Fern, the Pig Trainer

Just typing the title for this article makes me laugh. If you’ve been reading here for long, you’ve read that I hate pigs. I’m afraid of pigs. I want to raise pigs for food, but don’t like them at all. I’m just not a pig person. Or wasn’t until recently, as recent as May 15, 2015, five and a half short months ago.
 

May 19, 2015


Well, after we decided to add pigs to our homestead for the benefits they will provide after the SHTF, I decided it was time to change my tune. So I did. Now we have pigs, and they’re decent enough animals. I’m not afraid they’re going to bite me all the time anymore. I’ve realized that their behavior can be shaped, similar to any other animal, whether it is a dog, or a goat, or a pig.

I admit, I do pay more attention to Lance, the boar, and Liberty, our gilt, than I do the barrows, our future dinner. We plan on having Lance and Liberty around for a very long time, so we want them to be relatively tame and easy to work with. This is very similar to the way I treat the goats. I pay a whole lot more attention to the does and very little to the buck or wethers. It’s just the nature of things. American Guinea Hogs are smaller pigs, 150 to 250 pounds full grown, and known to be slow growers. We originally thought about butchering the barrows in December when they will be nine months old, but there is just not a lot of meat on them yet. For now, the plan is to wait until February or March when they will be close to a year old.

barrow


We still feed the pigs very little grain. They get scraps from the kitchen, stuff out of the pantry we don’t eat anymore, like macaroni or cereal, old powdered milk mixed with water or the liquid from a jar of green beans or squash. Stuff like that. In the morning they get two small green bean cans of dairy goat ration. We don’t by pig feed specifically for them. They graze to their hearts content in their one to two acre pasture, and appear to be healthy, happy pigs.

We have been asking folks questions about pigs, their health and behavior, since we have never raised them before. The consensus appears to be that Liberty looks pregnant, which is good. We are hoping she is, and have a rough guesstimate of a January 10thish due date. With that in mind, seeing how she is low pig on the pecking order, um, make that oinking order, I wanted to make sure she is getting enough to eat so not only can she feed her growing babies, but continue to grow herself since she is not an adult, or sow yet. Thus the title of this article.

Pigs are strong, quick, scrappy creatures. Once the feed is poured out in the pan, it’s every pig for themselves. Since we haven’t raised pigs before, I’m not real sure how to think like a pig yet, but I’m learning. Lance is the largest of the four and can easily move the others out of his way to get the most food. I noticed this a month or so ago and started feeding in two pans instead of one. This resulted in Lance eating out of one pan, while Liberty and the two barrows ate out of the other. I used this observation to try to develop a way to feed Liberty by herself.

I moved the feed pans over by the pen we have set up. If I could get Liberty to go into the pen to eat, I could shut the gate, let her eat, then when she was finished, let her out. First I tried feeding everyone in there and running the boys out. That definitely didn’t work. Then I tried feeding everyone right outside the pen in one pan, and trying to get Liberty to go into the pen to eat. That didn’t work. I ended up waiting for her to be on the pen side of the feed pan, they always go around in a circle as they eat trying to get to the ‘good stuff’. At first I kind of lifted Liberty’s front end by the shoulders and aiming her at the pan in the pen. This didn’t work for a day or two, then all of a sudden it did. Yea!

Lance

The next day, Liberty walked right into the pen and I shut the gate, fed the boys, but when I opened the gate to feed her, out she came, not to go back in. Humphf. Now what? Keep trying. I did the lifting by the shoulder thing for several more days. Sometimes she was willing to go in and eat, and sometimes she wasn’t. After about 10 days there was around a 60% success rate. Not bad for a novice pig trainer, I thought. I realized that if I put food in the pan closest to the pen, then in the pan farthest from the pen, Lance would go to the far pan and the others, including Liberty would stay closer to the pen. I stayed consistent in this routine for a few days and it worked.

