Another Weekend of Work

I try to work early in the morning and generally quit about 11 am when it is starting to get really hot. I did a little work on my own this morning but most of the day’s work got done when a couple of friends showed up at a quarter to 11. I had initially intended to build the new pens today but had run into some problems taking down the former sheep pen and needed the extra hands to finish that up. When I built the pens about 7 or 8 years ago, the pens were expected to be temporary and so I used cattle panel and T-posts. Over the years the bottom of the fence has become buried which made pulling T-posts and the fence a challenge and something that really went better with more than one pair of hands. The shared fence between the goat pen and former sheep pen had a damaged cattle panel and rather than remove both panels, we opted just to pull and replace the damaged section. This photo shows how deep the fence has become buried over the years when compared to the new panel set in place today.

 

Almost an 8″ difference in height

My friends dug out the small shelter that was against the shared fence and we moved it out to the general area where it will be put into use as a shelter for the bucks. Once I rebuild the pen I will erect a new shelter using cattle panel and a tarp. I will need to finish digging out the gate post and once that is accomplished, will need help moving it with the attached gate to its new location.

My friends were willing to work a little longer but despite a full bottle of water I was feeling the symptoms of heat stroke – nausea and being lightheaded – and decided to call a halt to the day’s work. I’ll conscript them to help on another weekend but can do quite a bit of the building myself, working an hour or two in the early morning and later in the evening when it has cooled off a bit.

Addendum to Goat Pens

I haven’t even starting building pens yet and have already had to make adjustments in my plans.

In formulating my plans to build new pens, I decided I would take the small gate off the post which had been sunk into the ground in the former sheep pen.The gate was to a smaller pen built in the corner which will be dismantled. I planned on putting the small gate at the east end of the 4 foot alley I was creating in front of the kidding jugs. I was then going to rebuild the former sheep pen only to the post – making the pen about 8 feet shorter. However, while I was able to remove the nuts, I wasn’t able to get the bolts to slide back through the tie. So my next bright idea was to just dig up the post and move it – and the gate – to the new location. My problem now is that I don’t remember how deep we buried the bottom of the post. I – with help from Fix – have dug down about 10 inches and can’t dig any deeper until the T-post next to the post is removed and I can’t remove the T-post until I have another pair of hands. As helpful as Fix is trying to be, he just isn’t up to the task of holding the cattle panel away from the T-post so I can use the T-post puller.

Goat Pens

Since selling most of the ewes and lambs this past spring I have been contemplating how I wanted to re-configure my animal pens. I considered moving the pens to the area around the barn but after deliberating on the pros and cons, decided I would keep the pens in the current location since it was more or less visible from where I work during the day. The lambing jugs will keep their current location and purpose (only for goat kids instead) and the main goat pen next to the horse corral will get a few minor repairs but otherwise will stay. However, the pen that used to be for the sheep will be taken down and rebuilt and two additional pens will be built. The configuration I have planned will allow me to bring the trailer directly back to the animal pens and will also permit expansion should I need more pens in the future. With the working pen dismantled, I hope to be able to re-seed the areas where I will not be building new pens.The below is a rough schematic of my current plans and the sizing may differ slightly once I start building. The “temporary” pens I built seven to eight years ago have worked well enough that I will use cattle panel and T-posts again since it is something I can do by myself if necessary and is relatively inexpensive compared to sinking fence posts and stringing fencing. It also is easier to change if I decide the new pens aren’t working quite as well as I envisioned.

8 foot
BUCK Alley
shelter
DOE (DRY)
KID
shelter
shelter shelter
4 foot Alley
KIDDING JUGS DOE (WET)
HORSE CORRAL

Integration

Anticipating integrating the three new does into my existing herd caused me some angst. While I had never had issues with sheep accepting new ewes, goats are a different ball of wax. Even long-time residents of the herd have had issues with herd mates and it has not been uncommon to have two or more goats gang up on one – rearing on their hind legs and coming down for a head butt. Sometimes those butts are to the other goat’s body with sufficient force to move the goat. Since two of the new does were (hopefully) bred at the time I purchased them, the thought of serious fighting between the does was of concern.

