Farm Animal Notes
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Farm Animal Notes November, 2013


At the beginning of the month, we thought this would be a quiet month on the animal front.  All we had to do was get the ducks and older chickens to slaughter and the freezer, and then make sure the goats were bred, and we could relax a bit as the cold temperatures and winter began to close in around us.  Well, at this writing the ducks and older chickens are indeed in the freezer, but getting the goats bred turned out to be a bit of challenge, and just when we thought everything was peaceful on the dog front with Sophie settling in to her new restrictions, Jeremiah is taking us on a ride we never expected.
On the goat front, we have two breeds here at Mystical Ventures, Saanens and Nubians.  In order to make breeding easier, we purchased a young Nubian buck, Malachi, last February.  When Julian, the Saanen pregnant doe we bought from a nearby state kidded in May, she had a buckling and a doeling, and we kept them both, hoping the buckling would be a good little buck (Micah) from another bloodline for our Saanen does.  If you don’t have bucks on your property, when a doe comes into heat, you have to get her into your vehicle and transport her to the appropriate buck within 24-48 hours and hope for the best.  Since does go into heat only for about one to two days every 21 days, you really have to be watchful and catch them right at the right moment to introduce them to the right buck (AND be free at the right moment to get them to where they need to go).  
Micah and the girls
Work schedules didn’t make it any easier this month, and shorter days often meant that when I did feed them it was too dark to see who was possibly in heat and who wasn’t.  I didn’t want to cross breed the goats nor did we want everyone pregnant, so I kept the bucks in their own shed and yard, and I kept bringing them one doe at a time when I thought they were ready.  
The bucks are young, and seemed interested several times, but it seems they were interested in some of the does we didn’t want pregnant and the ones we did were not cooperating.  We thought Maggie might have been breed, but then she went into heat again, so that meant there was no pregnancy.  So, a few days ago, I decided to try another strategy.  I put our two Nubian does in the buck pen, which is now the Nubian pen, more or less, and moved Micah, our Saanen buck, in with Maggie and Sky, two of our Saanen does, on the end yard and shed.  In the middle yard and shed is now Julian, her daughter, Sunshine and Beatrice.  I am hoping that if the bucks are actually living with the does from now until Christmas or New Year’s Day, that should do it, at least for some of them.  Of course, maybe they just want their privacy and want to do this on their own terms, without me bringing each doe to each yard when I thought she was ready.  Stay tuned for next month’s notes to see how this strategy works.
Gertrude and Bernadette
Jeremiah has been great dog, very playful with Sophie and not a fence jumper at all.  About a week ago, the teens who help me with the goats, said they noticed Jeremiah’s face was swollen on one side, but he was still eating.  I checked him, too and saw what they meant, and thought perhaps we were dealing with a tooth problem.  On Tuesday, he stopped eating and it seemed he couldn’t chew his hard crunchy food, so it seemed time to call the vet.  Our normal vet for the outdoor animals is a Dr. Karin, who takes care of large animals on farms and works out of her truck, more or less, but if Jeremiah was going to need dental surgery, we’d have to take him to a vet that had a vetinary hospital.  
So, off we went on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to the vet, and discovered it was not a tooth problem, but a mandibular abscess that was spreading rapidly and had already turned into cellulitis.  The swollen cheek was actually the cellulitis spreading.  The vets thought he had chewed on something sharp, like a jagged stick perhaps and had punctured the bottom of his mouth beneath his tongue.  It had gotten infected and abscessed into his throat.  Jeremiah and Sophie are Great White Pyrenees and they have a tremendous amount of white fur around their throats.  We could see nothing at the throat until we actually started feeling under his jaw line.  Then we felt two large growths, each about the size of tennis ball; it had already gone to both sides, and the cellulitis was what was making his right cheek appear swollen.  He needed immediate surgery, for cellulitis means the infection has spread to the cellular level and can spread rapidly throughout one’s whole body.  They did the surgery Tuesday afternoon and he had to stay overnight.  He could come home Wednesday, but came home with the instructions that he had to be kept quiet for a week, would need warm compresses three times a day for about seven days to help the wound continue to drain, had pain pills and and antibiotics and we had to monitor his eating and drinking.   Our first question was “where do we put him?”  Jeremiah was born outside with goats and other dogs and has lived outside with goats and dogs his entire short life.  On Wednesday, he also turned one year old, weighing in at a mere 99.5 pounds.  He obviously couldn’t go back to living with Sophie and running around with the goats for at least a week, and he has never been in a house and is totally not housebroken.  Our nights now are also about 20 degrees outdoors, too, so we decided we would try the garage as his home for a week.  
Jeremiah in garage
We spread a large sleeping bag on one side of the garage and I dragged in a large dog pillow (about 5 ft. in diameter) for him to sleep on, but so far, he prefers the concrete.  He cannot wear a collar until his throat is well healed, so he has no collar or anything with which to lead him.  To take him outside, we have to tie a leash around his middle, which is very awkward for a number of reasons.  Our garage has three windows, and since he’s been confined there in the last couple days, and can clearly see out to where he used to romp around and play, he is not a happy camper.  He has a hole about the size of a quarter underneath his jaw and it is continuing to drain.  They shaved his chest and he is a bit matted with some blood, but I do try to give him the warm compresses a few times a day along with his medications, and this morning tried washing his chest with hydrogen peroxide and water to keep that area clean.  Of course, yesterday was Thanksgiving and we had 20 people here for dinner, including lots of children running around.  My daughter and her husband and their six year old arrived late Wednesday night from Virginia and were sleeping in the guest room/breezeway, which is right up against the garage.  He cried the whole night!  I don’t think he was crying because of pain, but because he was alone.  Jeremiah is used to being with other dogs or goats or people, never by himself.  Having outside dogs is proving to be an education in itself.   We have had dogs almost our entire married lives, even before children, but we have never dealt with a fence jumper or a mandibular abscess on a dog in over forty years.  Keeping and maintaining outside animals is an education and a challenge like no other.   Jeremiah does seem to be on the mend, however, and is back to eating soft food, and drinking goat’s milk and water.  As soon as he finishes his antibiotics and his wound heals, he should be able to rejoin Sophie.  In the mean time, we’re checking the goat yards for anything sharp like sticks and branches.  He is on the mend, and God is indeed good!