February Chaos.

10 02 2009

So on Friday I met up with local farmer, Chris Jagger, owner/operator of Blue Fox Farm in the Applegate Valley. I spoke with him briefly about the greenhouse that he was installing. This is his fifth greenhouse that he has erected, and with contractor background he has a lot more practical experience with this sort of thing.
Since the debacle of putting up my greenhouse last year, and this year’s major corrections to it, I used this chance to learn and relate my mistakes to someone with expertise. Chris and I chatted it up, and it was relieving to hear that he had dealt with a lot of the problems that I encountered. Problems such as the baseboards on the greenhouse, endcaps, leveling, why the prefabricated holes never line up, and just the general process of getting the greenhouse structurally sound.
Now I just need to get my hands on another greenhouse frame so I can practice what I have learned.
After this pleasant chat, I went to the Enchanted Forest. Oolala. It was actually a really nice old growth forest. Luckily it was near the vineyards. After a brief hike, I met Gabrielle at her place of work for a nip of port. I watched Sadie till Gabrielle was ready to leave.

It was actually oh so nice on Saturday, as compared to right now. It is snowing. Lee helped me get the tiller working. We really need a bigger tiller, but all we have is a 5hp walk behind. It struggles with the fescue grass that grows in very tight clumps. We really need a tractor to get this initial till underway this year, but this small one is all we have at the moment. We are creating a new flower bed, a wildflower/cover crop bed, and extending all our rows from last year by at least 20 ft. Some rows will be extended up to 40 ft just to even things out a bit.
It has been extremely dry this winter, and that gave me the opportunity to till up a new 4ft wide by 130ft long bed for tomatoes. After a painfully slow process with our small tiller, I limed the soil to add calcium and balance the pH, and then I planted more crimson clover.
The soil that I tilled up looked really good. It is closer to a big pine in the middle of our field and there is a more noticeable amount of organic matter in the soil. It has a darker richer color than the soil in other parts of our field.
We really need to start planting. We just haven’t had the mojo yet. Sadie doesn’t want to sleep. And on Sunday shit went a little bit crazy to say the least.
So Sunday was nice. Gabe was at work, I was watching Sadie the whole day. Sadie sleeps seldom, and it takes incredible patience to get her down for a reasonable amount of time. As she slept I handed the monitor over to Kirby, and went out to do some chores. When I checked on the goats, something was terribly wrong with Rodeo, our male Boer goat.
He was twitching, shaking, and could barely stand. I really did not know what to do. No friggin idea. I am generally kind to animals, and this poor goat was no exception. He was in bad shape, and if it was up to me, and I owned a gun, or I knew of a humane way to kill a goat I would have done that immediately. I do not own a gun, and I do not know how to painlessly euthanize a goat.
However, it was WAY more complicated than that. I have on many occasions wished death upon our two goats because of their annoying behavior, and the focus of the farm was not coherent with adequate care of these goats. The goats under no conditions were to be killed because when Gabe and Ben obtained them from a rescue, they signed a contract not to kill them. I did not sign it, but I honored that contract.
Before the shit went down over the weekend, and after much internal debate we decided to return the goats to their previous owners. We would not get our money refunded, but we learned a valuable lesson that we had no time for large animals on our farm (yet). The owners were going to find a new home for the goat pair. They were going to pick the pair up today and deliver to a new owner. One side note, goats are easier to sell/give as a pair because a herd mentality promotes good health among them.
Back to Sunday; I really had no experience in goat health, and I did not know what my next options were because I was required not to kill this goat. I got a hold of Ben and Gabe to ask for ideas on what to do. They had little to no help for me. I proceeded to call the previous owners about the status of the goat they were rehoming for us. The were alarmed about his health, but I do not think that they understood what was actually happening. Rodeo was dying.
He went from being healthy on Saturday, to barely able to stand on Sunday. I kept the previous owners in the loop about his health, but know one knew what was really going on. They were sure he would snap out the state he was in, but both Dr. Calvert and I had serious doubts. We both saw that Rodeo needed to be put down.
Sunday night I tried calling emergency vets to no avail. I carried Rodeo’s unstable body up to the covered porch so he would not get rained on. He was in pain, and barely conscious. At this point I think that was inhumane to keep him alive. But we wanted to return the two healthy goats. By the look of things that was just not going to happen.

We woke up Monday, Rodeo was still alive.  He was worse.  He looked like he wanted to die.  I avoided him all day, and made Gabrielle check on him.  The optimism of the previous owners was hard to combat over the phone,  they said, “he will just snap out of it, goats can go from looking really bad to fine in no time.  All they need sometimes is a shot or two.”  The goat was miserable.  Dr. Calvert said he was seizuring more.  All from being perfectly normal on Saturday.  All Monday we looked for  a vet to treat him.  We finally got a local vet who had a good knowledge of goats, our appointment was at 5:20.  Until then, Rodeo suffered, and I sympathized.  It seemed like I should have done more.  During all of Sunday and Monday Sadie screamed and would not sleep.  It was extremely stressful.

