Thursday, June 2, 2011

Knowing When

Good Morning!  It's hot, dry, and dusty here on the homestead.  The temperatures have been running in the mid to high 90's all week and the humidity makes the air seem too thick to breathe.  We have begun our summer schedule of getting out at daybreak, getting our work done, and getting back in by 11 AM.  Then we work on the indoor stuff until late afternoon.  With daylight lasting later into the evening, we are able to eat supper and then go out to do evening chores, giving the animals time to cool down some with the evening breeze.  It has been a while since we had any appreciable rain and watering stays at the top of our To Do List.

Most of the time here on the homestead we handle medical problems ourselves.  Even with kidding, Michaela is experienced enough to handle most of the problems we have encountered.  But there always comes a time when you know you just can't solve a problem.  Ours came about during the last kidding in March by the matriarch of our herd, Clara.  This particular goat is known for her long labors and absolutely refuses to kid if anyone is there to watch.  So when her labor went 5 hours we really didn't think anything about it.  But in the 6th hour, things began to change.  Since she had gotten so large, we were expecting twins, but wouldn't have been surprised at triplets.  Michaela did an internal check and was positive that the kid was positioned correctly and that all the parts belonged to the same kid.  Labor was very intensive, but nothing was happening.  So, we made the decision to call in a vet.  Fortunately, he was already on another farm visit and was there in 45 minutes.  It took him 30 minutes or more to maneuver the first kid out and another 30 to get the second.  While both were nice sized does, the real problem stemmed from a broken tail bone that had occurred in a previous kidding.  We thought it had healed up straight, when in fact it had healed in a V-shape, where the bottom point of the V protruded into the birth canal.  The vet had had to gradually work both kids around this in order to get them out.  This had definitely been beyond Michaela and I's abilities.  Our decision to call in a vet saved both the doe and the two kids.  And cost us $177, every penny of which we consider well spent.

There are several keys to running a successful livestock operation, but probably the most valuable is pre-planning.  We had already made the decision to call in a vet if one of the goats had serious trouble, so we chose a vet and have been working on building a relationship with him.  He knows us well enough that if we call for an emergency farm visit, he knows it's bad.  His number is programmed into our cell phones so we don't scramble for the number.

The second key is knowing your level of expertise.  We've had animals long enough that we know our comfort level and what we feel we can handle.  We know several people to call if we get stuck on a problem. And we know when to call in the experts. 

Take the time to plan out exactly what you will do if you encounter a problem you can't handle.  Find a vet and build a relationship.  Spend time with your animals so that you know them and can recognize when something isn't quite right.  These simple steps will go a long way in allowing you to keep your homestead happy and healthy.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


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