She was not just any goat.
Born in Wayne County WV in 2011, Alita spent her first year in Athens, Ohio. By luck, she came to us in December, 2012 as our first goat and one of the first three animals to join the farm. She was joined by Primrose the donkey and Julia the sheep.
Alita introduced me to everything goat. She taught me how to care for, breed, birth, milk, and what it meant to just be an awesome goat. She was an easy keeper, always happy and healthy, and always in charge. To the rest of the herd, over the past 5+ years she has been the Queen. She was always there to let me know when things were 'off', when something was wrong or someone was misbehaving. Of all the goats, she was the smartest. She knew exactly what I wanted and where to go. When I opened the gate, she would walk straight into the milking parlor and hop on the stand. I never had to lead her, but if I did, I would simply put my hand on her shoulder and she responded.
In 2014, she had her first kids. Since then, she has been mother five times to 11 kids, 6 does and 5 bucks. Two of her daughters, one granddaughter, and three of her sons (as wethers) still live here with us. Since her last kidding in December, she has milked twice per day and refused to slow down. Even when I tried to move her to once a day, she refused and took her place in line at the gate. There was no way she would be left out! She had a job to do.
It is not the same without her. Only a few days have passed since we lost her, and I still expect to see her smiling face there to greet me. My heart breaks and my eyes sting every time I think of her. I will miss her kisses and her companionship. She was not just any goat. She was my teacher and my friend.
We lost Alita on 7/21/2018 after a sudden and short battle with pneumonia.
"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you until we meet again!"
- Author Unknown
Over the past 24 hours, we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about colic. The most important lesson is, I never want my horses to experience this again.
I have heard and read stories of equine colic from friends and acquaintances, and many times the ending is heartbreaking. I consider us very fortunate that, at least as of this time today, our story has a happy ending.
It began yesterday during my daily evening rounds to feed and check on the animals. While caring for the boys in the buck pen, Shiloh came eagerly walking up to the fence that was between us. It is normal for him and Freckles to greet me any time I'm in the pasture, usually hoping for a treat or at the very least a pat and a hug. This time, however, Shiloh was alone. These two are never apart by choice, and complain bitterly if they are forced. I quickly jumped in the gator and drove down the pasture calling for Freckles, Shiloh flew past me. .
There she was, lying in a shady area near a brush pile. The dirt under her was flattened as if she had been there for a while. She saw me and struggled to her feet. At that moment I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I knew it was definitely something out of the ordinary.
She followed Shiloh, trotting back to the open pasture where John was working in the garden. I told him that something was wrong with Freckles, When we both turned to look at her, she had laid down in the middle of the field and was rolling back and forth on her back.
My first thought was, Freckles has colic. We stood her up and noticed her abdomen was distended and very firm. She was in obvious pain. I did the only thing any modern farmer would do and googled 'horse colic.' The symptoms were classic.
We both agreed it was time to call the vet. John grabbed her halter and started walking her. One hour later, I was meeting Dr. Walker and family and driving them up the hill.
He examined her, and treated her with medications, educating us all the while. The next few hours would be up to us to monitor her, and call him if needed.
By this time, it was 9:30 pm.
Connor came to help us build a coral in the pasture to keep the horses from wandering away during the night. Freckles was exhausted. Her skin was cool and clammy, and her eyes glassy, still drunk from the pain medication. We continued to walk her and keep her on her feet.
At around eleven she was standing. We decided to get cleaned up and I would go back to check on her at midnight.
She was sitting on the ground with her head up, but not rolling. I coaxed her up and walked her for a while. Seeming status quo, i went back down the hill.
Two hours later, I was back with her. This time she seemed to be in pain again, wanting to roll. I forced her up and administered another dose of pain medication, this time orally.