When the time came  around to go to the vet, we had to pick Rodeo’s seizuring body up and put it in the back of our station wagon.  On the way there Rodeo had a nice rain shower, a rainbow, and beautiful sky over the mountains.  His seizures were long and frequent.  The vet advised us to put him to sleep.  We did just that.  We communicated to the previous owners of Rodeo and Blossom that Rodeo was put down, and they were in complete shock.  Gabrielle and I were beat.

We don’t know what happened to Rodeo, but the onset was so quick.  We didn’t know how to treat him, and we had to draw the line somewhere on whether to save him.  He was not our pet, he was just a goat to us.  Now we need to regroup, put Sadie to bed, receive our soil blocker in the mail, and start bringing plants to life.

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5 responses

10 02 2009
natjwest

Hi, I’m up in Portland, got my mini-farm on 1/10th acre. Keep up the posts, people are reading.

10 02 2009
mudpuddlefarm

We have yet to make it to Portland. Someday the big city will take us back. At least for a weekend.

13 02 2009
Jeremy

Hey guys! Hope alls good at Mud Puddle. Sorry to hear about Rodeo. That sounded like quite a fiasco. And he was the likable one! Not that I’d like for Blossom to die, but I definitley cursed her more. Other than that, hows everyone doing? Still pretty busy I imagine… Has the catering been a success?

Ashley and I are doing pretty good up here. We love Eugene and hope to stay here for a long time. We’re living at my friend’s house with seven people staying here now. It’s a huge house though, and everyones really cool. Needless to say, we’re anxious to get a place of our own. We haven’t been able to land jobs yet. Every posting on craigslist prolly gets about 300+ applicants. I had an interview for organic farm labor, and then he invited me out to the farm. He was hiring for two positions and I was the third choice dammit! The other two had more experience apparently. He gave me a good job lead though, and he might hire me for a delivery driver during the season. And I think Ashley got a part-time job with the park district. She designed several art and yoga classes for children. So we’re hoping for the best and having fun in the meantime.

Anyway, we hope to see you guys soon. Maybe we’ll visit sometime in the spring. I’m interested to see the transformation of the farm. We have been talking with our roomates about taking a trip to the redwoods, so we’d pass right by anyway. Til then best wishes from Jeremy and Ashley!

BTW, I was going to email you instead of leaving a mega-comment but I don’t have your email. Mine’s jmixon@jjc.edu

23 02 2009
Robin

Hi there,

I was stunned and saddened to read about your poor goat, Romeo! One thing I’ve learned from my experience with 17 Nigerian Dwarfs over the last 7 years is that by the time a goat starts acting sick it’s usually very serious. It’s amazing that the rescue people brushed his symptoms off and assumed he would recover momentarily!

One of the most common problems male goats, particularly wethers, can develop is urinary calculi. When the urethra completely occludes it becomes a medical emergency in order to prevent the bladder from rupturing. I’ve lost one goat to this because I chose euthenasia over sending him up to OSU for iffy surgical intervention, which would have required removing the urethra and implanting a stent.

Another common problem among goats in muddy Oregon is coccidiosis. I realized in retrospect that the deaths of two of our baby goats was due to this when months later a doe and doeling suddenly began having seizures. My regular vet had no idea what was wrong with them but eventually referred me to OSU, where it was diagnosed within minutes by a simple fecal smear.

The lack of selenium in the diet can also be a cause of illness and death in goats, as it doesn’t occur naturally in western Oregon soil and must be supplemented.

You might consider poisoning or even diseases like tetanus that could cause the neurologic symptoms you described. I’m ambivelent about vaccination and chemical wormers, but the truth is that goats are very vulnerable to parasites and anaerobic organisms like tetanus and certain strains of botulism. Most goat owners give a yearly CD/T booster, and ivermectin or Safeguard every few months to knock out worms and lice.

Whatever I know about goats I seem to have learned the hard way, by experience, and I wish I could save someone else the pain, expense and heartache that my animals and I have had to endure because of what I didn’t know. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with owning a living creature, and it’s unfortunately not as simple as turning them out with adequate food, water and shelter.

Again, I’m sorry for your sad experience. If I had it to do over again I probably would not have goats myself, or at least would have far fewer than 17! Growing vegetables and adding new trees to the orchard is only a fantasy in my world, thanks to my pen-escaping, garden-ravaging brood.

I’m enjoying your blog very much!

23 02 2009
mudpuddlefarm

Our inexperience in goat health got the best of us on this one. The goats had their shots before we got them less than one year ago. And we never did figure out what the exact problem was. The vet just said he was in a bad way, and would be costly to find out the problem. And he gave us little assurance that the goat could live through an operation after he was properly diagnosed. We are not going to even talk about large animals around here for a while after this event. It took a lot out of us.

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