Thursday, July 2, 2015

Feeling Sad

I heard through the grapevine that a doe I sold last December died yesterday. Her owner has been in touch a few times over the months and I truly believe had the best intentions for her or I would not have sold her to him. However, I don't think he fully understood the danger of a heavy parasite load. The recent heat wave and wet weather has been really hard on the animals.
The thing is, these animals require some work. They are not throw-out-back-and forget-about goats. They have been bred for production and they are going to produce even at the expense of their own health. They need the calories and care to support that production.
I've heard people call sheep "Four Hooves Looking for a Place to Die". That is not how these goats are at all. Some (even most) of my girls only get wormed once or twice a year and require nothing besides food, basic grooming, and daily milking.

Sometimes things pop up. This year, I had some of my adult does come down with coccidiosis. I've had to deal with pregnancy toxemia, heavy worm loads, broken leg, scours, and several other problems in the past. Problems are not the norm, but you have to be attentive, watch for, and treat things as they come up because they will come up.

I have decided that I will not sell a bred doe again without very good reason. Dagny's kids were not disbudded and now there is an issue with their new owner about getting them registered since Dagny was never transferred out of my name. It's just not worth the headache.

I'm sorry things went this way for you, Dagny. You were a sweet girl.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Heat Wave

It has been brutally and relentlessly hot and humid here. The little goats have all been fine, but it's been taking a toll on my grown girls. 

Milk production is down and we have had a wave of scours sweep through them. I think I finally have them on the mend now. Some only required herbs and probiotics, a few got wormed, and a couple needed an antibiotic.  It's been great having to discard milk due to milk withdrawal times.....

In other news, I am considering selling this little girl. This is Hammock Haven Tansy Belle. Her dam, Betty Buttercup, appraised 87 VVVV this spring. I am asking $350 for her.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Almond "Milk"

At the farmers market, I come across a lot of people who drink almond milk as their "milk" of choice. Reasons for this include: "It's healthier", "I'm lactose intolerant", and "I'm a vegetarian".

I have a hard time thinking of plant-based "milks" as milk but decided to check it out during one of my rare trips to the grocery store. Excuse the quality of the pictures, people were looking at me like I was a bit mad.
The first Almond milk I looked at was Almond Breeze by Blue Diamond. I buy their brand almonds from time to time. I didn't notice that it was chocolate milk until I looked at the pictures later. 
Here are the ingredients:

I am immediately struck by the sheer number of ingredients in this. Apparently, some chemistry is needed to make almonds and water taste and feel like some sort of milk. There are ingredients in this list that are downright unhealthy- notaibly Carrageenan and Natural Flavor. I urge you to do some more research on each of these. 

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has been linked to inflammation and even cancer. Natural Flavor is also misleading. The Code of Federal Regulations defines Natural Flavor as:

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

The next "milk" I looked at was Silk Almond milk. Silk is the brand that started the fake milk trend by giving us soy milk. Don't even get me started on the negative health effects of soy.
Once again, this product is full of gums and Natural Flavor. I didn't get a good picture of the Nutritional information, but found it here:

240g (about a cup) has 60 calories, 3g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates, 1g protein. The added Calcium Carbonate gives it 45% of your daily requirement of calcium. 

I looked up goat milk on the same site and found:

244g (about a cup again) has 168 calories, 10g fat, 27mg cholesterol, 122mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, and 9g protein. A cup of goat milk gives 33% of your daily calcium requirement without additives. 

Packaged almond milk is a manufactured food product, full of gums and natural flavor to give it the mouth-feel of milk with very little nutritional value. With only 60 calories, 3g of fat, and 1g of protein, don't expect it to keep you satiated from breakfast until lunch.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Misadventures in Goat Transport

I should know by now that things with goats never go as planned. Earlier this spring, I decided that I could use another buck to be Bubba's buddy. Then I figured, if I'm going to feed two bucks, I might as well feed two really nice bucks. 

I just love shopping for goats (seriously, no sarcasm there. I browse goats like some women window shop) so I set to work and found a boy who looked like he'd work just right for us. The problem? He was in New Jersey.

Fortunately, the breeder, Jane, said we could fly him right into Hartsfield. Perfect. Only $250 and he's 90 minute from home. But wait, she suggested, before we fly him, let's look into ground transportation. It may save us some money.

