Friday, March 16, 2012

Out of the frying pan and into the fire?

I totally understand the people living in the cities around me who are celebrating this beautiful weather that we're having. We don't normally see 80 degrees in Illinois until May. Our normal highs this time of year are somewhere in the 50s with freezing temperatures overnight. But then our weather has not been normal for a long time. It has been way above normal ever since October. All winter long we didn't go more than about three days without the temperature going above freezing during the day, which is not good. I was watching it, hoping and praying to have a good, long freeze of at least a couple of weeks to kill the bugs and parasites that plague the garden and the livestock. But it never happened.

It was lovely to wake up this morning with a cool breeze blowing across my face from the open window. It's my favorite way to wake up, so there is a part of me that's loving this weather too. But there's the other part of me that is torn between letting my baby goats out onto pasture and keeping them in the barn. It usually isn't a tough decision this time of year. If the pasture is still frozen, let the goats out; if it's wet, leave them in the barn which is a comfortable temperature.

But the past few days, I've been choosing between a barn so hot the goats are panting and a pasture that is probably covered with larvae from haemonchus contortus just waiting to be eaten by a goat host. The wetter the pasture, the more likely the larvae is still alive, and I keep walking through the pastures trying to find one that's dry enough to convince me that the larvae has died and the eggs have dried out with no hope of hatching. It feels like a lose-lose situation. And it's supposed to rain again tomorrow.

I am contemplating some non-conventional ideas, like putting the mamas and babies in the front yard, where goats have not grazed in the past year, so there are no parasite eggs or larvae on the ground. The down side is that we need some type of enclosure so that they don't eat my evergreens. And it would take a few people to get them to and from the barn daily, but I'll have a lot of help for the next week because it's the beginning of spring break. The other issue is that there is no shade where the ground is dry, which is why the ground is dry! Hopefully we can figure out something that will work. Just when you think you've got everything figured out, everything changes!


MarmePurl said...

I too am a bit concerned about weather that is "too Good." I am especially concerned about the lack of cold enough temps to rid the land of bugs and for the apple trees to have gone truely dormant.
Update us on the solution to the front 'pasture'. I have so much to learn.

LindaG said...

Can the larve be eaten safely by chickens or guineas?
Sorry, I don't know enough to as an intelligent question.
I feel for you. :|
I keep wondering, too; if it's already 80, what does the summer hold?

Hope you have a blessed weekend!

Mary Ann said...

I saw my first mosquito this morning, and if I thought I was dreaming... a friend at work saw some too. We are worried here in Kansas, too!

Deborah Niemann said...

MarmePurl, we did figure out a temporary pen situation in the front yard that's big enough for some of the goats, so I feel better about that.
LindaG, the larvae could be eaten by chickens, and I'm sure they are, but they're microscopic, and there are millions on the pasture, so I'm not sure the chickens will make much of a dent in them. Chickens are much better for flies and larger insects.
Mary Ann, I swore I heard a mosquito tonight when I was doing chores! It was not a welcome sound! And there were already a lot of gnats in a few places around the farm, and I saw flies on the cows. Yikes! Not good! We normally don't see flies until May!

tpescdoc said...

I agree, not good. It is 41* this morning in Norfolk, Ma. Last year, we still had 6 foot piles of snow. Flies, mosquitoes and wasps all spotted yesterday while doing yard work. I was saying to my husband yesterday, I wonder if the hummingbirds will return earlier this year and if the birds will start nesting sooner? I'll have to check the hummingbird migration map.


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