Farm Animal Notes
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Farm Animal Notes July, 2013

At the top of our list in the animal department in July is a sad note.  During the two weeks of heat waves we had in the Northeast, we lost one of our kid goats, Francis, a sweet brown and white Nubian.  He was a wether and a companion for our buckling, Malachi.  Francis loved to jump and scamper, so we had dubbed him “crazy Francis” and he is missed.  
Fortunately, after Francis had passed, we were able to put our new Saanen buckling , Micah, in with Malachi.  Goats are social animals and even though the bucks need to be separated from the does until breeding season, a single goat would be very unhappy if he were left alone.   At this writing, Micah and Malachi are best buddies now, and Sunshine is getting over her initial anxiety over the separation from her brother.  Sunshine has probably had more separation anxiety over her separation from her mom, Julian, but at almost 3 months of age, she was more than ready to be weaned.  Both she and Micah had been eating grain and grass, and drinking water for a couple weeks before we separated them.   She seems to love the back pasture with all its greenery.
A funny thing about the boys, though.  Since we got Francis and Malachi when they were so young last February, they never really lived much with their moms, who are the ones who teach them how to forage and eat the grass.  Since we fed them, they more or less bonded with us, and they thought I was their mom, but sorry, guys, I generally don’t eat grass.  So, for quite a while, Francis and Malachi just let the weeds get taller and taller in their pen, very un-goat-like.  It wasn’t until we put Micah in with Malachi that Micah began to show his brother that that all that green stuff is really quite yummy.
three mamas.two
A funny thing happened to us on our way to milking and hoof trimming…..Julian is giving us some wonderful fresh goat’s milk now, twice a day.  I’ve already made pudding and kefir and will be trying to make goat’s milk soap soon.  Bill is also getting his cheese making recipes ready once again.  Yum!  Last week we trimmed the goat’s hooves, which is a necessary evil, I guess, that has to be done every few months since we don’t live in the mountains where the goats could do their own pedicures.  Both one of my neighbors and I noticed that Sky’s udder looked a little strange with one side being quite swollen.  When she had jumped on the milk stand the day before, I tried to examine her udder to see if she had any milk or liquid in the udder, but all I got was air or gas from her teat.  On hoof trimming day, however, when we had her up on the milk stand for several minutes, one of our teen neighbors began to massage the udder and try to milk her again.  All of a sudden we were getting milk.  I slid a pan under her and Sky proceeded to give us almost a whole quart of milk even though she had not been milked in over a year!  She must have been very uncomfortable and this was really a fluke, but we decided not to start her up again…..that would be too weird…..and Sophie and Jeremiah, instead, got a wonderful treat that morning of goat’s milk!  They loved it!  I did check with our vet, who had no explanation for this, but just told us to keep an eye on her in case she developed some infection with her udder, which would then require some antibiotics, but so far, so good.  No infection.  Just a fluke.
larger ducks
The baby ducks and chickens are continuing to grow, and our laying hens are giving us lots of fresh eggs now.  Our resident rooster, however, is living on borrowed time.  He has gotten to be quite nasty.  He even goes after Bill now when he tries to collect the eggs and we can’t let the grandchildren in the chicken yard any longer, because of him.  So it won’t be long now before he changes residency from the chicken yard to our freezer.   A couple weeks ago, we noticed that Jeremiah had a couple scratches on his nose and then a round sore on his nose about the size of a dime.  I kept washing it and putting antibiotic cream on it and spraying invisible bandages on it, but I couldn’t figure out what he was crawling under to get such a perfect round circle wound…..until one of our neighbor teen helpers noticed that Jeremiah loved to chase the rooster and poke his head through their fencing.  Presto!  Mean old rooster was now attacking and pecking Jeremiah.  The wound has since healed, but then again, Jeremiah has stopped sticking his head through the chicken fence!  
When we do put ye ‘ol rooster to rest, however, we will probably expand the chicken yard to let the chickens forage and take out some of the daffodils at the bottom of the hill.  The daffodils are all mixed up with weeds and poison ivy at this point, and the daffodils don’t seem to bother chickens as much as they do the goats.  Goats eat  lots of weeds and love poison ivy, and they often eat green things you would rather they didn’t eat, but they also seem to have a sixth sense about knowing what is dangerous to eat and daffodils are one of those things.   So, hopefully the chickens can help us clear that piece of land.
Sophie is still learning not to escape and we need to do some more work with her with the electric collar, but it requires we stay with her almost constantly, since the range of that collar is only 150 feet, and she has a lot more territory to run around than that and a lot more fences to jump that are beyond that range.  Hopefully, she will soon learn her lesson.  Her fur in growing back nicely and her hot spots have completely healed.  Jeremiah still looks for any leftovers from her food dishes if she doesn’t eat quickly enough, and he is as big as she is right now and he is only 8 months old.  He is going to be a big boy!
The ducks are getting larger, though none have started laying eggs yet.  I think that may come in September.  They are messy creatures though.  Bill gives them fresh water every day and completely refills their pool once a day which is dirty in a matter of minutes after filling.  We will be letting some of them forage a bit to see if they can help with the slugs and Japanese beetles that seem to be popping up everywhere.
Our inside dogs are doing fine even though Joey had a clipping that made him look like a skinned rabbit.  When he got sick last month with a fever, he vomited on his long hair, and we couldn’t wash him right away with that fever, so the only option was to really cut most of his hair off after the fever broke, and let the hair re-grow.  I’m sure he has been more comfortable with the heat we have had, but he looks a little strange.  Our six-year old granddaughter from Virginia was with us for three weeks in July and she loved Joey and Watson and played with them every day.  They continue to miss her and look for her and wonder why we aren’t willing to roll around on the floor and use them as pillows like she did.  Sorry guys..…if we did that, we probably couldn’t get up afterwards!  They are wonderful companions though and often sit at our feet.
Ayla and Watson
So, on the animal front this month, some animals are growing and some are living on borrowed time (the meat ducks will also change residency with the rooster come September if not sooner) and some have gone to God’s animal kingdom on their own.  All are wonderful examples of how God has created our world of interdependence and sustenance.  We are always amazed at what the animals can teach us about life.  They are a pleasure to have around us.  We are so blessed.  Praise God!