Thursday, September 28, 2017

B1 The "Vitamin" Goat

They say a picture paints a thousand words. If that is true, then I have millions of words in pictures just waiting for their debut in our blog. In keeping with that philosophy, I pulled out one of our favorite "story pictures" to share with you.

Meet B1. Short for "Boy 1" half of our Saanen twin comedy team of B1and B2.

B1's life started out pretty normal for a goat. We bought him with his brother and half sister last Spring 2012. They hung out with the rest of the flock doing brush busting patrol. Since they were younger then the rest of my flock they also got in a lot of lawn munching time, so I could get them tame. By the end of the summer, they were just as spoiled as the rest of the caprine crew on our homestead.

 B1 was a healthy robust boy until early last winter.  When the temps. started to get down in the 30's B1 started to get a bit lethargic. Since B1 tended to be a bit more laid back than B2, I didn't put much thought into him having a real health problem. He was still eating fine and drinking water. Little did I know that B1's health was about to take a nose dive...

Sunday morning came and Brad went out to get a full day of homestead chores completed. Saturday is our Sabbath, so Sunday is our work day to get  projects done on the homestead. This particular Sunday, Brad intended to work on getting the sides covered in our pallet goat shelter.  When he went out into the pasture, he found B1 in a twisted heap wedged between the back of the shelter and the woven wire fence. His first thought was the goat was dead from a broken neck. B1's neck was twisted all the way back and around the side of his body. He appeared lifeless until Brad tried to pull him out of the tight space he was wedged into.

Brad knew that something was seriously wrong with B1. He was practically lifeless and had no muscle control. His neck was still turned around almost parallel to his side and he could not straighten it out. It was obvious B1 needed immediate care. He was not able to stand and was not blinking his eyes. It was like he was paralyzed. Brad scooped him up and rushed him into the house.

 We put a rug down on the floor and covered him with a blanket to warm him up.  I made up a "goat totty" of warm water, black strap molasses, Red Cell and electrolytes to get him hydrated. He needed water and some form of calories to keep him going until I could figure out what the problem was. I had never seen this type of paralysis in an animal.

B1 was barely able to drink. I had to massage his throat to get him to swallow. I didn't have a drench tube, so I was only able to get an ounce or so in him at a time. It took me over an hour to get 12 ounces of Goat totty in him. My concern was he needed water and nutrients as quickly as possible. If he couldn't swallow or show any signs of digestion (cud chewing) he was in serious danger of dying.

What is wrong with this goat?  I fired up my PC and started searching on the Web for answers. My first choice was to do a search on his symptoms.  What I found was a huge array of possible answers from snake bite, to spider bite, possible spinal cord injury, parasites in the brain, nutritional imbalance, etc. Ok, sooooo this covers EVERYTHING and  yet tells me nothing. At least I am somewhat smarter as to what MIGHT be the problem. Guess I need to do a thorough exam on B1 and see if his body will reveal a clue.

 "OK B1, let's see if I can discover the problem that you can't tell me about." It was easy to go over B1 for his exam. He couldn't move or protest to the handling or probing. I did notice that his gum color was much better then when Brad first brought him in. He was now blinking his eyes and occasionally an ear would twitch.
 There were no marks on his body, no skin discoloration or swelling from a poisonous bite. His one back leg was contracted at the fetlock joint (ankle) but, did not appear broken or injured. Ok, nothing here. Let's see what's going on with his neck.

Brad rolled B1 up on his belly, he couldn't hold his head up. When I gently straightened out his neck and then released his head, his neck and head will still roll back to his left side every time. I moved his head to the right side of his body and his neck would still move back around to the left. He didn't show signs of pain and his neck wasn't swollen anywhere. The vertebra seemed fine. So, the neck works but contracts to the left. His left rear foot is also contracted. His body functions are fine but he can't control his extremities. Is there something wrong with his muscles?

Back to the PC I went with my new set of search terms. Maybe this time, I could discover the problem.  Within a couple of minutes I managed to find what looked like a possible answer. B1 could have some kind of vitamin deficiency. That could explain why he was showing some slight, but positive signs of movement from the totty I was giving him. There were a number of different types of vitamin/mineral deficiencies that could create muscle control problems. I had no way of knowing for certain what he needed. The best I could do was keep pumping my "home brew" tonic in him. My new goal was to keep B1 alive long enough to get him to the vet on Monday.

