Friday, February 27, 2009

Tragedy Strikes Whispering Acres

It is with a heavy heart that I report the death of one of our young angora goats whom we adopted from the Animal Rescue League. It has been a difficult week. I came down with a nasty bug that induced severe vertigo and dizziness, not to mention congestion and ear problems. I stayed home on Wednesday as a result. I sat out in the sunshine on the back porch for a while, because it was a warm day, and ventured over to visit the little goats. All 4 angoras were lively and happy to see me when I visited them. I played with them, petting each in turn and letting them sniff my fingers. They were all perfectly fine.

Thursday morning, Kelly did all the animal feedings so that I could stay in bed longer, feeling crummy and miserable. He checked on everyone, including the angoras, and they were fine. I hauled myself to school for my 10 am class, and then worked the rest of the day. Upon arriving home, around 5:15 pm, I went out to the barn. We had experienced a significant hailstorm in the afternoon.
I went to check on all the goats, and there was a still, white bundle at the side of the pen. I immediately called for Kelly and we discovered the awful truth. One of our dear angoras had died.

We have no idea what the cause of death was. We have two theories. First, the hailstorm must have been incredibly loud on our metal Wick building. The small goats pasture is next to that building. She probably never experienced a hailstorm before. Possibly the noise of the hail on the building simply terrified her, and she died of a heart attack. Secondly, there was a lot of lightning with the storm that passed through. She was laying next to a fencing T-post. It is possible that lightning struck the T-post and she was too close, and being wet, she succumbed to a massive electrical shock.

The Rescue League is doing a necropsy on her, but I have no news at this point. I shall update when we know anything. In the meantime, all the other goats appear to be perfectly well. We have no sign of illness or slowness or any sort of malady in any of them. That said, she herself showed no sign of illness either, the day before she died, nor even the morning of the day she died.

It is especially tragic when you rescue an animal and try to do your best to give it a loving, safe home, then something goes wrong and that animal dies. We are simply at a loss to know what we could or should have done differently. This sad cactus surrounded by hailstones kind of expresses how I am feeling right now.

Today, perhaps in an effort to make me smile, our hens outdid their previous maximum total of a 12-egg-day, and made it a 14-egg-day. Bless their feathery hearts. We got our first olive green egg today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And so we traded!

Lola Nova has a very cool and crafty blog. She is very creative and makes wonderful clothes for her daughter, which often make me quite green with envy. A while ago, she posted some pictures of some adorable felt ornaments she had made. I knew I had to have one! After a little discussion, we agreed that I would send her some handmade felt from my shearing this spring, and she would send me a hen and owl ornament. But then, I learned needle felting, and Lola Nova said she wanted a needle-felted sheep! So, I set out to make her one (but of course she will still get some handmade felt this spring after shearing, processing, dying, etc.).

In the meantime, the ever busy and crafty Lola Nova got busy with her skillful hands, and in short order, I had a wonderful package. Here's what it contained! First, a lovely hen ornament, that reminds me very much of my favourite hen, who sadly passed away last year, dear Rosie. She hangs on the tip of my Canada flag that is over my desk.

Second, there was an absolutely darling hoot-owl, with lovely green eyes that peek out at me. Green is my favourite colour, so he hangs on my bulletin board, and sometimes he perches in the gardens featured in my calendar that is also on the bulletin board.

Then, such a remarkable surprise, a llama journal! I had commented on her handmade journals in one of her posts, and said she should do a llama one. Little did I expect her to take me seriously, but she did, and this wonderful journal in such a delicious color of felt arrived. I have been using it for my journaling on my farm animals. I just love it. It even came with a custom bookmark with animal-related quotes on it! I'm telling you, Lola Nova is one creative lady!

After all that, I had big shoes to fill, so I realized a single needle felted sheep was quite out of the question! A whole field of sheep? Possible, but maybe boring. So, I tried to venture into the creative side of my mind, which is rarely used, and came up with some ideas, all of which were shipped to Lola Nova in this:

Yes, I can hear you saying..."what the heck is that?" Well folks, it's a coconut shell. You see, Lola Nova and her hubby went to Hawaii, and I was mailing this around that time, and their trip inspired me to send my little creations in this zippered coconut shell that I actually received at an event at our local zoo. There was a table full of them and you paid $20 to pick one, and inside were different prizes (zoo passes, etc). It was a fund raiser. So, re-user that I am, I decided this was an excellent shipping container. assortment of needle felted fun, resting on a bed of dyed locks.

