Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quads for Coco on day 150

After making us wait a week longer than the other two goats that were due on the 23rd and 24th, Coco gave birth to quads shortly after noon today. Yesterday, her tail ligaments actually felt harder than they had the day before, which confused me. But there was no denying that it was quite easy to find them yesterday morning, while it had been a bit of a challenge the night before. I couldn't remember ever having a goat's ligaments get firmer, so I just ignored it and kept checking on her every couple hours yesterday.

When I checked her ligaments last night, they were almost completely gone, so I decided to spend the night in the barn. I'm glad we got the kidding pens completed, because I can stay in the heated office and keep an eye on the goats in labor. We have four kidding pens, which I need to discuss in another post (and give Mike his due credit for building them).

Sam the barn cat and Trouper kept me company. It was a long night. Trouper couldn't decide whether he wanted to sleep with me or on the floor next to the bed, so he was off and on a lot. At one point, Sam must have looked at him funny or something because he jumped on me to snap at her -- she was laying on my other side. And at another time, Sam flew across me and sat very attentively at the edge of the bed flicking her tail. I'm thinking that there must have been a mouse that caught her attention. And in the middle of the night, Coco decided to get talkative. She woke me up, but as soon as I realized she was not in labor, I went back to sleep.

I didn't see any signs of labor in Coco until 10:00 this morning when she started to make the wimpiest little pushes. I then noticed that her belly had hollowed out at the top, so the babies were jockeying for position. Mike was working in the room next to the office, so we talked about plans for renovating that area. Finally, around noon, it looked like Coco was getting serious. She was stretching out her legs and neck while laying down, then standing up, turning around and laying down again. She was having more difficulty than usual finding a comfortable position. Poor girl!

She started making a little bit of noise with her wimpy pushes. She'd let out a soft little moan or a short "ma!" I told her that she would never get the kids out with pushes like that. Then we saw a little bubble of amniotic fluid, which popped, and I thought she'd get serious. But no, she continued with her wimpy pushing. There was a foot-long string of goo hanging out, and she was still not seriously pushing. Then as if someone flipped a switch, she decided it was time to get serious. All four kids were born quickly and without difficulty -- except that I couldn't get them dry fast enough. Mike was there, and I passed one newly born, dripping wet kid to him when Katherine (who was videotaping) told me that another one was emerging. And there was a little doe whose amniotic sac didn't break and seemed much tougher than your average sac. But otherwise, our very important job was to get everyone dry.

Katherine videotaped the whole event and will be editing it like she did with Carmen's birth in 2009. It won't be up too soon, however, because she has a lot of homework this weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Goose rescue

When I was walking Trooper this morning, this is what I saw . . . a goose that looked like baling twine was coming out of her back and attached to the pond aerator, which she was dragging from one side of the water to the other. She looked exhausted with her wings hanging down. The ice that had formed on the feathers told me that she had not held her wings against her body for quite some time.

I tried to hurry Trouper, but he's an unfixed male dog, and thinks he needs to pee on at least a dozen things. But as I tried to rush him, I also had no idea what I would do for the goose. The ice was so thin on one side that I could see air bubbling underneath, and if we approached the goose on the safer, thicker side of the ice (which was also on the shallow side of the pond), the goose would swim to the other side where the ice wouldn't hold anything heavier than a goose. I know someone an hour away who scuba dives and has wet suit, but what were the odds I could contact him and that he would available? We could lay a ladder across the ice. At least if the ice broke, the person would have something to hold onto. Not a great option. Jonathan fell through thin ice once, and it was not something I ever wanted to see again.

So, I called Mike, who is normally home on Fridays, but had to give a special presentation this morning. No answer, of course. A few minutes later, the phone rang. Mike was done with his presentation and noticed the missed call on his phone. I explained the situation to him, and he suggested that we use the tree trimmer (with a 12-foot long handle) to attempt to cut the baling twine. Being the safest option we had, Jonathan and I decided to go with it.

