Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Vaccine Booster

It's that time of year again!  Booster shots!  Woo!

Ah yes, being a responsible pet owner means that you do everything you can to make sure that your pets are as healthy as can be.  Even if that means forking over some dough and doing things that make your squeamish.

Ellie was first, so we brought her into the vet last month.  Exam + several vaccines= $200   Ouch!

Harley is this week.  Fortunately, I got a $10 off coupon in the mail, so maybe that might help take the edge off.

We give the goaties their vaccine ourselves.  This in total costs us about $10 including the cost of needles and syringes.  Last year was a little traumatic.  Our goat breeder told us to lift the skin between the shoulder blades and administer the vaccine Sub-Q (under the skin).  Sounds easy, right?  After all, you've probably seen your vet give your dogs/cats vaccines that way all the time.  Now try that with a tiny wiggly goat with no extra skin.  Not so easy, and I couldn't do it.  So I held down my baby goat while my husband gave the vaccine.

But I am 1 year older and wiser and have joined multiple goat forums and yahoo groups.  The trick?  Goats have extra skin at their armpit, not between the shoulder blades like a dog.  So this year it was my turn.

I asked my husband to distract Oreo by giving her some scritches.  I lifted the extra the skin right above her armpit, and then .... done!  No flinching, no fighting, no big deal!  She handled it like a trooper.  So we gave her a peanut and she was on her way.  Next was Butters and she also got a peanut.

You can tell the vaccine made them a little sore, but they are doing great!

All this reminded me that we need to expand our goat medicine cabinet.  Which should include:

  1. Ivomec... we use herbal de-wormers, but this is good to have on hand.
  2. Nurti-drench
  3. Probios
  4. Electrolytes
  5. Sulmet
  6. Thermometer
  7. Triple Antibiotic Cream
  8. Needles/Syringes
  9. Drenching Syringe
  10. Pepto-Bismal
  11. Epi-Pen
  12. Bo-se
  13. Copper Bolus
  14. And last but not least... our vet's phone number pre-programed and written down.
Take care of your critters!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Coccidia Scare

Since I have a lot of doggy friends, who tend to be animal lovers in general, I hear this comment a lot:
"This is amazing!  I've always wanted a little farm!  You are living my dream!"
Growing up in suburbia where the idea of growing and raising my own food seemed distant, I can certainly relate.  I love animals and the idea of a little farm with different animals running around seemed like heaven. 

The problem is, I didn't grow up around livestock.  I wasn't part of 4H or FFA (Future Farmers of America).  Heck, I haven't even taken a horse-back riding lesson.  The closest I got to a horse was the little pony rides in Pasadena.  How could I be a farmer?

But where there is a will, there is a way, and here I am, 29 years old with 1 acre to do as I please.  And what was the first thing I did?  I got my goats.

Please don't get me wrong.  I did a TON of research before I got the goats.  I made sure that I was capable of giving them a good home before I even started calling breeders.  But there are some things that only life and experience can teach you ... and maybe a 16 year-old 4H kid.

And here is where my story begins...

Some goat owners de-worm their goats monthly, some do it seasonally, some use herbal de-wormers, and others use chemical de-wormers.  De-wormers are a lot like antibiotics.  There is not just one de-wormer to kill all parasites, just like there isn't one antibiotics to kill all bacteria.  Also, parasites can grow resistant to de-wormers, just like what happens to antibiotics.  With that information at hand, I decided that the best way to de-worm my goats was to do it only when necessary and to pick the appropriate de-wormer for the parasite they have.  This can be accomplished by doing a fecal flotation. Since I don't know how to do a fecal test, I've made an arrangement with my doggy vet for them to do them for a small fee.  After all, poop is poop and a parasite is a parasite, it doesn't matter if it is coming from a goat or a dog. 

I've been doing this regularly and so far all my lab results have come back negative for any parasite load, until Friday.

On Friday, I got an email from the veterinarian with these results:

Okay?  What does that mean?


I go to my goat reference book to figure out which de-wormer to use, when I read that Coccidia is one of the main killers of goat kids.  Coccidiosis is fatal. 

This is about the point when I start flipping out.

I do some quick research (super fast), and figure out that I need either Corid or Sulmet.  A lot of goat owners are not big fans of Corid because it can deplete the thiamine in the body, so many use Sulmet to treat (not diluted).  So I started making calls to all the local feed stores.

I call Livermore Feed, Alamo Feed, Concord Feed, Western Saddlery, and Rowell Ranch Saddlery.  Every single one of them are out of both Corid and Sulmet.  Something about it being back-ordered from the manufacturer.   So finally I call the large animal vet.  This is what she tells me:
"Well Coccidia tends to kill the strongest animal first.  You may come home to a dead animal.  Do you want me to treat them?  Well no, I don't have the treatment.  I will have to order it."
UGH!  Super unhelpful!  