The next morning B1 was feeling better. He could stand with help, but couldn't stay standing on his own. The only way he could stand was to put him in a large tote container so his legs would not splay out from under him. His left read foot was still turned backwards and his neck was still turned to his left side.

I called the vet and was fortunate that Dr. B could see me right away. I wrapped B1 in a blanket and laid him in the back of my car. He was still somewhat paralyzed and couldn't move around well. Our vet is only 15 minutes away, so B1 wouldn't have to stress too much before we got there. He lay quietly in the rear of my hatch back much to my relief. I was taking him alone and if he did get up and start moving, I had no way to restrain him.

Within minutes after registering B1 as a new patient, Dr. B was able to examine him. It didn't take him long to find the problem. B1 was suffering from goat polio. Now, this is not like the polio that humans get. The polio that B1 was experiencing was due to an acute "B" vitamin deficiency! Poor B1 was lacking in vitamin B1 and all the other B number vitamins!

Dr.B explained that at certain times of the year, goats experience changes in vitamin levels due to seasonal changes in pasture grasses. B1 was experiencing just enough of a lack of the needed B vitamins to cause him problems with muscle control. This is why he was experiencing the muscle contractions and also lack of motor control in his neck and legs.

Fortunately for B1, the treatment was simple. A shot with a big dose of the B vitamins plus meds to help him with the muscle contractions. Dr. B told me that it could take a week or more for him to fully pull out of this. He also said, that there was the possibility it could happen again. I would need to keep a good quality loose mineral available for him so he would not have a relapse.

While I was happily relieved B1 would recover, I was confused as to the diagnosis.  All my goats are on the same pasture. We have good quality pasture with a nice variety of grasses. Why was only B1 affected?  When I asked Dr. B about this, his response was each animal responds to low nutrient levels differently. The one thing he was certain of was all of our goats were probably lacking their B vitamins at some level.  B1 was just the first goat to indicate the problem.

I thanked Dr. B for saving my "vitamin goat, loaded up B1, paid the bill ($118.00 including meds) and drove straight to the Co-Op to pick up mineral supplements for the flock. So far, I'd spent 118 bucks to learn my goat had a vitamin deficiency. I could have avoided my darling boy getting ill (and the vet bill), if I had spent 30 bucks in minerals prior to the pasture dying back for winter.

This is one of those Farm bills I record as a 3E (Emergency Expense Experience) incident. You end up spending money you really don't have on incidents you didn't plan for.  These 3E incidents are usually preceded by lack of follow through in completing a 2M (Maintence Math) task. A 2M is the funds you need on hand to do the regular maintenance of your farm, equipment and animal care.

Here is how the whole Farm equation is set up:  You have a regular farm task that you have not kept up with like you needed to.  This lack of attention to a particular task is due to one of two things: You forgot about it or funds were not available due to a 2C (Cash Crunch) experience.  There is also the third scenario: you were in the midst of a 2C, could not perform the 2M and forgot the task. I'm leaning toward scenario 3, as I had made several trips to the Co-Op, but didn't have the funds to purchase everything I needed due to dealing with a 3E.

When we got home I dosed B1 with more liquids and made him comfy on the floor. I needed to go tend to the rest of the flock and put out the minerals for them. Brad got home shortly after I came back in from critter duty. I explained the diagnosis and how we would have a house goat for a week or more until he could fend for himself. Brad was OK with leaving him in the house (he now has goat fever too) and helped me take care of him...Brad style.

My husband grew up in the suburbs. He was not a farm boy by any stretch of the word. He did love animals and liked visiting his farmer cousins in the summers as a kid. At no time had he ever experienced farm animals in his house. Until now...we had a sick goat that needed care and keeping him in the house was our only viable option. Thankfully, he was completely Ok with it. Brad offered to keep watch of B1 so I could get my household tasks done. I was delighted he volunteered as I really needed his help for a bit. As I left the room, he and B1 were stretched out on the living room floor doing some farmer to goat bonding.  Sweet.

HELP! I Need More "Around To Its"?

