It’s been quite a few weeks. Getting ready for a winter that hasn’t really landed yet continues. I am not complaining, however! We don’t usually get this much grace time for winter prep in the animal paddocks.
Golden Guernsey update: our girls Batty the Beautiful and Saffron the Lovely are doing well. We bought them as bred does, and I was extremely upset when Saffron went into heat. The little buck that my friend Jane and I went in on together is still in Vermont at Jane’s house. He is quite young yet, and the news is that he is not yet mature enough to breed the girls. Which left me in a terrible bind! No Guernsey buck, and a pregnant doe. Actually, all but Batty the Beautiful are open. Sheesh. What a pickle! So I have put our only buck in with the girls, and so far, no action. Saffron did knock the poor guy around, so I hope that he has the desire to hang in there :*)
Marigold update: we did our best to get our Marigold up and moving, but things just didn’t work out. She was our sweet girl and a doe that I had hoped to be on the farm for a very long time, but it just wasn’t a go. John put her down on Sunday, so it was not a very great day, despite the beautiful weather. Her mother, Big Zelda, had begun sleeping far away from Marigold’s pen, so we knew that she had already acknowledged the fact that her girl was not well. This was an extremely tough one for me. We have lost animals and had to put some down in the past, but she was just 18 months old. It never makes sense.
On a happier note, we got our Christmas tree, even as we are celebrating Hanukkah! It’s a pretty one. We have not been able to find anything suitable on our 20 acres (weener Charlie Brown evergreen abound, but nothing remotely nice), so we went to a local tree farm and got a 7′ lovely little number. Our grandson was not impressed with our choices, but I am! (The other day he asked me how old I am. I told him I am 61. He looked at me and asked, “Are you shrinking? I think that someone your age ought to be a lot taller!”). And there we have the viewpoint of the next generation :*)
And so it goes. The holidays are upon us and I am doing my best to not get caught up in the stress of it all. I am sure that we will get the tree decorated, and we will get the presents wrapped. It’s coming,
I hate to say that it is Saturday night already. Holiday weekends just seem to fly by. Wah, wah! It’s been a nice one, and I don’t want it to end.
We had a quiet holiday. Tuesday afternoon around 2 PM I began feeling like I was coming down with a cold, and I hurried to do the last of the Thanksgiving shopping and get home and just veg on the sofa. I took my Emergen-C and rested for the evening. I don’t think I got the whole brunt of the virus, but I definitely appreciated that we weren’t going to have a ton of company and that the meal was going to be a very simple one.
So we took our feast across the street to our elderly neighbor’s house and we had a lovely, very laid-back time. Friday was a day for catching up, sleeping in a little bit, working around, and just enjoying being home. This morning I took a ride to a friend’s pottery studio for her “Shop Small” Saturday. Maple Lane Pottery is one of my favorite places, and Robbi didn’t disappoint us. I was able to enjoy visiting with her as well as finding some lovely holiday gifts. Robbi is a very talented potter, and her animal-themed pieces are some of my favorite kitchen pieces.
Robbi had another small farm business there, Ridge Pond Farm, and it was lovely to finally meet Cari Balbo, the owner and maker of all kinds of herbal treats. Face creams, hand and body creams, herbal tea mixes, all were as beautiful and wonderfully-scented as I imagined. I make my own very simple hand and body creams (because I am allergic to everything!), but these are amazing concoctions and I hope her face cream is my favorite thing for a long time to come.
And so it goes. The weekend is almost over, and I am sorry to say that our Marigold is failing. We are going to have to make the final decision on her within the day, not that I believe there is anything to decide. She is not getting up, and is falling behind on where her recovery should be. She isn’t suffering yet with something like pneumonia or bloat, which could be a problem since she is not mobile, and is eating but not recovering any of her backend movement. So that is that. Breaking my heart, but there it is. The ugly end of livestock farming. I will keep giving her all her little treats until it’s time to put her down. A big loss to the future of our little farm.