So I call my goat breeder and she is not immediately available. 

Who next to call?  How about Nicole?  

Nicole is my 16-year old goat sitter.  She is so worldly and wise beyond her years.  Right now she is away at college.  Yes, college.  She is going to a junior college and then plans to attend UC Davis veterinary school.  This is where I wish I had her experience.  She is active in her local 4H group and has been raising and breeding goats her entire life.  She calmly explained to me that it is normal for adult goats to have a small number of coccidia present in their intestinal tract.  That adults have a strong enough immune system to handle the parasite, but that goat kids are very susceptible to it.  

Wow, nothing is more humbling than calling a teenage girl for advice.  But thank goodness she is there!

I confirmed this information with a few websites and with the goat breeder, who finally called me back.  
Why am I telling this story?  To let you guys know that it is not all a walk in the park.  That despite my crazy hoof-trimming schedule, testing, meticulous cleaning, grooming, I still don't know it all.  And I panic. Once Sulmet becomes available again I am going to keep it in my goat medicine kit.  But I am learning and I am researching and dammit, I am going to eat that goat cheese!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Our Treehouse

Have I ever mentioned our tree house?  I probably haven't.  We don't have children and I really didn't see a need for a tree house on our urban farm.  It sat humbly in the old oak tree, waiting for someone's attention.

When we first looked at the property we didn't go all the way to the end of it.  So after we put our offer down we made a trek to the very end and found a tree house.  A very elaborate one.  It was a split-level green house with doors, windows, curtains, a chair, corkboard, and a mattress.  

At one point, my husband was convinced that someone was living in the tree house.  He was at the bottom of the property and he saw a quick large movement from inside.  It could of been an animal, but he thought it was too big for a raccoon.  So he grabbed Harley and a shotgun, rapped on the door, and called out, "I AM GOING TO COME BACK IN 10 MINUTES AND YOU BETTER BE GONE!"  Sure enough, that person moved out.  

Then one blustery, rainy day, the house and half the tree came down.  


Well, at least, that's the sound I imagine it made when it hit the earth.  I didn't hear it over the storm.  If a tree falls down in the middle of a storm, does it make a sound?

My husband and I stood there the next morning staring at all the debris.  Thoughts flying in and out of heads. 

We don't have a truck or trailer to haul the remains of the tree house to the dump.  So, my parent's offered us Ol' Blue.  

Meet Ol' Blue.  

I have fond memories of Ol' Blue.  She is my Dad's old grimy work truck.  She is dirty, she is old, most little things are broken on her, and she's got enough torque to haul a mountain.  My Dad would take me and my girlfriends to school blasting scratchy 1980's love songs through Ol' Blue's speakers.  More often than not, the truck would be filled with corn syrup or apple boxes.  Dad would grin his sideways smile and say to me, "Don't be embarrassed.  Those apples are going to pay for your college education."  Try telling your 16 year-old daughter not to be embarrassed.  Go on, try it.

And now Ol' Blue is back in my life helping me out.

But how to get the house off the tree?  

Now in the story comes my kindly neighbor and his cousin.  I swear, God has blessed me by surrounding me with people who only want to help.  It really is amazing.  

Kevin did some prep work and removed all the windows so the glass wouldn't shatter during demolition.  He did really well till the last glass window.  The pane of glass slid suddenly from its frame and rained shattered glass on Kevin.  A shard hit him square in the face and he quickly used his gloved hand to staunch the wound.  When he pulled his hand away he saw blood and ran to the house screaming my name.  I quickly settled him in the bathroom with tweezers in hand ready to pull glass from his face.    
"Uh, where are you hurt?"
Kevin turned to the mirror, and chuckled to himself when he realized he had a teeny tiny scratch

Later that week my neighbor's cousin came in with his excavator.  He tied a chain around the tree limb and with simple ease pulled the whole tree house and it's limb free.  

I am sad to see the treehouse go.  I can easily imagine a young girl named Samantha playing with her dolls in that tree.  Maybe she imagined it was a sail boat taking her around the world.  Maybe it was her fort for the day.  Maybe it was just a quiet place for her to call her own.  Whatever it meant to her, I hope she knows that I will never forget her treehouse.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bread of Life

Growing up Catholic I was surrounded by many metaphors about bread.  I would hear sayings such as, "bread of life," "breaking bread," and "bread from heaven".  That's the tip of the iceberg.  Do an online search for bread in the Bible and you will get hundreds of results.  And it is not just Judeo-Christian faiths that make reference to bread, but Islamic religions as well.  And it makes sense.  Bread has been eaten by humans for thousands of years.  

All you need for unleavened bread is really just water and wheat.  It probably wasn't long for ancient civilizations to figure out that if you leave flour and water by the window, it gets airy and bubbly, and now your bread is rising.  The art of baking bread as been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years to this very day.

