Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kid Cam

Aaaaand action!

June is due to kid March 3rd, but that doesn't mean she'll actually kid on schedule. I'd like to make sure I'm there for the kidding, so I got this video baby monitor to use so I didn't have to get out of bed in the middle of the night.

I didn't want to buy a video baby monitor, because they're usually $100 and up. I put an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone had one I could borrow until after the kids are born. A lady about an hour away responded that she had one and I was welcome to borrow it! How nice is that? I mean, this lady didn't know me from Adam and she was willing to let me borrow her not-too-cheap baby monitor! This is just a reminder how people really are caring. Sometimes it's hard to see people that way, but I think deep down most people are genuinely good people.

So I played around with different views in the garagebarn, and I think I like this one. I do think that maybe at night I'll change the view so it's more focused on the dog kennel. I can close June in the kennel at night and have an upclose view of her. The video is in color, and it has sound, so I will be able to hear what's going on as well. I'm just tickled pink over this camera! I can put it right on my nightstand so I can just open my eyes and make sure everything is ok.

The reason I'm so nervous about missing June's kidding is because June has tested positive for CAE, or Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis. CAE is a virus goats get that can cause arthritis in animals, and possibly some neurological problems, though that's not as common as the arthritis. Does with CAE can also have udder problems, like hardness and lack of milk. CAE is actually more common than one might think. It's transferred to babies through their mother's milk. I want to be sure to catch June's babies before they nurse so I can bottle raise them. If she has any bucklings, I may let her raise them though. A goat can also get a false positive if she/he's been exposed to the virus but doesn't actually have it.

I was disappointed when I found out June had CAE because I really did not want to have to bottle any kids. I hated the thought of taking the kids away from June. After working on dairy farms, that's one thing I always hated. Sure, the animals eventually got over it, but you could tell the mommas hated losing their babies. I figure I'll bottle any doe kids June has, and I'll let her raise any buck kids, since bucks won't be passing along CAE through their non-existent milk.

There are no issues with humans drinking milk from a CAE+ doe, so June will still be able to provide milk for our family. She'll continue to be a productive member of the family until she's too arthritic to be bred (if that ever even happens), and then she can retire here. June's mom is an older doe, I think around 11 (?) and she seems perfectly healthy to me, so I'm hoping June won't have any problems either.

The way I see it, CAE is just a minor little glitch in a perfectly nice goat. I already got some cow colostrum from a dairy farm where I used to work, and I have a bag of milk replacer ready for the kids. Now all I need is kids! C'mon June!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

As the Barnyard Turns

I thought I'd update you on the comings and goings of all the animals here. You can never have too many animal pictures, right? Right. Let's start with the chickens, shall we?

First, I'd like to show you what I find every day when I collect eggs.

This is Wanda. Wanda was given to me at the end of August by my friend Lindsay. Lindsay had gotten her from a lady that found her on the side of the road. Wanda was just a little thing...probably only 5 or 6 weeks old. She lived with the broilers until they went to the big freezer in the sky, then she moved into the coop with the adults.

Look what's happened to her. She's gone broody! She wants to be a momma and boy is she dedicated. Every day for a week I took the eggs out from under her and the next day she'd be dutifully sitting on more eggs. Today I decided to let her try out her brooding skills. I left her with 7 eggs: 2 green, 2 big brown ones, 1 smallish brown one that I think is hers, and 1 little bantam egg. We'll mark today as day 1 on the calendar and see what happens!

I opened the coop today to see if the chickens wanted out. Poor birds have been cooped up for over 2 weeks now because of all the snow. A few of them got brave and ventured out, but they didn't stay out for long.

Remember this guy? He is the free exotic chick McMurray Hatchery sent with my broilers last summer. He's finally growing out of his ugly stage. Took long enough! He also earned a name. Chickens have to be able to stand out if they want a name, either with looks or personality. This guy's looks make him stand out. He is now dubbed Fabio. I think it fits, you know, with his long blond flowing locks and all.

He and my other rooster make a nice pair I think.

And check her out. She's the only white chicken I have. Well, she was....

