Monday, August 31, 2009

SuckerS with two capital Ss

About a month ago I got an email looking for a barn home for two little kitties.

Historically, I have been most excellent at resisting pleas to rehome animals. I used to get at least one email a month back when I worked in an office. Some were just inartful paragraphs about a dog or a cat and a parking lot and other blah blah blah. Some were more thoughtfully crafted with a bad, blown-out flash photograph of some miserable pet or other, not cute enough to trigger the "I want" instinct. And then a small minority were expertly created with a very high quality photo of an insanely cute animal looking unbearably needy. I resisted them all.

It is a mystery to me why I said, "OK" to an email in my box from a person I didn't know, looking for a barn home for two cats. I guess I blame it on our surplus of barns. ...and there WERE photos, so that was probably part of it.

Meet Rosebud and Radiance.(I changed their names from the less interesting Oreo and Java.)

These girls were strays and are still VERY suspicious of people. They are - after a couple weeks - still living in our chicken coop, adjusting to life at BHF. Most times they can be found up in the nesting boxes, which just cracks me up every time I see. Sometimes one or the other will be hiding in the wee holes in a cinder block, which also makes me smile.

I had planned to let them out after a week, but they seem to be perfectly happy with their own digs. And I know that if I open up the door, the other animals will steal their food.

I am also worried that they may go hide under the barn, once released, and that we may not see them again for months. This way I know, at least, they aren't missing meals.

We visit with them several times a day; we are trying to win them over with ear scratches. They rarely hiss at us anymore, so I think we're making progress. Slowly. I hope it won't be long before they seek attention and affection like our other barn kitties, and have no desire to hide. ...they've got until the next clutch of baby birds hatches to get there. Then they get evicted for more helpless animals. Sorry, girls. That's the way the farm works. I hope you can get yourselves ready.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not counting my chickens...

I hope I am not counting chickens before they hatch, but the Bishop seems to have turned the corner.

Either the sulfa drugs or the broad spectrum antibiotic - things we are loathe to use unless entirely necessary - seem to have helped. This tells me we had a bacterial issue of some sort.

The dude is alert, browsing and eager for attention. These are all really good signs. But he lost so much weight in the last few days that he still looks really wretched.

That being said, here's a fun fact for you. Male goats pretty much always look wretched when it's "the season." They are way more interested in, ahem, "burning calories" than consuming them. It will take a lot for us to put the weight back on him now, but we'll do it. It's not like we don't already have stupid jobs on the farm - surely I can keep the does away from his feed with a fishing pole.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Need a break

Seriously. I need a break.

The Bishop is sick. Really sick.

We are desperately trying to pinpoint what is making him ill, but don't feel like we are there yet. We're trying everything in our homeopathic and conventional arsenals to go after the symptoms.

I feel like we are somehow paying the big karmic price for our first two years having been so problem free. It sucks. In case you were wondering.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Patty update

Well, the massage seems to REALLY help Patty's knee. I am floored by the change it makes in her ability to use the leg properly. Today we even caught her running with the herd to flee the neighbors' dogs. (On their own side of the fence. Stupid goats.)

The one thing we're still waiting to see about is the joint supplement. I did all this research on MSM, went to get some and then accidentally brought home some made from beef tallow. Total no-no, feeding ruminants to ruminants. I had no idea there was even such a thing as animal-based MSM. I guess my research was incomplete. We'll go find a ruminant-suitable version soon. I don't know if it will really help, but I figure it can't hurt.

Oh - and we've been putting put a heat wrap on her knee while she's on the milkstand. It looks every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. I'll try to get a photo.

So, for the short term, I feel pretty good about our ability to help manage the pain. She's not ever going to be "normal", but I do think we can keep her feeling well enough to keep her going.


One day at a time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Goodbye, cuteness.

Thunder and Lightning finally found a new home. I will miss their insane cuteness. And I hope their new mom knows that they need daily kisses.

Friday, August 21, 2009

More tough news

Having felt we had made really good progress with Patty's problem hoof, we were so disappointed when her limp came back worse than ever last week. We finally decided to bring her in to the vet to see if they could help us figure out why she was still having so much trouble.

It wasn't her hoof.

Patty has -- in another "totally-random-aliment-that-we-could-not-have-anticipated-or-prevented" moment -- pretty severe and irreversible arthritis.

Just to be clear, Patty does not have CAE, a systemic, virus-borne disease that manifests with arthritis symptoms, but is actually a much more serious - and preventable - disease. No, Patty just has plain-old, debilitating, painful, chronic arthritis in her right knee. The knee above the hoof that we treated (successfully, as it turns out) for a minor crack.

The diagnosis has left us facing the reality that we can do our best to manage her pain, but must be prepared to put her down if we are not successful.

Interestingly enough, it seems like - as with many people - Patty's knee can predict rain. We have had a little weather, and the last two days have been shockingly hard on her.