She put a request out on "Goat Transport" on Facebook and within the hour, we had someone willing to deliver for less than the amount to fly. Cha ching. Door-to-door service and we save money.

I shared the good news with my husband who, bulk shopper that he is, suggested I look at a doeling too to keep the buckling company on the way down. If you're shipping a goat from NJ, might as well ship two. So I picked out Posy.

As I was communicating (or not) with the transporter, I began to get a worried feeling. He seemed to have overlapping trips planned, though he assured me that they would pick up my goats on June 1. 

I returned his contract and sent a deposit check. He wrote back that he could not cash my check since it was made out to his farm name. I'd made it out to the only name I had. So I asked for a picture of my voided check and said I'd send another when I received it. 

As of the last week in May, no picture was forthcoming and we were nearing our June 1 date. Jane had the vet out for health certificates on the kids. I decided just to send another check up to the transporter so I wasn't the one holding things up. 

The day after I dropped the second check in the mail, I received a call from Rhode Island. Yes! Finally, the transporter confirming things! No! Actually, it was the transporter's father-in-law informing me (after rambling for 20 minutes) that all trips were off. As least he DID text a picture of my voided first check. I put a $36 stop payment on the second check.

I was crestfallen. Now I didn't have just one goat to get to Georgia, I had two- two goats who were now too big to fly. Jeff and I started making plans how we were going to drive to New Jersey. Ugh!

After a few days, I saw a post on "Goat Transport" from someone hauling a horse from Maryland to Northeast Georgia with room for two goats. Hardly ideal, but Jane and I jumped at the opportunity and were bound and determined to make this work. 

This is where things get really fun.....

Jane drove them two hours on Tuesday to meet the transporter, Michelle, in Maryland. She planned to layover with my goats at her home in Virginia and drive them to Georgia on Thursday. I don't get out much, so decided to make it a road trip. Jeff used his points to reserve two rooms Wednesday night for me, the boys, and my parents in Cornelia, Georgia. A friend came in to milk for me. 

We had a great time sightseeing Tallulah Gorge. Wow, there are a lot of steps!

Then we had an unbelievably wonderful farm-to table meal at Fortify in Clayton, GA. We learned once we got there that they were rated one of the 100 best restaurants in the country.

Meanwhile, the transporter had the horse transport cancel on her and only had my two goats. She could not make any money driving her truck and trailer down, so she borrowed a friend's car and decided to drive them down overnight Wednesday night so she could get back home to VA on Thursday.

I went to bed that night with my phone on so I would hear her text when she was getting close.

At 5:11 am, I received a text from a friend (a friend with goats) saying "Call me when you get up." My mom was asleep in the next bed, so I couldn't call back.

An hour later, Michelle texted to say that, "The bigger of the two decided to make a mess all over the back of the car and she would be a couple hours late". Ut oh. All I could thing was scours. And I was right!

Poor Michelle finally arrived about 9:00 and pulled Whiskey out of his crate in back. What a mess! No sooner did his hooves hit the pavement than he started pouring huge puddles of poo from his back end all over the Hampton Inn parking lot. At least Posy, the doeling, was just fine.

I realized at that moment, that our transportation arrangements were not going to work. My plan was 5 people in the Acadia and the two goats in the extra large wire dog crate next to my son in the 60/40 split on the third row. Somehow a wire dog crate, a crowded SUV,  and explosive diarrhea did not seem like a good idea.

Cole, Posy, and I ran to Walmart and Tractor Supply, which by some stroke of good luck were across the street from the hotel, while my mom and dad walked poor, sick Whiskey around the parking lot.

The hotel staff provided them with a hose, rubber gloves, paper towels, and clorox wipes. I picked up a plastic dog crate, puppy pads, towels, a tarp, Kaopectin, Gatorade, Probios, and anything else I could think of to manage this situation.

By the time we got back, they had Whiskey cleaned up. Both crates would not fit in the car, so we collapsed the wire crate, stuck Posy in the far back on a tarp, and Whiskey in the plastic crate. All our bags rode under our feet.

It was a day for goat emergencies. On the way home, another friend called with problems with Coccidiosis. I got back in touch with my 5:11am friend. Her doe had kidded twins and rejected them. Long story short, after a trip to my house for colostrum, they ended up at Auburn that afternoon for the vets to tube the babies. Mama and kids are doing fine now.

