Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yard Work

I decided to buy a nice solar lantern with a planter underneath. It was a bit of a splurge at $100, but I like the idea of having a light in the front yard in the evening.

Son1 helped set the solar walkway lights so they were straight instead of all wonky. He cut some conduit pipe and hammered them into the ground. Then he set the lights on the conduit.

On the left is the conduit hammered into the ground. The light that will be set on top of it is on the right.

Yay! All nice and straight!

The other side of the front walk with the lights all nice and evenly spaced and standing up straight!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I had a woman call today who has gotten milk from us once before. She wanted to put an order in for milk for next week.

Next came a few questions that were, ummm, odd.

She wondered what dishwasher detergent I used. So I told her, "Usually Kirkland Brand, but sometimes Cascade."

She has chemical sensitivities and was wondering what we used. She didn't ask if our animals were disease free, only what we used to clean the jars we put the milk in.

I apologized that she had problems with our milk. She said, "Oh, it was great! I didn't have any problems with it!"

Huh?! Then why was she asking me about what dishwasher detergent I used, and why was she telling me she has chemical sensitivities?

I understand about sensitivities and allergies. But some 'city folk' don't really know what they are asking when they ask if they can bring their own containers for me to fill with milk.

No, I don't have room to store other people's containers to fill with our milk. I don't have enough room for the 40+ glass 1/2 gallon jars that we have, along with the 30+ plastic pitchers we have for when people have forgotten to return their glass jars. I don't want to have to remember whose containers belong to whom and what day I need to fill them.

The chemical sensitivity issue was interesting. I told her that if she really was sensitive to chemicals (and if I was going to provide her with milk--which I'm not--a little too worrisome to take on someone like her) then she would have to bring me a milking pail, a cover for the milk pail, containers for the disinfectant we use, a weighing pitcher, and a bucket to cool the milk in. She would also have to clean everything before and after milking. I told her that she would have to bring me a sanitized cloth to strain the milk into because she probably didn't want me to use the disposable milk filters that we buy. She didn't realize all the things that the milk touches before it is put into the final containers that are in the refrigerator. City folk often don't think about anything more than the end container.

So, for the city folk who might be reading this:
  • No, we don't spray the pasture with pesticide. We don't want dead animals.
  • No, we won't feed our milk goats exclusively grass so you can have 'grass-fed dairy products'. We aren't interested in compromising the health of our animals. Would a human nursing mother expect to produce milk if all she ate was lettuce? We feed a nice alfalfa/grass blend for horses, meaning it is very clean, good hay.
  • Yes, we feed the dairy goats a grain ration when they are on the stand. (Purina 11% Grain Blend). Our animals have been on it since last year and are very healthy.
  • Yes, sometimes we give our goats antibiotics. We almost lost a doe to mastitis while we were trying some herbal remedy. I'm still surprised that the penicillin and neomycin sulfate brought her back from the brink of death. I consider it a huge blessing that she lived and went on to produce 1/2 gallon or more every milking. We throw away the milk after we use antibiotics for the prescribed amount of time.
  • Yes, we feed our chickens lay pellets in the winter--there is no grass or bugs for them to eat during the winter. Although our chickens and ducks are 'free range' and only in a cage at night (to protect them from predators) we think it is important to feed them during the winter.
  • No, I won't use your containers.
  • No, I won't change the dishwasher detergent I use. I think our dishwasher does a great job, especially with the extra sanitizing rinse cycle at the end.
  • We give our goats a vitamin hidden in a banana slice everyday. But the banana is not organically grown and we use Kirkland brand vitamins.
  • The milk goats also get a copper/selenium/cobalt supplement every day because dairy goats, especially Saanens, tend to become deficient in copper very quickly. Since we don't want to compromise their health, we give them supplements.
  • We water them with culinary water, but not water that has gone through the reverse osmosis system. We go through 40-60 gallons of water a day for the animals. It would be a bit expensive to purify their water.
I understand people who have true problems with chemical sensitivities, but if she didn't have any trouble with the goat milk before, why would she be asking me to change how we do everything just for her?

