Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Dulcinea

I've been doing a lot of reading and researching about how to better care for our animals, namely our goats.  Pat Coleby's "Natural Goat Care" has been top of my list.  That's where I first read about giving goats copper sulfate as a copper additive.  Many common ailments are easily remedied when goats get the proper amounts of copper.  Providing free choice minerals with enough copper isn't an option while sheep are around as copper will easily kill a sheep.  So when I read to give 1 tsp of copper sulfate per goat per week, I thought I had the silver bullet of husbandry going.  Last Monday was my first day administering it.  Each dairy goat came out to eat while on the milking stand (hence away from all sheep) and each got their allotted teaspoon.  The buck, being housed alone, got his copper in his normal feed as well.  I noticed they seemed to tire of their food before eating it all, so this week I gave them only grain (instead of mixing grain with alfalfa pellets), less of it and the copper sprinkled on top.  Each goat did fine.  I had also read that calcium deficiencies are common in dairying goats and diatomaceous earth was a great supplement that will also help with any worm problems.  I heard to give it to them every day for 60 days.  So a couple weeks ago I started that as well.  There were no amounts mentioned, but I doubted any issue of too much so just sprinkled some on their morning feed every day.

Which brings me to Tuesday morning.  As I said, I gave only grain, a little less than a pound, a little diatomaceous earth and a teaspoon of copper sulfate sprinkled on top.  Doby came out first.  She doesn't eat much and doesn't milk much so she lost interest about when I finished milking.  I tethered her to a tree to eat some leafy greens while I milked the rest, and put her bucket with her remaining feed within reach.  She never finished it all, but ate most of it.  Dulci came out next.  I had her bucket of feed, DE and copper ready.  She ate well, milked well and eagerly munched grass on her way back to the barren "pasture".  Helen was next and she did about the same as Dulci, maybe eating a bit less.  I also gave Copper his portion.  Monday night, Husbandman was milking and both Dulci and Helen were low.  The bug zapper was active and they seemed jumpy.  We wondered if a storm was coming because they seemed a bit on edge, but nothing showed on the radar.  Nothing notable about the moon either.

Tuesday morning I got up to find only Doby waiting for me.  She bounced out and onto the table and was perfectly normal.  After she was finished, I called for Dulci who was laying down toward the back of the common area.  She let out a bellow but didn't move.  Helen slowly sauntered over and came out for milking.  I could see walking behind her that she was quite low on milk.  She didn't eat at all, but stood still for me to milk her.  Yes, she was low but she's not exactly little miss constant supply.  When she was done, I went back for Dulci who had risen long enough to move to a shadier spot.  I went in and prodded and half picker her up.  She got up, walked about 5 feet and laid back down.  I started panicking.  I prodded and hefted again.  Again she walked about 5 feet and laid down.  I got her up and started dragging her where she walked to just outside the gate and laid down again.  I had to pull her out more to close the gate.  I got a bucket of hay and put it in front of her.  She nibbled some.  I got her up, kept her moving about 15' this time and she laid down again.  I left the bucket there and called my husband, called Hoeggar Goat Supply and started crying.  Farm Boy 2 came and laid down beside her and giggled about resting his head on her.  She didn't mind at all.  I let her rest a spell then prodded her up again.  I got her to the table where I had to lift her onto it because she didn't have the strength to jump.  She nibbled a bit at the hay, was not at all interested in grain or alfalfa.  She gave a third of her normal milk.  I wondered about copper toxicity.  She showed some interest in leafy trees so I stood there with her, bending branches down, letting her eat until she tired and laid down.  I coaxed her back into the pasture and did research.

