Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rodeo Memories

I finally filled the memory card on my camera. I'm finally being forced to delete things off of there. Which means a few days of organizing pictures on the computer and making sure all files are there before I delete them off the memory card. (Yes, I realize I should probably do this every time I download...)

In organizing i realized I never posted about some of my favorite Events this year.

SEE- sometimes procrastination pays off, you find things you forgot in the process. Right???!?!?!?

Anyways

Nathan was in 2 rodeos this year. Mutton Bustin'


The first was a Bull-a-rama event in April.

He did pretty good, although they held him on the sheep the whole time.

The second was more of a real rodeo, outdoors with all events. And this time they put the kids on the sheep and let them run. It was fun to watch. Although I'm not sure I'll be able to convince him to do it again. He fell off at the end "on his head" according to him.


 Making sure he was on, and got a good grip before releasing the sheep.


This pic is my fav. With the clown racing full out to keep up


Look at him hang on right to the end. It was the sheep coming to an abrupt stop that finally caused him to fall

And the tears about falling off after. Needed hugs from both Mom and Grandpa.

I love being in the country where these kind of events are more accessible, I really can't wait till the boys are at an age for 4-H. I'm going to talk them into to going so I can tag along, and figure out some more things too. Maybe they should offer 4-H classes for adults with no clue about farming? I'd join.

More Goat issues

Right now were having more goat problems.
BIG goat problems.
But I'm really upset about it, I can't figure out what were doing wrong, or how to correct it. So until I have some more answers, I'm not sure I can say a lot about it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Larry Stinks

Okay so we had goats since August, and to be honest They smell like animals to me. Maybe I've adjusted my nose, but really I couldn't figure out why everyone complains about goat smell.
But this new goat
PHEW!
After being in the auction yard he's covered in poop from who knows what, but he's got stinky goat smell underneath.
HE STINKS!!!
Really truly stinks.
The worst part it's way to cold to scrub him down, so we get to put up with stink goat till spring? Not happy.

Oh and his name has become Larry by default.

Nathan immediately wanted to name him Linus.
That seemed like bad karma.
So I through Larry in the ring, along with a few other suggestions.
I also posted this picture on facebook
Announcing the arrival of our new goat.
And how much my van stunk after his ride home- *Note* to self- only buy goats in warm weather from now on, so we can use the truck instead of the van to transport them.****
Mentioning, that Nathan wanted to name him Linus and I was thinking Larry.
Suddenly everyone had a goat name...
Bob
Hank
Mr. Tumnus
And my favorite Zye as in Zygote.
I think Zye is hilarious and immediately tried to use it.
The only problem is once Nathan and Chris find a name they cling to it.
(the cat that suppose to be named Chevy, but hasn't been called that in over a year???)
So Larry had already stuck.
It might be just as well, I have no plans to breed Larry in, so he probably won't be here very long, I'd rather keep the name Zye for our next Buck.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Because Santa doesn't deliver goats

As I mentioned in the previous post, we hit up the Sheep and Goat auction yesterday

ME + Auction = B-A-D

I could have come home with a hundred critters, without batting an eye.

I already said how tempting the lots of 7-12 wethers were. Especially one, that had 7 or 8 cuties. All with shiny well brushed coats. They were full of life and energy, and only averaging at 35 pounds. They were just babies. The only reason they escaped coming home with me was, I could just imagine the look on Chris' face when I told him to cram 8 of them in the back of the minivan.

Then there was the Sheep. I was smart enough to sit on my hands every time the auctioneer called out something was a cull. But one little sheep stole my heart completely. It was a good thing all the boys were fussing or it would have been in the van too!
It was the sweetest little brown and white lamb. In a lot with two little white ones. Every time they were prodded in one direction, this little brown and white cutie would take a flying leap trying to hurdle the other two and be in front. If sheep had true elbows it would have been a sheep mosh pit. I loved his antics and truly thought about ignoring the sheep ban for this little one.

About 3/4 of the way through the sheep (which was 2 and half hours of just waiting for us), a hutterite came in with a crate full of puppies. I was up pacing the floor trying to give a cranky Greg a new view. One glance at those puppies I knew they were at least a good part Pyrenees and I made a bee line back to my seat. There was 4 of them. 2 girls and 2 boys apparently. They were still releasing and catching the pups as the bidding started. The bidding went up and up fast for first selection. Bidders choice was at $110 before all the pups were sexed. Which determined there was in fact only one female, who was of course snatched up by the bidder with first rights. Left with 3 males Chris was giving me the evil eye not to bid. I wasn't going to, until the auctioneer dropped the price back to 25...then 15. I was busy giving the puppy dog eyes to Chris (all puns intended) when the numbers rocketed again 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 42...47. I think it ended up at 57 a pup, all I know is the bidder took them all. So not 3rd or 4th tries. I'm sure Chris was saying a prayer of thanks under his breath.



We sat in the very front row at the auction. And although it tugged at my heart strings to meet half of these darlings eye to eye. Especially when they came to the bars to cry out their protests and frustrations of their situation. It was also quite the education. A massive amount of sheep were there from a herd dispersal. The auctioneer said the owner was headed in for surgery and selling everything. These turned out to be great bench mark sheep. Watching those sheep come in, some with obviously pregnant bellies hanging low. I started to watch the way they all moved and was able to access the differences from a healthier flock to the culls. Of course many of the culls were blindly obvious. A pair came in missing a massive amount of wool from their back ends and sided. I just had this flash of "How would you keep these guys from getting frostbite?"
There were others too. One came in with only half a back leg. A full grown Ewe, but from the knee down there was nothing.
Another mixed lot of about 15 came in, and some of them looked like they had clubs instead of a hind leg. The leg was swollen and thick, with no bending where a knee should be. The herder that worked for the auction house announced they all had foot rot. So I got a "ring side view" of what that looks like.
I've seen illustrations of how you DON'T want a sheep's hind legs to look


Once when a flock came in together, half of them were tripping over each other, and most of them fell. That's when illustrations like these started to make sense. As soon as the animals were standing still you could see almost everyone of them had deformities like this, or even more pronounced in their hind legs.