I have two allergies myself. But I don't expect everyone around me to change how they cook.

I am personally grateful for the blessing of having chemicals that will disinfect does udders, clean milking stands and milking equipment, wash my hair, clean my floors, and paint my fences. I'm grateful for antibiotics that saved one daughter's life and another daughter's hearing. I'm thankful for chemicals that people call 'supplements' that help me maintain my health.

We are surrounded by chemicals. Some of them occur naturally, some are purified so that they are more concentrated and work better for their intended use. Back in the late 1970s there was a poster with a photo of a beautiful orange on it. It was surrounded by the list of chemicals that naturally occur in an orange. It changed the way I think about chemicals and chemistry.

I hope she can find someone who will feed and milk their goats to her specifications. Otherwise she might have to move to a place she can raise goats of her own. And raise all the feed and bedding they will need, too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Snow in May!

Two photos from this morning, May 24th. It is supposed to be 70˚ F or higher tomorrow.
If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute, it will change!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rain! Yipee!

We live in the desert, so rainy days are not common. Two in a row are even more rare!

We went camping over the weekend for Mother's Day. It was beautiful. We went down south a few hours to our favorite Mother's Day camping spot. We enjoyed friends, cactus blossoms, exploring lava tubes, and great food. What a wonderful weekend.

Then we came back to wet weather. We need to open and clean the camper, but that won't happen until we get some sunny skies. Yesterday we had a few thunder and lightening strikes, too! We loved it. The grass looks green, the trees are all covered in new leaves, and the sky is gray.

Today the weather is the same: stormy and gray. We can't even see the base of the mountains today. I bet there is plenty of new snow up there, which is wonderful because that is our 'water storage'. Most of the water in our part of the country comes from the winter snow-pack in the mountains.

This is a blessing beyond measure to have more water this spring. We have more than 90% of our normal water for this year, which is great. But we would love to be at 100% or more of normal. Everyone in our area prays for water. Some places in our state are more than 100% this year because we have had so much wet snow, but there are plenty of places that are still less than  50%. It makes it difficult to graze animals when there is no grass. It also makes it difficult for those of us who buy our hay to raise our animals.

A few years ago the hay shortage was so bad that many people sent their animals to slaughter so they wouldn't starve. There were people who couldn't afford to slaughter, so they took their animals out into the desert, gave them a big hug, and then shot them. They couldn't stand to see the animals suffer from starvation. I felt so badly when I heard about that, for the animals and the owners. I can't imagine how I would feel if I was in that position.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Copper Information

I found out that the site, Saanendoah, is not being maintained anymore and some people can't even find the site in a Google search. The link above takes you directly to the page that talks about copper and its importance in goat health. I'm glad that I can still get to it, but the link may end up broken at some future date.
I wanted to make sure I always have the information handy so I decided to re-post it here. It is not my research, all the credit goes to Joyce Lazzaro who created, maintained, and researched this information for the site.

This post is quite long because this information is so important to me. Remember, I don't take any credit for finding or researching the information. I just want to preserve it.

Copper Deficiency: A Possible Cause of Polioencephalomalacia in Young Goats
Prairie Diagnostic Services - Canada
During the spring of 1999, the Regina laboratory received submissions from a producer experiencing problems in pygmy kids between 1 1/2 - 2 months of age. The history presented for one kid included fever, depression, head pressing, circling and terminal opisthotonus. Another animal and several more at home exhibited generalized weakness and muscle tremors. Weakness was most pronounced in the hindquarters.