Liberty

For the last few days I have been pouring out some feed in pan #1 by the pen, then pan #2 for Lance, then pan #3 in Liberty’s pen. As I pour out Liberty’s feed, I tap the side of the bucket to draw her attention, then I walk out and pat her on the shoulders and tell her to come on. For three consecutive feedings it worked great. Then, this morning as I was tapping the side of the bucket, in walks Liberty to the pan at my feet and starts eating. Hallelujah!

Twirling barrows
Liberty

At first Liberty was fussy and anxious when she finished eating and found herself penned up alone. Now she just talks to me as I come back to let her out. Once I open the gate she walks right up to me waiting for more food or a pat on the back. Now that we’ve reached this point, I’m hoping she continues to trust us a little more. It will be very interesting to see how birthing and raising piglets works out. The docile nature of this breed of pig is well documented. Most folks don’t even separate the sows and boars during, or after the piglets are born. Since Liberty is getting used to eating alone, I should be able to continue this routine while she is nursing, insuring adequate nutrition for her and the piglets, at least that is my theory for now. Again, we’ll just have to see how it all works out.

Fern, the pig trainer. I never thought in a million years I would ever be doing anything like this, or writing about it either, for that matter. Just goes to show that you never know what life will bring you. Sometimes it something that will increase your chance of survival, and in that case, it’s a gift for which I am truly thankful.

Until next time – Fern

 

This is not Liberty.

This is not Liberty either.

This is Liberty.

Bo’s Crooked Legs

You may want to pull up a chair and pour a cup of coffee or tea, because this story will take a little time. If you are a very soft hearted individual, you may also want grab a box of tissue. No, Bo didn’t die, but he had some struggles, and I won’t tell you the end of the story until we get there somewhere down the page. Now if you’re the kind of  person that turns to the end of the book to see how it ends before you even start reading it, you can scroll to the bottom of this article and see what happens. Otherwise, here is how the story began.

On Thursday, April 2nd, right on schedule at 150 days gestation, Cricket went into to labor. Cricket is one of our first fresheners that I have high hopes for. Her grandmother, Katy, was one of our first does. She was a good mother, good milker and all around very good doe. Cricket’s mother, Ivory who we sold last fall, was also a very good doe, except for that very irritating hollering that she refused to stop doing. It’s the only reason we sold her. 

Our friend, Faith (pseudonym), came over to watch and participate in the birth since she plans to start her own goat herd very soon. As the kids feet presented during labor, I realized the legs were crossed. At this point I wasn’t sure whether these feet belonged to different kids or the same kid. Even though I had not seen this presentation before, I didn’t feel I should intervene, instead I waited to see how Cricket would proceed.

After the feet but before the head appeared, Cricket got up and laid down several times, which is normal during labor. But one time when Cricket started to lay down again, she landed on a pile of hay. She had pawed up some of the hay in her birthing pen in a nesting type of behavior, which is also normal. This is kind of hard to describe, but as she lay down, she landed on the downward slope of this pile of hay, which caused her to roll all the way over on her back, then onto the other side. I was worried what might happen to the kid’s legs during this accidental roll over.

Shortly after this event, Bo was born. As his head emerged, we realized one of his legs was quite a bit ahead of it, while one of them was not. After he was born, Cricket took a few minutes to decide what this thing was she had just expelled from her body. Even though it was a cool day, we gave her a few minutes to adjust because the umbilical cord had not yet broken. I wanted her to be the one to break the cord, instead of us. I moved Bo up toward Cricket’s head as far as the cord would allow, to encourage her to begin licking and cleaning him. Faith removed the mucous from his mouth, and some of the birthing material from his body. A little while later, I cleaned, dried and stimulated Bo with some towels. Then a short time later, Cricket stood up, broke the umbilical cord and began investigating her new son.

