It has been a crazy busy homestead week here in Oregon. I never thought that I would become the resident weather person or that I would know my animals so well that any little cough, difference in temperament, or change in inputs or outputs would have me worried about their health. I returned home after visiting California to find that my smallest baby goat Violet had soft stools. Now I know that this might seem like a strange or delicate subject, but when you are a homesteader this is just one of the everyday wellness checks that you do on your animals.
My little Violet was about three pounds when I first saw her. A local woman was having a second back surgery and needed to downsize her herd. Let us be clear, that I in no way needed any more goats, but when I saw the doe and her triplets it was a done deal. I had been supplementing the triplets with cows’ milk as their previous owner had done, but they began to take less and less. Thinking that they were getting enough from their mom I told Ashley to go ahead and take them off the bottle. A couple of days later I noticed that Violet was having greenish soft stools. Not liquid, but definitely not the hard little pellets that are normal.
Being a novice I immediately panicked and was sure that she had Coccidiosis, worms, or something else that I in my ignorance had caused or allowed to happen. I immediately e-mailed my large animal vet who I did not realize was in the process of branching out into his own practice when the e-mail was sent. Needless to say I was not able to make contact with him so I read up on everything that might be a cause and watched her closely. I also understood that any change in diet can result in a change of stool so I made a point of being even more vigilant in observing her. I noticed that she was being pushed out during feeding time and was supplementing with a large amount of orchard grass hay. I decided to go ahead and put her back on the supplemented milk and in couple of days she was back to normal in every way.
This is a nice tidy ending which is not always the case. Sometimes when you are dealing with animal issues circumstances may not be ideal, for example not having access to my vet, the pharmaceutical companies requiring more medicines for common maladies to be prescribed by a vet, and some internet forums that are not regulated and can exponentially increase your anxieties. Some of the best things that we can do as homesteaders is to have resource materials, reach out to other homesteaders, and talk to people who share your interests and passions in your community. In the past six months I have purchased a dozen books, found a large animal vet who is wonderful, befriended a hog farmer who I can contact about anything, and made some connections with a couple of people knowledgeable about goats and chickens. Forming a network of family, friends, neighbors, homesteaders, community members, and professionals is essential for your well-being and that of your animals.
We have eight new chicks that were hatched on Monday. These fertile eggs were purchased from a local homesteader and it is always exciting to discover what new breeds we have hatched and will be adding to our flock.
Our first “Piggy Palace” was placed in the pasture on Sunday. We are having a few days of wet weather and are beginning to winterize our operation. Moving the enclosed pig shelter from the shop to the field resembled a 3 Stooges skit, but we were eventually successful. Hazel and Humphrey, the Kune Kune’s are snug and warm in their new winter home and we are beginning construction on the second structure for Charleston, Jo, and Sadie early next week.