I could not leave her side. We walked slowly back and forth, she was weak and panting, begging to lay down. Each time I stopped her. This went on for more than two hours. Finally, she laid down and would not get up. Her head was up, so I stood, bracing my body against her neck reminding her not to roll. If at any time I walked away, she tried to stretch out. I sat beside her and held her head up, talking to her and begging her to stay, Shiloh needs her. I thought I was going to lose her. Her breath was shallow, and she could barely hold up her head. I could feel myself getting weary,
Just in time,(5 am) John called my cell. "I'm coming. Get her up" he said. She finally stood up for me, and we walked again, for three more hours. As the sun came up, she seemed to gain energy and her stomach was gurgling. By 9 am, she was licking salt and drinking water and finally - Poop!
I'ml not confident its over, but things are definitely improving.
Special thanks to Dr. Walker and the Equine Center for his compassionate care.
Today was 73 degrees, and tomorrow is expected to reach 80. We've had day after day of rain with more in the forecast. Last week the creek flooded, and this week the great Ohio River is above flood stage, cresting today at 52.1 feet. To us this means MUD, and a lot of it.
Between rain showers, Connor and I took advantage of the warmer weather to clean out the goat barn and the chicken coop. We created a giant mountain of poopie bedding - soon to be compost.
The girls are enjoying their fresh clean house.
Onion and Pepperoni, twin wethers from last spring, took a trip up the hill to be with the boy herd.
The babies, Judith and Enid, have graduated from living in the garage to having their own room in the goat barn. Unfortunately for them, it is time to learn how to be goats. They are now over 8 weeks old, still getting a bottle and learning to eat hay and grain. They were not very happy about the situation.
The grapes and rosebushes have been pruned and mulched, and the blueberries are waking up with little buds soon to be blooms. Is it spring already? I have a feeling there will be more cold to come.
We woke up this morning to a snowy, frozen world. It started with the doors of my vehicle being frozen shut, and I had to find a way in so I could drag out several bags of feed because the barrels were empty. When I finally made it up the hill, I found the latch to the front door of the goat barn frozen, along with one of the gate latches. Luckily I had another way in so I could deliver feed and water, and milk Miss Alita. The animals didn't seem to mind, and were happy to see me as always.
After a week of living in the house due to zero temperatures, I tried to return the triplets to their mom. This would have made things a little easier on the farmer, since separation has meant twice a day milking in the frigid weather and bottle feeding several times per day. Unfortunately, the kids clung to their new mom (me) and Alita was over raising babies and wanted nothing to do with them. She is a great mom, so this was my fault for keeping them apart too long. Back to the house and milking routine we went. Don't get me wrong, we love having the babies with us, and they seem to love it too.
They have a safe, warm pen in the basement, and plenty of time to run and play. Its nearly impossible to get a good picture of them!
One of these lucky little girls now has a wonderful home at Moody Blue Stables in Ashland, Ky. It always makes us happy to see our babies go to a great home!
Another year has come and gone. 2017 went out with a bang with the birth of triplet doelings from Alita and below normal freezing temperatures. We are back to bundling up like mummies, hauling water and breaking ice morning and evening. In spite of complaints from Alita and John, the babies are spending a few nights in the house due to the cold and learning to eat from a bottle.
Its always fun to reflect on the past year, to remember our blessings and all we have learned and accomplished along the way. We continue to slowly check things off the list, but somehow the list continues to grow.
It will soon be one year since we switched to soy free chicken feed. Our chickens are healthy and thriving on the mix, and we plan to continue along this path. It does require some creativity to ensure they have a balanced diet and plenty of protein. This is not as much of a challenge during the warmer months because they have access to natural sources such as bugs and worms. In winter, we give them plenty of meal worm treats and add organic fish meal to the mix.
2017 was a year of bucklings here at TRF. We had five does give birth to eleven kids, and only four were doelings. We kept Autumn, and brought in our sweet Diva to the herd. Maybe 2018 will be different, since we are starting out with 3 girls.
Construction projects for the year consisted of installing two stock tanks on the hilltop, tearing down the old sheep shed, moving the hay tent and building a new area for the boy goats. The old sheep housing spot was cleared for a future pond.
2017 was a good year for the garlic crop. Many were sold, and some were replanted for next year.
Baby goats meant plenty of milk, caramel sauce, cheese and soap.
