Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How We Helped a Gosling Hatch


 Last Wednesday morning, our Sebastapol geese's nest hatched and we were pleased to meet their two goslings. In the nest remained four unhatched eggs. Sometimes the unhatched eggs will hatch slightly later. If they don't, we candle the eggs to see if they are developing. If so, we move any viable eggs into another nest to have a shot at hatching. Most often, the unhatched eggs were either never fertilized or the embryo died at some earlier point of development. In either of those cases, the eggs have to be disposed of before they begin to rot.


Thursday evening, Sean checked the eggs to remove those that needed it and discovered an egg stalled in the hatching process. It was growing cold and the geese had already abandoned the remaining eggs in the nest, so we made the call to try to help this little one to hatch. We have had both success and failure at this, but weighed against doing nothing resulting in most likely it's death, we had to at least try.

It takes hours to help a bird to hatch. It must be done slowly, mimicking nature. Gentle tapping on the outside of the egg, stimulates the processes of closing off umbilicus and readying the chick for hatching. Care must be taken to not breech veins that might cause too much bleeding.

Helping this gosling was not without trouble. The first day, it was so weak that it could barely lift its head. Then, it developed splay-leg (or sprattle leg) and needed us to make braces from band-aids to align its legs properly for another 24 hours. It imprinted on Sonja. While that is sweet, it makes it hard to integrate the gosling back to its family.

This is what happened for us...








Morning snuggle buddy. #farmhairdontcare

Bath time! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hiking with Goats (and advocating for animal welfare)

Malik leading the group...
 I love, Love LOVE the article that Aislinn Sarnacki of Bangor Daily News wrote about our hiking adventures. READ IT HERE. I think the article and video shows the best parts of what we do here on the homestead. Hiking with our goats is certainly one of the most fun for both us and our goats. But, in the interest of advocating for the best care of animals, I wanted to take just a minute to clarify two points.

"Goats are just like dogs or cats." This sentiment was voiced by several of our hikers and I knew what they meant. But, I want to make sure that you all do, too. While there are some similarities; they both are smart and can be friendly, are both mammals, and have wagging tails- caring for goats is vastly different than having a dog. Goats do not make good house pets, for one thing since they are very happy to eliminate their body waste (in all its forms) wherever they are at the time. They are herd animals and NEED a herd of at least one other, and preferably two other goat companions. I could go on and on, but my main point is- goats make lovely companion animals when they have their needs met with appropriate shelter, herd mates, nutrition and care. Please, do not purchase goat kids on a whim because they are cute. They are but they grow and you may find that the "cuteness" wears off. Do not purchase a goat to be a house-goat. It is not what is best for that goat. Caring for an animal is a commitment. If you are not in a situation that is right for getting goats, visit farms that have goats and get your goaty fix there. :)

This is another clarification I feel we need to add: we select the goats for each hike based on factors that will ensure that all parties enjoy the hike; goats and guests alike. Some goats prefer other goats to people and would rather stay with their herd; we respect that. Some mothers would get stressed to find their kid missing for a few hours; we consider that. A goat may be feeling unwell or recovering from an injury; we won't add stress to their life for a recreational activity. This being the case, your hike may include goats of various ages, not just goat kids. It may not include goat kids at all. You may hike with yearlings or older goats who need the extra attention and would benefit from the exercise. The group hike featured in this article included two sets of twins, all bottle kids. As the first hike of the season, we were unsure of the trail conditions. It was important that we selected kids who we knew would stay with us and be easy to handle should we need to make adjustments. Carter and Benton will probably go on our next hike again, but Malik developed a touch of pneumonia this week. Though his treatments are finished and he is back to his bouncy self, we won't bring him along this week. He will do better resting at the homestead, so we'll select another goat (or two) for the hikes on Saturday. Our goats' health and well-being are the MOST important concern for us. Always.
Carter and Alana resting at the top

Lastly, we do not host birthday parties or any kind of gathering, really, at the homestead. We're not set up for hosting large groups and having too many people at once would stress us all out- me included. :) We do host up to 6 people for private hikes a couple of times each month. We hope you will choose to visit us and enjoy the experience of hiking with our goats. Currently, we have two times still available. They are:
May 5 2-5 pm RESERVE TICKETS HERE
May 30 10 am-1 pm RESERVE TICKETS HERE

If you would like to hike at a different time, please contact us at 207-323-4982 and we will see what we can do to schedule your preferred date.

You can enter to WIN a Goat Hike sponsored by Tiller & Rye in Brewer, Maine. This two week event will support Bangor Area Food Cupboards to assist those with a need in our community. To enter the drawing, simply bring in a non-perishable food item to Tiller & Rye from now until April 30th. Put your name in the drawing. You can enter once each day in store. Or, if you're not local, but still want to participate, follow this link and make an online donation. It's easy! Just click on tickets and decide how much you want to donate. We'll use your donation to purchase organic non-perishables and give you an entry for every dollar you donate. You can do that here: DONATION

We are excited for a new season to begin on the homestead and are looking forward to meeting many of you in person.

Thanks for visiting with us today.
Sean and Sonja


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy Goat Kids, Playing

As promised for those who did not want to see the graphic realities of difficult births and still-born goat kids (I don't blame you one bit!) I am reposting the video of Rachel's twins and Bailey's boys. Four minutes of happiness for your enjoyment. It was balm to my heart to sit and watch their silly bouncing while Sean cleaned out the kidding stall. I hope your heart feels that happiness, too

Thanks for visiting with us today. Sean & Sonja

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES Rachel Kids Triples; Breech Birth

I meant to write about Rachel's kidding on Saturday, but our girls returned from visiting their grandparents in Bar Harbor and we spent time catching up on their week and watching a movie together. #familycomesfirst Then, the week got away from me a little. I finished four orders and got them in the mail, helped Sean with a couple small projects, and now it is Tuesday. On the bright side, that means that I can tell you about the kidding AND I have pictures and videos of kid and Momma updates.

