Thursday, May 30, 2013

Udderly Confused At First

I spend a great deal of time fussing over decisions of what goats to keep and what ones to get rid of. Then I started breaking each one down. Their faults and their good points. I decided what was most important to me. I learned that I'm so... into udders. Half of the points for linear appraisal is for udder. To me that is mainly what a goat is all about, the udder or they wouldn't be called a DAIRY goat.
So at this time of year when I'm looking at who to keep and who goes down the road. The udder is the thing I'm looking at most carefully. This is Megan's. Discard the cow hocked look because she isn't that cow hocked but always stands goofy on the milking stand. The escutcheon could use a better arch. This one comes to a peek a little but for capacity this is pretty awesome especially since she is two and this is a picture of her udder at three weeks freshening with her nursing twins.
The udder isn't perfect but far above average I'd say. I'd like to see it collapse down to nothing when empty but it doesn't but the daughter I kept of hers does. I still get a 1/2 a gallon of milk a day besides Megan nursing twins so I can't wait to see what she produces when they are weaned. Her ears could be longer but what really do ears do for a milk goat? Lamanchas don't have any. And her nose is too small. Her hocks could have a little more angle and her back should be flatter though it isn't bad. She has a nice long rump and is a very big girl for two. She has a very classy smooth appearance. Her dairy character is developing nicely. Something she didn't have a lot of as a yearling. Over all, I like this doe.   
 I need to get rid of a doe and so I've started to break down each goat's faults and strengths. In doing so I've begun looking back at old photos. I've decided next winter I really need to put them in folders for each goat. That way I can see how the goat changes and develops. Maybe it would also help me to see what each buck I use does for my herd also. This is Megan's udder at one years old for a comparison to the two year photo. I know that Megan got her nose from her mother, not her grandmother and so it must of been the buck that did this dirty trick. Chicory's daughter, Daisy has a nice nose.  

The udder on the left is Megan's right after she freshened for the first time last year.  The one above is at three months. The one on the right is her daughter Mercedes just a few weeks after she freshened. It is an improvement on mother. This girl looks a lot like mom and her son is probably the best buck born this year. That makes me super happy because this is Chicory's great granddaughter. I can't wait to have her linear appraised and compare her score to her great grandmother's and mother's scores. It will tell me just where I'm moving forward and where I might of lost ground.

As for Daisy here. Her udder looks a great deal like her mother, Chicory.
Her medial attachment was wonderful. That is the line up the middle.  This is Chicory. See why I'm thinking this photo taking is a handy tool? I can look back at each doe and their ancestors and see just what has changed and what is passed on. Yes indeed, I'm gong to start making lists of traits for each doe. I have records of their births. How many kids they had and of what sex plus if I had to pull the kids or was it natural. I'm also keeping record as to the time of birth because normally they will kid within three hours of the time they kidded the first time. I then know whether they kid normally on the 150th day or sooner and approximately what time. Since I put the doe in with the buck when she comes into heat and don't leave him in the pen for days like many do, I know pretty close when my does will kid and don't spend night after night having to check them.

I've made a choice as to what doe to get rid of. The shocker is how much she developed cow hocks from a kid to this year. I would not of dreamed it. I'd like to tell the person who will be receiving her first before I blab all about it on here but some of you will probably figure it out. That will give me three does and a maybe four if I keep the little brown doe just born. She is so tiny I don't really know what she looks like.  And I've decided on only keeping two of the seven bucks intact. The rest will be banded. But first will check with an interested party to see which buck they might want of the whole group. Will I sell these two or keep them, I haven't decided yet.

The biggies in my book when deciding on whether to keep a goat or not is:
Udder shape and capacity ( I have dairy goats for the milk) Taste goes without question because we use it.

Structurally sound  or correct (That doesn't mean perfect but no large faults.) Extra points go to a doe who doesn't pass on her faults. If she consistently has kids better than she is and they are uniform to each other then she scores big.

Body capacity (If she isn't big enough, she can't sustain a large udder)

Has multiple births by two years old as mutiple births equates to more milk. Plus she doesn't require help with birthing. (Chicory was the exception because it wasn't genetic and all her doe kids have kids on their own.)

Personality (This is huge as I have to milk the doe twice a day and who wants to deal with a headache that often?)