All this was going on as I was fighting Atlanta traffic, Whiskey fumigating the car at 20 minute intervals, and Posy trying to hop over the seat into Chase's lap.

All's well that ends well. Posy and Whiskey are settled in now. 

Both are healthy and doing great.

I'm still having dreams of that amazing dinner at Fortify. 

And I'm looking forward to this boy's kids next spring.

I am taking a break from transporting goats (at least until the buck I ordered from Washington State is born next year!).

Monday, May 25, 2015

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Last week was a very rough week. Tuesday evening, Alice just seemed off. By Wednesday morning she had a 106.5 degree fever and was foaming at the mouth. I rushed her in to Auburn University. 

They got her on antibiotics, banamine, IV fluids, and started running tests. Two ultrasounds, a milk culture, CBC, and a urinalysis later, we still had no answers. She kept deteriorating.

By Saturday morning, all the vets agreed that her prognosis was poor. The only thing left in their arsenal was a $700 CT scan. As Dr. Maxwell put it, "Only 1/20 of the things the scan could show would be treatable". 

We made the decision to have her put down and have a necropsy performed. I am still waiting on the results. Jeff was able to be there with her at the end. I was having a miserable morning at the farmers market. It's not the best place to receive news like this. 

In the end, the best diagnosis the vets could come up with was a lesion on the spinal column. We asked if it was anything we did. Could we have done anything different? They all agreed no, this is a 1/10,000 kind of thing. I was also concerned for the rest of my herd but they assured me that they had no indication that this was anything infectious. In fact, before she spiraled downhill Saturday morning, we were considering taking her home to see if her own environment would help her recover. 

It's difficult to lose an animal. Even more difficult since she was my favorite and had so much potential. She was only two years old and was already my second highest producer. I am comforted to have her daughter here still, poor little orphaned baby.

There was a glimmer of good news this weekend. A breeder north of Atlanta needed to downsize her herd for family reasons and posted a list of goats she was selling. I really wanted Emilie off that list, but by the time I contacted her, Emilie was already sold. I settled on Kami. Early last week, the breeder wrote to let me know that the deal with Emilie had fallen through and did I want her too. How could I say no?

So after losing my sweet Alice Saturday morning, we picked up two gorgeous dry yearlings Saturday afternoon. My heart is still aching, this was the first adult goat I've lost and it was so much more tragic since she was so young. Things still look bright for the future of our herd though- two steps forward, one step back.....

Montage KVG Emilie

Mint*Leaf Kami

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wasting Food

In my searches for goats, I have come across a disturbing phenomenon. As a result of state bans on raw milk sales, many breeders just dump milk out. One breeder told me, "We dump 15 gallons a day on the ground".  I can think of so, so many people who could use that milk if only they were allowed.

We are fortunate to be in a state where I can sell my excess milk under a commercial feed "pet milk" license. My mama taught me not to waste food and we've wasted very little.

The cost of setting up a grade A facility is cost prohibitive for most people. I have roughly priced it out to be $200,000, if I can find used equipment. Not only that, I find the flavor and health benefits of my own raw milk far superior to processed milk.

It just seems to me that there ought to be a way to use all that beautiful food.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Buck Pen

Two pieces of good news: First, my friend, John, got the milking machine running again. Thank you, John!

Second, the buck pen is done!

I am thrilled with the way it turned out- a far cry from the rotting, converted swingset that had been the buck shelter.

The left side is closest to the girls' enclosure. It will be used for breeding, an extra kidding pen, a place for kids, or whatever else I need an extra pen for.

Each side has an automatic waterer that I can reach to swish out through the fence in front.

There are two stalls inside with a wall in between that reaches clear to the roof to keep amorous bucks on their side. Each stall has a door on the side so the goats can access their pen.
Our builder even added cute little details to the stall doors. The front has a 4'x12' "people side" where I can store some feed and hay and not always have to be trucking it down from the main barn.
My awesome husband spent the afternoon running another row of fencing next to the cattle panels that separate the two pens. There will be no hanky panky going on through the fence now!

I still need to do a little work on water redirection to be sure it doesn't flood when it rains like it did last month!

My son helped me get some new pictures of Bubba. He's growing up so nicely.