Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Thursday, December 03, 2009
The does, on the other hand, aren't helping. They're wailing like cry babies, strutting their stuff along the fence lines (driving the boys crazy), and otherwise being obnoxious.
I chose this line of work as a profession only AFTER having completed graduate school NOT in the animal sciences. My graduate work was for me. I needed to know I could do it and do it well. But once you learn how to learn, you can tackle any task.
This learning task wasn't a curve but a spike for the first few years. You know you've growing as a breeder when you don't have to call your vet every time someone gets hurt or bleeds, or needs annual shots because YOU know what to do. But it's nice knowing she's a phone call away.
So why do I do this? I'm passionately in love with my goats and their milk. Goat milk is nectar from the Gods. Besides being delicious, its beneficial properties are almost endless.
Birthing the babies every spring is exhilarating. Observing the bonding between mom and babies, ignites a flame within me that warms the entire barn.
Watching the babies grow, identifying the best confirmation and future breeders impacts our herd's integridity beyond measure. We're getting closer to producing the goat confirmation that I like. Imagine that! Being able to do that is truly a miracle.
So from not knowing how to milk to breeding goats for a specific look/confirmation is quite an acomplishment for this city girl.
Several pictures have been uploaded to our website for your preview.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Absentmindedly focusing only on the now and could be, I was immediately reminded of family when I received a call from the manager of my mother’s apartment wanting to know what happened last night. That's a scary question coming from anyone but from where my mother lives, it became a sharp, significant concern. As the story unfolded I became acutely aware that mother could no longer live alone. She's 86 and has dementia.
For the past four years, she has been surrounded by wonderful people. Neighbors who dropped by for a chat, visited for a few minutes, took turns checking on her, calling her to see how she was doing, and offering to do something to help. Many kept her company until her next nap or the next football game came on TV. Thank you all for what you have meant to mother. But a time comes with neighbors can no longer provide the care and concern that is needed. It is time for family.
I received my call this morning. By the time I arrived at her apartment, the nightly puzzle began fitting together. Mother is getting more confused in the evenings than during the day. Her frequent falls aren't helping either. Sometime she doesn't remember falling much less remember whether she's taken her pills or not.
She took the wrong sleeping pill last week. I so carefully counted each and every pill as I put them in the her weekly organizer but she managed to pick out the pill she wanted to help her sleep. Trouble is that it was a strong pill. We decided to let her sleep it off while we talked about increasing our care. We hovered over her for three days. She's fine -- just confused and forgetful.
She's home with me now so I can watch her more carefully. Between the four dogs and our alarm system, we'll know where she is every minute of the day.
Mother is taking a nap now but when she awakens, will she remember where she is. Apparently dementia strikes in the blink of an eye as her memory fades and she becomes confused. I’ve seen a bit of it in her but I suspect her confusion will increase. Hopefully slowly but it will increase.
I’ll continue producing my goat milk bath products whenever possible. But please know that when mother calls, I will be with her.
Prayers are most appreciated.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This year I thought I'd try cutting them off after the babies were about six months old (in the fall or winter so there will be no flies). Well, yesterday was our first day. Mind you, I have never done this before. (Like so many things out here this, too, is a learning spike.) The first horn I cut was at a slant. Terrific. Now we have to fix that. OK, I clearly need more instruction. Off to the vet we go ... .
Dr. Betka removed horns from three of the four little boys. Jordan and I got our lesson on the fourth little guy. Oh, she makes it look so easy. sigh ... .
Anyway, the boys were so bloody that we left them at the vet's office for about three hours so the blood would dry. They're home now, bloody faces and all. We'll start cleaning them up as soon as we can catch them again. They're a little sensitive right now; and, did I mention mad at me?
I might get within camera range. IF they let me take pictures, I'll upload a few.
Seeing how this process is going, I'm not sure how I'll do this next season. We'll see how dehorning the rest of the babies goes. Check back ...
