec Plus.  Apparently the liver fluke egg resembles the Barber Pole egg in a fecal, as well, so if you have goats who seem to decline gradually in condition and have a "fuzzball" appearance out of season, you might consider the possibility of liver flukes - especially if you've had enough water on your fields that you could've turned them into rice paddies.

Speaking of rice paddies - the other issue caused by the unseasonably cool, wet summer has been that I am starting back to teach and the tomatoes are all still green in the field.  Some have rotted on the vine.  I don't know if they will ever ripen or the crop will be a total loss, but even if they do ripen, I won't be available to pick them.  I spent so much of my summer in that 'mater field, it is pretty disappointing.  It was the first year, though, and we learned a lot, and I learned that, barring a few of the steps, this produce thing is something I can do.  I have put myself on the five year plan.  Each summer, I am going to work on perfecting a crop or learning a new one, so that at the end of five years, if I am burned out on teaching, I can step away and replace the money with the farm.  Now, in North Carolina, the teacher pay is almost the lowest in the entire US, so this should be an attainable goal.  My children will be old enough I should be able to have all of them at the farm with me and not have to pay for day care, and it would free me to focus on their schoolwork, which will be a pretty heavy load I feel sure.  Annalee will be in 7th grade by then, and for her to get into Duke, she will have to be ready to be topping the charts grade-wise when she hits 9th grade.  The only way I see us affording Duke will be by her getting a scholarship, so she will also be doing every bit of community service we can do by then, and she will have to do some sort of sport.  Chip will be in 5th grade, and Virginia will probably be in 2nd, so all three of them will have homework.  Plans aren't realities, of course, but I'll be working it, and we'll see how it goes.
Fifty, before her demise, surrounded by doelings

The weather was not the only evil of this particularly cruel summer.  I mentioned we lost a really reliable doe to a hay bale collapse.  I was at the farm one day, and as I looked around the field, I noticed I couldn't find Fifty.  She just wasn't there.  I looked in the sheds and then, with growing unease, looked over at the hay pile in the middle of the field.  It was about three feet high, and several does were resting on top of it quietly chewing their cud.  I told Chuck my concerns and he started digging his arm in under the pile, and confirmed my fears - she was in there.  He got the tractor and moved the pile, and she was dead in the absolute center of it, both figuratively and literally.  She was a strong doe, so all we can figure is they ate a hole in the center and she had her head in it when it collapsed or the other does jumped on it, and her horns likely locked in the hay fibers and suffocated her, and then the rest of the bale collapsed around her, because she was completely engulfed.  That was a real drag. 
The blackberries in the weanling area.
The doelings Fifty raised were still in the field, and when I bush hogged the next field down later that day, I noticed one of them standing with her front feet on a rock, looking around and calling for Fifty.  No matter how practical I try to be, I can't watch things like that without them weighing heavy on my heart.  Fifty gave them a good start, so we moved them on down to the blackberries in the electronet with the weanlings we had pulled off their moms earlier (Fifty had kept her weight so we just left hers with her), and they transitioned pretty well.   She was one of the does with a possible kid swap, so we will need to DNA her does, but she raised them beautifullyand I will miss that reliability.


Fifty's doelings.
Shaw/Iron Temptress buckling
We are taking some of the Shaw doelings that are decent size and exposing them to a young Shaw buckling.  I normally don't breed that close, but I am trying to "concentrate" the line since we lost Shaw.  I am going to DNA the buckling because he has curly hair much like Ace, but it would be highly unlikely he is anyone but Shaw's.  Ace stamps his kids absolutely with the "Ace Face," and this buckling doesn't have it.  What he does have is a muscle pattern and frame different from any other bucklings this spring.  He is very long bodied, long hipped, and round muscled.  I assume it came from Tempy's side of the family (she is by Iron Horse and out of a Tasman Temptress daughter - Tasman Temptress was Sports Kat's mother), but I have several of her half sisters and I have only seen this muscle type once before in a buckling we have raised, and we had sold him.  We'll see.  It will be an interesting experiment.
Piper (in the background) and her doelings.
My favorite doelings of the season are still Piper's (Piper is Ace's full sister) by Shaw.  We have had a "cough" go through the herd this summer, and I have been giving Bovi Sera (direct antibodies to pasteurella, among other things) to anyone that has had it (that I can catch), so I am hoping it doesn't take a turn for the worse.  Piper's girls have had the cough, and if I lose them, I will just sit down and bawl like a baby.  I did not get anyone vaccinated for pneumonia this summer, and Chuck says he has had many people come in to his work with herds that have been hit by pneumonia this year.  What a summer it has been. 

I will be going back to teaching within the next two weeks, and I am frustrated that I must since I am just getting the farm and the house back in order, but I am also excited to start a new year and see if I can improve my teaching.  I learned so much last year.  When it was all said and done, I was lucky to have the opportunity to learn alongside my students, and I hope this year I can help them enjoy reading more than last year.  They look at me and say, "but Ms. Shaffer, we just don't read," and I get that - they live in an electronic world... but I think about the fact that if I wasn't driven to read and search for answers to my own real-life problems, I would never have come across that little blurb about guard hairs and liver flukes.  And what if the person who wrote that wasn't a reader or a writer!  Even in an electronic world, reading is fundamental.  It is what allows us to share knowledge, athough it still seems like I am going to have to make every single mistake myself.  *Sigh*