Goats!!! We FINALLY got goats! Okay, we have only lived here 8 months, so the word finally may be a tad dramatic. BUT, it feels like I have wanted goats for FOREVER. We decided that we wanted to raise nigora goats, we don't have tons of land, and we don't have endless streams of money, so the idea of a dual purpose breed seemed to fit the bill. Unfortunately, nigoras are a relatively new breed, and really, they are almost like designer dogs, the yorkie-poos and goldendoodles of the goat world if you will. Most herds still have their foundation stock of the two separate breeds and have a few successive generations from there. Since its a new breed, they were hard to find, and even when we decided that we would just make our own herd from a stock of angora does and nigerian dwarf bucks, we were having a hard time finding angora goats in our area. We finally found a breeder that still had reservations available and we made reservations on two does in early spring. Meanwhile, I still browsed facebook and other sites for available goats. I happened to stumble across someone selling off her small herd of Nigora goats. So suddenly we now find ourselves the proud owners of not two but eight goats!
Let me just say that goats are MUCH different from alpacas. I know this seems obvious, and I knew they wouldn't be quite the same, but goats are MUCH different than alpacas. Our alpacas can be found most of the time grazing peacefully in their pasture or relaxing in the barn stalls if it is too hot, cold or rainy out. When we come home they may peek their head out of the barn or look up from their grazing to give us a vaguely curious glance, the boys may even wander over to see if we have treats to offer, but upon finding us empty handed and uninteresting, they will turn their backs on us and act as if we no longer exist. They are easy to call to the barn in the evening for their grain, they have a designated area to relieve themselves in, and in our case this area happens to be outside the barn which is very convenient. They don't challenge fences, if we leave a gate open they will wander through, but mostly they are content with their quiet country life.
Goats on the other hand...well, they came in like 80's rock stars trashing a hotel room. The first night I heard crashing in the barn and walked in to Dobby on top of the dryer. They broke into the grain room through the gate, after we "goat proofed" that, they learned how to work the kennel doors that lead into the grain room. We barricaded those, and so far, they are holding. We were out working on a duck house one night when I heard Myrtle screaming like she may have been dying, after sprinting across the back pastures into the barn, we discovered her with her head stuck in the gate post. They poop on their mineral block, and in their mineral feeder, a feat I am still unable to figure out how they accomplished. The baby who we named Hermione can sneak out of the pasture, but only does so when she is interested in whatever project we are working on beyond the fence line. The Angora twins scream like they are women being murdered if they happen to lose sight of one another, and Hermione's mother head butts anyone who she thinks may be too close to her kid. And that is just the girls. Our herd sire Finn is a sweet buck with a puppy dog demeanor, except he is a buck so he pees on himself and smells absolutely awful. He is also a tad on the heavy side and goes crazy for food. If he even believes that we are giving grain to the alpacas he charges the barn with a single mindedness that is admirable. Griffin, our 4 month old buck cries constantly, and is, I'm sure, alerting every coyote within a 5 mile radius of his presence.
I am a woefully undisciplined blogger, I started this post 2 months ago, and between weddings, travel, and farm life, I am just know returning to it. I will say however, that the goats have only become more obnoxious, and simultaneously, closer to our hearts. Dobby continues to try to break out of every enclosure we make for her, the angora twins are finally coming around and Finn is just as stinky as ever. They are much different than our sweet, indifferent alpacas, but its safe to say, I am becoming a crazy goat lady day by day.
This past week at Ironhorse Homestead we have been focused on First Aid.
We had a small, but adequate first aid kit when we lived in the city. However, since moving and acquiring more animals, we realized that our First Aid supplies were in desperate need of replenishment. We consider ourselves "preppers" and homesteaders, and a major part of both of these is a focus on preparedness and self reliance. Especially now that we are now in a rural area and transportation and access to supplies and aid are much further than they were before. Upon examination, our medical supplies were woefully inadequate to sustain us if we were to have an acute medical emergency. Being in a rural area, its even more important for us now to have supplies on hand, so we re-evaluted and discussed what types of medical supplies we needed and what route we wanted to take.
To begin with, we of course wanted the basics: band aids, gauze, alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment, and hydrogen peroxide. I also picked up pocket sized bottles of iodine for us to carry in our get home bags.
We also want to start stocking up on our homeopathic first aid essentials. I am studying aromatherapy and herbalism and I think it is equally important to have theses types of remedies on hand, not only for emergencies, but for more long term situations. For instance, if the worst case scenario happens and we don't have access to western medicine, I want to have a stock of herbal remedies on hand. Part of our plan is also growing an herb garden and learning to recognize and be able to forage for wild medicinal herbs. Being versed in these medicines provide us with a means to take care of ourselves even if the world as we know it collapses. I also like to attempt to treat our maladies with natural remedies whenever possible even during our normal day to day lives.
Our essential oil first aid basics are lavender, peppermint, helichrysum (great for wound healing), black pepper and oregano ( which are used in blends for pain, among other things) and aloe. We have many other oils that I keep around the house, but these specific oils are our basic, beginning staples for first aid and get home bags. I also keep a blend for brain aid, and one to target depression and anxiety on hand in my leg bag, as I believe these would be tremendously helpful in case of an emergency. In emergency situations people often panic, and in the event of prolonged upheaval and uncertainty; depression, anxiety and confusion can quickly set in. Having these oils on hand to combat these will be of huge help, and perhaps even more importantly, having something that is familiar to comfort and give a sense of normalcy can help to balance one's emotions.
For our animals we started our first aid kit with items such as probiotics, electrolyte powder and paste, a high calorie supplement and a tube of Nu-stock. These are a few items that will hopefully make a difference in the case of an animal showing signs of illness during times where we can't necessarily get to a vet.
This past week, I was stung twice during a hive inspection and while I didn't have an allergic reaction, I did have substantial swelling and redness that lasted a few days. This coupled with an incident a few weeks ago, in which bees got into Kyle's suit, mad us realize that we really need to keep an epi-pen for each of us around the house. When Kyle fell from the ladder, it took 30 minutes for the ambulance to reach the hospital with him. If one of us were to go into anaphylactic shock from a sting, an epi-pen could mean the difference between life and death. I think all beekeepers should probably consider keeping one on hand.
Our first aid kit is by no means complete, we have a lot of things that we want and need to acquire, but taking these first steps and acquiring the basics has given me a sense of comfort and preparedness. We will continue to build our supplies and grow in knowledge. Among our goals are learning basic sutures, taking CPR classes, adding emetics to our first aid kit for use in case of poisoning, and learning other basic first aid response skills. Medical preparedness is an ongoing journey and project, like most things in homesteading. We are always excited to learn and do more, if you have any first aid essentials or skills that you recommend please share them with us! We grow best when we learn together.