A few reminders are being thrown our way: yes, winter really is on the horizon! It’s been such a warm autumn that I have been lulled into not paying attention. Although we have been working fairly diligently to try and get the paddocks and animal areas ready for the onslaught, it is still a little bit of a shock when the white stuff begins.
One more day of school and then Thanksgiving break is here. Many in the family are dropping like flies with whatever viral thing is going around, but so far we are hanging on. It’s going to be a quiet one for us.
We continue to give Marigold her vitamins and feed her up, but I do not see improvement yet. We still hope, but I am getting myself ready for the worst. I don’t know how long I can watch her like she is.
We continue to take care of our sweet Marigold. I honestly have to say that I don’t see any improvement. After her 5 days of intensive worming and anti-inflammatories, we continue to give her vitamins, and need to give it time now, I guess.
She is pulling herself around a little in her pen, and she is eating, drinking, peeing and pooping. I am having trouble finding out how long the ‘usual’ recuperation time might be for this. I suspect that a lot of animals get put down when this happens to them, so there isn’t a lot of anecdotal information floating around out there. From what I have read, it’s at least a month before a final decision should be made about the animal’s future quality of life, if they are still alive.
I am now worried about keeping her warm as the cold weather descends upon us, when she is not able to move around much on her own. We shall see, I guess.
While all our joy is devoted to our new Golden Guernsey does, at the same time we are dealing with a potentially devastating situation with my favorite yearling doe, Marigold.
When I got home from Vermont last Sunday afternoon, everyone was fine. On Tuesday morning I went out to do chores about 5:20 a.m., and I found that Marigold was on the ground, pulling herself around with her front legs. Her back end was not working, although her legs have power, but her back is not cooperating. The classic symptoms of Meningeal Worm infestation. (The worm goes into the spinal column and wreaks havoc with the nervous system). My beautiful girl, strong and lovely, is struggling with a very ugly problem.
I am devastated. We have two new Golden Guernsey does, but I have been counting on Marigold to be one of our breeding stalwarts. Not to be, I know, but it’s a blow to the farm plan. She is one of my favorite goats, one of the most colorful and friendly, and I am grieving for her struggle with this disease. Those damn snails that carry the awful worm. Aargh! We will see how things go. As of today she has had 5 days of the prescribed treatment, so now it is up to her and the vitamin injections. Fingers crossed!
The days do not disappoint! I can hardly believe the change. 64F on the way home this afternoon, and the snow is rapidly sinking into the mud and the leaves. The birds are beside themselves with song, and the racket they all make from before dawn until after dusk is very welcome. What a relief :*)
We are coming into the home stretch of the days leading up to kidding. SnowPea is due a week from tomorrow, on Wednesday April 22. She usually goes a day or two more, but we are getting there. Pippi is not due until May 9th. Both girls are showing signs of udder development, which had me dancing through the mud the other day. I keep hoping that I might get a doeling from SnowPea, but in all the years she has kidded, she has only once had a doeling (who met a bad end, strangled in a basket feeder). Each year I have new hope, but usually she has twin rams, and doesn’t look back. Ah well, it’s all as it needs to be, but she continues to be my good buddy and my favorite milker.
This afternoon I had a chance to clean out a corner of the hay greenhouse and then I took some time to sit on the rock and enjoy the sun and the breeze. Marigold the Amazing always joins me up there, and today she begged for a Spring Selfie. And she got one :*)
Three more intense work days until April break. I am ready!
Friday evening finally. The week has been a little bit of a challenge with the snow on the ground and the wind that has picked up. The temperatures are plummeting tonight and I am happy to be inside and out of it. I did chores around 3:30, and as the light was going, the wind was howling, and I came in feeling like I had been beaten up or run down by a truck.
The girls are staying close to each other and Zorro the Llama in their end of the greenhouse. Hunkering down tonight is the name of the game.