Friday night was the last night of our week home alone together. We planned to spend it making dinner together (homemade spaghetti and meatballs- soooo good!) and renting a movie online to watch. I asked Sean to give me until 6:30 to finish up making the Bee's Wax Wraps™ I needed to complete an order going out to Salty Teacup #SaltyTeacup. He agreed and went out to feed Benton and Carter their 6 pm bottle. While he was in the barn, he saw Rachel do a series of deep stretching, low moans, and pawing the hay...

"Sorry, Babe. You need to wrap up now." Sean said as he came into the kitchen.

"I am almost done..." I started to respond.

"Time's Up. Rachel's pushing." Sean interrupted with a grin. This was wonderful news! Fresh milk for Carter and Benton! No more frozen milk for the twins! Fresh milk for US for cheese in the coming months. Plus, anticipated twins from one of our easiest does to help deliver. Rachel has never had any issues in kidding. She is so predictable, we planned on trying to "Go Live" via Facebook so those friend who wanted to watch the delivery, could.

The kidding kit was already packed and in the barn. I grabbed my camera and boots and headed to the barn with Sean. When we arrived, Rachel was doing all the pre-labor things we look for; staring off into space, pawing the ground, getting up, laying down, panting, breathing harder than normal, calling softly... There was no tell-tale "bubble" to signal an immediate delivery, so we settled in. We chatted quietly to ourselves. Sean plugged in the cell phone to continue charging so we could attempt to go live when things started happening. We took turns rubbing Rachel's cheeks and scratching her neck.

Two hours past. Things started settling into a rhythm. Rachel's contractions were coming every minute or so and lasting for 15-20 seconds each time. She started to push regularly. Still, no bubble. Sean and I grew concerned that something was wrong. We have assisted with kiddings when there are complications, but it is a delicate balance. On the one hand, once the bubble appears, we know that the general rule of thumb is the first kid should present within 30 minutes. On the other hand, interfering before Rachel's body had stretched to accommodate the kid coming can damage Rachel or the kid. It is too easy to rupture a membrane or cause injury. We try not to interfere as long as there is progress. Rachel did not appear to be as fully dilated as she should be and though we could see the bubble just inside, it was not progressing normally. We decided to try to gently feel the entrance to see if we could detect a problem. I gloved up and Sean squirted my hands with veterinary lubricant.

Keeping my fingers together, (always! always!) I gently felt around the opening. I could feel the bubble, but I couldn't feel anything inside it. I was torn. I didn't want to interfere if things were progressing, just slower than I expected from our experience with Rachel in the past. I didn't want to wait too long and risk losing Rachel or her kids to complications. Sean's gut told him something was wrong. He called our veterinarian, Dr. Tanja Ebel and texted her images of what we were seeing.

Dr. Tanja confirmed that Rachel was pushing too long and that we needed to get a good internal examination to figure out what was amiss. From the video text and pictures we sent her, Dr. Tanja thought that she was seeing a detached placenta. This was an emergency. Without the placenta providing oxygen and nutrients, the kid was dead. Sean squirted more lubricant on my gloved hands and I tried to carefully reach inside to feel what what happening. The bubble burst immediately. "No! No! No!" That was NOT what I was trying to do! I could hear Dr. Tanja on the phone saying, "The kid is most likely dead. You need to feel inside and get its head and feet to pull it out." Sean relayed to Dr. Tanja, "The kids were alive when we came out here. We could see and feel them moving." I was listening to them discuss what needed to happen, but the sound of my racing heart filled my ears. Along with it was the thought that I was going to mess up and kill Sean's Rachel. (We all love Rachel, but she is most definitely his goat. There is such a bond there. I knew what I had to do, but the thought of causing her death or contributing to it made me sick.)

I reached my entire hand and forearm inside Rachel and felt. What was this? Was it a head? Please let it be a head. No. No eyes or mouth. What is this? I continued to one side and felt a tiny fold- a leg. Okay. Leg. No head. Then, I saw a tail and knew this kid was breach. Full-on breech. Butt first. Legs tucked back underneath it. With gentle pressure, I pushed the butt back into Rachel as far as I could. Then, I felt for the right hind leg. I rotated it back so it was sticking out. My hand back inside, I felt along the other side for the left hind leg and rotated it back, too. Rachel was crying out. It was awful. With both legs presenting, using steady downward arching pressure, I pulled the dead kid free and placed it on the towel Sean had ready. My head was not registering what I was seeing, so I started to look for signs of life. Dr. Tanja's voice cut through my thoughts, "Feel with your thumb and forefinger on either side of the ribs. If there is no heart beat. Move on. You need to get the other kids out NOW!" I checked. There were no signs of life, no heart beat. In fact, the eyes were sunken in and she looked as if she had died some time ago.

I carefully reentered Rachel and pushed my hand past the pelvic bones. I felt two heads pushing on the other side of the hips, not in the birth canal. I pushed the kid on the right back and pulled the head of the kid on the left forward. I could only locate the second kid's left foreleg, but head and leg was enough to pull it free. It was alive! "It's breathing!" I called to Dr. Tanja and Sean. Sean grabbed the second kid in a towel and brought her to Rachel's head where she began cleaning her baby immediately. I did not see any of this. I was busy with pulling the third kid free. This one was also alive. I laid it on a fresh towel. I felt around once more to make sure there wasn't a fourth kid waiting. There wasn't. Adrenaline is a strange thing. My arm and back ached from the pressure of contractions biting down on my arm and the strain of pulling the kids free. Unable to keep my feet under me any longer, I sat down on the chair and started to shake from head to toe and cry. I was fairly useless from then on.

Sean took care of cleaning up supplies, gathering towels and equipment. He made sure both kids were able to latch on. We waited for about an hour and then, Sean took me inside. Before we went inside we took a look at the kids and was very happy to find two does born. The one who died was also a doe. Three does!

Sean set his alarm for the next bottle feeding for Bailey's boys and we went to bed without dinner.

