Monday, May 28, 2012

It takes a lot of shampoo to bathe a hog

Roxie came home from the breeder with lice.  Gross.  She didn't want to eat for a day and a half and seemed lethargic so I thought maybe it was the lice getting to her and I needed to do something about it so I could get her in good condition before her babies arrive.  A friend gave me some lice shampoo she got for her goats and I mixed it with some Shaklee Basic H detergent to make enough to cover a whole pig.

Yesterday she laid in her mud hole while I shampooed her and when I was done doing one side she rolled over for me to do the other.  I could tell it felt good.  When I was done she had a mud bubble bath.
I still saw lice on her today so I gave her another bath, this time with dog flea and tick shampoo mixed with Basic H.  These lice are big enough you can see them easily.  They're the size of a good sized tick and they're black.  I hope today's bath does the trick, if not I'll be spraying her with some "hobo oil".  It's a secret blend of ingredients a friend of mine gets from another friend who got it from someone else.  I have no idea what's in it but it smells like turpentine and some other familiar smells that bring back my childhood.  I can't figure out what it is but I kind of like the smell. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The humane way to castrate?

I had a new experience today, not one I enjoyed so much.  I've probably castrated about 15 to 20 goats in the past but I've always banded them.  You know, you put a tiny rubberband around the top of the scrotum and the testicles dry up and fall off in a few weeks.  I've read and been told it's more humane to cut the scrotum and remove the testicles and there's less chance of infection or things going wrong.  At the goat jamboree a friend  described to me how he does it and convinced me it was a better way than banding.  I know this is how veterinarians do it so I thought it must be best.   

I gave Otto a shot of Banamine (pain killer) about 30 minutes before I was ready to do it.  Next I drug James away from his work to hold him.  I poured alcohol on his scrotum (Otto's, not James').  Ok, grab the scissors, deep breath..... cut off 1/3 of the scrotum and pull out the first testicle.  I was surprised how hard it was to pull it out.  Yes, I pulled it and broke the epididymis.  I think that's the right word.  I didn't cut it.  Even to a woman it seems painful.  There were just a few drops of blood, really, just a very tiny bit.   After removing both testicles I sprayed some iodine on him, gave him a tetanus shot and put him back with his herd.  He walked with his tail tucked between his legs.  It's been about 3 1/2 hours now and he looks depressed and is hiding under the little playground in their pasture.  You know a goat doesn't feel good when he's removed himself from the herd.  Every now and then his mom goes to be near him.  As a matter-of-fact, right now all the goats are hanging out near the barn and she's calling to him to come but he won't.  I feel really bad and I'm not so sure this was the best thing to do.  Maybe tomorrow I'll feel differently.

Another reason I did this was because it's how you castrate a piglet only I'll use a scalpel instead of scissors because they don't dangle like a goat's.   I have till July or August till I have to worry about cutting piglets though. 

Oh my.

Welcome home, Roxie

Roxie was returned to us today by the farmer who handled the breeding.  He said what a nice pig she is.  Of course we knew that.  I met Roxie's boyfriend a few days ago.  He's pink, kind of.  It's hard to tell through all the dirt.   I wonder if she misses him.  She doesn't seem to mind not having to share food today.  She ate quite slowly which she never did when Velma was here. 

She was bred March 12th so her babies are due somewhere around July 4th.  The gestation period for pigs is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.  I think her teats are bigger but now I forget what they looked like when she left here.  I gave her some ear scratches and she seemed very happy. 

One of the first things she did when she came back home is some important housekeeping.  She dug her mudhole and dumped some water in it to take a bath. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A tub full of fish

Today the fish wagon made his delivery to the Farmer's Co-op.  I wasn't sure if my hot tub was ready for more fish yet but I didn't want to wait another month or 2 for the fish man to come back because it would take even longer to grow them to eating size.  I took a chance and placed my order for 100 six to eight inch channel catfish.  I really only wanted 50 but there's a minimum order of 100.  I hope I didn't overdo it.  The fish man said, "I have some even bigger", so I said, "ok, give me 50 of the smaller and 50 of the bigger".  This way some will be ready earlier.  They're beautiful and they look very cool in the hot tub.  They look bigger in the pictures than they do in person, I think. 

I hope I don't find them all dead tomorrow morning.  I planted some more plants in the grow beds hoping to support more fish.