Overall, we came home with just one male goat; which is what we went for. Although he's a billy instead of a wether like I'd hoped. He is however a decent size at 60 pounds he should be fine around Romeo. (Who seems to be in constant Rut) I hope it all works out as planned.
It was a fast lesson in sheep too. If your paying attention you can learn a lot sitting that close to the action. Although I still can't always be sure how much something is going for. Is there an Auctioneer to English dictionary you can get somewhere?

Monday, December 20, 2010

restocking the barn.

 It was the last Goat and Sheep auction of the year. Since we're desperate to move Romeo back out of the girls barn (where he's been living for heat since Linus' departure). We made it a priority to get there today.
OH Man, did it take forever!
I swear they ran through hundreds, and I mean HUNDREDS of sheep. Were estimating it was probably close to 800 head. All I know is it took over 2 and 1/2 hours before they even started the goats.

I was originally hoping to come home with a whether, but I came home with another little Billy instead. All of the whether's were being sold in groups of 7 to 12. I couldn't quite justify bring home that many goats at once.
 They said he weighs in at approx. 60 pounds. Which I figured was a fair size to be around our other goats.

I wanted to isolate him for a week or 2. but Chris, has thrown him straight in with Romeo, more worried about him being to cold in the barn alone.
So the plan is to shoot all the goats with black leg and de-wormer tomorrow, and I guess just pray he isn't carrying anything.

See, if I'd bought 7 or more whethers they could have kept each other warm and stayed in isolation.

Nathan wants to call this guy Linus, but that seems like bad karma.

I've been trying all afternoon to convince him the goats name is Larry. Well see if it sticks.

Other than one ear that looks a little chewed on, and he seems a little on the skinny side. He's alert and very vocal. So fingers crossed I can pick relatively healthy goats now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Water

Our water test came out pretty good. The Well guy didn't do a potable drinking water test on site. but the quick analysis that he did do noted that it was clear, with no sediment, a slight chlorine smell (but noted we had shocked the well yesterday) and some gas bubbles.
Yeah gas bubbles.
The gas, that they are probably looking to drill is already in our water. Enough of it, that Well guy was actually able to light our water on fire.

Maybe not quite to the extent of this video, but I had to check it out and see what it actually looks like to light water on fire.


Nice huh?
 I wonder if our water will still be deemed potable/drinkable when the actual lab tests come back.
We already don't drink it because it tastes too salty, but the animals all do!

Well Water and Big Oil

This afternoon I'm waiting for the well guy.
We were approached by an oil and gas company in September. They want to do 3 test seismic blasts on the far end of our land. Part of the conditions are they will check our well water before and after the blasting tests.
The well guy is coming today to do the initial check, so I guess their going ahead with their test blasts soon.

It left us kind of scrabbling when Well guy called yesterday. Chris has been meaning to shock the well for months and hasn't gotten around to it. But he wasn't going to let them test our drinking water without trying to make it as clean as possible before hand. So about 8 liters of bleach went down the well last night. The cistern got a flush and a clean out. I spent a good part of the morning running water to flush the cistern a second time. Although I'm sure the water will still show a high concentration of bleach, I'm hoping it will at least test better than it would have.

I'm not totally thrilled about having the seismic tests done on our land. But it was very obvious that the company would simply test 10 feet from our fence on the neighbors land if we didn't agree. I thought it was better to allow them to do it here, so we have a paperwork trail if something goes wrong. Like they collapse our well or poison it. Not that I'm expecting them to do that with the initial blasts, but if they find enough gas under our marsh and probably the Ducks Unlimited area across the street, then they'll go ahead with a full drilling rig. Which is what I'm even more upset abut. There is a very high likely hood that they will directionally drill from an adjacent piece of land. Since the marsh area would be to unstable and most of our land surround the marsh is covered in trees. This means we will get absolutely N-O-T-H-I-N-G if they choose to drill. Nothing. because we only own surface rights. They can take whatever they want from underneath our land, create all sorts of problems and disturbances, and take it from whatever "direction" is most convenient for them.

It kind of goes without saying that I hope their seismic tests come out badly. I hope they don't find enough gas to make it worth their time. Because I'm not particularly looking forward to the extra traffic, the noise, probably blinding lights etc. from a drilling rig right across the field. Okay probably across the field and over a fence. It irritates me, since if they came and took the gas and screwed anything like the water supply up, or if the house shifted, or any sort of damage. We would end up in a court battle to get them to acknowledge it. A court battle we would be paying for out of pocket until/unless we won. So it make me pretty hot that they can just come in and take whatever they want, and not have to pay for anything but a minuscule amount for access and space on whomever's "surface" they choose to use. While they "rape" underneath anyone's and everyone's land they choose too. Without the landowners being able to have a say ,or pretty much do anything about it. Even if we had not signed off on these initial tests, they could have done the test from the neighboring land, gotten a good idea of what the whole area would yield and choose to drill right underneath us without ever really getting or needing our permission.

And Now,
Now I understand why so many people bitch and complain about big oil and gas companies.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stupid Goat

We lost Linus Thursday night!
I'm MAD! Stupid goat up and died on me! I thought we we're going to pull him through. I feel like he just gave up and stopped fighting for his life. We tried really hard to nurse him back, and Wednesday it looked like we might get him back. By Thursday, he wouldn't even put the effort in, to drink or to stand. I'm mad at the stupid goat for being a quitter, even if the odds were stacked against him.
I'm really trying not to view our animals as pets anymore, so I wasn't totally crushed like if it had been one of the dogs. What I'm mad about, is losing animals may be the way of life on the farm, but I want to learn something from each one so we can prevent it in the future.

With Linus I'm not sure if it was totally the cold that killed him, or if he went down with something else in the cold.
Yes, I'm sure he had hypothermia.
I read that although you may be able to rewarm the animal, if their internal organs have begun shutting down, they don't really have a hope in survival.

I think this is what happened to Linus. Although we were able to warm him up, and by Tuesday he was looking better. He was on his feet, eating and drinking. By Wednesday he still wasn't pooping, which makes me believe his Rumen shut down. Apparently a goat that sufferers hypothermia, will go into survival mode, where the where the "essential" organs will get blood, and the heat/nutrients to stay alive, but the goats body doesn't consider the rumen an "essential" organ, and it can be the first to shut down. Building up bacteria, and obviously if the food is going in, but not coming out the bacteria will increase.

