Thursday, April 30, 2009


Gardening, farming, and raising animals are not my first love! But we feel inspired to do it, especially because Vet2Be loves them. I can understand how a 14 year old boy would want to be a veterinarian, but I would never have thought that he would like to garden, too.

Three years ago he wanted a garden badly enough that he and I moved many wheelbarrows of dirt, manure, and animal bedding into a new area surrounded by railroad ties. He helped pound in T-posts and wrapped the garden in chicken wire. Dad tilled it all in a few times and we were ready to plant. Any vegetables that chickens like to eat (whether seedling or mature plants) are planted inside the fence: tomatoes, peppers, peas, and any tender vegetables. We keep the chickens locked in their pen when we plant corn and squash in the 'outside' garden. Once those plants are grown large enough, the chickens don't bother them at all.

We are not gardening experts, we learn more every year. We planted potatoes last year the way hubby did it when he was growing up. Not one potato grew! We found out this year that you can't go to the store, buy a bag of potatoes, plant them, and expect them to grow. They are now treated with a chemical that prevents them from sprouting. Great for those who want to store potatoes in their kitchen, but not so great if you want to plant them in the garden. We haven't gotten our potatoes planted yet, but we have seed potatoes bought from the local farm supply store. We'll be growing them in barrels this year, just to see if that works.

The first thing we planted this year were the raspberries. We transplanted them from another part of the yard that really was not a good spot for them. Now they are in full sun and should give us a good harvest of berries this fall. They are an everbear variety, but we cut them down in the fall and get a single, large crop each fall.

We also planted blackberry plants. I bought 2 at the local grocery store. My sister wanted some, as well. But since she has a big problem with deer in her yard, we bought 3 more plants and planted them over here. She and her children can harvest from two plants when they are ready.

In this photo you can see two rows of raspberry plants surrounded by a string fence. That is to remind people not to walk on the new plants. You can see three of the five blackberry plants to the right of the raspberries and the "quick and easy grape arbor" towards the back.

Below is a better photo of our "quick and easy grape arbor". There is a grape plant by each T-post. The grapes should grow up and over the top with the grapes hanging down below the fencing. Next year when the grapes have filled in, we will plant some pumpkins underneath since pumpkin plants tend to wilt miserably in the full sun in August. Vet2Be's favorite Banty rooster is posing for his picture! He is the same one that is 'friends' with Flat Stanley!

We planted peas a few weeks ago. We are experimenting with an 'inoculant' to see if the peas grow better with it or without it. The inoculant is called MycoApply Soluble Maxx (20 mycorrhizal Fungi, 16 species of beneficial bacteria, and 2 Trichoderma species.) We soaked all the peas for 12 hours. One-half were soaked in water only, the other half was soaked in inoculant and water. The inoculated peas did sprout first, but we will have to wait to find out if they produce better. The inoculant was recommended by my sister who attended a gardening class with Gordon Wells, a well-known gardening expert in our area. Hubby is not sure it will make a big difference in our garden because we have so much manure and mulch in our garden from 13 years of animal poo and bedding!

The inoculated peas are planted along the left and the un-inoculated pease are planted along right side of the garden near the railroad ties. The peas will be 'trained' to grow up the fence. The wall-o-waters in the front hold the peppers (2 red, 1 green, 1 yellow) and the ones toward the back hold the tomatoes. The spinach is planted on the right side of the garden past the peppers. The brocolli is planted on the left side of the garden. The Little Finger carrots are planted between the tomatoes and the peas on the right side of the garden (way in the back!) We used paint stirrers as plant markers this year.

We planted the onions (red and yellow) on Monday night. We were going to plant two rows of each onion and give the rest to my sister, but we remembered the deer problem and thought we might as well just plant them over here. They can harvest them when the onions are ready. We also transplanted the spinach and the broccoli on Monday.

Last night we planted two different types of carrots, Purple Haze and Little Finger carrots. We also planted garlic. We are trying to use some of the companion planting ideas found in Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. If you haven't read the book, borrow it from the library! I enjoy her writing style and the information in the book is very good. She also has a few sample gardens laid out in the book so that first attempts are more successful.