Copper toxicity, though rare CAN occur in goats and they usually die within 24 hours (we were right at 24 hours).  Hoeggar goat supply folk were as unhelpful as always, suggesting a whole host of meds they'll gladly sell me.  I should have them all in my medicine cabinet right now and they treat me like I'm a fool if I don't.  They did give me a number to another person.  And the man at the feed store gave me a number.  And another friend gave me a number.  So I did everything.  I tried to get a vet to see her to get an injection of atripine (spelling???), I ran to the health food store and got thiamin tablets and shoved them down her throat.  I shoved down a few activated charcoal tablets too.  Also gave her a shot of B-complex.  I finally got a hold of one vet who said if she wasn't eatingor drinking she was probably too far gone to save.  That's when I lost it.  After months, or a year even, of constant kicking, just when I think I'm hitting normal again, my very favorite goat dies at my hand.  I'm ready to quit everything.  I'm ready to sell the house and move to a condo. 

Then a friend calls.  I sob on the phone with her.  She's known the ins and outs of every other problem I've had as well so was very sympathetic.  She said another friend said to bring her to her vet.  I explained that I had already called that vet and was told she was too busy to even talk to me on the phone. We hung up.  I went back to crying.  Torrential downpour comes and I run out to let the sheep back in to the barn.  Dulci hadn't moved at all.  She refused to drink for me.  I hugged her and cried some more.  A little while later that other friend showed up at my door and said to load her up, that she knew her vet would see her.  So I sent my kids to my neighbor's, backed the car to the pasture and we half carried half dragged Dulci out and loaded her into the back of the Tucson.  She stood the whole time... which I thought was a good sign.

The vet had a nice fenced area that we let her into.  My friend called her to say we were there and she came right out.  (It's nice to have friends in high places!)  We discussed a whole host of things:
1) If it were copper toxicity, her poop would be blueish.  Right then and there she pooped and it all looked good, but she took a sample.
2) Giving her more grain than normal could have thrown off her rumen.  It wasn't much more, but it was a possibility.
3) She could have parasites and the vet then told me that waiting until their eyes pale out to deworm is waiting too long.  I'd like to have her in a room with the ag extension agent who swears we're creating super bugs by routine deworming.
4) She could have eaten something else toxic.

So the vet took blood samples and my friend and I left her there.  I came back by to drop off some peanut hay for her on the off chance she'd decide to eat.  I thanked my friend repeatedly, but I really can't thank her enough.  She gave me hope when all hope was lost.

A few hours later the vet called me back.  Dulci's calcium and phosphorus levels were very high, but that's not something that kills a goat.  She also had a hearty population of parasites in her fecal sample.  She's never shown any signs of illthrift from parasites, but being that she's such a strong goat, that count could be high and just not affecting her much.  Or the copper could be doing its job and shedding them.  Her lethargy could be from an overdose of calcium (which another friend told me she personally had and it made her feel horrid), or from the parasites being cleansed too quickly... or being spring, she had a rapid upsurgence in parasites.

So now I'm left to decifer what I'm to do with not just Dulci but all our goats.  Should I continue with the copper supplements?  The one vet and Hoeggar's were very adamant against it.  Hoeggar's wants me to buy "their minerals" (and charge me $50 in shipping!) and that vet wants me to have their copper levels tested several times a year.  The Hoeggar minerals would have to be administered away from the sheep, meaning it would never be free choice, but just during milking times.  Reading more from Pat Coleby, I'm inclined to think she really does know what she's talking about.  I'm wondering if a gradual approach is better... maybe 1/4 of a tsp for several weeks first?

As for Dulci, the vet recommended fenbendazole for parasite control.  I'll administer that recommended dosage for her and feed her milk to Angel and the chickens for a week (the withdrawal time in milk hasn't been determined).  I'm going to stop with the DE or maybe give it free choice rather than mixed in feed.  We read on Fias Co Farm's site about doing our own fecal parasite tests.  It's an initial investment of a microscope (which in this family of nerds will be a blessing to our homeschool anyway) and some test tubes but given that I could carefully watch their levels on my own, I think its a good thing to start doing.