First, there was the requisite sheep, which I did in two shades of brown. Then, I tried my hand at a sort of fantasy fish creature. I love the way some fish have those wavy tails, so I tried to recreate that idea of movement in its fins and tail.
Then, I needle felted a penguin, and a little girl character, whom I modeled slightly after Lola Nova's daughter, who has the most wonderful curly hair. I would trade in my hair for hers any old day! I gave the character a scarf and a hand warmer, and suddenly it came to me, she was the Fairy of the North Winds.
Once that thought occurred to me, I had the crazy idea to write a story about how the Fairy of the North Winds went to visit her friend the penguin in a boat made from a seashell, that was pulled by a magical fish. Along the way, there was a sort of an accident, and she was rescued (with the fish) by her friend the penguin, and their new friend the sheep, who happened to own th coconut boat. At the time, I thought I was a bit nuts, but I decided her daughter might like it, so I put the story in the package.

Turns out, her daughter loves the story and likes to act it out with the little creatures! Poor Lola Nova - she only got the dyed locks for herself!! The best part - Lola Nova brought her daughter a seashell from Hawaii, which has become the fairy's boat! What a coincidence!

What I loved about this trade was that it was something I never would have had the opportunity to do if I had not decided to start a blog. I really enjoy "meeting" the blogosphere of those who read my blog posts, and I never realized what fun that would be when I started writing a blog. I am so glad that I did! Thank you Lola Nova, for this great trade!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two awards for the price of one!

Wow! Both Flartus at "My 2 Sense" and "Shiloh Prairie Farm" awarded me the Premios Dardo award! What an honor! Thanks to both of you! How exciting!

Apparently, the award "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day." Hmmm....just a wee bit of redundancy there, but it gets the point across. Flartus said that the "original intent is to show admiration for a blogger's "word darts," i.e., getting one's point across cleanly and pointedly, as well as having a point to get across." I like that description best!

So, the rules that go with the award are...

STEP 1: Respond and rework. Answer the following questions on my blog, replacing one question that I dislike with a question of my own invention. (Since I got the award twice, I'm replacing two questions!)

STEP 2: Add one more question of my own. (again, I'll add two!)

STEP 3: Tag eight other bloggers. (Well, eight is enough, forget 16!)

1) What is your favorite day of the week? Probably Friday, because I can begin to slow down and relax a little. My week is so hectic.

2) What is your biggest fear? Flying. I wasn't afraid of it when I was young, but the older I get and the more I fly, the more afraid I become.

3) What was your worst subject in school? Multi-variable calculus.

4) Who is the last person you hugged? Well, I hugged Luna last, but she's not a person, she's a goat, so before that it was Kelly.

5) What websites do you visit when you go online? Oh my. For work: the US Patent Office site, Micropatent, many science-related sites. For fun: Etsy, a whole lot of blogs, Dave's Garden, Craig's List Farm & Garden Section, The Weather Channel, Backyard

6) What was the last item that you bought? The last thing I bought was feed, this morning, including goat, chicken, dog and rabbit feed.

7) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Well, I've got a real hankering to visit Argentina right now, but I'd also love to visit New Zealand (lots of sheep) and also to revisit some of my favorite cities - Prague, Paris, Vancouver.

8) If you woke up tomorrow and were the opposite sex what is the first thing you would do and why? I would stare at the toilet roll holder until I figured out how to put on a new roll.

9) If you couldn't have your current job, and money were not an issue, what would be your second choice?
I'd work full time on my farm, with fiber arts, animals, gardening, enjoying the land, and trying to have a sustainable and self-supporting farm.

10) Has a celebrity's hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle?
Yes, I remember specifically asking to have my hair cut like Princess Diana in the 1980s.