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Kids of all ages came to 'pet the goat'. Many folks said they came by looking for the crying baby when they noticed that the sound led them to a GOAT. Imagine their surprise!
I'm amazed at how many folks had goats in their youth. Love your stories! Yes, goats are truly amazing creatures.
Natalie wasn't in Jordan's lap all day. It just looks that way. But this time Jordan didn’t leave Natalie’s side. (Thanks Jordan) At the Badin Festival Natalie had a meltdown when she ran into a metal chair trying to get away from several children who came running to pet her. My back was turned working with customers when I heard the metal chair fall and ruckus.
NOTE: Hey guys, you scared the baby! Remember, she’s a baby (only six months old). Parents: Please ask your children to approach the goat slowly so she’ll be curious and want to approach them. I know, easier said than done. When I was their age, I ran everywhere, too.
Anyway, the rodeo happened so fast we just waited for the ride to settle down so we could help everyone relax and untangle themselves. No one got hurt. Everything worked out well and Natalie settled down quickly. Lessons learned: Keep a closer eye on the goat.
Natalie is a professional now. She’s attended two festivals where folks came to see her and pet her. She’s a real show-off, full of herself and absolutely wonderful.
Nope, she’s not for sale but a few of her herd mates are. Some goats are forever-goats; Natalie is one of them. She's a lap-goat for now but soon, very soon, she'll outgrow Jordan's lap. Hang in their Jordan.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Now, I panic whenever anyone sneezes, coughs, has diarrhea, doesn’t eat, or separates herself from the herd. Coccidia are another red flag, but, again; that’s another story.
The first time I saw sore mouth I thought ugh what now. It’s a good thing I have a wonderful vet. Anyway, I called her and described the sores on Willie’s mouth. She calmly explained that sore mouth was a virus, it’s highly contagious, can limit the goat’s ability to eat because the sores are painful, and nothing can be done about it. You just ride it out. Noooooooooooo, I didn’t want to hear that.
We have to do something! All of my boys are at risk now. Do you have any idea how hard it is to do nothing! Sigh … .
No, I was going to do something! But what? I could catch sour mouth. I could spread it to the dogs! This thing is nasty! To top it off, Willie was in rut. That in and of itself is nasty (rut is when the boys come into ‘season’ and attract the ladies by peeing on their face; I’m not a goat, don’t see the romance here, but the goat ladies love it.)
Quarantine. I’ll quarantine them! A quarantine area is an absolute must on a goat ranch! Once you have a designated quarantine area, you will love it. A quarantine area is a space where no noses can touch; where no sneeze splatters can reach anyone else; well lit, good ventilation, and where the entire space can be sanitized.
Now, what do I use for sanitization? That depends on the cause for quarantine. My favorite sanitization tool is fire but you really have to be careful with this one. Clorox is good, but by all means check with your vet.
Well, my vet was right, again, (thanks Dr. Amy) we all made it through Willie’s sour mouth, no one else got it, and Willie is doing fine. We figure the sour mouth came from an outside goat that I had purchased a while back. At the time I hadn’t heard of sour mouth (rookie). Sigh again, since we’re going to certain issues as long as we have goats, the quarantine area seems to be a ‘requirement’.
Concrete floor, washable walls, good ventilation, fresh water, close to the ranch clinic, and isolated from the herd. Just what you needed, another project.
I’ll get ready for the next story …
Monday, September 21, 2009
Most of these venues allow us to bring a goat so we double our fun.
This year we brought Natalie. She's five months old and was a perfect lady. We didn’t know how she would react because this is the first time she’s been off the ranch. She met oodles of new friends who wanted to pet her and even allowed a baby to play with her ears – for a moment. However, when she did get stressed, she jumped onto Jordan's lap. Yup, Jordan was a busy lady, too. Natalie was exhausted and slept all the way home.
A special 'thank you' goes to Jordan's friend, Mia, who helped with the soaps and the goat. Mia, you made our event even more fun and stress-free. Thank you for being with us.