In personality mothering ability is included. Megan is a bit of a pain at first when she kids but each year she is getting better and her other qualities make up for it. Her daughter didn't do so well this year but part of that was my fault so I'll give her another chance since she had the nicest kid and has a kick butt udder. She is a dream to milk too so she remains. 

Personality also includes how well they get along with other goats. I have NO BIDDYS in my herd. Cranks go down the road in a hurry because I want to be able to put more than one mom and her babies together in the same pen and shed. Crankiness is genetic and taught to the offspring so they get a double whammy. We once had a doe break ribs on a doeling of another goat. Yes, she hit the road. 

I had a women complain once that the goat she bought from me was too nice and ended up much skinnier than the rest of her goats because she wouldn't fight at the hay feeder. I say, weed out the the old biddies and replace them with sweet mild mannered ones. They just aren't worth it. There are lots of nice does that give lots of milk and you will thank yourself 365 days of the year. 

As for bucks, well I just don't know what you keep. I'm going on linage, what their mom and dad looked like, and if they are an improvement presently. I'm never sure how they will develop as I would have never though one of the goats I got last year would develop such cow hocks.

It is why I do linear appraisal. I learn a tremendous amount each year. I've only been doing it one year and watched the year before. I'm sold though. I will be doing it as a learning experience from now on.

As much as I've learned from this experience I'd highly suggest you undergo this same journey. Learn what is most important to you in a dairy goat. Break each goat down structurally and by personality. A wise Linear Appraisal judge told me that you can have one pet goat. The rest have to pay their way. That means being cut throat he said if you want to improve your herd. I agree. I don't have the money to pay for goats not performing. That is just a hard fact of life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Who's Kittens Are These?

Aren't they cute? These little bundles of joy were what I found in the goat shed when I peeked inside to clean it out from the pig, Matilda's when she lived in this pen. That was about four weeks ago. 

At the time I wasn't sure who was momma but most barn cats don't like you handling their kittens so I left the straw undesturbed where they lay and didn't touch them. Still it was iffy if she would let them be and not hide them once more elsewhere. I've had a few barn cats that let me cuddle with their offspring but continuously move their kittens.

So it was with this foremost in my mind that I peeked inside the shed the next day and fully expected them to be gone. They were, only it was just two feet over to the new pile of straw and the goat kids were banished to the corner where the kittens had been. I had to laugh.

The next day while doing chores, I spied Mindy Sue here with a tabby kitten in her mouth coming out of the goat shed and  headed for the round hay bales. Now I was really confused. I thought these kittens were Katie's for reasons I soon tell.

Mindy Sue had just layed the kitten down when Katie here ran over and picked it up and hauled it back to the goat shed. I had to leave but I wondered how many times those poor kittens were hauled back and forth before the argument ceased between these too. And it poised a question, who for sure was the momma to these kittens? Without King Solomon to sort things out, I figured I wait and see for time surely would tell.

I knew that Mindy Sue had had kittens a few weeks before therefore these kittens were too small to be hers but stranger things have happened. We brought home a extremely undersized kitten for its age and nursed it until soon too attached it remained as a house cat. 

The discovery of her tabby kittens earlier gave me a bit of a fright. A couple weeks at dusk when it gets a bit hard to see inside the chicken coop, I'd reached blindly into the corner where the hens lay there eggs expecting to find a hard oval egg or two. Instead my hand felt something soft and I jerked back. Then I heard a mew. I know that sound very well and reached into the dark corner once more and pulled out two tabby kittens. That was a first, kittens in the hen's nest. Yes, my run has lots of holes in it and I'm trying to get by since the whole thing gets moved in the fall and I don't want to do the work twice but I'd never think to look for kittens in a coop. Not sure how the hens and the momma was going to work things out, I figured I'd wait and see. To Mindy Sue's credit, it was a nice weather protected spot, if the hens cooperate, and allowed the strange cohabitation. It was going to be interesting to see what happened.

  How do I know they were Mindy Sue's? I saw her slip in to check on them as I exited the coop so I was sure who their momma was. The next day when I collected eggs, I found one kitten dead and the other missing. What happened I can only guess. That would mean Mindy Sue had more kittens hid somewhere else and they didn't grow very well. Otherwise the kittens were just too small. Mindy Sue could still be morning her kittens though and want to claim these as a replacement. A house cat we had when the kids were little stole the neighbor cat's kittens once.

