Springtime Extras

The coming of spring is a hopeful time when the sun shining and the grass greening up lightens the spirit. More sun exposure means more vitamin D which helps you to feel better. While you are feeling better there is also so much work to do in the spring and a short time to do it in. Not only is there work to do in the yard and garden it is also time to clean out the barns and barnyards. It is also the time to remove parasites and vaccinate animals.

The goats need to be dewormed on a regular basis or they will develop Coccidiosis which is a parasitic infection which sometimes occurs when there are too many intestinal parasites in their systems. Like most conditions it is easier and cheaper to practice preventative care. Our goats developed Coccidia three years ago. IMG_0047Nora started to have diarrhea and soon she looked a little thin, then Fauna started to have diarrhea so we called the vet out. She explained Coccidiosis to me and prescribed Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprim Oral Suspension to treat it. I was surprised that Coccidia was caused by an over abundance of parasites considering I had wormed them not a month ago. She recommended a stronger wormer, Injectable Ivermectin, which is used for cattle and swine. According to her, small ruminants in our area were having problems with intestinal parasites that year. We give them 2 1/2 mL of Ivomec orally about every 8 to 12 weeks and no longer have a problem with Coccidia.

Unfortunately this dewormer is expensive but I have discovered that pumpkin seeds and pulp are a natural dewormer. Not only do the pumpkins provide food for the goats but they clear their system of parasites and give their bodies a break from harsh chemical wormers. It’s too bad pumpkins are only readily available in the fall because they work great for keeping my goats healthy.

Another spring project is getting my horse Jack all ready to go for the nicer weather. That means deworming, vaccinating, and hoof trimming. I vaccinated and wormed Jack without any problems, he’s a real champ when it comes to needles. The vet was out to complete his checkup which was perfect timing because he had developed some kind of skin problem that became infected. Between his front legs he developed swelling and oozing spots. It looked like a hot spot on a dog. She took blood to check that his liver and kidneys were functioning properly. Last spring he had a different skin problem so she wanted to be sure his organs were filtering enzymes properly, which they are. She also gave him an injection of a long lasting antibiotic that cleared the infection overnight. KIMG0254[1]When the infection was all clear the farrier came out to trim his hooves. He has been a little sore in the front for the last year so it took a while longer than it should have. He no longer likes to stand on one front leg for very long.

He is 22 now and starting to get a bit touchy with his health. We have been together for 21 years now and he has traveled with me to each of my homes. I know I can’t stop his aging but it makes me a little sad and apprehensive of the future.

Lucian has been working on putting horse manure on the garden so we can get it planted. He is very excited that he is getting his own corner to plant this year. He wants to plant strawberries, blueberries, corn, and tomatoes. This list changes every time I ask him though.

A Sad Mystery

By definition a farm is land used for cultivating crops or raising animals for food. I believe a farm is also a special setting where a family can grow together and learn simple life lessons. Some lessons are happy such as, how do chicks hatch? While some lessons are sad, why did our baby goat die?

Why did our baby goat die? This is the question that has been troubling our little farm over the week. One of our does, Fauna, kidded the week before Easter. She had one buck and one doe. The doe was smaller and Fauna ignored it for a while so we brought it inside to warm up and feed it a little milk until she was strong enough to go back outside with her mother.  A week or so passed and both were healthy so we burned their little horn buds off. By the next morning they were jumping around as if nothing had happened.

A few days later we decided it was time to let them outside for the whole day. They had been outside before but only for a few short hours at a time. Long enough for Fauna to get some fresh air and the babies to play around outside. We put them outside in our winter pasture with our other doe, Nora. Nora and Fauna butted heads a bit but they usually do especially when they are separated for a while. Nora didn’t seem bothered by the kids, she sniffed them then ignored them. When we brought them in that night they were still happily jumping around but when it was chore time the next morning the little buck was dead.

Not once since we started raising goats have we had a kid die at three weeks old. We have had a few die a day or two after being born but never have any died in the night halfway to weaning age. It is a sad mystery as to what happened.

My son Lucian helped my husband bury the little goat and he was sad also. He said, “It died before it had a  name.”  Granted we don’t always name the goats we intend to sell but it is a little sad that the little fella didn’t have a name before he passed.

As the farmer I have to look at the cold reality of monetary loss. The sale of the kids usually pays for all or most of the hay the goats will eat over winter. I’m going to have to make up for the loss of the kid with milk sales, hopefully.

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The kids (my human ones) learned a little lesson about life on a farm. A farm is a place where animals are born and where they die.