WARNING: This video might upset some readers. It does not show the birth because of the complications, we could not record it. It shows Rachel in distress and labor leading up to the birth and then, wet kids newly born. It finishes with day-old kids.



I'd like to say the rest was smooth sailing, but it was not quite. Because Rachel's placenta detached, there was a concern as to whether her milk would be the necessary colostrum or milk. Sean stripped some test milk from both sides. One side looked thick and creamy yellow, like colostrum does. The other side looked white like milk. We are sending off samples to the University of Maine for testing. We want to make sure that the milk has no dangerous bacteria in it. In the meantime, we gave the kids colostrum paste as a protective measure. We are taking all of their temperatures to watch for any signs of infection. We don't think it likely, but because of the rough delivery, it is possible and warrants some additional measures.

It took 36 hours for Rachel to expel her placenta.
Within the 48 hour time frame, but longer than we like.
Originally we told you that we had three does delivered. We were wrong about that. In the light of day and without the stress, we took a better look at the new kids. The second one born, Honey, (she has ears) is indeed a doe. The third kid born, Luka, (lamancha-earred) is actually a buck. The little kid that died was a lamancha-earred doe, colored like Luka.

I am happy to report that this is Day 3 and everyone is behaving normally. The kids are up and active. They found their leg springs this morning, which was a delight to watch. Rachel has passed her placenta and is eating with a good appetite. She is a doting mother, as we have come to expect. This will be Rachel's last kidding for us. We had scheduled her to breed this fall for next spring as her final kidding, but since she got pregnant a year early, she is officially retired- if she will cooperate and stay away from Asher!


As you can see in the video, Bailey is alert and interested in life. Her scouring has subsided and she is eating with an appetite again. She is still limping on her right foreleg, but we are hopeful of a full recovery for her. I have more images and a post about her tomorrow. I'll also repost this video for those who wanted to skip this post.

Thanks for being with us through the good times and the rough times.
We appreciate your warm wishes and prayers for wisdom as we make difficult decisions.
~Sean & Sonja 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How we Bottle-Feed Goat Kids

Carter using my finger as a pacifier. :)
I repeat this often in posts because I feel passionately about it. We only bottle-feed goat kids as a very last resort; when, for whatever reason, the Mother can't and the alternative would be starving kids. Our reason for this is simple. It is what is BEST for the kids. Period. Goats have a herd hierarchy. Bottle-babies, removed from the herd and raised with people, have a hard time adjusting to that. We have seen kids bullied and have lost yearlings because they were not fully accepted into their herd. I am not saying that this always happens, but it does happen- and it doesn't need to. Mothers teach their young goat manners and protect them when necessary. Secondly, kid-replacer is a suitable substitute for their mother's milk, but it is not the BEST nutrition for goat kids- their Mother's milk is. It contains the right blend of nutrients and is fed in the right amounts to goat kids. I have yet to see a case of floppy kid syndrome in a dam-raised kid. (I am sure there are exceptions, but I have never seen it.) Finally, rows of milk bottles lined up in a board without any kind of contact is.... cold. Sterile. I imagine it saves time and does the job of giving the kids nutrition and nothing else.

I am not saying our way is better than how some commercial goat dairies raise their kids, but I think there are benefits to being hands on with every kid where bottle feeding is necessary. And, I think keeping kids with their Mothers until they are weaned is a kinder, more humane practice than selling kids early.

This is how we do it...


Benton playing on Bailey. She is so patient! 
Carter and Benton are just 2 days old and took to the bottle immediately. We use a regular human baby bottle. Other nipples and styles are sold and some people prefer them. We have purchased Prichard type bottles and nipples, but in our experience, human baby bottles work as well, are inexpensive, easy to clean, and our kids prefer them. These kids will get fed 4 oz of goat's milk every 3 hours around the clock. We increase the amount of milk at each feeding to coincide with the weight they are gaining. The rule of thumb is 4 oz per 5 pounds every 3-4 hours. In time, as the kids' rumens develop and they are eating hay and browsing, we will increase the time between bottles until they are getting 4 bottles each day. When the time comes that their rumen is developed and they can eat hay and browse exclusively, we will wean them until they no longer drink milk. Bailey is with her kids while we feed them. She cleans them. She mothers them. We are only providing the milk but the kids are Bailey's to mother. (Ok... we provide some cuddles, scratching and appropriate people interaction. It is too hard to resist those faces! Besides, we do want them to be comfortable around people and friendly. We just also want them to BE goats. ♥)

Thanks for visiting with us today. (And tolerating my soap-box rant.)
Sonja ♥

Monday, February 26, 2018

Homestead Pictures

Bailey has made little progress, but also has not deteriorated either. We're still giving her medicines to help her to recover from birth. These include penicillin, vitamin B, probiotics, and banamine. Additionally, today I went ahead and gave her a dose of dewormer hoping to get ahead of the eggs that usually hatch just after a doe kids. With everything else against her, she doesn't need to be fighting off parasites, too. Her scouring has not resolved yet. I spent an hour this morning thoroughly cleaning off her udder and under her tail. She did not seem to mind it. I know I feel better when I feel clean.

The kids are doing well and are behaving as bouncy kids should. They are eager for their bottles through the day. We have already increased from 3 oz every 3 hours to 4 oz every 3 hours. We will continue to increase as they gain weight.

Here are some pictures I snapped this morning. I am hoping to catch some video tomorrow, but Kristen and Meaghan are away on a well-deserved vacation to their grandparent's house this week. Video is difficult to manage one-handed, but we'll see what I can manage. For now, I hope you enjoy this peek into this morning...

Bailey is still letting the kids nurse. Benton is getting a drink. 

Carter needs another bath! 

Bailey's udder is HUGE. I am using warm compresses to help alleviate
the discomfort until the milk absorbs. 

Benton's favorite spot. 

Bath time! 