This whole thing made me wonder about another incident just a few days before. It was in the evening when I was doing chores, I walked through the gate to the milking shed, milked Mercedes and was walking back through it when I saw a tabby kitten that wasn't there when we'd come through just minutes before. It was dead and reminded me of the dead gray kitten that was brought to the main goat shed when I was kidding out Meagan. They had to have the same momma. Not having first seen the kittens in the goat shed, I did not know where this gray kitten had come from. 

The tabby kittens did not stay in the shed long and one day when I was pitch forking hay, I heard mewing once more. They were under a flap of hay. I moved them back to the goat shed once more with little hope that they would remain.

I figured out that Katie was the mom as she continued to bring me one dead kitten at a time as each day I did livestock chores.

Within a little over a week, they were all dead. The cause of death is unknown. They seemed pretty healthy so their passing is a mystery as it so often is with barn kittens.  

One of the sad facts of rural life is that very few kittens live to adulthood. I've had several queens bring me their ailing or dead offspring. (Female cats are called queens.) I guess they see me mothering so many little goats, calves, and pigs that they just know who has a soft heart. The amazing thing is even some of my wildest queens have come to me in pain over a loss. One in particular comes to mind  and her story is heart wrenching as she would drop a dying baby in front of me and cry and cry. The same momma who wouldn't come anywhere near me at any other time in her life. I had several dye in my arms as I cuddle them close but could do nothing as dead knocked at their door.  You have an intimate relationship with life and death when you live a rural lifestyle.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Twins, Born Last Night

When you think Nubian,you think long droopy ears.
Our girl Madelyn definitely excells in that area and she passed those ears on to her kids. Yes, she had twins last night, a buck and a doe. They are small but so is she. Probably normal sized for a yearling but since she is the smallest of our does which have a tendency to be large for yearlings, she seems extra little. I told myself before she was born that I'd keep a doe from her if it was a nice one. Now I'm in a pickle.
 I think Mercedes is prettier than Daisy but Daisy had the nicest looking bucks of every ones and they were two peas in a pod so that means consistent. Not a nice one and a ugly one which often happens. Daisy is a much better momma. Duh, she is raising Mercedes buck. Yes, partly my fault for not taking the time to mother them up better but things were intense at the time. Meagan is staying though she is a bit flighty and you have to take extra time at first to get her to take her kids because she is the backbone of the milk production feeding two kids and giving us a half gallon to 3/4's a day while her bucklings grow fat. Madelyn has the best conformation but we shall see about udder so who goes? Definitely the buck Touch though he is one huge sweetheart. We now have three of the five does out of him. And we really both like Starbuck though he could breed to everyone but his mother he is still small and is that a smart decision? Oh the difficult decisions one has to make. I know I'm going to put together a list of pros and cons for each doe and we shall see what comes of it.

As for the buck. I'm not sure what he looks like. He is always scrunched up and weaker by far than his sister. I always bottle feed the first few days while they are on there momma. Several times a day I go down and encourage the kids to suck and then I bottle up some milk and try and gorge them making sure they get lots and lots and lots of colostrum. Volume is the ticket to jump starting kids and if I have to rob milk from another doe who's kids are well on there way I do. If I can get these kids drinking a large amount of milk from the jump start they will gain strength faster and latch on to their mom more often. That means a larger, stronger kid with the stamina to better withstand what ever the weather throws at them. Yesterday it was wind gusts up to the 60mph.

Now it is time to decide which bucks to band and make weathers and get to photographing and advertising. This little doe's grandmother scored a 90 on the Linear Appraisal and her momma, Madelyn was the best kid produced that year from Little Moon's herd. Can't wait for Linear Appraisal this year. I've got high hopes for better scores. Not that they weren't good, 85 for my buck and does but improvement is what we are after.

Thanks for letting me share my excitement. Now it is Gracie's turn. She is so... big I don't know how she can get much larger poor girl and not pop. Our daughter found out that yaks usually go a week to two weeks early when expecting twins. It has to be twins. I wonder if they ever have triplets? Kirk is pushing me a little on which doe I'm selling. None I said as we may need every one of them to keep if we have a yak bum. Normally the cow will bum one as part of a survival instinct thing. If taken the time and you have a small area to house them in you can often get them to take two. We shall see what happens.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spring Time Rush

Anyone else going crazy? My plants have outgrown my grow lights and today I've got to get the manure piles spread in the garden and start to rototil. A project interrupted by a trip to see my Mom. Sad story there as she has reached the stage where she is refusing to eat.