I stayed in the house because we were expecting someone to arrive at any minute, and I needed to be available to open the gate for her. Jonathan had no trouble hooking the c-shaped blade under the baling twine. Cutting it was a challenge. Just as I realized that the tree trimmer was not going to cut the baling twine, the gate intercom dinged. I hit the remote opener, grabbed a pair of scissors, and ran out the door. Before I could get to the pond, Jonathan had caught the goose and untangled the baling twine from her wing. He said she had a small cut on her wing, but otherwise seemed okay. She immediately ran to to rejoin her flock.

When things like this happen, it reminds me that when you share your life with animals, you have to know that if anything can happen, it will. Mike had used that baling twine to lower the aerator into the pond. He's made a loop on the end, which is what the goose's wing caught. The odds are probably several million to one that a goose would be diving in just the perfect spot to catch that loop. But odds mean nothing if you're the one. I'm glad that we were able to save the goose, and Mike is already trying to figure out how he can retrieve that baling twine and cut off the loop, so that this doesn't happen again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The goat, the sheep, and the dog

I feel like I'm working in an animal hospital lately. Shortly before noon, I said to Jonathan that I had to go check on Wilbur, Coco, and Trouper. I don't recall a time when I had this many animals that needed individual attention.

Coco is now at day 148 of her pregnancy. She should kid within the next two days. Goats are very prompt when it comes to giving birth. As you can see, the poor girl looks like she is going to pop. She's probably having quads again. I just hope she gives us more than one doe. She's only had one doe ever, and I sold her before it clicked that Coco was five, and I had no kids from her. So, I need to remedy that situation this year. She is Katherine's favorite milker, because she has nice, big orifices (holes in her teats), which means that she milks out easily and quickly. She also has long teats, which make it easy for me to milk her. I specifically bred her to Pegasus so I could keep a doe from her this year. Pegasus throws beautiful does that are excellent milkers, and he should since his mama was on the Top Ten list for milkers three years in a row. We drove to Massachusetts to pick him up five years ago. Last year, a Pegasus daughter gave birth to triplets as a first freshener and was able to make enough milk for all three. But I guess I'll have to wait a little longer to see what Coco has, because her tail ligaments are still fairly firm, and her udder is not very full, which is another sign of impending labor.

Wilbur, the little ram, seems to be doing okay. After having such difficulty with the antibiotic injection, I got smart and decided to give him his tetanus shot inside his thigh, where there is plenty of loose skin but no wool. It was the easiest sub-Q injection I've ever given. One thing I do not like about rams is their violent attitude. I don't know what the water bucket did to annoy Wilbur, but he busted it. I wonder if that means he's feeling better?

And then there's Trouper. I called the vet Monday because the poor boy was still peeing blood and had become incontinent. I suspected that one of the drugs was causing this problem, because his bladder was fine for the first five days after he showed up here. The vet really played down the possibility that one of the drugs could cause it, but he said that sometimes the anti-inflammatory drug irritates the kidneys and can cause problems. So, we discontinued it, and each day the blood in his urine has been reduced. Today, the urine is mostly yellow with a red spot every now and then. Although the incontinence is continuing, it has improved.

The office in the barn, however, is disgusting. The floor is unfinished wood, and it has bloody urine stains all over it. The mattress in there is also covered with stains. Yes, his pelvis has healed enough that he can climb up on the bed, which I learned after he had already leaked all over the mattress. At least it's an old mattress, and I won't feel too guilty sending it to a landfill after Trouper is all healed up. The floor, however, is a different story. What does one do to clean wood that's been stained with blood and urine?

Once Trouper is no longer incontinent, we can let him in the house. I don't think the stairs will be a problem for his pelvis now. Porter would love to play with him, so maybe it's better than they only see each other when I'm walking Trouper on a leash, because I don't want him to re-injure his pelvis. Porter has wanted a canine playmate forever. Unfortunately, Joy and Sovalye both despise him. Trouper acts like he would like to play, and the two dogs wag their tails wildly as they sniff each other.