After Cricket began licking and talking to Bo, I made sure the wax plugs were removed from her teats, and helped Bo get his first meal. At this point, all appeared to be well. A few hours later, as Bo began to get up and try to walk, we noticed his front knees were not straightening out as he stood. He had an awkward look to him, but still was getting up and around and trying to nurse on his own, just like any newborn kid. I hoped his awkward knees would correct themselves over the next few days. The first things that came to mind were the way his legs were crossed and being compressed with each contraction during the birthing process. The next thing that came to mind was that while his legs were crossed and outside of Cricket’s body, she rolled all the way over during labor. Now, I’m beginning to wonder about birth trauma to his legs.

 

We decided to give Bo a few days to see if his legs would strengthen and straighten out on their own. They didn’t. These videos are at day three and are the ones that really got to me. We knew that we would either need to try to do something to help Bo’s legs, or put him down. Other than his legs, though, he is a strong, healthy animal.

Off to my goat books I went. This is the only book I have that really dealt with birth trauma, as opposed to nutritional deficiencies. I read all about nutrient and mineral deficiencies and bent leg, but none of these maladies matched up with Bo’s predicament. In the book, All About Goats, on page 131 it says, “Contracted tendons, particularly of the forelimbs, are common in newborn kids resulting in an inability to straighten the leg. Mild cases with a partially bent leg will often resolve on their own as the tendons stretch with movement; more severe cases may need splinting to stretch the tendons and allow weight bearing on the foot.” After finding this, I went to the internet to find out how other people have splinted baby goat’s legs. There are many different ideas out there for the looking. Armed with this information, Frank and I decided to use stiff cardboard and duct tape. Here is what we did on Monday morning, when Bo was 3 1/2 days old.

Cardboard, socks, duct tape and scissors

Start off with a sock for cushioning and protection for Bo’s skin

Wrap in preformed, stiff cardboard

Duct tape cardboard in place, then fold the sock over both ends

Duct tape the sock in place over each end

Then do the other leg

One of the first things Bo did after we finished his splints, was nurse. That was one of our concerns, and he had no difficulty at all. Good. That was step one. We encouraged him to walk, just to make sure he could get around on his own. The next thing he did was try out his “new legs” and play. Yea! So far, so good.

Bo quickly got used to using his “new legs” and began to play with the other kids much more than ever before. We planned to leave the splints in place until Friday, which would have been four days. But, Thursday evening, when I went up to milk, I found this.

Since one of Bo’s splints had worked it’s way below his right knee and was no longer serving any purpose, we went ahead and removed them both. The encouraging sight I saw, was that his right leg was straight and he was using it normally. Now to see how the left leg was doing.

 

His left leg was awkward when he tried to walk on it, even though it was straight. We hoped a few days time would improve it’s use. 

This morning, two days after removing his splints, here is Bo. We still feel his shoulder stance is a little wider than the other kids, but he now looks and acts like a ‘kid his age’, so to speak.


I have to tell you, it chokes me up a little and does my heart good, to see the improvement Bo has made. Frank and I both have soft spots in our hearts for animals that struggle. Bo has given us another great learning opportunity. We had never splinted anything before, animal or human. It gave us the chance to research, brainstorm, experiment, discuss improvements and what worked, and gave us a successful finished product – straight legs. All of this will still eventually lead to food on our table. Bo is destined to become a wether, like the other young bucks, which we will raise and butcher in due time. Does this make me sad? No. We raise animals for the purpose of providing ourselves with good, wholesome food. 


We were fortunate that this story had a happy ending. Not all of them do. We have had baby goats that were not able to overcome the obstacles they encountered at birth and have had to put them down. I didn’t know how this story would end, that’s why I have postponed telling it. But now I feel fairly certain that Bo will do fine. And as for Cricket? She has the makings of a fine milk goat. She has trained to the milk stand and milking routine well. I still have high hopes for her. And if I attend another birth where the kids legs are crossed, I will do my best to reposition them correctly in the hopes that this will not happen again. There is no guarantee that this was caused from birth trauma, but that is what my gut instinct tells me from all of my reading and research. Sometimes there is no way to know why some things happen. But this time, we were blessed with a successful solution. I am grateful.