Quick question, does anyone else have to start their broccoli in the house so those flea beetles don't eat them to a nubbin? Seeds in the garden grow plants to the most edible size for them and I end up with nothing. Put a large broccoli plant in the garden and they will damage them but not kill them. As for killing the flea beetles, well, good luck. I have heard of using a shop vac to vacuum them off and then how do you kill them? The exhaust on a car, bug killer, I don't know.
Usually I don't have my plants this large at this time of the year but I found a huge difference between growing broccoli under lights in the basement and growing them in the living room window under lights. Yes, the living room window wins by a long shot. Which is nice because I can drop the time under grow lights and save electricity. I think the temperatures are more stable there and of course more light. I keep my house pretty cool in the 60's cuss I'm cheap. That is unless the grand kids are here and then I turn up the thermostat.
My chicks, Whoo Hoo!, are out of the cages in the basement and have been living happily in their little outdoor coop meant for just this stage of their lives. Believe me, two weeks in little cages in the basement is enough.  A handful of chicks no problem but 32 of them, no thanks. When we eventually get moved that is one thing that will change. No chicks in the house. The mess is controlled by plastic but the smell is still there.

Someone once told me that, "You can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl." Well, this girl is extremely tired of trying to live a country life in a small town. Nothing is convenient. I had to load the manure on to the trailer at the corrals with the tractor. Drive 3/4 of a mile the back way to the backyard with the tractor and then walk down the hill to get the truck and trailer, unload and drive the tractor back down the hill, then walk back up to get the tractor for a total of five times so far.

I could really use another load but not sure if I'll get that done as we are beginning our landscaping chores of window wells, drain pipes, and retaining wall. I will get a pick load of my neighbors super fine manure for my fruit trees though. I think I'll do that today while hubby is off and I don't have to do the walking thing. No, I'm not lazy but I do have a kidney infection that isn't responding and my back is insisting on pain killers at least once during the day. I'm on my seventh day of medication but don't know when I can slow down enough to go to the doctor again. Maybe tomorrow for I do need some fabric to make a lap quilt for my mom who is now in the nursing home giving the nurses a run for their money. They have to station her right in front of the desk to keep a close eye on her. Dementia is a nasty thief. It robs your mind and body. 

As for the sour cream, yogurt and buttermilk, they had to be recultured on Monday right after my flying trip to Mom's (Why did they think nine hours was a smart distance to live from family?) as a week is the limit before renewing them. Three cultures going at once meant I needed another heat source and remember, the chicks were out of the basement so no heat lamps. Instead I put a heating pad standing on end around them in a circle set on high. Radiant heat source. We have an old one that doesn't turn off. If I hadn't of been in a total rush, I would have turned it on low and wrapped the whole thing and the jars in a towel. It worked though and so I can check off one more way of heating my cultures in a cool house. The rest of you could probably get away with many of these cultures just set on the kitchen counter but not when the temp in the house is 62 in the mornings and often never reaches 70.

As for critters, we are awaiting the birth of Madelyn's little one this weekend. Sunday makes 150 days of pregnancy and pretty much the limit. Then it is Gracies turn, our yak. She is getting really cranky with no spare room to grow out. Got to be twins in there? At the earliest she has a few more weeks to go. About mid June I figure though the breeder thinks July. It will depend on whether there is a bull calf or a heifer calf.  Bull calves can take longer to grow inside. I'm guessing since they are a bovine that if there is twins with a bull and a heifer that the heifer will be a Freemartin.

Don't know what that is? You'd better if you have cattle. The bull calf releases testosterone to the heifer in the womb all but guaranteeing she will be sterile.  She will have a malish figure also. I've talked to dudes who decided they wanted to leave the city and be ranchers and they put Freemartins back in their herd to find out that low and behold they didn't have calves in the spring. Of course they had no idea the concept even exists. It is a financial blow since it takes two years before you discover the fact. You breed at one years old and they calve 9 months later. Just so you know a yak has a 8 1/2 month gestation.

Why that doesn't happen in sheep and goats I'd like to know but haven't taken the time to research the details.

As for Gracie, I thought she looked pregnant when we picked her up, not just having bred as the breeder thought.  Call it that glow or the way she carried her weight that had changed but she definitely looked different to me. Then again she might of bred twice just as my goats bred twice but gave birth off the first cycle so who knows. That makes close to September tenth as her breeding day for Jasmine whom we lost to AHD was coming into heat or out of it when we dropped her off on the ninth. Most of the time animals cycle close together if penned together for a long time.

