Saturday 31 October 2009

'Punky' paca'.

To be honest, I've never 'got' Halloween -it's the Englishman in me. However, today I carved my first pumpkin, one that Mrs. Smallholder grew, and I had to put the Apple Vale stamp on it.

It was while scooping out the flesh, it dawned on me - so that's what ectoplasm is!

Talking of excavation - I laid the land drain yesterday - when I say, "the land drain", it was just a short cut-off drain to reduce the run-off reaching the gateway and shelter in wet spells - and when I say, "I laid the land drain", I mean I also had the help of a couple of mini-diggers as well (Mrs. Smallholder and our daughter offered to dig, for the exercise - our sub-soil is stiff clay) - it was an offer I couldn't refuse, and saved the hassle of collecting and returning a real mini-digger. So I missed the opportunity of using a 'boys toy', but I'd rather have a light footprint on the planet and my field anyway. So, job done, turf replaced, scattered a bit of grass seed in the gaps, and even the chickens helped to drill the seed in - at least, I think that's what they were doing...

Pleased to report that Minnie is growing fleece back on her face -she still has a bit of a crusty nostril, and I was surprised how tolerant she was of having salve put on it - it's as if she understands that I'm trying to help her.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Pronking, picking, pins and pipes.

The girls were allowed into the top, largest paddock at the weekend, and they loved that as it goes to the brow of the hill, giving them views across the Somerset Levels where they can watch the neighbouring sheep, swans, horses and farming activities. Autumn and Ambrosia had a good old race around and pronk at dusk which was a delight to see, coupled with anxiety for her weakened leg. She is still getting the comfrey infusion in the morning, which she takes quite well provided she has my finger to suck and bite on - catching her is like a game of 'tag', while the others eat their feed from their buckets.

Minnies face seems to be improving - needing to try a product that would cling to her body long enough to be effective, and was modest in cost, so I could be generous with the application to penetrate the thick crust, I decided to try cattle teat salve (I'd also read that another breeder had used it). I'd given her a week of daily facial scrubs (Ruggle-It) plus salve in a concerted effort to get on top of the problem - I think I need to allow some recovery of fleece, and careful picking the crusts, which are only attached to the fleece, not her skin, and is a very slow process - she's very tolerant of the scrub, but will back away after a couple of tugs on the crusts, so you don't get much off over the course of an hour of repeated circling the catch pen, then tugging, then circling and so on...

I fitted new hinge pins to the shelter gate so it is more convenient to operate (I'll spare you the detail) - I was pleased that it actually worked and finished level, as the corner post of the shelter is a tree trunk, so none of the faces are plumb or smooth - one time-consuming job, but a useful step forward in animal handling that you make with experience - the purchase of hurdles made the previous arrangement unnecessary - I expect I'm losing you, even I'm getting bored describing it!

I'm going to lay an interceptor land drain pipe part way up the hill, so that in prolonged wet weather we don't get all the water running over the surface to the bottom, collecting around the entrance to the shelter pen and garden -I can borrow a digger, but I'm trying to weigh-up whether to dig it by hand, as I think I could do it in the same time with much less fuss than it takes to collect the machine, transfer it to the field dig the trench and then return it - the big difference being that I'll be knackered and wrecked for days afterwards if I do it...

Sunday 18 October 2009

A nice cup of tea...

Autumn has been taking the comfrey in yoghurt quite well, but it's messy, she coughs and splutters, and some of it remains stuck inside the 'teat', so I've been making an infusion and giving it as a drench - that's not so easy when she has a tiny mouth, but it is quite succesful.

We gave vaccination all round today, and trimmed toe-nails.

Minnie has been having daily facial scrubs and salve application.

The girls have been brought into the larger paddock for a bit more space, but not the largest paddock, so that Autumn doesn't get over-exuberant on her healing leg. Each step that I see her take comes with relief when I see that it is solid and not a limp -anxious times.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Leg warmer required.