That's been my life for the past few days -- cleaning up bloody urine, walking the dog, checking on Wilbur's injury, and checking Coco's tail ligaments every few hours. In my spare time yesterday, I started two flats of cole crops and herbs. This morning, I made chevre and yogurt, and now I have to put together a soap order and get it ready for the mail. There might still be snow on the ground outside, but winter hibernation time is definitely past.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anne's triplets

Saturday afternoon, dinner guests arrived early for a tour of the farm before sundown. As we were showing them the pregnant goats in the fancy new kidding suites, I suggested to Mike that he should get some practice checking tail ligaments, so he will know when a goat might give birth. When I felt Anne's ligaments, they were completely gone. Coco's were still cast iron, so it was a good lesson. However, no ligaments means that the goat is going to kid in the next 12 hours or so, and as I said, dinner guests had just arrived. Anne seemed content though, so we continued with our tour.

A little later, I went back into the barn to take Trouper for a walk, and I thought I'd also check on Anne. She was laying there with both legs sticking straight out, and I could see mucous hanging from her back end. I went back to tell Mike that Anne was getting closer, so Katherine would have to walk Trouper. Anne is a Sherri daughter, and all of the goats in that line give birth quietly, which always makes it seem quick, because we don't usually know they're in labor until the head is coming out. Sherri and her daughters also tend to have three or four every time, which means that if a person is not there to dry the kids, we'll lose one or two to hypothermia.

Dinner guests or not, I knew I was not leaving the barn until the kids were born. For the next hour, Anne was very quietly pushing while lying on one side or the other. If I were in the house relying on a baby monitor, I would have no idea that she was so close to giving birth, which is why we've abandoned the baby monitor in the house. It just does not work when you have such stoic goats.

Katherine joined me after walking Trouper and doing the evening chores. Finally we saw a little bulge, and then Katherine said, "There's a tail sticking out." I wasn't alarmed because her mama had just given birth to triplet breech bucks last year. But over the next few minutes, not much changed. I told Katherine to get the iodine. After squirting it on my hand, I ran a finger around the kid's butt. It was smooth as glass. There was nothing I could grab. The hind legs were clearly plastered against the kid's belly and chest, probably extending all the way to his neck. I only saw two options: wait or shove the kid back in and reposition it. I decided to wait. After a few more pushes, a couple inches of the kid emerged but was quickly sucked back inside.

"You little stinker!" I said to the unborn kid. Then I looked at the panting mama and said, "Do that one more time, Anne, and I promise, I won't let it go back inside." When the butt emerged on the next push, I dug my fingers and thumb into the kid's rump, hooked behind the pin bones, and held tightly. That was all she needed. I didn't even pull. Anne was able to take another breath, push, and the kid slid right out.

It was a buck, mostly black with a few white spots. I started drying him off and put him next to her face, so she could help get him cleaned up. About 10 minutes later, Anne looked like she was concentrating on something other than the kid upon which she had been lavishing so much attention. I reached for a dry towel as she made a little noise, and without much effort on Anne's part, a kid plopped on the straw still completely covered with the amniotic sac. I gasped and blurted, "Mama mia!" I popped the amniotic sac with my fingernails around the kid's nose and wiped it with the towel, so the kid could start breathing. It was a buckskin doe, who weighed a lot less than her brother. Why do the big ones have to come first? And see how big his butt is compared to his head? Head-first would have been so much easier.

A couple minutes later, with even less effort than the second kid (I know, how is that possible?) Anne pushed the third kid out, also with the amniotic sac intact. As I grabbed it and started to pull the sac off its nose, one of our dinner guests suddenly appeared and asked how things were going. The third kid was a beautiful black and white spotted doe, who was trying to stand within five minutes. As our guest stood there, and we chatted about baby goats, all three kids started looking for their dinner.

Did someone say dinner? Jonathan, Katherine, and Mike had all pitched in to get dinner cooking. I had started marinating pork tenderloin medallions earlier in the day, and I gave Mike instructions on how to cook them. Jonathan started a loaf of bread, and Katherine made manicotti and stir-fried garlic green beans. After I was convinced that Anne and her babies were doing well, I went inside and threw together a Caesar salad. It wasn't exactly the most organized meal ever created, but it was all delicious. When we finished eating, we realized we had not made dessert, and I suggested homemade caramel corn, because it's quick. Turns out our guests also make homemade caramel corn, so we compared recipes, but that's a post for another day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Injured ram

Anne kidded Saturday night, but I'm afraid her story will have to wait, because Wilbur Wright, the yearling Shetland ram, had a little accident. This morning when Katherine was doing chores, I saw her out there chasing the little ram. I had no idea why he was in the wrong pasture, and after half an hour, I stuck my head out the window and yelled at her to stop chasing him and just finish her chores.

