Archive for goats

I’m Ba-ack! As Best I Can, Anyway.

I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I wish I could blame my absence on writer’s block, an early and fortuitous move, or being busy doing something I love, but I can’t.

Unfortunately, I have fibromyalgia. Pushing myself over the winter to work on the blog while trying to work on the house while transitioning jobs while doing the holidays while getting sick from the germs of being around new germ factories kids was too much. I crashed, pretty hard. I ended up being mostly bedridden, sick (still coughing), having to drop to 16 hours a week at work (and still sometimes calling out), and feeling so bad that I actually applied for disability (both disability and SSI were denied; I’m not appealing right now since I feel better).

But the bedrest and forced slow-down helped me immensely. I was able to start to recuperate. We went from eating whatever fast thing I could throw together to eating less-processed fast things I could throw together. *Quick meal tip: you can boil potatoes ahead of time with the skin on and then just scrape or rub the skin off when you’re ready to use it with either your fingers or a spoon edge. Even the big baking potatoes!

I’ve been able to go back to working five days a week, with 1 or 2 of those days being longer than 4 hours. I hope this holds up because the class I’m working in over the summer has two field trips each week starting next week until school starts.

Unfortunately, I also have ADHD, so when I started feeling better I was still too disorganized and scattered to work in “time” for posting. I finally just pushed over the edge this morning to get my foot back in the door.

I’m going to be posting more frequently, but no promises yet as to how frequently (due to being scattered, disorganized, etc). I plan to post on lifestyle “stuff,” which for me will mean posts on the following:

  • homesteading
  • decluttering
  • home management (possibly slanted for someone with chronic conditions that affect memory, as both ADHD and fibromyalgia do)
  • life management – I expect lots of trial and error here
  • vegan recipes – starting with simple smoothies (I make one for breakfast these days)
  • our animals
  • Kaida and her art
  • homeschooling
  • home repair/renovation or random building projects that I do. I’m not trained to build, but I like doing it so, why not? Don’t follow my building advice! Maybe just use my stuff as idea generators.

I’m probably forgetting a lot of what I want to talk about; my brain just stopped. I guess that my clue to wrap it up!

See you next time!

SQUIRREL! Just kidding! I remembered that I want to also post (and maybe even write about) interesting articles I find about ADHD, fibromyalgia, general health/nutrition, or maybe anything else… 😉

One Thing To Know Before Getting Goats

If I could tell everyone one thing before getting any goats (minimum two due to them being herd animals), is the same as in so many other things–buyer beware.

Research what goats need to live healthy and happy and decide if you can provide those things. They should not just be stuck out in a field.

Unlike cattle, goats need their hooves trimmed regularly. They are designed for living on rockier areas that grind down their hooves; pastures just can’t keep up with their growth.

Goats need extra copper. I struggle so much around making sure they all get enough that I honestly can’t figure out where they would get enough copper from in their natural environment. The amount of copper in goat feed and goat minerals is enough to kill a sheep.

Goats are herd animals and need a buddy–preferably a goat buddy. They will cry, loudly, if kept alone. They will also get into trouble trying desperately to escape their solitude to find a friend.

But the number one thing to know before getting into goats–research the breeder you’re buying from! News flash! Breeders may not tell you the entire history of an animal or its parents. I forgot this most important rule when I first got goats.

I made the wise decision of buying does that had already given birth so at least one of us would know what to expect when the time came. Unfortunately, I listened to the wrong advise of a breeder regarding breeding horned goats to polled (naturally hornless goats). She said you can’t breed polled to polled because you would get hermaphrodites. She made it sound like you would get hermaphrodites with every breeding; in actuality, the number is closer to 7%.

Another breeder I bought from sold me an 8-year-old doe because I was looking for a polled doe. I did not know enough to ask about her breeding history–how often she had kidded, how easily she became pregnant, and how long ago she had last kidded. I’ve learned since that she likely has a cyst on her ovary because she has only become pregnant 1 time after 5 months of being with the buck (not the buck’s problem), lost that kid, and never became pregnant again. Her heat symptoms are obvious and regular so the vet said it was likely a cyst. It’s probably treatable, but she’s getting old so I’m kind of leaning toward not trying with her.

Okay, that’s more than one thing to know, but the bottom line is: do your research on your chosen breeders as well as your chosen pet/livestock.

P.S. If you’re interested in some free self-help resources, head over to the Self Help Giveaway 11 for a ton of free stuff!

#blogboost Day 5

Good Things Come In 4s

This past April, we were gifted by a series of baby goats all born within 10 days of each other. It’s especially nice because we will not be having more kids any time soon (moving this year and besides, birth is risky!) so these are our last babies for a while.

First came Marshmallow. A little boy who soon became a bigger boy. He’s from our “tan family,” born to Chelsea. Almost all of the goats in that family (out of Chelsea) are full of personality and fairly dominant. Chelsea has only had boys with us so far, though we know it’s not her fault! Her oldest, PB Fudge “Fudge”, would make a great herd sire if I were ever willing to let him go (he will get his own page after we move). Back to Marshmallow, born April 7, 2016!