The onions are planted in the vertical rows. Three rows of red onions and 3 rows of yellow. The garlic is planted in a horizontal row in front of the onions. Since carrots are supposed to do well with both tomatoes, peas, and onions, we planted the Purple Haze carrots to the left of the onions.

You can also find information about companion planting at this site:

This spot looks good! The front flower beds are all planted in perenials which means I don't do a thing in the spring except weed a bit (haven't this year, though). The perenials are all gone by mid-July and my beds are just full of green, leafy plants--but no flowers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polioencephalomalacia and Mastitis

We've had a few sicknesses lately. The easiest one to deal with was the goat polio or Polioencephalomalacia. Basically this is a Thiamine deficiency in young goats. The kid was limping on his back left leg on Thursday so we put him in a stall with his mom. It didn't get better, in fact it was worse on Sunday. It had spread through most of his limbs and my husband said that he looked like he had a neurological disorder. Bingo! I knew what it was at that point and hubby went searching for more information.

This is taken from
  • Symptoms of Polioencephalomalacia are excitability, "stargazing," uncoordinated staggering and/or weaving (ataxia), circling, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and apparent blindness. Initial symptoms can look like Entertoxemia (overeating disease). There is a component of "overeating" involved in that the rumen flora has been compromised. As the disease progresses, convulsions and high fever occur, and if untreated, the goat generally dies within 24-72 hours.

  • Our little guy didn't have all the symptoms (no diarrhea, no apparent blindness, no 'stargazing') but he had enough symptoms as well as enough indicators that we decided to treat him. We had treated his mom a few days earlier with a womer (Fenbendazole), it has been wet so he may have nibbled on some moldy hay, he is a single buckling on a nubian doe who gives lots of rich milk so he was growing very quickly.

    This is also taken from
  • Causes of thiamine deficiency include feeding moldy hay or grain, overdosing with amprollium (CoRid) when treating for coccodiosis, feeding molasses-based grains (horse & mule feeds), ingesting some species of ferns, sudden changes in diet, the dietary stress of weaning, and reactions to de-wormers Thiabendazole and Levamisole. Each of these can interfere with Vitamin B1 production. Even the usage of antibiotics destroys flora in the rumen and can lead to thiamine deficiency. This is why it is so important to repopulate the gut with live bacteria after using antibiotics or scour medications. Goat Polio is generally seen most often in weanlings and young adults , in contrast to Listeriosis, which most frequently affects adult goats. An increase in Goat Polio occurs in North America during winter, when the availability of forage and quality hay is low and producers start feeding increased amounts of grain.

  • We have Vitamin B complex on hand and decided to treat him with that according to the dosage requirements for the Thiamine listed on the lable. He is a 20 lb buckling so we gave him 1ml of B-complex 3x a day for 3 days. He was much better after the second dose on Sunday and is almost back to normal today. We'll keep an eye on him to see how he continues.

    On to the mastitis....

    We have a doe that has mastitis so we found a vet that would look at her. It isn't as bad a case as she had last year (when we couldn't find a vet), but when she started shedding some internal tissue (irregular pieces of what look like shedding skin, some were blood spotted), I decided she had better see a vet if we could find one. I really don't want to go through what we went through last year! All the 'books' say--see a vet. Her temp is normal (100.3), she is eating and drinking normally, she is still pooping out berries, she kidded on March 27th with a buckling and a doeling. We pulled her kids on Monday morning--one has taken to the bottle without a problem, the other found a 'new mom' in the herd. (We've got one Saanen who will adopt anyone.)

    The vet charged $160 to tell us to
    1) dry her off
    2) don't breed her again (he was wondering why anyone would want goats in the first place--nice man but the wrong vet for us!)
    3) gave us Penject+B to inject IM or SQ 3ml/day
    4) don't worry about milking her out (see #1)

    So.... we are giving her the Penject+B IM (since the books and other info say IM not SQ) as well as milking her out a number of times each day (Mon and Tue we milked her out every hour from 8:00 am-10:00 pm) Her milk does look better today--fewer clumps and not as much blood, so we'll probably milk her out every 3 hours today unless things look worse at one of the milkings. We also massage her udder to make sure we get out as much milk as possible.

