Friday, June 20, 2008

"Tails" From The Farm Part 13

You can start reading part 1 here.

Not all the “tails” on this farm end in merriment though. We met the Jones’, people who lived in the area that had goats. They showed their goats and had quite a reputation as top breeders. Mr. and Mrs. Jones both had some health issues for a time. We and another family took over doing their chores for them for a couple of months. Joshua and I would go in the mornings and another family would go in the evenings. Michael always helped out when he was home as well. We were happy to be able to help. They did things a bit different than we did them. They were quick to give all vaccinations, or to give medications quickly instead of trying natural ways. We usually tried the natural ways first and then used medications as a last resort. We did or do no regular vaccinations on our animals. We have never had a problem though. If we did, we might do what was needed to prevent that problem. Anyway, the Jones tried to find ways to give back to us. Mr. Jones had a great reputation for trimming goats hooves. We asked if he would be able to come over and show Michael the proper way to do them. They both came over and Michael got a good lesson in how to trim properly. The Jones were talkers. We are talkers. We all stood outside talking and talking and talking. We did not know what night they were supposed to come. So, when they showed up we had all been doing something. I had been steam juicing grapes from our vines and making grape juice. I used a steam juicer that looked like this. (By the way, I will be carrying these in our store.) You put water in the bottom pan and let it boil. The fruit goes in the top part of the pan which has a bottom like a colander. Then there is a cone that rises up in the middle part that allows the steam from the water to come up and steam the fruit. The juice drips down into the middle section and you siphon it off with the tube into jars. It is a great tool to have in your kitchen. There are cautions all over the book though that tells you to NOT LET THE BOTTOM POT BOIL DRY!!!! So, here we are outside talking and talking. I smelled something, but still never thought anything of it. Then someone mentioned they smelled something burning. We looked at the house and smoke was pouring out of the kitchen. It was at that second that I remembered what I had been doing when they arrived. We went running inside and there was a HUGE mess. Someone had given us an old electric stove. We had wired an outlet for it. The juicer pans themselves were stainless steel. The bottom pan had an extra layer on the bottom outside that was aluminum to keep an even heat. It had melted onto the stove burner, the bottom pot was totally dry and the grapes in the top part were crispy. Any juice that had been in the middle section was ruined or evaporated. I was half sick about the pan. It was ruined or at least the bottom portion was. Since then I have bought another one and I am almost comical at how many times I open the bottom up to check it or to top it off with water. I learned that lesson well.

We had bred our goats again. We liked to have April babies. It has warmed up some in April, but there is no real fly problem yet. April can be a very fun month here on the farm. Baby chicks, baby goats, baby lambs, baby cows…. It is a good time to visit if you love baby animals. Ellie, the goat, had been acting strange all day. I could see no real signs of labor, but she laid around and made funny little noises. She usually took everything in stride. She was our miracle goat after all. After it happened on and off all day, I decided to call Mrs. Jones that evening just to ask some questions. It was already about 8:30 PM or so. She insisted that they come right on over. I tried to talk her out of it, but she really wanted to help. We saw them pull up and we all went out to the barn to meet them. Right away she wanted to go inside her and check out her cervix. That was the way that they did their goats and I had no problem with it, but something inside me told me that it wasn’t a good idea. However, I kept quiet because she really did know a lot more about goats than I did. She checked her and said she was not dilated at all and would not be having a baby that evening. Do you remember how I said they talked and talked? Well that happened again. After talking for awhile, Mrs. Jones looked over and saw Ellie doing what I had described to her. She watched her for a few minutes and decided she better check her again. I had stronger misgivings about this time, but still kept quiet because I did not want to insult her. However, I am telling you, if you are ever in a situation like that, SPEAK YOUR MIND!! I should have and regret it to this day. She went inside and checked her again and still nothing. However, I think all the messing around down there started some premature labor. Since the cervix was not dilated the only thing making it through and coming out was a sack of water. Things went from bad to worse and they had to birth 3 kids by forcefully pulling them out. Poor Ellie, our dear sweet miracle goat who stood and ate grain while being stitched, screamed and writhed in pain. The three kids all lived, but it was like all the sparkle went out of Ellie. We pampered her the best we could and tried to tempt her with little treats. She would just stand and stare. A couple of days later, I had another friend who had goats come with her dear sweet daughter who wanted to be a veterinarian. As we went to put Ellie up on the stanchion to look at her, it became obvious that she had a bad infection. We got the vet to give us some antibiotics to give her. She did recover, but she never showed the spunk that she once did. All the lessons we learned in this journey were learned the hard way. This one unfortunately was hard for one of our animals as well.