You know the old saying, "The time and the tides wait for no man" is so true. I've also found that the homesteading life doesn't take a break either.  Every day something pops up like an unwanted thistle to add more stickers to your already overgrown field of time eating Git'r Done tasks. Your list gets longer...some things get moved up and others moved down according to need or demand, and some things get temporarily forgotten. When the forgotten thought does manage to squeeze into the narrow barn aisle of your mind, your next thought is that you'll get "around to it" soon. Uh huh...yeah, soon. NEXT....

So, what is so time consuming that I forgot/put off posting on our blog...for over a year...seriously?

There were numerous mechanical incidents, chicken chasing and butchering, hay hauling, goat milking, horse handling, grass mowing, fence building and repair, canning almost endless quarts of tomatoes, taking care of elderly family, helping friends, fellowship and just plain LIFE that got in the way.  I simply ran out of Around To Its and the blog didn't get posts. Around-To-Its are as scarce as hens teeth around here! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it (thank you Colin Ray). 

Speaking of Around-To-Its: I don't know of one single LIVING person who actually has a completed Around-To-It list. I'm not sure I even want to meet anyone without a list, I mean...what would we talk about? I can see me meeting one of these folks at the feed store and them asking me the loaded question, "Stayin' busy?" I just smile, and with a flip of my wrist we watch my Git'r Done List unroll between the feed pallets...all the way to the end of the loading dock.  Once  those completed list folks see size of my Git'r Done List what can they say...they got nothing to show...or maybe...they do.

Hey... you think those folks who don't have a Git'r Done List might have a " Got'r Done List? Whoa...that's a sobering thought.  I'm not sure my little homesteading, pea picking, chicken chasing, teat squeezing, heart could stand to see it. Dang, if one of those folks whipped out a Got'r Done List the size of mine, those guys on the loading dock would have to scoop me up, put me in a feed bag, and toss me in the truck bed.  Having a COMPLETED Git'r Done List is a totally foreign concept to those of us steeped in the bottomless Git'r Done List tradition. 

So that's my story. I found one Around-To-It and used it to write this blog post. I could really use thousands more Around-To-Its to get the blog going as I intended. I have hundreds of pics and stories to go with all of them. I intend to share them just as soon as I get silage wagon full of Around-To-Its.

So if you are one of the Git'r Done folks, I know you most likely don't have extra Around-To-Its lying around. I feel ya homie, I really do.  However, if you are one of the Got'r Done types, please  have mercy and do me a huge favor...

Can you spare a few extra Around-To-Its for a  homesteader sister in need? 
Oh please, I know you got'em on you...could hear 'em jingling in your pockets...
as you walked down to the end of loading dock...
to help me roll up my scroll. 

Thank you!!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter is Here. Let Indoor Hunting Season Begin!!!!

Homesteading in the middle of nature invites lots of opportunities to interact with wildlife. While most of my experiences are outdoors, some of them  (by no invitation) occur in my house.  When cold weather arrives outside, it heralds the arrival of field mice...and Indoor Hunting season.

On the first sighting of a mouse turd, Indoor Hunting season begins! I am in full blown Terminator mode to assassinate any rodent who dares cross over the line into my "indoor dwelling space."  Every mouse turd is interpreted as a sign of defiant disrespect. Every turd is a mark of REBELLION to my decree that all rodents stay OUTSIDE and eat only from the bird feeder.

If you've ever trapped mice, you've probably found one still alive. Not every assassination attempt is successful. Occasionally, I'll find a mouse trapped and practically unharmed. They might be caught by a leg or the tail. Live mice in a trap is not something I want to find. I want them DEAD in the trap.

The only good thing about catching a live mouse is the opportunity to revert to Plan B: Catch and Release. This means that I walk my trapped quarry out to the edge of our yard, and release them into the "wilds" at the edge of the property. I do this ONLY to create fear and panic in the local rodent population. The freed mouse can share with its brethren personal Intel of the horrors that await them if they enter my house. So far, I have not caught any mice that I previously trapped.