Boris and Anya have become friends. ♥
Thanks for visiting with us today. See you again soon!
Sean & Sonja ♥

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bailey Kids (finally!) WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

For the past several weeks our family has slipped into a functional, (but ultimately unhealthy) sleep schedule. Because of the cold and the potential complications with Bailey kidding, we have been checking on Bailey every hour around the clock. After the first week, Kristen and Meaghan pitched in and offered to take the 10 pm to 2 am watch, which helped immensely. Still, we have all been waiting impatiently for Bailey to go into labor. About two weeks ago, Sean excitedly announced that there was a discharge from Bailey's vulva. Losing the mucus plug is a sign that we are getting close. But, though her udder filled and her belly dropped, nothing happened night after night.

Friday night we started our routine dance. Sean and I headed to bed around 10 pm and the girls began their watch. We set our alarm for 3 am. Some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head touches my pillow. I woke to Sean, "It's time." Sean said quietly. I thought he meant that it was 6 am and time for us to get up to get ready for a soap making class. "Not yet." I answered and settled back to sleep. "Sonja, Bailey's kids are coming. It's time." THAT woke me. We already had our kidding kit in the barn, so it was just a matter of grabbing boots, coats, and camera.

Meconium stained first born.
In the barn, Bailey was laying down and her kid's nose was presenting in the "bubble". If all went well, her first kid would be born within the hour. The first thing we wanted to know was whether the kid was in the proper position. As its nose protruded, we were expecting to see hooves along the sides or underneath. When more of the head was delivered and no hooves were present, Sean sprayed lubrication on my gloved hand. Slowly I eased my hand inside with my fingers held together (Never enter with fingers splayed. That is very dangerous.) to feel for hooves. My hand immediately hit a hoof. Good news. Slowly, I felt for the other hoof along the other side, but I didn't feel it, only the shoulder. That meant one leg was in the correct position, the other was laying back along the spine. Not a perfect presentation, but the kid could be born this way. I added gentle traction to the hoof I could feel and to the kid's head. As Bailey contracted and pushed, I helped pull the kid slowly until the shoulders were delivered. I left the rest up to Bailey. Within minutes, she delivered her first kid.

Being born is tiresome work!
The first thing Sean and I noticed was that there was fecal matter present in the sac and the amniotic fluid was definitely yellow. Meconium in the amniotic fluid does not necessarily mean that the kid is going to do poorly, but it is a sign that there was some fetal distress. It is important that we watch for joint ill, lethargy, or difficulty breathing which could indicate respiratory issues over the first few days. If signs present, we'll call in our veterinarian. I helped clean off the large bits of gooey membrane from the kid and then placed him on a clean puppy pad in front of Bailey so she could do her part in cleaning her kid. I took pictures and chatted with Sean while we waited for the next kid to be born.

The second kid presented within a couple minutes. We could clearly see the hooves of both front feet in the unruptured amniotic sac. We waited to see the head present. After about 10 minutes, both hooves protruded about 5 inches but there was no head was in sight. Concerned that the head was turned backwards, Sean sprayed more lubrication on newly gloved hands and carefully I felt inside to see where the kid's head was. Just inside, the head was there, facing the right direction. Good news. We waited a little longer and the nose presented and within minutes the second kid was born. The amniotic sac did not rupture during birth, so I opened it and helped clear the fluid from the new kid's nose and mouth before placing him near Bailey's head for her to clean off her kid.

Good job, Bailey!
While Bailey met her kids and cared for them, Sean and I cleaned up the soaking wet puppy pads and towels. Sean grabbed some grain and fresh water in case Bailey wanted to eat or drink. I took pictures and video and sighed in relief that the kids were alive and so was Bailey. And, that we might get some sleep again (At least until it is Rachel's turn to kid.)

Once the kids got their legs under themselves and began to stand, we helped them to latch on in turn on Bailey's good side. It took a little practice, but they both got a drink before we left the family to bond and we returned to bed.

A little backstory for those who didn't know. Last year, Bailey kidded twins. Since she has kidded before and mothered beautifully, we didn't worry too much about them. Once we made sure they could latch on properly and were drinking well, we left Bailey to care for them. There was a problem, though. Bailey developed a severe form of mastitis, an infection in her udder. Though we used the medications penicillin, Today (Cephaprin Sodium) and then Tomorrow (Cephaprin Benzathine), had the multiple abscesses lanced by our Veterinarian and gave pain meds, Bailey's left udder was severely damaged so that scar tissue blocked access to any milk production. We dried her off and over the course of the last year have fought with several on-going infections that spread through her body. Her kids from last year suffered, too. Franklin contracted pneumonia four times over the course of the year, nearly dying on us twice. His brother, Kurt did die. We had NO plans on breeding her ever again. She had other plans.

When we discovered that Bailey was going to kid this season, we were worried for her health and that of her kids. If she had twins, they would have to share one side of the udder because the left side produces milk, but there is no way for it to pass through the teat. Based on the poor production of the right side, we need to be watchful that the kids are getting enough milk from it. If they are, great! The right side will stop producing in time and the kids can be reared sharing the right side. If not, we needed to be prepared for that. I had frozen colostrum from last year's kidding season. And, I have frozen milk from our final milking in December to feed the kids until Rachel kids. Then, I can milk her and feed the new kids. We only bottle feed if absolutely necessary. It is really not the BEST thing for the kids, but it is certainly better than the chance of them starving to death without interference.

This is all we have been able to collect. :(
Back to the present... Sean and I were both able to milk about 2 ounces from the working side of the udder. It was not much, but we were hopeful that under the laws of supply and demand, Bailey would produce what she needed to in order to care for her bucks. When we checked on the family at 9 am, Sean was only able to get a half an ounce from the working side. No need to jump the gun, the kids might have already nursed and emptied the udder. Bailey developed scours in the hours after kidding which made her backside and her private pen a mess. While Sean cleaned Bailey and her stall, I brought the kids inside to wash off the dried fecal smears and introduce them to Kristen and Meaghan. I warmed 4 oz of colostrum and gave them each half by bottle-which they took to easily. Then, the boys fell asleep, cuddled with us.