Then with all the babies on the ground comes the tough, tough decisions of whom to keep and who has to go of babies and adults. That is what I need to do this week with the goats is do some banding of bucks that don't make the grade. The problem is they look like five peas in a pod, very, very, much alike. There is a little buck I really like of Daisy's and since birth he has caught my eye. I can't hardly tell him from his brother in conformation but I figured out the other day in part why I like him better. He is more athletic and has smoother movement in his hips. Can I keep him? Well, if Madelynn has a really nice doeling then I definitely have to sell Touch because I'll keep her and she is out of Touch as is two other does I have. And I of course can't breed this new little buckling to his momma but I could everyone else. Oh the turmoil kidding brings into our lives.

One more tidbit. My sister says if you put spinach in your fruit smoothies you can't taste it. We've been eating a lot of those with the yogurt I've been making. Don't add sprouts though. I did because I didn't have spinach. Yuck, berries and sprouts don't go together. It may of been good for us but it certainly wasn't good tasting.

I promise I haven't forgotten the kitten story and I need to talk a little about mastitis as Daisy came down with it being weak from a difficult birth and feeding three kids. Right now it is back to mowing and then I've got a cake to make for Cub Scouts and manure to unload and and and and.......

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sprouts, Yogurt, and Sour Cream.

Sprouts sounded good and since we are in a get healthy kick, I pulled some seeds out of the refrigerator and started sprouting.

Why we don't do this all year is beyond me but come spring I get in the mood for sandwiches and salads with this healthy choice. What can be simpler than placing cheese cloth on top of a jar held on by a jar ring and watering down seeds several times a day? So why don't I do this all year is beyond me but I find my food cravings have a seasonal drift.

 Also in spring the does freshen and I get the urge to make yogurt, buttermilk, (oh how I've missed my buttermilk this winter) and cheese. Without the time to get equipment set up and a mesophilic culture going, I opted instead last night to make vinegar cheese. Simple and combined with a little store cottage cheese I have in the fridge I can make lasagna tomorrow.

Besides the vinegar cheese I made a second batch of yogurt. A second batch because I took part of the yogurt I'd made last weekend and used it to culture some more of the yummy stuff. I separated milk and today I've got to do something wonderful with the cream. Last weekend I separated and made cream biscuits for the freezer. You make up the dough and freeze individual dough circles. Then when you want biscuits you pop as many as you want into the oven.

I'm planning on biscuits and gravy one of these nights since we have fresh milk once more. So biscuits are out but I'm thinking of Alfredo sauce. It freezes well too and is a handy quick meal for these busy days where there just isn't enough of you to go around for all the chores needing done.
And since I already had buttermilk in the fridge and I had to stick close to the stove for the yogurt milk to heat, I decided this was a good time to do sour cream. So when I separated, I took a quart of cream from the first time through and heated that for the sour cream. The rest I put through once more for heavy cream.  The culture package called for half and half or light cream. That is my light cream.

Then since my yogurt maker was full of yogurt and I still had a little yogurt left I had to get creative about where to incubate the sour cream and the rest of the yogurt. Here is what I came up with. I have baby chicks under heat lamps in the basement which will soon go outside and why not get double duty from the heat? I thought it was clever but then maybe I'm easily impressed.

 You see I've heard of making yogurt in a thermos and placing it at the bottom of a sleeping bag while camping so the heat of your body keeps it warm. I have put a heavy pot on the stove with water in it and heated the water to the 112 F.  Then turned off the stove and kept the temperature fairly constant turning the stove on and off through the day. Not my favorite way but it works in a pinch. And I've heard of using a pilot light to produce the heat. 

The one method I couldn't seem to get to work was the crockpot one. Maybe I need a better crockpot that has more than off, low, and high.  It's about using what you have and making do. A skill we should all develop more fully. It's good for the brain and the pocket book. How do you incubate your yogurt?

And what was I doing while all this milk and cream was heating to the proper temperatures, watching Netflix and spinning wool, what else. It was evening and I was nearly all done in.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Signs of Impending Birth

Find yourself looking at the south side of your goats a lot lately? I've been doing just that to not only my goats but a couple friend's goats as well. I was assisting a gorgeous doe named Capella yesterday and once more the signs of impending birth came to mind as I checked my friend's other goats as well. I may get another phone call as one looked pretty close.  