So I believe Linus was going through slow system shut down. He looked well for a day or so, but the inevitable was catching up to him.

My frustration, is that he also may have been showing some of the signs of Urinary Calculi. Although he only showed about half the symptoms, and most of them could also be accounted to the after effects of suffering hypothermia. If it was a case of Urinary Calculi, then we need to take another look at the feeding of our males, to make sure that Romeo doesn't suffer the same. We may be missing essential nutrients, or have an excess of others, which would cause this condition.
I'm left wondering if, he was ill and fell in the snow. Or if he was stupid and laid in the snow until he couldn't get up.

That's where I am. That's why I'm mad. I can handle losing an animal, but I want to use it as a learning experience to make sure we don't lose another in the same way. So I'm mad I don't have all the answers, I'm mad at the goat, because I feel like he gave up and submitted defeat before I was ready. (It may have been inevitable if his rumen shut down, but I wasn't ready to quit fighting for him yet). And I'm mad, that now I'm probably going to have to go on a hunt for a new companion for Romeo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I think were losing him


Tuesday night, when Linus came in the house.
He was completely limp, and almost lifeless.
We spent most of the night warming him up.
He stayed in the kitchen in the giant wire cage.
He made it through the night!!!

Yesterday, we managed to get some food and water into him.
He could stand for awhile.
I went out and got him A GOAT COAT.
(Okay, it's actually a XL Dog coat but it fit)
I thought we might be getting somewhere.

But all that has changed again today.
He won't take water again.
He hasn't eaten.
He falls over every time you try to get him on his feet.
He curls into a little ball, but his eyes are open he's not sleeping.
He's still in the house, he couldn't handle being outside even for a few minutes yesterday.
He's warm, but he's not happy.
I think we may be fighting something else as well. But I don't know what it is.
The question is was he sick? and that's what caused him to fall over in the snow? Or did he get hypothermia, and just can't get his strength back. He seems to be giving up.

I'm pretty sure we have a dying goat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There is a goat in the house

There is a goat in the house, and not for fun.
Calgary, AB was the second coldest place on earth today, right after the South Pole. Edmonton fell somewhere around 6th on the list, and one of our goats fell victim to the cold.

We were out most of the afternoon, and when we got home, we found poor Little Linus lying in the snow. He was right outside the barn, but since he still acts like a baby and never wants to be left alone, the best we can figure out is he was waiting for Romeo to come with him. So he got tired, laid down where he could still see Romeo, then got too cold to get back up.

Chris found him as soon as we got home, scooped him up, and came running for the house. He held him against his own body for probably 40 minutes with a blanket wrapped around him. Then we added an electric heater to the mix. For the last few hours he's been lying on the floor wrapped in a blanket next to the heater.


We haven't been able to convince him to eat or drink yet. So I know we're a long ways from being out of the woods. When he came in, he was limp in Chris' arms and since then, we've actually got him to bleat at us a few times and hold his head up. He'll turn his head to Chris' voice at some points. But it obviously takes a lot out of him and he curls back up and falls asleep again.

I don't know if he'll make it through the night or not at this point.

Most of the info I can find online talks about newborn kids getting hypothermia. Linus is nearly six months old. I read on one source we shouldn't be trying to force any food or liquids into him orally because...
when the temperature of the goat falls dangerously low for whatever reason(s), various internal organs begin to shut down as well - the rumen included. Therefore, it is never a good idea to try and orally stimulate a goat with food or liquid. Doing so can create equally dangerous (and often fatal) conditions by contributing to harmful bacteria build up within the digestive system itself. Always ensure that the goats temperature is within the normal limits before providing food or liquid orally. Any stimulation given to a goat suffering hypothermia should be administered intravenously.

I tried to shoot about 1tsp of molasses into his mouth when he first came through the door hoping that the sugar would help perk him back up and give him some energy. It obviously wasn't the right thing to do, but I'm not too worried about it because he seemed to let most of it run out the other side of his mouth anyways.
Right now, we have him in the kitchen in the big metal dog cage with the heater still going beside him, and blankets wrapped around him. He's twitching and shivering a bit. But I see that as a good sign, as his body is starting to try and generate it's own heat again. His breathing also seems to be deeper and steadier.

I wasn't expecting a half grown goat to experience hypothermia. I'm struggling if I should take advice meant for newborn kids that suffer hypothermia, or treat him like an adult goat. With him being right in the middle I'm not totally sure what to do?!?!

I read one article that suggested injecting them with a saline solution to ward off dehydration. I'm hesitant, because I can't find any other sources that suggest the same. So if he's still to weak to drink tomorrow, I'll probably have no choice. I need to ensure he gets his fluids somehow, but for tonight, I'm hoping he drank enough today to survive without more fluids for a bit.

So for now, cross your fingers that he makes it through the night.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One of the benefits of the country

Yes, you have to drive everywhere. Even getting some milk involves loading everyone in the car to drive for at least 10 minutes one way. We certainly don't have access to a lot of the stores we would in the city. So the shopping pretty much sucks.

But I have to say when we have a service, it rocks! It is usually so under used that there is next to no waiting.

I've taken both kids to the emergency room because it's actually faster to go there than any walk in clinic after hours. Our hospital is under utilized.

Today I was reminded of this again. Our school (which were not even technically in yet- but the preschool is run in one of the classrooms) has a Speech Pathologist that works there 2 days a week. She immediately zeroed in on Nathan, like the second day of school. Which was just over a month ago. So we went in and had her do a speech assessment on him today. He scored as mildly delayed in a few categories since it isn't really severe she was willing to just give us some exercises at home. Or offered to see him for 1/2 and hour a week for the next 6 weeks. I couldn't believe it. I've waited in excess of 4 months for specialist in the city. The fact that he was diagnosed as mild would have meant waiting over a year for any further services  if they offered them at all. But out here we get immediate access.
Like I said when we do have the services they rock!!!!!

I've been banned

Yup, The whole time we have been here, Hubby has let me pretty much run loose on deciding what animals to add to our menagerie.
It's not like I run totally wild, and completely decide on a whim. I've usually done quite a bit of research into care, feeding and breeds, before I make any decisions.

But in the past week or so, Hubby actually put his foot down about not one, but TWO animals, that I am now apparently banned from bringing home.