On Friday evening, after milking, I put Blunderosa Minnie Pearl (Pearl) in with my three does. There was the expected head butting and Pearl spent much of the night bleating for her herd mates. The next morning, at feeding time, I pulled Blunderosa Buttons and Bows and Blunderosa Just Charmin’ from quarantine and put them in with the other does. Again, there was the expected head butting and posturing with all the does ignoring the filled feeders. However, whether it was due to the heat – already in the 80s – or ??? the does settled down after less than 20 minutes and throughout the day when I checked on them, the does were hanging out in their own groups but staying out of each other’s way.

I didn’t have the camera with me during chores so I missed any chance of photos of the does posturing. I really figured the challenges would last much longer and that I’d have ample opportunity to take pictures.

For the time being at least, all is quiet in the doe pen and now the waiting game to see if Buttons and Charmin’ are indeed bred.

Test Results are Back

I recently drew blood on all of my adult goats and shipped the blood to Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL) for testing. I picked up my mail this morning and found an envelope with the test results.

 

I ran four tests on all my does:

  1. Caseous lymphadenitis (CL) is caused by Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis bacterium. Human infection is rare but possible;
  2. Johne’s Disease is highly contagious among ruminants. The symptoms are similar to Crohn’s disease in humans although there is no current evidence to support a theory that a person can develop Crohn’s disease by exposure to Johne’s Disease;
  3. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis. While there is no evidence that CAE is transmittable to humans it is a very infectious disease for goats; and
  4. Q-Fever. Q-fever is a bacterial infection that is zoonotic (transmissible to humans).

While I used to also test for Brucellosis and Tuberculosis, since there has been no reported incidences of either disease in goats in New Mexico for over 20 years, I did not test for those this time.

As expected, all of the does were negative for all four diseases. This weekend the three new does will be moved out of the quarantine pen and integrated into the doe pen.

Random Puppy Photos

Chores – watching chickens

No real post – just some random photos of Fix this past week. Today he turns 12 weeks old and we start more formal training.

Chores – trying to play with bucklings

Visiting a Friend – who is that doggie in the . . .

Uncle Tuck won’t you play with me?

“This is not happening”

Health Testing and Drawing Blood

I quarantined the new goats when they were brought to the Farm until I was able to draw blood and send samples off to be tested. The process of drawing blood is not particularly difficult but it involves attention to timing as it is not desirable to have the blood samples arrive at the lab late and sit over the weekend. In the past, when I have had veterinarians come out to draw blood, all of them have used the New Mexico State Lab. The State Lab is back-logged so test results were often delayed for several weeks. In addition, the charges were excessive. After doing some on-line research I discovered that WADDL (Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab) offered the same services much, much cheaper and that I could have the same tests run on four goats for what the State Lab would charge of a single goat. While I am not opposed to the idea of paying a veterinarian to draw blood, I discovered that none of the veterinarians in this county would ship samples to WADDL – even though it is a fully accredited lab recognized by the State of New Mexico – and one veterinarian even refused to draw blood unless it was sent to the State Lab.

Knowing I intended to start drawing blood samples myself, I had ordered the requisite blood tubes last year. In past jobs I have drawn blood on humans, dogs and cats so I was not unduly concerned about drawing blood on the goats. However, since blood draws on goats are done via the jugular vein and not the cephalic vein as is usual in dogs, and since it has been about 20 years since I last drew blood, I decided I would ask whether I could pay a veterinarian from a local clinic to come out and give me a quick refresher on drawing blood from a goat. (Yes, there are plenty of Youtube videos and step-by-step written instructions on the Internet, but I learn best by observation and then hands-on practice under supervision.)

I set up an appointment and earlier this week the veterinarian and her tech arrived. We discussed what I needed and she agreed to walk me through the process. As drawing blood is generally a two person job – one to restrain the goat and the second to perform the draw – we discussed that I intended to use the milk stand to restrain the goats. Therefore, after the first goat was done in the usual fashion, we did the remaining goats on the milk stand. I remembered there being a learning curve to draw blood on the first stick and therefore was not surprised to find that while I remembered the “how to” I had lost the knack of finding the vein on the first stick. I managed to draw the first and last goat I tried, but after three unsuccessful sticks, had the veterinarian draw the other goats.

