The City Girl Farmer


Our First Cashmere Kids
May 10, 2010, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Goats | Tags: , , ,

Lola with her babies.

We had a lovely Mother’s Day, visiting with our friends and we got back late last night.  As I got out of the car, I told the family I was going to check on Lola.  She was due on the 5th but, like all mothers, delivered when she was ready.

It was dark and there was no moon, so I went into the house to get a flashlight.  Usually the goats go in the barn at night but as I was shining the light I caught a pair of eyes in the pen, a bluish glint reflecting back.  Then I noticed they were all out and as I waved my flashlight I saw two pairs of eyes, close to the ground.  You couldn’t really see the babies because they are completely black.  As I got closer I could see we had two apparently healthy kids and a healthy doe.  They were almost dry and there was afterbirth on the ground, so it had happened very recently.

As a rather nauseating aside:  I saw the chickens devouring the afterbirth this morning.  So much for vegetarian fed chickens.  For those of you who pay a premium for vegetarian-fed eggs, you should know that the chickens cannot free range AND be vegetarians.  They love meat.  I’ve seen them eat bugs, little birds that have fallen from a nest, gophers and now afterbirth.  <end rabbit trail>

Thomas and I each picked up a kid and brought it into the barn where there was a thick straw bed for them.  I waited to make sure they both nursed (maybe a little bit longer :D) and then went to bed.  These pictures were taken when they were about 12 hours old.  I intend to get some better ones soon.  We have a storm moving in and the weather’s not so nice outside and Lola has just left them in the barn.  It’s dark in there and it is hard to get good pictures.

Shannon is showing signs so we should have two more very soon.  Any name suggestions?  Lola had a boy and a girl.

Lola's doeling

Robo-goat---kinda gives an idea of what the eyes looked like last night

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Finally Finished the Door
February 12, 2010, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Chickens, Goats, Maintenance

Thomas next to the coop door he designed

We had been working on this off and on for a few months and finally decided to get it finished.  Can you see where it says “Chikin Coop” across the top in purple chalk?  That’s how you know where you are. 🙂

He designed it with a hen-sized hole so that the chickens could come and go as they pleased during the day.  The only problem with that, as we soon discovered, was that young goats can get their heads in but are too stupid to figure out how to get them out again.

It was hilarious to come out and see a goat on his front knees, his butt in the air, bleating to be set free.  The door had caught him in the act of trying to steal chicken feed.

We have decided to just keep the door closed for now.   We will be having baby goats in the spring (you can’t say “kids” when you’re my age or people panic) and we don’t want them to endure the plight our little wether did.

Thomas locking the slider into place



Making Soap
August 6, 2009, 8:27 am
Filed under: Goats, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

My neighbor has dairy goats and I was able to get hold of a little goats milk to try my hand at soap making.  I’m afraid I’m not much of a chemist and do not really understand the saponification process.  It’s actually quite intimidating since anywhere you look on the web there are stern warnings with regard to handling lye.  I wore rubber gloves and goggles but drew the line at shoes.  It was a hot summer day.

Just poured into the mold

Just poured into the mold

As I was mixing it all together, I thought I’d check the internet to see how long it was supposed to take before “trace”, where the soap begins to thicken.  In the 5 minutes I was away from the soap it went from making a line across the top of the mixture to being a batter consistency.  Oops!  I managed to get it into the molds anyway but I’m afraid it was a little thick.  The other thing that occurred to me after the fact was that perhaps I should have weighed all the fat instead of using liquid measuring cups for the liquid fat, like avocado and wheat germ oil.  Still don’t know the answer to that one.  Unfortunately it takes a little more care to make soap than a batch of cookies.  If you get the fat to lye ration wrong, you either end up with a caustic soap-like product or too much fat-not-bonded-with-lye which will go rancid with time.   I’ll try to remember to post an update.  Here are some tidbits I found interesting during the process:

  • The most expensive ingredient was the essential oil used for scenting the soap
  • The color in the picture is the natural color
  • I need to grease my molds better next time
  • Different oils add different qualities to your soap

The soap needs to cure for 3 weeks so I’ll post results of the quality of the product after we have a chance to try it.   The two obvious flaws are that the bottoms of the soaps are not flat as the mixture was a little too thick when poured and there was some damage to a couple of bars because the molds were not adequately greased.  Next batch should be significantly better.