    She managed to get the milk bucket a few times on Tuesday and drank a bunch of her own milk. When I found this article:
    I wasn't as worried. Maybe the milk will help.

    After reading Willi and Barbara's posts from last year (, we decided to not try the hydrogen peroxide infusion (I don't think her mastitis is that bad at this point). She doesn't seem to be in pain (and I doubt the vet would give us banamine anyway) so we aren't giving her Banamine. She was copper bolused 2 weeks ago, so I don't think we'll add more copper at this point. Hubby is a chemist, so he is mixing up some chelated selenium today for her in the lab, it will be fed (or drenched) orally and hopefully he can find some good info here ( on dosages. I'm not sure if the Calcium is necessary, but I can certainly mix up some for her (I've got some food grade, powdered calcium from hubby's lab and the doe will eat anything I mix with a little molasses and make a sandwich out of).

    Since she is on Penject+B we are giving her 5 g of Probios daily, too, although that wasn't on the list of things from Barbara and Willi--it seems like a good idea. I also read about giving 1 gram of Vitamin C per day. So we made a sandwich last night for her and another this morning. We'll keep that up for 10 days as well.

    Another tip I was given from SaanenTalk was to dry treat her when we dry her off. We will give that a try and see if we can avoid another bout of mastitis with this doe next year.

    The funny thing was that the vet sent hubby and Vet2Be up to the front about 4 times (I was working and couldn't be there). When they told me that my first thought was, "He doesn't have much of an idea about what he is doing!" That was the feeling hubby and son got :o) So we won't be going to this vet again (nice guy--just not a goat vet). I know there is a good goat/sheep vet 2 hours south of here--I was just trying to avoid the drive. Another clue that this is not the vet for us: he told Vet2B to give the shots in the doe's rump--a big no-no as there is a chance of nerve damage to any goat in that area and carcass damage if you have meat goats.

    Glacier, the doe with mastitis

    If you are interested in raising sheep and goat, our favorite reference book is Small Ruminant Production Medicine and Management (Sheep and Goats). You can find it at

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Hiving the Bees

    Vet2Be won a beehive, bees, and beekeeping equipment in the Bee a Beekeeper Essay Contest. He and Dad got the hive all ready to go. They picked up the bees on April 18th and installed them in their new hive the evening of the 19th. They have to stay in the shipping container for 24 hours to get a bit more used to their new queen.

    Dad raised bees when he was younger and is having a great time with Vet2Be!

    Here is Dad putting on the sugar water for the new bees.
    You can see the box on top of the hive that has 3 lbs of bees in it.

    Vet2Be is pulling a can out of the top of the box. The can is filled with sugar water to feed the bees while they are waiting for their new home. The same stuff that is in the jar at the bottom of the hive. The sugar water is 2 cups white sugar dissolved in 2 cups water. The jar is currently re-filled every day.

    Here is the can that was pulled out of the box.
    You can see the bees on the bottom still.
    They stick their tongues in the holes to drink out the liquid.

    Dad has taken out the center two frames to give the bees a
    place to go when they shake them into their new home.

    The queen bee comes in a small box.
    There is 'bee candy' in one hole.
    We were told to replace the bee candy with a marshmallow.
    The bees will chew through the marshmallow and by the time they are done, they will have accepted the new queen.

    BeeMaster said that taking the front of the box off is a much better way of installing the new bees. The other way to do it is to shake them out of the hole that was left by the sugar water can.

    You can also take a look at BeeMaster's website, there is lots of great information there, too.

    Taking off the front screen.

    Pouring in the bees.

    Checking them out! They look great!

    Our beehive is not in an ideal location. Bees should be in a sunny or partly sunny location. We have it on the north side of the barn under the overhang. There are a few reasons for this:
    1) We don't want the kid goats jumping all over the hive.
    2) We want visitors to see the bees, but we want the bees behind a fence so visitors can't get too close to the hive, especially little children.

    We may end up moving it if we can think of a better spot. Unfortunately they will have to be moved very slowly, 6 inches at a time, or the bees can't find their way home. The other way of moving the hive is to move it more than 1 mile away--then they come out and realize they need to reorient the hive location.