What was I looking for? I'm looking for the hollow indent in the top flanks showing me that the kids have dropped positioning themselves into the birth canal.

I'm looking for a raised tail head showing me that the muscles have loosened allowing the passage of kids.

 I'm looking for a doe that lays down a great deal because she feels like the baby is going to fall out if she doesn't.
(One of Megan's bucks saw an opportunity and dived across the milk stand to latch hold when I had gotten her up to milk. She is feeding these two plus producing a half gallon a day of milk for us. We are so please with this two year old.)
And I'm looking for a swollen tight udder.  The does's hips will begin to tip downward and their back legs will become more posty than before in order to hold up the shift in weight. The vulva will sometimes be pink and swollen. 

These are all signs that can and I repeat CAN happen before giving birth. Yesterday, Capella's udder was not full, her tail head was not as raised as I'm use to but yet it was loose and she didn't sink in in the flanks as much as I'm use to either. Because of this her owner went off to work thinking she was in the clear that day. You aren't always warned but usually if you are watching closely you will have a good idea what is to come.

Keep in mind that each goat is an individual and every birth a bit different from the last. A particular goat will have some habits and so history is helpful. If a goat gives birth in the morning she will likely give birth within a few hours of that time the next year. 

And though you are looking for all the pre-signs and your doe had a full udder last year before giving birth she might not do so this year. Unpredictability is the only thing you can count on. 

Madeline, the brown goat and Capella's daughter, has had a raised tail head for a couple weeks. Never had one do that so soon before but there is always a first. What I look for is progress of symptoms and a quickening of change which happens right before birth.  In hours the does udder will begin to swell must faster than before, her sides will sink downward, her tail head will become more pronounced and she insists on being in the shed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fire Starters

Not getting much done on our Bug Out Bags and survival goals so we decided to experiment with fire starters for Cub Scouts, a 'kill two birds with one stone' kind of thing. Spring is packed with far too much to do and extra time we don't have so when you can check off two things at once, it is a biggy.
If  there had not of been a need to do something beyond work on a achievement for Cub Scouts I would have been extremely tempted to push aside doing anything survival wise. BUT there is this nagging going on in my head. Once in a while things pop up and remind me that all isn't well in America. Did you see the survey just last week. They asked a little under 900 people if they thought a revolution would be necessary in the future to protect our rights? 29 percent said yes, that is nearly a third. And 47 percent declined to answer that questions. To me that means they are thinking about it but aren't sure or don't want to voice the answer yes or why else would they not say no? That means 76 percent are questioning our government's grab for power. Wow, that makes you think. 
So whatever the future does bring, I'd say with the increase in natural disasters, of which I've seen the chart, terrorism, and large scale violence, I'd say "Be Prepared" the Boy Scout motto sounds pretty good to me.
The problem is this requires not just acquiring but gaining skills. Supplies are awesome, books are great but they are only a starting point. Too much is missing between the pages to depend on in a survival situation and supplies run out. The experts say if you are not practicing basic skills  --  your dead. A survial book in your back pack is not enough to keep you alive. It is probably something to do with what Cody Lundin talks about in one of his books, the mental state of survival and how it shuts down the body, the fine motor skills going first making even lighting a match difficult. I'm no survival expert but I've been in some harry medical situations. Some even with nurses by my side and though their skills are superior to mine, they completely shut down and I'm on my own. Add cold, hungry, weak, and frightened in a survial situattion and you'd better be working on autopilot. 
Hence, the saying that camping and survival are not the same thing. A few practice survival techniques while camping but most just go out to have fun and build a fire, all the supplies readily available. I know I'd be in a world of hurt in a very basic survival situation though I'm comfortable camping.
In survival you have to make do with what is around you and hopefully you have a little pack with a few eccentials along with you. The basic five C's at least. It is why I'm going to put together a fanny pack that goes when I go beyond the corrals or house. But it's contents need to be not just looked at but and old friend.
 Fire is huge on the survival scale. One fire starter hailed by site after site is the protoleum jelly and cotton ball for an fire aid to carry with you. It is cheap and effective. If you have used matches lately, you know how poorly made they are now. Hardly any sulfur on the ends and it takes several to get one to stay lit. Matches are not a renewable resource in the wild and so you don't want to have to relight and relight a stubborn fire. Survivalist take fire with them in the form of embers or something that aids in starting a fire.