When she came inside, I asked her what was up with Wilbur, and she said it looked like he'd been attacked, and she took him out of his pen to check his leg, then he got away from her. I told her I'd help her catch him, but she scoffed that if she couldn't catch him, it was an impossible task, and my assistance would be of no use.

When I went outside to check on Coco, the only doe due to kid this week, I saw smoke coming from the walnut grove. I walked out to the pasture to see what was happening and noticed that our new neighbors were having a cook-out. They must really be excited about their new property, because this is not cook-out weather. It's in the mid-30s, which means all the snow is disgustingly slushy, sloppy, and muddy. Anyway, when I was heading back to the barn, I saw Wilbur in the little goat shelter. It has a 10-foot opening, and he easily slipped out. I knew I couldn't catch him by myself, but I had a plan.

I came inside and told Katherine that we could give him a little time to hopefully return to the shelter, and with two of us, we could trap him in there. I told Katherine that we'd have to outsmart him since we couldn't outrun him. Unfortunately, he realized the error of going into the shelter and did not return, so Katherine and I used the goats to sneak up on him. Okay, we didn't exactly use the goats. The la manchas are just so darn friendly that they heel like dogs, and they were stuck to us like glue when we headed out there. Between them and us, we were able to corner Wilbur and grab him. And Katherine admitted that this old lady was helpful in catching the ram.

When we realized how much fight the little guy had in him, it was hard to believe he was injured very badly, but we knew it was important to get him into the barn and check it out. I held his front end, and Katherine held his back end, as we walked him to the barn together. I was able to hook his horn behind my arm and stabilize him, but she definitely had the more challenging half, as he wouldn't stop kicking, which is why two of us had to carry him together. He weighs less than a 50-pound feed bag, but feed bags don't kick and throw around a pair of sharp horns like he does! We took him into an empty stall and stood him on top of an electrical spool that is a goat climbing toy. It's painted white, and that's when we realized just how badly he was injured. A big drop of blood was falling every second, perhaps faster.

Since we don't have hot water in the big barn, Katherine carried him to the little barn, so we could properly wash his leg. That was not fun. I kept worrying about him hurting Katherine with his horns, because they haven't started to spiral much, and the way he was thrashing, he could have easily stabbed her. There is a white cord hanging from the injury, which I think is a tendon, but apparently it's not a very important tendon, because he can still walk.

Before leaving the big barn, I had grabbed the VetWrap and non-stick wound dressing from the first aid supplies. As soon as I washed his leg, I wrapped two of the non-stick pads around the wound and wrapped it snuggly with the VetWrap, which I might add is eight years old. I bought it when we first moved out here, and I'm glad to report that it still works. It still sticks to itself! I had to chuckle at myself, since I had one roll each of pink and blue wrap. Yeah, I would have done that eight years ago. Since the blue one was already open, though, that's the one I used.

Considering how fast the wound was dripping blood, I was really worried that it would bleed through the bandage in about five minutes, but even after a few hours, there wasn't any blood seeping through, so hopefully the pressure of the bandage has stopped the bleeding. I will re-dress it tonight. I also gave him a shot of antibiotics, which was challenging since he is in full fleece, and his fiber is as long as my hand.

As far as what happened to him, my best guess is that the freezing and thawing of the ground caused their shelter to heave up enough that he was able to slip his hind leg under the metal siding when he laid down. When he went to stand, his leg got caught and cut on the metal.

Katherine now has her coat and blue jeans soaking. That was the other disadvantage of holding his back end -- he bled all over her. Somehow I managed to avoid getting blood on me, even when I was cleaning and washing his wound.