Until this girl hatched out of the Thanksgiving chick batch. This is the only chick that hatched that I'm darn sure who the mom was! They look exactly alike.

And remember this one? Another Thanksgiving chick. I couldn't tell if he was a she or a he. He's definitely a he. See his pointy saddle feathers growing in? I think I'll probably keep him for a while. I'm curious to see what he looks like all grown up.

Ok, enough about the chickens. Let's move to the ruminants. Poor June and Darla have been feeling left out with all the lamb posts.

June is due exactly one week from today, on March 3rd. Her belly is still growing and so is her udder. I'm going to be starting the night-time checks now just so I don't miss the kidding.

And last but not least, Darla has some news....

Got the lab results back this evening. She's PREGNANT!

Her expected lambing date is June 22nd!

That's all the news for now! Oh, guess what's in our forecast for tonight and tomorrow? SNOW. As if we haven't had enough of that this year. :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Docking Time

The lambs are two weeks old today and it was finally time to dock them. I would like to have done it a day or two ago, but first I forgot to buy a vaccine I needed, then I couldn't find my tools. Finally I got everything straight.

Sheep are docked to prevent something called fly strike. Fly strike happens when wooly tails are left on the sheep, which sometimes causes manure to build up on the tail. Flies find this an attractive environment for laying eggs, and soon maggots start eating the sheep, leading to fly strike. Other countries don't dock and don't have issues, but it's generally accepted practice to dock tails here in the US.

I dock using the banding method, which creates an open wound. I like to give a tetanus antitoxin vaccine at docking to make sure the lambs are protected against tetanus. They're covered by passive immunity from their mother (who got the CD/T shot before lambing), but I really want to be safe. Some people skip the antitoxin shot, and that's ok too. This is just how I do it.

I could only find single dose vials of the antitoxin at the feed store yesterday, so I grabbed two of them. This can be given IM (intramuscularly) or sub-q (subcutaneously).

Next come the tools. This is a rubber band that is used with docking and castrating. The band is placed around the tail or testicles, and cuts off the circulation which kills the tissue. Eventually the tail/testicles will dry out and fall off.

This is called an Elastrator. This tool spreads the rubber band so you can place it around the tail or testicles.

The band gets placed around the 4 prongs of the Elastrator, and when you squeeze the handles, the band opens.

There is much controversy over the proper place to dock. People who own show animals prefer to dock as close to the body as possible, some even going so far as to have the tail surgically removed. I used to show, but never really was a fan of the ultra-short docking. Some believe this close docking (for purely cosmetic reasons) leads to rectal prolapse (exactly what it sounds like) in sheep. Show people argue that prolapses are caused over genetics and feeding, not docking. I disagree. I think improper feeding and genetics may also lead to rectal prolapses, but I think sheep evolved with tails and removing too much of the tail alters the skeletal and muscular structure of the sheep making it more prone to prolapse. Ok, enough controversy. A generally more accepted location for docking is at the distal end of the caudal tail fold. What does that mean, you ask?

Well, on the underside of the tail (head being cranial end of body, tail being caudal end) there's a webbing of skin (or "fold")on either side. The end of the fold that is farthest away from the body (distal) is the best* place to place the band. The caudal fold helps direct feces away from the body, so it's helpful to leave it intact.

Now it's time to place the band on the tail. I was working solo today, so I used the self-timer on the camera to help me get the shot. David works later than I do, so I could have waited for him to get home, but then my lighting for pictures would have been gone.

If I'm by myself, I hold the lamb between my knees so he/she can't go anywhere. The band gets slid up the tail into the correct position.

I usually double check and sometimes triple check to make sure I have the band in an ok location before I let it close. Once I let the band close, I use one hand to slide the band off the prongs.

Here you can see the band is placed at the distal end of the fold.

This method of docking does cause some pain, as does any method I think. The lambs generally act a little wonky (some throwing themselves on the ground, getting up and down, etc) for about 10 or 15 minutes, but after that I think the tail starts to get numb. They get a nurse from mom and then they seem fine.

