Saturday, June 25, 2011

The goats

I wrote a couple weeks ago about exciting farm news but I never got around to saying what it was.  Well, it's kidding time again, a little later this year than in the past but still fun none the less.  This year we had two girls having their kids within a week of each other so we had 4 little ones running and jumping around in the goat yard looking so cute.
Yes that is three babies trying to nurse off one momma and no she does not have 3 teats.  This doe, Penny adopted an extra kid from one of our other does, Tulip who didn't seem to have enough milk for her 2 kids.  So Penny took the one and seems to be doing pretty well with all three.   Thankfully they did have their kids at the same time so she could do that.  She probably saved his life.

(Tulip and her kid)
The sad news is that this past week Tulip started to deteriorate quickly.
We noticed that she was staying in the shed all the time and didn't want to stand up to eat or drink.  Her other baby stayed right by her side at all times but we could tell it wasn't getting much milk at all and was looking really scrawny.  We tried to bottle feed her but she didn't want anything to do with the bottle and gagged on it.  I started taking water and food out to Tulip in an effort to hand feed her and try to get her to drink but she would take very little.  Finally on Monday when it appeared that she definitely wasn't getting any better we took her to the vet.  We have a great large animal vet fairly close to us and he took one look at her and knew she was in a desperate situation.  She was so anemic that she couldn't even stand or walk.  He gave her an iron shot and some other meds and took a stool sample assuming that it was a parasite, coccidiosis, causing the anemia.  The next day however the test came back negative and it seems that she must have had some sort of internal bleeding that probably occurred soon after the birth, slowly killing her.  We took her home, set her up in clean separate quarters with her kid but the next morning when I went out to check her she had died.

Thankfully the vet had also showed us how to tube feed the kid so we wouldn't have to worry about how to get milk into her so we continued feeding her that way 4 times a day.  
The kitten must have known she was lonely and not feeling well so she would jump in there with her and they would nap together.

However over the next couple of days she kept getting worse and worse and we couldn't figure out why since she was getting enough to eat.  What we figured out must have happened was that when Tulip died, in an effort to probably try to protect her baby, she laid nearly on top of her and most likely crushed her ribs.  Her breathing had been bad ever since then and only seemed to get worse and she eventually died on Thursday night.  She was weak to begin with and I am sure this just was the last straw.  We were so sad because we had tried so hard to save her and she was beginning to be like a baby, being carried and rocked and coddled all the time.  She wouldn't have gotten better care anywhere I am pretty sure.

So while the story ends sadly we did learn some valuable lessons.  We know what to watch for in our does after they kid, we learned to make sure they have adequate copper intake to make sure their membranes are strong and don't rupture, we learned how to tube feed a weak kid so we can supplement before it is too late,  and we learned how to check for anemia (pull the lower eyelid down to see if it is pink or white).  The vet felt bad that he couldn't have helped her more but we were thankful for his kindness and caring in the situation.  That's just the way things go with livestock sometimes.  Thankfully in the 5 years that we have had them we have had very little problems.  They are easy animals to keep and really make great pets.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

This week I took the kids to Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope.
In the morning they had a class for younger children on butterflies and in the afternoon we had a guided tour of the preserve.  Lucky for us we were the only ones on the tour in the afternoon so we learned a lot and had a great time talking with and asking questions of our guides.  Since it was a bit of a drive for us we planned to make a day of it and packed our lunch so we could eat there in between activities.  We didn't have much difficulty keeping ourselves busy.

Inside, they had a nice bird observatory with several feeding stations hanging up outside the windows.  They had a good variety at their feeders and the kids were happy to see some that we haven't seen at our feeders yet such as a Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker and Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

We didn't see too many butterflies on our walk but the ones we did see were beautiful.
They love that butterfly weed.

But I considered the butterflies to be a bonus as we were really there to see the wildflowers.

There were more but I will try to control myself.

I had Grace and Aiden bring their Nature sketchbooks and they kept busy drawing the flowers that they saw along the way.  Asher was kept busy with a caterpillar that he found.  And Naomi was busy being bothered by the gnats that no one else seemed to notice.
Ahhh, this picture cracks me up!