Trouper update

I called the vet today because Trouper is still peeing blood, and for the past four days, he's been incontinent. The vet said it can take a week or two for a dog's insides to heal after being hit by a car, and he suggested I check Trouper's gums to see if they're pink or white, which would be a sign of anemia. His gums did look really pale, so I checked his eyelid, which is a more accurate way to check goats and sheep for anemia, and they were a darker pink color. The vet didn't seem to think that dripping bloody urine when walking or spewing bloody urine when sitting was terribly surprising either. Trouper is still happy and eating and drinking, so we'll keep hanging in there, waiting for him to heal up completely.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Twin doelings!

Yesterday morning, Katherine did chores and gave the pregnant does their hay, grain, and water, as usual. Then she walked Trouper, who is in the small barn with the kidding pens. When she brought him back from his walk, she heard a goat scream. That sounds like a goat in labor, she thought. When she went to the kidding pens, there was Carmen with a head sticking out of her back end. Katherine grabbed an armful of towels and dried off the babies as they were born, which happened very quickly.

When Katherine came inside to tell me about the new kids, I was on the computer, editing photos that I'd taken of the three pregnant does the night before. I was planning to have a contest on the blog, asking people to guess which doe would kid first. I actually knew it was going to be Carmen, because the previous night, I had noticed that her ligaments were softer than the other two. I just didn't think it would be so soon! She was at day 143, and 145 to 150 is average, although Carmen does have a history of growing her babies a little faster than most goats.

One of the nice things about Carmen is that she has a habit of throwing a lot of does -- 80 percent, in fact! She is six years old and has only had two bucks.

I just love the white mark on this little doeling's side. I think it looks like a gecko.

It took me quite a while to be able to tell these two girls apart. They look like twins, for sure. So often, siblings look like a patchwork quilt of colors and spots, but these two look just like their mama's babies. Their sire is polled, but one will have horns for sure, because she has little swirls of hair around her horn buds. The other one might be polled, so if one has to be disbudded, it will certainly be easier to tell them apart after that. In the meantime, I have to look at the spots.

Having names will help me remember who's who. I've also decided not to advertise kids this year until they have names. Last year, a couple buyers were upset about not being able to name kids they were purchasing. They were new to goats and didn't understand that most serious goat breeders like to name their goats because we have themes to keep everyone's lineage straight. So, if I see an AOF goat on a show win list or a milk test list, I'll know immediately who the sire and dam were. I also need to add a section to my website about naming goats, but it's one of those things I keep forgetting to do.

Carmen's theme is opera, so I need some opera names. We've already used Mm. Butterfly and Lizzie Borden (yes, there was an opera made about Lizzie Borden), and I think we've used just about every name from the opera Carmen by now. Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Two steps forward, one step back for Trouper

Just when we thought that Trouper was doing so well, he gave me a little scare last night when I walked him. He seemed to be straining when he was squatting to pee. It was dark, and I couldn't see anything, so I convinced myself I was just paranoid. Then this morning, Katherine ran inside and said, "Mom, Trouper is peeing blood!"

It wasn't even eight o'clock yet, and I hadn't showered or had breakfast, but when the vet's receptionist said they could see him at 8:30 a.m. or 2 p.m., I said, "We can be there at 8:30!" I thought he must surely be dieing. After all, he is on antibiotics, so it couldn't be an infection. He must be bleeding internally, right?

For the third time in six days, we found ourselves sitting in the exam room at the vet office. The vet examined him, and we got a urine sample. He checked Trouper's kidney function, and it was normal. The vet said that when he was in vet school, they had a dog come in that had been hit by a car, and his kidney had been busted and was leaking urine into the dog's abdominal cavity, so it had to be removed. I was thankful that Trouper didn't have that problem!

Apparently, we should not be surprised to see blood in Trouper's urine. It is not uncommon after being hit by a car. The blood is not exactly new, since some of it is brown. Sometimes it is bright red, and sometimes it's pink. So, all sorts of stuff is going on in his poor bladder or kidneys. The reason he is straining is because he sometimes passes blood clots. When I walk him, I can't watch him. It hurts to see him trying to pee and only getting out a few red drops or a little squirt. But, the vet said that as long as he is peeing, it's better to just let him keep trying, rather than putting in a catheter, which would just irritate things even more.

Since we still have snow everywhere, I don't have to watch him straining to know what he is doing. When I feel him take a couple steps on the end of the leash, I can look back at the snow and see what he did. We humans just have to sit tight. Trouper is already on an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and a pain pill. And the vet said that Trouper's flat, ribbon-shaped poop just means that he still has a lot of swelling "back there" too. At least I can say that his horribly scraped-up belly looks like it is healing, and the swelling is going down "down there." (You know, I can't use some words in my blog, or I'll get crazy spam in the comment section!)

And in case you noticed that I've changed the spelling of Trouper's name, it's because a friend of mine pointed out that "a person who deals with and persists through difficulty or hardship without complaint" is a trouper. Since that definition fits him to a T, I figured I should spell his name correctly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just your everyday chaos

Mike finished the first two kidding pens over the weekend. Nothing says "I love you" like new kidding pens that keep your sweetie out of the freezing cold while waiting for goats to give birth. This ranks right up there with Valentine's Day five years ago when he installed a toilet on the second floor of our newly-built house, which we'd already moved into, although it was unfinished.

So, this afternoon, I decided it was time to move the three goats that are due next week. They were in the big barn, and I needed to move them to the smaller barn, where the kidding pens are located. I would have to take them through an area where seven other goats were currently hanging out, so to make things simpler, I had Jonathan trap them out in the pasture. Coco and Carmen were agreeable about moving to the smaller barn, but the third pregnant doe, Anne Bronte, suddenly decided to put on the brakes once I had her between the two barns. So, Jonathan came to help. I pulled Anne's collar while he pushed her back end. We finally got her into the small barn and into her new pen.

Then I remembered that I had left the door open to the big barn. Jonathan and I went running into the big barn to find exactly what I'd expected -- the seven goats that had been trapped in the pasture were now in there. Some were feasting on the hay stacks, while others were trying to get into the horse grain and llama feed. So, we used what Sarah (our November apprentice) called the gorilla technique -- we jumped up and down, waving our arms and making mean noises while running towards the goats. We managed to get them to the end of the barn where the door was located, but none of them would go through the door. A few of them finally ran outside, but Clare ran towards me, slipped past me, and headed back towards the hay stack. I went after her. Another goat broke ranks and headed for the hay stacks, and Jonathan went after him.

The next thing we knew, Sovalye, the livestock guardian was running through the barn. He is supposed to stay in the pasture. This was especially bad because Porter was in the barn, and Sovalye thinks the barn is his domain. I told Porter to get out, but that wasn't good enough for Sovalye. No, he had to let Porter know how unhappy he was with the fact that the English shepherd had dared to enter the barn. Just as Porter exited the barn, Sovalye attacked. Jonathan and I started yelling "Bad dog!" and "No!" and Jonathan was grabbing at Sovalye, trying to pull him off of Porter. It's all a blur, but somehow Jonathan and I wound up falling in the snow next to the two fighting dogs. Then the fight was over, and I yelled, "House" at Porter. He high-tailed it to the house as Sovalye watched. Just in case he was thinking of pursuing Porter, I said, "Bad dog!" He put his tail between his legs, lowered his head, and walked away. I looked at the snow where the dogs had been fighting to see if there was blood, but I didn't see any.

But wait, that's not all! Remember, there are still seven goats running around in the barn, wreaking havoc. I guess the goats decided they'd caused enough trouble for one night, because they suddenly became quite agreeable about going back outside. After getting them outside, I went to the house to check on Porter. I was happily surprised that he didn't seem to have a scratch on him. I'm starting to wonder if Sovalye is just toying with all of us. Of course, I'm not complaining. I really don't need any additional vet bills right now. I just wish he would accept the fact that Porter is here to stay. It has been three years!

Trooper update:

I can't believe how much weight Trooper has gained in only five days. His body looks entirely different than it did when we first found him. His belly area has really filled out, and his spine is not as prominent. I'm thinking he was on his own for at least a couple days before we found him. I initially thought he might be a pit bull crossed with a pointer, because of his hourglass figure, but now I'm leaning more towards pit bull crossed with a lab, because his belly has filled out to be almost even with his ribs.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update on Trooper

Thank you to everyone who has read about Trooper and responded through Blogger and Facebook. You have many great suggestions, such as contacting the vet school to see if treatment would be less expensive there, if surgery is necessary. I know their livestock treatment options are considerably less expensive than private vets.