Ray Mears and Cody Lundin think highly of these soaked cotton balls and that is good enough for me. One site tested the burn  time of the cotton / petroleum ball at seven minutes. Plenty of time to catch your wood on fire and get it burning brightly.
 Most sites said to put a dab of petroleum jelly on to a plastic plate or bowl and slather the jelly around thoroughly into the cotton ball with a plastic spoon. The plastic spoon for us wanted to break so we used a metal one. This method is rather time consuming we found out having done it twice to see if practice makes it any easier. It does but not much. Using plastic is not eccential just nice to be able to throw the mess away when done.
One site did the balls a little differently. They melted the petroleum jelly in a pot. I chose to do it a little differently by putting a pot on the stove with water and setting a discarded can I was going to recyle inside. Into this I placed the jelly.  Then the can can be thrown out to and no cleaning a slimy pot. The plate has cotton balls that have been dipped and is covered in aluminum foil so the foil can be thrown out, making clean up from this project a snap. Your balls need to dry.
You dip one end of the cotton ball in the melted petroleum jelly and then dip the other side. The cotton ball will quickly absorb the liquid jell. We found out that three cotton balls can be stuffed into an empty film container. That is three fires worth in a tiny compacts size. The problem is that film containers are hard to come by with digital cameras having replaced those cameras. Our supply was skimpy so I'm looking for something else handy to put the cotton balls in. One match container I found is just too skinny and hard to get the balls in and out of. I'm still looking. 

 The experimentation as to which balls started best and burned longer led to the opportunity to use our ferro rods.
 These are really cool and can be used until there is no rod left. With the back or spine of a knife you cock it at a sharp angle and scrap outward along the rod throwing sparks at the cotton ball.
If the ball doesn't want to light, you scrape some magnesium off the rod on to the cotton ball by tilting your knife at not so sharp an angle. This takes a little practice, then as you shower sparks onto the cotton ball, the magnesium on the ball ignites.  

Interestingly when we did the cotton balls at home, the dipped cotton ball burned much longer and was easier to light. The longer makes sense since it had more petroleum in it.

At Cub Scouts it was the other way around. I'm guessing that if you dip the cotton balls too long they are too saturated and the same can be done with the rubbed balls. Getting them just right is something we are going to have to work on. The one site said he does fifty at a time. There again practice makes perfect. The time for experimenting is not when you are trying to stay alive.
 All the experts say you need to be able to start a fire in numerous ways. Using what is available is the key. Our son has the bow drill method down pat but has found when the weather is cold it doesn't work because you can't generate enough heat. This is an excellent case in point. Choices, that is what life is all about. Think about tht in a literal sense.

Not that this is something we would be doing a lot of but we know that you can start a fire with an nine volt battery and steel wool.
What many sites don't tell you is that fine steel wool works best. We didn't have fine but none the less rubbing the batteries positive and negative charge across the steel wool repeatedly will indeed start the steel on fire. We tried a D battery but with the positive and negative charges on opposite sides of the battery it must just be too far apart for the charge to travel.

The other experiment we did was taking an egg carton and putting in the dips where the eggs go, dryer lint. We also did cotton balls. The ticket with dryer lint is it has to be from cotton clothes and the bonus it is completely free. I used the can I'd used for the petroleum jelly and put chunks of parrafin wax in it to melt. Did you know that petroleum jelly has parrafin in it? Our basement stove is hard to light when it is cold. I end up using a lot of paper. Something that is not a problem now but that will not always be the case I'm sure so I'm going to make some of these egg carton starter next fall. If you are camping they would be great too.
Remember, practice like your life depended on it -- it does.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Daisy Oh Daisy, I'm in Love!

Come on in. There are more babies and oh, are they CUTE!!! 
 This is one of Daisy's twins. Yes, our big girl had two. I love his markings. He is very striking and classy. I also think highly of his conformation. We shall see how he looks in a couple weeks. His brother is an almost identical quintuplet to Mercedes's kid, and Meagan's three. Pictures saved me when I became confused one day between Mercede's and one of Daisy's. I panicked because I wasn't sure who was who's until I looked back at the photos I'd taken.

They have different dads and it would have been a problem registering them but thanks to the photos I could make a definite identification. I found another great reason for taking pictures too. I'll tell you about it later when I have time pulling them together and putting them into folders for each animal. I've learned a great deal looking back.

