Busy Weekend


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This was a long, crazy weekend!  It started Thursday, with alpaca shearing. Caleb took the day off to get ready - we have to set up a holding pen close to the barn, and another shearing pen in the barn, and then cover that with plastic for a windbreak since shearing is always on an extremely windy day.  We have to clear a large workspace in the barn pen, bring the generator up to the barn to run the shearing equipment, and get plastic bags and markers ready to label all the fleeces. 

With great good fortune, we had about 10 people show up to help out.  That was just fantastic - we had plenty to designate multiple people to the different tasks, including even 2 assigned to keeping an eye on the goats.  They arrived early, so I was able to show them where all the different babies were, what the various issues were to keep an eye on, how to make Gretchen nurse her kids, how to bottle-feed the house baby, etc.  It was such a relief to know, after being immersed in shearing for 2 hours, that I didn't have to immediately wonder if any goats had been struggling with a difficult birth for a  while, or rush to feed babies, etc - it was all caught up!  

We had several catchers, a bag labeller, I was the main bagger with 2 helpers, and then several people around to do miscellaneous things like comfort Malachi after falling off the ladder I told him not to climb, or take fleece bags to the house when they started accumulating, etc.  

With all the help, we were done in less than 2 hours, with 10 alpacas.  The shearer said all the fleece is great quality, and there were no issues he saw with the alpacas themselves - Toby did have a bunch of ticks on his belly, but then we've gotten I think 5 ticks off Malachi already, so that's not exactly an indictment of our animal management!

Finally on Friday we dealt with the goat Katydid - Wednesday she got her head stuck in the fence 4 times - and that's only because I left her for 4 hours at one point because she didn't even wait for me to leave the pasture before doing it again!  Of course, Thursday she waited all day before doing it, but finally about suppertime, there she was - stuck.  Caleb got her out one last time and taped a big stick across her horns  :)  We had to do this to Marshmallow last year, she spent weeks wearing part of an ax handle - but it works!  

The next day, Friday, after the regular morning chores Caleb moved Fiona into a pen in the barn, because we noticed Thursday that she was not acting right.  We called our horse friend who said it sounded like colic, so she spent Friday penned up with no food until she got everything straightened out.  By Saturday morning, she seemed to be about her old self again, so Caleb turned her back in with the alpacas and sheep - we'll continue to keep an eye on her to make sure she's really okay, but I think she's good to go.  The real downside to her being under the weather was that we had a group of homeschoolers come out that morning, for a farm tour and horse rides :(  I only had one boy complain about not getting to ride the horse, and the tour was 2 hours anyway, what with holding baby goats, and chasing turkeys and ducks, and ogling the furry cows (and oddly the cat Away was the second most popular (translate: chased incessantly) animal behind the goat babies) - I'm not sure how we would have fit the riding in anyway!  The bigger boys were most entranced by the huge pile of dirt equipped with pickaxes!  The kids definitely had a great time, even though it was about 40* and very windy and overcast.  

Before and after this tour, we got the goats milked - I'm taking what they can spare from French Pea (the house baby's mama) and Sweet Pea - both of whom have just one nurser - and everything I can out of Cinnamon, who lost both of hers.  It takes both Caleb and me to do this, since none of these are milk-trained.  Sweet Pea, oddly since she's my friendliest, best goat - is the worst.  She kicks, and sits on me, and bucks and kicks some more.  Caleb has to hold down both her back feet for me to get anything done.  We did this morning and evening, because I need all I can get - the house baby ate about 20 ounces yesterday, she's got bottles all figured out now :)  During her day in the pasture she wanders around trying to nurse on anyone who will have her, which is no one yet - but maybe it'll work eventually!  In the house, she sucks on any and everything, including chins, cheeks, fingers, ears, hair - everything!  Malachi loves it :)

I had thought I'd need lots of milk to feed Gretchen's boy too - he had gone downhill overnight when we checked on him Friday morning, and we shortly decided he'd gotten pneumonia on Wednesday evening.  We gave him some antibiotics, and I nursed some milk into him throughout the day, but eventually by evening we had to tube some milk into him, and he just continued to fade out, and died this morning.  Gretchen's definitely on the cull list for this fall.  

Friday we also had to transfer the plastic from one of the small hoophouses in the yard to the other - Wednesday I realized that the 2' tear in the plastic of the house that's actually being used was growing larger with all the wind recently.  Within an hour of me deciding I need to try to tape it up "soon" it split all the way down the center, end to end.  We took off the two 6' or so long strips on Thursday to use for windbreaks in the barn, and then Friday (before the freezes Friday and Saturday nights) moved the plastic over from the other hoophouse.  Because, of course, the one that tore wide open was the one with lettuce, cilantro, spinach, and all those new baby Napa cabbages.  The other one has another bumper crop of weeds with a few hardy carrots buried in the mess - not really needing the intact plastic.  Unfortunately, all those baby cabbages got pretty mauled - once the plastic was gone, the wind caught the paper feed sacks on that bed and ripped most of them up, stripping a lot of the leaves off the plants.  Then, several of them succumbed to an invasion of chickens and turkeys - again, previously kept out by the plastic cover.  Ggrrr!  I think most of the cabbage will make it, but they certainly took a hit and will be set back a bit.  

Caleb and Liam then set up a large pen around the spot the goose has been nesting.  We've been watching her, and taking the egg after she lays it so the dogs won't go eat it (like they did for the first several weeks before we located the nest).  We've been saving up the eggs in the house for when she finally sits for good, and I think she's about there.  We needed a way to return the eggs to the nest, and allow her to sit there for a month - without the dogs just chasing her off and eating the eggs.  Now that the pen is up, we just have to wait for her to go in, close it up and somehow return the eggs to her :)  

We also had to give Raven and 1407 - the girls with hoofrot - their shots and clean their hooves.  Raven's is right on the bottom of her hoof so we taped an old sock on it to keep it clean, and we'll change that daily over the weekend.  

Saturday, in addition to the usual chores (moving the cows, feeding alpacas, moving alpacas, checking goats) we are moving the mama goats to a new paddock, and then Caleb is making a trip to Chattanooga again.  We've found a couple of ethnic grocery stores down there that will give us a better price on duck eggs than the markets up here, so he's been taking 10 or so dozen down there every couple of weeks.  It's also a nice couple of kid-free hours for me to get something done :) 

That's the weekend so far - I know it's not done yet but so far Sunday is looking like a lot of egg-washing, pasta-making, and whatever miscellaneous chores pop up.  Hopefully some more healthy babies with attentive mamas show up!  Actually, Caleb just texted that we have new arrivals, so I'm going to go check - until next time!


Lord! Breathe! Can't believe

Lord! Breathe! Can't believe how busy you stay, but I'm glad you find time to write.

great report

Thanks for keeping us up on the news.

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