So far 2 of the 5 red golden pheasant eggs hatched.  These chicks are soooo much smaller than chickens.  I should have expected that since their eggs are half the size of a chicken egg.  They also don't cuddle together like chickens and turkeys.  I looked at them in their rubbermaid tub awhile ago and they were on opposite sides looking dead. I touched them both and woke them.  Oops.  Just checking.  One is darker brown and the other has more yellow on it.  I hope one is a girl and one is a boy.

Cute little guys.  I hope the cricket in there with them doesn't keep them awake.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I've been letting a few bunnies out of their cages at a time for recess.  A friend gave me a little fence so they could feel grass on their feet.  I thought mama bunny would like it best since she's cooped up with 8 irritating babies.  I put all 9 of them in the playground.  I did not know baby bunnies can climb fences with ease.  They loved playing in the woodshed and under one of our outbuildings.  Three got out and it took me till dark to finally catch the last one and put it to bed.  The big rabbits behave and have stayed in the fence so far.
 The turkeys have more room to run now too.  I moved them into the shed the rabbits used to inhabit.  Three rabbits still live there but they're up off the ground in cages.  The turkeys look so tiny in this space.  In just one week they had outgrown their rubbermaid tub.  What a relief to get them outside.  I hope they don't escape.

Tonight the goats and donkeys got a special treat too.  James and I cut the wheat and afterwards let the goats and donkeys in that garden to browse.  They've been wanting to get in there for months. 

A little frog was using my window screen as a jungle gym tonight.  He was even better at climbing than the baby bunnies.   Soon after taking this picture he leapt to the ground like he was flying, probably because I kept touching his feet to make him move.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fixin' cheese and lamps

It's been a busy and good weekend.  Yesterday I attended a goat jamboree.  Few of us really know each other very well because we live so far apart.  This is a mid-atlantic minis (goats) Yahoo group.  It's fun putting faces with the names we know only from emails.  It was a good crowd and we had some good discussions and learned a lot.  I'm posting lots of pictures for those who were there.

 Tattooing an ear.
I love this picture and think this little blue eyed guy is adorable.

This year was my turn to be a demonstrator at the event.  About 14 of us gathered in the host's kitchen and made some cheeses.  It was a lot of fun (for me, anyway) and the cheese turned out as I had hoped.  I love when a group interacts while I'm doing something like this.  It's so much more fun. It was a pretty lively group and they made me feel very comfortable.

This is our guest veterinarian stretching cheese.  She had lots to offer yesterday and we had lots of questions for her.

It was fun being with folks who share a common interest - goats.

Today I was the guest speaker at a very different gathering.  I was invited to speak to a group of widows.  They meet once a month for dinner or to discuss a certain topic and have a potluck.  Today's topic was "when things need fixing".   I really had no idea where to begin.  I was led to believe it was a younger group (my age) so I was going to tell them how much I use the internet to learn how to do things.  Most of these women were older and I realized they probably would not be Googling or Youtubing anything so I decided to go about it in a different way.  I let them tell me what they struggle with and I would try to explain how I would go about fixing it.  I also showed them some of my favorite tools and how I used them.  We talked electric, plumbing and hanging things on walls.  One of the leaders brought an old lamp she wanted me to rewire so we did that.  It was a little more complex than I had anticipated because there was a small light in the bottom that needed an additional switch which we didn't have.  We got it working again and she was pleased.  I think the older ladies enjoyed watching me struggle at times and then they applauded when we plugged it in and it worked.

The husband of the host showed us how to sharpen knives and tools and check fluids in our cars.

I think all 6 widows left with my phone number in case they need help fixing something in their home.  It will be interesting to see if any of them call me. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's new?

It seems like a lot is new here.  Yesterday Tila gave birth to a sweet little girl, Respa.  I went out to the barn in the morning and there was a perfect little baby.  There was nothing for me to do but spray her umbilical cord with iodine, give Tila some molasses water and tell her what a good job she had done.
Remember Tila?  She's the one who cried for 3 days when I got her.  She's a quiet girl now and a good mom.

The turkeys arrived a week ago but it's kind of hard to get excited about having more chicks in the basement.  It seems like there's been some stinky bird down there for 3 months.  I'll be glad when they're all outdoors.  I still have those pheasant eggs in the incubator so if they hatch it will be awhile till our basement just smells damp and mildewy instead of stinky like bird poop. 
I'm building a goat shed for the boys so I can move them over to the field across the street.  It was easier to build it in the driveway and take it to the field in pieces so I guess it's a pre-fab goat house.  Today I'm painting it.