The first is Sheep.
We had quite a lengthy discussion one night which started with Chris stating he had watched a few sheep and thought they were quite dumb.
I told him a story I'd heard about how you have to watch sheep near a dugout in the winter, because although the ice on the dugout may be able to support some weight, it can't usually support an entire flocks weight. So if one sheep wonders on to the ice, all of them will follow, and there's a good chance you'll end up with all of them going through.
The conversation also moved on to how sheep were less socially interactive with humans than goats, and how we wouldn't see them as near as much fun after loving the antics of our goats.

Then what seemed to seal the deal for Chris was when I described how you have to shear them, and how the fleece has to come off in one piece in order to be sell-able. Not to mention how awkward the positions you have to be able to get into to in order to shear them. (Not that I've done it, but I've read the books and studied the drawing/diagrams) I just think sheep shearing is a skill that you would hone after much practice, and I think we would mangle a lot of fleeces to learn it. Rendering them worthless, and taking a big chunk out of any profit you could make off raising sheep.
At the end of this talk, Hubby made the decision I was not to add any sheep. They seemed like a lot of work, for little reward, and not very suitable for the direction we're trying to head in.

Surprisingly, the SECOND animal I've been told NO about is a Llama.
I'm not totally sure if it's a hard definite no like the sheep, because we're basing it off one ad I read. So more research would have to be done.
But, we have a pretty big coyote problem here. As the days get shorter, the food gets harder to find, and I'm worried that the goats might look like a pretty good meal to the coyotes in the area.
Since our dogs aren't used to being around the goats enough, they aren't trusted to be turned loose around them alone yet. Making them utterly useless as herd protection
So I told Chris a few nights ago I had been considering getting a Llama as herd protection. However I was having second thoughts after reading an ad posted on kijiji by someone looking for one.

the ad read..."If you have a llama, alpaca or donkey that will not stomp out my dogs, but live with and guard the sheep,goats, pigs and chickens, and you no longer need him/her,..."

that will not stomp out my dogs?

I've been thinking this over quite a bit since I saw it. To me it kind of makes sense. If you have an animal that's there to protect your herd from coyotes why and how would they be able to distinguish the difference between a coyote and a dog? Maybe they wouldn't even try, anything animal that doesn't belong to the herd must be a threat. Their purpose is to safe guard the other animals from outside threats...so it would stand to reason...

I guess right now there will be no Llamas added until I can find out if this is a common occurrence.
I certainly wouldn't want to see one of my dogs taken out by the Llama just for going near the goats.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Cat Came Back.

I so wish it was only a song. The Cat Came back...
But it's not.

Last winter. Right about this time in November actually we had a stray cat move into the garage. It proceeded to kick Meow meow out of her cozy bed. It would flee as soon as any of us walked in the garage.
You could here the ruckus at night as the 2 cats tangled knocking things over in the garage.

I told Chris to lock down the entrances to the garage, not feed the new cat and try to run it off.

But Chris the soft heart figured he could tame the stupid thing.

Just after Christmas, things got worse and better. Chris could come and go from the garage without the cat fleeing, once and awhile he actually got close enough to touch the cat. But as the cat got bolder it got meaner to our cat.

The tangles got worse and more than once we found Meow meow dripping blood from an ear, or the top of her head.

Finally at the end of February, Chris went up north to work for a couple of weeks. I decided to lock the cats out of the garage. Cutting off both the warm place to sleep and access to any food. I figured that our dogs allowed our cat to eat and cuddle with them so she would be fine. The hope was I would make the other cat uncomfortable enough to leave.

It didn't work!

The cat obviously got hungry, so it got meaner. And tried to literally eat our cat.

Poor Meow meow took quite a few nasty bites to the head, nearly stripping all the fur between her ears and one extremely harsh bite right in the middle of her spine.No to mention the several claw wounds torn down her back leaving her a bloody mess. She still bears a dent in her fur along the back where the chunk went missing from.

When Chris came home and saw the damage that had been done to his cat, he finally admitted he'd had enough.

We allowed the cat back into the garage for a few days. Then one night we sealed off the exit. Chris armed in his leather coat, leather gloves and a broom chased the stupid evil cat all over the garage until he cornered it. I stood by ready with a cardboard box and a tape gun.

Chris had cornered it behind a tool box. He reached back and picked the thing up by its neck. Not with out sustaining two wicked bites right through the leather gloves. After a lot of swearing he managed to get it into the box slammed the flaps and I quickly taped the box together to prevent an escape.

He tossed the box in the truck and drove it 20 plus km up to the next town. And released the stupid thing.

Within an hour his hand was so swollen he could no longer close it.

The next day it was swollen to nearly twice it's size. So I insisted we go to the emergency room and have it looked at.
The doctor there informed us that 90% of cat bites turn septic. Chris ended up getting a tetanus shot, and was on medication for the next week to prevent the wound from turning to a septic infection.

And now....

and now the stupid cat has returned. In the last 8 months it's managed to transverse over 20 km to come back to its "Winter Resort" I guess. As soon as this cold snap hit. The cat reappeared in the garage, and immediately kicked Meow meow back out of her basket.
( I apologize for the picture quality but it was dark enough we needed a flash through a dirty garage window)

So the cat came back...the very next snow fall.

After the ruckus she caused last year. After the damage she caused to both my Cat and my Husband, she will not be staying. After she proved she can navigate her way back over 20 some kilometers our catch and release system isn't going to happen again.

So most of our weekend will be spent planning and hopefully executing the final show down with the evil cat.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dr. LOVE

One of my goats ha been re-named, but its neither of the ones I was thinking about re-naming back in September.

No.

It's Romeo.

Chris has taken to referring to him as Dr. LOVE.

Since he is obviously in rut and absolutely tortured every time one of the girls heats a heat cycle. He spends all day trying to lick them through the fence. Making the strangest guttural, licking smacking sounds I have ever heard. And trying with all his might to woo them.
If you let him anywhere near them he chases them around desperately licking, rubbing and doing anything he can to be allowed to be close to them.

Chris just laughs at him. and says " Come on Dr. Love your moves aren't working" as he throws him back into his own pen.

It's quite the displays to watch.

Of course poor Little Linus gets the brunt of Romeo's failed love connections with the girls. I'm very worried Linus isn't going to end up being a studly Buck for us after all since Romeo is bent on turning him gay.

and then I added something more to my plate.