Next came Sissa and Bubba, born to Gingie (Gingersnap) on National Siblings Day, April 10, 2016. Sissa was born first and Gingie immediately began cleaning her off. Bubba was born just a few minutes later and had trouble standing. Gingie sniffed him a few times and then turned her attention back to her obviously-much-stronger firstborn. I held Bubba in my coat to keep him warmer while we looked up information online.

In the above picture, Sissa is already standing by Gingie’s head and Bubba is laying down beside her.

Gingie would not take care of Bubba, no matter how many times we tried to put him to her, even after we eventually got him up and walking. So Bubba came inside to start his life; we couldn’t leave him out there when his own mother was butting him away, he would’ve been beaten up and possibly seriously injured or killed by the other goats. If Gingie had tolerated him enough to at least let him lay beside her and maybe stand up to another adult goat to protect, we would have left him out there, but he became our baby.

You can read more about Bubba’s saga here (post by my daughter, Kaida) and here. Long story short, he had white muscle disease, kidney failure, went blind, developed meningitis, and hydrocephalus. He spent two weeks at Virginia Tech being brought back from the brink by round-the-clock care. Thanks forever, Dr. Quynn! He was a candidate to be featured in Virginia Tech’s alumni newsletter, Vital Sign, but in the end was not chosen.

This is Sissa standing beside mom Gingie on the milking stand. We’ve only milked when Bubba was rejected because we had him on mama milk before he went to Virginia Tech. Sissa is not being held in anything, but was trying to stick her head through to see what mom was eating.

Our final baby born last spring was Miracle, born to Prancer on April 13, 2016. She is named Miracle because she was born to our smallest doe. We were sure that Prancer was going to need help with her, but Miracle was walking around with her when we brought Marshmallow back from having been to Virginia Tech to be disbudded (they block some of the nerves in the head and lightly sedate the babies for less pain).

For some weird reason, I couldn’t find any pictures of Miracle taken soon after her birth so here’s one of her and Bubba. Bubba is the smaller one on the right and Miracle the larger on the left. This is after Bubba came back from Virginia Tech and was in the process of learning that he’s a goat instead of a dog.

Get ready for a shock. Remember Sissa, Bubba’s sister? Here she is; check out the size difference!

For size comparisons, this photo was taken on June 15, 2016 and Sissa is normal-sized. Miracle is a little smaller than normal, and Bubba is tiny. Dr. Quynn thinks he might have some signs of dwarfism. Yes, they’re Nigerian Dwarf Goats, but he’s extra small.

Bubba and Marshmallow live together close to the house. They are separate from the big boys and from the main herd because they’re still boys, but I think Bubba will always be better off living separately from the main herd. When he lived out with them between the ages of 1.5 months to 6 months (he didn’t breed; his development was too far behind), he was still picked on by all of the older does and several of the older weathers. Either Marshmallow will stay with him as his permanent friend, or maybe Miracle will. Miracle was the only goat that ever really played with Bubba, probably since they’re so close in size. We’ll keep things as they are until we move, and then we’ll see how the group dynamics are.

P.S. Interesting note about Bubba, when he was living inside, he potty-trained himself to pee in a pan. When the Virginia Tech vets were having trouble collecting a urine sample, I told them to put a pan in his cage and it worked! No fuss, no muss urine sample! Bubba still thinks he’s a dog and will walk into the house with us when we come home from work. He follows us to get the dogs, then walks right out the front door with them when they go out before turning around and looking at us like we conned him!

Getting Ready For Winter And Catching Up

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here because we’ve been busy offline. Raise your hands if you spent days around Thanksgiving traveling! We traveled Wednesday through Sunday, north of us, south of us, and then north of us again. By the way, NEVER, if you can possibly help it, NEVER travel on a highway on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. What normally takes us about 4 hours to drive took 7!!! I now officially think that colleges should stagger their return dates after major holidays.

What else were we doing? Getting the animals set up better for winter! I started with the run-in. I admit I had put off mucking out the run-in for a while (don’t ask), but it’s not as obvious that it’s building up when it’s goat pellets and hay versus when it’s horse or cow droppings. I was picking out the run-in all the time when we had large animals out there! I did not have to clean up after the pigs, because pigs make a different toilet area away from where they eat and sleep.

I needed to clear out the side I use to access the back so that I could more easily get a larger order of hay brought in. It was deep when I started.

 

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It started looking better as soon as I got the hay all off of it, but I still needed to take out the composting stuff.

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I had the brilliant idea of using my little electric tiller to break it up, making it easier for me to shovel out (we don’t have a tractor). That only worked on part of it; part of it was too hard for the tines to get into. I had to use a metal hay fork to break up the layers to shovel them off. Yes, it’s embarrassing to own up to this, but such is life sometimes!