Keri thinks I built a dog house for her in the driveway.
She and the mammoth donkeys are shedding like crazy and look like real ragamuffins.
My spaquaponics project is coming along nicely, I think.  I planted lots of seeds and many of them have come up.
The water has cleared and the bottom is a pretty green.  I have 6 or 7 bass and sunfish Adam caught in the river and gave me.  They ate my 5 goldfish and 6 minnows.

A few nights ago we had a big rain storm and the hot tub overflowed.  The next day there was a dead bass in the lawn.  I don't know why our dogs didn't eat it.  Today Keri was barking at it and I thought there must be a snake nearby the way she was barking.  Nope, just 2 butterflies on her fish.  I don't know why she was so offended by them.
Tuesday a group of Washington and Lee U. students came for a farm tour.  They milked the goats, took a tour of the gardens and then went back to the teacher's house and I taught them to make ricotta, mozzarella and burrata cheeses.  I think it all went really well.
 It was a women's health class and they each made a dish that day that had a super food in it.  I got a really nice lunch out of the deal. 
Tomorrow I'm doing another cheese making demonstration at our 2nd annual goat jamboree.  It's a group I've gotten to know through the internet and it's a pretty friendly crowd.  It should be fun.

Adam moved to the Outer Banks for an internship.  He's working for 6 months at Wild Horse Adventure Tours.  He started giving tours 3 days ago and loves it.  Like his mom and dad, he's not shy and like his mom, he likes to talk so he should be good at his job.  So if you go to the Outer Banks this summer sign up for a tour and take a ride in a humvee on the beach looking for wild horses while being entertained by a handsome tour guide.  Most important, give him a big tip.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Goodbye Sweet Rosie

Rosie finally rested around Noon today.  She barked several times this morning and I saw her one back leg running so I hope that meant she was chasing squirrels or running in the field with Lex in her mind.  We buried her under a giant holly in a beautifully dug hole Adam's friend, Gus, dug for us.  He's in the army and says he's dug a lot of holes.  This one was the perfect size for a small coffin, very rectangular with straight edges.  It's what Rosie deserved, a very neat grave.  Thank you Gus.  James planted flowers on her grave and wrote her obituary which makes me laugh and cry.

I miss her.  She was my shadow.  Lex is a bit somber today too.  I wonder what goes through a dog's mind when they lose their littermate. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brave dogs

Here is our bravest dog of all.
Rosie has always been the tougher of our two boxers.  When she and Lex were sprayed by a skunk Lex ran screaming and crying.  Even though she was sprayed in the face she refused to let the skunk win.  He didn't.  If the 2 of them got into trouble we always assumed Rosie was the leader.  Lex was happy to follow. 

Tonight she's still fighting - for her life.  For the past few months she has been losing her balance.  Occasionally she'd fall down the stairs until she figured out how to do it very slowly and carefully.  Two days ago she could no longer keep her balance to stand so I lifted her onto her favorite bed, a daybed in the den where I'm now typing.  She hasn't moved much since I put her there.  We've all said our goodbyes to her many times and told her it's ok to let go.  Most of the time she seems to be resting.  Her chest is rattling now so I can't imagine she can fight much longer.  So we wait and we cry and we tell her we love her. 

On a lighter note, here's a video of another brave dog.

She never did touch the snake. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

College Graduate

My son graduated from college today.  Guess how I'm feeling tonight?
Sometimes the beautiful people let me get in the picture with them. 

It may have rained on the ceremony but I don't think it dampened any spirits.  It was a very good day.
In case you read this, Adam.  I love you and am very proud of the man you've become.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gathering eggs at night

I'm back to milking at night which means I also gather eggs in the dark.  One of my hens is broody and is sitting in one of the two nests the hens lay in so they've found a new place to lay under the 2 nests.  I can't see in the coop to gather them and I have to count them by feel.  Tonight it felt like quite a few in there and they were still warm.  I felt around to grab a few at a time and realized what I was feeling was too smooth, warm and definitely not eggs.  I came in the house to get a flashlight and drag James out with me to look. 

Yeah, that's what I thought.

We decided to let him have them and hope he's gone in the morning.  I doubt he'll bother the chickens.  They might bother him if he's still there in the morning.