We thaw colostrum in a double
boiler until warmed.
When Sean came inside, I suggested we keep the kids inside for a couple hours to give Bailey's udder time to fill up. The plan was that Sean would milk her out after 2 hours to see how much milk she was producing. If she was producing 6 oz or so, that would be a good sign. Sean returned inside with a mere half ounce of colostrum. Not good news. I added it to another package of colostrum from the freezer, warmed it and fed the kids another 3 ounces each. We returned the kids to Bailey. She may not be producing enough milk, but she is their mother and has shown a desire to clean them and sleep with them. So long as that continues, we'll not pull the kids.

Over the next 24 hours, the kids each ate 24 oz of colostrum from bottles and Sean attempted to collect colostrum from Bailey. Each attempt yielded no more than half an ounce of milk. Bailey's scouring (diarrhea) had not resolved by morning. Because the kids were born coated in meconium and Bailey was showing signs of developing mastitis again in her left udder, we injected penicillin, vitamin B (for energy and to stimulate appetite) and banamine orally (to help with the pain of an engorged udder). We also gave her pepto bismal to help ease her scouring. The kids were covered in dried fecal matter, so once more, we brought them inside to clean off. We let them stay inside with us to eat and dry off (about 3 hours) and again, Sean attempted to get milk from Bailey. Again she only produced about a half of an ounce.

So, this is our plan for now: We are applying warm compresses to Bailey's udder every three hours, when we are also cleaning off any fecal matter that is on her back end. Tonight, Bailey enjoyed half a dark beer (helps with probiotics), and did not enjoy, -but needed- Probios paste (helps with probiotics), an antibiotic injection, pepto bismal orally, and vitamin B. She has all the hay she wants 24/7. We want her to produce milk, but we also want the left side to dry up. As any woman who had had a child understands, there is some pain involved in engorged breasts. We are trying to alleviate that, too. We hope that in time, the left side of the udder will stop producing milk and the swelling will come down enough to allow the right side's passages to open to allow more milk to reach the outside. At the moment, she is HUGE, but only drops are coming out of the right side. If that happens, great! The kids are still trying to drink from that side. We're hoping that helps, too. In the meantime, we are bottle-feeding the kids 4 oz each every 3 hours around the clock.

Carter & Benton
As for the kids, they are showing no signs of distress. They are both alert and active. Both take the bottle without trouble already. They are making loose milk poops and urinating normally. We expect they will grow to be healthy additions to our homestead. And, one last thing, we promised to reveal their names... These lads are named Carter and Benton. This year's naming theme is the television show ER, since that is what we have been watching on our "down" time in the evenings.

Benton
Here is a short video of them both minutes after their birth and 6 hours later~


Thanks for visiting with us today. :)
 ~Sean & Sonja

Toms Calling and Adding Muscovy Hens

Today is a spinning-my-wheels kind of day. I have a list of things that need doing as long as my arm and absolutely ZERO inclination to start any of them. The cure would be to simply pick a project and start it. Simple, right? It surely would be, if I had any motivation to put thoughts into action.

Part of my funk is Mother Nature's ridiculous mood swings! Yesterday was a gift; 60 degrees and sun. The snow and ice thawed to bare ground in spots through the yard. The geese and ducks were in heaven, playing in the open water of their small pond. Turkeys are beginning to have loud disagreements with one another over who is going to make babies this season. And our lovely flock of free-loading chickens are beginning to lay eggs again! The goats took advantage of the unusually warm day to venture into the pasture to soak up some sun. This morning we woke to temperatures in the single digits. Seriously. These 50* shifts in temperature are getting old.

I took advantage of the warmer weather to spend some time outside and took some pictures to share with you all. Our group of turkey hens sat to one side of the porch while the boys had a discussion. The loud disagreement between Aquila and Lazarus made me smile. It was a sure sign that Spring is on her way. We have high hopes of hatching a couple clutches of turkey poults this season. Of all the birds on the homestead, the turkeys are my favorite. Because they are used to us (and because they have never had cause to fear us) they are quite tame. The toms tolerate being handled; several of the hens absolutely love it. They are usually content to sit in a lap and be petted. :)



On the goat front, Sean woke me at 6 am to let me know that once again, Bailey had a thick discharge coming from her tail end. "Finally! I think today is the day with Bailey. Do you want me to stay home?" he asked. That was good news. We haven't enjoyed a decent night's sleep in nearly two weeks. "No. Go ahead to work. Bailey kids easily. I can handle it." I replied, relieved at the prospect of sleep somewhere on the horizon. Sean left for work.

I checked Bailey through the morning, waiting for her contractions to begin. They did not. Not only that, but the discharge stopped and disappeared within the first hour of my watch. I checked on her each and every hour, hoping that she was indeed, in labor. She was not. Another sleep-less night anticipated, but such is homesteading.



Ilsa (left) and Anya (right)


Sean and I visited a neighboring farm, Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham, Maine. Our mission was to purchase two female Muscovy hens to be companions for Boris. This winter has been very hard on the animals. While the Mallards and Black Swedish ducks have borne it well, we lost our Muscovy females. It makes us sad, but more importantly, Boris has been lonely for the past month. When we saw an advertisement for a couple young hens, we answered it. And, so it is that Ilsa and Anya have come to join our homestead. Until the weather breaks for good, for their safety, they are being housed in the downstairs portion of the bunny hutch in the potager garden for now. This will allow them time to become comfortable with their new home and its other residents (including us), to learn where the food comes from (again, us) and where the water is, and to settle in before being let loose to roam as they want to in the duck yard. We hope that they will choose to lay eggs and hatch out a nest or two of Muscovy ducklings this year.



Thanks for visiting with us, Friends.
Sean & Sonja

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why Our Homestead Wants a Security System

www.facebook.com/goatvetcorner
Sean and I have had several conversations about getting a wireless camera system for the homestead this year. We want this for several reasons. With another kidding season upon us, along with attempting to have hard due dates for the does, we must check the barn around the clock to be able to assist should a problem arise. And they do.

