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. :)

Silkweeds~ Searsport
Huckleberries Card & Gift ~ Bucksport
The Not So Empty Nest~ Bangor
Tiller & Rye~ Brewer
Marsh River Cooperative~ Brooks
The Little Cheese Shop~ Pittsfield

Betsy's Sunflower South~ Apalachicola, FL 


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

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

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 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Blizzard Grayson and the Flu

It is a rare thing for Sean or I to be sick. Injured, yes. With the amount of work in the form of building and tearing apart to repair done around here, injuries happen. For the past ten days, Sean and I have been dealing with the flu.

That doesn't stop things needing to happen on the homestead. Animals don't care that you have a fever or chills when it is feed time. It hasn't helped that we have been experiencing a cold front unlike any either of us can remember in recent years- certainly not since we began homesteading in 2009. We are very well acquainted with cold. But, to have an average daytime temperature of about 7* F during the day and an average of -7* F over night without the additional considerations of the very real wind chill and that is a horse of a different color. Especially for late December into early January. The problem for the animals is that we went from 30*-40* weather to frigid temperatures without the benefit of acclimation. The coldest day was -20* F; the coldest night dropped to -25* F without the wind factored in. They had begun to get their fluffy down and undercoats, but it was a shock to us all. One that persisted for just over two weeks. Add to that the recent visit of blizzard Grayson and the 18" of snow he dropped and we have, indeed, been a miserable bunch. Sean has needed to shovel out paths to cars, shelters, home and barn and as importantly, KEEP them clear. The wind whipping across the field, gusting up to 50 mph, has differing ideas. So far, the humans have won in that there are still paths and the animals have been cared for and the humans are still alive, though still coughing their heads and lungs out.

Sean was down for about five days, followed by a recovery and relapse for a couple more days. He is better now. Sean thinks I might have walking pneumonia. I may well have, but money is dear during the winter months and I am loathe to spend it on a trip to the doctor. At this point, if it is viral (which I strongly suspect), I am already drinking fluids, resting, and controlling the symptoms as best as I can. If it is bacterial, we are already feeling much better and are over the worst of it. There doesn't seem much point to antibiotics at this stage. The elderberry syrup I put up helps quiet my cough. And warm tea brewed from mullein and spearmint leaves, wild-harvested this fall helps open my airways. And, a dose of Nyquil at night doesn't hurt either. My biggest complaint is frustration over being utterly exhausted after doing the smallest task. Just venturing out yesterday to take some pictures and visit with the goats left me in need of a nap. So it is a balancing act. As part of the walking dead, I have things that must be done, however I don't want to overdo it and relapse again.

I am thankful that I work from home most of the time. Though feeling miserable, I have been able to plan upcoming classes in soap making and lotion and lip balm creating at four different venues. I have been able to post an online give-away and guide our daughters in assisting with packaging incoming orders for product. School assignments have been printed off and are ready to be completed. And, I won't lie, lots of PBS's Masterpiece Theater has been viewed, wrapped in a warm blanket on the couch snuggled with Sean and a bowl of warm soup to drink. Tomorrow night, we are venturing out to teach the first class in this series. I hope my voice holds out. If not, Sean will be there to help. :)

This week started with a welcome break in the weather. We warmed up into the low 30's and are forecast to get into the 40's- just in time for rain Friday night into Saturday morning. And, then the temps are supposed to return into the negatives. We are preparing for the potential of an ice-storm event with power outages. All I can say as I sit here planning for this year's garden is, there are only 69 days until it is officially Spring. We can do it.

Thanks for visiting with us today.
Sean & Sonja