So the Martin Luther King weekend begins. Our wood stove is supposed to be installed either tomorrow or Tuesday. The sooner the better! I can hardly wait. Let’s just hope it goes smoothly.
I got to do chores without being wrapped up in foul weather gear this afternoon! We must have had at least 3″ of rain in the past 36 hours. At times I wondered if it was ever going to end. I was beginning to feel moldy around the edges, and a little grumpy into the bargain! But Marigold the Marvelous goat and I sat out on the big rock this afternoon and watched the clouds crank past as the sun was setting. The only perk of the week is that it has been so warm I have not had to crack ice in the boys’ water trough :*)
After all the hubbub of today, when the kids left I woke myself up snoring on the sofa and noticed my husband was doing the same thing in the recliner (I had been reading, really!). We aren’t used to this much excitement. It was wonderful having them all here, but I am glad we do a brunch, and then they rush off to another place to continue celebrating and we can relax into the quiet of the day. Lovely!
I finished decorating out little tree on Tuesday while the rain was battering the house. I had not found many of the handmade ornaments the kids have done over the years, but I hit the motherlode the other day and was able to bring those down. I guess we will enjoy the tree and the lights for another few days, and then time to pack it all away again.
I hope everyone has had a peaceful and relaxing holiday! I still have some amazing vacation time to enjoy and then, next stop: New Year.
It’s been one of the craziest Novembers that I can remember. Folks in the Great Lakes are getting hammered with multiple feet of snow, and we have had some pretty cruel temperatures here as well. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be the coldest of the season so far, but after that there should be a little warm up. And I am definitely looking forward to that!
Walking in the paddocks has been a little bit easier the past few days because the mud has firmed up, but it also causes a little bit of a slowdown at chore time, because the walking is also hazardous due to the peaks and valleys in the frozen mud (made by my feet and little hooves). But, I do like having a good freeze-off so that I worry less about the parasite situation with the goats.
And we have some news today: our first pigeon chicks hatched. They are definitely “so ugly they are cute” material, with their gigundas beaks and their huge eyes and not-much-for-feathery-covering. Hopefully they do okay, as they are in the general population area (our breeding room is not quite finished yet). Lovely to get a little bit of new life on the farm even as we are going into the hard months of winter. Nice for a pre-Solstice event!
The last few days have been incredibly busy. I spent a lovely day at a friend’s camp right on a small lake on Wednesday. It was grey and overcast, but it didn’t start raining until later on, and it didn’t matter because we were relaxing and having fun with a few other friends.
Wednesday night was the big storm, apparently a record for the amount of rain that fell in the course of four hours. By 9:30 p.m. our electricity was out, and every once in awhile throughout the night it blinked back on which made our freezers begin beeping (which need to be reset, necessitating a hop out of bed). The power wasn’t really back on for good until a little after 4 a.m. when we needed to get up anyway. Groan. My husband had to have a routine test down at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and of course, we had to be there by 7 a.m. By the end of the day yesterday I was toast, and in bed before 9.
When I went out for chores this morning I heard our little Marigold crying, and realized that she was outside of the paddock fencing, frantically trying to get back to her mama and her sister. Even though she is the friendliest doeling, she was so frightened that she did not want to come to me, or follow me. So it was a process, but I finally got a collar and a leash on her and coaxed her back into the correct area. She and her sister lifted their mama Zelda right off the ground they were so happy to have some comfort food (although I don’t know why Iris was that excited, maybe just commiserating with Marigold and happy to have her sister back!).
It’s a head-scratcher, but she may have gotten out via the extension paddock which I had open to them. I can’t find any openings in the perimeter fencing there or anywhere, but one of them might be sproingy enough in the middle that she scrambled over it. Needless to say, after she had a nosh and a visit with her mama, she came over and lay down on the big rock with her head on my lap, squished up tightly to me. She didn’t even want a good chin scratch, just wanted a snuggle. Funny goatie, happy to be home again.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!