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: (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