    Our family is involved in Utah County Beekeepers Association. The people have been fantastic and very helpful. Even if you are located in another state, you may find helpful information on their site.

    If you are interested in learning more about bees while playing a fun game, here is one that we made up during our unit study on bees.

    Homeschool Share has a free lapbook to help you learn more about bees, too! You can find it here.

    If you want to read a fun book about bees called, "The Bee People" you can find it at this link. It is a fun read if you want to learn about bees.

    Backwoods Home Magazine has an article called Beekeeping Basics by Charles A. Sanders. If you want to learn the basics, this article is a great beginning.

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Flat Stanley Visits Welcome Home Farm

    A few months ago my niece sent Flat Stanley for a visit. Although the note from the teacher asked that we take Flat Stanley for a visit around our town to visit special landmarks, my niece asked that we take Flat Stanley for a visit to our farm.

    Here's what happened that day.

    Dear Niece,
    I hope you enjoy the pictures of Flat Stanley on our farm. The name of our farm is Welcome Home Farm because we take in so many animals that other people have to give away. It is about 1.5 acres and we live in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. We don't get much rain each year, so we do a lot of watering with sprinklers. We get most of our water as snow in the mountains that flows down in streams and rivers throughout the summer.

    I’m sorry Flat Stanley is missing an arm. The animals on the farm must have confused Flat Stanley with the Little Gingerbread Boy!

    Here are some photos of Flat Stanley and the animals. Some of the pictures don’t have Flat Stanley in them, I hope that’s okay.

    Flat Stanley loves Daisy! She is so fluffy and soft. Daisy is a picky eater, too. Daisy's mom is a llama, her father is a huacaya alpaca, so she is a 'huarizo' and is very friendly. She has a gentle disposition and a quiet temperament, and she is very curious and playful!

    Flat Stanley is in this picture. Can you see him holding onto the green feeder in the middle of the picture? Glacier, the white goat with the little ears, is looking right at him. Hmmm.... what is she thinking?

    Oh, no! Glacier was really sniffing Flat Stanley in the last picture! She thought Flat Stanley was the Little Gingerbread boy! Run Flat Stanley, run!
    Poor Flat Stanley lost an arm before I could rescue him. Goat's are usually picky eaters.

    The white goats in the picture are called 'Saanen'. They give the most milk of any breed of dairy goat. The brown and spotted goat is a Nubian. She has long, floppy ears and has very creamy milk. We have four goats at Welcome Home Farm, three Saanens and one Nubian.

    Here they are posing for their picture!

    Flat Stanley visited the turkey next. Turkey's feathers are all out and puffed up. I think he is showing off for Flat Stanley. Who do you think is prettier, Turkey or Flat Stanley?
    This kind of turkey is called a Royal Palm. This is as big as he will get. Most turkeys get much larger than ours. He weighs about 20 pounds. He is a really good flyer and we have to keep him in the pen or he picks on the chickens and ducks.

    We thought that Flat Stanley would like the bunnies. These are mini-rex bunnies and are so soft! But, the bunnies thought Flat Stanley was the Little Gingerbread Boy, too! I don't know if he was tasty or not, I took him away from the cage as quickly as I could!

    This chicken is trying to play Hide and Seek with Flat Stanley! The black and white chicken is a Wyandotte. Our animals have never seen anything like Flat Stanley on our farm.

    These chickens didn’t like Flat Stanley, and we wanted to keep Flat Stanley safe, so we took a picture of them without Flat Stanley.
    There are two brown chickens in this photo, they are Ameraucanas. They lay green eggs! Have you ever read "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss? Well, these lovely ladies lay eggs that are green on the outside, they look just like a regular egg when we crack them open.

    The white chickens are Cochins. Cochins are fluffy and come in lots of different colors. They are so fluffy that they have feathers growing down to their feet. They are very tame and easy to catch. They lay brown eggs.

    We have other chickens, too, but they were off playing in the garden and chasing bugs while we were taking pictures. We like Rhode Island Reds, White Leghorns, Orpingtons, and Wyandottes. Usually you can't have that many breeds of chickens living together, but since we let them run all over the farm, they get along quite well.

