Friday, January 25, 2008

A Not Goat Post

Alright. So it seems as though the only thing I write about any more is goats.

And while that might be understandable as they are pretty much consuming my life right now, I still feel like ... well, enough goats for now.

I've been reading some other blogs where people are suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. It must be going around. Not unlike the sinus, chest cold thing I am currentlly not acknowledging.

I know I've never really tackled Big Important topics on my blog like Politics, Religion, Dancing With the Stars, etc. I tend to keep it a bit lighter and uncontroversial. Mainly because I get enough daily debate from my hubby and children - I do not nee to get into cyber arguments.

But I also never intended for it to become a Goat Blog either.

So, today, I am not going to post about goats.

Rather, I am going to bring some attention to two of my pet causes.

1. Responsible eating

As you might have guessed from the beef post, I am a big fan of grass fed meat - beef, pork, poultry, etc. Pasture raised meat is so much better for you, the environment and the animal. And, to be quite honest, my priorities are exactly not in that order.

In the interest of sparing the easily queased, I won't post any pictures. But google "factory farm" or "slaughterhouse practices" and go exploring a little bit. See what you find. It isn't pretty - I assure you.

But what's a conscientious omnivore to do?

I'm so glad you asked! You can start .here at the eatwild web site. If you check the links on the left hand side, there is a page you can go to where you can look for farmers in your area that raise livestock on pasture. And if there aren't any in your area, many will ship meat to you! Usually, the more you buy the better the price, so check with your family, friends, neighbors, etc. It really can be an economical alternative.

2. Animal testing

Take a look at this.


That would be Ruby (sitting) and Jasper (in repose).

Ruby came into our family via the internet. A little while back, Harold at Another Monkey, posted on his blog about some beagles in need of a home. He was made aware of the situation by a friend of his. As it turned out, there were a group of beagles at Cornell University that were slated for The Big Sleep if homes were not found.

I emailed Harold and he put me in touch with the friend who then put me in touch with the woman in charge of the beagles. I told her that we would take one and made arrangements to pick one up.

When we arrived, we were shown the beagles that were ready for placement. There were 4 girls. I would have taken them all. As it was, they had other people coming to adopt and assured me that they all had homes to go to.

I don't know what kind of testing was done on Ruby. People sometimes ask me "Aren't you worried about the tests they did?"

No. I am not.

We brought her home and introduced her to Jasper and Malachi (who was still alive at the time). She got to walk inn grass for the first time in her life. We let her run loose in our yard - something she never ever experienced.

It was a little sad at first, because all she ever knew was the chain link kennel with the concrete floor. But, over time, she learned how to be a regular dog.


Whatever that is.

After we got Ruby, I started to do a little more research on animal testing. Again, I won't post photos because they are really awful and you can easily find them yourself if you want to look into it. But, people, please look into it.

What I found were pictures of dogs with cones strapped onto their faces, being forced to inhale cigarette smoke for hours at a time. I found pictures of cats with electrodes implanted into their heads. I found pictures of rabbits in cages with cosmetics being forced into their eyes.

And then I found the pictures of their little bodies in trash bins.

I can almost understand the medical industry doing animal testing. Almost.

But I cannot understand the need for animal testing in cosmetics. And cigarettes. And paint. And cleaners. And so on and so on.

Especially when there are companies out there that can bring their product to market without animal testing.

And so, again, what to do?

Well, I came across which is an organization that gives consumers a way to find products that aren't tested on animals. Go to their shopping guide and search for the products you need.

Also, with many cosmetics, you can check right on the back of the package to see if the company tests on animals or not. One warning, some may state "Finished product is not tested on animals". While it's a start, the Leaping Bunny certified products do not use animal testing in any phase of the production.

While I was at the grocery store recently, I was checking the labels on hair care items. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Alberto V05 shampoo and conditioner is not tested on animals. And it's cheap! Also, Nexxus does not do animal testing. So I may no have that sleek and shiny Pantene hair. Oh well. It's really not all that important to me in the grand scheme of things.