We hosted a kids with farm animal photo shoot, attended our first 'farmers market' as a vendor, and held our first soap making class.
We are thankful for another year of doing what we love, learning new things and sharing along the way. My goal for the coming year is to 'make things easier' as much as possible for living on the side of a hill. Thank you for sharing our adventures. Happy New Year!
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the tent shed did not work out. It collapsed on one end after a stormy, windy night in November.
With winter just around the corner, we had no choice but to build something quickly, and this time, we decided to make it a permanent structure.
They worked morning till dark and even in the snow, and finally it's done.
The final step will be a gutter and downspout on the back to catch rainwater, and remove the tent.
A cold rainy weekend is the perfect time to make soap. For me, soap making is therapeutic. I can focus my attention away from the stresses of daily life and be creative. A big part of the fun is formulating and trying new recipes, always looking for the perfect combination for whatever purpose I have on my mind. I was in the mood for holiday scents, and simple colors. This session, I made five different batches of soap and some lotion bars. Some of these will make great Christmas gifts.
Zebra - Facial bar
Made with face friendly oils including rice bran, avocado and sweet almond, and scented with tea tree, peppermint and carrot seed essential oils, this soap was divided and layered in a loaf pan with charcoal and bentonite clay. I've wanted to make this for a long time and can't wait to try it.
Oats, Milk and Honey
This one is a repeat favorite I keep trying to perfect. It has chopped oats and local honey added along with the goat's milk. Honey is a little tricky to work with and always makes the soap batter hotter than usual. Against my better judgement, I used a loaf mold and, even in the freezer, it gelled in the middle. It may look a little different after curing for several weeks, but even if its two tone, it will be an awesome soap. I cut these into extra large bars.
Cloves and Orange
I had a couple of firsts with this recipe. For the first time I used olive oil pomace, and as advertised it caused the soap to thicken more quickly than usual. It is colored with natural tumeric, another first, giving it a rustic orange color. Along with the clove and orange essential oils, it smells and looks like gingerbread. It also gelled in the freezer even though it was in a flat pan, but only adds to the rustic look. It will be a hard, bubbly soap.
Using one of may favorite basic recipes, this one is swirled with french green clay and kaolin clay, and scented with eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint.
I like to keep a simple white on hand for some of my customers. At first, I wasn't sure what to call it, but after cutting a few it reminds me of cream cheese frosting on a cake. It is scented with clove, mint, lavender and eucalyptus (seems to be the theme for the day). It is made from another simple but tried and true recipe.
I hate to waste things, so periodically I take the shavings from all the soaps I've made and trimmed up - to smooth and improve its appearance - and melt them down. The scents from so many varieties mixed together don't always work out so well, so I added some Almond Biscotti fragrance oil at the end. It doesn't look like much, but it is still usable soap. I usually give these away, or think someday I'll use them to make felted soaps.
In addition to soap, I made three scents of lotion bars in Christmas and winter molds. The white one is scented with Turquoise fragrance oil, one is Almond Biscotti fragrance, and the other is mint, clove and orange essential oils. The gold flecks are from the chamomile infused sweet almond oil.
Earlier this week, inspired by my hairy oldest son, I decided to try making beard balm and beard oil. So far, his reviews are positive. Since the oils used are a little expensive, I will make these as needed, so if you would like some as Christmas gifts, let me know.
In between all the soap making, I was grooming Callie, chasing Bailey who learned how to get out of the fence, taking does to the buck for dates, and finally putting gravel in the walkway. I even managed to salvage a few boards of barn wood for a future project.
Two things I have a lot of lately is goat's milk and garlic. Since May, much of my time at home is spent milking and making cheese. We've experimented with a variety of cheeses, from soft cheese and yogurt to coffee creamer and hard cheeses. I've made lotion, and froze all I can for future soap. This is the view inside my refrigerator:
And my kitchen is a cheese factory
And then, there's the garlic. Besides the usual uses in cooking, we've made garlic powder, and recently discovered Garlic Jelly
The recipe, adapted from the Ball book of Home Preserving was a success. It will be great on a bagel with some fresh goat cheese!
