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Herd Care

Our little Aggie girl getting her first mani/pedi

The Bibbed Wonder and I spent all day yesterday practicing herd maintenance. We sorely underestimated how long it would take us to trim their feet, dose them with a dewormer, and give them their annual CDT vaccination. My bib overall-wearing buddy thought we would finish with the goats by noon, have lunch, get cleaned up, and then move into the studio to make moisturizer. Trimming the feet of 42 goats, which is 168 feet, giving 42 shots, and dosing 42 goats with an oral drench took all day.

Eric started the process around eight in the morning. I joined him at nine, and we did not finish until four. Once we had completed the hoof trimming, shots, and deworming, it was time to do the evening milking and barn chores. We were filthy, tired, and achy at the end of the day. However, knowing the herd was cared for and protected for another year was a relief. Overall, it went relatively smoothly. The Bibbed Wonder and I make a pretty efficient team. We began the process by herding all the adult goats into the barn, holding them in the pen outside the milking parlor, and bringing them into the large stall beside the milking parlor individually. We completed almost half the adults, marked them with a chalk marker to identify that they had been treated, and moved them over to the pasture closest to the pond.

While the other half of the adults were in the holding pen, we gathered the little ones as they slipped in to be with their mamas. Most of our babies are very friendly this year, which makes catching them almost effortless. A few always put up a chase and don't want to be caught. This year, three decided they wanted no part of their first hoof trimming. Of course, all three were little boys. Not to be unkind or sexist, but little boy goats are dumb. They are always the last to catch on to the routine, learn where the milk comes from, and always lock themselves in the neighboring pasture, completely forgetting how they got themselves there to begin with, then stand bawling as if the world is ending or they are being murdered. There is also always one or two who are very dramatic. It is a lot...sigh.

Once all the babies were caught, they settled into the stall, nibbling at grain or piling into a corner and napping until it was their turn to get their hooves trimmed for the first time. Most of the babies behaved wonderfully. They were calm and cooperative and did not seem the least bit stressed out over the procedure. The Bibbed Wonder sat upon an upturned bucket, held the little ones on his lap, trimmed their little hooves, and then squirted a concoction of grease and copper sulfate between their little toes. The concoction of grease and copper sulfate helps to treat and prevent hoof rot. This is the first year we have had to deal with hoof rot, and it is an ongoing battle. The ground simply does not have an opportunity to dry out, and our herd has no chance to allow their feet to dry. Much to our surprise and concern, even some of our little ones are showing early signs of hoof rot.

After the babies completed their first pedicure, I gave them their first shot of CDT. CDT vaccinates and protects them from overeating disease and tetanus. The babies are vaccinated around two months of age. They receive their first dose, and then four weeks later, they receive a second dose. Once they had been given their shot, I gave them an oral drench with a strong dewormer we use once a year. Our herd is dewormed twice a year using different deworming medications because the parasites can become immune to the dewormer if one uses the same medication each time. Some of our little ones are showing signs of pinworms. Pinworms make their presence known by creating a bulge in the neck, just under the chin. Fortunately, pinworms are easy to clear up. Overall, the little ones did well for the first time. Nobody seemed to hold onto fear or decide they no longer liked us because of the care, and we continued to cuddle and snuggle them.

Once all the babies were treated, we treated the remaining adults and moved everyone onto the new pasture. We thought we would reunite the herd: Red, Lily, Shadow, Lola, and Lottie were kept separate to keep them away from amorous billy goats. However, when Red was in the holding pen both billy goats came over very interested in her. They showed their amorous intentions by curling their lips and making grunting noises. I pointed this out to Eric, declared an unplanned pregnancy would be the end of both Lily and Red, and we moved the girls back to the pasture across the driveway. The girls miss the herd, but it is better than having them injured by the billy goats or getting pregnant. Once the girls decide to wean their babies, we will move Lil'Black, Boo, and Mama Boo in with Red and Lily. The gang will be back together.

After the evening barn chores were completed, The Bibbed Wonder and I took a Ranger ride around the now-empty pasture field. We sprinkled sunflower seeds on all the bare spots, the burnt patch where we burned the downed trees, and all over the hay pile. Eric is hoping the sunflower seeds take off and multiply. There is tentative talk about planting a field of sunflowers. One of us has the idea for a sunflower maze with a farmstand in the center, and one of us is a fun-sucking curmudgeon who says no to really, really good ideas. I'll give you one guess which is which.

Overall, it was a good day. It was a long day filled with lots of physical exertion, but it was a good day. Next week, if the weather stays warm and the rain stays away, I will begin bathing the girls a few at a time. My bottle baby, Fergus, is at the top of the list for a bath. He is a grubby little buddy. He has a habit of playing with the second bottle at feeding time. He squirts milk all over his face, chest, and neck. It makes for one grubby little Fergus. I believe the mites/lice are clearing from the herd. After several weeks of treatment, they are beginning to regrow their hair and look better. I will be quite satisfied if I never have to deal with this issue again. My bib overall-wearing buddy is looking into a natural biocontrol product to lower the barn's parasite load and pest load. There is a fungus that will eat the larvae of all parasites and destroy the population before it becomes an issue for the herd. It is all-natural, won't affect the animals, and will improve the soil. I will keep you posted.

On this overcast spring day, stay safe, be smart, take the best care you can for those you love, and keep washing your hands.

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Appreciate the education!

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