    The ducks were afraid of Flat Stanley, that is why they are running away!
    The brown ducks are called Golden 300 ducks. They lay lots of eggs all year, just like chickens! In fact, Golden's lay more eggs every year than most chicken breeds. Duck eggs are delicious and they make cakes lighter and moister, and they give breads (and cinnamon rolls) a finer texture. The white duck is a Pekin duck. They don't lay many eggs, but they are very pretty.

    Here is a picture of Midnight. She is a cat with an attitude! Sometimes she likes visitors, and sometimes she doesn't. But she always likes mice, so we like having her around.

    Midnight finds little spaces in the hay stacks to sleep at night when it is cold. She also likes to chase the baby goats around. We decided to keep Flat Stanley away from Midnight just in case Midnight decided to chase Flat Stanley.

    Poor Flat Stanley! I don't know if he liked his trip to Welcome Home Farm. The animals either thought he was a treat, or they ran away from him.

    Oh, look! The Rooster liked Flat Stanley and was happy to have his picture taken with his new friend! This new friend doesn’t think that Flat Stanley is a cookie! He is a tiny rooster. Small chickens are called "bantams". That just means that they are little chickens. This little rooster has a big crow, but he is much smaller than any of the other chickens on the farm.

    Flat Stanley is still smiling. I think he liked his trip to the farm after all!


    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Beautiful morning!

    Wow! Today when I went out to milk the goats this morning, this is what I saw:

    The pictures are a bit crooked because I was carrying the milking bucket and supplies as well as the camera. As you can see, I was heading east into the sunshine, too.

    What a stunning sight to wake up to! Eight inches of new snow and the mountains wrapped in a mist of clouds hanging like a beautiful shawl and making the sight a wonder to behold. As I post this afternoon, the snow is almost all gone, and the area in front of the barn is a very large puddle! In some places the puddle is 3 inches deep. But that's why boots were invented!

    Here's what we had waiting for us in the barn this morning ...
    Not fun at all! Vet2Be is certainly getting some experience taking care of the goats. This little guy, Jack, was disbudded on 4/4/09. Everything was fine until a few days ago when he ended up with an infection between the two disbudding areas. We were able to debride the wound and disinfect it with iodine. It must not have been a good enough job, since this morning it was infected again.

    We cleaned the wound again and the scab fell off the disbudded area (that is what looks bloody in the picture). I received two suggestions (from Med-A-Goat911) to help it heal: spray with Furol, which is a disinfectant used on horses, and/or spray with Gentocin (gentamicin sulfate with betamethasone valerate) Topical Spray.

    Since we have the Gentocin, we'll give that a try. Glacier (Jack's mom) keeps licking his head, so we may have to wrap it with gauze and tape to keep her from ingesting it. I'm sure his new 'hat' will be pretty interesting looking!

    Happy Birthday, Vet2Be! Snow and vet practice! What more could you ask for :o)

    Here is Jack's head this afternoon. It looks much better!

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Snow on Tax Day!

    This picture was taken just a few minutes ago. It's been a long time since we have had this much snow in April! We are very grateful for such a beautiful barn! You can see the barn through the two trees. That's where all the critters can stay warm and dry!

    Putting up pens

    Yesterday a group of volunteers came to help Vet2Be set up temporary pens and fencing for his Eagle project. It was raining, which was miserable, but it did make the posts much easier to drive. They got 2 new pens built and one new fence up in about 1 hour. Most of this will come down after the April 25th. They are only up to keep the animals safe from visitors!

    We often have visitors who want to see what we do here. Many of them have never been in a pen with goats or ducks or chickens. Sometimes it surprises them that the animals come right up to them. With an estimated 200-300 visitors coming on April 25th, we need to make sure that we don't have friendly animals being swatted away by surprised visitors.

    Vet2Be spent an hour earlier in the day looking around the arena and planning where to put the new pens and where to put the gates on the pens. That made it much easier when all the volunteers got here.

    An Eagle Project is supposed to show leadership. Vet2Be taught his volunteers (most of whom are friends that he called to come and help) how and where to build the fences. He went with Dad to the local feed store and showed him what type of fencing he needed. He also used a few small panels that were not being used (the brown and green ones) for gates.

