January 22, 2010

An Unlucky Break

I don't know what got into Pepper a few nights ago. A young Nubian buckling, he seemed to go from cute bottle baby to hormone driven horn dog over night. Lately he has been spending a lot of time at the gate to the doe pasture, tongue hanging out, pawing the ground and trying to convince the girls that he is mature beyond his young age and boyish good looks. I knew his adolescent buck hormones had driven him goofy when I caught him trying to romance an overturned bucket in the backyard one day but neither my husband or I expected him to do what he did the other night.

Pepper has a routine, it is the same one he has had for months. Since he is too young to go out with the big Boer bucks but obviously too mature to go out with the doelings he has had the run of the backyard during the day and we shut him in his pen at night to keep him safe; though that seems ironic now.

My husband had just shut him in his pen for the night when out of the blue Pepper decided he was going to jump the cattle panel fence that his pen is made out of. He almost made it over, almost. Neither one of us seen him jump, Jamey was walking away from the pen when he heard Pepper let out a yell and the cattle panel shaking. He ran back to the pen in a matter of seconds to find Pepper hanging from his back leg and he quickly lifted him down and set him on the ground outside of his pen but it was too late. I did not see this happen but I knew it was bad when I heard Jamey bellow out a string of cuss words that didn't quite hide the break in his voice. I calmed Jamey down but Pepper didn't need calmed down. He was back over at the gate to the doe pasture again standing on three legs and trying to romance the does on the other side like he didn't even know he was hurt.

I knew the second I looked at his leg he was though, it dangled at an impossible angle for any intact bone. It was not a pleasant thing to see but at least luckily it was not a compound fracture. This was 10pm and I knew we would not get a vet out that night. We would have to splint it and take him to the vet first thing in the morning. In the almost eight years we have raised goats I have seen and treated a lot of different things but this was the first broken bone that needed splinting. I cleared off a table and we brought Pepper in the house and gave him a shot of Banamine for pain and inflammation.

Then we gathered up what materials we had knowing that we did not need something long term but just something to get him through the night until we took him to the vet first thing the next morning. I would have preferred to have a lighter weight PVC pipe cut lengthwise in two to use but we had to make do with some slightly curved trim boards cut to length. We also had scissors, cloth for padding (cotton or gauze wrap would have worked much better) vet wrap and tape. The cotton balls were there for extra padding if needed, though we didn't end up using them.

This was definitely a two person job even with a young goat like Pepper. We laid him on his side on the table with the broke leg up. It was easy to determine that it was his cannon bone that was broken. Carefully aligning his leg straight it was then wrapped snugly with cloth padding and taped. Then the two boards were positioned on each side of his broken leg and slightly past his hoof so that his weight would be on the boards and not his hoof and that was taped. Then we wrapped his leg with vet wrap starting at the bottom and working up, being careful to keep the vet wrap smooth and snug but not too tight as to impair circulation. His toes were left exposed to air so I could check them for swelling periodically. It just had to get him through the night. Pepper was then put in a small room until morning to keep him from getting any more ideas about jumping or running on his leg.

First thing the next morning as soon as the vet clinic opened we loaded Pepper in the car and drove him to town. He rode the whole way in the backseat with his head laying between the front seats to be close to us. The picture below is Jamey and Pepper outside the vet clinic. In this picture it looks like Pepper's whole foot is sticking out of the splint but that is actually his other leg. It is important the splint goes slightly past their hoof so they are walking on it and not their broken leg.

Pepper was very well behaved in the waiting room at the vet clinic. He was the center of attention, being such a charming goat in the waiting room. He visited and made friends with everyone. Though he didn't much care for being held to get his leg X-rayed. The receptionist thought he yelled like a woman but I didn't tell Pepper what she said.

After the X-rays were taken it was back out to the waiting room again to wait for a little bit but as long as he was getting lots of attention and nobody was holding him down on any tables, Pepper didn't mind.

It wasn't too long until we got to go back and look at his X-rays to see his broken bone. The vet said we did a good job aligning it when we splinted it. He was going to just leave the splint we had on him because he said he couldn't align it any better than we had it, but we all felt like it needed just a little more padding since we didn't have any cotton padding and had to make do with a washcloth. So they kept Pepper at the vet's office for awhile and put a new splint on his leg with more padding. Then they called us to come pick him up.

We brought Pepper home and put him in a small stall so his leg can heal. He has another follow-up appointment with the vet in a week. He will most likely be wearing a splint for six weeks. Poor Pepper, but he is getting lots of TLC and treats to keep his spirits up while he recovers. I am certainly praying that his leg heals well and he can get back to his old antics soon. Minus any fence jumping of course.

January 18, 2010

Rhino and Goat Make Friends

Thank you to all that left comments concerning my computer woes. For now it seems our Internet service may be running a little bit better. It seems to come and go. The seed catalogs have arrived in the mail! It might seem far off right now but Spring will be here before we know it.

January 15, 2010

Computer Problems

Is the reason I have not posted the last week. Actually that is not true, my computer is fine but our Internet service is having some problems. It is running slow and when I say slow I mean molasses in Alaska slow, or how my sister drives slow or maybe just play a game of solitaire, fix a drink, thumb through a magazine and then pull your hair out while waiting on one page to load slow. No, it has been worse than that, it has been running "ready to go back to dial-up" slow!

