“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teeny Pumpkins and Spooky Spiders

Is it the leaf that is large or the gourds that are small? A bit of both.
This leaf drifted from far away to get my attention in the field. I have enjoyed its presence in my kitchen all week.

How many spiders did it take to weave this web? Where is the spider?
The mist from the fog make these webs the inspiration for Halloween decorations.
And how many industrious spiders did it take to decorate this whole tree and its neighbors? You don't see these webs, but on the misty, spooky, wet mornings. They are amazing!

Monday, October 26, 2009


To complete my PASA week-end, we went to the family style dinner held yesterday at the Jamison Farm in Latrobe, PA. After a very wet Saturday, the skies could not have been clearer or bluer.Except for the caterer's truck getting stuck in the mud, having to be rescued by a farm tractor, the October day could not have been more perfect. And the rescue provided its own entertainment.John Jamison welcoming the guests to the farm. Greg Boullos the Western Regional Director waiting to give his welcome. A song to start the meal. The chicken and pulled lamb. What a wonderful treat of fresh vegetables and meats. Everything was prepared beautifully and shared with a wonderful group of PASA members and friends. I was too busy enjoying everything to take photos of all the courses. Sukey and John Jamison, our wonderful hosts.Old Sledge provided the song and dance.

I truly recommend your participating in this wonderful event when it come around again. Its worth joining PASA just for the eating experience.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Small Ruminant Class - Hoof Trimming, Fecal Egg Counts and Parasites

Trimming hooves is one of those tasks that I was told by several goat owners I would only need to do twice a year. Well not with my Zola, and I am feeling quite guilty that I didn't come home and immediately give her a pedicure. A board was set up with frozen legs and the feet from the morning's lambs for us to practice on. We got to use several clippers and even large snips. I notice that Dr. Wolfgang got to handle all of the sharp objects during the class!At home, I use a pair of Fiskars garden pruners that have rounded tips. I was recommended to be cautious with sharp points for the animal, as well as myself. I'd say it is a good recommendation, as sometimes you are not working on level ground and the animals move, so there are many ways to draw blood. The nice thing about using the frozen feet is that you could trim too far to see what you were trying to avoid. The feet from the morning actually still bled a little if we went too far, so that was a good lesson.
Hoof trimming is one of those things that you need to be shown before you just pick up a goat leg and do it. This was a great place to make sure any questions were answered.

Understanding the anatomy of the hoof also helped make us want to be more diligent about keeping up with a back aggravating chore, at least in my case.My goat poop samples for the fecal egg count. Nematodirus slide that I was able to photograph through the scope.
Not from my goats though.
While the fecal egg counts were being calculated, Saturday morning’s session focused on herd management, and preventing parasite infestations. We began with a discussion of the life cycle and biology of parasites. Then we learned about the basic classes of dewormers and how resistance among parasites develops. With this background, Dr. Van Saun explained different ways to monitor and prevent parasites and worms. My results were not too bad, but I do have some remediation to figure out for the kids.

Dr. Van Saun relaying the absolutes in life.

Robert Van Saun, DVM, Penn State Extension Veterinarian and Professor of Veterinary Science, specializes in small ruminant pregnancy nutrition and its influence on health, production and reproduction; metabolic diseases and their prevention; and preventive medicine programs.

Trimming hooves article. There are many to find. There are even videos online.

On-line Manual for Conducting Fecal Egg Counts

Diagnosis of Internal Parasitism in Goats - Good reference from Langston University for identifying parasites and more about the procedure.



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Small Ruminant Class - Kidding

Part of the reason I took the trip to Reedsville for the Hands-On Small Ruminant Care class is so that I would be so prepared for kidding problems, I'd never need it... Its like carrying an umbrella to keep the rain away mentality.This was a bit more relaxing after the necropsy, but intense in its own way.These plush twins were stuffed and pulled in every which way, to demonstrate typical and problem birthing situations.Breech in the dorsal position. Normal, feet first presentation. This kid needs a little help and a twist of the shoulders through the cervix or hip bones. Feet first backwards is a normal position also. We learned how to identify front and back legs while inside the mother, and making sure two feet belong to the same goat. We were shown how to use chains, tuck in tails and heads, and cross legs to pull the shoulders and hips through the cervix.
Please don't let me ever need to do all of this!