And one of our most exciting finds was a baby fawn which crossed our path as we were walking through the woods.

Our guides however were not quite so excited as us because baby deer means momma dear and they are not supposed to be in the preserve and now their job is to figure out how to chase it out.  There is a 10 foot high metal deer fence that surrounds the entire property  to keep the deer from eating the native plants but somehow one got in though a faulty gate.  I can't imagine trying to chase a doe and fawn out of this pretty large preserve which also contains quite a bit of poison ivy.  Should be interesting.  :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Field Day

Last week was field day with our homeschool group.  There was a great turn out with about 70+ people there and the kids had loads of fun playing the typical potato sack races, three legged races, relays, tug of wars, jump rope competition etc.  We were also thankful for lovely weather in the 80's since the day before had been a record setting 100 degrees.  Pregnant women do not like 100 degree weather in case you were wondering.

Poor Grace is quite a bit on the short side for her age so she had to try really hard to keep up in some of these races.
But she made up for it during the wheelbarrow race due to being lighter and stronger from all those push-ups during Tae-Kwon-Do lessons.
Naomi was speedster and very competitive I found out.  She is a bundle of energy and just keeps going and going.

One of the things I loved about the day was watching the older kids buddy up with the younger kids on their team to help them compete in the events.  I don't know what they do in public school for field day but I am pretty sure that the 6th graders aren't helping with the kindergarteners.  I could be wrong though.  I appreciate how homeschooling encourages kids to co-operate and get along with kids of various ages and not just their own grade.  They really appear to enjoy it too. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day at Camp

Yesterday we had a great time at our church's annual camp day.  After the outdoor service in the woods we spent the whole day there boating, fishing, playing games, eating and chatting with friends.  It was a beautiful day.
No that extra child is not ours.  We tend to get a few followers tagging along.

And because we have all been so into birds lately we took lots of pictures of birds.
Christian captured this Red-Winged blackbird in flight with something in its mouth.  

Grey Catbird
 Eastern Kingbird
  The male and female are in this picture and they have their nest in a tree over a pond.

Oh and I must tell you about our new favorite bird website,  Check it out.  There is tons of really useful information about bird identification including some great educational videos.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Audubon Center

Yesterday I went with a couple of friends and their kids to the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove.  This was the first home of the famous naturalist in the United States and the only home of his still standing.  We have been studying birds this term in our nature study with Ambleside and I thought this trip would be a fitting conclusion to our year.  The kids have really been into birds and love drawing them in their nature notebooks, watching and identifying them at the birdfeeders and learning bird calls in a birds songs book that Christian picked up at a thrift shop.  They are getting really good at it too.

The first bird we saw at the center was a Tree Swallow.  He let us get a pretty close look at him but wouldn't turn his body so I could get a good shot of the rest of his iridescent blue back.  He was too busy guarding his family's nest and wanted to keep a wary eye on us.  
I love these birds and they are great to attract to your yard because they eat tons of insects.  

Sometimes in the summer when I am mowing the lawn a pair of swallows will swoop around me catching insects that are being disturbed by the lawn mower.  They get so close that you may think they are trying to attack you until you realize what they are doing and then you are glad that you are helping give them a tasty treat while ridding your lawn of insects at the same time.

Besides enjoying the beautiful grounds the kids were also able to take a class about bird flight given by a really fun and energetic teacher.  Having a great tour guide makes such a huge difference in the kids' interest in a subject and this girl was a winner.
They learned about different types of bird wings and feathers and how they are made for specific types of flight.

And because we were such a small group we were able to be the first group to be introduced to "Owlbert", a screech owl who was rescued from a collision with a car and brought to the Audubon center to be cared for.  He was not used to being around large groups so he needed to be socialized.  Poor thing should have gone to public school  ;)
He was such a wise looking little fellow but we found out that owls brains are actually very small because they have to make room in their skulls for those huge eyes.

Inside the Audubon house we were able to see a very rare folio with life sized Audubon drawings
The kids were also able to spend time in the "drawing room" which was set up with posed birds, paper and colored pencils so they too could practice observing and drawing birds like Audubon.  Don't you love the walls?

Each of these trips makes me love Pennsylvania more.  We have such rich history here!
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