So, here we are. I am off to get joint supplements today and we are beginning a regular regimen of massaging a balm into her knee. After a particularly stiff morning that actually made me cry, I noticed an almost miraculous, instantaneous improvement simply from helping her get the joint moving with massage. It didn't make her normal, but it made her able to walk. I am trying to remain positive and hopeful that this is something we can help her live with, but am also fully prepared to act if the worst case develops. The way I figure it, that's probably all that Patty could want from us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

So, I realized I never updated the turkey count after the last bold, and ultimately incorrect declaration of, "The turkeys seem to have finally stopped dying." We were at nine then? Wow. I was wrong about six times over.

After one drowned himself in a bucket, two were apparently pecked to death by their bored coop mates and three managed to escape the coop and never be seen again, we were down to just three. THREE FREAKING BIRDS out of 16. Suddenly the price per bird moved from an already troubling $7 to a hefty, unsustainable $37 per poult. Did I mention that was $37 per roughly four ounce bird? So wrong.

Having proved themselves relatively indestructible, I named the remaining three birds Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego and set them free to forage the farm. I am happy to report that the three little guys are still alive and well.

Turkey Lan (the original wedding turkey) and his once gimpy friend, Turkey Lean are also doing well. And growing nicely. And it seems - and I am about as sure as I get on the whole turkey-sexing thing - that we actually do have a matched pair. Turkey Lan looks properly dude-like and turkey lean has NO wattle or snood to speak of.

No idea on genders for the Black Spanish birds yet - they have not started to develop their sex characteristics. They are deliciously ugly little dinosaurs still. Here are a few recent photos. The first is Turkey Lan trying to get in on some tasty goat dinner.

And here are a couple of the Black Spanish out on the prowl for delicious bugs.

Wish us luck. If we have mixed sexes, we will let them breed and try to recapture some of our lost turkey dollars.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


It is kind of shocking how fast large breed puppies grow.

Here is Nightshift with the Trude back on June 8.

Here they are July 27


Friday, August 7, 2009

Things that make me smile

Some things force me to smile no matter how awful I am feeling. Baby goats jumping around is one. No sadness is immune to the power of jumpy kids.

Nightshift's extra toes are another.

Most Great Pyrenees have the double dewclaw. Trudy is a cross, so she only has one. Nightshift has them on both back feet. And she has more than just the toenail. There is a whole, big floppy toe attached. It is so cute, I can't not smile.

We are having a tough adjustment to the new household dynamic, but are working it out. I will just have to spend extra time looking at toes for a while.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The days you want to quit.

Warning: I have a really awful story. Really. Awful. I am not sure I am ready to tell it - I don't know if you want to read it. I just know I am sick. So sad and so sick and so want to throw in the towel on loving animals.

Yesterday we found Milhouse dead. In the house. Several months - over a year actually, of serious denial have hit us so hard that I don't really know how to start coming back.

Max killed Milhouse. And we know know he must have also killed Boone. I had convinced myself that the Boone incident was a terrible accident. And I suppose it was. I don't think Max likely meant to kill either cat, but here we are. Two dead kittens and a dog in the animal shelter. I am devastated. I don't feel like I can ever have more pets. I just can't do this kind of pain again.

I am still in shock and after five ducks, two turkeys and two kittens, still in denial about Max. That dog slept with Milhouse. They were friends. I don't understand how this could have happened.

I just want Milhouse back. I failed him so miserably. I am trying to make things right, but losing two pets in one day does not feel "right." I just want Milhouse back.

And I really want to quit sometimes.

What I know is that we can't keep taking in hard luck strays. Not every animal can come live on our farm. We can't fix what is wrong with hard-to-place rescue dogs.

That being said, Little Chicken will stay. But without her best friend. We both just want Milhouse back. Sometimes life really, really sucks.

About those kids...

So, about those late July kids...

About six months ago we decided we were going to sell Patty (their mom) and her sister Kelly. They are both nice goats who milk VERY well, but Patty has a bit of a personality issue. When we had fewer goats and milked one at a time, she was fine. When we started milking four or five at a time, she became a real pill.

Patty likes to bully the other goats on the way in the door, likes to sample the meals from their feed buckets while on the stand (and will bite the ears of the goat whose food she thinks she should be eating)), and then refuses to leave the milk parlor without sampling feed from every bucket first.'s ALL THE SAME FOOD!

Because Patty and Kelly are sisters and quite bonded, we decided we had to sell them together. We thought it would be a great idea to get them bred about five or six months apart so that their new family would have a nice, year-round supply of milk. In that vein, Patty got bred on the day of the Jakarta disaster.

So, not a week after being bred, Patty caught wind of or plan to sell her and came up with a serious hoof problem. She got a deeply cracked hoof wall and then also developed rot underneath it, but way up in the hoof. She immediately started a bad limp and then started walking on her knees as the rot (which we neither saw nor smelled at the time) set in. She was completely unsalable within days of being bred.

It has been a long, hard slog rehabilitating her, but she is finally close to normal again. Close. And in the meantime we have two kids. Oh well, at least Patty is milking like crazy. A gallon a day at only a few days fresh.

And we actually have a buyer coming to look at the kids today, so we'll see how it goes.

Here are updated photos of the little nuts. They are sweet, sweet, sweet. And actually, I kind of like the little late season surprise.