Monday, April 22, 2013

A few pictures to show that Spring has sprung. Finally.

What a difference just a little warm weather can make!  We had a really warm week with a little rain, followed by a bit of a chill, but overall, spring is here.  I just had to post a picture of the difference in the bottom field.  We'll be weaning and moving goats likely this weekend.  There is a blend of grasses and legumes, and what I think is my chicory or the rape coming up.  I'm not sure which.  I need to get better at plant identification.  We also need to lime the front areas to get some better stuff growing.  My aunt has always told me that broomstraw is a natural pH monitor - when the broomstraw grows, you know you need some lime.
The bottom field, April 4, 2013

The bottom field April 21, 2013.  It's about time.  Note the blond heads.

Some grass, clover, and alfalfa.

Even the top field is starting to catch up with the goats.

My favorite Boomer buckling this season - out of a Tay Onyx granddaughter.

One of my favorite Shaw bucklings this season - out of an Iron Horse daughter (and Tasman Temptress granddaughter)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I knew better...

Bo stopped as I stopped to take the picture, and looked at me as if to say, "You ARE coming, aren't you?"

But I didn't get it ordered sooner.  The temperatures have been all over the place - balmy one day and frigid and icy the next.  I should have known it was the kind of season that would cause problems.  In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if there is any season that doesn't have some inherent problems?  Chuck mentioned (or at least he tells me he mentioned - I have my mind so full of Siddhartha and Night and The Odyssey as of late there isn't much room for anything else) we had run out of Bovi Sera.  Bovi Sera is one of those things I like to have on hand, although we don't use it a lot this time of year.  I tend to use it more when we ship goats, as it provides direct antibodies for a few of the things that can get goats down when they are under stress - the stress of being hauled down the highway in a shipping crate for twelve hours, for example.  It has antibodies to E.Coli, Salmonella, and two types of Pasteurella organisms that can cause pneumonia.  In theory, these antibodies can go right to work and combat the pathogens quickly, and hopefully buy the animal time as it tries to mount its own immune response.

Enjoying the warmth of the sun, blocked by Momma from the chilly winds.

Although I am still under the weather myself (thankfully, although the whole rest of the family has been sick, I waited until Spring Break to get mine - no missed work!) I loaded Annalee and Chip in the car and dropped Virginia off at day care.  Loaded with packs of snack crackers, a box of Capri-Sun, and a bag of half price Scooby Doo Easter candy, we set out for the farm.  The weather really has been crazy lately.  I think it was Monday it was seventy degrees again, and the goats, who are still sporting long winter coats, were all flaked out in the sun.  Tuesday brought an abrupt decrease in temperature, and a cold wind whipped across the flats of the farm.  Yesterday started with a sharp, frosty morning, but gently mellowed into the upper fifties.  Since I felt poorly, after I fed the goats I told the kids to play as I took it easy in the warm car for a little while.  I sat and rested, and watched the goats.  Having the time to watch them gave me an opportunity to notice a couple of the kids breathing heavier than they should.  One sounded a little raspy, too.  Crap.  Sounds like pneumonia brewing. 

Normally, my first line of defense for pneumonia is a dose of Bovi Sera.  I use it even before I pull out an antibiotic.  Unfortunately, I am unprepared this time, and Bovi Sera is not something we can get at the local feed store.  I placed an order online, and it should arrive later today.  The kids were still upright as of a quick trip up to check this morning, so when the package gets here, I will try to run up and catch these two kids and give them a quick dose of it.  This is one of those days I hope soccer practice is cancelled.  It sleeted on us as we returned home from the farm earlier today, and I just don't think I am up to sitting out on the soccer field for an hour trying to corral Virginia.  Annalee has plenty to wear to keep her warm, but I'm just not feeling that tough today.  My pastures are even feeling the effects off this prolonged winter.  I looked at pictures from last year, and the pastures were much taller and greener in April last year than they are today.  Maybe next week's projected warm temperatures will kick them into high growth gear.  I sure hope so.
Still bald spots, but at least most are becoming covered with organic matter.
This time last year, the field was almost a foot high.
Since we had no Bovi Sera, I texted Chuck to pick up a fresh bottle of LA-200 at the store to bring to the farm.  We had some, but it was expired.  When he and Virginia got to the farm with it, he caught the two kids and we gave them each a dose of it, hoping whatever organism they have is susceptible.  We don't use antibiotics on the farm very often, but we do bring in animals from other places, and the germs they bring - well, there's just no telling.  It's like the dewormer thing.  We've had a few does go bottle-jawed lately, and I imagine if we had preventively dewormed them right after they kidded, we wouldn't have had an issue.  Two of the does are first timers, one raising a single and the other raising a nice set of twin does.  The third is a mature doe, and her two kids are mega-chunks (her buck is as big as one of the junk bucks leftover from last year and looking for a soup pot) and have really pulled the weight off of her.  I can forgive having to deworm those does.  Now, we might gamble and lose one (I hope not), but I'd rather be sparing with the dewormer so that when I need to use it, it works, and we know who is tougher than whom.  We don't know much about the Shaw kids yet, but we're finding Ace's kids to be even more parasite tolerant than Boomer's.  This knowledge helps me decide which does go with which bucks.  If a doe has good growth and parasite tolerance traits but a poor udder, isn't a fabulous mom, or is a hard keeper, I'll likely breed her to Boomer for first generation does.  If a doe is a great mom with a good udder and just isn't the most parasite tolerant doe, I'll breed her to Ace to bring his strengths to the mix.  There are the other odd traits they throw - Ace's kids look like small yaks in the winter due to three inch long (and often wavy) hair - but I hope in the long run, breeding this way helps me have the best does I can in the herd. 

Goats in the middle field - sooner than we wanted, but the top field is bare.

I am still not sure yet how I feel about the "size" issue.  I know people like big goats, and big kids do sell, but I still like a small doe who gets her kids to close to her size in six months.  Unless she is a hard keeper, it just makes more sense to me.  I have a couple of squatty little does who look like they are bred year round, and raise fast growing kids that look just like them.  I am an avid Goat Rancher fan (it is a wonderful aperitif to enjoy before diving into some Shakespeare), and have been reading with great interest Craig Adams' articles on Kiko bloodlines and the traits for which they are known.  He has so much experience with the breed, and I eagerly looked forward to seeing if my observations from our few individuals mirrored what his many years have proven to be true in general.  One thing he said has gotten me thinking - he suggests we need to aim towards a heavier framed goat.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I have both types in my herd.  The Shaw kids are lighter framed - the doelings have a more deerlike, feminine look to them, while the Ace doelings look like little boys, to be honest.  Boomer's kids are somewhere in the middle, but don't have much mature height.  I can understand that with heavier muscle, a heavier frame may be necessary.  I wonder if there is any sort of genetic link between the two traits?  Hmm.  Food for thought, but unfortunately, thoughts that will likely need to wait until after school is out for summer.  Poetry, To Kill A Mockingbird, and more World Lit await!

Addendum: I took a short nap after my post and awoke to the delightful tap tap of sleet pouring down (example of sarcarm, here, folks).  The roof is white, and it is accumulating on parts of the yard.  Yay (more sarcasm).  It increases my concern for those kids that are already ill.  I hope they made it somewhere dry and warm.  I also hope that truck with the Bovi Sera makes it here before long.  I also doubt I will put the human kids out on the road to go to the farm if I don't absolutely have to do it.  It is a long drive, and there is an awful lot of frozen junk coming out of the sky.  Sigh.
Ace twin doelings (out of a half sister to Ace) in the foregound - a Shaw doeling walks behind them