11) If you had a whole day to yourself with no work, commitments, or interruptions, what would you do? I would probably work on my spinning wheel, walk around in my woods, play with the baby goat, collect eggs, watch the clouds go by, have a warm bubble bath, and a good long sleep.

12) What was the last movie you watched?
What's a movie? LOL! Seriously, I think it was "Love Actually" which is one of my favorite films and we watched it before Christmas, maybe in November. I never have time for movies.

13) If you were to win the Powerball, what would you do with the money (besides invest it)? Quit law school, work full time on my farm, buy a lot of the surrounding land, set up Iowa's first camelid sanctuary (for llama and alpaca rescue), hire a full time gardener to help me build my dream gardens, and try to convince my parents to come live closer to me! Or I'd move back to Canada and set up Canada's first camelid sanctuary (that I know of) and have a large sheep and goat farm still, and some long haired bunnies. :-)

14) What is your favorite plant or flower and why? Tough question! I think my favorite might be clematis vines - they are so lovely and their flowers so varied and beautiful. I just love having them around the garden.

15) What do you do to try to make the world a better place? I recycle, I contribute to environmental and earth-centered charities, I try to limit my carbon footprint, and I try to leave some of my land in its "natural" state to encourage a good ecosystem.

Now, who shall I tag? Those who are tagged below - please feel free to join, if you wish, but no obligation! Some of these blogs are fairly new to me but I've been enjoying them, so time to spread the joy! (let's see if they're reading mine, and if they notice!!)
1. Boulderneigh!
2. Plow & Pony!
3. Bedtick Farm!
4. Laughing Orca Ranch!
5. A Girl and a Farm!
6. Adventures in Wonderland!
7. Miss Effie's Diary!
8. Chicks & Kids Farm

p.s. Here's Flynt, this evening, after about 40 minutes of grooming. He looks MUCH better don't you think?!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Goat ear tattoos, Luna video, Flynt and Kyndling, and the hens

Well, today I became slightly more technologically savvy, by uploading my very first YouTube video. I took 3 segments of Luna video and joined them together into a little movie of about 8 minutes. I know, it sounds long, but Luna's biggest fans hopefully won't mind. The first segment is about 20 minutes after her birth, when she's all wet and wobbly. The second segment is one day later, with Stuffin. The third segment is when I briefly took her outside while Kelly was starting up the tractor in the barn, to spare her from diesel fumes! I think they're all kind of cute, if you like baby goats.

You can view it on YouTube if you like by using this link...(might take a bit of time to play smoothly because it's a long video).

On another goat matter, I'm wondering if anyone can help me with goat ear tattoos. I have 3 Nubian goats that have ear tattoos. The people I got them from have told me that they were registered, but they don't know where the paperwork is, or what their registered names are. I believe all three goats have CJBJ in one ear (the JBJ part is quite clear, I was iffy on the C). One of them appears to have an S2 in the other ear. I need to look at the two other numbered ears more closely on a sunnier, brighter day. They were most likely bred here in Iowa, if that helps at all. I tried using the ADGA website but there didn't seem to be a lookup tool for ear tattoos.

Finally, today we picked up our new long haired rabbits from the Animal Rescue League! They were originally named Elvis and Marilyn, but we have renamed them Flynt and Kyndling (for the male and female, respectively.) Now, do any experts have opinions on their breeds? I thought angora initially, but perhaps they are Jersey Woolly? Or maybe they are cross breeds? Flynt had a lot of fur mats but Kyndling didn't have many at all. She seems to have longer fiber than he does. They are both sweet natured. They came to the shelter because their owner died. They are both fixed of course.

Kyndling considers coming out of her box.

Then she gets to sit on the big pillow while I did some grooming.

Then Flynt came out for a grooming session. You can see his fur needs more work.

He has such a lovely head.

Here they are together in their new house (with Butterscotch in the background showing his height and imposing physique)

Can't resist adding a picture of the hens from yesterday - I love all their different feather colors. And why are they all clustered around like that?

Well because it's their water dish of course!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Luna Talent Show

Hi to all my Wonderful Fans!

My name is Luna (you of course know that already), and today, I'm going to show you a fabulous goat tap dance routine. Oh, and in answer to the question about my life goats, I mean life goals, I would like to bring about world peace. Thank you.