Okay, that's enough for today. I don't know how to cleverly wrap this all up into a whiz-bang ending. I'm just trying to point out some of the things we take completely for granted, some of the creatures that needlessly suffer because we just aren't paying attention. It doen't have to be this way

Thursday, January 24, 2008



I guess it's time for an update.

Let's see...

Our goat, Opal, finally had her baby this past Tuesday morning at 1am. It was FREEZING COLD! I went out to check on her at midnight because she was acting a little jittery that day and, sure enough, our old friend Mucus String was there.

So I went back inside and told my hubby not to bother putting pajamas on because we have a baby on the way.

I was kind of concerned with this one because she seemed like she was straining and pushing for a while. I kept checking the book and it said that if they are pushing hard for over 30 minutes with no visible progess it's time to consider that there might be a problem.

Just as we were getting to cruch time, we started to see the nose and feet. Poor Opal was really screaming. Finally, the kid slooshed out. It is a little girl and her name is Oleander.


And after she came out, I could understand why Opal was loud. This baby is BIG. Probably close in size to the ones that were born two weeks ago.

It took a little while for mom and baby to get things coordinated but eventually they got the hang of feeding and everyone is fine now. We finally made it to bed at about 4am.

We were supposed to leave at about 8am that morning to go and pick up an order of beef. Back in the fall I ordered a whole beef from Wallace Homestead Farm in north central PA and Tuesday was the pick up day.

Well, we slept a bit late.

Anyway, we were on the road by 10 and back home by about 3 with 630 pounds of beef.

That's a lot of beef, even if you are splitting it with someone else.

We delivered the beef that was going to other folks and then spent the evening trying to get 315 pounds of beef into our freezer.

The top shelf is completely full of 1 pound bags of ground beef. Hubby calls it the Wall of Beef.


And here is a shot of the bottom 3 shleves of the freezer.


Have you ever seen so much beef in someone's freezer? I'm amazed by it. Sometimes I just open up the freezer when I walk by to behold the wonder of all that beef.

This will probably hold us for the year. Maybe longer. I never really buy a whole lot of beef at the store. I'm not sure why. It's not because I don't like it or anything.

But now I have scads of beef. And good-for-you- beef too. Because the Wallace's are nice people who don't pump their animals full of bad things.

When all was said and done, the beef came out to $3.75/pound, vacuum sealed and ready to go. That's pretty good if you ask me. Sure you can buy ground beef cheaper in the store. But what do you know about that beef? I met our beef's mom and dad. And that is also $3.75/pound for the best cuts as well - something you will definitely not see in the store.

So, yeah. Beef.

That's all the news on the farm front for now. I'll ty to get some more pictures of the kids up soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Free Publicity

Hi there.

Ok, so I got a tag of sorts from Harold at Another Monkey.

As best I can tell it is a sort of blog chain letter where a body adds her/his blog to the list and then forwards it on into cyberspace.

So here's the list:

The Strategist Notebook
Link Addiction
Ardour of the Heart
When Life Becomes a Book
The Malaysian Life
What goes under the sun
Roshidan Cyber Station
Sasha says’s
Arts of Physics
And the legend lives
My View, My Life
A Simple Life
What Women REALLY Think
Not Much More Than This
Life In The Lost World
The True Tales of a Minivan Mama
"Life" is a Noun
Christie Silvers
Marla's Fun Stuff

My Pretty Face
Simone's Butterfly
Just a Flip Flop Mom

Stone Soup
Gill's Jottings

Wakela's World
Modern Day Goddess
Livin With Me
Are We There Yet??
Everything And Nothing
Little Wing
The Babblings of Whimsicalnbrainpan
Another Monkey
Multiple Synchronicities and Sclerosis
Skeet's Stuff
The Dreamtime

Life, Or Something Like It
Ink On Paper

Almost Quintessence

My Distractions In This Modern Age
If I Were Queen of the World

I think it's all geared towards increasing traffic to one's blog.

Now I am supposed to add five people and comment on their blogs and pass it forward.

However, I can't pick just 5 people for fear of offending the Not Picked. And, having just spent I don't know how long pasting these godbarn links in because I don't know if there is an easier way to do it, I hesitate to inflict this on everyone.