Small Ruminant Class - Necropsy (revision)

As part of my week-end class, we observed a necropsy, or autopsy, of a ewe. The pictures follow.
I am putting the class pictures up in a couple of blogs, partly because some of you have your kids checking out the pictures with you. Here is the bloodier one. This will be interesting to some, but perhaps not to all. It was extremely educational to myself and the class participants. All of these activities tied together and made a lot of sense as a whole, and I recommend this experience to others.

I will do my best with terminology and identification, so if you know of an error, let me know and I'll try to fix it.
And so:
The class I took this week-end was the PASA Intensive: Hands-On Small Ruminant Care. It was held at the Mifflin County Youth Park in Reedsville, PA. Aside from the PA people, there were also folks from New Jersey, New York, and New Hampshire. A few people were there like I was three years ago, seeking information to determine what animals they wanted to start with, and how to take care of them. The rest of us ran the gamut of experience and sizes of herd and flocks.
The first thing we did, was check the condition of the animal. We donned gloves and felt along the spine. It was determined that this animal was a two, on a scale of one to five - five being chunky.
Of interest is the structure of the inside of the mouth. As you can clearly see, the teeth are only on the bottom, with quite a palette on the top. You wonder how those goats can eat what they do with mouth like that.The first cuts took the breath away from a few onlookers, and then the fascination began. Early into this seminar, we talked about using injections without causing scar tissue and also maximizing the benefit to the animals. We talked about how to use needles, and where to give medications subcutaneously (sub Q) and inter muscularly. Understanding proper injection sites is important for meat goat quality assurance.

We learned that the front legs aren't joined by a clavicle but muscle. They basically are hanging there. Interesting knowledge for later when we do birthing.

Dr. Wolfgang did a very neat job of skinning this lamb. There was little smell, and Hannah sopped up the blood as much as possible. A few real bleeders were clamped off. The intestines and digestive compartments. We eventually opened up some of these compartments to look at their contents. We could see where the further digested food moved along and became more smooth and watery as it proceeded. The digestive system is quite machine. Opening the chest cavity. This animal was chosen because it appeared to be in poorer health. For the purposes of finding and studying parasites, this was a good choice.The female reproductive organs. Holding an ovary (I think) and the uterine horns below the finger. The rumen, intestines (behind right), liver, and the lungs (pink). Everything is generally "clean" looking.

Close up of the rumen. Intestines. The lining of the rumen and its contents. You can see some corn in the rumen, and the texture of the inside of the lining. I missed getting a good picture of the reticulum with its honeycomb pattern, but I attached a good reference about ruminant digestive anatomy here.

Haemonchus contortus worms from inside the stomach - enlarged. If you look very closely, you can see the"barber pole" alternating stripe of the haemonchus contortus. These are one of the things we learned to battle during the week-end. They are red from sucking the blood from the animal. Enough of them can make the animal anemic, making them weak and susceptible to disease and illness.

Necropsy: http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/terminology/g/G_necropsy.htm

Great reference material for the class recommended by Dr. Van Saun.

Digestive Anatomy in Ruminants: http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/herbivores/rumen_anat.html

A darn cute page that explains a lot!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spring Development Update

Weeks ago I took some pictures of the final results of the August and September spring development project.
The second faucet was a little slower in "springing" forth, but within a few days, the pipe filled up and the water ran. You must remember that we hadn't had rain, so we were waiting for the spring to do all the work.
Then we hooked up that line to the barn. Although not as crystal clear as the alley spring, the animals have shown no ill affects. Fifteen goats, ten chickens, and one horse get all their water there. The cats and dogs seem to like it too, so we will call this job a success after a month of use. The real test will be how the frost free faucets work in the freezing weather this winter.