You know that saying...
“Behind every successful farmer is a wife that works in town.”

I've decided to be both.

But I haven't found the balance yet.

I took a job that suppose to be flexible hours doing some data collection at local stores. And it is flexible enough to accommodate, kid and school schedules. But after running around from Tuesday to Thursday doing school and work stuff I've realized my house exploded!

*Sigh*

I guess today will be about cleaning and catching up.

And next week we'll work more on this balance thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The monstrosity, I mean dog house.

The monstrosity Dog house I mentioned in the Wood butcher post. I thought I'd post a few pictures to show you just how big I was talking about. And you can decide if I was exaggerating in anyway.
Can you see it?
Or is the better question, could you possible miss it in this picture?
Although it's lined with hay now, and with the weather dropping down to minus 20 C. most nights this week, the dogs are happy to have it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Brother the Welder rocks!

So my brother is a welder. A very good one. In fact he or my Dad will send me pictures of his work and I'm always astounded at his skills. He does everything from pipeline welds to work scary high up on new high rise buildings.

But
I've been saving a "special" project for him.

We need a milking stand.
The plan is to start milking the goats sometime over the summer, but short of tying them to the fence and hoping for the best there was no real place to start the milking.

I have plans for how to build a milking sanction that you can download for free from the scroungeman site.
{Awesome site BTW, I love the way he writes about his animals, and his crazy inventions too}
It's a free e-book that you can download here if your interested in building one too.

Anyways, I have the plans for the milking stand, and we were thinking of just building it from the plans. However as usual our to-do-list is about a mile long. And Although I think the plans for the stand are great, it's been rolling around in the back of my head how much greater it could be with a metal grate/mesh table to it.

So I hit up my brother the welder for a favor.
I sent him the PDF file and asked him to look at it and see if he could adapt the basic plan to make it how I envisioned.
He says he'll do it!!!
I'm so excited.
Of course when I talked to him on the phone this morning he was already talking about metal legs, and if the head piece needed to be wood, or how it could be machined to be made out of metal.
So I have no idea if it will look anything like the original plans or be a completely different beast all together.
But he agreed to do it for me and I released the reigns to his creative spirit. telling him I'd sent him the plans to just to give him the basic idea of what I needed.

So I'll keep you updated on how it turns out.

Nate's room redo

Back in September, My in-laws took Nathan for almost a week.
{Yes, I didn't get around to taking the after photos until now}
My main project during this week was to paint the cave of a room he has (while he wasn't there to help!!!)
I don't know if the pictures do the dark color justice, since it was sunny when I took them. But just imagine if the color reads this dark in sunlight how dark and cave like it is in his room at night with this horrible blue.

Not to mention he's been rather rough on the walls since he moved in. Look at the number of holes, dents and dings that needed to be patched up before painting. And if you don't believe me the blue was too dark. It was 3 coats of primer before we could even attempt putting a different color on the wall.
And this is the after. Again it was afternoon light when I took the pictures so the room almost looks yellow. But its a very soft green. Nathan loves it. And I think it's opened up the room. It actually looks less crowded with the 2 beds (Greg will be moving in as soon as he's old enough) than it did before because of the nasty color.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

da barn, da barn is finally done

The Boys barn.
The project that I figured should take a week tops. And has now been dragged out..what??? Two months? Thanks to way more work than I expected, and the weather being hit and miss.
I think it's finally finished.


This was the barn, at the original state. To say it was rough would be an understatement.
So Rough, it was actually missing boards and a hole right through the one side.
We bought a ton of Styrofoam sheets to use for insulation.
We cut and fit them between the 2x4's (That was Nathan and my job. He was actually quite a big help bringing the sheets over to the barn while I cut and pieced)

The painting began. I had won out on getting the barn red color. but as soon as it started going on I realized that painting brand new raw lumber and weathered old barn board the same color did not actually make them the same color. It was such a drastic difference I decided the whole thing needed to be whitewashed first to act as a primer for the red color to go on evenly.
And here is the final result. It's not perfect, but a heck of a change from the first pictures!?!?
And all the wood that had to be pieced inside to keep the goats from eating the Styrofoam insulation in the walls.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Birthday weekend for the Boy

 It's been an exciting weekend for everyone around here. Grandpa Zoom came up to stay, and help celebrate Nathan's 4th Birthday (which is tomorrow)
 Nathan had to take Grandpa on the "official" tour which apparently starts with Maxxie's outdoor pen.

 From there you must check out the goats. Whom Grandpa has never met, he told me later he was surprised they were much smaller than he had thought from the pictures I'd sent. He was also most charmed by Hopper. Stating "She seems like the one with most character". Of course the fact that Romeo attempted to pee on all of us, probably took him out of favorite goat running very quick.

And right at sunset. I tried to organize a family picture. I really need one for Christmas Cards this year, and it's rather hard to be in the picture you need to take. I'm really not happy with how any of these turned out. It seems like trying to coordinate 4 people and a goat is never going to work well. This is about the only shot where everyone is looking in the relative direction of the camera, and Hopper isn't mooning the photographer.

Then for the Birthday dinner tonight we roasted a chicken. Is still a luxury to me, to know that we raised these chickens that taste so darn good on the dinner plate.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One of those "take your breath away moments"

 These were taken at sunset off my front deck Wednesday night



Some times I just have to stop and marvel at the beauty I'm surrounded by out here. Take a breath and take it all in.
(Then remember to grab my camera-and try to record some of these amazing moment)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I froze today

Like thought I might die froze. It was about -2C outside. It didn't seem all that cold with the sun shining.
So I thought I'd take a run at finishing the paint on the boys barn.

Here are the factors I didn't take into account:
1) The barns are in the shade- no sun- not so warm
2) All the required painting was 6 feet or more up which means a ladder. Ladders are cold steel objects.
3) The paint cans are also metal, which gets really cold in your hands.

I did about 2 hours before the sun was setting. And came in not sure I could uncurl my hands from that wrapped-around-the-paintbrush-claw look I had going on. But the back of the barn and one whole side are completely Red! Yeah. I'm getting close enough, if I finish the front I may fake it and take a picture just to show you how much of a change there has been. It's not gorgeous but it's definitely transformed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Wood Butcher was at it again

It's not very nice, but I refer to my Hubby as the WOOD BUTCHER. He's certainly not a wood worker.