* Breech births
* Kid too large to be born normally
* Kids born in the freezing cold temperatures can quickly succumb to hypothermia
* Accidents
* A mother in distress

These are just some of the things that can go wrong. Things happen. You do your best to mitigate the chance of them and deal with them as best you can when they do. Having a working camera system in the barn, coop, and buck yards would go a long way towards the good-health and well-being of both the animal residents and humans on this homestead. Getting up every hour or two through the night makes for a sleep deficit that is starting to take its toll on Sean and I. It just is.

Then, there is you. We want to be able to share live footage and video. Not every minute of every day. This is our home and we don't wish to live inside a fish bowl. (Though 99.9 % of you are delightful, there are those who would message me every time a goat poops in their stall. Seriously, poop happens. It gets cared for regularly, but not every second. We don't need multiple messages alerting us to it but I digress... ) There are many times we invite you in, to be part of what we do. It would be lovely to have a camera (or several) to turn on inside the barn for when we want to share a live kidding with you. Or, we want to leave a feed on of goat kids playing and napping. Maybe you would enjoy watching the pasture as the goats browse in the woods and play on their equipment. With wireless cameras, you could even join us in the gardens or as we construct fencing.

Finally, there is the thought of security; both from predators that might attack our animals and from people. We live in a rural community, but the times are a changin' and we must be ready to meet those changes.

There are many systems on the market. Because our homestead is spread out and running cords is not feasible, a wireless system would be best. Because we want to use the systems inside barns where dirt and dust do occur, we want a system that can stand up to some wear and tear. Because this is an investment in our homestead's future and we are too poor to buy cheap, we want a quality system. Because we want to be able to invite you into our world via the internet and live feeds, we need a system capable of doing that.

We found the system we want to buy. It runs about $600 once we purchase all the add-ons that will allow us to be able to stream it for you.

To buy "wants", not "needs", we often host sales or try to save money in other ways to pay for it. Neither Sean nor I use credit cards. We buy as we can, build as we go. And, we are thankful for all we have. To fund this project, starting today, we are going to run a series of FLASH SALES on our Lally Broch Farm Facebook Page. If you aren't already a fan, please visit us and give us a "like" and a "follow". The first sale is going to feature our popular Bee's Wax Wraps™ and select pieces of original Eggshell Jewelry. Other sales will follow until we reach our goal of being able to purchase this system. The First FLASH SALE is up and live HERE.

As an extra thank you for helping us reach this lofty goal, after you purchase an item, comment on whether you would like to be entered into a drawing for (1) a seat in one of our fun, educational Soap Making Classes, or (2) a guided Hiking with Goats experience, or (3) a Grain Bag Tote filled with homestead goodies. We will be drawing one name for each of the three bonus prizes.

Keep your eyes peeled for the first of the Security Camera Fund Raising Sales in the next 24 hours. They will be posted only on our Facebook Page. 
Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are thankful for your company.
Sean and Sonja ♥



Prepping for Kidding Season

Well, Surprise on us! Bailey may beat Rachel to kidding! Overnight she has grown an udder and "dropped". She hasn't lost her mucus plug yet, but her lady bits have grown swollen and are getting ready to deliver.

(This is a recent video of Bailey and her recovery. Notice how round and healthy she looks. No lumps or scabs anywhere on her. The infection resolved. This was shot in Mid-December. It has taken many months to get her looking this way.)

This is not good news. Bailey has spent the last 9 months recovering from a massive mastitis/staph infection that caused her udder to be shredded. Multiple visits to our vet happened where multiple cysts were opened and drained. She has been on antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, and steroids and *finally* was getting to the point where she was healthy enough to rejoin the herd as soon as the weather turned. We had not planned to breed Bailey again. Keeping her locked, separate from the rest of the herd so she could fully heal has not been an easy decision, but the alternative was to have her put to sleep. We could not risk her infecting the rest of the herd. But, she has such a personality and affection for people. Even as sick as she was at the height of her illness, she always perked up when we came into the barn and pulled herself up to get scratches and love from us. She wanted to fight and we gave her the chance to do that. (Alternatively, as unpleasant as this decision would have been, if she began to decline to the point where she had no quality of life and was in pain, suffering, we would have made the hard call to end that.) As best as we can work out, Master Jareth had other plans. One of our 2-year old Nigerian Dwarf bucks, he escaped the young buck pasture and was found in the horse stall inside the barn last fall. Apparently, he also made it into Bailey's private stall. Bad, bad goats!
This was the beginning of the damage.
The infection spread and got far, far worse.
One Concern is that Bailey's udder might be so damaged that she won't be able to nurse her kid(s). If that is the case, we have colostrum saved in the freezer if she kids before Rachel does. If Rachel kids first, and the timing is right, we will use the fresh colostrum from her if we need to. (If the timing is not right, we will still use Rachel's freshly frozen colostrum as it will be higher in nutrients than what we saved from last season.)
Another concern is that Bailey may relapse under the strain of kidding and caring for the kids. We want Bailey to be as healthy and happy as she can be. Hence the decision to never attempt to breed her again. We will do everything in our power to support her and hope that she has a successful kidding.
This little monster was the cause
of the mastitis. Good thing Frankie
is still adorable! 
And, she may. She has kidded here before- each time gifting us with healthy twins. She is an attentive mother- when she is not riddled with an infection. So, we wait and hope that things will be okay. We will not be using facebook's "Go Live" feature when Bailey kids. We need to focus on her and those babies. But, we will attempt to "Go Live" with Rachel's kidding. She has always kidded well and needs little assistance from us, if any. If you are interested in watching Rachel's LIVE kidding make sure you check into our
FB page for updates. Kidding happens fairly quickly, so do be prepared. :) Thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. Sean & Sonja ♥

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Where to Buy Bee's Wax Wraps™, Retail and Online

We've been fielding questions about where folks can find our Bee's Wax Wraps™. This is the list of where you can find them this year. We'll update this list as new shops are added. :)

MAINE SHOP LOCATIONS:
Silkweeds~ Searsport
The Local Variety~ Bucksport
The Not So Empty Nest~ Bangor
Tiller & Rye~ Brewer
Marsh River Cooperative~ Brooks
McKay Farm and Research Station~ Thorndike
Groundcover~ Bridgeton


SHOPS in USA:
Betsy's Sunflower South~ Apalachicola, FL 
Farmer Fred's~ Towanda, PA 
Pepin Lumber~ Woonsocket, RI 
Historic Cold Spring Village~ Cape May, NJ
Mad Mandarins~ Penryn, CA
Salty Teacup~ Portland, OR
Heavenly Honey Company, CA

ONLINE SHOPPING:
www.etsy.com/shop/lallybrochfarm

Thanks to YOUR suggestions, these shops have a sample package of our wraps heading to them this week. Who knows? Maybe you'll see them in these shops, too...