So, dear readers, I will leave it up to you. If you would like to join in on this, please feel free to do so. And if I am breaking the good luck chain by not specifically tagging more people, I apologize. I'm not a big one to really push my blog. I guess people who have ads and such might want to try for a bigger readership but, honestly, I'm not all that driven.

Now I will have to go and check out some of these other blogs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Is What I Did Thursday Night

You have to kind of turn up the volume - this isn't quite the best quality.

I would be the one singing and playing the banjo.

I wish.

Ok, so that's who we went to see Thursday night. It was my big sis's early birthday present for me. That would be Uncle Earl - a five woman strong old timey string band.

It. Was. Awesome.

I knew Abigail Washburn (the banjo gal) was amazing but these five women together ... just incredible! AND, Rayna Gellert is one of the best fiddlers I've seen in a while. And the fact that I don't get out much any more is no refection on her talent.

So, I hope you enjoy the video and the song. This is my new brain worm, or ear worm or whatever you call those songs that get stuck in your head.

And, just in case any of you were thinking otherwise, MY sister is the best.

Monday, January 14, 2008

And Then There Were Thirteen.

Has it been over a week already?

Dang. Time sure does fly.

I had every intention of starting a new Project Goat Watch this past week but things didn't quite work out. As you all know, we've had our hands full with the new goatlings for the past couple days but things sort of finally settled down.

Until Saturday.

Saturday we picked up our NEEEEEEEEW PUPPY!



Ah luuuuuuuuvs me some puppies!

Can you tell I'm excited?

With everything we have going on right now, I am sure you are wondering "Why on earth did you get a puppy?"

Well, other than the fact that I LOVE PUPPIES!, we were looking for a dog to help keep an eye on the goats.

I know you're thinking "Suuuuuure. Goats. Right." But really, it's true. I have actually been researching this for over a year now. You see, eventually we are going to get to the point where our goats will be in areas not quite so close to the house, and we do have coyotes in the area. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that we haven't had any run-ins with them yet - knock on wood.

So I started to check out what other goat people do. The options were a dog, a llama or a donkey. Oddly enough, llamas and donkeys are very protective. I really didn't want to get a llama and, after checking with our farrier and finding that next to nobody will work on donkeys as far as hoof trimming goes, the obvious choice was the dog.

The next step was to start researching the preferred breeds. As it turns out, they are all fairly similar in that they are big, white and very protective. The big and the white I could deal with. It was the very protective thing that was holding me back a little bit. Each breed that we considered - Maremma, Kuvasz, Anatollian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Akbash, Polish Tatra, etc. - were all great for protecting livestock but not so great for farms where a whole lot of people stop by unannounced all throughout the day. And, after having lived with an Akita for 12 years, I did not want to row that boat again.

I know, I know, socializing is the key. But still. A breed that has been honed to protect will very likely do just that.

And so the search continued.

Then, one day, I came across an article in one of the various anti-establishement, hippy-dippy, "Hello, Homeland Security!" magazines that we subscribe to, about Farm Collies. This article described a dog that was descended from the old working collie of the British Isles, having no set standard as far as physical appearance since they had long ago fallen out of fashion in the show ring, and able to do pretty much anything when it comes to farm help - herding or stock dog; watchdog; guardian of the home place, livestock or family; predator or rodent control; gundog; tracker; accountant; marketing strategist and more.

This piqued my interest. I had to know more about this "Farm Collie".

So I started researching further into it and found that the Old Farm Collie esentially has disappeared but two breeds - the English Shepherd and the Austrailain Shepherd - were derived from that breed. A little more reasearch and I eventually found my way to a breeder in the Finger Lakes Region of NY. I called her back in the summer and we had a rather long phone conversation about our farm, what kind of dog we need and life in general. We were pretty pleased with each other and she said she would keep me posted on litters.

She had a litter near Halloween but, based on the mother's traits, she advised holding off and waiting for a litter that was due near the end of November, coming from a mother that exhibited a little more of the characteristics we were looking for.

The litter came and she kept us posted on the puppies, letting us know how they were developing and how their personalities were shaping up. We didn't get our hearts set an any particular one - we wanted to just wait and see how they were in person. Dog.