The tail usually is totally numb by the next day. Some people prefer to cut the tail off a day or two after banding, but I just leave it on. I make sure to check for any signs of infection, and treat if needed. Tails usually fall off in a few weeks. Testicles don't usually take as long, since the scrotum is just soft tissue.

Oh, and I've decided to name the ewe lamb Poppy! And check out her reach here. See the tan spot on her hind leg? Cute!

*In my opinion.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Presents and Some Pictures!

My seed order came in from Johnny's! Woo hoo! Now I just need to wait for the snow to melt and for the soil to warm up. Only a few more weeks months.

My teat dip came in! It was backordered when the rest of the goat stuff came in. To answer the question Kelly from Mainely Ewes left in the comments (will I use a teat spray to prevent mastitis), I'm going to wash her udder before milking with soap and water, and I'll dip her teats with the dip after milking. This teat dip gets mixed with water and makes a gallon total. It's got Chlorhexadine as the active ingredient, so it should be really good at preventing bacteria from entering the teats. [For those of you who may not be familiar with milking, when you milk an animal their teat sphincters (the muscle that controls the opening of the teats) gets relaxed and can let bacteria enter after milking. The dip will help close up the sphincters and kill any bacteria that may be lurking].

I also finished my fingerless mittens! They're not exactly the same. There are few little things like the thumbs and the length of ribbing on the cuff. I tell ya what, those thumbs were no the easiest things in the world to knit. I like the second (blue one) one better. I also didn't correctly bind off the ribbing at the top of the mitten. I was supposed to bind off in a ribbing fashion, but the video online made it look tricky so I gave up and just made up my own way to bind off. Oh well!

I could also stand for the palm part to be a tad longer. I'm happy with the way they turned out though!!

I took a few pictures in the garagebarn today. The chickens were piling into the "good" spot of sun. I think they all have to have the same spot even if there are several other sunny spots.

I also managed to get these cool pictures of the lambs.

I love this one best.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I've Got Presents!

My milking supply order came in this week! I'm so excited. I love buying myself presents!

I ordered from two separate places. I got the 6 qt. stainless pail and the teat dip cup (blue lid) from Hamby Dairy Supply. I ordered them on Monday (a holiday) and the order came on Wednesday! Talk about awesome service. These items were both much cheaper from Hamby's than from Hoegger, even with shipping. I try to save money whenever possible!

The remaining items were ordered from Hoegger Goat Supply. I also placed this order on Monday and the items arrived today. Still not bad! I got a colostrum supplement (just in case), a container of Dynamint Udder Cream, a very cool stainless steel strainer that fits mason jars, filters to fit the strainer, nice cheesecloth (for when I eventually make cheese), plastic screw on lids for mason jars so I don't have to mess with the 2 part metal lids. The only thing that was on backorder was the teat dip concentrate, which hopefully will come in soon.

Only about 2 weeks before June is due!! I'm so excited. I've been feeling her lower right side belly lately, and I can feel the baby(ies) moving! Very cool.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Week Old!

The lambs are one week old today! I thought I'd celebrate by giving you these few videos. I still haven't named them. I'm not sure I'm going to name the ram lamb. I'm thinking he'll probably be raised for the freezer, so I'm not sure I should name him. I try not to get too terribly attached when I know we might eat something. He's so friendly, much more so than his sister. He loves chest scratches. I'll have to post a video of that some day.

And here's a video of the crooked neck chicken. She's looking a little more normal now-and very curious!

I brought a garbage bag full of shredded paper from the paper shredder at work. The chickens have been in their coop for over a week straight now, and their shavings were getting a little gross looking. I'm not sure when I'll be able to get more shavings, so I figured the paper would work until then. Hopefully they won't get wet and form a slippery wet surface. That'd be bad.

I'm going to go knit some more. I've finished one fingerless mitten and I'm working on the second!

Monday, February 15, 2010

On the Needles

Every day since our fun knitting weekend, I've been haunted by the skeins and skeins of yarn we brought home. Up until last night, I'd been so intimidated by the gorgeous yarn that I haven't knitted anything! I'd been debating which yarn to use for which project, will it be a good enough project for the yarn? Will I want that yarn for something else later? Can I even knit that pattern?