At necropsy, the kid with seizures had severe cerebral edema with laminar necrosis of the cerebral cortical gray matter (polioencephalomalacia). The spinal cord from the kid with generalized weakness displayed extensive hypomyelination with neuronal chromatolysis and necrosis. Both kids had decreased numbers of Purkinje neurons and cells within the granular layer of the cerebellum with chromatolysis of medullary neurons. Hepatic copper level from the kid with weakness was 2.4 ppm, a level considered very deficient (normal range 25-150 ppm). A CBC indicated marked nonregenerative anemia (hemoglobin 82 g/L; hematocrit 0.10). Both goats had mild to moderate thyroidhyperplasia. One animal had moderate coccidiosis.

The owner housed sheep with the goats. Both were receiving hay, barley, sheep supplement and cobalt/iodized salt. Drinking water sulphate and phosphorus levels were within normal ranges.

When sheep and goats are fed together, it is not uncommon to feed supplements designed for sheep. The practice predisposes goats to copper deficiency as their requirements at 10 - 20 ppm are much higher than those for sheep at 5 - 10 ppm. Although dietary copper levels were not calculated, a copper deficient diet with respect to goat requirements was strongly suspected. Genetic or breed predisposition and the interfering role of dietary molybdenum were not ruled out. Thyroid hyperplasia may have also been genetically related as dietary iodine levels appeared normal.

Copper deficiency in young goats typically appears as "enzootic ataxia" related to spinal chord and cerebellar changes. Cerebellar changes noted in this case were consistent with copper deficiency. Low copper levels were suspected as contributing to polioencephalomalacia. Similar lesions have been reported in young lambs from England. Other causes of polioencephalomalacia include: thiamine deficiency, high sulphates, water deprivation, hypoxia and any condition causing cerebral edema. 

If copper nutrition was as simple as determining the copper levels in the base diet and adding a highly available copper source/supplementation, copper deficiency would not be a problem. However, because copper absorption and metabolism can be affected by molybdenum, sulfur, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, cobalt, lead, cadmium, and selenium, deciding how much supplemental copper is required is not always easy.

Early on (after we identified the problem) we tried via oral supplementation of different mineral mixes high in copper (up to 1100ppm) and feeding of other than goat specific feeds (horse pellets, horse minerals, etc.) to correct the problem, to date none of them has succeeded in bringing up the body stores of copper. 

Absorption of copper can vary from zero to as high as 75% (Linder, 1991) depending on a number of factors. Copper availability in most feedstuffs fed to farm animals is between 1% and 15% (Hemken et al. 1993).  Most minerals contain copper oxide in powder form, availability is poor when used in this form, the mineral passes through the gut with little absorption. (note: other areas of the US have had excellent results with just the addition of a mineral mix high in copper) in our area we have found copper boluses (copper oxide wire boluses) dosed to weight to be the most effective means of elevating the liver copper levels to within normal limits. 

We had the first boluses brought into the US from New Zealand in the spring of 1994; since that time we have found a source of cattle copper boluses that we can downsize to goat doses. In this area 2000 to 2500+ goats have been on these boluses for nine years now (early '02). 

Continuous laboratory work on bolused animals indicates we are achieving normal liver concentrations of copper. To this date (June 2006) we have not had a single case of copper toxicity, and only one elevated liver copper level.  Liver concentrations remain in the low normal (30-80ppm) with only three animals testing above that range in the twelve years we've been using the boluses. 

We've found that the boluses need to be administered at 5-6 month intervals to maintain adequate levels. After about 4 months, liver stores start to fall rapidly. In order to best protect the neonatal kids, we strive to use the boluses at times that will keep the does levels up during her entire pregnancy. Minnesota research with mice showed that perinatal brain development was affected by copper concentration in the mothers diet. Mice born to copper deficient dams had permanent brain disorders even when fed adequate copper after birth. Some breeders are routinely giving boluses (0.625 to 1.35 grams) to kids early on (2-4 weeks old) and it's proven to be very satisfactory (I've done this the last six years in my herd).