    They moved old fencing, pounded posts, tied the the wire fencing to the posts with wire, and wired the gates to the posts. Nothing fancy here--just serviceable.

    You can see the goats staying out of the way. Goats hate to stand out in the rain, so these girls and their kids are all under the barn overhang.
    It is hard to see the wire fencing in a photo! You can see the brown panel in the center of the picture, though. The fencing goes from the left side of the panel towards the left. It also goes from the right side of the panel to the white fencing.
    The odd looking feeder on the left is actually an old llama chute that we rig up for a feeder in the winter. We hang a half-barrel on the side rails and cover the top with a piece of wood to keep the snow off.

    Some of the volunteers offered to come back and dig out some of the old posts! In the second photo there are some short, white posts sticking up--they are old vinyl fencing posts that didn't survive the horses. I'll be excited to see them gone!

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Chickens and Ducks

    Today we found another huge duck egg! We've been weighing the large ones, just to see how big the biggest one is. We weighed one about a month ago that was 158 grams. The one we got today was 153 grams (5.4 ounces).

    Here is a photo to show the difference in sizes. The egg on the left is a normal duck egg, the egg on the right is a normal chicken egg, and the one in the center is the giant one that we got this morning.

    Vet2Be raises Golden 300 ducks from Metzer Farms. If you are interested in a nutritional comparison between duck and chicken eggs, you can find it here:

    I've also included some photos of our new chicken tractor. Our son-in-law built one for us last week. Vet2Be is almost 14 and is working on his Eagle Project for Boy Scouts. His project is to invite people in our area to visit Welcome Home Farm and learn how to raise small animals in their own backyard.

    While we do have a fantastic barn (and now a really cool chicken tractor), we make do with lots of other un-fancy things (like cardboard apple boxes for lay boxes in the chicken coop). We often have visitors who want to see what we do here and how we do it. Vet2Be's Eagle project will provide the community with an opportunity to come see the farm and ask questions. One of the things people ask about is chicken tractors.
    Above is a photo of the chicken tractor with the top doors closed. Below is a photo of it with the doors open. This chicken tractor is rather narrow (about 32" wide) so it will fit between the rows in the garden this year.

    This is the right side of the chicken tractor with the roosting poles.

    And the left side with the nesting box. Here is this morning's egg!

    In the photo below you can see the skies sticking out the end. These are children's skies that I bought at the local thrift store for $5. It makes it easier to pull the chicken tractor around.

    Here are the ducklings that came yesterday to Welcome Home Farm. This is our favorite way to raise ducklings--in an old rabbit cage! It provides a non-slip surface for the ducklings to live on, the poo falls through the bottom so it is easy for us to clean up, and we cover it with an old wool blanket to keep out the drafts.

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    A few animals around the farm

    We have such a fun life living on the farm!

    This is Vet2Be's favorite doeling. Her name is Kathy and Vet2Be is keeping her :o) Kathy follows Vet2Be around like she is a puppy and will probably be leash trained by the end of the month. Don't you just love the snazzy sweater I knit for her! Purple is Vet2Be's favorite color :D

    This is the ram that Vet2Be is raising for a friend. He is almost big enough for the freezer. He loves to play with the soccer ball that is out in the field.

    Here is the orphaned lamb that Vet2Be got last Sunday night. He's really cute and sweet.

    Here is the other orphaned lamb that Vet2B is raising. He's cute, too. This one's name is Lamb Chop (he's got a future, ya know what I mean?! So does his half-brother in the other photo, but we haven't got a good name for him yet) They are both being raised on goat milk.

    Here is a photo of the beehive that Vet2Be and Dad put together. The bees will be here next week. Dad also ordered another hive so if we get a call about a swarm, we'll have a hive ready to go for them! Vet2Be won the hive in the Bee a Beekeeper Essay contest.

    This is Vet2Be and Daisy. Daisy's mother is a llama and her father is an alpaca. That is why she looks like an alpaca. She is really sweet and will come up to most people--especially if they are new. She scares young kids because she loves to sniff them and they have no idea what this big fuzzy animal is doing coming over to them! When she is running around in the pasture, she looks like a live stuffed animal :o)