Saturday, March 24, 2012

A brief lull...

I think we are going to float away today, but all this rain might make the grass grow, and I'm pretty sure come July and August, we will wish we could have bottled it and saved a little bit. We see the sticker bushes in the newly fenced area starting to push out leaves and I am chomping at the bit to get goats moved in there, but we are waiting on gates and Chuck is trying to figure out the barbed wire to go around the bottom. He made himself a barbed wire puller off the back of the gator the other day, but hadn't gotten far when he had to come out and spell me, because we've all been laid out flat with a nasty spring cold and the only thing worse than having a sick child is having a sick child while you are sick, yourself. Well, all of us got it except Chuck. I think this was an unintended benefit of how much time he has had to spend at the farm lately. He minimized his exposure.
Our new field is at least starting to come together, because with all the rain and warm weather I do have concerns that a whole bunch of parasite eggs will be hatching and spewing forth larvae all over the place. Chip helped hammer the reflectors onto the post, and after putting a few dings in them, declared "I not so good at hammering." Well, Chip, you came by it natural. I remember a time when I was fixing a fence at my aunt's farm and managed to hit my own self in the forehead. We figured it wise to add a reflector to the post, though, since it is new and near the road, and the road to the farm used to be a hangout for people drinking beer and whatnot before we started keeping the goats there. We also all spent a day bagging up trash out of the woods. So far, we haven't found anything worthy of Antiques Roadshow, but there's plenty more to go through. I expect even when we think we've gotten most of the trash, we will keep finding more. I know people didn't think much about it when they did it, but I sure wish they had taken a moment to consider that land may one day be used for something other than a giant garbage can.
I know it is time to hit the does with an herbal dewormer, in the form of the "worm balls" we feed them and most see as treats. This time of year I will add a dose of copper wire particles. We have been getting them into the goats this way, as opposed to in bolus form. I don't have quantifiable proof that it reduces fecal egg count, but they seem to be doing well when we use them. I applaud all producers that are doing fecals for themselves. We took the course to learn to do it, and we have a microscope, but we are phenomenally bad at finding things through the scope. I remember being pathetic at looking through a microscope even back in school. When we were first keeping koi, we had all sorts of problems and we gave the microscope a workout trying to do slime scrapes to see what parasites we were battling. I didn't have a whole lot of success. I think I saw a trichodina once, which looked a little bit like a UFO. I ended up learning the symptoms of each parasite, and we treated the koi accordingly. It took a long time, but we got so we could look at a koi's skin and behavior and guess with some accuracy what was bothering it. Then we found that once we learned to "keep water" rather than "keep koi" that we no longer really had a lot of problems to deal with in the first place. We obviously aren't there with goats yet, but that is our goal. We do know that "keeping pastures" has a lot to do with keeping our animals healthy, but we haven't reached that zen point yet - the point where doing the right thing at the right time comes so naturally that it all starts to seem easy. I believe we are still a few years away from that.
We are in a brief lull now, awaiting the last set of does to kid. The final kids of the middle wave are here, and things are settling down a bit. Chuck saw Ginger bred by G pretty late in the season, so if she caught, we will see how she crosses on G. The two does we bought at the Cream of the Crop sale are obviously bred with Ace babies, and they will be our first NKR goats. We have always had AKGA goats, and double registered with the IKGA largely because so many folks around here wanted IKGA goats. We are waiting to see what our customers want this year and next. We also are waiting to see how Kitty does. We were never able to keep her bone inside the skin and lined up to allow it to knit, but she is still with us, and living on three legs. Chuck found out the hard way that she can outrun his two legs with her three, and she took herself across the field one day when he had her out grazing and had a rendezvous with Ace, who had climbed out of the pen he was in with the new does. Kitty is starting an udder now, so we will see if she kids successfully. We are trying to figure a way to make her some type of pegleg apparatus to take some of the weight off the other hind leg to preserve the hip and pastern as long as possible. As long as she is comfortable, we will make accomodations for her and she'll have her own area. If she gets to where she hurts, we'll have her put down. I do hope she kids and leaves us a doe, though. Kitty is one tough goat.
The last thing I will address is the challenge of keeping records in a farm setting. I have found another thing I really miss about my old job - Microsoft Outlook. It was so nice to be able to get a text from Chuck telling me whatever information needed to be entered, and I could just email it to myself as an appointment with reminders. I had Outlook on my old laptop here at home, and it worked really really well. Then my old laptop died, and then I got laid off, and now my new laptop doesn't have any sort of calendar program. I have tried putting things in my smartphone, and Chuck has taken to carrying a small notepad in his pocket all the time, but smartphones get dropped (at Dick's Sporting Goods, no less) and quit working, and notepads get wet and get lost, and we lose valuable information. I am going to try the Google calendar and see how that works. We have the doe and kid software from the Cream of the Crop sale, but we need something that tracks the every day things like breeding dates, Famacha scores, vaccinations, and things like that. If anyone out there has found the perfect thing, and it is cheap or free, I am all ears.

1 comment:

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