Case in point. Last year I told him I needed a garbage bin with a lid to make sure the animals couldn't get into it. Well. I highly doubt any animal could get into it, in fact I'm pretty sure a tornado would have trouble moving our garbage bin. Its massive. You know those industrial metal garbage bins in the back alleys of most retail stores? Yeah. We can rival that in size.
Scale, and Pretty aesthetics are not Hubby's strong points when it comes to creating his wood workings. Hence the Wood Butcher name.

That brings us to last night. Hubby had spent a good part to the day working on the interior of the girls goat barn. That afternoon he informed me he was headed into town for more boards.
Last night he looks at me and says "I think I'm going to build a dog house."
Me: "mmmmhmmm, did you buy enough wood?"
Hubby: "yeah, I think so."
So I just nod and let him start his planning.

He spends the next little while drawing up plans on a sheet of paper. Mumbling something on and off about how big is 3 feet actually?

3 feet? 3 feet is good, maybe this is a scaled down dog house.

Then he disappears into the garage saying he's going to construct the frame tonight and put sides on it tomorrow.

Well it's being started in the garage. Not outside, so it must be movable, another good sign right?

I finally make my way outside after about an hour.

And there. IS THE DOG HOUSE.

Not just any dog house.

but a DOG HOUSE!!!!

I swear to you this structure is 6 feet long. 4 feet wide. and about 4 1/2 feet tall if not bigger.

Granted we have large dogs- weighing in close to 100 pounds each.

But seriously, were you worried one of the Buffalo from across the road would be cold and lonely and might need to bunk with the dogs for a night?

I need to enroll Hubby back in kindergarten or something where he can take another run at that saying
"Bigger is NOT always better"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sometimes being one of the herd isn't such a good deal

We learned some interesting, and kind of hard (well hard on our son) lessons about Goat Herd Behavior in the last month or so.
In case you don't know every herd of goats has a a "Herd Queen". She is usually the oldest most experienced Doe, and tends to lead the herd around. The Queen also expects to be greeted first when you walk out to the barn, and when we start to milk she will have to be the first on the milk sanction.
Although we knew there would be a Queen in our herd we watched for a few weeks to determine who it was.
The obvious Choice was Hopper since she is the biggest. But Hopper is very unassuming and not particularly dominate.
Little One, on the other hand has been the biggest bully in the herd. She is constantly butting one of the girls. She is the same age as Hopper, but has always been smaller.
We monitored this behavior for awhile, and finally came to a conclusion. Although Little One is the most aggressive, whenever she started to bother Hopper, she would be put back in her place so to speak.
Hopper was indeed the Queen.
And we've been treating her as such.

The only problem is Little One still doesn't like this. She's a little social climber that one, and would gladly take over the queen title at any moment.
We watched this behavior and jockeying for position with a detached amusement. Until nearly a month ago.
We were spending quite a bit of time outside working on the barns, and Nathan (our oldest son) was often with us. He spent most of his time playing, frolicking, and leading the goats around.
One afternoon, I was standing only a few feet from the entrance to the barn door and he had disappeared inside with a few of the goats. I heard the sound of hooves moving at a faster rate and then Nathan yelped.

Little One had butted him, right in the stomach.

Since I hadn't seen the events the moments prior to this, I couldn't be totally sure if it had been provoked or not.

I separated the two of them and went on with my day.

Of course it didn't stop there.

Every time Nathan came anywhere near Little One she would lower her head and charge at him. She would even seek him out around and behind other goats.

Of course my Husband and I were there, and would immediately grab a hold of the goat and separate them so no one got hurt. But we knew this behavior couldn't continue.

So I hit the Internet.

My first search was "Goat Discipline" hoping to find a way to curb her aggressive behavior through some form of discipline.

Just so you know its not a very valid search in terms of goats it turned up many parenting discipline blogs because people refer to their kids as like a bunch of goat kids climbing on things.

So I looked up "butting" "butting problems with goats" and a few others until I ended up on many forms talking about how to handle a goat that butts.

The advice ranged
Many people suggested that once a goat starts to Butt you may have no choice but to sell it (although we were aware that may be the end result we were hoping to correct the problem)
Another suggested a much more aggressive approach- smack a goat across the horns with a piece of wood.
(We weren't about to teach our 4 year old to hit the goats with a stick)
The last piece of advice we found suggested that with Bucks you may have to pin them to the ground and rub their nose in the dirt to show that they cannot dominate you.
We also reread a lot of information on overall herd behavior.

That's when it all clicked into place.

We had been allowing Nathan to run with the herd. In some ways I think he was being adopted into the herd. This is where the herd hierarchy was coming into play, if you add a new goat into a herd the doe's will butt and carry on with the new addition trying to maintain or raise their status in the herd. Since Little One was trying to raise her status, she was butting Nathan trying to make sure she was above him in the social standings.

We decided that although we could keep dragging them apart the best way to solve the problem permanently was going to have to be teaching him to show her that he was in fact higher ranking than her.

Chris went into the pen with him and waited for Little One to make her move.
When she came over with her head lowered. Chris taught Nathan to grab her by the horns before she could hit him, and turn her by the horns forcing her head to turn back towards her body.

It took several attempts for Nathan to perfect the move, and for Little One to realize that she wasn't going to win.
Overall Nathan still has to be on the lookout for her when he enters the goat area. She will still try a sneak attack once and awhile if she thinks he's not watching. But this seems to have solved the problem.

It was hard to do, because you want to make sure your kid isn't going to get hurt. I also didn't want to have to sell her. We realized that we couldn't keep separating the two of them, if the problem was going to be solved, we were going to have to let him do it himself. Since she was treating him like a goat our intervention was not going to ease the situation. He needed to put her in her place and show her that she could not be above him in the herd. It was something we couldn't teach her for him. So we had to teach him how to stop her, and show her that he was in charge. I know it wouldn't have worked if he was younger or weaker, but it's worked for now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Hay finally arrived!

Yeah!

Our goats won't starve this winter. We finally got 5 huge bales of hay. and for only $10 more per bale they delivered it. Saving us a huge headache of moving it one bale at a time on the back of the truck. The # of trips would have sucked.