Finally I just made myself pick a pattern and a yarn and cast on. I did last night, and I'm so glad! I get so caught up in the new stitches I'll have to learn, and I need to just realize it's ok to take it one step at a time!

This is the fingerless mitten pattern from One Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Store Favorites. I'm using this gorgeous Paint Box yarn, which I believe came from my Aunt Linda. It's the Borealis color. Look at all the awesome colors it comes in!

I can't wait to see how they knit up. I'll enjoy relaxing and knitting today, because it's back to work for me tomorrow. I've enjoyed the time off for the blizzards, but eventually I have to get back to the real world. Did you know it's already halfway through February?! Where does the time go?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

David and I aren't really big into the whole Valentine's Day thing, as far as buying gifts goes, but I wanted to go all out and make a nice breakfast this morning, since it's our first married V-Day.

We had heart-shaped pancakes, eggs, bacon, and English muffins. I made berry syrup, and put berries in our "bubbly" (in this case, Ginger Ale).

I was excited to use my little cow creamer. I'm a dork, I know this.

I tried to make the table look like one of Posie Gets Cozy's table settings. She always makes things look so pretty and home-y. Like this one. I love how colorful everything is at her house.

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Take time today to tell all your special someones how you feel about them!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Thursday

Yesterday David and I decided to go for a bit of a drive and see how things were looking around town. The snow sure does make everything pretty!

Here's the river that divides our county from the next. The town where David grew up (and where we used to live) sits right on the banks of the river. We're not far from it, because our new house is just outside of town .

You can see where the original plow line was, back near the telephone pole. There is a huge field to the left, and the snow is blowing terribly and creeping back into the road.

We saw several of these...

I wanted to climb up these snow mountains, but there wasn't really a good place for David to pull off the road, so I just ran out and he snapped a quick picture. The snow was mounded up higher than the truck on both sides of the road!

This is our backyard...that's a 4' high mesh fence!

And here's the arbor into the chicken yard. The snow is mounded up underneath me, so I'm standing well above the actual ground. You can see how tall the arbor is by looking at the fence. The fence is 4' tall, so the arbor is probably a little over 6'.

We took the kids to the grocery store so we could get a few minor things for dinner. I don't think they'd been able to get any shipments of things for a few days. Either that, or the perishable items were perishing.

Here's the chicken section...

And the bread. Though this could be because there was a mad rush for bread before the storm.

Then we came home and all helped make a snowman. Please don't pay attention to the hat Kylee is wearing. It says, "Baby Girl." We didn't buy it for her. I don't care for things like that, and I don't want you judging me. LOL!!!

I still have that annoying blog on the camera. I have wiped the lense. No luck. Maybe it's something inside? I told David I needed a new camera, but he didn't go for that. Hopefully I can figure out how to clean it. It's annoying me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Blizzard!

We're in the middle of blizzard # 2 in a 7 day period. Yep, that's right. We got 26" of snow on Saturday. Now it's Wednesday and we're in the 12-18" range of snowfall predicted. A tiny part of me loves all this's gorgeous, and it's kinda fun being snowed in. The rest of me is sick of it. It's cold, sometimes it's boring being snowed in, and it makes life much harder. I'm *trying* to stay positive though.

The poor birds outside need help in these crazy conditions, so I've been making sure the feeders stay full. I'll be honest, until this storm, I hadn't fed the birds in months. I didn't even know if we'd have any if I bought food, but I bought it just in case. I filled the feeders Saturday morning and sprinkled some seed on the snow, and within just a few hours we had birds!!

I decided it'd be a good project for us to make some nice treats for the birds. We spread peanut butter on a piece of bread...

And then sprinkled on crushed peanuts, sunflower seeds, and chopped raisins.

Ta-daa! Mine, Kylee's, and Devin's.

Then we went out and put our bread on the mound of snow in front of one of the feeders. Thanks to David for taking this picture.

The kids were excited. We all stood in front of the mudroom door and waited....and within a few minutes the birds were chowing down!

Speaking of chowing down....I made this "blizzard" cake today. A yummy coconut cake!

And when it's cold, what's better than snuggling with a friend?

Or two friends?
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