Michael and Joshua had gone out to the back of our property which was up in the woods. They were gathering firewood for our winter supply. The two of them were up there working and there were a lot of mice running around the wood pile. Star was with them and she was chasing every mouse she saw. Michael saw one of the mice right by Joshua’s foot and then all of a sudden it disappeared. Joshua made a noise and Michael looked up to see a shocked look on his face. In fact, he told me that he wished I could have seen the look as it was priceless. Joshua reached down and quickly grabbed his leg. It became clear to his Dad that the mouse had run up Joshua’s pant leg. He had it trapped about knee level. He asked what he should do. Michael told him to “drop em”. =) Michael grabbed on and held the mouse in place while Joshua dropped his drawers right there in the woods. The mouse was not so lucky. In his panic, Joshua had squeezed the little bugger a bit too tight.

This story reminds me of another one that happened while we lived in that house. My dear sweet husband would get up VERY early every morning to drive 1.75 hours to go to work. He is a very loving man and he very willingly and uncomplainingly drove that far every day so that we could live on a farm. He also let us sleep in. One morning I woke up to hear this loud pounding. I was a bit disoriented coming out of a deep sleep. As I came to the surface, I could still hear it. Someone was pounding on something and they were pounding very hard. I got up to go investigate. There stood Michael in the kitchen totally dressed except his pants which were in his hand. I asked him what was going on. He said he was getting dressed back in the bedroom and he had heard a sound. It sounded like a fly caught in a cobweb. He looked around for it, but could not find it. He said no matter where in our room he went he could hear it. Then he went out in the kitchen to get his coffee. He heard it our there too. He realized it must be on him somewhere. Then he felt a tickle on his leg and he reached down and there was a big bump on his leg inside his pants. It was a big bumble bee. We all have something that is our one main thing that we just “don’t do”. For some people it is snakes, for others it is spiders, for Michael it is bees. He was out of those pants quicker than a flash and the pounding had been him making sure that the bee would not crawl out of there alive. =) This story like so many of our other stories was later told to his co-workers or family. They all get a kick out of the “city slickers turned farmers” stories.

Have you ever taken a drive out in the country and all of a sudden there is a strong manure smell? Many times it is because farmers will take the manure from their barns and put it in manure spreaders and take it out and apply it to their fields as fertilizer. Even though we live out in the country, it is not a smell you ever get used to. One morning on his way to work, a farmer was out spreading manure on his fields in the early hours of the day. He had crossed the road from his barn to his field. There was a lot of manure on the road. Michael drove right through and never thought a thing about it. When he got to work, he got out of his car and smelled manure. He figured someone must have been spreading manure around there as well. After he got a short way away from the car, the smell went away. It was on the car from where he drove through it. He wondered how many of those city people figured out where that smell was coming from. He gets teased a lot anyway and called Farmer Blue!!


Unknown said...

Well, I have heard the story of Ellie many times, but this time I just had to cry. Bummer...

LadySnow said...

I love hear the "tails" from the farm. :D

Marci said...

Ginny, I know what you mean. That incident is the one thing with our animals that can still haunt me.

Sharri said...

Poor Ellie, how sad. :0(

I loved the story though about Michael and the bee! LOL
But the story of Joshua and the mouse was a scream!
Those two men of yours are such rocks! LOL

fourkid said...

Hey Marci,
I know you don't have goats now, but maybe it is the same with sheep - the best way to tell if a doe is about to kid is not by their actions - she could just be "uncomfortable" - but by the release of the tail ligamants. On either side of the tail and running parallel to it, there are two ligaments. They feel like tough bands. They slowly begin to loosen as kidding day approaches. When they disappear and you not only can't feel the ligaments, but the whole area on the back next to the tail turns to "mush" to the point you can even put your fingers all the way underneath the tail bone, then the doe will generally kid within 24 hours.