Farm Animal Notes
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Farm Animal Notes September, 2013


September seems to have gone to the dogs.....   
This September finally saw Sophie, our Great White Pyrenees, off her lead and free to roam the goat yards.  Free at last, free at last, or so she thought.  She is no longer tethered to one of the goat sheds, due in large measure by a new addition: underground pet fencing around the goat yards.  After a few days of training, and a test by the installer with his own dog, we let her off the lead.  She hopped over the fence about a half hour later, but fortunately our neighbor saw her and brought her back and she hasn’t done it since.  She is, in the installer’s description, quite angry right now, that we have finally found a way to keep her in the yard and she is a little shell-shocked, but he said it would take a couple weeks for her to figure out how far she can go and how much freedom she actually has.  She loves rough-housing with Jeremiah again, and is venturing out a little farther each day, but she is in the middle yard and not too sure yet whether she can go into the other yards as well.  So, our outside dogs are happy once again, or on their way to more happiness.  
Sophie trimmed
Inside dogs are doing fine as well, though Bill might have another version of their story that he will not soon forget. Last Friday, he was taking Joey, our English Setter, and Watson, our beagle, out to their dog run.  Watson was on a leash and Bill usually just leads Joey by his collar, since the two dogs are so different in size.  When half-way through the door, Joey got his tail caught in the door and yelped.  He swung around one way and Bill swung around the other way, and his teeth met Bill’s hand in the middle, doing some significant damage.   It was a pure accident and simply a reaction on Joey’s part.  He wouldn’t hurt a flea and afterwards, didn’t even know he did anything wrong.  I happened to be walking in the door from work at that time and I heard Bill yell like I have never heard him in some 43 years of marriage!  He was holding his hand and bowed over, still attached to the two dogs.  I dropped everything and put the dogs in their runs and then went to the bathroom with Bill to access the damage.  We washed off his hand and smothered it with Neosporin and he put a large bandage on it and began to apply pressure.  
I suggested  a trip to the emergency room, but he said he’d be fine, just needed some pressure and maybe some ice.  Two hours later, where we were supposed to go out for the evening, it was still bleeding.  I suggested canceling our evening plans and heading for the emergency room, but he said, no, it was fine.  At the end of the evening, it was still not fine, and at my suggestion for a trip to the E.R., he said Friday nights at the E.R. were crazy and if it was still bad in the morning, he’d go get it checked.  So, bright and early on Saturday morning, he left for the E.R., assuming they would give him a shot and maybe a few stitches.  He called a couple hours later saying they were admitting him.  It was infected and the swelling was going up his arm.  Two nights in the hospital and intravenous antibiotics were needed before they even thought about letting him come home.  He had to go to the orthopedist yesterday and will need to go back next week.  It may take six weeks before he’s all healed, but if the bite went any deeper and did some tendon damage, he would have needed surgery and might have been looking at six months, so we are grateful for small favors.  Animals a pleasure to have, but they do come with some risks.  All our dogs and goats are vaccinated for rabies, so that is not an issue, but one still has to realize these animals are still animals with strong instincts.
On the duck front, the little waddlers have been scouting around the property every day now looking for insects and bugs and grass and whatever else looks like an interesting tidbit of food.  Their favorite spot for scavenging seems to be the orchard, where they are finding lots of goodies on the ground.  They are funny to watch as they merrily quack back and forth with each other and stay together as a group.  
roaming ducks
Night is coming sooner now, since we turned the corner into autumn, and every night when we start calling them, “C’mom girls” they all start waddling back to their chicken tractor and pool.  We haven’t seen any duck eggs yet, and if we don’t, all ten ducks may soon find their new residence in our freezer rather than just the few meat ducks we were planning for Christmas dinner.  These duck can fly, but only about 3-4 feet above the ground, and I don’t think they are the type to fly south for the winter.  Their feet can become frostbitten in the cold, so if we were to “winter them over,” we would need to keep them enclosed in a coop of sorts with several layers of bedding, and out of the wind.  
The chickens, esp. the new baby ones, are no longer babies and are getting quite prolific with giving us eggs.  Our rooster and one white older hen went to a neighbor of ours who was looking for a rooster.  They wanted them as pets, so they named the big blue Cochin rooster, “Darth Vadar” and his smaller white hen sidekick, Lilly, I believe.  At last note, they were both doing great and getting quite spoiled.
The end of September, we will be reorganizing the chickens for the colder months.  The acorns are already falling in the goat yard and the chicken yard and the squirrels are back, trying to scoop them up before the goats eat them.  The squirrels also bite off small branches that they want to use for their nests, but guess what, guys?  Goats love oak leaves, too, so as soon as they drop, I hear this clamor of bells as the goats race to grab those branches before the squirrels get them.    Squirrels are not my favorite creatures, since they do such damage to our bird feeders, so it’s kind of just that they are not getting their nuts and leaves now.  The large oak that canopies the chicken yard is beginning to lose its leaves naturally too, and when they are all gone, the chickens will lose their cover, and the hawks around here will be able to see them quite clearly. Since we do have a number of predators during the cold months, we move the larger chicken tractor up closer to the house, with its back to the north wind, so they will be more protected from predators and Mother Nature.   If we decided to “winter over” some of the ducks, we would need to do the same for them.
We are now closely watching our Nubian goats, Gertrude and Bernadette, to see when they will be coming into heat.  We would like to breed these two goats with Malachi this fall, so we will have some baby Nubians next spring and will be able to try the butterfat rich milk of the Nubians over the Saanens we have been using.  Julian, our Saanen mother, is still giving us fresh milk everyday now, but Sunshine, one of her babies who should have been weaned a couple months ago, just doesn’t want to let go of Mom’s comfort.  
Julian and M and S 
Since the other “big” goats are often giving Sunshine a hard time around the hay bins and food troughs, we are letting her nurse for a while longer. Micah is getting bigger, too, now, but he is with Malachi to keep him company.  Hopefully, he will be big enough next year to breed with the Saanens.  The goats are all doing well, and we are scheduling their rabies shots this month before anyone becomes pregnant.  And it will soon be hoof trimming time again, esp. for Julian who was pregnant last time, and this time around for Malachi as well.  As fall arrives and esp. now that Sophie has been released from her bondage to the goat sheds, it is time to clean out the goat sheds and ready them for winter, too.  The flies are finally on their way out, so brushing down the walls of cobwebs and cleaning the floors before laying fresh shavings, and checking their salt blocks is now due.  We are still leaving the doors open at night, but when the temps start falling below freezing, we may be closing them in for the night once more.
So, on the animal front, September has had its challenges, mostly in the dog department, but all is well now and we are all beginning to enjoy the beauty of autumn.  God is good!