Our goat milk bath soaps and beauty lotions were received very well. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. As usual the favorite essential oil aroma was lavender. I'll make more lotion today.
Lemon was introduced as our newest soap and coordinating lotion. Most folks liked it for its citrus sensation and agreed that it would feel tingly on their toes.
I'm working on our festival schedule and will publisher it as soon as it's more organized.
Thank you for coming by our booth. It was fun to see how many of you used the magic word and received a free soap sample. Be on the lookout for the next magic word so you can get your next free soap sample.
Happy soaping, Pat
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Meet my husband Bob and Sherry Red. It looks like she giving him an ear smooch but she's REALLY after his hat. It's straw.
The good news is that it has a metal band around the rim and has survived many a goat mibble. The bad news is that the goats outnumbered him one day and got the hat.
Bob likes his new hat almost as much as he had become accustomed to his 'other' hat. It's a new straw had so now we have a new game to play.
Let's see how long the new hat looks new. Shall we?
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
These two little guys are in the running and they have no idea how lucky they are. Boys are selected based on their mama’s udder, their confirmation, coloring, and disposition.
The cream colored guy, Swift, is my main selection from the 2009 babies. That is, if he continues developing well.
The brown buck, Wilson, is another strong contender.
Swift is a little skittish and hard to catch so we’re all holding him as often as possible. I don’t chase goats so if he wants to be a breeder, he’ll have to settle down. Wilson, on the other hand, is easy to catch, is a good smoocher, and a true lover.
Our main man, Bucky, is getting older and will be retiring soon. He’s earned his retirement. Ah … that is IF he will retire. We’ll see.
But these little guys must make it through the winter. We lost two promising bucks last January. Even though we’ll be applying every lesson learned to keep the guys alive and developmentally on track; in the end, they have to be strong enough to make it -- on their own.
Their ability to survive is part of the selection process. Tuffffff, I know, but a requirement. As a breeder, I want these little guys to survive and be strong but I can only do so much. It's that strength that we're building into our herd.
Also, we have three more boys in the running but right now they're just a little too young to know for sure. We'll be watching them, too.
I’ll be happy to let you know how these guys develop over the next several months.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This photo is of Lester taking in his new world as he takes his first steps out of his birthhut.
Since this was Minnie's first delivery, she wasn't too sure what this little white thing was.
The look on her face told me that she was still thinking about it. If I were in her place, I'd wonder, too. Ladies, think about it. We know what's happening. Minnie didn't. How you explain the concept of pregnancy, or babies, or birth pains to a goat?
Lady Minnie has had several kids since Lester. She has become so versed in how to push those kids out that her most recent baby went flying about six inches. She has never needed help during her deliveries. She in complete control.
Other dams have needed my assistance, though. I've learned how to be a mid-sife with Minnie's help. She's as good at teaching me as she is in raising babies.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
They're amazing. They are so curious and cautious it took them longer to decide whether to approach the strange plants than it did to eat them. Contrary to the rumors, goas do NOT eat everything. They TASTE everything because that's how they sense their world. But it's been our experience that they are picky eaters.
After a very slow approach, the oldest goat in the group (Johnny) took the first sniff. Ashley stepped up slowly and tasted one leaf. OK. Got it. Decision made ... everyone was in on the treat. Needless to say they devowered all the plant trimmings.
We did make sure that these plants weren't toxic. Actually, we don't grow ANY toxic plants on our property. This way we can toss all our garden trimming waste to the goats.
How 'green' is that?
Friday, August 14, 2009
I say this with affection because Lester was our FIRST little surprise. We got his mama, Minnie, because she was little and her previous owner didn't want her to get pregnant. Little did we know that she would deliver a little gift.
Minnie was our first doe who taught us how to care for goats; the deworming, the feeding dry matter versus grain, coccidia, parasites, hoof trimming ... all those things. She's my best goat friend.
One morning I looked out in her pen, as I usually do every day, when I noticed 'something white' in her pen with her. I ran out to the front pasture, in jammies of course, and found this little bundle of joy. Oh yes, we have pictures of himself. Tons and tons of pictures. He was our first goat baby. Of course, we have pictures.
