This week was our first full week of warm weather this year! Our days were in the 60-70s and nights in the 40s.
Life has been so very very busy both on and off the homestead. Here’s a peek into some of what happened this week.
We have been noticing some issues with Pansy’s skin. She is started to get some thinner spots in her coat and has some dandruff. She also has places where the black hair is turning brown/copper colored. I called the breeder we bought her from, who is my go-to person for the goat since we are not super-educated about goats specifically. She said definitely copper deficiency.
I have been trying to figure out how to handle the copper situation in a flock/herd/flerd mixed with sheep and a goat. Goats need a lot of copper and can have a lot of issues if they don’t get enough, and sheep need barely any and can die with too much. My goat breeder had an excellent answer that I had not heard of before – copper boluses for the goat. It is a great way for us to give the goat the copper she needs without exposing the sheep to it. Perfect! So I ordered some goat copper boluses and a bolus gun. We gave it to her and will continue to do that every 4-6 months.
Have any of you used copper boluses with your goats?
I have a story to share about our Livestock Guardian Dog, Anya. This is her first lambing season, and so to protect our lambs from her potentially accidentally killing them, which can often happen with an LGDs first season with lambs, we separated her off in a pen with Pansy (the goat) and the chickens and had the ewes in a different pen that shared a fence.
When Fiona went into labor I think Anya could feel the excitement in the barn. She was stuck out in her pen and desperately wanted to see what was going on. When little Avalanche made his first bleating sound she started crying and whining and barking in excitement. I went and got her and brought her into the barn to meet him through the fence of the jug. Mama Fiona was not having it and made it clear she didn’t want her around. But Anya got a good look and sniff.
Later, after we had seen that Avalanche was doing well and we had gone back inside, I looked out and saw that Anya was in the ewe’s pen, not in the pen we had put her in. I went out to see what was going on and how she had changed pens. I found that she had squeezed her 115 lb self through an 8×8 inch hole where she had broken the zip tie and bent the wire back.
It never ceases to amaze me how tiny of tight squeezes dogs can fit through when they want to. And Anya has NEVER broken out before, which just shows how very much she wanted to get over to see what was going on.
Fiona and Avalanche were in one of the jugs and I had left the other jug door open so Rose could come and go from being near Fiona but still have access to the barnyard. As I watched to see what Anya was doing I was amazed. She was not going into Rose’ jug and excitedly bothering Fiona through the fence. Instead she was timidly peeking around the corner to watch the baby.
She kept coming the check on the baby in that fashion, and then would go into the barnyard and do her rounds, and then come back and check on the baby again. She was very respectful of Fiona’s space and didn’t stress her out. After a while she just lay down right outside the door to the jugs.
It seemed like the perfect mix of behavior for an LGD to have about a lamb…respect for the mother and her space, but also feeling protective and wanting to be nearby enough to protect them. It made us very pleased.
Since then the ewes and lambs have been integrated back in with Pansy, Anya, and the chickens. We spent several days having someone always out there watching to be sure Anya was being safe with the lambs. If someone couldn’t be out there we put them back in the jugs. Anya did excellent and they are now all living together with no issues.
The biggest news on the farm continues to be the new lambs. And why not!? They are so adorable!
We docked their tails on day 3. You can read about how we dock tails here. We started letting them out into the barnyard with the LGD and the goat on Day 4 of life, with human supervision for safety with the LGD until we are sure she is going to be good with them.
Avalanche and Fiona are doing great with the transition. Fiona is a protective mama, but does let the goat and dog sniff him. But she chases them off if she thinks it is getting to be too much. Avalanche loves the outdoors and has been having fun exploring this new world that includes chickens, sun, wind, new sights and smells, plus the dog and goat, and other baby lambs.
He decided his favorite place to nap is in this “box” that used to be a small retaining wall to hold the water trough but has since become a big hole surrounded by 4x4s because the chickens like to dust bathe in it.
Anya happens to like the “box” too…though she doesn’t barely fit.
And Avalanche really likes the chickens. His curiosity about them leads to some hilarious interactions.
Rose and her twins, Tornado and Stormy, were still struggling early in the week. Rose’s udder was large and full, but the lambs seemed to not be getting much to eat. They would go back to her udder every few minutes and only nurse for 10-15 seconds at a time. We checked and she did not have mastitis nor edema. We are able to squeeze milk out. But it does seem like her teat orifice is very tiny. So maybe it is just too much work for them to get it out. Rose’s condition also started declining and she is looking skinny despite being given free choice alfalfa and a pound of grain a day. Her ram lamb, Tornado, was not doing very well either. He was sleeping a lot and wasn’t very vigorous, and he started to get congested. So we called the vet and started using some udder cream on Rose, and gave Tornado an antibiotic shot on Wednesday. We had been supplementing the twins with a bottle since the day after they were born. We also were giving all three of them nutridrench to boost them.
By Thursday they started to perk up and seemed to be doing better, except Tornado still had a cough. But they were living out with the flerd and enjoying the outdoors.
They continue to improve and we are slowly decreasing our supplementation of them.
With warm weather and super busy-ness of spring there has not been many heritage arts projects getting work lately.
The other day when I was watching the lambs and making sure Anya was learning proper interaction with them I did sneak in a little work on this alpaca hat I am making.
We live a very full life. Sleep is scarce and go, go, go is plentiful. There is joy and there is sorrow. But man, it is such a blessed life.