"Veterinary Drug Therapy" by Thomas Barragry '94.
"Cap With Confidence" Copacaps/Rhone Merieux Animal Health, New Zealand.
"Copper deficiency in sheep and cattle" Western Australia Dept of Agriculture
"A Comparison of the Efficacy of Proprietary Products in the Treatment of Molybdenum Induced Copper Deficienty - N.R. Kendall, C Middlemas, H. Maxwell, F Birch, D.V. Illingworth, D.W. Jackson & S. Telfer, Centre for Animal Sciences, Leeds Institute of Biotechnology and Agriculture, Schoo of Biology, Universitey of Lees, Leeds, LS@ 9JT, UK

When copper deficiency has been recognized, attempts to remedy it by provision of extra oral copper has proved unsatisfactory because of the unpredictable intake, rapid excretion, and variable effect. With an element such as copper, which is a cumulative poison, the risk of chronic copper poisoning from parenteral or oral copper treatment is positively correlated with its effectiveness in combating deficiency. Existing methods of treatment for copper deficiency have limitations. Mineral licks and supplements are unpredictable because of the individual refusal of some animals and over indulgence of others. 

Copper sulfate (CuSo4)  drenches are not only astringent (Cu sulphate drench, if it accidentally enters the lungs, can cause shock and death) but more than 90% of the copper is rapidly excreted from the body. Animals need to be drenched every 2-3 weeks.  Boluses (glass) of copper that lodge in the rumen or reticulum can form unusable complexes with molybdenum, sulfur and iron. Compounding copper salts with concentrate rations can be effective (though it has not proven so with our animals). 

Injectable copper (copper glycinate, CuCa-EDTA, copper methionates and Cu-oxyquin) can be acutely toxic (seen most often w/Cu EDTA which is no longer available), so inectable doses must be limited, the dose is often partly encapsulated at the injection site  and thus prevented from achieving its objective. Side effects such as injection site abscesses (copper glycinate) and hepatic necrosis are potential problems with this method of treatment. Repeated injections are needed to maintain adequate protection. note: we only use copper glycinate (Molycu) injections in emergency situation, usually in young kids from unbolused dams.
Gelatin capsules containing copper oxide needles provide relatively long term protection against copper deficiency. The sustained activity after oral dosing with copper oxide needles as a means of alleviating hypocupremia in goats has been widely reported.
The gelatin capsules contain thousands of minute, blunt copper oxide rods. When give orally, the gelatin capsule dissolves in the rumen, releasing the copper oxide rods, which then pass into the abomasum where they lodge. There they release copper for the animal's immediate requirements and reserves. The rods dissolve completely over a period of time. 

NOTE:  There is at least one study (Attempted Induction of Chronic Copper Poisoning in Boma Confined Impala. Research and Development, Kruger National Park, Skukuza, South Africa, '99) that indicates, via fecal copper concentrations, that a good portion of the of the copper oxide particles are excreated from the body. Dispite deliberate attempts to overdose the study Impalas with one time doses ranging between 125 mg/kg to 1000 mg/kg, less than 20% of the animals were found to have elevated liver copper levels after 52 and 105 days.
Copper oxide needles are brittle rods (1 to 8 mm long , and 0.5+/- 0.1mm in diameter) made by oxidizing fine copper wire. They are nontoxic when given orally, and they can be given in doses sufficient to establish long-lasting reserves of copper in the liver. Their properties were discovered by Australian scientists, who found that a combination of small particle size and high specific gravity (2.0 and 7.0) caused them to become trapped in the folds of the abomasum. Copper oxide particles, released in the rumen pass through to the abomasum where they remain in the folds of the abomasum. 

CSIRO (1978) and Judson et al., (1982) demonstrated that the particles remained for a period of at least 32 days. CSIRO (1978) showed that the excretion rate of copper from the copper oxide particles was about 0.2 grams by weight per day which allowed for the safe absorption of copper without toxicity being apparent. The accumulated hepatic stores of the absorbed copper can protect the animal against copper deficiency for periods of months (our lab work indicates 4.5-6 months).To be effective the Copper particles must be swallowed, administer by a conventional balling gun which delivers the capsule direct into the gullet. The gauge and weight of the copper particles is calculated so that they sink and lodge properly. Chewing rods/wires/particles will change both the gauge, weight, specific gravity, causing the particles to pass on through the animal in greater amounts than the dose is adjusted for.