So far, the I. H. season has been good. In 3 weeks, I've had 5 kills and one C.n.R.  I even almost caught one by the tail with my bare hands! It tried to escape off my pantry cart while I was rolling it out into my kitchen. It just barely got its tail out of my grasp as it dived off the side of the cart. You should have seen the mirth on my husband's face as I excitedly told him how CLOSE I was to pegging that mouse and escorting him by the tail back out into the wilds! I don't know if that mouse ended up dead in a trap or the one I released. Either way, he is NOT in my house.

I have upped my I.H. game this year. I am deep cleaning areas in search of mouse nests (found one nest under my kitchen sink in my food gloves box). I am using more snap traps and have changed up the baits available.

Currently, I am rotating between  seriously sharp cheddar cheese, natural peanut butter or almond butter for bait.  I figure if this is their last meal, the first taste should be a LASTING one....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chickens, Mulch Nirvana and Good Neighbors

There is an old song "When life hands you lemons, start making lemonade" that is pertinent to what has been happening here for us on the homestead.  There are perks and pains with all things in life and lately...we've had more pains than perks.

It all started with having to get rid of my chickens. They were roaming off our property and bothering our neighbors. We penned them up and they still found ways to go rearrange our neighbors perfectly manicured and mulched yard.

Anyone who has chickens KNOWS that a mulch pile is the perfect "chick magnet" for them. What we see as a mulch pile, they see as "chicken nirvana" and will travel miles to pay homage to it. After a number of trips to keep the chickens out of the neighbors yard, I called up a couple farming friends and found homes for them. It worked out well, as I can still get eggs from some of my girls. They are on farmsteads where they can free range and go "bugging" to their hearts content.

I miss my chickens but, I don't miss the anxiety of them wreaking havoc with our neighbors. Growing up farming I completely understand the concept of "good fences make good neighbors." When you have animals, it is your job to keep them fenced in. Even with living in the boonies, you can have neighbors who prefer a golf course yard and perfectly manicured flower beds.

I like my neighbors and cherish our relationship with them. I also understand that we are the "newcomers" and therefore need to conform to the area we moved into. This credo is something I understand as I grew up just outside of an Old Order Mennonite community.

When you move into a community, you need to conform to the standards set, not try and change the standards. I witnessed this many times as an adult living in the suburbs. It seem "Burbs people" don't like farm smells, following along behind tractors, seeing animals have farm sex, etc. it baffled me that these people love the "idyllic country side but don't want to deal with the life style that makes it so idyllic to start with.

Oh well, if you can't take the farm smells you need to go back to the city. I'd much prefer following a tractor than bumper to bumper traffic and smelling manure instead of exhaust fumes. Most of us have a choice where we live and "to each their own" as the saying goes.  I also have my "own" and I choose the COUNTRY!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Look Up My Dear and See, a Mower Swinging in a Tree...

So, my last post was in May when we acquired our dandy little "Zippy" the Zero Turn Mower.  Since then I have not mowed the yard ONE time. My darling hubby has taken over all the mowing now. He is delighted to come home from work, change clothes and go dancing with Zippy all over our yards and fields. Personally, I am equally delighted. Mowing isn't my thing.

Getting Zippy removed me from having to mow. It also left me more time to do other things that need work, like weeding...sigh. Some weeds I have learned to eat. The others, have to go. Picking and choosing your battles with nature is just one of many homesteading skills you acquire.

I have learned that one of the skills required for successful homesteading is to practice the process of "elimination through acclimation. "The exercise is to simply  practice accepting the "thing" that bothers me until it becomes just a daily fixture on the homestead. If I can't get rid of something I don't like on the homestead, I need to adjust to it being there. Easier said than done.

Just one of the many things that I struggle to acclimate myself to is dead and dismembered lawn mowers. We have an entire family of dead, mowers and weed eaters of all types and sizes scattered around the front of Brad's shop. Some have been there for so long, they support their own ecosystem for the local wildlife. For example: Just recently, I went to move a dead push mower and found a rabbit nest. How cute! A little fur lined abode complete with a dead mower sun porch. Those bunnies have it made!

 Last year's walk through the mower graveyard was much more exciting. I picked up a disassembled push mower skeleton in my path to the shop storage. To my horror, I found an active  nest of ground bees. They were not happy I pulled the roof off their home. The bee incident led me to discover something entirely new about myself: I can run much faster when pumped full of fear and adrenaline. Nothing like an angry bee induced sprint for your life to get your heart rate up.

