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

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*



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.



Treating Caprine Bladder Infection With Essential Oils


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.























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.

Goats Get Bladder Infections
May 9, 2009, 7:41 am
Filed under: Goats | Tags: , ,

One reason I decided to try to raise Cashmere goats is because I had read that they were virtually indestructible.  They need hay or pasture, water and enough shelter to keep the wind and rain/snow off them.  That’s it.   They don’t just die like sheep do.

I noticed the day after we picked up Shannon that she was shivering.  I thought that was odd but she had endured a 3- hour trailer ride down from the mountains and it had started to snow on the way home.  We put a heat lamp out in the barn for them thinking that would make her more comfortable.   Both animals seemed to be eating, drinking, peeing and pooping so I thought everything was fine.  Well, a few days later Shannon is clearly having difficulty urinating.  She would squat and only a few drops would come out.  At first I thought it was because we were too close to her and she was shy.  Julie, one of our horses,  doesn’t like it when you watch her go, so I’m thinking I have a shy horse AND a shy goat.  But then she kept squatting, near and far, and it didn’t matter.  Only a few drops came out.  I started to worry then and went to the trusty internet for answers.  I learned that goats are subject to urinary calculi usually from a diet that is not acidic enough.  The kicker was that it affected males almost exclusively.

I called a friend who raises cashmeres, an acquaintance who raises dairy goats and the breeder and all of them said to get her to the vet.  I called our vet and discovered that they did not treat goats.  The closest goat vet is an hour away in Colorado Springs.  So Thomas and I loaded her into the back of the Tahoe and off we went.

The vet tried to catheterize her with no success.  Trying to hold a 100 lb. creature still for a catheter is a nearly impossible task anyway if you ask me.  Taking her temperature was similarly challenging.  She did not have a fever.  Luckily, she was squatting constantly and the vet was able to catch a few drops into a test tube.  The urine was clear and yellow and he took it to examine under a microscope.  When he came back he explained that he had seen some basal cells “which could possibly be indicative of bladder cancer” and no white blood cells which you would expect to see if there were an infection.  He further explained that in order to have a firm diagnosis he would need to do X-rays and dye studies (!).  Of course, the goat would have to be tranquilized because if whe wouldn’t hold still for a catheter, she probably wouldn’t hold still for an X-ray.  He recommended that we treat her for an infection since her symptoms were classic cystitis symptoms except for the lack of white blood cells in the urine.

He sent me home with some Penicillin and a few syringes and told me to give her 3 cc’s twice a day for 7-10 days.  I learned how to give intramuscular shots to a goat by looking at pictures on the internet and confirming with my friend who also has goats.  Thankfully, I haven’t killed her yet.  I don’t know who hates the shots more, though, the goat or me.  I feel like a monster each time I go out with a needle.

Got Goats
May 9, 2009, 7:05 am
Filed under: Fiber, Goats | Tags: ,

The whole reason we wanted to get some land was so that I could raise Cashmere goats for their fiber.  I have always found spinning fascinating and Jon got me lessons for our anniversary a couple of years ago.  My dream was partially realized two weeks ago when we picked up the first two goats.

Shannon with her toy pile

Shannon with her toy pile

This is Shannon, so named as she was born on March 17th, 2005.  She is sunning herself contentedly near the toy pile that Jon and Thomas made for them.  Goats are pretty smart for ruminants and can easily get into mischief if they’re not sufficiently occupied.

We purchased two does, a wether and a doeling.  Since goats can be kind of nasty to each other if you introduce a single one into the herd, we left one of the does with the breeder so that when the doeling is weaned we can pick the two of them up together and reintroduce them to the other two and hopefully avoid some caprine nastiness.



This is James.  He was originally named Diamond Jim, but the kids “shortened” it.  He is so cute!  He will come bounding up to you when you call him just like a dog.  His baby coat is unbelievably soft and dense.

We’ll be picking up Carmen and Lola next weekend.  I’ll get some pictures of the four of them together and post them later.



The First Farm-Related Problem
September 26, 2008, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Goats, Tools | Tags: , ,

Here’s a problem we never had in our little city home.  Other people’s goats.  Not long after we moved in, my son rode his bike  up the road past our neighbors with the goats and much to his dismay, they followed him home.   He tried several times to get them to go to their own home but to no avail.  He finally came home, goats in tow, clearly frustrated that he couldn’t get them to stay on their own property.  By then he was smelly because the two bucks had rubbed up against them.  I cannot describe the smell of intact male goats.  When you are downwind from them you can’t finish inhaling.  It is a different odor than skunk but it affects me the same way.  It’s also easier to get off the smell of buck than of skunk but its BAD.

My husband came to my poor son’s rescue having, as most fathers do, the solution to my poor son’s goat problem.  He then proceeded to lead the goats home.  A few times.  He finally gave up and came back, stinky and with goats in tow and suggested I follow in the van and pick him up when we had the goats near their own property.  Voila!  Problem solved!

I had Thomas (my son) take this picture with his cell phone and there are a couple of things to notice.  The small 4 legged animal next to Jon (my husband) is Cocoa, our lab-border collie cross.   Cocoa is not a small dog.  She weighs about 45 lbs.  The three animals following them are the goats:  two bucks and a doe.  They are HUGE.  I am not sure what our neighbor keeps them for but we never see any kids and two of them are no good for dairy purposes.  They are either there to keep the grass down, feed the coyotes or for meat.

When I told our neighbor we were having problems with the goats showing up at our place and that I feared for my future garden, he offered us this solution.

Cattle prod

Cattle prod

I had never seen one before, but by the time our neighbor showed up, I had studied up on cattle prods on Google.  I knew where to buy them, both online and locally.  Now there’s something I never dreamed I’d know anything about!  Next time those goats come around, we’ll be armed and ready.  I’m still planning to electrify the fence around my garden when the time comes.