Soils and Summer

Last week we met a few other homeschoolers at the park for a class on soil properties

They learned about the different soil types and how to recognize and identify them

And they talked about the size of their particles and filtration and settling 

It was a fun class and the boys enjoyed getting out an meeting some new kids

And Friday was our last official day of school. Day 180.

So now it is summer vacation! 

Complete with stock tank wading pools. 

And very cold spring water.



In my home:

The birds who have outgrown their indoor living spaces and no longer need a heat lamp. 

Including the lame guinea, who needs to be culled, but we just can't bring ourselves to do it.

And the a wild turkey poult, the last remaining of 4, taken from their nest by a well meaning person thinking their momma wouldn't come back. He can't be rehabilitated by a center here in NC, so it is up to us.

And the critters who end up in my milking bucket:

The big brown toad, whose reflection in the shiny steel bucket made the kids laugh for a very long time.

 And the tiny turtle who had a close encounter with a lawn mower. 

And earned himself a couple hours in the observation bucket.

Apparently he liked his reflection too. 


My Beautiful Girl

Annika decided to roll in the grass this afternoon. She was pretty amused with herself.  I love this age; where they want to help and everything is funny and amazing to them.

 I love that she loves to sweep. And help me in the kitchen. And hiss at the cat to get off the counter.  I love her little voice trying to say all of these new things. 

 I love how she lights up when she sees her brothers come into the room. And how she knows just who to go to to get her way.

Her smile and laugh is contagious.


Home Dairy: Making Yogurt

 Cohen, Annika and Lakin are my big yogurt eaters around here. So yogurt was high on my list of things to make with our milk. My first attempt didn't go really well- trying to make raw milk yogurt, using a subpar brand for starter. But after that all my batches have turned out just fine. 

It's a pretty simple process....sterilize your equipment- I usually throw everything into my pot with water and boil it. Once that's done I pour what's left of the water into quart sized jars for use during the incubation period.

Heat the milk over low heat, stirring often. Once it hits 180* take it off the stove and allow it to cool to 110*. I put mine in a sink full of cold water to help this step go more quickly.

Once it's at 110* add the starter. I have been using a few tablespoons of plain organic yogurt from the store, but plan on buying cultures to see if it helps firm up the finished product a little bit. 

Stir well and pour into containers- preferable glass. Stick them in a cooler with your jars of really hot water and close the cooler. Allow it to sit for 6 hours undisturbed before checking on it. Put it somewhere prominent- I always forget about it and mine is on the kitchen table. Incubation time is 6-12 hours total. When its done stick it in the fridge to cool.

linked to The Homestead Barn Hop


Getting my Vet Feet Wet

 When you own animals, especially large farm animals, the cost of running to the vet every time a problem arises can be quite high. Luckily we have never really needed the help of a vet. Living on 1.5 acres in a subdivision where no animals had been pastured in decades, the parasite load was small and predators beyond the neighborhood dogs were a non-issue.  

But then we moved. To 10 acres. In and near the woods, with animals around and a pasture previously used by a horse. 2 goats fell ill, but not extremely so. We used our herbal dewormer which eventually kicked the parasites from Scout, our nubian wether. But, Thor, was another story. His case was more persistant. Herbal didn't help. Safeguard didn't help. He was losing weight and less energetic. After some research we went with orally dosing injectable Ivomec. And then, he was fine. Better than fine. He was a new goat. He played with the wethers. He called louder than he ever had before. We weren't sure what the problem was, but it seemed to be resolved. 

But the damage had been done. Thor shared his yard with the Alpacas for a few months before we moved them to their new pasture.  And looking back, it could have been the reason we lost Two Socks. But we are green. We don't know alpacas well. And they are stoic creatures who don't necessarily show a problem until it's too late.

Friday evening I found Midnight on the ground. I thought he was dying right then and there. But we got him up and he walked away. We gave him a shot of Ivomec and some probiotics. I was up half the night checking on him, but he made it through the night. I contacted a local alpaca farm for help. She gave me a list of alpaca-knowledgeable veterinarians- and I started calling down the list. I found an amazing one who talked to me on the phone for at least 10 min. He told me about the worm that is accountable for 90% of goat deaths, that alpacas are also susceptible to getting- the barber pole worm. This worm is a blood sucker and causes severe anemia. The females lay an amazing amount of eggs. And they are resistant to most of the commercially available wormers. It is  He thought the Ivomec would help since it helped Thor. Told me to keep him eating. That I could give him RedCell for iron and to check all the other animals. Midnight was weak, but he was eating. He was getting up some, his eyelids were getting pinker. All good signs.

He improved most of Sunday too- though he didn't get up on Sunday at all. Then last night I checked on him at 8pm and I could tell he was going down hill. His neck was weak, his eyes were back to white- meaning severe anemia. Within 5 min he couldn't hold his neck up. I started doing some last resort stuff- Safeguard, electrolytes, LA200 (which is the treatment for another anemia causing problem in alpacas). Paul called the vet back who gave us the number to the closest Vet Hospital who could do a transfusion. Unfortunately it was UT Knoxville, 2 hrs away. We didn't have much hope, but Paul took him anyway. He didn't make it out of North Carolina. 

Things turned fast. They were improving and then BAM he was going down and it couldn't be stopped. We've given all of the others their shots. We are dosing with a second wormer as well that is supposed to be the best for barberpole worms. We will keep a close eye on the remaining 4 in hopes that this won't wipe out our entire herd. We will send out fecal samples to the State Lab in hopes of definite answers, but in the meantime we will treat as the barberpole. 

So we start our journey to learning how to care for unhealthy animals. We learn to give injections and to check eyes and gums for signs of anemia. And we try our hardest to get them back strong and healthy. 

It's been a hard week. With a sick kid. A sick cat. And a sick alpaca. The alpaca didn't make it. The cat will follow soon, most likely today. At least the kid is okay. And the hard part of farm life continues.

linked the Homestead Barn Hop