All 5 bales on the trailer


But to get the top bale off the trailer, Chris hooked it to the back of the truck and started to pull
And Pull

Until finally!
Ahhh the joys of not having a tractor for some Jobs!

The rest of the bales were easily just tipped off the sides of the trailer by 2 guys pushing.
And Chris manged to rock-and-roll them all into two neat little lines by himself after the guys left. So they are all piled neatly against the tree line in the yard.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Interesting Goat Links

I know my goat obsession is getting a little out of hand...Just for fun I've been searching around webland looking up different goat related items.
These are some of the cool links I found

California golf course using goats for natural bush clearing on rocky terrain. .http://www.golfweek.com/news/2010/oct/26/golf-courses-employ-goats-maintenance/

Incredible gravity defying goats in Italy
Article or Video

Love watching goat antics? you can watch 2 goats live 24 hours a day
Goatslive.com

and of course...I'm in love with the idea of fainting goats. If you've never seen a fainting goat you have to check out this Video. Although I would love to get a couple, I know I'm a little to playful to get a goat that has a reaction like this.
Yeah, I'd probably start doing something crazy like the Chuck Norris vs. Fainting Goats Video
I'm sorry even if you're not a Chuck Norris fan that's darn FUNNY!!!!

My top 5 problems with chicks

It's been just over a month since our chickens all went to their final resting place. Our freezer.
And to be quite honest I'm not really missing the work they created.
I have a good friend who bought a few acres of land down in New Mexico recently and is thinking about raising chickens next year. She's asked for my "expert" chicken advice on a few things, which has made me think about the things I wish I'd known before I jumped in.
Don't get me wrong I did do some research before I order 26 peeping chicks. But considering 26 chickens arrived and 18 Chickens are in the freezer, I'd say there was some learning curve there.
I read a lot of articles in hobby farm type magazines that lead me to believe that raising chickens was so easy pretty much anyone could do it. Shelter. Water. Food. not hard right?

Let me state for the record.

Chickens may be low maintenance for theses sorts of things. But raising them from day old chicks requires a little more finese than the basics.

All the chicks that we lost (8 of them) we lost as chicks. And after the reading and research I've done since I'm kind of surprised we didn't lose more.

So here would be my Top 5 things I wish I'd known before getting Chicks.
(and the things I'd do differently if we raise them again)

1) Temperature is VERY Important- Get a Brooder Thermometer.
Although I had the proper infra red heat lamps for the chicks, and raised or lowered them depending on how the chicks were acting. I've since learned that chicks have no ability to regulate their own body temperature for the first 2 weeks. Therefore~ The brooder house needs to be a consistent 95 degrees for the first week. You can then lower the temperature ( raise the heat lamp) by 5 degree each week until you reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since I didn't have a thermometer I can't tell you the exact temperature I kept the chicks at. But I can bet between, weather. drafts and water it was not consistent.
2) Have an Adequate Brooder pen
Adequate doesn't have to mean expensive or even bought from a hatchery.The most important aspect to this is a Round chicken pen. Since chicks tend to gather together especially for heat, it's important that they can't squish each other or trap themselves in a corner. Many Hatcheries sell a Brooder guard which is basically just corrugated cardboard that can form about an 8 foot circle.I used my kids old plastic swimming pool and had I made one small modification (drainage holes) it would have worked perfectly. Next year I'll be drilling holes in the bottom of the pool to make sure that there is a way for water to escape instead of collecting in the bottom of the pool, under the straw. Which leads me to...
3) Chicks do NOT like to be WET!
I talked a little bit about my concerns of having wet chicks in a post soon after we got the chicks. I am absolutely convinced that being wet is what killed most of our chicks. We had a combination of a leaky waterer and no drainage. which meant that the chicks stood in (and ultimately played in) water in the bottom of the pool. Unfortunately it was hard to detect the water underneath all the straw until things got really soggy.
4) Seal drafts
Although this may seem obvious. Do everything you can to make sure your barn or chicken coop is protected from the weather outside. I thought getting our Chicks at the end of April would mean that the worst of the winter weather was behind us, and weather wouldn't be a major challenge. BUT. We got Wind. Snow.and Rain within the first few weeks. and the Chicken coop was simply not air tight around doors and windows. Allowing too much fluctuation in temperature. And drafts of cold winds on wet chick. Which inevitably is a bad combination.
5) Have proper waterers -and check them first
Our biggest downfall was having the waterer leaking into the bottom of the pool. The people that use to live here had left a couple of chicken waterers behind. Thinking that I could save some money on equipment, I used them without properly checking to make sure they weren't leaking. This caused the major issues that led to most of the deaths in our coop. If your using hand-me-down equipment, make sure to check it's in proper working condition first. From now on, I'll even be checking new waterers before putting them in a pen. At the end of the day, if a waterer doesn't sit level, or it isn't put together properly, it will leak. Most waterers are designed to stop flowing when they reach a certain level, but this function doesn't work if they are tilted, or have small holes (like ours did in the bottom pan) that lets water escape. and ultimately allows all the water to flow out at once.

I think Honestly, if I had been aware of some of these things, at least some of the chick deaths could have been prevented. If and when I raise chicks again, these are the things I will be doing differently. Some of it may seem like common sense, but I learned these lessons the hard way. By losing chicks that I probably shouldn't have.

The only other thing that I learned was...
Chickens poop a lot and its gross and amazingly sticky.
People will tell you chicken poop smells really, really bad. and it's true. What I didn't know, is that it has to be the stickiest most hard to scrub off substance I have ever seen. Be prepared to spend  (lots of) time scrubbing it off of pretty much every surface. We actually had an old snow brush that we used to try and clean all the waterers quicker and easier with the hard bristles (while the brush was long enough that you could keep your hands away from the nasty off spray)

Hey- by no means am I actually a chicken expert. But if sharing my short comings in this little chicken experiment saves anyone the hassle of having to learn these same lessons the hard way...