(photo of Copasure bolus and stomach chart courtesy of Animax Limited)
To get the most out of your copper supplementation program
Heavy worm burdens can affect copper uptake by altering the pH in the gut, making the copper less soluble. An effective worming program is therefore an important aspect of copper supplementation. Internal parasites can:
  • Reduce the solubility of copper in the abomasum (fourth stomach), by up to 70 per cent.
  • Reduce the subsequent uptake of dissolved copper by the liver by up to 50 per cent.
  • Increase copper losses from the animal.
While the use of cupric oxide rods has been shown to produce significant anthelmintic effects, their efficacy may be reduced by a heavy abomasal parasite burden. It is important that adequate selenium (Se) levels are also maintained. See: U.S. Geological Survey Selenium in Counties of the Conterminous States . Selenium testing:  Whole blood (EDTA or heparin) is the best sample since most of the selenium is located on red blood cells. Serum selenium analysis is possible but does not reflect long-term status of the animal.
In general, the Western states had lower mean serum copper concentrations compared to other regions.The mean serum copper concentration for operations in the Western regions was 0.63 ppm, while the Midwest and Southern regions recorded 0.70 ppm.
Almost half of Canadian feeds analysed at the Agricultural Soil and Feed Testing Laboratory (Canada) contain less than the estimated RDA of 10 ppm. Also, in the US 28.7% to 57.8% of pastures had molybdenum (Mo) and iron (Fe) levels high enough to cause copper malabsorption. To this can be added malbsorption through excessive sulfur intake.
NOTE: Alfalfa is notorious as a crop which is susceptible to copper deficiency. Wheat, barley and oats can also be deficient. 
NOTE:: Molybdenum is common in alfalfa hays. Copper deficiency is likely if hay has less than four parts copper to each part molybdenum.
NOTE: Soil applied copper will generally have long-lasting residual effects. Beneficial effects from 1.3 to 2.7 pounds of copper per acre have persisted undiminished for up to 35 years (western Australia). Copper can be applied as organic compounds in the form of CuEDTA, copper ligninsulfonates, and copper polyflavonoids. 
Copper can be toxic, it is important to stress again, that this is a local problem and solution, and though both primary and secondary Cu deficiency problems of different magnitudes may be found in other areas we do not recommend supplementation using these methods or doses without complete evaluation of your herd's copper status via laboratory work and veterinary consultation.  Dose rates:
The animals are dosed to weight at the rate of 1 gram copper oxide in bolus form per 22 pounds at five to six month intervals, laboratory work has shown that liver and kidney concentrations start to fall rapidly after about four months.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Some Surprises!

Yesterday I got a call from our Sheepy friend. She had another project for Vet2Be. Her 11 year old ewe had lambed with two lambs in the morning. She had no idea that her ewe was even bred. She didn't 'take' last year and had no lambs last spring. She left her ewe in with the ram because she thought the ewe was done and was just going to let her retire.

Surprise! Sheepy's father called her in the morning and said she had a lamb in the pasture. Sheepy said that wasn't possible, they were done lambing last month!

Well, there really was a lamb in the pasture! In fact there were two. But the old ewe is too tired to count past 'one' and didn't know that she had a second lamb. Vet2Be and Uncle Sam, the dog, are now raising another new little lamb. She is much more active than the lamb that Sheepy raised from the dead in early January. The weather is a bit warmer now, too, so she can spend the day outside in the grass with Uncle Sam and Mandy. We'll bring her into the house in the evening and keep her in the box for a few days.

Here's little Sparky with Uncle Sam, the dog.

Woops!! The tile floor is great for cleaning up spills, but not so great for new-born lambs who are trying to walk!