One moment while I consult with my mom on which routine I should do!

Ok, here we go! Cue the music please!

And all feet up on the dance floor (it's disguised to look like a mineral block).

And back feet do a little kick!

And front feet up!

Here's a spin! Woah!!!

Do dee do dee doooo!

My mom is so proud of me!

Ta daaa! That's all folks. A goat dancer has to rest sometimes.
OK, I'm off to my dressing room now. No autographs, I'm too tired. Sorry. Maybe next time.
Thanks everybody for visiting today!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nubian Ear Problem

Does anybody know what is wrong with Zak's ears? They have been looking like this for a few days. None of our other Nubians have this ear fur loss (?) thing. We cannot see any mites or other things on the ear surface.

To me, it sort of looks like a molt, but if he is molting just on the ears, that seems odd. He is not showing any other symptoms and does not have this condition elsewhere on his face or body. He is a wether.

This was our first winter with Nubians so we are still learning. Any advice appreciated!

Baby Goat Questions!

Luna's first full day has been full of fun. She likes to frolic about in the hay. She climbs on the piles of it already, as if she is a little alpine goat. When I pick her up for a cuddle, she is very strong, and will squirm about for a while before settling down for a pat. I like that because it shows me she is healthy and active.

I have a couple of questions. First, I notice that she only seems to nurse on the right hand side. The left side keeps getting very full of milk. We used the Udderly E-Z hand milker on Stuffin twice today because the one side was so full. The teat is not plugged. Is it normal for her to only nurse on one side, or at least to prefer one side? Will this change as she gets older? Right now we are keeping the milk in the fridge for her, but she does seem to be getting enough based on her energy level, and she wasn't interested in bottle feeding earlier today when we tried, so we think she's getting enough.

She butts her head against the udder quite vigorously every time she starts to nurse! Why does she do this?

Some people seem to advocate various shots for new baby goats, and others do not. What shots do you personally think we should absolutely provide? What is optional, and why do you feel the way you do about shots?

We are so excited about this first baby on our farm, and anxious to do the right things for her. Thanks for any and all advice!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Luna, now that she's dried off a bit!

Luna has been around for a couple of hours now, so she is dried off and looking very fluffy. Stuffin is definitely finished kidding because everything else came out as it was supposed to, but since this was her first kidding, it is not surprising that she only had a single. I gave her the warm Karo syrup and water and she drank that down in a hurry. She also got some grain and ate that as well. She seems comfortable now, and is laying down with Luna at her side.

Here are some more pictures of Luna, Stuffin, and their ever-so-pleased "Goat Mom" (that would be me!). She's so tiny!

Hello world! I wish the flash didn't do that cloudy thing to her eye - it doesn't look like that. Her eyes are a light brownish hazel colour.

See their matching head spots? What a cute pair!


Luna was born while I was in the house doing my quick update!

I went out the barn and she was already on the hay! That was incredible. I thought we were still in early labour!

She is black with a white spot on top of her head, like the moon on a dark night, so her name is Luna.

Here is a picture with my hand - her body is not much longer than my hand!

Look at her sweet little face!

She is standing and nursing already, and both she and Stuffin are fine! :-)

Stuffin Update!

OK, quick update here,...

She is alternately lying down and standing up.

She has a big string of mucus hanging out.

She keeps on pushing because I can see her back end straining and it makes her pink parts all sort of go cone shaped, and then it relaxes.

This has to be significant!!

(back to the barn)

Houston, we are on countdown...

I know I have said a hundred times that I thought Stuffin's udder could never get any bigger. Oh boy, was I EVER wrong! This morning, it has taken on gargantuan proportions, considering how tiny Stuffin is. Poor girl, she must feel like she's carrying around a sack of potatoes.

I think it might be today. I'd love to hear from those with experience...but last night she definitely had some ligament left. This morning, I can't find them anywhere. No tail ligaments at all. Her udder has pushed out significantly to the back and is just tight as a drum.

What do you think of her pose? She might be showing that back tilt thing, I think?