Lester is almost six now and still growing. He's up to over two-hundred pounds and owns the pasture. Being a boer-nubian mix, he has an extremely thick coat that we shear every spring. Otherwise, he'd fry in the summer months. Actually, we shear all the goats for this reason. It's just HOT here in North Carolina.
Any way, Jordan was feeling fiesty, as usual, when she got a bit goat-creative. All for the good because her designs inspired me to offer advertising to a few local merchants for a parade. It didn't sell because they wanted ME to walk him in the three-mile up-hill-down-hill parade. ah ... no thanks.
Apparently we need to re-think this concept. Once we get the bugs out of our Lester Advertising program, I'll let you know more about it. Who knows, you might want to advertise on Lester one of these day. :)
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Naming our place Sleeping Dog Ranch was a stroke of genius, even though we didn't realize it at the time. Our pace setters are sleeping dogs, napping cats, and dozing goats; the chickens are the only ones out scratching. What a perfect time for relaxing, renewing, and reflecting.
Last week's work load was steady. That's always good because we can pace ourselves for the next week. The goats are looking good, firm body condition, pink eyes, and steady appetite. Their coats are shinny and healthy looking. Their weight is holding.
I get the feeling that our FAMACHA program is working. That’s refreshing because we’ve put so much effort in maintaining their health. I had no idea that we had such a BAD internal parasite infestation. I just couldn’t understand why our babies died. They looked good to me.
Duh … the light finally went on. Unfortunately it took the life of a 7-week-old baby and a buckling to cause a major response. What ever we were doing wasn’t enough.
We’ve had the equipment and chemicals to perform FAMACHA for several months but we didn’t have a place to put it. (Didn’t count: You GOTTA DO THOSE TESTS -- REGIOUSLY.)
OK, need established. Bob and I bought two counter base units and a 6 foot counter top on Saturday. He found a place near our soap factory to put it and built the workstation on Sunday. On Monday Jordan and I were collecting fecal matter.
That was ab0ut two months ago, maybe three. My days sort of run together. Anyway, we sorted about 30 goats based on care need: eye color combined with body condition (gender of course, we already had 18 babies to care for).
No ONE was clear of internal parasites. Jordan discovered that coccidia was a major issue; our vet told us that if you see ONE coccidia in the microscope, you administer Corid to that goat. Fortunately or not, we found many, many coccidia so the entire herd was treated – immediately. We medicated them in their water and with their feed.
Jordan also discovered several different types of internal parasites. (She’s now an export.) I’ve kept records of who-got-what-when for years so we administered Cydectin to everyone; it was next on the list of rotation dewormers.
Ten days later everyone received their Cydectin dosage – again.
Ten days after this, Jordan started taking fecal samples – again.
From these records, we know which goat has a propensity for getting internal parasites; some immune systems are stronger than others. This will make a difference in our breeding program.
We’ve divided our pastures into paddocks so we can manage the grasses better.
· Implement testing procedures immediately
· Maintain records
· Manage pastures (rotate, fertilize)
· Maintain Goat Exam Calendar in barn where everyone sees it
· Reduce population (This is the hard one for me.)
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The first picture is Jordan giving Minnie a bath. After Minnie is dry she'll be sheared for the summer. It gets HOT here in North Carolina. Ah, while Minnie is on the stanchion Jordan will retrieve a bit of fecal matter for testing. Jordan has really gotten good and fast in that retrieval.
We employ the FAMACHA technique and guage eye color weekly. We conduct our own fecal tests, do the math, and record the data.
Moving data from Excel to Access will further help us manage our herd better. It's amazing how much better goats look and feel when they're parasite free.
The other pictures of of Ashley catching babies for their fecal testing. Here Ashley is holding Natalie following her fecal contribution.
The third picture is of Natalie following Ashley to the feed bin. No stress here. We're very gentle with our goats. All of them.
