Saturday, September 4, 2010

Can't lose focus...

It never ceases to amaze me how time flies. With my daughter's recent entry into the world of academia (she started JrK this year) I am taken back to my own childhood. A day was big and wide open and it seemed like there was hardly any way to fill all the hours until the sun would go down. Summers seemed endless. These days, in adulthood, a month can be gone in the blink of an eye.

This was one of those months. We had some trouble with a few goats with parasites late last month, proving again that while Kikos are about the toughest goats going, they aren't bulletproof and they are still living breathing creatures. Looking back on it, we set ourselves up for the perfect storm and then mother nature, in the form of torrential downpour after torrential downpour, decided to remind us we need to keep focus and mind the basics or we'd get bit in the butt.

Prior to what seemed like two or more inches of rain a day for about two weeks, we had had a bit of a drought. We like to feed lespedeza hay in the summer in addition to leaving some grass hay out in case anyone feels the need for long fiber. Our fenced areas are small, so reducing the egg count being redeposited in them is a factor we have to consider.

I also hate to use chemical dewormers at all, because every time I do, I am breeding stronger parasites. Most of the time, with the goats we have, this works out for us so long as we use a little sense in our management practices and do what we can to keep the parasites eggs in the pasture in check. We got busy, though, and pulled a stupid and ran out of lespedeza hay. When mother nature chose to let loose with the rains, all those parasite eggs that had been deposited during the period of zero rain apparently hatched at once. Kaboom. A few goats with scours and light eyes. And us scrambling to play catch up.

Now that we're getting back under control, I am making note of what we found. Most of the goats stayed wonderfully red-eyed and healthy as could be during this. Who suffered? The young, low on the social totem pole does who kidded in late spring... the very old... and the very young. All this makes sense. What will I do differently? Well, since my work schedule has been out of control to the point I have not even been able to get up to the goats to help Chuck - it's all on him at the moment. He has been doing famacha checks every few days to make sure everyone is remaining stable (except on the wild ones. But he is an opportunist - one of the wild ones was stuck in the hay feeder when he arrived the other day so he took full advantage of the situation and her eyes were about a 2).

If I have does kid out late next spring, which I don't plan to have happen anyway, I might try dosing them with copper wire particle boluses right after kidding. If this doesn't give them the edge they need, I may try a chemical dewormer, or if she doesn't have just amazing mothering skills, I might move that goat on down the road to someone who needs a tough brush clearer. I'll have to see how it goes. We're certainly finding who seems to stay healthy no matter what, and that's valuable information. Boomer continues to have Famacha scores of 1. His main stressor has been me changing the doe groups around, but that stresses them much more than it bothers him. He is always happy to meet new does. The young Wild Bill son we are keeping to try out as a herd sire is a red eyed quick growing son of a gun too, even though he is a strange looking dude. I just hope both of them pass the positive traits along. Here again, only time will tell.

After the weeks of rain, we've had another period of pretty much zero rain. The pasture we planted on the new farm, where we plan to winter the does, ain't lookin' too grand. We have the soil samples ready to ship out, but we took advantage of a forecast of rain for this afternoon and had a local company come spread us some lime. Even without the benefit of what the soil sample will tell us, it has been a while since this farm was limed, and we run acidic around here just as a general rule. I want to get some varied forage planted in the areas where the orchardgrass and alfalfa didn't take; some winter peas, which should also improve the soil long term, and some kale and maybe even some turnips in spots, in addition to the standard winter wheat or rye. And the rain this afternoon has been a sight for sore eyes. Slow, gentle, and cool. Now if only it doesn't wait another month to rain again.