The Green Store Belfast, ME
Cornerstone Country Market Waterboro, ME Fiddlehead Gifts Patten, ME
Possibilities Lincoln, ME
Sugar Tree Cafe Freedom, ME
Rooster Brother · The Store for Cooks Ellsworth, ME
Zoe Sozo's Whole Life Market El Dorado Springs, MO
Good Health Market Sheridan, WY
Pepacton Natural Foods - The Page Roscoe, NY
Good Cheap Food Delhi, NY
Stewart's Department Store Delhi, NY
Bella Vita Collierville, TN
Tree of Life Center Clarksville, TN

If you know of another shop that might be a good fit for our fantastic wraps, we are looking for some additional markets. We'll send you a 2 pack of wraps for suggesting a place and them a 2 pack of wraps to sample, too.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Maintaining a Healthy Herd by Checking Fecals for Parasites

Imagine.
You and your beloved mate, pockets stuffed with small plastic bags and a marker, one or both hands (if you are lucky) covered with protective nitrile gloves, waiting in the barn for one or more of your goats to squat to relieve themselves (a sure sign that pellets will follow) or lift their tail signalling the internal rumen conveyor belt is about to get to work. You lunge forward, hoping you are quick enough to catch the still warm pellets in the bag you deftly pull open before they hit the hay and roll underfoot.  It is a delicate balance. You must be fast in your approach, yet not so determined that the goat in question catches on to your mission and darts away, taking their black gold with them. This dance continues for two and a half hours while you wait for each goat in turn to give up their pellets. Some goats are unfazed by this routine intrusion. They eat. They lift their tails. They look at you like you've gone mad, but they carry on regardless. Some are inquisitive and stick curious noses into your hand, spilling your prize and forcing you to await another go round. Others are so shy that you must not make eye contact lest they catch on to your game. These clever goats dart off to drop their pellets in secret while you are busy with another.

"Why?" You ask. Testing for and treating your goats to prevent heavy parasite loads is a basic part of maintaining a healthy and thriving herd. "Running fecals" is common around here and should be a part of your herd management plan, too.

Several times each year, we collect fecal samples from most (if not all) of the goats on the homestead. These samples are carefully bagged, labeled and sent to be scanned under a microscope. We receive back an egg count for several kinds of parasites that can prove fatal to goats if left unchecked.

Our herd is susceptible to Barberpole worms more than other parasites. Occasionally the tester will find Whipworm or Tapeworm eggs or the eggs of a protozoa, like Coccidia. But, mostly, our chief adversary is Barberpole, also know as Stomach worm (Haemonchus Contortus). These bad boys live in a goat's abomasum and grow to 10-30mm long. They feed off the goat's blood supply, causing anemia among other woes. Females are capable of producing as many as 5,000 eggs daily. So prolific are these beasties, it is not hard to see how they can rather quickly cause a goat's demise.

Along with fecal egg count, we routinely check the lower inside eyelid for color against a FAMANCHA chart. We are looking for bright pink to red. Medium pink indicates the possibility of a heavy worm load. Light pink is almost certainly indicative of heavy worms, a goat that is very anemic and headed for big trouble. White eyelids are critical; immediate action was needed to have already been taken. A goat might survive with white eyelids, but the prognosis is not good.

Equipped with these two pieces of information, we are ready to treat any goat that needs it. We do not routinely worm the entire herd. It is believed that doing so can lead to resistance to the medicines that kill parasites. Instead, we treat any goat who has medium to light pink eyelids AND a high egg count. We treat any goat who has light pink eyelids (even if worm load is fine.) And, we treat any goat who has a high egg count (even if the eyelids are well colored.)

Our wormer of choice right now is Fenbendazole, as we are still seeing good results from using it for most of our herd. We switched to using oral Ivomectin for a couple of our goats who showed little improvement after a course with Fenbendazole. We are watching them carefully for continued signs of resistance. Any goat who is being treated with a dewormer will also get oral Redcell if they are showing signs of anemia. We give the red cell daily for 7-10 days to help give the goats the building blocks they need to rebuild their blood stores. Anemia can take weeks to resolve and must be monitored.

We'll repeat the process of collecting fecal samples from any goat we treated 10-14 days after the initial treatment to retest for eggs. There should be a marked decrease. If the egg count is low, nothing further needs to be done at this point. If the count is lower, but still high, we'll either redose with Fenbendazole or use Ivomectin instead and recheck the egg count in another 10-14 days.

Interested in seeing what collecting samples looks like? Sean captured a short video for you. Rather than our usual method of each of us watching from both sides of the barn, I had the idea to close everyone on one side and feed the goats along two walls. My thinking was that with a row of tails facing us, it might be easier to catch them at their business. It worked in that we were able to catch all of them. It could use some tweaking before next time since the larger does were downright MEAN to the littles trying to eat the hay, too. Lily, Abigail, Rachel, and Keziah were the worst of the offenders and I was quite happy to move them to the other side of the barn once I caught their samples.

Thanks for visiting with us this evening. I hope it was educational. Sean and Sonja ♥

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Warm Winter Animals

Lucy
Ferdinand
We have had three days reach into the high 20's and low 30's with SUN, glorious... warm... sun! The animals are enjoying it and so are the peoples. Chores are so much quicker and easier when things aren't threatening to shatter with every movement (up to and including fingers and toes!)