Finally, this past Saturday, we were able to make the trip. We got to meet the breeder - a wonderful lady who really knows her dog stuff - mom and dad, and the puppies. It didn't take too long for our puppy to find us.

After a looooong ride ( I got lost in the north woods of Pennsylvania. Some people refer to this area as God's Country - I now refer to it as God's Forsaken Country.), we finally got our puppy to his new home.

And so I introduce to you, Fen, our English Shepherd.


He has alredy been helping out with the farm chores, even if it is just following us around while we tend to the various livestock. Although, today, he was going to try to fend off the killer rooster. I intervened and saved him. Not yet, little guy.

Speaking of various livestock, you know how I mentioned earlier about starting up the second Project Goat Watch? Well, Sunday morning I went out to feed everyone and while I was getting some grain, listening to the normal complaining about how long I was taking to get everyone their food, I heard one particular complaint that sounded much more ... complainy.


Oh, no.

Oh no, no, no, no, no.

Not today.

You see, I was dealing with a new puppy, a very sick hubby that was leaving the following day on a five day trip, and week-old goats. I did NOT want to hear what I was hearing.


I went over to the pen with the other two pregnant boer goats and, sure enough, there was a sac of water hanging out of Iris.


What the crap??!!

So, I dropped everything and got down to business. See, this girl was still out in the big pen, not in the Birthing Room. Which, inconviently, was still occupied by Gyra and her babies.

Since I already ran you through a goat birth, and since I didn't have my camera on me, I will try to give a fairly short version of what happened.

I ran into the house, opened up the bedroom door where hubby was convalescing and yelled "Iris is having her babies! I need help NOW!" And ran away again.

My poor husband.

Things were quite different for this birth - no special room, no Baby's First Photo. No, these kids were plopped right on the ground (on feeding bags) in the goat pen. How bourgeois. Or, I guess, boergeois. Hee.

She had two babies, one boy and one girl. The girl was the second one to come out and was decidely smaller. We needed to get them somewhere warm pronto.

So we had to move Gyra and her babies to a new pen and move Iris and her newborns into the Birthing Room, albeit a little after the fact. The After-Birth Room, if you will.

I'll tell you one thing. Some goats are very hard to move. Moving some goats is like trying to drag a 150 pound sled across the dirt with the sled constantly digging in.

Consequently, I am a very sore being today.

We got everyone settled and then set to work making sure baby girl goat was dried off and warm. Then I gave her some Goat Boost to help get her going. That's not what it's really called but it's pretty much what it is - electrolytes and such. Like goat Red Bull.

It must have done the trick because she seems to be doing just fine now.

Iris's babies

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent getting another shelter slapped together(which I eventually had to leave to my hubby and son in order to run errands), picking up feed and supplies and helping hubby get ready for the trip. The day is a toatl blur.

Finally, at about 11:30 that night, I sat down to check my email. That's when I came across the email asking for feedback on the house I showed at noon.


Oh darn.

But (and this leads us full circle back to the title), now we have 13 goats!

You'll be happy to know that the client I unintentionally stood up studied animal science (coincidence? I think not), and was very understanding of the fact the he was forgotten in the midst of the birth.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

BIG NEWS!!!!!!!

The Blessed Event has occurred!!!!

Yes - today our goat, Gyra, finally had her babies! Cigars all around!

I checked on her last night and she seemed pretty restless so I set up the watch, going out to check on her in 2 hour intervals. Hubby had work today so he went right to bed. By 4am I had enough and figured nothing much was going to change between then and 7am when I had to get up for church.

In the morning I woke up and got dressed for chuch and peeked in on her - still nothing going on.

getting ready

After church and breakfast with the in-laws, I came home and started about my daily chores. I did the spine-squeeze thing when I went in to feed her and I could wrap my fingers right around the bone.

Hmmm...I better keep an eye on this.

I was going to go drive by a house for someone out of the area and snap some pictures to email so I went back in and got changed into not-farm clothes. On my way out to the car I stopped and peeked in on her one more time. And this (oh, remember when I said I would warn the faint of heart ... or, I guess, queazy of stomach ... before I post graphic pictures of the births? Well, consider yoursleves warned) is what I saw...

mucus trail

That would be a big string of mucus.