Autumn had her dressing removed yesterday - healing nicely, we have to hope that the bone is healing, as she had her last anti-biotics tonight. Tomorrow, she is allowed out with the others into the small paddock to try and restrict her running around, and they will all be pleased to be grazing and wandering about looking at the view from the top of the hill.

The stud males visited today, Pela spat, but Minnie sat, so despite the late time of the year we decided to let her have one more go.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Finger food...

I went to work this morning to do my quarterly accounts, and even though I could see it was raining heavily, I concluded I'd rather be poo-picking in the rain! So as soon as I'd made good progress, I headed home, got my water-proofs on and over the next hour filled the wheel barrow, completely clearing the top paddock - very satisfying - if only the healthcare was as straightforward.

Though Autumn suckled on thursday and friday by bringing mum in frequently, on saturday I was concerned as mum was restless and only allowed suckling twice, so after advice I penned all the girls together - my initial reasoning was, firstly, I had thought mum would need the grazing to produce milk, and secondly, I didn't want Autumns leg to be vulnerable to bumping from the others, but perhaps the to-ing and fro-ing, and not being with baby was stressing her -they have haylage which is new to them and which they love, plus hay, and they seem to be more settled today, though Minnie wasn't happy having her facial scrub today - probably due to the permanent penning. I've lost ground with Minnies face - due to our short holiday, and then taken up with Autumns issues, with one scrub between, the facial crusts have increased, so it's going to be daily scrubs this week.

I gave autumn her first comfrey in honey, but we felt that may be too sugery to repeat, so she has been given it mixed with pro-biotic yoghurt, fed through the cut-off finger of a rubber glove.

Tomorrow, the vet will be changing her bandage.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Patience please, patient.

It's been a bit trying, with having to keep Autumn penned-in to restrict her leg movement. We brought Pela in every couple of hours to suckle, but Pela won't stay in after the feed, and tries to leap out to join the others. Autumn then feels left out and paces around, not resting her leg.

I moved the pen out of the shelter so she could get some of the lovely sunshine we had today, and see her mates better.

The vet gave us dried crushed Comfrey leaves to assist healing, a dessert spoonful daily to add to her feed - but at 9 weeks she's only chewing the odd stalk of hay - tonight I mixed it with some ADE paste, and pushed it in her mouth with my fingers - but I can't use that again, so I may try honey tomorrow, and get yoghurt for the next day - any other suggestions out there? and ways to give it?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Autumns op'.

Autumn went to the vets for her operation to remove the sequestered bone from her leg today.
On opening up they couldnt find it... scraped and drilled, still nothing, so bandaged up, and hoping that she has healed - clearly a young animal is producing cells for growth all the time, so we have to cross our fingers now, that her growth has provided the healing...
So I returned home with strict instructions to keep the bandage clean and dry - so penned her in the shelter with mum, who was distraught having been seperated for 4 hours, but pleased to see her baby - but mum quickly wanted to be out grazing in the, finally-arrived rain that Rob and Mark have also mentioned, so she leapt over the hurdles - and Autumn decided to try... I let mum graze for half an hour while I kept Autumn company, and as dusk fell, we brought the others in, hoping they would all be happy together. It's funny how they are happy to shelter on their own terms but If I bring them in and close the gate, they all get droopy lipped and humming! You can tell humans what's good for them, but not animals.

Friday 2 October 2009

Sat, Spat - Spat, sat.

Hi folks,

I make no apologies for teasing you with some pictures of St. Michaels Mount near Penzance, and a parascender over St. Ives, from our holiday in Cornwall. We were lucky to have another week without rain, if mainly cloudy - that's 3 weeks without rain down here.

We took the opportunity to visit Julie Taylor-Browne at her farm in Cornwall, to buy some halters for the cria, and she kindly showed us around and introduced us to her herd and her pygmy goats.

Our breeding is stuttering at the moment - the boys visited again - and who sat last week, spat - and who spat, sat...

Minnies face appears to have improved - due to the treatment I've been giving her, not the fact that I've left her alone for a few days!