Monday, April 25, 2011
You guessed it. We are without the kiddos for a few days and in fact, our daughter has found a babysitter to take over part of the week so Kirk and I can get a move on on all the projects that didn't get done last year while we raised grand kids. Not to mention all the things that we need to accomplish this year. It will be a double duty year. We are STILL remodeling the house outside and inside. I'll give you a peek one of these days. I will probably be a few more years before we are done if we keep at it steadily. Many of you know how it is.
One big project that had to be done was putting up a pen for the yaks. So for two weekends Kirk has help me, who also lacks umph. He has been worse off having caughte the flu a week later than myself, so he'd lay on the prairie to rest and then drag himself up to line up the fence post and laid down again to cough and try to suck in oxygen. This thing leaves you really short of air. My dear husband knows I can't put up a straight fence line no matter how hard I try, my eyes must be crooked or something. So despite wishing he was in bed he helped put up 135 feet last weekend. This weekend we put up a gate and another 115 feet of fence. I've still some wiring to do but I'll work on that a little at a time this week and then go on to fix fence on the older pens that need repair. It is an annual spring and fall task. I'm sure many of you are also fixing fence too.
Then after fencing Saturday, we called a friend and begged for some advice. Last year's dehorning didn't go well and we've scurs to work to get rid of this spring on our yearlings. Yes, we should have done that earlier but little has been accomplished this past year. Since we've been breeding the Saanens, we use to own, to Boers for so many years, we were totally out of practice. Not that we really knew what we were doing in the first place. So in the spirit of my big goal this year to learn to do things correctly, I asked for help. Anne, a friend who started showing goats a few years ago had done 24, or was it 27, kids this year alone and I figured she would have it down pat. She did.
We learned some new things and since Contessa and Katarina have not had their kids yet, we will be able to practice what we learned in a few weeks. My first realization was that we needed to order a new dehorning iron. Ours won't do step two. Sorry no pictures for those of you goat enthusiast and I'm sure the rest of you are going whew!! LOL But I couldn't coordinate the camera, try the impossible, to avoid inhaling smoke from the iron which was burning hair, and hold squirming kids. Seven in all since we included Michelle's kids who are also of the same age as our kids. She is next door to our pens.
What I can tell you is that for does at two weeks old, with Anne's iron, you hold it down around the small horn buds for a count of ten seconds and then check for a nice copper burn ring around the horn buds. The boys typically have larger horn buds and for them she held it twelve seconds. Everything depended on how large the horns have already grown. Then she laid a knife parallel to the head and sliced off the horn bud and laid the dehorning iron sideways, cauterizing the lightly bleeding bud and killing more cells.
The last part where you lay the iron sideways, we'd never done before but it makes perfect sense. Our iron won't do that and so we'll have to buy a new one. Horns and scurs are too big a pain to deal with and so it will be worth the investment of a new iron. Our old one works but it is twenty five or more years old. Progress marches on with time and the new ones have a slightly different design.
For those of you softies, our kids were bucking and butting heads as soon as we placed them back in the trailer for the ride home. No, we are not big meanies. Dehorning is a humane practice for goats confined to small pastures and pens. Otherwise they continually catch their heads in the fence unable to get out. Think of the people in ancient times who were locked in the stocks - it's torture. They can't eat, they can't drink, and they can't get out of bad weather. Face it, goats use their horns on you if given half a chance and ours don't need them to defend themselves and for those of us who milk, it is a huge blessing not to have to deal with the pokey things. Life has unpleasant realities and this is one of them.
I've also been playing with my sourdough - crackers, pizza dough, chocolate cake. Yes, we've got much more to discuss but before the sun goes down with what little energy I still have, I'd better get to hauling manure onto the garden. Oh yeah, and this house is still a wreck.