I have been neglecting my writing. Not because I don't want to write or because I don't have thoughts, plans and ideas to share. I have been legitimately WORKING HARD and by the time I get settled for the evening and have a spare moment, my eyes drift close and morning arrives. Sneaky, sneaky morning! I appreciate that you have been so patient; it has helped me be more productive. Before I share all of that with you, though, first an update on our goats.
On Friday, Dr. Larson came out to the homestead to check the goats for us. We know what happened to Sapphira, but after losing Pepper so abruptly and without warning, we needed a vet call to reassure ourselves and certainly to address any problems within the herd. Dr. Larson was quite thorough in listening to hearts and lungs, feeling over shoulders, spines, and haunches, checking gums and eyelids, and collecting fecal samples. I never find "bathroom" humor funny, but I have to share this gem. Just as we were discussing the need to collect a sample, Ellie decided to oblige us with some fresh pellets. Dr. Larson looked around for her gloves and a sample container and finding none readily to hand, cupped her bare hands and caught the sample she needed. THAT is a dedicated vet! After a hand wash, the exams continued. Overall, the herd looked good and healthy. Ellie, in particular was still underweight and Dr. Larson suggested a Blue Seal dairy goat grain with at least .03 selenium and a higher protein content for all the does. Ellie's fecal exam showed some Barber Pole Worm (Haemonchus contortus) eggs, but neither larvae nor worms themselves. We just wormed Ellie with Ivomec 2 weeks ago, so we decided to administer another dose before Spring to catch any eggs that are laying dormant before they hatch and multiply. (All goats carry parasites. The goal is to control their levels, not eradicate them.) Otherwise, everyone looks good and healthy.
I did learn some new things with this visit.
(1) I learned that a "fat" goat may still be under-weight. All of our goats have great, fat bellies and a good heft to them. I did not know that, like dogs, you judge weight by running your fingers down a goat's spine. It should not feel "bony". Additionally, it is necessary to feel around your goat's ribs. You should just be able to feel them with a nice layer of fat and muscle covering them. Based on these tests, Abigail and Ruby need to put on a few pounds. We increased their grain rations slightly to accomplish this.
(2) I also started to feel a little better about my ability to tell for certain if a doe was pregnant or not. Dr. Larson's first question to us regarding this was, "Has she been exposed to a buck?" All the does had been exposed when Jedi escaped months ago- except Ellie. Dr. Larson checked over Ellie first and stated that she could not be certain whether or not Ellie was pregnant without a blood test. We explained that Ellie has had no opportunity to become pregnant, so that possibility was ruled out. Dr. Larson moved on to examine Abigail. Without a blood test or sonogram results immediately available, Dr. Larson resorted to an old farmers method of bracing her hands on either side of Abigail's belly and giving her a slight shake. According to our good doctor, sometimes you can feel the kids move in this way. Abigail did not appear pregnant based on a manual examination and that her udder has not formed at all. We did not think she was, but this confirmation was fantastic news. Ruby, Leah, and Rachel are all pregnant and are growing the udders to prove it.
With the getting ready for new goat kids, it feels like spring must be just around the corner. We are not alone in this feeling. Our geese, Justin and Caitlin are planning for babies of their own. Caitlin has laid 3 eggs so far. Justin is pulling out his chest feathers to help create a nest for his would-be offspring. And, he has decided to evict the chickens from using the duck/goose house without notice. Actually, he has become quite territorial about the yard in general. He fained at Sean a couple times this week while he attempted to collect goose eggs and outright bit him once! When the weather gets warmer, we will allow them to sit on their eggs, but for now, it is still getting into the low 20's some nights- too cold for hatching eggs outside! The ducks apparently want "in" on this, too. I collected 3 Mallard eggs and 1 Black Swedish egg this morning when I fed them. The first duck eggs of the year!
Along with all these things, we have finally launched our new "Farm Pals" program. I am so excited and proud of this program. It comes as an off-shoot of the idea I wanted to implement of "Farmer for a Day" program for 4-9 year old kids. Basically, once each week through the summer, we would host a group of up to 10 children for a few hours once each week. The "farmers" would participate in farm related activities like: collecting eggs, help feeding animals, learning about gardening, story time, making cheese, and enjoying a farm fresh snack. Our "Farmer for a Day" program won't be ready to roll out until our barn is complete- hopefully by Summer 2014. This lead me to think, "How can I get children involved now?" and "How can I open this program so that children who don't live nearby can also take part?" And, that is how "Farm Pals" was born. It is an interactive, educational program designed with activities packages full of information about farm life. (Click the link for more information about it.)
If that wasn't enough, we also added to our farm products line available on our Etsy store. We have had available our homemade goat's milk Lally Broch Soap and our Lally Broch Scent Shots (to use in your tart warmer.) We have now started our line of original, custom costume jewelry for the farm chic farm-girl. Our one-of-a-kind, unique, hand-painted Eggshell Pendants are made from the eggshells of our very own beloved flock of chickens, ducks, and geese. Each one is a wearable piece of art. I am so in love with these and I think you'll like them, too!
A final bit of happiness, our selection of organic, non-GMO seeds from Fedco arrived last weekend. In a few days, Sean and I will start our 6-packs for this year's garden. How exciting and what a complete change from the sad events from weeks past.
So, that is the update of what has been happening around here. As Spring blooms, you may look forward to lots of pictures, some videos, and updates from Lally Broch.
Thanks for visiting tonight, friends. We're sure glad you did.
Sean & Sonja ♥