After many excellent suggestions for a name, we thought that Trooper was the name that really fit him. It honors everything he's already been through and will go through as he continues to heal. He is quite a Trooper! Cupid was a close second because he is such a lover, and he showed up just in time for Valentine's Day.

Several people have now contacted me privately through Facebook or commented on here that I should set up a fund to help pay for Trooper's medical costs since he is a rescue. Initially, I replied that it wasn't necessary, but I have to admit that I am thinking about cost when deciding what to do next with him. And after seeing him poop this morning, I think x-rays may be in order. Yesterday, Katherine told me that his poop looked oddly flat, and he seemed to be straining. It was before the vet visit, so I didn't think much of it, especially having no idea of what he had been eating. But then this morning, she said he pooped four separate times during his walk, and the poop was always flat. So, I am wondering if there is some kind of obstruction in his pelvis.

Otherwise, he seems pretty happy. We're keeping him in the barn office, because he only has one step up to get in there. He'd have to go up eight steps to get into our house, and then it's two stories. He is not supposed to be doing any more walking that absolutely necessary. He sleeps all the time now that he's on medication. He even sleeps through all of Mike's hammering and sawing, because we're working on new kidding pens out there. (Kidding starts in about 10 days!) When we take him outside, though, it's obvious the pain meds are working well, because he seems to want to explore a lot. Leash walking is definitely necessary to keep him from overdoing it.

If you would like to donate something to his care, you can send it to Deborah at Antiquity Oaks dot com through PayPal, and just put something about Trooper in the comment section. If anything is left over, I will use it to care for future deserted animals. We try to get the stray cats spayed and neutered, but can't always afford it in a timely manner -- meaning that the boys will reach sexual maturity and start to stray or the females reach sexual maturity and get pregnant. I'm happy to say we've only had one female get pregnant in the last seven years, and that's because we underestimated her age. We currently have two male cats that should be neutered (the two kittens that were dumped last summer), which I was going to do in the next week or two, before Trooper showed up. Please don't donate any more than you can afford comfortably, and if you live on a farm, I know you already have your own little charity cases to care for, since so many people think that they're giving animals a second chance by dumping them in the country.

Thank you again for all of the great suggestions and offers to help. You're really terrific!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vet visit and prognosis for the dog

This morning, the pit bull rescue emailed me back to say that they're full and can't help with the dog that we found yesterday. I called Animal Control, and the woman said that because the dog is injured, they'd put it down. And that was before I told her he was a pit bull. After I mentioned his breed, she seemed more somber and alluded to the fact that there might be different rules for pit bulls, even if they were not injured. So we got an appointment to see a vet. The news is not great.

The vet said he is almost 100% sure that the dog has a broken pelvis. Sedation and x-rays would have added another $100 to the vet bill, just to confirm that the dog would benefit from a surgery that would cost at least a couple thousand dollars. Since my bank account is not as big as my heart, I decided not to get the x-rays. The dog is able to potty, so it doesn't look like there is any life-threatening internal injury. The vet said his odds of doing well with conservative treatment seem to be pretty good. Because a lot of people can't afford such expensive surgery, he said he sees a lot of dogs treated conservatively. So, for now, he is on a pain medication, anti-inflamatory drug, and antibiotics. The latter is for the nasty scraping on his abdomen. And I almost forgot about the dewormer.

The dog (who really needs a name) completely charmed everyone at the vet clinic just as quickly as he charmed us -- perhaps even quicker, because they were lifting, twisting, and mashing on his injured leg, and he never growled or objected at all. When they finished the exam, he got up and hid behind the exam table, looking at me with his eyebrows raised.

It's hard to believe someone would have dumped such a great dog, but there are so many things we don't know. If only he could talk. They checked for a microchip, but found nothing. I told them I was worried about getting him treated, only to have someone show up one day and claim him. The vet tech said that after seven days, he would legally be ours. Everyone in the vet office was very nice. They wrote up estimates for his treatment that started at $200 and went up to a number that I didn't even look at. And they said that if we decide later to become more aggressive with his treatment, we can do that.