I have also discovered that old riding lawn mower frames make excellent trunk supports for young sapling trees. Seriously, the engine compartment protects the young tree and it grows straight up through the topless frame. Should this new found tree support information become a landscaping fad, we could make a tidy sum from our dead mowers.

 My husband has acclimated to this "tree in the mower" scenario. For me...not even close.

I can see it 30 years folks who visit our homestead will walk by the shop and gaze up into the boughs of the sycamore trees...their contented gaze transforms into a wide eyed stare of disbelief...among the leafy branches, suspended 25 feet in the air, behold...a rusted Yard Man riding lawnmower!...impaled directly through the once empty engine compartment by an ever widening tree trunk. Around the trunk, inside the engine compartment...several families of Purple Martins have nested and are busy raising their young.

A closer look as this bizarre sight reveals a  large squirrel nest firmly entrenched inside the ragged mower seat. Their gaze of amazement travels along the contorted frame to the front of the mower to see a rusted, twisted front axle...supporting a huge hornets nest swinging gently in the summer breeze.

Hmmmm...wonder how long it would take me to acclimate to this "mower in a tree" situation? I've been looking at it every day for 3 years...ain't happened yet.

I have decided this "strange but true" mower scenario will NEVER happen.  There is no way, my future "80 something" self will have to embarrassingly explain why we have a dead riding mower  stuck in a tree 25 ft. in the air.

This is one instance of where "Elimination through Acclimation" transforms into "Acclimation BY Elimination."  I am firmly convinced that after 3 years, I can easily acclimate to NOT seeing dead mowers and their rusted parts swinging in the tree tops. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I CAN adapt to not seeing disembodied mowers litter the area in front of our shop.

Soon, (when it gets too cold for bees and snakes) I'm going to do a body count of all those mowers and their disassembled parts. Once I have idea of what's out there, I'll call the local scrap yard and have them come pick it up. We'll even make a bit of cash from selling the "s'crap" we won't use.

I figure it will be much easier for the scrap man to come get the mowers now. Otherwise, we'll need to hire a tree trimming company to do it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

So, I got a Zero Turn mower and...

A couple weeks ago I cashed out what was left of my old 401K. With the economy looking ready to tank, I figured I better use it before Uncle Sam keeps it for himself. Now that I had the cash, it was time to get some things we needed for the homestead.

Of the many things we could put that cash on, we really needed a decent mower for the yards, around the garden and along our driveway. We had several dead riding mowers that Brad simply did not have time to repair, and I had been mowing all this with an old push mower. All that mowing took hours each week and I needed that time for other jobs. We decided to find a used Zero Turn mower to save me time (and to save Brad my nagging to fix the broken mowers).

I found a great deal on a small Zero Turn on my favorite shopping site...Craigslist. It seems the mower was being sold due to divorce and the owners wanted a quick sale. Well, I had cash, the sale was quick and within a few days, the little blue Zero Turn was unloaded in my drive way.

Okey dokey! I'm cookin' with gas now! I've got my mower and I'm ready to kick some butt/roots on all those weeds, wild onion and assorted thistles in our yard. I'm in full blown weed decapitation mode. All those undesirables are about to become mulch beneath my blade! Hah, ha, ha, HAH, HAAAAH! I got a Zero Turn and...I have NO IDEA how to use it. Nothing like getting a pin prick of reality to burst my happy bubble of  weed mulching madness.

Thankfully, the guy who dropped off the mower gave me a quick lesson in how to use it. He's happily explaining all the technical details and all I'm hearing is "Blah, blah ,turn the key to the right, blah, blah, blah, pull the gear lever up, blah,blah." I'm standing there nodding my head, feigning interest and thinking to myself "It can't be that hard to run this thing, GIVE ME THE KEY!" If I can drive our tractor, I'm sure I can figure this out.

Right about the time I decided to just take the key and mow off into the sunset, Brad came home from work. He spoke to the delivery guy and told him that HE would show me how to use the mower.  Ok...I get a Zero Turn lesson from the Hubster. Cool. He knows how I am, so this should only take about 10 seconds of his time. I can handle that.

