Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Happenings

As always, all kinds of crazy things are happening around here. Spring is always the most rambunctious of times and this year's season has not failed to perform.


So here we are in May and it's still raining. I don't want to complain too much since rain means less watering for me, but I'm kind of getting sick of the damp. I think the animals have had their fill too.


With all the wetness, Ethel has developed some weird skin thing. While clipping her hooves today, I noticed that her belly is covered in brownish, oily skin flakes. Like a lot of it. It's even down her legs. I'm not sure what it is, but it does look an awful lot like cradle cap or seborrhoeic dermatitis. I've never heard of this being a problem in goats, but I did read that seborrhoeic dermatitis may be some kind of yeast flare up and I've been seeing some weird, yeasty smegma in the folds under Ethel's tail. Ugh, more animal ickies! I'm going to treat it like I did the cradle cap my daughter had as a baby: moisten it with an oil like neem, olive, coconut, or taminu and exfoliate with a soft toothbrush. Considering the area that it's covering, this will take awhile, need at least two people to perform the operation, and make for one unhappy goat as she will have to lie on her back for the entire procedure. And she'll probably need a bath after all is said and done. Sounds like fun, eh?

On the up side of things, I think Ethel is pregnant. Her udder is beginning to swell and I've noticed some waxy discharge from her teats. But before you get all excited, I have also observed that Lucy hasn't gone into heat since Fred left. Shit, he was only in the pen with her for maybe 10 hours tops and she showed no signs whatsoever of ovulation. I'm hoping I just missed the signs this month. Let's keep our fingers crossed on this one as we don't need anymore incestuous matings happening over here.

Speaking of incest, I've heard from Pam, the baby goats' new owner, that Ginger is ready to kid any day now. Yup, the chastity chonies were a fail. Fred knocked her up and now she's a baby having babies. Jerry Springer, here we come! I've got my fingers crossed that all goes well for her. I'll report back as soon as I receive news.

Chickens and Chicks

The cluckin' stubborn bumblefoot keeps reoccurring. I've dug into Sweet Pea's foot twice now and still haven't found the "plug". The last foray into the pad retrieved a few gooey, milky white strands, but definitely no marble of yuck. She's back to laying, but if it flares up again I think I will have to give her some internal antibiotics.

The other two adult hens just started laying again this week. They seemed to have finished their weird off-season molt and are back in squawky high spirits.

The chicks are almost ready to go outside. One more week of my craft room looking like a chicken coop. I can't wait to foist them into the great outdoors. The fresh air will be good for them, I'm sure.


The garden is looking so lush right now with the Oregon Sugar Snaps reaching towards the sky, the Aquadulce favas bearing prolifically, and the lettuces and brassicas creating a carpet of greenery across the yard. In the above picture, you can see the herb/strawberry spiral that I built a few weeks ago. One of the ladies who hangs out with me on the farm, Erika, ripped out that palm, which was in such a weird spot under the loquat, and we replanted it in a barrel container to put on the sidewalk in front of the house. I know the herb spiral is a total permaculture cliche, but they really are an efficient use of space. I've got it crammed with all kinds of herbs and strawberries. The poor berries have been getting their asses kicked by the wind so I've put up a little wind barrier that I made out of the leftover corrugated roofing from the animal pen cover. It's helping, but I think I might have to do better.

I've also finally installed my drip irrigation system. Hallelujah! It wasn't as intimidating as I made it out to be. Look for an upcoming post on drip irrigation for the technically challenged.

My tomato starts are starting, but are not quite as big as I would like them to be. This year I started the seeds outside in a makeshift greenhouse. Big mistake. It took them over three weeks to germinate and I still haven't been able to get enough heat on them to get them to take off. They're doing alright though. A couple years ago I started the seeds on my stove top since I've got that super awesome vintage Wedgewood with the constant warmth from the pilot light. The major drawback with this method is that I ran out of room in our small kitchen and dining room area for all of the plants. This led to some strained marital relations so I went with the outdoor plastic covered plant stand on the front porch method. Marriage saved. Tomatoes stunted. Next year I will be starting my seeds in late January or early February, inside, and with a fluorescent shop light over them. The fluorescent bulbs use little energy and since we have solar panels, I won't feel the least bit guilty.

I think that pretty much sums it up. How is your May going so far?


  1. Yes! Drip irrigation! I need a primer Heidi. Letting our grass die in the front yard (finally convinced the landlord) and want to convert a not too well install sprinkler system to drip.

    The herb spiral is great....don't let the haters get to you!

  2. SO sorry about the goat cradle crap stuff. Ugh. One more thing, right? My goats new goats are slowly getting used to us and were very skittish at first. They were a bit wild, so I am not sure what will happen. But the mom goat is bulging with pregnancy, we have a pregnant rabbit, and I thing the baby pygmy may have been a bit older than the b reeder thought because she may be knocked up too! (and I just found out I am pregnant with my 5th- so a lot of 'changes' going on here) My 4 year old and 2 year old decided to give one of our rabbits a 'bath' and almost drowned one. And it SNOWED yesterday here in UTah!! SNOWED!! I hope the tomatoes I just bought didn't freeze- I am new to tomatoes. Have a great day :)

  3. Hang in there, Heidi. You are my role model. This post is a good reminder to me of why I will most likely not make an area for barn animals when I landscape this year. ;-)


  4. I'll be talking to you soon about your goat issues. Sounds tough. On the brighter side that shot of your yard looks fabulous! The spiral garden is gorgeous.

  5. It sounds like rain rot. Tis the season with this long wet spell.

    That you do have to scrub off as the bacteria live in the scab and under it. We used to bring the horses in and use a medicated shampoo on it. (It would happen ever great now and again at the stables, usually on pasture kept horses during long wet spells.)

    Keep flies away and use gloves when cleaning them. It can spread to people and other (mammal) barn buddies.

    Equine supply store or a farm & fleet should carry it.

    here is the stuff:

  6. Poor goats! Without seeing it it's hard to say, but it sounds like your describing either mites or dermatophilosis (rain rot, like Anne suggested). Sometimes the two actually act together (the mite bites allow the bacteria to penetrate the skin). The mites I've seen on goats are Chorioptic Mange, and usually hang out on the bottom parts of the legs, making them super dry and scaly with open sores.

    IM injection of penicillin or tetracycline should clear up dermatophilosis quickly. I've gotten rid of mites with 1% injectable ivermectin dosed orally. I definitely second the suggestion of wearing gloves any time you come in contact with it.

    If you want, send me a photo of it and I'll pass it along to my vet in Davis and see what he thinks. Good luck! :)

    - Carla

  7. Can't wait for the irrigation post; we need to get something set up here. The hose isn't just going to cut it come August in Texas. It was 99(.9)F today!