I Have a Caprine Unicorn
June 25, 2009, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Goats

I had a lovely day yesterday, riding with my friend, Mary R.  We were out for 4 hours!!  However it was somewhat tainted by the fact that my poor baby goat, Carmen, got her horn caught somehow.  I saw what I hoped was a shadow along her jawbone, but what turned out to be a little trickle of blood.  She is a bit of a wild child and doesn’t trust humans too much (although I’ve noticed that she finds the grain-bearing humans somewhat more trustworthy).  We tried to catch her and she ended up injuring herself even more.  We finally got help from our neighbors up the road who raise alpacas and cashmeres last night and were able to examine her closely enough to determine that we needed to see a vet. *sigh*

Before

Before

I took her in this morning and the vet said her horn would need to come off.  She was taken out of the back of the car screaming her little goatie head off.  They used a gas anesthesia on her and had a mask over her muzzle and they began to shave her around the wound site to see how bad it was .I thought it was very nice of them to let me watch.  The vet was afraid that she might have taken a chunk of her skull along with the horn which thankfully she didn’t.  It was more like a toenail that had been torn off.  They sliced the skin that was holding the horn and then sawed off the bud from which it grows.  They cauterized it with a laser, wiped the blood off her beautiful wool and we were all done.

The vet’s partner walked in after the surgery and half-jokingly offered to do some cosmetic surgery by pulling some skin up and over the little nub and suturing it.  Right.  I passed.  I don’t think a covered nub would go too far in helping Carmen’s now rather odd appearance.  We discussed removing the other horn to make her symmetrical but the vet recommended that she keep it for self-defense as she is at the bottom of the pecking order.  Interestingly, he said he didn’t think the horns were that helpful with helping cashmeres to stay cool during the summer.  There is much controversy in the caprine world about dehorning and much for this farmer yet to learn.

After

After



Treating Caprine Bladder Infection With Essential Oils
Shannon

Shannon

Three days ago, I discovered that Shannon’s symptoms of a bladder infection had returned.   I still had Penicillin in the fridge and I had purchased syringes, the milk stand was done so that we had a way to restrain her but I just couldn’t bring myself to do this all over again, especially since the results were rather disappointing the first time.

I recently discovered the use of essential oils for healing human ailments and have found them to be quite effective.  I thought I’d try using them with Shannon.  I figured we could always start the round of Penicillin again if we had to.

Here is the recipe I used:

1 oz. olive oil

5 drops of sage

5 drops of oregano

20 drops of eucalyptus

*Note:  Essential oils can be toxic if not used correctly.  Most must be diluted in a carrier oil.  Some are dual purpose, i.e., if you use a little they have one effect, if you use a lot they have the opposite effect.  More is not always better.  Please make sure you understand their use before you use them on yourself or your animals.

I massaged the oil into the inside of her hind legs where her udder is attached in the afternoon and again in the evening.  The next day there was marked improvement.  She was not squatting constantly and getting a dribble if she was lucky.  There was a little more volume.   I have applied it twice a day and she is steadily improving.   The book for treating humans said it can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to work.  She was treated with Penicillin for a week the first time, so I am planning to treat her for a week this way and see what happens.

Anyone interested in holistic therapy for their animals might be interested in these books:

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable

The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

Update:  Shannon appears to be cured.  I have watched her pee normally for a couple of weeks now. 🙂  The oils appear to have had a more immediate positive effect than the penicillin.  Her symptoms were significantly improved after two “doses” of oils:  I discovered the symptoms in the afternoon, gave her a massage immediately and then again that evening.  By the next morning she was improving. She was normal within 48 hours although I kept going for a week just to be sure.



Picked Up the Rest of the Goats
May 28, 2009, 9:20 am
Filed under: Chickens, Goats | Tags: ,

…and got a new batch of chicks, too.

 

Lola

Lola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carmen

Carmen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New chicks

New chicks



Milking Stand
May 28, 2009, 8:54 am
Filed under: Goats, Tools | Tags: ,

 

The finished product

The finished product

Why would someone who raises Cashmere goats need a milking stand?  To give shots for one thing. 🙂  The little dears need to be groomed and to have their hooves trimmed occasionally and since Cashmere goats usually don’t have their horns removed those can be daunting tasks without a tool to immobilize the goat.

 

We found the plans on Fias Co Farm’s website, went to Lowe’s, purchased about $60 worth of materials and got to work.  We finished in about 9 hours but I’m sure that someone with experience working with wood could knock it out in much less time.  We also did all the sanding by hand.