The other surprise we had last night was a new kid! I really wasn't sure if Kathy was pregnant. She was still very slender. Her vulva area was a little swollen and a small udder was forming, but she wasn't as big as Pearl (who still hasn't kidded.)

Last night when we went out to milk there was a cleaned off kid in the stall. And it belonged to Kathy! The little doeling was all cleaned off and almost dry. She had already had her first colostrum, we could tell because one side of her mouth was sticky. She was standing and active and following her mom around.

We locked Kathy and her kid in the stall, along with Pearl, just in case Pearl decided to kid during the night.

Two very nice surprises yesterday! A new lamb to raise and a new kid born to Kathy! 

And to make it an even sweeter day, Vet2Be got to spend two hours at a local veterinarian's office watching some surgeries. 

What a fun day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walking and Pondering

About two months ago I found out my younger sister has diabetes. I'm the second oldest in age (of the living siblings). Our youngest sister also has diabetes. My mom had diabetes before she died. And her sister, my Aunt, has diabetes. That is a lot of diabetes running through our family!

On Today's Dietitian I read:
Exercise is an effective tool for preventing type 2 diabetes and potential diabetic complications. Additionally, exercise promotes weight loss and maintenance, helps with stress management, and sensitizes muscle and hepatic cells to facilitate glucose uptake and increase insulin sensitivity. Americans can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% by eating healthfully and exercising at moderate intensity for 30 minutes each day. Likewise, calorie restriction can reduce body weight by 5% to 7%, yielding a 60% risk reduction.

I decided I needed more exercise anyway, I should find a way to make time to walk. I found that I can walk 5 evenings a week. Two nights a week I work too late into the evening to walk.

I love walking in the evening. I like it better than walking in the morning. There is peace and quiet in the evening stillness. In the morning there are walkers and joggers, people with strollers and ear-buds, and neighbors walking together.

In the evening, there is no one to walk with or talk to but God.

Although He listens all the time, I think I listen to Him best in the quiet and stillness of the evening.

In the evening there are the stars in the open sky. Sometimes the moon is out and there is a silver gilding on all the trees. I can smell the blossoms on the trees so strongly in the evening air. It seems as if His spirit is everywhere reminding me of how much he loves all of his children. He provides such beauty for all of us.

I love listening to the cooing doves along our street. Down around the corner there are homes with 'water features' that bubble happily, singing an evening song. No real streams bubble happily close by home in the desert.

In the evening I have a chance to reflect on the day and the choices I've made. Can I do better tomorrow? Can I draw closer to my Heavenly Father tomorrow? Can I ease someone's burden better tomorrow? Maybe. As I walk I think of the people in my life and say a prayer for each of them. People I know well, and people I only know as acquaintances, family members, and members of my church.

My walk usually lasts about 35-45 minutes, about 5,000 steps, close to 2 1/2 miles. That is plenty of time to think, to meditate, to pray, to think of God and the many blessings He has given me. Sometimes I walk a little longer, sometimes a little less.

Walking started out as a way to prevent diabetes and to be healthy, but it has brought better health to my soul as well as to my body.

The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose. ~Charles Dickens

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pruning Apple Trees

It is a bit late to prune apple trees, but the weather has been awful around here for a few weeks! It goes from rain to snow and back again. Not really awful, because this is great apple weather! Last year when we had this type of weather in our area there were so many apples and so many trees that went to waste!

This year the university about 30 minutes south of us has sent out the word that if people want to come and prune their trees in the spring, they can come back in the fall and pick the apples. We spent a few hours one day two weeks ago and we'll probably go back again next week. I know its a bit late to prune, but we didn't get the information until last week, and the university said they just wanted them pruned. Whenever we could get to it, they would be happy.