If you're interested in a baby nubian, let me know. Many yearling does are for sale.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Goat milk is my drug of choice so this is a wonderful experience. Imagine making goat milk cheeses in the morning and goat milk soaps in the afternoon. Need I say how much we love it out here.
It's also nice to share our passion with friends and family. For example, I'm a member of the Stanly County Art Guild and we're having a contest on decorating shoes. (It's an art thing and a whole lotta fun.) Any way, I delivered my entry last night and took some goat milk cheeses for the gang. To my surprise, the Guild was hosting a reception for a summer art explosion and the cheeses came in handy on the refreshment tables. (I definately need to be more efficient with my calender events.) We have some outstanding artists in Stanly County. I'm honored to be a member of the Guild.
Our gallery is Falling Rivers Art Gallery www.fallingriversgallery.com
Check it out. We're good and having fun.
Friday, July 31, 2009
EZ solution ... I'll make cheeses. It's been while but cheesemaking is fun. My cultures have been frozen so they're OK.
First I'll start with soft chevre-type cheeses. These will help refresh my memory. Then I'll start with gouda-type cheeses. They're delicious.
Since I'm not licenses to sell these cheeses I'll be preparing them for gifts (Christmas, birthdays, justbecause gifts).
I'll take pictures then put them online for you fellow hobbiests.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Think we need to put several babies BACK with their mamas. I need help with all this milk.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
But, you know, I observe the herd several times throughout the day and both of these little guys looked healthy, alert, and ate along with everyone else. They gave me no clue as to what was going on with them. No clue from the edge of the fence, that is.
Lessons learned: get in there, get a hold of your goats, physically check their eyes, their poop, and their temperature; maintain the logs, watch for trends; know which goats have 'tendencies' or 'weaknesses' then retire them. The emotional and financial devistation will be worth NOT breeding these guys again.
OK. We've had goats since 2003 and have learned things I didn't know existed. Just to mention a few: Didn't think I could give injections, didn't think I could pull a baby, didn't think I could sleep in the barn, didn't think I could ... . (You fill in the blank.)
The objective for having goats is to have goat milk for our skin care products (soaps and lotions for now). The objective is NOT to have so many goats that they don't have room to run, graze, and be healthy. We're reckoning that we'll be reducing our herd production next year.
We'll be making a few changes next year; but we're not really sure what they'll be yet. Please stay tuned so you can help me decide.
Thank you for all your support.
Warmest regards, Pat Allen, MidWife
Thursday, June 25, 2009
PS We call it The White House because it is white, houses the new and the old goats, is full of hot air (the fans run 24/7 just so everyone can breath), and is living quarters of the poop-makers -- our beloved Nubians.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I'm guessing that Trace jumped on an interior fence and got his leg caught in one of the holes in the fencing. I first noticed that he had been limping for a couple of days but NEVER put his weight on that little leg, while the other kids had been walking on all fours, sorta.
It was time to check it out. Sure, with a ginky leg he'll be easy to catch. Ha, that little bugger could move. Finally, I caught him then started examining his little leg. He fussed big-time when I moved his wrist/ankle.
These guys have an incredible pain threshold when they want to. Other times they'll scream at the top of their lungs if you touch them. Anyway ... a trip to the vet was in order. Field trip!
Two x-rays told the story: YUP it was broken. It was, however, a 'good break'. If you consider broken anything as 'good'. I believe that means 'it will heal well'. Hope so ... .
The vet wrapped his little leg in heavy gause then covered it with a bright lime green vet-wrap. Terrific ... hey, if you're gonna be ginky, you might as well 'look good.'
Back at the barn ... the photos tell the story.
When he first entered the Mall, everyone seemed confused. Little sister, Emily, was the first to greet Trace.
Then, as the others noticed something different, they began hovering around him.
The crowd grew!
Finally, mama came in and all was right with the World.
Mr. Trace gets two baby asprins in the morning and evening to help with the pain. By the way, he does like his cherry flavored asprin. We go back to the vet weekly for a cast change.