Since some of the tests I run are not reliable on goats under 6 months of age, the two bucklings will have blood drawn for testing at the end of the summer. More practice for me.

The blood samples were duly packaged per WADDL instructions and mailed Priority Mail. Some of the tests are run on Thursdays and so will be run today. Other tests are run on Tuesdays and those will be run next week. I expect the test results to be mailed by the end of next week.

Since I have a closed herd I have been comfortable in the past just testing every three years (this is the first time in several years I have brought in new goats from an outside herd). However, if I draw blood myself and use WADDL, the costs will be significantly less than in past years and I may go to testing every other year, or even annually.

New Beginnings

Several friends of mine took care of the farm for two weeks recently so I could travel out-of-state to pick up my next farm dog. I spent those two weeks back east – a week in Vermont and a second week in Pennsylvania. The shades of green in both places were truly beautiful and very different from home. However, things (mostly weeds of course) greened up here while I was gone and while the green may not be as vibrant it is nonetheless a very welcome change from the winter browns.

Before I left I had given considerable thought to where I wanted – and needed – to be with the farm to achieve my original goal of the farm being self-supporting. While I was willing to pay for fencing, maintenance, etc. I wanted the livestock to be profitable enough that expenses for hay and other items directly related to maintaining the livestock were not coming out of my pocket. After several years raising lambs, I finally acknowledged that the lambs were simply not paying for themselves and that my pocketbook was being steadily drained; hence the decision to sell off the sheep. At the current time, it hasn’t been determined whether or not the hogs will pay for themselves once I start selling hogs, although I suspect that the hogs, too, will be a money drain. The chickens are seasonal producers but because I really like fresh eggs, I’ll maintain a small flock of chickens.

In recent years, the only livestock pulling their weight have been the Nigerian Dwarfs. I am also addicted to their milk, another reason to keep goats. As I had started drying off my does prior to leaving on vacation, and expected my does to be dry when I returned, I made arrangements to buy a doe in milk on my return. The difficulties in finding a buck with an excellent milk pedigree whose owner was willing to let me health test and lease him resulted in me deciding to purchase a buckling. After considering the matter I decided to buy two bucklings, from different breeders and with different pedigrees but both out of excellent milking lines.

A well-known Nigerian Breeder was retiring and selling all of her breeding stock so, in addition to the doe in milk, when the puppy and I traveled to Tulerosa to pick up the doe in milk, I ended up buying the last two available does . Both does have been exposed to bucks for fall kiddings.

At the present time the three new does are housed in quarantine, and the two bucklings are also in separate quarters, all awaiting health test results. More information and photographs of the new additions will be forthcoming.

I am currently contemplating different arrangements for new pens which will give me more flexibility in separating dry does from those in milk, weaned kids and so on.

The new puppy has been home for just over a week now and has settled in very nicely. He is accompanying me on chores twice a day and learning the routine. He has also finally managed to get one of the older dogs to play with him a little.

If I just keep bugging her, maybe she’ll play . ..

Chase Games

Downsizing

After serious consideration of several factors, I made the decision this winter to downsize and have sold most of the breeding ewes along with the lambs. The remaining ewes will either be sold or eventually find their way into the freezer. I had already downsized the goats, putting the wethers in the freezer earlier this year, selling Nutmeg’s three doelings and most recently selling a doe in milk (Nougat) along with a dry goat (Thyme). Currently I only have three Nigerian Dwarf does. Although I had no plans to downsize my flock of chickens, the Mexican Grey Wolf which passed through the area took care of that for me.

18 Days. . .

Nutmeg kidded on September 24th. She is 18 days into her second lactation. This morning about 10:15 I pulled her from the lambing jugs where she has been residing with her three kids and put her in the doe pen for the day. Around 5:15 – about 7 hours later – I put her up on the milk stand.

2nd Freshening at 18 days lactation

2nd Freshening at 18 days lactation. She gave me 22.55 oz.

On her first lactation she gave me 22.0 oz after having been separated from her twin kids for about 12 hours.