Until next time – Fern

Easter Is Here

Lady Bug decided to choose Easter Sunday to present us with a beautiful little doe. In keeping with the celebration of birth and new life the Easter season brings us, we decided that would be a great name for the last baby goat we had arriving here this spring. Please meet Easter.

Isn’t she beautiful? Goats come in many different sizes, shapes and colors, but this is one of our favorites. The only color she has besides a dark, soft red is the black on the front of her legs and the end of her tail.

Lady Bug did very well for a first freshener. Once she decided to have her baby, she did so without any assistance and without complaint. These short videos show the birth. We started weaning our older kids the day before, and you will hear them in the background. Some of them obviously aren’t happy to be separated from their mothers. The noise you hear, did not come from Lady Bug or Easter.




Lady Bug wasn’t sure what to think of Easter at first. She spent the first 10-15 minutes smelling and nuzzling the baby, but did not lick or clean her at all. I was beginning to become concerned, but after a while, her instincts kicked in and she made up for lost time. Since the weather was cloudy and cool, I used some towels to dry off and stimulate Easter while she was waiting for her mom’s instincts to start.

Easter arrived healthy, active and ready to eat. As I do for all of our newborn kids when I attend their birth, I helped Easter get her first meal shortly after Lady Bug stood up. Lady Bug has a good milk supply, nicely formed teats and udder for a first freshener and a great attitude. She is attentive to her baby and is exhibiting the signs of a great doe. We are very pleased. There has been something about Lady Bug that Frank has really liked, ever since she was born. That she has presented us with a beautiful, healthy doe her first time to give birth, has increased her value in our eyes. We look forward to watching the two of them grow, one kid into a doe, and one doe into a mother and milk producer.

Grace, a friend of ours who came over to see the newborn baby goats recently, told me something that has really stuck with us. As we all sat visiting and laughing in the barn while she was holding a soft, newborn baby goat she said, “You have a great life. You really do.” You know what? She’s right. And we give thanks each and every day for this wonderful life we’ve been blessed with. Is it perfect? Not even close. Does it have it’s frustrations, difficulties and challenges? Regularly. But it is truly a wonderful life.

 

Easter, the time of celebration, the time of rejoicing over an empty tomb and renewal of life. Easter, our little doe, will be a constant reminder of these blessings.

Until next time – Fern
 

The Saga of Penny’s Babies

The past few days have been very busy. You see, Penny, according to my obviously inaccurate estimations, was due to kid tomorrow, on Saturday. Instead, she and her kids decided this past Tuesday was to be the day. So we will start this saga that day and see if we can squeeze the events into one rather long post.

Tuesday morning when I went up to milk and feed the goats, I realized that Penny’s udder had really filled in the night. I had been checking to see how far her hips, or ligaments, had spread for a number of days. I told Frank the evening before that Penny really seemed to be almost wide open and I just didn’t see how she was keeping those babies in there. Well, it didn’t last much longer.


Tuesday was supposed to be a laid back day that allowed us to clean out the barn and get the birthing pens ready at a lolly gagger pace. Not to happen. I called Frank on the radio, remember we use them all the time. I told him that I didn’t think it would be long before Penny went into labor and that we needed to get the birthing pens set up. I asked him to scramble up some quick eggs for breakfast while I milked two does. His idea was better. Milk the goats, bring the milk down and start chilling it, then we would clean the barn and set up the pens before breakfast. Thus began the mad dash to prepare. Not our preferred mod of operation. We would have much preferred the lolly gagger pace. Anyway. I quickly completed the morning chores, took the milk to the house, filtered it and set it to chill in ice water, we woofed down a few bites of cottage cheese, and away we went. 

