Sunday, August 11, 2013

Goats, Worms, and things that go bump in the night

Doll-- taking a break from the kids
We've been living at El Rancho for about six weeks, and I feel like this is where I am meant to be at this time in my life. My goats bring joy each day as they mob me during feeding. Each one has its own needs and complaints, and each is entertaining for different reasons. Before owning goats, I had heard and seen some goats with personalities and quirks, but assumed that was the exception. Well, goat dynamics are endlessly fascinating.

First, you have the 'pet' goats, like Doll and Maggie, who spent a lot of time being handled when young. They seek ME out, mugging for the camera, begging for pets.  But then others, of similar genetics and environment, are stand-offish. This describes Belle perfectly. She is Doll's sister and while she will be 'okay' with being handled or touched, she'd rather not.

The Dans socializing with kids and youngsters
As a management decision, we have decided that handling and working the 'pet' goats is far easier than are the wild goats. Last weekend while trimming hooves, I was able to trim Maggie without tying her up or having someone hold her.  That's definitely what we want more of in our does! Our billies are mostly tame, too, which is really nice. We got lucky with buying Billy BA because he is very mild-mannered with people and enjoys a scratch behinds the horns as well as any goat. Jupiter and Melonhead are also mostly friendly so hopefully this means more friendly goats are on the way for our next kidding season. (I think Flower and Great Red Spot might kid in October; we'll see.)

On Thursday, I attended a Goat Pest Management Seminar in Prairie View and learned a lot more about worms and how to live with them. The International Goat Research Center is located on campus and the staff and Cooperative Extension Agents put on a wonderful day for the attendees, which included dairy, meat and pet goat enthusiasts, one from as far away as Fort Worth. A lot of networking and 'see you next workshop' went on, and I felt like part of the goat family, a nice feeling.

When it comes to internal parasites in goats, Heamonchus contortus is the bad actor, a killer, known commonly as the barber pole worm for obvious reasons. The bad news is that all anthelmintics (dewormers for those just checking in), lose their effectiveness over time and there are very few new products in the pipeline. So, management practices must be properly utilized in order to maintain the safety of the herd. Dr. Niki Whitley from
North Carolina A&T State University was the guest lecturer and she kept us focused for hours. After lunch, we learned some lab techniques we can do ourselves on the farm in order to accurately assess the worm load on a specific goat. Like Dr. Whitley told us, you might have 20% of the goats shedding 80% of the worm eggs, so culling may be in order. I also finally understood the refugia concept and have a better handle on what to do at El Rancho for MY herd.

On another note, we have finally found a plumber for Danny's house--- after trying about eight. All the plumbers are backed up and booked up, but Holman  Quality Plumbing is coming through for us! Having the washer and dryer on site will save me hours each Saturday at the laundromat. The Dans are finishing the wiring in the house today, so once the plumbing is done, and some sheetrock is up, we can finish the bathroom and get started on the kitchen.

For Dan and I, the wait to move into 'our' spot seems like forever. The big holdup is getting a well dug, which is currently another two to four month wait. With the demand for water wells in Texas skyrocketing, many new drillers are around, but we decided to wait for a really experienced driller from our area. Like I mentioned before, without water, you're nothin'!

On Friday, I met with Steve Gonzalez from Premiere Environmental Designs. He is a Registered Sanitarian and will design the drain field for our conventional non-aerobic on-site sewer system. Looks like things will be great and we won't have to move parking or driveways! Steve is a great guy and seemed to have a good sense of humor. At the bottom of his business card, it says,

Crapper Mapper.

And that's a wrap.


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