The pruning wasn't hard at all. We brought our own equipment and piled the branches for the university grounds crews to haul off and chip. Here's a great link on how to prune apple trees: The Weekend Gardener

Last year we had such a great time pressing apples into cider, that we are looking forward to it again this year. We've been saving 2-liter and 1/2 gallon plastic containers whenever we can! We sold so much last year, and could have sold more.

But the part about pressing cider that we are most looking forward to is all the neighbors gathering and visiting in our front yard while they watch us press the cider. There were so many people last year who asked us to do it again because they felt like it was a neighborhood party. They loved seeing people that they hadn't had a chance to visit with in a long while, and they loved the idea of helping a hard-working young man earn money to save for his future.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Neighbors Ducklings

Our neighbor has an extremely broody hen! She won't get up unless something hatches out beneath her. Last year we gave them some chicken eggs, and one of them hatched. The chicken was thrilled to be a mama!

This spring the hen was broody again. Since she is such a good sitter, we asked if they wanted to try duck eggs instead of chicken eggs. They did, and the hen did a fine job of sitting.... until one of the other hens kicked her off and finished the job.

The chicken is now the proud mama of 3 ducklings! The hen that was kicked off is sitting on a bunch of golf balls. We might have to give them another set of eggs for her.

Chicken eggs take about 21 days to hatch, ducklings take about 28 days to hatch. If you decide to do this on your farm, you probably better make sure that your hen is a really good sitter!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Update: Janice and Copper

Just an update on how well Janice is doing since we started giving her a copper supplement every day.
She is now jumping up on the milk stand like the much younger does, and she is giving much more milk! The hair still hasn't grown back on her nose, but her coat is not coming out in clumps as it has the past few springs.

She gave 4 lbs 13 oz yesterday morning! That is great for her. And I didn't milk her completely out because I like to leave some for her kids for breakfast.

Here is a photo of Janice and her bald nose!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Flowers

Just a few photos of our flower beds today. It is still spring here since the weather has been cold and rainy. My Auntie lives in New England and all her tulips are gone. We are often about two weeks behind them.

She is a true gardener, so was my mother. Me... not so much! I love looking at a lovely flower garden, but I would almost always rather be playing guitar or piano or banjo or doing something with music. I weed because I should, not because I love it.

Life is like that, doing some things that we love, but making sure that we do important things whether we love doing them or not!



Monday, May 3, 2010

Test Your Hay

We have decided that some of our goats are probably deficient in more than just copper. We were reading in our book, Diseases of the Goat by John Matthews because a good friend has had some trouble kidding this year. She has lost a doe to kidding complications, as well as having ewes trouble lambing. Also, another friend had a lamb born with ataxia (it had trouble walking with its back legs).

One of the things we suggested to our friend, Deb, was a copper deficiency in her goats. There are all sorts of symptoms for copper deficiency: low milk production, trouble with legs and bones, trouble kidding... and other problems listed in Diseases of the Goat. She had never heard of supplementing with copper for goats--only that you had to be very careful of copper and sheep since the sheep have a very low tolerance for copper.

My 'job' this morning was to check with the state extension services (every state has one) and find out how to get our hay tested.

I've often heard how helpful the extension agency is, I had no idea that they would be so kind! The man I talked to said he wasn't sure exactly where to send me, but he took my phone number and promised to call me back.

Sure enough, about 30 minutes later he called me back, sent me to the correct web address to find the correct form and phone number! Yay!

We will send a hay sample up next Tuesday (Prion attends the State University that does the testing, so she can deliver the sample for us). They will test for:
Total Elemental Analysis (Al, B, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, P, Pb, S, Sr, Zn)  cost is: 23.00
Total Arsenic or Selenium by ICP/MS, cost is $17.00 (we are testing for Selenium)

For $40 we'll know what minerals in what amounts are in our hay and we can then form a supplement based on that information. Hubby (Ph.D. in chemistry) will make the formulation up! We form an odd couple--he does all the scientific research, I do all the dirty work!

I'm sure that we will need to add some Selenium as well as some Cobalt to our Copper Supplement. It will be nice to know how much!