I probably love home-baked bread because of my Mother.  She always told me she enjoyed baking.  It was something special that she shared with her mother.  And to this day, my Mom still uses the same vintage yellow Kitchen-Aid blender my Grandmother bought in the 1960's.  As a child, I used to turn up my nose at the color of that Kitchen-Aid.  Now about 50 years later it is back in style!  One of my best memories from my childhood is my mother baking a cinnamon-braid twist.  Oh, it was so delicious, I could barely wait for it to cool so I could start eating it!  

Now as an adult, I want to continue baking my own bread. There is nothing better than that sweet yeasty smell wafting through my house.  Not to mention, the smile on my husband's face when he realizes I am baking some bread.  Also, there is something about doing the exact same motions that my grandmother did that makes me feel a spiritual connection to the earth.

I usually bake Oatmeal-Molasses Bread from William Sonoma's The Essentials of Baking.  I use this recipe because it is sweet, light, and fool-proof.  I have never failed to make it rise and I am sure you all will have a lot of success with it.  It even worked when a goat walked into my kitchen, which can be highly distracting!

Oreo, what are you doing in my kitchen??
Is that fresh bread I smell?

Goats in the kitchen... that would never happen to Martha Stewart!

This post is dedicated to my Mom.  I love you!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Here we go!

Many of you may recall my New Years Resolutions' about a month ago.  If not, you can catch up on it here.  

To get a kick start on some of these items, I used my sweet persuasion skills to convince my best friends that what I wanted most in the whole world is a window framing lesson.  So when my Birthday came around last Monday, they came by with a 6-pack of hard apple cider (Did I mention they are my best friends?).

Off to our favorite Ace Hardware store to pick out some trim and buy supplies.  About a $100 later and a cart full of goodies we were ready to get started!

First, a "Before" pic:

And now an "In Progress":

And TA DA!


Just kidding! We didn't finish that night.  Hey, I never said we were perfect!  

This was our learning curve window and some of the trim was cut too short and Ace had already closed for the evening.  Don't worry, I promise I will post a picture of it once we have it all completed.

Not to be discouraged, we decided to start Item # 8 on my list: remove the wood paneling from the wall in the living room.   The tricky part about this item is that I wanted to preserve the wood mantle in front of the fireplace.  

This is where I got a little scared.  Out comes the circular saw!  The plan was to cut just around the mantle and remove it carefully.  Then, we could pop the wood paneling pieces carefully from the mantle.  

It was loud!  And it made the room smell like burning wood.  Not to mention that sawdust went flying every where! 


Look at how thick that paneling is!  Nice stuff, eh?  Hopefully it doesn't come back in style in about 10 years.

And now!

So where do we go from here?  We will continue removing the panels, baseboard, and molding.  Set some structural bracing for a TV over the fireplace.  Then run some electrical and low-voltage wires for the TV while the walls are open.  Last, we will sheetrock, tape, paint, and add some moulding.  We may or may not add some granite tiles over the brick.  We'll see how our pocketbooks feel when we get there. 

But the best part came at the end, when we found the treasures behind the mantle.  These are the little bonuses you get when you buy an old home.

A nail file, a button back, a fishing hook, and a business card

But the best treasure was this one.
This picture is dated 1954 a few years after our house was built.

Now, how cool is that?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Birthday Present

WOW!  What a wonderful holiday weekend!  Not only did we get a day off, but it also happened to land on my B-day.  Happy 29th Birthday to me!  And what did I get for my B-day?  The best thing ever, a new camera!
Now I can pretend I am photographer and take pics like these of our property:
Our Red Barn

I just happen to find this little hidden gem the other day
Miss Butters
Missing her Goat Momma... aka Kevin

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed taking them.  I think I will do one more post by the end of the week.  I am on a roll!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love is in the Air

This is the time of year when every one takes a moment to tell that special person how they feel.  It doesn't matter if you've been together a week, 5 years, or 75 years that buzz of romance can be felt pulsing through air.  This weekend we had the honor of being invited to our good friends, David and Nancy's wedding in Mendocino, CA. There was something about the beautiful setting of the Mendocino coast that made you feel love like an electric current.  And for some reason, that Tom Jones song was playing on repeat in my head throughout the weekend: 

"Love is in the air everywhere I look around, 
Love is in the air every sight and every sound .... 
Love is in the air, in the whisper of the trees, 
Love is in the air in the thunder of the sea... 
And I don't know if I'm being foolish 
I don't know if I'm being wise  
But it's something that I must believe in 
And it's there when I look in your eyes." 
Here are some pictures of the some happy couples feeling the love!

And now the Groom!

And the Bride walking in with her Father!

Everyone here at Blue Antler Farm is feeling the love and wants every one to have a wonderful Valentines' Day.  Reach out and tell someone you love them!