Frank fired up the tractor while I started in with the pitch fork. It was a surprisingly quick and thorough cleaning. Since Penny was not showing any signs of imminent birth, we went back to the house for a real meal and a cup of coffee. By this time we were hungry, I cooked up a big brunch of sausage and eggs hoping this would hold us for a while. We both knew this would turn out to be a long and busy day.

After we ate, I went back to check on Penny. She was out in the pasture grazing with the herd, showing no signs of labor, no discharge, nothing. She was talking a little which made me think she may be in the beginning stages, but that was all. So I left her grazing thinking this would be the last good exercise she had for a few days and that the new green growth would do her good.

We decided to go to the post office and buy gas. While we were at the gas station some folks from church called to let us know the bacon and sausage we ordered from the local ag class had come in and they were heading our way. So we waited at the little country convenience store, got our bacon and sausage, visited for a few minutes, then headed back home. The longest possible time we could have been gone was about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, but I don’t think so.


As we drove in past the pasture, I could see all of the goats except Penny. Uh-oh. I still had my radio with me, so as soon as we hit the house, I hoofed it up to the barn. As I topped the little hill where the barn sits, Penny saw me from the pasture and started hollering at me. Double uh-oh! I called Frank on the radio to let him know what I was seeing as I went through the barn and into the corral on my way out to the pasture. As I got closer I called him back and said, “We have babies! I need your help!” As I got even closer, I called back again and said, “We have twins!” 

Now, we have had does birth or begin birthing out in the pasture before. I usually pick up the baby or babies, hold them in front of the does nose, and she will follow them to the barn. Penny would have none of it. She paced and she hollered, and she paced and she hollered, but she was afraid of her babies and would have nothing to do with them. I know I called Frank on the radio again and reported the situation, but I have no idea what I said this time. He was busy trying to get the bacon and sausage in the freezer because he knew it would be a while before we would be back down to the house. He asked me to think of what we may need from the house for the birth. We had just about everything there except some towels, so he gathered them up and headed up to the barn.

In the meantime, I decided to take the babies to the barn, get them set up in the birthing pen, then go back for Penny. When I took the babies to the barn, the whole herd followed me there. That is, the whole herd except Penny. She stayed where she had given birth, hollering and pacing. She knew her scent and the scent of her babies was there and she wasn’t going to leave it. After I went back out to the pasture, it took me a while before I could catch her. One Stripe led the herd back out and helped me catch Penny by standing between us. Penny was comfortable enough with One Stripe, our old matriarch, that I could reach across and take Penny’s collar. It took some coaxing to get Penny to leave her birthing place, but when the herd came with us, she did much better.

Now I have her in the barn, in the pen with her babies. I quickly leave them alone hoping she would begin to lick and tend to them. She still frantically called and called, even though her babies were right there, she ignored them. Not a good sign. But she was quite agitated. So we put a brass double end clip on the side of the pen down low, clipped it to her collar, then placed her babies right under her nose, and left her alone. As she continued to fuss and call, her babies answered. She started to smell them, then after a few minutes started tentatively licking them. Thank you. I was relieved. After she showed serious interest in cleaning her babies, we unclipped her collar from the pen and let her finish the job. I’m sure you’re not surprised that there are no pictures of any of this process.

Now the next hurdle was for the babies to nurse, and to make sure Penny would let them nurse. I left them alone for quite some time since she was tending to them and I didn’t want to disturb that. Lucky for us the temperatures were right around 80* so I wasn’t too concerned about the kids getting chilled. Penny wasn’t real excited about letting the kids nurse, so we clipped her collar back to the side of the pen again. I put one kid under her nose, while I assisted the other one in getting that first meal. Once the first one was full, I traded them off and made sure the second one had a good meal. We also trimmed off the umbilical cords and sprayed them with 7% iodine somewhere around this time. Now, I could sit back and relax for a bit.

Faith came to see the babies. She plans to have her own goats soon.


