Art of Proprietation

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some nice weather

We had a string of at least two weeks of good weather that spanned all the important days of kidding. Going into April, my wife pointed out that last year we had three significant snow storms in April. Not this year. We are completely melted out except the patch of snow on the north west corner that gets dumped on by both the house and the barn roofs. It is down from 8 feet to a foot and a half, soon to be gone. My mother in law looks to have won the pool on that, it will be gone before May.

The string of sunny days has been broken, though. It started raining at about 9 AM and has been going pretty steady ever since. The drainage over flow in the back yard is brimming. That's where the whole backside of the house and two thirds of the barn rain water ends up. We usually have two 55 gallon drums to catch it, but I haven't set that up yet this spring. Today's rain would have easily filled it.

We do have the spring line setup. When I bought this house the main house was still supplied by the surface well in a cleft up above the house. It will gravity feed into the firs floor of the house. One of the conditions to buy the house was to put in a drilled well, the state frowns on surface water. So I dug a line from the spring to the garden and we now have a supply for the garden that is separate from our drinking water.

We moved the greenhouses today. We had two greenhouses in the garden this year, one for the chickens and one for plants. During the coldest winter days, the plants go dormant since the greenhouse is unheated. But they are that much further along when temperatures do allow. This year, we got a solid extra month of growth over unprotected ground in the garden. Most people in this area are just starting to talk about working their gardens, but my wife already has greens to harvest, radishes, leaks, etc. All cold hearty stuff to begin with, but we are already getting daily salads out of the garden. So, today we took down the chicken green house and moved the plant greenhouse to a new set of beds. We also constructed two new raised beds in the garden to match the greenhouse foot print. The cold hearty stuff is ready to be out on its own and my wife will be moving tomatoes and peppers out to the new green house location. I am really impressed with the amount she already has growing in the garden. I'll try to put up some pictures when we takes some.

Out back, we are adding some new goat "pasture". Last year I put up a 75' square pasture for the goats and we tried to go rational grazing in that. But it was too small and we really weren't getting enough time between rotations. So I am adding another similar sized fenced area and then we will have two smaller pastures in between the two permanently fenced ones. That will give us a four month separation which is much better from a parasite perspective. Unfortunately, it is not optimal for forage nutrition, but the parasites are a more important consideration.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

An addendum

This is an addendum to my previous post about our first kidding. We thought the evening was over. I had posted pictures on the blog. Both of us had showered and were headed for bed. It was about 1 AM. My wife went out to check on the doe before we went to bed. She came back into the house carrying a still born kid. The doe had given birth to a second kid without us two hours after the first. It was a sable (Saanens have a recessive gene that leads to dark colored Sables as opposed to the normal white Saanens). The kid's eyes where either so sunken that they appeared to be missing or they were unformed. The vet says that means it probably had been dead for more than 24 hours.

In addition to the second still born kid, the doe didn't pass the placenta. This happens and the doe sometimes reabsorbs it. But we were slow to reacte to it because we are inexperienced. Our doe ended up on antibiotics. I also have since learned that I should have been reaching in and fishing around for that second kid. The vet assumes twins or triplets until proven otherwise.

When we realized we had not reacted quickly enough to the doe's retained plecenta, it hit us pretty hard. If there had been a third kid in the womb that did not come out, it would be in there decomposing. Since the cervix was closed up, there would be no way to get it out (C-sections can be done on a goat, but the prognossis isn't good). Our whole dairy operation flashed before our eyes. We could loose the doe. The kid was still floppy and we might loose him as well. And if we could screw it up once, what's to say the other doe would survive kidding? All these thoughts flashed through our minds while we were on an emergancy after hours call with the vet on call.

We went the course with the antibiotics. It meant there was a milk witholding period so we would not be able to drink the milk for two days after the last antibiotic injection. The doe looked good, good apettite, no mastitis, temp was normal. But she had the most awful brown sticky discharge coming out of her vagina. Some discharge is normal but this color was concerning. We are keeping a close eye on her.

In the meantime, the buck kid has been thriving. I weighed him last night and he has gained 8 pounds. He is frisky and vigarous.

So, after all that, we where anticipating the next delivery with some trepadation. We thought we were reasonably well prepared for the first one. The second one hung over us heavily. We expected her to be late, she always has been in the past. I checked on her at midnight the night before she was due, she wasn't showing any signs of labor. But at 6 AM the next day when I went out to milk, I found the doe on the ground with head and neck delivered. That's a bad thing, it means the front legs are both back, preventing delivery. There was also no way to know how long the do had been like this. I wasn't sure at first, but the kid was alive, but it moved it's mouth. I had to run back to the house and get my kidding supplies and get my wife to help me. Back at the doe, I lubed up my hand and forearm and tried to explore the babies position. But I couldn't push the baby back or get my hand past the cervix to reposition the forelegs. I was really worried. I even called the vet (at their suggestion, they said they could talk me through a tough one). When my wife got there, she lubed up and tried since her hands and arms are smaller. She got one then the other hoof, but wasn't sure if they were from the same kid. But the kid popping out should beyond a doubt they were from the same kid. I did a quick survey for a second kid and found nothing. Within 20 minutes, we were seeing the afterbirth coming out.

Things seem to be going OK for both the mother and the kid. In spite of how big with pregnancy the mother was and the single kid, the doe kid was not big. She has a good sized frame, but she was thin and gangly. She has made good progress, though. She is walking and starting to scamper around. Here mother seems sore and maybe depressed, though. She is eating some, but not a lot. And her milk has not come in strong yet. It is building though. We have hope.

Kidding has been a grounding experience for me. A reminder of the fragility of all life. Also the level of risk managing livestock entails.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Kid on the block

We had our first kid today. A difficult but rewarding experience. I know enough to say that the goat did all the work, even though it felt like a lot of effort on our part.

As far as we can tell, the kid is healthy. He took a bottle of colostrum within an hour of birth.

Since it is a boy, we'll hope for good confirmation and try him as a pack animal.

It's late and it's been a long evening. Maybe more details at a later time.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

So I bought this tree on Ebay

It seemed like a good idea at the time, auction for life sized Oak tree, some assembly required...

Now that I have it home, I find assembly will be more difficult than I realized. The instructions are in chinese.

Just Kidding. I am cutting up the last of the wood I think I will need for next winter's wood stack. I think this will bring us upto a little over three cords when it is all stacked. Last year we burned a little over two in the glenwood in the kitchen. I was late getting the wood in and we had to be a little more conservative than I wanted. I am trying hard to make sure we can burn what we need to next winter.

This was a pretty big tree for me to drop. Not tall, but very girthy. My saw only overlapped by about 4 inches when I cut from both sides. It's not a big tree for a professional to cut, but it was hard for me. Because I couldn't simply cut through from one side, it was a little tricky. And I needed it to fall in a narrow alley between my wifes garlic bed and some other obstacles. And it need to come down before it blew down. The tree was not in good shape and it was leaning over what will be a new fence line for the goats. Thanks to my father in law for the handmedown saw. I wouldn't want to do this with my old saw, it just wouldn't have handled it well.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

10 days in the brooder

These are a bunch of shots in the brooder of one particular chick. She has that stripe down his back and it makes it easy to pick her out. It amazes me how fast they change. This is ten days of photos. Ten days......

This is where we started from:

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