Char & I adopted some day old kids a couple of weeks ago. They are a variety of La Mancha, Saanen, and Nubian kids and came from the Polymeadows Dairy Goat Farm up the road.
One word: adorable!
We feed them three times a day with bottles and goats’ milk. It is convenient to buy it from Jennifer and Melvin and I’ve enjoyed popping by their farm frequently to get the milk and see what is new there. We talk about farming, kids, the world.
Little Lucia, the tiniest of my new babies, has had a tough go of it. We don’t really know what we’re treating her for. Initially I thought she had pneumonia. I’ve been treating her for “Floppy Kid Syndrome.” I just recently started treating her for “Wimpy Kid Disease.” Nothing very scientific about my diagnosis except that I know when I hear congestion, can read a thermometer to know a fever, can tell when she is in a deep shiver, can observe that she can hardly hold herself up, and can follow her appetite and ability to suckle. I read online, I read in my goat books, I talk to Jennifer, I talk to vets…there have been days on end that I was shoving a spoonful of baking soda down her little throat to try to neutralize her gut in case it was Floppy Kid Disease, there was a period of time when I was dosing her with a rice-sized portion of Banamine to reduce inflammation and pain, and yesterday Jennifer gave me a needle of Bo-Se which I injected her with. The Bo-Se is for a selenium deficiency. I’ve yet to determine if it is really helping or not. It is the latest 24-7 line-item I’ve added to my list of chores.
I’m preparing for the turkey trot this weekend in which I take 25 birds for a ride to Ben Shaw’s Garden of Spices where he helps to process them into delicious Thanksgiving entrees. I realized I will be all alone for that job and am trying to figure out how I’m going to get everyone into the truck by myself. It is easier if there are two people, at least. But now that it is just me and I try to avoid stress as much as possible, I’m brainstorming a new plan. This plan requires a small trailer and a short ramp. I heard a turkey farmer tell me how he put his turkeys in his trailer last year before taking them on their last ride and it sounds effortless. And I know my guys would be happy to tweedle and waddle their way into a trailer with a little grain treat awaiting them. It is just that I don’t own a trailer. And another thing, I’m really bad at backing trailers up. But I figure I could plan ahead and never have to back it up if all goes accordingly. Or worse case, I could ask someone to back it up for me, like Ben. I’m pretty sure he would know how.
I don’t worry too much about these things because, well, you know what our farm’s name is and that is my motto in life.
The sheep had me jumping through hoops all last week. I had a very unfortunate day in which one of the ewe lambs, Winky, got herself into the breeding group. They call it line-breeding.
It was not in the plan.
The unfortunate bit, aside from the unplanned breeding day for 6 month old Winky is that I was farm-touring 1 to 5 year olds that day. I walked the group quickly past the pasture where I’d unsuccessfully tried to fish Winky out and separate the ram from the ewes, saying, “Oh look, we’re almost to the new goats’ home! Oh, look at those turkeys over there! Oh, look at that bunny!” Meanwhile, Balrog and the girls were having a very un-G-rated festival within 20 feet of our tour.
The little ram-lambs are now wethered. That was a bit of excitement as well. Darn little Obaamaa was escaping and getting into the breeding group on a daily basis. I had to get the lasso out again. I was constantly being foiled. I called the vet.
A very, very chatty old doc came out and helped to end their randy-days. He was a new vet that I thought I’d try and I really liked his way with the sheep. He whistled all the time. And talked. The boys were gently handled and though I worried about them feeling the pain of the emasculator-process, they simply fainted in my lap while I held them still. That made the job easier. They had been a bit gimpy but are now well enough to be with the others.
They would be happy to graze but right now I’m keeping them in a stall and it is a heck of a lot easier than chasing them around. Additionally, the very nice news is that they will be moving to a new home soon. My neighbors raise hops for their sons’ brewery and they want to use sheep to keep the weeds down as well as prune the hops’ yard. I’d never heard of sheep grazing for hops’ yards but they say that it is becoming very popular. So the two boys are going to be relocating and I think they are in for a pretty posh upgrade.
When Balrog goes buh-bye, I’m hoping my sheep-tending duties will be minimized and I won’t be so strung out. Crossing fingers.
The Freedom Rangers, all 50 of them, are also ready for the freezer. They are the second batch of meatbirds that I’d raised this year. Hard to believe that I’d sold or we’d eaten the other 50 already.
The 60 layer hens are still not laying. I prefer not to talk about it(but I’m a talk-aholic so it seems I shall talk about it.) It is too depressing. I’ve fiddled with every scenario to determine what is up. I know this: they are gorgeous and healthy. They have a clean and wonderful coop(actually, 2 coops.) They have gorgeously appointed nesting boxes.
Isolating the hens to determine if they were laying their eggs in the woods has not yielded results. I allow them to free range because I believe it is healthiest and most humane.
Some days I wished I had a fancier career so that I could wake up in the morning, have a shower, put a smart outfit on and go to a nice, clean job where at the end of the week I would get a nice, clean check. Instead I fall out of bed in the morning and haul my overalls over my pajamas, trip over three dogs going downstairs that begins the circuit of feeding a lot of animals. I then drive around in my grubbies with my three doggums and talk with gravel-pit people, farm-store help and the like while I fill my truck with the necessaries of my job. At some point in the morning I manage some tea and toast but it is hardly worth washing the dirt out from under my fingernails. There are numerous vet visits for the other pets, volunteer-jobs, a really messy house, a good book that is calling my name, a to-do list that just won’t quit, and a wish-list that I’d like to make a priority.
I do clean up one day a week and teach some little homeschoolers where I am paid in potatoes for my time. They’re really good potatoes.
I’ll guess that smart outfits are probably overrated.
- Turkey trots in the Boston area (boston.com)
- Terrified of Turkey? 5 Alternatives to Roasting a Turkey (thekitchn.com)
- Les Chevres Saanen (cattlebaroness.wordpress.com)
- Peace, Love and Turkeys (jtwhite5.wordpress.com)