I am hoping we can get it fixed soon because there are lots of things I would like to tell you about. The new guests at the farm, (no it isn't another opossum) or how some of our expectant mother goats are starting to show, there has been the buck goat drama, spring garden plans, and a few other ideas I have for our farm and this blog and hopefully a giveaway too. I also miss the blogs I follow and can't wait to be able to catch up with them as well. I hope everyone is doing well and 2010 is off to a great start for all! I would have posted a picture but honestly as long as it would take to load right now I just don't have that much patience or hair.

January 08, 2010

Playing Possum

So for weeks I had been trying to figure out why our two mostly outdoor cats D.C. and Lily were not gaining any weight. They were not overly skinny but they both seemed to have lost weight and the way they were going through cat food you would think I was feeding two Bengal tigers. Every day I would fill up their cat food dish clear to the top with cat food, setting it carefully at the bottom of the front steps where the cats would know where it was and by the next morning it was always empty, completely licked clean.

So I started filling up their food dish twice a day and still they did not gain any weight. "These cats must have a tapeworm to be able to eat so much and never gain a pound" I thought! So I dewormed them, which involved giving them pills and I make it a habit never to give a cat a pill if I can help it because frankly I have enough scars thank you very much.

First I tried to hide the worm pill in some wet cat food, which they both gobbled every speck of food up except for the perfectly licked clean worm pill sitting in the bottom of their empty dish. How do they know? So for the 2nd round I crept up to Lily with worm pill in hand as I mustered up some courage and tried the sneak approach. Pet..pet...nice kitty...oh let me rub your chin...and shove this pill in your mouth. I measured my success by the disappearance of that dang pill down her throat and not the blood then dripping from my hand.

One cat down, I decided a different approach was needed. So I got a large towel out of the closet and laid D.C. down on it, quickly wrapping her up like a very angry burrito. This worked much better and there was less blood involved. Of course I might be speaking too soon because cats don't handle humiliation very well. Judging by the angry flip of her tail and the vengeance in her eyes when I was done I am sure that cat will have it in for me for quite some time. She is probably crouched under a chair right now just waiting for me to walk by in bare feet for some payback.

Even after the whole worming pill fiasco they still did not gain any weight. I found my answer one day when I happened to hear some loud and obnoxious crunching coming from outside my front door. I opened the door to find a rather fat opossum, pointy nose buried in the cat's food just chowing away. He was kind of a cute fellow, in a rat on steroids sort of way but it was time to move the cat food dish!

Opossums can carry diseases I don't want him sharing with my cats. They are also not good animals to have hanging around as I have heard they will kill chickens and besides nobody likes a free loader. So from now on the piggy possum will have to find his own food. Since finding out where all the cat food was going and fixing the problem I am happy to say the cats have gained weight and are looking good again, not to mention we are going through a lot less cat food these days!

*Edited to add - The opossum was not harmed in any way, I merely took away his free buffet of cat food so he would move on and forage for his own food further from our home and in the woods as nature intended. I now feed the cats where opossums can not get to their food.

January 05, 2010

Snow Buddies - Farm Photo of the Week

This picture was taken a couple winters ago when Bayla, one of our livestock guardian dogs was a puppy. She has always been a good friend to the goats, as they are to her.

January 04, 2010

The Reason Birds Fly South

Is the same reason I slept in my coat last night. No that isn't true, birds fly south because they are smart. I slept in my coat because I am not smart, or at least not smart enough to keep a closer eye on our propane. It had not been that long since it was checked but I should have known it would not last long at all with the kind of bitterly cold temperatures we have had here the last week or so.

Sitting at 0% propane on a Saturday night when it is 10 degrees outside and snowing is not a good place to be. I sure was wishing we would have bought a wood heater like we had planned on, but never seemed to have the money for this past year. Luckily, we did have a kerosene heater but no kerosene for it. Since none of the gas stations around here carry it, a late run to Wal-mart in the falling snow was the only option left. Luckily they do carry Kerosene in their camping department and they must be quite proud of this too because they charged an arm and a leg for it but I guess that is better than losing them to frostbite.

As long as I kept my coat on the heater actually kept our living room pretty comfortable, so that is where both my husband and I slept last night. Of course since the heater ONLY heated one room, comfortable is NOT what the toilet seat was this morning. Brrr!!

I am very grateful to Beard Propane in Erie for bringing out propane to us on a Sunday! I have also started a weekly to-do list and "check the propane" is on it. It is a good thing too because there is nothing but cold in the forecast with a predicted low of -4 Thursday night with the possibility of even more snow.

I haven't forgotten about the animals, they have shelter and a thick layer of bedding. Frost free water buckets and stock tank de-icers make sure that everyone has water available too. The goats have hardly left their shelters since the snow fell. They do venture out and walk a single file path up to the feed pen to get some grain each day but afterwards it is straight back to their shelters they go. It is important to keep a close eye on them in this kind of weather and make sure they always have water and hay.

Tarps and blankets have been hung on the front of the sheds to block even more wind and cold out. The picture is of Dym the nubian and a group of young does born this past spring making their way up their little path from the shed to get their daily grain. Hay is delivered to their shed for them in this kind of weather. I think they are as ready for some warmer weather as I am.