One of those photos was of Daisy as a kid. There is definitely a resemblance in her and her son.  
This is the gang that Daisy looks after. In all the confusion of cleaning sheds, building fence, and birthing two new moms, Mercedes being late at night. I had to throw her and her little one in with Daisy and hers and well, Mercedes didn't get it figured out well. She won't claim hers. I could of remedied it but with chicks arriving, grandkids, and struggling to fence and clean sheds in preparation for kidding, it didn't get done.
I just love Daisy for she just said, "Oh, what's one more." and she mothers along with hers. I put Mercedes on the milk stand several times a day for her little buck to nurse off of her. Mainly because she has tiny teats and is hard to milk. Daisy had a rough start and didn't have enough milk for three, actually she almost stopped all together but is now producing enough for all three. I'm guessing Mercede's will soon catch on that the tap is much closer than the milk stand and will latch onto Daisy's.
I know I told you but seriously, I am head over heels in love with this doe. Despite the tremendous amount of stress she has caused me, and whatever the ADGA linear appraisal judge may says in August, she's my favorite.
This is Chicory's daughter and the one that had the neck spasms. She also had some trauma the day after she kidded. She had the twins all right by herself but twenty-four hours later she went into hard, hard, labor again. You know the laying flat out and pushing for all she is worth kind of thing. Well, by then her cervix was closed, I double checked, and I had no idea what was going on. With grandkids at the house, scrambling to clean sheds, building fence to shift critters around, setting up for chicks that came in the mail, the poor dear had to wait in pain for a few hours before I could dash away to the vets, an eighty mile trip. There I picked up some Lutelyce and some Dex which eased the pain and put her in regular labor again.
You are probably think I'm nuts but the shot was to open her up again and make sure she had fully cleaned out her afterbirth. What it did though was recycle her hormones and low and behold it eased her labor greatly and then she stopped. I was getting pretty worried for her milk had stopped flowing and I was afraid I was going to loose her and have no doe at all.
All is well now and I don't care that she has given me a few heartattacks.  How often do you get a doe that at one years of age, having never been milked before, will stand in the middle of a pen and let you milk her  --or suckle babies without moving a muscle? She is precious and will come up to you patient like and wait to be petted, "No hurry ,"she seems to say.
With her nice udder, having twined on her own, feeding two kids and mothering another which she would feed if he asked, how can you not be in love? Yeah, she's a keeper.
So the count is six bucks and no does. Madeline, is our last one to go and the only hope we have of having a doe. I'm okay though because then I won't have to decide who goes and who stays like I would have if there were plenty of new does.
Stay tune, I've still got the kitten story and tips that I gave the neighbor about watching to see if a doe was close to labor. Each doe is unique and often each pregnancy but there are a few things I can tell you that help. Plus I'll include conformation changes that are a part of birthing, and those that are permanent to a doe after she has kidded. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring, a Brenda's Photo Challenge

I decided to join Breanda's Photo Challenge today. It has been a long time since I have participated but here I am back once more. The theme is "What I Love About Spring."

Well, you can't call it spring if you don't have robins annoucing it and so my first picture is of a robin in our apple tree.  Sorry, this is a last years photo as you can see because our apple trees have no leaves at the moment. We just got through with several snow storms.

 Lilacs of course mean spring and I have this kind of exotic breed of a lilac bush in the corner of my yard and it blooms later than the traditional ones. The leaves are more slender and the flowers just a bit different but it smells the same - wonderful.

I'm gearing up for dandelion bouquets. I've grandchildren you know so it won't be long and they will be bringing me chubby fists full.
But for me the biggest sign of spring is the baby animals arriving by the dozens. These are our neighbors sheep.
And these are our baby chicks that just arrived yesterday. You always know when they are happy because they are quiet. LOL
Kittens appear tucked here and there in the sheds as the barn cats deliver one batch after another. Three tabby kittens were just born the day before yesterday and two siblings are claiming them. Check back later and I'll tell you the funny story but I've got to hurry and finish this feed the chicks and do some fencing. 
 I discovered  the kittnes when I went to clean out a shed to put Meagan, one of our goats,  and her her kids in.  
As if our corrals weren't popping enough with babies arriving telling me it is spring then the wildlife that are so plentiful in this county will. This is a Pronghorn antelope and her two fawns who are grabbing a fortifying snack.  Sorry last year photo too as the fawns are just beginning to arrive and are tucked back well away from people.

So there you have it, Spring!!!!