Now for some reflection. What a surprise this birth was. Here is what we based our decisions on this day. Penny is a first freshener, meaning this is her first set of babies. Most, obviously not all, but most first timers take a while when they birth. Most pending births are indicated by the amniotic sack breaking and a long string of mucous type material hanging from the doe’s vulva. This is fairly standard. So, when I checked on Penny in the pasture before we went to the post office and she had no discharge, I figured it would still be at least a few hours before she gave birth. Now, we haven’t been able to see all of our goats birth over the years, but we have seen many. I don’t remember any of them having twins from start to finish in under an hour. Penny is definitely the exception when it comes to that observation. 

If I had known she would be giving birth in such a short period of time, I would have penned her up right after we finished cleaning the barn. No matter how much experience you have dealing with animals, there will always be an exception, or a difference that needs to be dealt with that you can learn from. Penny has been an interesting teacher for me this week.


After Penny calmed down and bonded with her sons, yes they were twin boys, she was very attentive, talked up a storm and just fussed over them for hours. She showed no signs of rejecting them, and they are healthy, vigorous and doing great. Since One Stripe and Copper have already provided us with boys named Breakfast and Lunch, we are calling Penny’s boys Dinner and Dessert. They will be banned and become wethers when they are about two weeks old.


We let Penny and the boys out with the herd this evening. First we penned up One Stripe and Copper’s babies in the baby pen for the night, so there weren’t any extra babies around to cause any confusion. And little do the older kids know, but they had their last drink of milk this evening. In the morning we will move them from the baby pen to the weaning pasture. They are now eight weeks old and their moms are ready for them to be weaned. So we will have new little babies in the barn with the herd, older babies in the weaning pasture, and the buck and older wethers in their pasture. We still have wethers that need to be butchered and had plans to put one in the freezer today, but there are only so many hours in the day, and there just weren’t enough of them today. 

Cricket had a son yesterday, but that story will have to wait for another time. I think I learned some important lessons from her as well, and I want to share them with you. Life is an interesting journey. There are many, many lessons to be learned. Some of them are even taught by a goat.

Until next time – Fern

Life & Death on the Farm

There are times that life on a farm or homestead can be a joy and a challenge. After One Stripe’s successful birth of healthy, vigorous babies, we had a couple of days before Copper was due. So we tried to get a few things done.

 

We wrote about the beginning stages of getting the solar panels ready for installation a week or so ago. Frank has started charging and conditioning the batteries that will be used with these panels. We bought the batteries a few years ago, and it’s time to charge and desulfate them in preparation for installation. He got that in the works yesterday in between trips to the barn to check on One Stripe and her babies, and to see if Copper happened to be in labor.

 While Frank was working on the batteries, I managed to make up some coleslaw and deviled eggs. I figured the next

few days would be busy and  wanted something quick and good to eat on hand. Then I was able to get a few seeds in the dirt. I have some old seeds that may not be viable any more so I wanted to try and use them up. I put a thick planting of dill, lettuce, mustard, onions and mixed baby greens back in the

herb bed. Then I planted three dishpans of seeds to put in a south window in the house. It was a beautiful, sunny, 65* day, and it was great fun to play in the dirt.

Patch and Breakfast this morning, 2 1/2 days old.

We decided to let One Stripe and her babies out of the birthing pen last night after two days of confinement. The babies are very vigorous, jumping around and exploring the barn. If they had not been this active, we would have kept them penned up for another day or two until we……….[Interruption…….] We just had a little rain shower pop up and I went to make sure these babies were in the barn instead of out in the corral or pasture. They were tucked into their birthing pen with One Stripe. This is one pen that we are able to remove the gate easily since we have it attached with double end brass clips. When we let them out, we actually just removed the gate so the kids can ‘go home’ when they want a warm place for a nap that is out of the way of the regular activity in the barn. And that is where I found them just now.