When we brought Dulci home, she was much more chipper.  She almost ran once she saw the pasture.  But then got side tracked by leafy trees along the way.  She still didn't readily come for milking.  We had to prod her up and drag her out, but she jumped onto the table without assistance.  She wasn't interested in feed so I stood there cutting leafy branches and holding them for her to eat.  I hugged her goodnight and gave her some nuzzles.  She nuzzled back, sweet girl.  I don't tend to think of myself as emotionally attached to our animals, but I am.  A lot, I guess. 

So in the end, I'm open to suggestions, advice and opinions.  I don't want just run-of-the-mill animals completely dependent upon chemical dewormers the way every other goat in Florida is, but I also don't care for this "experimentation on live animals" thing either.  Share your wisdom, everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Impulse Ducks

Remember those muscovy ducklings I mentioned?  Well, yesterday after spending a full day at the Orlando Science Center, coming home and building/painting bee boxes, we decided at 6:30pm to jaunt another 35 miles away to bring home some ducklings.  The sellers were going to a farm swap this morning so I was nervous they wouldn't have any left.  So while Husbandman did a slightly early evening milking, I loaded up the kids and drove through Chic-Fil-A for dinner.  (cringe!)  Not only were we acting impulsively, especially since we didn't even have any game bird starter on hand to feed these guys, but we didn't even have time to flop together some pbj's for dinner (we already had PB&J's for lunch at a park in Orlando).

 But off we went and successfully put 10 little ducklings into our dog crate.  Then I started asking the seller about pigs.  He took us out to see all his pigs of various sizes.  By the time we came back into where the chicks and ducklings were, we discovered the little puffballs had all escaped!
 So then we got to scurry around his garage and catch them again.  He gave us a box to bring them home in and suggested we wrap the bottom half of the crate in saran wrap to keep them in.  So once we got home, we put the already snoozing kids in bed, and got to work on the ducks' new home.
We put them in the porch so Angel is less likely to pull the saran wrap off.  I thought we had a red lightbulb for heat, but we can't find it so the ducks are plenty warm but lit up bright.  We got a small scoop of game bird starter from the sellers and we'll pick up a bag from the local hardware store (who's number I have on speed dail) who assured me they had it in stock.

And my beeswax is probably melted by now so I can prep the bee frames.  Here's to a busy yet highly predictable day! (hopefully...)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Flash Farming

Husbandman and I may not be known to let grass grow under our feet, but we do usually do things rather methodically, calculated, planned, over-planned and almost always over-researched.

But this year seems to be different.  Without meaning to, it seems as though we're blitzkrieging on new enterprises.

So Mona spontaneously got bred.  And we spontaneously brought home Brownie, another rabbit for breeding, when some friends offered her to us.  This leaves us with 2 filled rabbit hutches, neither with a nest box, neither with enough room for the mother and her 6-week old weened young and no suitable pen for said young.  With Mona due in just over a week, I have ordered three 20"x26"x6" wash basins for nest boxes (because I don't have time to build something).  It gives us about 7 weeks to build a pen large enough for the weened young.  We intended to breed Brownie pretty soon, but that may be put on hold for a bit now. (whew!)

Then Doby kidded last night.  I wasn't expecting her to kid until May or June, but a couple days ago I realized her time was immanent.  I was quite nervous for her as she's just over a year old and still rather small.  That she was bred to a dwarf goat eased my mind only slightly.  But my worries were for naught.  She birthed about midnight last night without a peep.  I knew what happened only by Angel making some odd confusing noises and figured she was baffled by the "miraculous" appearance of a new charge.  She stood vigilantly by them the entire night though.  So now, in the midst of everything else, I'm milking a new goat 4 times a day.  She's not great on the stand yet.  More nervous than interested in food.  To narrow through the hips to make udder access easy.  Just all around, not that fun right now.  I'm also not sure how long we'll be without milk in the next year as the 3 present milkers dry off and we appropriately space their lactations now that the buck's "services" can be planned and prevented.

A couple days ago, the people we bought our bee hives from came by to give us a tutorial and check on the hives.  Turns out they've gone gangbusters in there and are already busting out of the original boxes.  We need to add a box to each hive pronto... meaning we need to build them first!  So tomorrow morning, Husbandman will ferociously build, tomorrow afternoon I will ferociously paint and Saturday we will quietly and calmly install.

A few days ago friends asked if we wanted some new chicks.  We did the math and decided,yes we could use some fresh layers to see us through the lean time this winter when daylight and molting could bring us to less than a half dozen a week.  So now we need to figure out which pen will be our brooder and then hold our growing birds... which means no pen is available to even buy some time with the young bunnies.

Then today, I popped on Craig's list (hoping to see a rabbit hutch for sale to save us the time and energy to build one) and found muscovy ducklings for sale locally.  I've never seen muscovy ducklings for sale!  Hatcheries require a huge order and a pretty penny each.  I asked the people selling if this was something they would likely keep on hand.  No such luck.  They're only available a couple times a year from hatcheries and they grabbed these on a whim.  So, this means we're probably going to be bringing home muscovies again rather soon.  We'll brood them in the dog crate until their ready for the old turkey pen outside in the pasture.  And one of those rabbit nest boxes I ordered will probably wind up a duck bath.

And those same friends that gave us Brownie, and asked if we wanted to order chicks with them also asked if we wanted a really nice Suffolk ewe.  Apparently this ewe has been shown at the county fair and has had 2 sets of twins in her 4 years of life.  Her present owners just want a good home for her.  So, we're now considering bringing on a new ewe that would have more likelihood of twinning and slaughtering both Nina and Daisy (knife to the heart twice!!!) this fall.  We don't want to overwinter 3 breeding ewes.  Should we take this ewe, we'd keep her and Esperanza for breeding (and of course Valentino too).

So guess what we're doing this weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Buzz

We worked our new hives for the first time last Saturday.  All in all, it went very well.  No one got stung despite us not getting the smoker to really work properly until the very end.  Honey bees get such a bad rap... they're just not at all aggressive.  A person's much more likely to get injured by a dog, but no one flips over Fido moving in.

I digress.  Anyway, as I was saying, it all went well.  We're still VERY new to this so we didn't quite know all the various things to look for.  Every day when I'm in the pasture filling water buckets, I peak at the hives.  I don't open them, just stand to the side and watch for a decent amount of activity.  They're always buzzing and busy.  I also look for an abnormal amount of dead bees on the ground.  Thankfully I haven't seen any of that.
 Here's Husbandman suited up using the hive tool to separate frames so they can be pulled and inspected individually.
I wish I could get a good picture of bees with pollen on their legs.  Its so neat to see the perfect way God designed their little bodies to do big things!
 A pulled frame.  We were looking to make sure we saw all stages of bees and honey: eggs, larvae, young brood, pollen, nectar, capped honey, etc.
When we purchased our bees, we bought two 5-frame nuks of bees and put them each in 8-frame boxes.  So some frames are filled and covered in bees while some of the outer frames are still rather vacant.

Husbandman closing up after finishing the task.

So, because people ARE going to wonder about safety, let me share the facts.

Africanized bees are aggressive and those bees are gradually crawling up the state of Florida.  It is estimated that by 2015, 1 in every 6 homes will have a colony of Africanized bees on their property.  Keeping nice, docile honey bees around will actually PREVENT Africanized bees from deciding your home is a good place for them.  An established hive is already going after their food source.  When a swarm is looking for a place to land, they will be less likely to go where bees are already inhabiting. 

Honey bees only sting when they're feeling like the hive is being threatened.  And they give plenty of warning.  A few dive bombs to the head will let anyone know that they're getting too close.

We have opted for minimal gear.  We have 1 proper veil (which I was wearing) and both of us opted for no gloves.  Gloves make for clumsy fingers that can squish bees when handling frames.  Many experts don't even wear veils when their working their hives.  I read about a man who complained about his horribly aggressive hives as he bumbled around in a complete head-to-toe bee suit.  Another expert went to inspect these "aggressive" hives wearing normal light colored clothes and a baseball cap.  Turns out the bees weren't aggressive at all.  The man in the suit just wasn't being careful and then never bothered to clean his suit between uses.  Being clumsy and careless makes them defensive.  Once they sting (or try to sting) they leave a pheromone on you telling the others that you're dangerous and should be stung.  This man only needed to go into his bee yard in his pheromone drenched suit and every sentry on guard would be after him.  Careful, slow movements make for calm, happy bees.

And a word about "swarms".  The word "swarm" brings fear to many people, but in actuality, swarms are nothing more than a great big breeding fest.  A new queen is made and she leaves the original hive with a line of drones (who are nothing more than breeding machines) and they find a new place to settle.  During a swarm the bees are more docile than ever.  A person can literally pick up that pulsing, buzzing ball of bees and simply drop them in a box and never get stung.  I've heard several people say they have put their bare hand into the center of a swarm ball and pulled it back out without ever being stung. 

The kids have all been introduced to the hives.  Since they reside in the pasture, which the kids are too short to get in to without adult assistance, there is no risk of them stumbling upon them or getting more curious than is safe.  Even still, they'd get a sting or 2 and would quickly be running crying to mommy and no other stings would be necessary.  The goats and sheep have learned to not bother them, so why shouldn't kids?  As for allergies, I doubt we will have an issue with them.  There's now a suspicion of a link between extreme allergies an excessive vaccinations.  Given our vaccination record, I'm doubtful there will be an allergy or one very severe.

We will possibly not get any honey this year.  We want to create the best base for them which means allowing them to build their own comb (for at least the bottom box) and allowing them to keep plenty of honey for themselves.  We'll let each hive fill up 2 deep 8-frame boxes before adding a honey super.  If we get honey before winter, great.  If not, there's always next year.

Summer's Coming

Some say summer's already arrived.  And yes, the temps have crested 90 here already, but I'd still have to say its been a pleasant spring and continues to be such. 

But we did bust out the kiddie pool.  Actually bought a new one.  A small little plastic one that I feel safer with farmer boy 2 playing around.  He's not likely to venture in the water himself, but the big deep one (that has to be filled almost full to keep its form) is just not ok by me, even if I am just 100 feet away in the garden.

Given some unfortunate circumstances that have kept me inside and on the phone or flitting to various offices, the gardens have been looking quite rough.  The last of my spring seedlings were bursting from their pots.  Weeds were overtaking my canteloups.  I finally took a couple days this week to spend outside.  It was as refreshing for my emotions as it was for the plants.

A couple weeks ago, Farmer Girl and I ventured to the ag extension's Master Gardener Plant Sale.  I was in search of a loquat tree from a grower who is known for the monstrous fruit... and came away with much more. 
  • a bunching muscadine grape vine
  • a pair of kiwi vines (a male and female)
  • another pomegranate tree
  • a smattering of herbs
and of course the loquat.  Aside from the kiwi (who needs a properly built trellis), they are all in the ground and doing well.

I also managed to overhaul all the herb beds in a single day, thanks to that wonderful kiddie pool that kept all 3 gloriously entertained for 5 straight hours!  I saved some dill seed, and ripped out the rest.  Added oregano, cosmos, morning glory, creeping rosemary, basil, watercrest and peppermint in the full sun beds.  In the new shade bed I put thyme, spearmint, peppermint, oregano, watercrest, and horehound.  Obviously, some are experiments as to where they'll do best.  I'm also trying to add some color and "pretties" to fill in the bare spots in the beds near the house.  The "pretty patch" is where I grow smiles so I must confess to losing some of my utilitarian edge.  Ornamentals are certainly proving their worth 'round here.

On the food front, I got the sweet potato bed pretty well filled already.  Had way too much basil for the herb garden alone so filled a bed in the big garden too.  Got genovese, lettuce leaf and cinnamon basil varieties.  Should yield some good pesto this year.  Also got the cherry tomatoes, some okra and a few more beans in.

Then I refilled my seed planters with:
  • watermelon (blacktail mountain)- not pleased with germination before and really hoping for good fruits this year so going for a last round with seeds.
  • lima beans (christmas)
  • okra (eagle pass)*
  • eggplant (pandora striped rose)*- only 3 eggplants germinated and survived transplanting.  I'm not sure what variety I have left.  This is a new one that looks really good.
  • cantaloup (EPS)*- some seeds I got in a seed swap.  Again, I'm pretty late, but the last round of seeds wasn't impressive.  May not get anything before the pickle worm comes in, but I have the space to try.
  • amaranth (joseph's coat)*- I actually can't remember if this variety was cultivated for its looks or its greens.  I want the greens mostly, but I'm not opposed to the pretties.
  • peanuts (Virginia jumbo)*
  • zinnia (giant violet queen)
  • morning glory (kikyozaki)
  • dwarf coffee plant- 3rd time's a charm... something will HAVE to germinate at some point.
  • marigold (harlequin)
  • sunflower (teddy bear)
More "firsts" this week were picking the first wonderberries, tiny little dark barries that are tastey, but not spectacular.  Will be fun for the kids; once I point them out I won't get to harvest another.  Also cooked out first zucchini and yellow squash of the year a few days ago.  Added zucchini to tonight's pizza (topped with homemade goat cheese!)  Guessing another week or so out on our first tomatoes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The second attempt at butter making went much better than the first.  This time we realized that having the cream quite cold is imperative.  Without that, melted butter looks a whole lot like cream.  So, again, Saturday morning, we separated Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning's milkings, 3.5 gallons.  We got about 2.5 pints of cream.  Separating goes better with the milk warm so after separating we stuck it back in the fridge.  We intended to get to making butter later that day, but we had a busy weekend so Monday night I finally had a chance to tackle it. 

 So the cream got put into the blender.  Within minutes it was butter.  It took some coaxing as the whipped cream would create a pocket where the blades were turning and you'd have to keep pushing the cream back onto the blades.  Then it would get to where it would basically stop mixing (a big blob that doesn't blend) and then it would start mixing again where the big blob is broken up into slightly smaller blobs bobbing around in butter milk.  That's where we'd stop blending.

 Then we poured off the buttermilk, put the butter into a bowl and began the washing process.  Its better to get the butter back into the fridge to chill again before washing.  Also wash with ice cold water.  So, with cold butter and cold water, pour some water onto the butter and mix it up.  The water will get cloudy with buttermilk residue.  Pour off the water and wash again, repeating until the water runs fairly clear.  Then stick the butter back into the fridge.
Once its cold again, its time to press all that excess water out of the butter.  I tried several methods, but the most effective I found was to press the butter blob around on a piece of cheesecloth.  The cheesecloth absorbs the water but doesn't stick to the butter.  Then salt it and mix it using the same method.  The recipe says 1/2 tsp per pound of butter.  I mixed it in using the cheesecloth press method again.  Then I lined the butter mold with wax paper, pressed the butter into the mold, molded the butter and viola, the finished product.

So, yes, this was a lot of work for half a pound of butter.  But I think we'll still be doing it again.

Mona's Night Out

Yesterday afternoon, some neighbors stopped by to chat, see Daisy, etc.  Farmer Girl took them to see Mona, even though they have met Mona many times before.  Farmer Girl's quite proud of her little fluffy charge.  These neighbors have a buck rabbit themselves.  Husbandman started talking with them and the next thing I know, Mona and her pen are being toted by the red Radio Flyer off to meet her new beau, Steve, with all the kids in tow as well.  I was busy taking down laundry so merely asked where she was going as the whole gang (7 people and a bunny) trotted across 3 front lawns.

Apparently Steve did not even wait for privacy.  In less than 3 minutes the deed was done.  Husbandman did not think it could have possibly gone that fast so we left Mona with Steve until after dinner.  Then again, all 3 kids went with him to bring her home.  The littlest farmer boy this time riding in the wagon with Mona's pen and the other 2 kids holding on to the sides.  It was quite a sight.  So now "Backyard in Your Barnyard" has been added to my bedside reading stack, a stack no less than a foot high.  I need to figure out how to properly feed this pregnant bunny as she mostly just gets scraps from the kitchen and garden.  Lately when we've given her pelleted food, she eats some and scratches the rest right out of the bowl and it falls through the pen. 

May 2nd starts the window of time she could birth.  It will be a new experience for me to be involved in the labor and delivery of something I can't stick my whole arm inside.  Not that I help in many deliveries anymore, I guess 2 in the last 5 years.  Certainly beats the stats on the conventional dairy farm where about 1 in 3 births needed assisting.  I digress... merely saying I don't think my pinkie finger will be able to assist so Mona, its all you, sweetie. 

Yet Another

 Another sad day at Ziptie Ranch.  Julius died Sunday morning despite me, once again, doing everything I knew to save him.  He was never a strong kid.  He was born a bit later than his brother Jonah and initially was considerably weaker.  He was slow to get his legs under him the first day.  Then he was never a good eater.  He didn't suck, he merely gnawed at a bottle allowing milk to dribble into his mouth.  He didn't even suck on a finger so I'm not sure he would have even been able to drink water from a bucket.  His chin was always drenched after every feeding so I knew milk was running right out of his mouth too, but I never knew how much.  He never did the new goat gallivant.  As time progressed, Jonah pulled further and further ahead of him, but I still didn't think Julius's problems were fatal.  I had turned over the feeding of the kids to the 2-leggeds.  Farmer Girl and Farmer Boy 1 would always go running out with their bottles.  Farmer Boy 1 would always stay out there until Julius's bottle was empty, which often took a MUCH longer time than I had patience for.  But again, being that he's 3, that milk may have simply made it down his chin (or into Jonah's tummy) and not much into the intended belly.  After every interaction with Julius, I would come in only partly joking that "Julius has to be retarded."
Julius started appearing worse than "just Julius" on Wednesday.  I took over his feeding again and  was really surprised by his lack of "skill" to eat.  He seemed to even regress in the week since I had given that chore to the kids.  Thursday evening, Jonah was sold and Julius was launched into full-fledged depression.  Droopy ears and everything.  I put him in with Copper and Doby, but he just laid down in the sunshine and didn't move.  By Friday evening he wasn't standing properly.  I wondered about "bent leg syndrome" and started giving him cod liver oil, feeding him by syringe and giving vitamin B injections.  Since he was Helen's fifth kid in 3 complete pregnancies all crammed into 19 months of time, birth defects unfortunately could be rather expected.  We kept up the regime, adding vitamin C to the mix as well on Saturday and moved him into a sick bed on the porch where we could keep him warm and comfortable.  Early Sunday morning, I heard a little peep from him and was relieved to know he made it through the night.  But by the time his milk was warmed and I went to feed him, he was gone.

I spent a few hours, both before he died and after, trying to figure out what was ailing him.  I poured through my "Natural Goat Care" book and found nothing that really fit, including bent leg syndrome.  The author of this book does make note to not spend much time or resources saving unthrifty kids because nature usually knows better than we which ones can survive long-term.  I have a hard time with that, but I feel a bit less guilty with his death.  I think there was likely a non-visable birth defect that prevented him from eating properly.

In the end, I'm glad we've been able to keep Copper away from Helen.  She just came out of heat (at 3 weeks post pardem) so we only have another year's worth of heats to go through.  Hopefully the fence on the bachelor pad is up for the challenge.  I think that's really the only way we can prevent this in the future.