I took some time today to get outside and simply enjoy the animals for a bit. To ensure my welcome, I brought treats with me while I visited. Our geese seemed to appreciate them more than the ducks who gave me a cursory glace and went back to dabbling in the snow. Miss Lucy Goosy (Sebastapol) has warmed up to me and will come close to catch tortilla pieces. Mr. Ferdinand (Sebastapol) is completely fearless and takes snacks directly from my hand. I attribute that to his kindly upbringing. The folks who gifted us with him treated him gently and loved him very much. That kind attention has made him into a fine lad. I was hopeful that these two would bond and nest last year. Lucy was accepted into the flock well enough, but no eggs were laid. Perhaps this season. We hope so! We'd love to hatch Sebastopol goslings; some to add to our homestead and others to provide to folks who would love to raise them as pets. They are so lovely with their flowing ballerina feathers and calm temperament. ♥

When the treats were finished, so was the attention spared for me. The geese walked single file back to where the ducks were dabbling and settled themselves to bask in the sun. Dismissed, I wandered myself to visit with the chickens and turkeys.


It may seem like the turkeys live on this perch because quite a few photos are captured of them on it, but I promise that is not the case. They spend most of the day keeping order in the yard, digging for tidbits dropped in the hay and congregating at the potager gate. The turkeys are by far the friendliest birds on the homestead. They follow Sean and I when we are outside. I admit, that partly that is so they can grab the bits we drop along the way, but I honestly believe they enjoy our company as much as we do theirs. This group, save two who came to us from a friend's farm, were all born and hand-raised here. They have grown into large, lovely birds. The hens, Jordan and Lydia are the most friendly of the lot. They will suffer people hugs without trying to escape and often make trilling sounds of contentment at us- like a cat purring.

With the days warming, we opened the barn to let the goats stretch their legs and soak up some warmth, too. The young bucks took a field trip back to their regular shelter and pasture in the back yard. I think they appreciate having more room again. Being closed in a barn stall is warmer, certainly, but it is not much fun.

The does explored as far as the empty, unused outside mangers and then returned to the barn. They were not about the snow- even without the cold. Only Benny, Tabby, and Jem stayed in the pasture. Even though they chose not to use their yard, I like knowing that they can roam, if they want to.
Jem's broken leg healed strangely, but certainly better with our Veterinarian's assistance with casting it than it would have had we left it and hoped for the best. She will probably always walk with somewhat of a limp, but she is able to get around well for all that. She recovered well-enough that we are hoping she is bred again and will gift us with another perfect doeling this season. It is still early to tell if she is carrying kids without a sonogram, so we'll have to wait and see. ♥

Thanks for visiting with us today.

Sean & Sonja ♥





Saturday, January 13, 2018

Flooding in the Pasture

"Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative" ~Oscar Wilde

Your pardon, Mr. Wilde, but had your livelihood depended as directly on crops and livestock as it did writing plays and poems, you may have had a vastly differing view. Weather plays such an integral part of our lives, I noticed recently that many of my posts begin with what the weather is doing and how we are dealing with it. "Old-timers" often remark on the weather I suspect for much the same reason. It had a tangible bearing on their lives. It also helps draw people together in several ways. Shared experiences help us to bond with one another. Alternately, large weather events cause most of us to feel concern for the welfare of others.

This is normally dry land. The stream lives roughly 100 feet beyond our pasture fencing.
Not so right now. 
This post in entirely focused on weather. For the past several weeks, Maine has borne uncommon cold temperatures. Normally, the temperature drops gradually from October through January, varying by 10 degrees or so from day to day. As the temperature declines, snow falls. Whether we see a few inches or a few feet during those storms, we deal with what nature drops. Come the first week in February, we expect a snap of several days, maybe a week, where the temperatures plunge below zero. Though unpleasant, the people and animals living on this homestead are able to deal with our expected weather patterns.

This year was vastly different and is causing much conversation. We enjoyed an unseasonably mild fall, seeing days as warm as 60* F into November. We hoped that signaled a mild winter ahead. We were disappointed. By the end of December, our temperatures dropped severely, the worst days dropping to -25* F overnight~ this without the added consideration of wind chill. What is wind chill? When high winds are present with severe low temperatures, conditions intensify. The thermometer might read 40* F, but if the wind speed is 20 MPH, it will feel as if it is about 18* F outside. We were reaching temperatures as low as -8* F regularly, with wind chill factoring in to make it -30* F some days. In that kind of extreme cold, frostbite can set in within a very short period of time. That kind of cold freezes water buckets solid within hours, necessitating constant replacement. Vehicle batteries won't turn over. Fingers in gloves can take an injury without it being felt. For our animal wards, without the time to acclimate to the cold and develop good undercoats for protection, the situation can very quickly become life threatening. Animal care becomes an around the clock venture. The unseasonably cold temperatures lasted over two weeks for us. They paused long enough to drop a couple feet of snow with the help of Blizzard Grayson and then returned to below zero.

This week our weather changed. We enjoyed three days of normal cold temperatures; 20*-30* F days and nights hovering in the single digits. On Friday, we warmed to 40* F and then the rain came. Torrential rain, melting the banks of snow and filling water bodies. Authorities are advising to avoid travel if possible. The good part is that frozen paths are clear for the first time in months and ground can be seen again. After days in the negative temperatures, 30's-40's feels pretty good for the animals. Unfortunately, this break is not staying. The rain is due to stop tonight and tomorrow we expect the high to be around 16* F during Sunday. Sunday night is forecast to drop to -6* F. Monday warms to a balmy 16* F, again. Fluctuations of 40 degrees in a 24 hour period is harder on the animals than the people. Once more we worry for how they will cope with this change.

I don't know what the rest of this season holds for us, but we hold out hope that things get back to normal for all of us.


Thanks for visiting with us today. I hope you are warm and dry wherever you find yourself.
~Sean and Sonja