I finally got it dug out to where I could open the gate all the way. I then proceeded to move all of the project wood that I had in the back, rearranged the feed bins, and moved the milking stand. You can see part of the back of the run-in in this picture showing my progress on the floor.

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I called in the hay delivery–40 bales. That’s the largest I’ve ever taken at one time, because I used to have firewood stored in the back of the run-in as well (still working on storing the new firewood). There’s a certain feeling of security that comes from looking at a wall of hay put up for the next 2 months! The empty feed bin in the photo is sitting on top of the milking stand. The next step for this area is filling up all available feed bins!

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Next I moved on to making a shelter for Bubba and Marshmallow since they’re still in the inside yard until they get castrated, hopefully just before Christmas. I was originally planning to build an entirely new shelter in the back behind the inside yard and against the outside wall of the coop extension. That would get them out of the inside yard, but would’ve also put them where they couldn’t easily see the other goats. I started to move plywood and 2x4s out to the area and then decided that I would rather use what I already have instead of building something from scratch and having to worry about whether I had enough plywood, could roof it well enough but simply enough to take apart after a month.

I decided to use the chicken coop. I have posted pictures of the extension before; it’s still the same size. I was on medication over the summer that made me just sweat rivers and could not stand to be outside doing anything. I even gave up the garden. I just felt too bad when I was outside.

I closed off the side that’s open to the extension to help it stay a little warmer inside. I then moved the plywood around on the front so that the door actually is on the same side as the door in the framing (I had not worked out how it would fit together before and did not have the time while I was doing all this to make a door). I added shelves for the goats to get up on and hung two hay racks.

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I have since realized that (1) Bubba and Marshmallow don’t like to go in there and (2) the chickens like to sit on top of the boys’ hay. So I need to figure out how to keep the chickens off the hay in an easily removable way. For Bubba and Marshmallow, I think they need a nightlight. I just purchased this light on Amazon. It’s an outdoor, solar-powered string of lights that costs less than $9 per strand. I bought two; I’m planning on putting one in the coop for Bubba and Marshmallow and one in the run-in for the main herd (does and whethers). The big bucks are in front of the house and get light as long as we leave the porch light on.

outdoorsolarlightsI’m thinking I’ll also block off one side under the front porch for Bubba and Marshmallow to get out of the wind during the day since they like to be on the front and west sides of the house where they can talk to other goats. They can get out of the wind now, but they can’t see anybody else when they go there so they don’t.

What have you been doing to get ready for winter?

What Do I Mean By Vegan Homestead?

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When I bought our property in 2012, we were eating basically a “traditional foods” diet–Paleo but with a small amount of grains such as brown rice or oatmeal. I thought we would be able to try to grow most of our food on our 4 acres, fishing in the pond, eating eggs from our ducks and chickens, getting dairy from our own cow and goats, beef from our own cow, chicken and duck from our older birds, and pastured pig. Life was looking grand.

Until I actually got livestock.

We started off taking 2 free-lease ponies, added 2 miniature cattle (bull and heifer), Image5874 piglets (2 boys, 2 girls), 5 goats (1 boy, 4 girls), and many ducklings and chicks. We discovered that (a) not many people really need to own a bull, especially people with no cattle experience, (b) pigs really are smart and actually can be very nice, (c) everything else in the world wants to eat your birds, and (d) goats are really cute!

So we sold the cattle, which I had no business owning, and the pigs, which would come running to lay down for belly rubs whenever we yelled “piggy love!” We would have kept the pigs for pets if I’d been able to keep them separately and afford to feed them. However, something would have had to been done about the rooting. I know it’s what they’re designed to do, but I now have areas of our pasture where I can’t take the riding mower due to how deep the ruts are and I’m actually afraid that a horse would break a leg in that part of the field. Someday I hope to get it disced.

My daughter, Kaida, had already stopped eating chicken and duck after we got our own birds and she saw how cute they were. She became friends with some of them, being able to hold and pet several of our hens as well as our then-head-rooster, Halloween. Note: all of our original chickens and half of our ducks have been eaten by predators, mostly fox. We did get more chicks recently because they not only helped with bugs, but apparently helped keep the weeds in check. The backyard needs them, badly!

After selling the cows, we were still kind of okay eating beef, but had already stopped eating pork. We just lost interest in eating it; we would always picture our piggies laying down with their eyes closed for belly rubs every time we tried to eat bacon or ground pork. I had to sell the pigs, but I at least sold them to someone who would let them live on pasture without rings in their noses. The goats got to stay because they’re cheaper to feed.

By this time, I knew that I would not be able to butcher anything so I decided that if I couldn’t do it, I at least had to watch how the butchering was done and see if I could be a party to that. No, I could not. A fast shot between the eyes while still out in the field eating would be the ideal way to kill for food, but I decided that we were done with eating animal products since it wasn’t physically necessary. Luckily, Kaida was fine with that since she already didn’t really like eating meat.

Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes would become our staples. fruits_&_veggies

There were also health benefits that encouraged me to pull back from eating animal products. There have been challenges too, but I will cover them in another post.