Today, Carmen and I taught our first Soap Class at the Gallipolis Artisan Shoppe and Studio. A good time was had by all :-)
Inside the barnyard is a delicate balance. Routine is not only expected, but required to maintain happiness and health of the inhabitants. A zone of comfort and a pecking order exists among species and within individual groups in which they learn to co-exist. When a new member is introduced, or an old one leaves, or when a change occurs in the environment, even with the best intentions, the equilibrium is broken and chaos ensues until a new normal is established. We try to maintain balance among the herd as much as possible, but sometimes change comes out of necessity.
,The time had come to move the buck herd from the small and over-used paddock they inhabited on the hill into the large pasture, and to separate Carl, the young buckling, from the does before we had accidental breedings. Carl is one of Sasha's twins who was retained to bring her excellent milk genetics to some of the lower generation minis. His brother was wethered and kept as a companion.
The new pasture has plenty of browse for the goats, and room to roam. In the old area they were housed, the rickety OSB shed had outlived its usefulness. It was the same building that had been built as a temporary shelter five years ago, taken apart and moved, put back together and added on for a wintering and lambing area for sheep. It had seen better days.
In preparation for the move, two large stock tanks were installed to serve the horses and the goats. Since goats are notorious for getting out of fences, additional wires were added, taking it from six to eight tight and closely placed strands. Still having no barn on the hill, a temporary shelter, although not ideal, a shelter-logic tent and an A frame dog house were built in the new paddock. Sturdy feeders were installed along the fence line. In the end, one piece was missing, although had been discussed and we know now was vital, a holding pen inside the paddock to introduce new animals.
The first move was to herd Daryl, Primrose, the guardian dogs and friends from their old home across a few feet of grass to the gate of the new pasture. At first, they enjoyed the shady hillside overlooking the old shed, pondering this new place wondering and why they could see their old home but not reach it. Eventually, they learned their way around up and down the hill, and found their new comfort zone.
Soon after the move, on August 5, Buttercup, the large wether from the doe pen, took a walk up the hill to join the boys. Daryl greeted him, and once they figured out between them where he stood in the pecking order, all was well. Next, to join was Carl, the young black buckling who also needed away from the girls. This is where things went wrong. Once inside the pasture, Carl looked around at this strange new environment and bolted. He took off running as fast as he could go, down the fence line until we could see him no more. Thinking we might get him to come back if he had a familiar herd mate, his wethered brother, we quickly went to fetch Eugene. Another bad decision. Eugene followed suite, but popped through the fence to the edge of the woods. Luckily we could still see him, but he wouldn’t come to us.
Coming to the rescue, John brought their dam, Sasha, on a lead to hopefully draw them to her. Eugene came happily and stuck by her side. We led them all around the pasture up and down the trails calling for Carl, but there was no sign of him anywhere. For several days, we looked for Carl, hoping he would find his way home. Posts went out to the neighbors who were kind enough to look and watch for this lost little buckling.
To add to the confusion, the next morning Bailey, the masked Great Pyrenees, appeared out of the fence at the bottom on the hill with the chickens and does. A secured area was built using 4X4 goat panels to hold her temporarily until we could get this problem figured out. Next, Daryl and friends, all but Tator and Primrose, were on the wrong side of the fence. Luckily they were close by and easy to catch. This new fence was not doing its job.
Loose areas in the fence were found and tightened, and the wires were electrified with a solar charger. Problem solved. Eugene was back with the does and other kids, and there were no more escapees.
Time went on, and the hope of finding Carl was all but lost. The old shed was torn down and the fencing that had previously held them in the old paddock was removed. This would be the future site of a farm pond and recreation area for the farmers.
August 31, 26 days after the disappearance of Carl, he appeared back in the fence with the rest of the herd. We will never know how far he traveled, or how he found his way back, but there he was, a little thinner but on his feet and with good energy and appetite.
Welcome back Carl!
My name is Christy Franklin.