Brad gave me the brief run down and then took the mower for a "test mow" in the yard. I'm watching that cute little blue mower do a "from pasture to park" makeover on our yard. Oh my...that is just tooooooooo sweet. Honey, I just LOOOVE this mower! I think I can handle it. Do you mind if I MOW NOW?

Brad was happy give me a turn (after 10 minutes or so). I planted my backside in the seat, pulled the handles together in front of me, put my foot on the gas pedal and took off down the drive way. Within minutes I realized I was waaaaay over mounted. In horseback riding terms, you are over mounted when your riding skills are vastly inferior to the training of your horse. If I didn't slow down, my next high speed zero turn was probably going to land me in the hospital.

My little blue mower (now named Zippy) was a lot faster and responsive then any mower I'd been on. I went from being hell bent for leather to decapitate weeds, to driving like my granny to keep from being tossed off on a turn. Zippy was fast, powerful and would turn on a dime. My past experience involved mashing the gas pedal just to get our mower moving, and my turn was more platter size. Driving Zippy was like the difference between driving a pedal car and a Ferrari. Nothing like a heart pounding reality check  to make me adjust my mowing skills.

Twenty minutes later, I was actually comfortable mowing on Zippy. I was mowing around trees, trimming along the fence line and grinning like a fat mouse in cheese heaven watching all those knee high weeds become fine mulch. Every pass around the yard reaffirmed that buying Zippy was a good investment. I can mow in record time and Brad gets a little more peace of mind...sort of.

Since we bought Zippy, Brad mows more then I do! Seems, he enjoys mowing now. What he doesn't realize is that less mower time for me, means I now have more time to nag him about other things. ;-p

Just kidding! Honey, I am SO HAPPY you love mowing with Zippy! I'll go get you a glass of iced tea. Love YOU!

The Never Ending "To Do: List!

Have you ever had a "To Do" list that you ran out of paper at the bottom? There you are...writing away on that list (that looks kinda like a scroll) and you unroll it a bit more and more paper! Well, that's what it seems like our life has been around here over the last 6 months. We had more tasks then paper to write them on.

Actually, I am doing the happy dance about running out of list paper. That makes me focus on getting things done that are ALREADY ON THE LIST.  Brad and I have been up to our eyeballs it seems with multitasking too many things and not getting nearly enough of them completed. It's frustrating to look around the homestead and see dozens of started projects that are awaiting completion. Most of what is incomplete is due to one or more of the following situations:
1. Lack of funds for parts or repair
2. Lack of a sufficient block of time to get it done in a day
3. All the Above

Take for example our ancient tractor. The three point hitch weld broke for the umpteenth time and Brad decided to totally remove it to have it professionally welded. While he was at it, he also removed other parts so we could get the front hydraulics repaired also. Doing this involved removing the back tires so now we have an amputee geriatric tractor on blocks by our shop. "Ole Yaller" has been on blocks for at least 6 months now...and counting. We have a perfectly good Brush Hog and front blades work with and no working tractor to hitch them to.

So, you might think, "Big deal, the tractor is missing in action...that's just one fly in the ointment of farm life." Well, let me tell you, that is one BIG FLY!  When the tractor was dismantled, we thought it'd be back in action within a paycheck or two, or three or four. Fixing it didn't happen due to funds having to go other places. So, the To Do list got a lot longer just by the tractor being out of commission. Here's a short list of what  Ole' Yaller has waiting for him when he finally gets rolling:

1. Pushing all the dirt back to fill in our drainage ditches. Our back and side yards, picnic area and part of our goat paddock looks like it's occupied by giant moles...not pretty!
2. Mowing pastures that are now so tall the goats can HIDE in them. Thankfully, they love me and I never have to FIND them.
3. Moving the small mountain of gravel that is parked in MY parking spot in front of the house.
4. Drilling holes for fence posts...never have enough fencing.
5. Just being ready to do whatever we need a tractor for!

I must say that I am not complaining. I'm just stating the "cause and effect" that happens on a homestead when just a few things are out of whack. I'll be a very happy camper when our tractor is fixed, my favorite Little Blue farm truck is resurrected from the dead, my milking stanchion head stall  is repaired, the rest of the new fence is put up, the water line is run out to the barn, my outdoor canning kitchen is get the picture.