I hope that these posts that have shown the udder progression might help someone else in my position someday, when their first-ever goat kid is on the way and they are wondering what to look for. Stuffin should be proud of her educational role!

Oh my, I think we are approaching lift-off!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chick Haiku

So tiny and warm
A life from within the egg
You let me hold you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Duck Washing and a Loom

Well, today had its good and bad points.

The bad point was that this morning, when the ducks were let out of their in-barn pen (where they sleep at night) and encouraged to go out the door to greet the sunshine (as they do each morning), they decided to try a different route. Unfortunately, the route they chose led them straight into the pan of very dirty tractor oil that Kelly had drained from the tractor. Oh yes, I now had 10 black and grey ducks, who were formerly bright white. I had 3 black ducks who were even more black. And I had a very bad attitude about it!

We won't go into the details about whether pans of dirty tractor oil should be left open on the floor of the barn. No, we'll just ignore that factor. We will focus instead of the fact that this happened about 10 minutes before I had to leave for my morning class, so there was no fixing it at the time. The ducks were shooed outside and unfortunately had to try and deal with this problem for the day, resulting in liberal dispersal of motor oil all over themselves.

So, my task this evening, after a full day of work and school, was duck washing. Did I take pictures? No. It is best not to have a camera around an extremely wet, messy, greasy, unpleasant task. Kelly bought some "Dawn" detergent on the way home, which is apparently used in the cleaning of seabirds who have been in the vicinity of oil spills. A copious amount of Dawn was used in the washing of each greyish black duck, to transform it into a mostly white duck, with traces of grey. There was incessant quacking and splashing throughout the procedure, and I guarantee you that the ducks were NOT pleased or impressed with my duck bathing techniques.

We set up two Rubbermaid totes with water, one for the initial wash, and one for the rinse. Each duck was bathed for about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on dirtiness level) in the initial tub. Belly rubs were had by all. Washing under wings and tails was also needed, as well as bill washing, since they had oil on their bills and feet as well. After a complete washing, the duck was transfered to the "rinse" tote, in which a kitty litter bucket of water was poured over the duck and sloshed around to get all the suds off. Kelly hauled all the water and dumped the totes after every second duck. Yours truly did all the actual washing and scrubbing. About 1.5 hours later, we were finished, and the ducks were wet, but clean(ish). They are fortunate that tonight is not particularly cold - they should dry out well in the barn. Of course, it will take time for their natural oils to permeate their feathers again, but fortunately, the pond is frozen and they won't be swimming for a while yet, so I'm sure by the time it thaws, all will be well.

On to the good part of the day!
After duck baths, we finally had a chance to unload my car, which had a loom in it! I am very excited about this! Wonderful Becky at Yellow Jacket Ridge Angoras had purchased a loom a while ago, and (giggle!) kept it hidden from her husband in a basement storage area! She finally fessed up about its presence in their home, after having decided to sell it. And lucky me, I was the buyer! We had tried to figure out how it was going to make its way from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to my little farm in Iowa.

My colleague at work who gave us our original Nubian goats works part time in Iowa and part time in Colorado. He drives back and forth from Des Moines to Denver. All I had to do, was figure out a way to get it from Steamboat Springs to Denver. Originally, Becky's friend was going to transport it, but in an odd twist of fate, Becky herself was able to take it to Denver because her stepson is in hospital there, as you will learn if you read her blog. Remarkably, despite all the chaos in her life, she so generously took it to Denver and met up with my colleague Jim, who brought it here to me.

Tonight we looked over all the parts and pieces.
Unfortunately one piece broke getting it out of my car, but Kelly says he can easily fix it, it's just a "lap joint" he said. We will be studying some pictures of looms in an effort to sort out how it all goes together. It has a stamp on it that says "Rasmussen Looms, Seattle" so I will try to find pictures of that particular loom.

Accompanying the loom was a selection of weaving books and magazines which will also be handy, no doubt!

Thank you Becky, for this wonderful treat! Your check is on the way!

With all this busyness in life, I haven't been checking in to other blogs as much as I would like. I'll be catching up sooner or later! In the meantime, I'll be trying to get a little supper together here (at 9:36 pm) and then off to bed!