In the meantime, we've introduced him to the other dogs, and they seem to all be okay with each other. And I suppose we should name him. It seems odd to keep saying "the dog" when I talk about him. Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A new bull

No, it's not a bovine bull -- it's a pit bull that someone dumped out here. He is the sweetest dog imaginable and gets along fine with all the animals he's met so far. We're keeping him in the barn office for the time being. He also seems to be housebroken.

But here's the wrinkle. I'm afraid he has a broken leg. The skin on his belly is also scraped, swollen, and red. I wonder if he was thrown from a moving vehicle and landed on his belly. His left rear leg points out about 45 degrees instead of straight forward, and he won't sit on that side. He favors it when walking, but if he forgets himself and puts too much weight on it, his back end just collapses. I've sent two emails and left a phone message for a pit bull rescue, but no word yet from them. I'm nervous about the possible vet bills, so I'm hoping they're able to help. I even told them we'd foster him until he can find his new home. Any other ideas or suggestions?

Happy birthday, dear worms

It's been one year since I brought home my babies, hundreds of them, worm babies, that is. And now they're all grown up and having babies and grandbabies and probably great grandbabies by now. And like all babies, they're pooping up a storm. I swear, all they do is eat and poop. But that's okay by me, because that's exactly what I want them to do! Vermicomposting is everything I hoped it would be -- and more!

In case you're wondering what is in the photo -- the right side of the bin is almost 100% vermicompost, a.k.a. worm poop, which I scoop up and put into a gallon jug with water to make vermicompost tea. No, you do not drink it! I have to say this because one day when I was showing off my worms, someone actually thought that you did. Vermicompost tea is used to water plants, and it is extremely rich in nutrients. It's an all-natural fertilizer.

The left side of the bin is shredded junk mail, coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels, and other worm delicacies. I only feed on one side to encourage the worms to migrate over there, which will make harvesting easier. I do not want to accidentally scoop up any worms and drown them in the tea. This definitely ranks right up there in the "Things I Never Thought I Would Do" list:
  1. Wash pig poo off a baby goat.
  2. Cut the liver out of a dead goat to send to a state lab.
  3. Persuade worms to move to the other side of the neighborhood.
Actually, I never expected to find myself in a position to persuade worms to do anything. But since I once persuaded Congress to pass a law, persuading worms shouldn't be that hard, right?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Continuing adventures in mold-ripened cheese

I told you I'd try again, and I did! There was no problem with humidity being too low this time. We definitely wound up with more edible cheese, although there are still a couple wrinkles. That liquid between the rind and the curd is quite pungent -- more pungent than we enjoy. I read that geotrichum candidum is supposed to keep the rind from separating, so I think I'll put a pinch in my next batch. Maybe that will help? Any other suggestions? Other than the liquid part, this cheese is deliciously addictive!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hard decisions

Mike and Jonathan just unloaded 100 bales of hay, which brings us to about 200 to get us into April. Jonathan, Katherine, and I talked about how much hay we're feeding every day, and it's mind boggling -- five bales a day! So, now we have enough for about 40 days. Even if we did buy more hay, that would bring us to more than 600 bales for this winter, which is ridiculous. I don't even want to think about how many dollars that totals.

We'll start seeing a few blades of green grass in March, and the lawns and pastures will be solid green by early April. However, it can't be counted on as a serious source of food until May. It just doesn't grow very fast when it's still cold outside. So, something has to change.

I just emailed pictures and info on seven sheep to someone, so if she buys them, that will reduce the number of sheep by more than 25%. The other obvious reduction that can be made immediately is in goat wethers. My mother always told me, "Never say never," but you know, there are times when you think that it's perfectly safe to say that you will never do something -- like, "I could never butcher one of our goats." Part of me says that it wouldn't help that much, but then three goats is 10% of the herd, so that would make a difference, especially when one of them is a standard-sized goat, so he probably eats as much as two of my Nigerians. There's a part of me that has no trouble talking about this, but there is also the part of me that can't seem to pick up the phone and actually make the appointment with the slaughterhouse.


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