With everyone being a bit restricted with their travels, I thought I would try to keep up with the blog to help elevate some boredom. There is a lot more to making soap than just making soap. For the last two months our focus has been on the barn. Baby season is intense and the health and well being of our animals is where our products begin. Every year we have the dreaded week where our babies have to be drenched to avoid problems from coccidia later in life. So, for five days straight we catch all of the babies in one stall, and give each one a 30cc dose of treatment. It is a process that cannot be rushed. Each baby has to get 3cc’s at a time until they swallow and then repeated until all cc’s are in their belly. We have a system. Before we start Eric mixes up the drench. When I am filling the hay rack and Eric is feeding the moms and the pigs, Jordan catches all of the babies and puts them in a stall. Eric and I go into the stall and Jordan waits patiently outside, so we can hand her the babies over the door. Baby goats can be surprisingly fast when a door is open. I measure out the treatment and Eric holds the babies and gives them the drench. Some babies stay calm and are treated in no time. Other ones tend to panic, scream, and my personal favorite, turn into a small furry water cannon spitting drench everywhere. Although not popular with us or the babies, it is time well spent avoiding problems later.
As for the piglets, when we first started having our own piglets, we followed the standard piglet instructions. Three days after they were delivered all of the babies would be treated with iron shots. We would let the mother out of the stall, even though our girls are as friendly as pets, they are protective of their babies. There is a distinct sound that even the tiniest piglets are able to make when they are not happy. That sound has the ability to bring 100% full angry focus of the mama onto whom or whatever is upsetting her babies. An angry six-hundred-pound sow is a rather intimidating creature. With the mom safely locked out, I would load the shot and Eric would pick up the babies one at a time and give them their iron shot. It was a nerve-racking experience between the squealing of the over dramatic babies and the mom looking to get back to her babies. Then I read that iron shots are used because pigs are no longer born on dirt. Our pigs are almost constantly on pasture. The only time they are in the barn is when they have little ones. About a week before they deliver, we bring them into a large stall to make sure they are safe from the elements and the possibility of coyotes or a stray dog. We figured if they couldn’t be on the dirt, we would bring the dirt to them. This small, simple change has worked amazingly well. We take clumps of sod into the little pigs while mama has her daily stroll and they are happy to root and eat dirt until their little hearts content. About a year ago we decided to skip the iron shots. Knock on wood, it has been working like a charm. The babies are every bit as healthy as using the shots and there is no stress. The mom and the babies stay calm, and we don’t have to worry about being mulled by a 600 lb. angry mama.
The stewardship of goats also requires some preventative maintenance. They need to have their hooves trimmed every four to six weeks to avoid issues with their feet. The first weekend of the month is our reserved time to trim feet. Our system for trimming is instead of feeding all of the big girls together we feed individually in a stall and trim their feet while they eat. It is usually a bit time consuming. Luckily, when goats have feed in front of them, they stay focused on eating. There are a few that like to get fussy when it comes down to the last foot being trimmed. Trying to work with a goat that has decide it doesn’t want to be worked with is a nerve- wracking procedure. When one of them decides they are done, we just put them back out with the rest of the herd. We continue trimming hooves and sooner or later the goat that didn’t want to have their feet trimmed wants back in to eat and behaves while getting their feet trimmed. It took us a bit to realize that it is easier to let them set the speed and order, than try to set it ourselves.
We have been very fortunate with the goats not having issues with parasites. Rotating the pastures with different species, in our case pigs and goats is a huge help in breaking the parasitic cycle. Keeping the PH of the pastures in good shape and reseeding after the pig’s root things up are all critical for having sustainable pasture. Lime is a farmer’s best friend when it comes to preventative maintenance. Every time we clean the barn, we cover the floor with lime before we add any bedding. Lime is a natural neutralizer for odor and keeps the PH of the field in check when we clean out the barn. In the spring, the pastures are reseeded with grass and rye seed in late March to mid-April. We have a small spreader mounted on a four-wheeler that can go into tight spaces to spread seeds. Eric waits until there is a good frost at night and seeds down the disturbed ground. When the frost is gone later in the day the dirt sucks up the seeds just enough to give them a bit of cover. The goats have a supply of new growth to eat as well as fresh pasture. The pigs have a never-ending supply of pasture to root up on their never-ending quest to see what is under the sod. Although I do believe that part of the pig’s quest is more than just rooting to destroy fields. They seem to focus on one section at a time and there are always grubs. The pigs do end up being a natural grub removal system. But other times they just decide, “What a great place for a waddle!” and create their own mud bath.
In all adventures of life the best advice is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Simply stated, there are no guarantees. There are no guarantees that by treating our babies we will avoid any issues. We could choose to relax on our preventative measures but it is easier for us and our animal friends if we set a schedule and stick to it. Does this mean that things will go smoothly, definitely not! However, it means that we did the best that we could do and can put our heads down at night knowing we acted with the best of intentions and care. Much like these precarious times, we have to have faith that we have done our absolute best to keep those we love and care for safe, happy, and healthy. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure. Stay calm, stay smart, stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands.