Little Miss Marley

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, December 23, 2015 1:02 PM

UPDATE:  The bio-security screen on Marley came back negative for CAE, CL, and Johnes.  YAY!

Little Miss Marley has left the homestead and is headed for her new home at Flat Broke Farm AnimalRescue in Pengrove, CA.

Wait... What?  Who???

It's been an interesting week to say the least.  It all started when my friend Simone forwarded me this post on Facebook last Thursday.  Someone had left a little goat in a crate at the front door of the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.  This facility is set up for domesticated pets, not farm animals.  Some very strong language towards the person(s) that left her escaped in my out loud voice.  

The shelter did a great job by putting her way in the back in a separate kennel area away from the dogs.  It had a pop hole for outdoor access which is very important for goats.  They gave her some Timothy hay which they had for their rabbits, some carrots, and clean water.  They also cleaned a whole bunch of muck out of her eyes.  Most importantly, they recognized that this little girl wasn't in their wheelhouse and reached out to the community by posting to their FB page asking for information about finding a vet.

When I saw the post, there was no question in my mind.  I had to go check on this little doe and make sure she was alright.  I called the shelter and spoke with the vet tech.  When I offered to come over and give her a health check, I could hear the relief in his voice.  So I loaded up a bag with just about anything I might need such as Probios, antibiotics, hoof trimmers, you name it.  Kristin loaded a bunch of feed hay into a keg bucket and put that in the back of the car.  And then we were off.

When we arrived, it was very obvious that the staff were relieved to have a knowledgeable person to check her out.  She was very nervous, but a little goat ration and rye hay helped bring her around.  She also ate a bit of Sweetlix minerals out of my hand.  I listened to her heart and lungs and was happy when they sounded normal.  Her rumen was rather quiet, but then she hadn't had much to eat.  I gave her a dose of Probios to help kick start it in case it was out of whack and some Selenium/Vitamin E gel for good measure.  I was worried about her eyes since they said they had removed a ton of goop.  I didn't see any sign of pinkeye and her inner lid color was good.  But I gave her a squirt of Vetericyn Pinkeye Spray in each eye for good measure.  Can't hurt, right?  There were perfect little goat berries all over the floor so I wasn't worried about coccidiosis  She seemed a little thin for her size, but she wasn't emancipated by any means.  So I gave her a dose of wormer too.  Her hooves needed a good trim, but that could wait.

After the exam, I sat with her curled up in my lap and gave her some much needed loving.  She ended up falling asleep.  My guess is that it was the first time all day she felt safe and relaxed.  So I let her snooze while Kristin and I chatted quietly.  It was cold on the concrete floor.  I kept looking at her kennel and thinking to myself that it wasn't the best option.  After brainstorming with Kristin, we both came to the conclusion that we weren't leaving the facility without her.  No, I was not going to adopt her.  But I would foster her until they could find her a home.  And I'd get a bio-security screen blood test done to verify her CAE / CL / Johnes status.

The only way I was able to safely foster her was by keeping her completely separate from my own goat herd.  Since I didn't manage to get a winter garden in this year I didn't have anything growing for her to destroy.  I had also attached some hog paneling to my barnyard fence earlier in the year to prevent the turkeys from getting into the garden.  So I put up a tarp on the barnyard fence and we built a cozy little shelter between the rocking chairs in the fire pit patio area.  A thick layer of straw made this temporary little loafing shed warm and comfortable.  Kristin sat out with her for a while to make sure she was settled in, ate some dinner, and knew where the water bowl was.

On Friday I loaded her into the crate again and the two of us took a little drive up to UC Davis Large Animal Clinic.  It was on this drive that I decided to call her Marley.  I'll explain this a little later.  She got a brief exam (basically the same as I had given her) to confirm that she was doing okay.  They drew blood for the bio-security screen and weighed her.  At 26-1/2 lbs, she was a little on the light side.  They looked at her teeth and estimated she was between 7 and 10 months old.  They also said that she was a Saanen mixed with either a Boar or Nubian.  That means she's probably going to be a big girl when she grows up.  I should have the test results within a week.  So she got the all clear (except for the tests).  I called the shelter to give them an update and then we headed back home.  

On Tuesday I received a call from Lou, the vet tech at the shelter.  They had found a home for Marley.  YAY!!!  A rescue in Pengrove would take her.  Transportation to the farm was arranged for the next morning via one of their volunteers.  I did a quick look at their website to make sure they weren't those idiots in Sonoma (don't ask).   Everything looked legit and I felt relieved.  I had done everything I could to make sure she was healthy, safe and comfortable while in my foster care.  It was time to send her off to her new home and a much better life than she has probably known up to this point.

This morning Kristin and I got up early and gave her a final once over.  Her eyes were wiped clean again with a warm washcloth.  Since they were still gunky, I decided to put a drop of antibiotics in each one.  I washed the dirt from her lower legs and gave her a hoof trim.  She was so calm the entire time, just happily munching on some goat ration.

I have to say that she looked a hell of a lot better this morning than when I picked her up almost a week ago.  We drove over to the shelter for the hand off.  I taped my card to the top of the crate so the folks at the rescue farm can call me.  She was very calm and relaxed as we moved her to the other vehicle.  Not even one little bleat from her.  Nope!  She was contently chewing her cud.  I snapped a few pictures, gave her some scratches, and said goodbye to Marley.

The shelter had previously told me that they would reimburse me for the vet visit and the blood test.  But it's Christmas time and they are a non-profit organization rather than a facility operated by the city or county.  So I told the vet tech to just give me a receipt for the donation and I'd write it off on my taxes.  By his expression, I could tell he was surprised.  Out of the blue I had come to the rescue when Marley was dropped off and they didn't know what to do.  I had offered to foster her in an appropriate setting and see to her medical checkup.  And now I wasn't even going to ask them to reimburse me for the medical expenses.  Happy Holidays indeed!!!

'Tis the season for giving as the saying goes.  I may not have much at the moment, but I did what I could.  My Christmas gift this year went to a homeless stranger in need.  I hope Marley will have a happy and healthy future with loving friends and companions.
Why did I settle on the name Marley?  Because on the way to UC Davis the song "Three little birds" by Bob Marley came on the radio and it just clicked.  It was like she suddenly had a theme song.  You may not know the song title, but I know you will recognize the chorus:
Rise up this mornin
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin' "This is my message to you" 
"Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright"
Singin' "Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright!"'

POULT-ry Palace!

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, April 20, 2015 9:21 PM

Tonight I completed the remodeling / expansion transforming the large brooding crate into POULT-ry Palace!  Or perhaps Turkey Taj Mahal?

This weekend I picked up an extra large folding crate from a fellow homesteader who is moving.  It was a steal for only $10.00!  By connecting my existing crate with the new one, the turkey poults have plenty of room to stretch their legs, and yes their wings too (already trying to fly from one end to the other) as they grow.

The end with the light has a few small blankets and a towel to help concentrate/contain the heat, while the rest of the run is wide open.  Since it's inside the house, I'm not too worried about them getting cold.  They are readily moving from one end to the other, so I know they are fine.  They seemed to have settled down for a little bit at the back end in the corner opposite corner from where the light is.  That's good.  That's what you want to see.  If they were piled up directly under the light that would indicate that they were too cold.  If they were as far from the light as possible, too hot.  But at the periphery of the light?  Just right.  Sounds like the three bears, but in this case it's the six turkeys.

Once they are a bit bigger and feathered out a little, I can easily move them outside with this set up.  It's got plenty of room for them to grow, so it should be good for a while.  FYI - When it's hot outside (like it was last Saturday), I have a smaller cage that I take them outside into the garden in.  I open the door so they can run around if they want.  They tend to stay within a few feet of their comfort zone, it it's fun to watch them explore.

For now, Arthur is keeping a watchful eye on them.  When I let them out to climb all over me (bonding time!), he likes to sniff them and touch them gently with his paw.  That is until one of them decides to peck his outstretched paw.  After that he backs off a foot or two and just watches.  I imagine they'll be trying to crawl on top of him before too long.

The end of an Era (figuratively speaking)

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Saturday, April 18, 2015 9:14 AM

Each one, quite literally a painful memory.  I have now retired six cam boots, keeping one in reserve as a prudent measure.  Each one represents a step in my journey to recovery.  I only wish I had kept all the associated casts as well.  But alas, I only saved two (not shown, but planted as well).

These now reside on top of the rain barrel I have in the garden.  As the summer progresses, the squash and corn that I've planted in the top of each one will burst forth and reward me with a bounty of delicious food.  They are deep enough to hold a substantial amount of soil, so I believe they will produce quite well.  And the viola's, one of my favorite edible flowers, are already blooming beautifully from the ankle area.  I find that quite appropriate and satisfying.
My crutches are positioned for cucumbers to climb up and I'm trying to figure out what to do with my walker.  Not my expensive one that I paid for, but rather the stainless steel metal folding one without wheels.  I'm thinking perhaps I could run wires back and forth on the open side and make it into a cage for bush beans or peas perhaps.  That's still TBD, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

It's been a little over a year since I returned to work full time.  Although I still experience a substantial amount of nerve pain and cramping, I am thankful to my podiatrist for sticking with me and believing that I truly was in pain.  It took over two years before we decided to perform surgery and that fact was very frustrating at the time.  But looking back, I've let that frustration go in exchange for being able to function again.  I have big plans for this summer in the garden now that I can physically work outside again.

"No matter how bad it is, no matter how bad it gets, I will make it through."
     - Les Brown

The weather is perfect for planting and I'm teaching a container gardening class tomorrow for The Institute of Urban Homesteading.  So it's out in the garden for me to spiff up the odds and ends and prepare to share the joy of producing ones own food in small spaces.  

Enjoy your weekend!

Freezer Camp for Five Goats

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Wednesday, March 25, 2015 12:31 AM

Well, I finally did it.  I finally sent some home raised goats to Freezer Camp.  I've known that I would do so at some point, but I've always been able to sell every kid I've had in the past.  But I figured it was about time, after raising goats for a number of years, to finally reap the harvest so to speak.  So to be honest, I didn't try to hard to sell the kids from last year.

An the final tally is:
  • Meat cuts - 62.27 lbs,
  • Offal - 5.5 lbs,
  • Stock bones/meat - 8.375 lbs,
  • 5 skulls and 5 hides. 

 This is the first time I've processed goats for meat that I've raised myself.   Here are a few things I've learned from the experience: 

1) It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be emotionally, not to imply that it was easy.  Most likely the fact that the kids had grown quite big, my barnyard was over crowded, and they were constantly causing a ruckus. (i.e. They had worn out their welcome) all helped make it a lot easier.  In addition, I knew this was to be their fate, so I was mentally and emotionally prepared.  Although I will miss Gansbaai as he was quite handsome and sweet, I definitely do NOT miss the noise and a couple kids constantly jumping the barnyard fence.  Oh hell no!!!  But now?  All quiet on the western front... 

2)  I will definitely use  Nature's Bounty Meats in Vacaville again.  The owner was very nice, the service was quick and easy, and the price was amazingly affordable.  Because they are a USDA/CDFA certified and inspected facility, I wasn't worried about having the goats processed there.  The facility was extremely clean and the operation was very well managed.  Added bonus - After dropping the goats off, I was able to go to a local feed store in Vacaville and load up my trailer with 13 bales of feed hay.  That made for a very productive day!

3) Handling the butchery and packaging of primal cuts at home turned out to be a lot more work than anticipated.  Perhaps this was because I started out doing a lot of trimming and breaking pieces down.  After the first goat, I said screw it and just worked on getting the pieces in the freezer.  Basically, it took about an hour for each goat.  That means that it basically took me three evenings to finish the job, and I've been exhausted every night of the ordeal.  On the other hand, it would have been much faster with an extra set of hands.  But alas, there are no extra hands on my horizon.  When I do this again I will most likely use Gates Ranch Meats to handle the cut and wrap.  They are only about a 5 minute drive from the processing facility so it's super convenient.  Joe did a great job for me on a cow last year, so I will be happy to support his business again.  Love working with local independent small businesses.  I know this is an added expense that I really can't afford right now.  But did I mention I am exhausted?  Um, yeah...  Time is money, so to speak.

4)  I didn't assess my freezer situation in advance.  Not a smart move when bringing home a large amount of precious perishable product.  (Say that three times fast.)  Special thanks to Tina​ for lending me some extra space in her freezer. I need to re-arrange a few things in mine, make some tallow with some leaf fat I have frozen, harvest the honey frames taking up an entire shelf, etc.

I could probably add a few more lessons if I took the time to sit here and think about it.  But it's rather late (12:30 AM) and I have a plane to catch in the morning (not joking) so I best to tuck in for the night.

Ni Night!