Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fact, fiction, opinion, and conjecture.

There are a lot of things I wonder, still, about goat keeping, even after having them for several years. One thing I have been hearing a lot lately is that we're going to have a very bad year parasite-wise because we've had such a mild winter. Now, this may be true, but way back in the day when I was doing the 4-H thing, and listening to all the horse experts, they said that this part of the country just doesn't get cold enough to make a significant difference in the parasite population. We were taught that our hot summers actually killed more worms than the winters. I don't know if this differs in goats because of the species of worms that they harbor, or which is actually correct for the Southeast. I know it seems easier to keep goats healthy in the winter, but we also seem to have better famacha scores also in the summer when it is particularly dry. Of course, when the rains finally come, all the encysted eggs hatch at once and I expect to see the guy from the Allstate commercials who calls himself Mayhem running around in the fields. Actually, that would be okay with me, since I really liked him as "Ryan O'Riley" in that old HBO series Oz... but I digress.

I also wonder what warm spells in the winter do for parasites. Do they hatch out? What really triggers them to hatch? If we have an empty paddock, and it sits idle for only four months over the winter but we have had several spells where the temperature bumped seventy with plenty of moisture... at what point will all the eggs have hatched, found no host, and then died? I know they say it takes six months to make a clean pasture in the winter, but how do warm spells temper that estimate? I guess these are all questions I should send to the folks at the wormx site. If anyone knows, it should be them. When you run as many goats as we do on limited acreage, it can make a difference. Like I have said many times, I will do most anything to avoid using chemical dewormers if I possibly can, so the more ways I can work with nature, the better.
Speaking of working with nature, Chuck is still working on fencing that usused field, and the fence fairy did come! I'm not sure he would want to be known as such, but our bow hunter, who has helped us on so many occassions, has come through again and has helped Chuck work on it. I help when I can, but my help is limited to how long Virginia is willing to nap in the car. Now that the weather is improving I may get her to sit in the stroller while I help, but her patience does run thin.

The second wave of kidding is officially underway, starting at a trickle. Little 34 had twins, a buck and a doe, from a test breeding to G, and they are too young to tell much about but we are interested to see how they will do. We have two goats left at the old farm to keep the kudzu down, and today Chuck had found that the black half Kiko, half dairy doe we call "The Hornet" because of the facial markings she had as a kid, has had twin does by Milky the Boer buck. He was the one that survived joint ill that we raised in the bathtub for a while. We learned to tube feed a kid with him. I sure hope we never have to do that again. I will never forget the image of Chuck sleeping on the bathroom floor cuddling that little goat. I really think he flat willed him to live. Milky was named by Annalee, and basically became a pet. He and The Hornet have to forage down there as there is nothing extra but a round bale in winter, and although they have Amalie the llama to protect them, they have had to be a pretty tough pair to thrive as they have. They literally were the last of the original dairy and Boers we got. It would be nice to start a strictly commercial side of the herd using tough individuals like that bred back to some good Kiko bucks. Maybe we'll see where that goes in the future. The Hornet is a daughter of Boomer, and a crazy old dairy doe we dubbed Psycho. Psycho had horrible pasterns, and was woefully parasite susceptible. The fact that The Hornet is able to make it down there speaks well of Boomer as a sire of easy to maintain does. Lastly I will add a shot of Ace, trying to eliminate himself from the gene pool. I had asked Chuck to put the stroller in the truck and take it up, and I would meet him at the farm a little later with Virginia. I drove up and found this scene... Ace looking for an escape route from his temporary pen, and eyeballing my insanely expensive stroller as a landing pad on the other side. Let me say that if most of the cost of the stroller had not been reimbursed by a Healthy Moms program I completed, I would not have been able to get it, so I am pretty protective of it. It drives smoothly over the roughest terrain, and it turns circles with ease one handed. Ease of handling in a stroller becomes a pretty big deal when you have a Chip to be holding on to with the other hand. I'm not sure who would have been in more trouble if Ace had flattened the stroller, but Chuck now has hot wire around Ace's pen and Ace did not have to replace its cost by the pound, so all's well that ends well.

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