That's one of those things I read about in the book that means "Get ready, goat farmer, because the baby is on its way."

So, I turned around and dashed back into the house, kicking off my shoes, tossing gloves, as I ran upstairs to get changed out of not-farm clothes and back into farm clothes. Judging by what I just saw, things might get messy.

I ran back downstairs, pulled my boots on, located the kidding kit that I carefully put together over the previous weeks, located my "Raising Meat Goats for Profit" book, grabbed the camera, and dashed back outside. I peeked in on her again to see this ...

water bag1

... and was all "AHHHH! Hold on! I don't have everything yet!"

I dropped all the stuff outside the Birthing Room and ran back to the house.

For what?



Why did I come back in here???!

Oh, yeah. Newspapers. The book says to lay out newspapers so the baby can just plop onto them and then you can pull it around to the mother's head so she can lick it off.

Back out to the birthing room.

By now she was starting to push in a getting-down-to-businees sort of way. I donned my latex gloves and opened the book.

... you will soon see a bag of water protruding from the vulva ...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What next? What am I supposed to look for? Oh crap. What do I do??!!

Skip ahead, skip ahead...

... you will soon see two little hooves and a nose ...

Check the goat again...


Oh God! There's the nose! Are there two littl hooves? Wait ... Oh crap. Get out of the corner. I have to see if there are two little hooves!

At this point Gyra laid down with her butt wedged into the corner of the Birthing Room. I figured I'd just let her go for a little bit and see how things went. Just to be on the safe side, I jumped ahead to the part of the book that tells you what to do if there are difficulties with the birth. After a little while I checked on her again and saw that she wasn't really making much progress. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that only one hoof was visible with the nose.


Check the book, check the book...

If you only have one hoof and a nose presenting, then the other hoof might be just a little bit back (just put your finger in a little ways...

Oh. Oh. My finger. In the goat. Oh. Ok.

...where the hoof should be and feel for it). In which case everything will probably go just fine, or you may need to pull on it a little to get it together with the rest of the program.

Oh. Fine. Here we go.

So, yeah, I put my finger in the goat and found the other hoof.

I rock.

After that, the baby just kind of plopped out on the next push.

But not onto the newspapers as planned. Because Gyra started eating the newspapers as soon as I laid them down. She obviously didn't read the book.

So I grabbed a feedbag and put the little goat on it. I sucked out his little nose and mouth with a bulb syringe, and pulled him around to mom.

just born baby boy

The book said to let her lick the baby off for a bit and then dip the end of the umbilical cord and the hoof tips in iodine.


It then said to wrap the baby in clean towel and put it butt first into a bucket so mom can still lick it, baby will stay put, and the next kid can be born - if there is a next kid. The kid in the bucket will usually just fall asleep.

trying to restrain baby boy

Baby obviously didn't read the book either as sleeping was not on the agenda.

baby boy waaaaaaa

If there is no other kid, the next thing to watch for is the afterbirth.

second water bag is that? Afterbirth? Another kid?...

After about 40 minutes of watching mom walk around with this ... bag of water hanging out her, she finally started to push again and, what do you know, a nose and two hooves this time!


just born baby girl

Baby number two!

cleaning baby girl

So we have a boy...

baby boy

... and a girl.

baby girl

I called hubby to give him the good news. We are bonafide! Woo-hoo!

Much thanks to Gail Bowman who is the author of "Raising Meat Goats for Profit" (from where I took the excerpts), for writing such a good, instructive book. This book is like my little bible right now.

The only thing I would add to this wonderful bit of writing is a warning to someone assisting in a goat birth that, once the babies are all dried off and on their feet, they are so darn cute you might just squeeze them to death.

I stayed to make sure the babies started nursing and to be sure that there weren't any more on the way. Mom delivered the afterbirth and promptly ate it.

eating placenta

Live Action Shot of Mother Eating Placenta!


So the waiting is over. We had our very first livestock birth and are feeling all kinds of proud. Mom and babies have settled in nicely, the weather is cooperating, all is right with the world.