Monday, October 13, 2008

Getting ready for winter

We had a busy weekend, but we still have a lot to do before the arrival of winter. Mike is working hard to finish up the fencing for the sheep in the east pasture. Their regular pasture is adjacent to the hayfield, so this time of year, we will be letting them into the hayfield to harvest their own food and fertilize the field. You can see from the picture how they've eaten a lot of the green grass in the section where they are grazing. We use Electro-net from Premier to limit them to specific strips of grass. Next year, rotational grazing will be much more important for managing the growth of the grass. This fall, we're mostly doing it because the whole hayfield is not properly fenced for sheep yet.

We're not sure what to do about this tree. It looks like it's going to fall right where we need to put a new woven wire fence for the hayfield, which is currently fenced in old barbed wire. A lot of the fencing work around here involves removing old rusty barbed wire, since that's what a former owner used. At least once or twice a year, a dead or dying tree falls on one of those fences, and we don't get too upset since those types of fences are worthless to us. I wanted Mike to stand next to the tree, so you could see how tall it was, but he was being camera shy. It's probably 30-40 feet tall, so it wouldn't be an easy thing to take down or cut up. If we do it now though, we'd get some good firewood out of it, as opposed to waiting until it completely rots and falls over.

The turkeys that hatched in July are growing up! They won't really be big enough for Thanksgiving dinner, but by January or February, they should be good eating size. We'll probably just butcher the males, since I am thrilled to finally have some homegrown turkeys. Eight hatched, and eight are still with us! I am very happy with their vigor and appearance. Even though mama is a bourbon red, they look a lot like their daddy who is a slate. I am hoping they will be more adept at raising babies than the hatchery-born hens. I'll keep one of the hatchery toms to breed them to, since they're related to our tom.

Margaret and I did regular health maintenance with about half the goats yesterday morning. She trimmed hooves while I checked everyone's eyelids and body condition. If the inside of their eyelids were too light, they received either a chemical dewormer or a copper bolus. The tiny bits of copper dissolve in their abomasum for about a month, and it creates an environment that's bad for barberpole worms, so it's a natural dewormer. Pregnant does and does that are milking were given the copper, while kids and dry does were given the chemical dewormer.

A couple of goats also got BoSe shots, which is a selenium supplement. Last winter, a young buck died, and I sent his liver to a lab to be checked for iron, lead, copper, and selenium. Everything was fine except the selenium was right at the bottom of normal, so I got a bottle of BoSe and am giving it to any goats that don't seem to be in top condition. As an experiment, I've also given it to a couple that seem fine, since I know a lot of goat breeders give BoSe to their entire herd. I tend be conservative when it comes to supplements and medications, because I don't want to wind up with a dead animal as a result of toxicity.

After Margaret started to get a blister on her hand from the hoof trimmers, we decided to start working in the barn. She mucked stalls while I cleaned the storeroom. That mostly involved throwing away a lot of things like paper towels and feedbags, then wiping down the counter and the shelves. Today I want to take my new plastic drawer unit out there and use it for organizing medicines and supplements. It was given to me by a friend who was moving and was going to throw it away.

We did all of this, and I was only able to cross off about half of the things on my list!


Gizmo said...

Thanks for the tip about the copper boluses. I'm definitely going to incorporate that into my program.
I was advised by a UK goat specialist to give every kid a Bo-Se shot within 24 hours of birth. He said it was like a small "insurance policy" to keep counteract white muscle. Then after speaking with several dairymen, I was convinced to begin incorporating a Bo-Se shot with the herd's yearly vaccinations. Like you, I worry about toxicity. However, if it's only administered at birth and then yearly, you shouldn't run into that problem.

Deborah said...

I don't know if I'll ever give BoSe to newborns. I had reserved a buckling a few years ago, and the breeder did BoSe shots at birth. She said the kid was walking around fine, but after the shot, he was favoring the leg she injected. The next day he was dead. If you're giving it to the moms, I don't see the point in giving it to the kids at birth. As long as the mom's nutritional state is good, the kids should be in good shape.


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