While Copper was eating on the milk stand last night around 5:30, I checked her udder and it was tight and full, which means her milk had come in. I knew then she could give birth anytime, so we planned to check on her again around 9:00. We also put her in a birthing pen, just in case. Her tail was becoming very pronounced and I figured she would have her kids in the night, so we made plans to come back and check on her at midnight. No babies.

When we got back to the house after the 9:00 barn check,  I went out to feed the cats and found Little Bit barely alive. She was having difficulty breathing and was very limp. Little Bit got her name from being the very littlest kitten of the four we got a few months back. She has always struggled to be healthy, fighting a type of kitty cold from the time we brought her home. We carried her to and from the barn a lot, because she couldn’t keep up with the others. We had taken her to the vet a few weeks back for a long acting antibiotic and steroid shot which helped a little, for a short while. Instead of letting her suffer and die in the night, with much sadness and tears, we put her out of her misery. Thus is life on the farm sometimes. This morning, I miss Little Bit.

After the short trip back to the barn at midnight, Copper hadn’t started labor. That made for a short trip, so it was back to bed until about 5:45 am. As I sleepily got dressed to head back to the barn, my thoughts were on another short trip, and back to bed for just a little more sleep. It wasn’t to be. My arrival at the barn this time found Copper having contractions, not often, but contractions. With the sun just beginning to color the horizon, I settled into my barn chair to await the sun and the birth of new kids. I called Frank on the radio to give him the news. Remember we use our handheld radios all the time, and they come in very, very handy. Now it was his turn to get dressed and gather water, coffee, the camera and some snacks for me. He is truly a great husband.

After a little over an hour and Copper spending most of her time standing up, we decided to go down to the house for a quick breakfast and to warm up. Upon my return, I found a beautiful baby girl, mostly cleaned up and talking to her momma. From the looks of Copper, I knew she wasn’t finished yet. Since nothing seemed imminent, I brought One Stripe in on the stand to be milked. No sooner had I gotten started, when Copper laid down pushed real hard a few times, and had another baby half way out. I guess she thought that was far enough because she stood up, and out he came and plopped in the hay. Copper is a great mom and started cleaning him up right away. 

Now you can meet Buttons, another beautiful baby girl. Her coloring and markings are very similar to Patch, except the white on her side is kind of splotchy and she has white on two of her feet like her grandmother, One Stripe.

Her brother, in keeping with the way we name boys, is named Lunch. He has more white than Breakfast, and is really a good looking boy.

Both of the babies are vigorous with a healthy set of lungs and a very good sucking instinct. I made sure they had another meal when I went up during the rain to check on One Stripe’s kids. I also collected the afterbirth from Copper’s pen since she was finished passing it. The goats will usually eat some of it, but we remove it once it’s passed to prevent the smell from attracting any predators. On this trip to the barn I found Pearl laying right beside the gate to Copper’s pen, right where she is supposed to be, protecting the new mother and kids.

Right before I left the barn this morning, I realized that one of the young wethers was limping very badly and wouldn’t put one of his feet on the ground. But my back needed rest, so inspecting his hoof will have to wait for the next trip up the hill to the barn. Raising and breeding animals is not always a successful venture. More often it is, but not always. Sometimes they live, and sometimes they die. Such is life on the farm.

A different topic. If you are looking for more information about homesteading, gardening, preserving food, moving to the country and more, we would highly recommend that you check out the new ebook store, Country Living Series by Patrice Lewis, from Rural Revolution. Frank and I have read two of them, The Death of Knowledge and Bovine Basics for Beginners, and found them well written and informative. The Lewis family has been homesteading for several years. Patrice and her husband, Don, share many of their experiences in these writings. There is nothing like experience to teach you something, but reading first hand information from someone that is describing their life and learning is the next best thing.

We continue to learn each and everyday that we are blessed to live, and for that we are truly thankful. Each day that we can spend living life on the farm is one more day in paradise. Challenges and hardships cannot dim the blessings that this life brings with each new day. Now it’s time for another trip….to the barn.

Until next time – Fern