It has been so nice to be back on the homestead. Gardening, milking, making cheese, watching the animals in the barnyard, eating fresh-picked strawberries and grilled garlic scapes – this is the life! Mr. Smiles is doing very well. We are so happy to finally have good progress after a marathon of surgeries and surgeries to fix the surgeries. This last one seemed to really work well and he is stable and recovering. He needs another one in about a month to finalize everything.
Plague of Mice
The mouse plague continues. We found that the bucket traps work great – they just take a week or so to get going. it seems the more mice run up to it, the more others are enticed to go too. So we have increased to 4 bucket traps, plus all the snap traps we had before. We caught 30 mice in one night this week, and we caught 12 mice in one bucket! We continue to get at least 10 a night, usually more. Maybe with all these bucket traps, that have an unlimited catch amount, we can finally get ahead of the reproductive curve, because it still feels like they are reproducing faster than we can eradicate them.
The mice have been feasting on our strawberries, as expected, but now that we have a bucket trap in that garden we have been able to harvest some for ourselves.
We also had a really nasty hail storm. We were home, and thus able to throw some sheets over certain parts of the garden to prevent damage. But the rhubarb, comfrey, and some of the squash and pepper plants did not get sheeted and they were pretty torn up by the hail. They are still alive and should still produce.
We have been enjoying grilled garlic scapes for a couple weeks now. A garlic scape is the flower shoot it sends up in the middle of its leaves. Once the shoot curls, we cut it off.
Then we chop them into about 1-inch pieces and toss them in olive oil and salt. Then we put them in the oven on broil until tender.
YUM! A delicious snack or side dish.
We have been using Wall-o-Waters for about 15 years now to garden in our short-season, cold climate. They extend our spring season by about a month, which is very important since we only have a 10-week growing season.
Over time, the plastic breaks down from the sun exposure, and they get holes chewed in them, or torn, or they just overall wear out. We have found an easy way to patch them and get more life out of them. If we have one that has several tubes that have holes we cut it apart into each separate tube.
You have to be careful when doing this to be sure not to accidentally cut into one side or the other. Then we throw out the ones with holes in them and use the good ones to patch other WOWs that need patching. We just slide the patch tube that we cut up down into the tube that has a hole, and fill the inserted tube with water. In this photo I used a green patch tube in a red WOW so you can see it better.
So this week we patched several of our WOWs with the one I cut apart.
Sheep have been the main topic of discussion around here lately. The dairy sheep are Sunshine’s project, and Mtn Man and I are all about all the sheep, dairy or wool. So the three of us have been going round and round about which ewes to keep and which to sell. We had a plan before, but Maggie not lambing kind of changed up that plan. In addition, we have an opportunity to buy a Wensleydale ewe that we are pondering. So there has been a lot of discussion and planning in that department.
We made our first sheep milk ice-cream of the season this week. It was SO good!!!
Pansy continued to waste away this week. She was skin and bones. The vet ran out of ideas and treatments. We tried everything and anything and tested her for a bunch of things too. Having the other goat here seemed to help somewhat, but not completely. As we have been going through this I have continually been saying, “maybe it is nutritional.” But I ran our feeding practices and mineral supplementation past both the vet and the goat breeder and they said it looked good. We felt it looked good too. But the nagging in the back of my head kept saying it was some sort of vitamin/mineral issue. But I was at the pediatric hospital for most of Pansy’s sickness and thus had a lot of other things on my mind.
So, early last week, after we were home from the hospital, and after we had run out of all our other options and treatments – as we were still watching her waste away – we decided to order a powdered goat mineral supplement from Caprine Supply to sprinkle directly on her grain each day.
Because we keep sheep and goats, we have to be careful about the minerals they share because they do not have the same needs and sheep can be killed by copper toxicity if they eat minerals intended for goats, and goats can get deficiencies if kept on minerals intended for sheep. Thus far, to manage this, we have used a multi-purpose mineral block for the sheep and goats to share, and we have supplemented the goat with extra copper through the use of boluses. But Little Miss read somewhere that some goats don’t do well on mineral blocks and do better with loose minerals. So, as a last last last ditch effort to save sweet Pansy, we decided to try loose minerals, specifically formulated for goats, that we would put on her grain each day.
When they arrived it was midday, so Little Miss decided to take one daily dose (1/2 ounce) out and see if she wanted it. She gobbled it down like candy to a child. That evening, at milking, we went ahead and gave her another daily dose on her grain while she was being milked. The mineral was listed as being able to be used free-choice as well, but since we couldn’t give it to her free-choice due to the sheep we figured that doing more than they recommend for a daily dose wouldn’t hurt her if she chose to eat it. She gobbled that dose down too. The next morning we again did a full daily dose at morning milking, which she again gobbled down. When we let her out for breakfast we were surprised by her behavior. During her illness she has barely been eating and has been lethargic and depressed. She had not been bullying the sheep during feeding like she usually does. That morning, less than 24 hours after the first dose of minerals, she went right to the feeder and started pushing everyone around so she could eat. All day long, we kept seeing her eating and nibbling on food wherever she could find it. And in the afternoon we found her down in the lower barnyard with Inigo (the wether) sniffing around and “exploring” – again something she hasn’t done since she got sick. We continued to offer her the minerals and she continued to eat them. The next day, just 48 hours after we started the minerals, we saw her having a “battle” for alpha position with the matriarch sheep, Fiona. It lasted 10 minutes! They hadn’t “battled” since Pansy got sick. It was amazing how perky and energetic she was!
We have continued offering the minerals and she has backed off somewhat on how much of them she eats each time. But her health has continued to improve. She has visibly gained weight – in less than a week. She is acting like her usual self – eating, pushing the sheep around, making sure everyone knows she is boss (second to Fiona – LOL). She seems fine now!
We are all SO relieved that she is better. Early last week we really did not think she was going to make it. But now she is doing great. We don’t know what it was exactly…did all the other treatments finally kick in? Did her body finally win against whatever was going on? Was it the new goat friend? Or was it the minerals? I tend to think it was the minerals all along – that she was having a nutritional imbalance for some reason. It could explain everything we have been struggling with her this spring – the ring womb, the lice, the lack of shedding her coat, the depression and lack of appetite…all of it can have nutritional origins.
Needless to say, we will be keeping her, and any goat we have, on these loose goat minerals from now on. We are feeding them while she is in the stanchion being milked, and to keep the sheep safe, we have decided that one stanchion is only for goats and the other one is for sheep.
SO SO SO happy to have our Pansy back again!
This week will start a few weeks of shuffling around livestock. We are trying to get all our weaning, selling, buying, and trading of sheep and goats done in the next few weeks before Mr. Smiles’ next surgery. It will make life more streamlined and it will reduce the stress on all the livestock to a shorter period of time than doing it sporadically here and there over the next few months. But it also means a lot of busy-ness going on for a little while. I will keep you posted as we change up the flerd.