At this point, we don't know how long it will take for his leg to heal. But, Trace's mama soothes him at night and his sisters nap with him during the day. We keep the siblings in a pen so he won't have to run and jump with the others.
Little guy needs his rest.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Many of you have wanted to know more about the goats. What an honor it would be to introduce the herd to you. But first, allow me to give you a timeline for the past year. Just to quickly get you caught up.
The barn (aka The White House) was finished in early November 2007. It's a metal building with a partial concrete floor, water (complete with an outside drain), electricity, and fans, fans, and more fans. We designed it with ventilation in mind 'cause we have hot, humid summers here in North Carolina. When mama is hot, ain't nobody comfortable!
We used a PremierOne panel system throughout and it's working well. It's a 2 x 2 inch welded galvanized steel panel based on a 4 foot module. Modules are efficient in many ways, for us anyway. The Husband is an architect and thinks 90 degree angles and modules.
We used livestock panels to make our own hay racks. Since the goats mob each other, we made two hay racks so they can run from one to the other. What a hoot. When one goat moves the the other rack, they all have to move to the other rack. But, surprisingly, one or two goats have learned that by staying put, they have the hay all to themselves.
We have two handsome bucks: Bucky (dad) and Vince (son). Vince bred Bucky's daughters in the front pasture while Bucky bred his favorite ladies in the new barn. Then, like magic, the babies started arriving 155 days later.
What a georgious group of babies! We are blessed with 6 girls and 5 boys. Some are black, like Bucky; and, some are brown, like Vince. All are doing well, growing as usual and sucking up the milk like little pigs.
They've been disbudded, too. Actually, Dr. Betka disbudded the first batch while I disbudded the second batch. Since this was my first attempt at disbudding, I was unnerved quite a bit. Scarry is a mild word for what was going on with me. Imagine putting a branding iron on the top of a baby's head, smelling the burning hair and flesh, and listening to them scream! Holding them still while burning the top of their head wasn't an option so having a helping hand is mandatory. Terrific! now I could burn my helper, Cody. She's a high school student who help us our here. Cody is indespinsible. Without her, we'd be wayyyyy behind on our cleaning and managing chores.
It's baby feeding time. More later ...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Seventeen little darlings have arrived so far; with one more doe due any day, ... the wait continues. Kidding season demands that someone be at the ranch 24/7. In the past, it's been me and my barn cot. But this year we have Jordan and, it's been the best season ever.
Jordan has been sleeping in the barn for the past two weeks. As well as one can sleep with 10 mamas and 17 babys bouncing off the metal barn walls. Oh yeah, the babies love rumnning UP the barn wall ... guess they like to see how high they can go. Either that or the like the noise. This photograph shows the walls and will give you an idea of how they could run UP the wall. The ridges help them go higher, and the sand gives them a soft landing pad.
The babies are on top of these dog houses more than they are in them. Not quite what we had in mind but, hey, their creativity is what makes the barn such an interesting place. The mamas are not too happy with the dog houses because their babies get inside and go to sleep -- out of sight. We're always lifting the houses to locate a baby so mama can stop fretting. Oh yeah. the mamas do take care of their babies.
It's a good thing Jorday already has a pet mouse. Otherwise, she'd probably want to take a few of the barn mice home with her. Instead, she's just been feeding them. Go figure.
Mama Gayle is feeding her 5 pound baby Moon while she looks for her OTHER daughter. Watching these mamas care for two or three babies makes me want to help them even more. We keep the families in seperate pens for the first 3 or 4 days so they can get to know each other before we put them in the mall area.
It sort of goes without saying that my days (and many nights) are devoted to the goats instead of making soaps. But we're almost through this kidding season so soap production is back on the daily life schedule here at the Sleeping Dog Ranch Nubians.
We hope you enjoy reading about our life in the barn.
More later ...
Pat Allen, aka Gran' Nanny (It's wonderful loving on the babies then putting them BACK into the pen with their mamas.)