The additional pen

A couple days ago I mentioned the new fence that we got built this month. Although the only picture I could find in our archives was taken the winter we moved in It gives a pretty good idea of how the area and landscape has been changed by the addition of this fencing. Since both pictures are from relatively the same angle and approximate distance. You'll just have to ignore the obvious difference of snow vs. no snow.
[BEFORE]


[AFTER]
I am so excited about this fence. Because it effectively gives us three separate pens to rotate the goats through. And because it connects the 2 existing fields, the amount of time spent chasing the goats into one field or the other has also been eliminated. Finally it solved the little problem I had with getting a metal garden shed to drop in the front field (see: a hillbilly backed over my shed). The entire reason I wanted a garden shed in that field was to provide protection from the elements while they grazed the front field. Now that the front area of the girls barn is sealed in they can seek shelter back in their own barn instead of needing a separate one, if the gate is left open between the 2 areas. Or they can simply spend the day playing in this area in front of the barn and have the option of heading in whenever they need it.

The speed that the fence went up has to be a record around here too!
Hubby dug the fence posts holes in a day
(with the handy dandy clam shell auger I found at the flea market for $30 back in August)
And tapped in the posts that day. He let them settle overnight, nailing boards to them and constructing gates the next day. While he was constructing and hanging gates, as well as fixing some miscellaneous holes at the back of the new pasture (not to mention reinforcing the chicken run).I went wild with the whitewash and manged to barely stay one step ahead painting both sides of the fence in one afternoon and the next morning. As soon as the paint was dry he put up the wires and bah boom- New goat pasture in only a few days!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm a Little Cranky

I was all set.
My Dad had even agreed to come up for the weekend and babysit the boys.
I was heading to Edmonton for the weekend of November 12-14, for the 2010 Goat West Conference.
And was so excited they had speakers ranging from Vets talking about herd diseases, to topics on marketing goat meat, to coyote predation.
And I was totally psyched to finally be able to slip out of the house, and mingle with "real"
 goat people. I figured I'd learn about a million things.

Of course.

The Alberta Goat Breeder Association now called and said the conference has been canceled due to low interest and registration.

I'm crushed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Goat-a-rific

 One of my best friends came to visit us in early October. It was "Uncle Noel's" first time up here, and he quickly fell in love with the charm of the place and it's friendly creatures. We even beer can BBQ'd our first chicken. To rave reviews!

Uncle Noel is a dog person, and made quick friends with the whole herd. Again, reinforcing to me that goats and dogs are so similar that most dog people will easily adapt to goats.


And Nathan warmed up (or tried to adopt) Uncle Noel's goat that he came up in. The sweet '69 GTO- also known as the GOAT.

Where did October Go?

Really?
It's been a hectic stressful month around here. I had some very sick kids 2 trips to the Emergency room within 12 hours kind of sick. And a husband who although technically employed seemed to be on "standby" and thus here all month. Although we (and by that I mean HE- to a large extent) managed to get quite a few projects done. The money issue of staying home and working only on the farm has been a nightmare.

I'll try and get some pictures posted of the work that has gone on. The most noticeable to the whole landscape of the yard was about 100 or so feet of fence that my hubby built and then wired in so we effectively have another goat pen. It leads straight to our "big" field out front, which not only means 3 pen rotation for the goats but also no goats chasing across the front yard when they decide they'd rather go on an adventure then head into the front field.

We also finished the boys barn, insulation, new wood, and about 80% painted. So at least its livable for winter. And obviously their pasture is all enclosed now.
The Girls barn still needs some work, but is getting there. It's comfortable enough for our first snow. but I'm not sure it's -40 proof yet.

Right now our big concern is getting hay.
Although lots of people have it for sale. We're finding a lot of people have no way of loading it. (explain that to me?- yeah here's a 1200 pound hay bale -good luck!?!?)
We've also realized it's going to be quite an engineering feat to unload hay bales once we get them here.
If I could go back in time...
We've learned since buying this place, that most people will write the current tractor into the farm offer. And I can't tell you how many times I've cursed us, for not knowing and not doing that.
As of right now, a tractor, just isn't in the tight budget. So although I'm sure we'll be able to secure hay bales and get them loaded. our adventures getting them off the truck may end up being YOUTUBE worthy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Return of the Chickens

We picked up the chickens this afternoon from the processors. And man are those some big chickens


17 of them are currently taking up about 1/4 of our freezer space.


Yes, 17...although we dropped off 18. Apparently one of them still had food in it's crop. This caused some sort of mess (I don't totally want to know the details) and the meat became "infected". They used to just wash off the birds and package them anyways (according to the lady at the plant) but new regulations state they must cut all salvageable meat from the bird and dispose of the carcass. Since this is a relatively new procedure for them, I guess all the bugs haven't been worked out yet and the entire bird was either disposed of, or it had gone missing in the very least.
They paid me out for the bird. At $15 dollars. I was tempted to ask if they wanted to pay me that for all the birds. Then I wouldn't have lost any money in this little chicken raising experiment.
Actually I did ask quite a few questions about how the bird had become "infected" I was more interested in making sure it had been a contamination problem on site. Rather than us bringing in a sick bird.
I probably sounded like an idiot re asking this question is several different ways, but I kept explaining to her "this is our first year raising chickens and we really don''t know what we're doing".
She told me it sure looked like we knew what we were doing because they were awfully big birds.
Maybe she just said it to shut me up.
but Ill take it.
It felt pretty good.


When we got home we spent another couple of hours cutting the Styrofoam insulation for the "Boys" barn. Chris got the front window sealed off too. Hence the ladder. and little jack-and-the-beanstalk, climbing into the clouds. We bought some more wood tonight, and I'm hoping we get finished with the barn makeover tomorrow. I doubt it will get paint right away (I still want it to go red, and we only have white paint kicking around) but I may get some pictures up of the whole PROCESS once I get some AFTER pictures.

I did another "experiment" today. I took Maggie into the goat pen.
She's walked up to them sniffed them and lost interest. She's actually been in their barn, which nearly caused a revolt on their part. But today I decided to bring her into the pen unleashed and see how things went.

She chased them.

But would stop when they were all together.

She actually does have the herding instinct she's suppose too!!!

I'm not totally surprised I've actually seen her try to herd Nathan (minus the nipping at the heels) whenever she feels he's gone too far in the yard.

Overall, Maggie did pretty well as far as I'm concerned.
The goats as you can see in the picture have completely different feelings about this new addition to the herd.
Not that I'll be leaving her alone with them any time soon. We're going to do quite a few more experiments in the next few weeks to make sure she understands her job would be to protect them. Not just make them run around for her own amusement.