12.30.2014

I went to the Land fill today.

no photos today. nothing pleasant to show.

This isn't a subject many will enjoy reading, and I'm not going to sugar coat it either. I went to the Land fill today to bury / dump / dispose (pick your word)  a goat. Why? Various reasons... One of which was curiosity, the other cost.

When an animal dies what should you do? Bury it? Call a service to bury it? Have them remove it? Its a subject that sooner or later will come up. If you have a horse you really do need a plan. Or a backhoe and some serious logistics and land. or ability to get it on a trailer. Horses are huge and usually you might go thru this once in your life. And calling a service is particularly poignant at that time. But what about smaller animals- chickens, bunnies, small goats, burying in the backyard is doable (in certain parts of Palm Beach county it is allowed). What about when you have more then just a few animals?  The more you have, the more you have to deal with this.

Most of my adult life, I have driven the highway and passing these landfills, smelled them, sometimes for miles before ever seeing them,  but had never been to one. I'd never really understood it. Broward landfills from 20 years ago are now parks. There is one off of Davie and I-75. I wonder if the landfill off Sample is still there and what is it?  Today, I went to the one off Jog Road. Right next door, it was interesting to see Ironhorse Golf and Country club. I'm curious how million dollar homes enjoy the smell. And yes, it was pungent. A smell that lingered and one that took a few hours to get out of my nose. This is just one aspect of todays experience.

Roman was my oldest wether, a pet, he died, and I just couldn't afford to call the remover who normally does this for me. Burying him wasn't an option this time, plus I just could not take the chance of hurting my back again, or worse not totally healed from surgery and creating other issues. It was time I bucked up and learn the not so happy part of dead stock.  That saying comes to mind, "if you have livestock sooner or later you're going to have dead stock."  And well..... what are you going to do with it?

When you get into farming, for whatever reason, this needs to be addressed. What are you going to do with the animals that die. Thinking that they don't die, or have years to figure it out,  or that over time you can just keep burying them in the backyard, but lets be real, I'm on a bit more than an acre. If i only lose one animal a year that is 11 animals buried in the yard. And if doing this 20 years?

Living on a wetland canal, having my own well system, I wonder at times how OK that is. And just as I don't want to take any animal to a landfill, I worry for our ecosystem and how much my one acre plus can take.

Actually, the experience wasn't that bad. I would not recommend going unprepared for it. Or bringing the kiddos.  I went alone in case I freaked out or chickened out, arriving early this morning when its cooler. Everyone on the site was pleasurable, helpful, and nice. It's possible they saw the fear in my eyes or guilt. That guilt a pet owner has that we must bury our babies like we bury ourselves or cremate and get urns and hold onto them forever. I've done that. Again, with farming and time, that starts to add up. It's just not reality.

What you do is drive into the 'landfill' part of SWA which is obviously the giant hills everyone sees passing on the highway, with lots of birds flying around it. The stench starts a mile down the road, but interestingly, dissipated by the time I was right on top of it. Its not a nauseating smell. Just unpleasant and everywhere.

The lady at the weigh in station takes your money. Depending on how much weight you think you are dumping. She asked me for $5. Its $30 per ton.  So, right there in the inhumanity of it all the cost to dispose of one dead goat in the end cost $2.  Once the animal is off the truck they weigh truck again, total lost 60lbs. cost $2. I was so upset with what I had just done that I didn't want the change back.  But you must stop on the way out and get your receipt filed.

As I got to the area that said "Land fill 1",  a man directs you to either the right or left. And up you go. To the top. It was the worst part of the experience. I'm a flat land Florida girl. I  panic going over the Manuel bridge on 95 right outside of Vero. This was a steep incline with no safety rails. I see at the top huge dump trucks, if they made it up, so could I. The nice man at the bottom who I asked a million and one questions, promised me there was plenty of space up there to turn around. And there was.

What I wasn't expecting once up there were, it seemed, the thousands of birds flying around. And not just vultures, but all kinds. I even saw a few wood storks. You know, the ones on the endangered list. Its not nice up there. It's ugly. It's pretty gross. It smells. It's reality. I put my truck into 4WD and continued on to a space that was a bit open.  Away from anyone driving. And there lies Roman.  RIP sweet boy.

The best I could describe it is exactly what you see on tv. EXCEPT you are driving over refuse, and the ground was soft. Another immediate fear was I'd be stuck up there, all day, and would need to call a tow truck. My mind was wandering to other things except the task at hand. I didn't even shut the truck off. I got out. Opened the flat bed. Took the tarp and as gently as possible put him down. I had my boots on. I kicked as much fill and dirt around him as I could. Said goodbye, and then drove down the hill. It was bad but it wasn't bad.

I know he's is dead. I feel that his body is just a carcass. His soul has moved on. And by the looks of it he will be feeding a lot of hungry birds before they push some dirt over him. I'm not sure why we feel the need to respect the body up until the time it goes in the ground and the same thing happens. Devoured by creatures.

This wasn't anything i've ever experienced. It surely wasn't something I want to do again. But in the end, a possibility. When the remover is called you are paying him to do the exact same thing. And they charge $150. And now I know why. If you have the money to spend then that is something to do, avoiding the discomfort, shielding yourself from the experience. But, reality is some just don't have money like that to spend. and for me?  this cost, this goat, my back, the healing this is what I needed to do. I make no apologies for it, and know that if I am in this for the long haul, it is something that will need to be done again.

Farming is difficult. This is just one part of it. And sometimes it's ugly.

Also, I'm in an ever evolving urbanizing area, one day burying might not be an option any longer. The cost to have it done for me. vs. the cost to do it myself well you do the math....

The fact that I could do it proves a few things, as well. I needed to do this. It's done.

12.13.2014

Life in the Farm Lane...

Such a happy group of girls chewing their cud. Valentina, Fern, Sable, Desdemona, Clover. 


If you noticed (or not) I haven't posted much the past couple of months. Let me catch you up...

One of the reasons is the goats are dry, except one, Izzy, who is only giving about 3 lbs a day. Not enough to do much cheese making. There are a few girls who definitely look pregnant (never got them tested) 'crossing fingers'. First due date is January 11. Five due in January. Five due in March.
We hope.

I counted 17 roosters here the other day. OMG. They're all gone to dinner, felt awful, but that is farming. They take up too much space, food, and its a whole lot quieter here with them gone. Imagine, rogue bachelor's in the height of their ... um... you know... amorousness? The hens are happier. Egg production down -- could be the weather, or just time change, or getting beat up by the 17 boys. Duck production is back on track though. Duck eggs for sale again.

Bees are holding their own.... I'm at two hives down from 4 at the beginning of the year. I should have split one before dearth hit, I didn't. One absconded in October. One died from pesticide spraying.  It's all still such a learning curve. My honey addiction is still strong, though purchasing from a local farm. I can get you some for you,  if you let me know.

Sadly, Buster brown my new buck just purchased in August, died Monday. He came here thin and recovering from long term problematic parasite issues. I just couldn't turn it. Although loved by his last farm,  I'm thinking he had just one too many close calls and one too many owners.  He was 8 years old and to many, long past his prime.  He went into rut, couple that with my own 2 month long odyssey of appendix bursting and recovery, my lack of attention to his special needs during it all,  he just couldn't turn. He was wormed 6 times just since August. And still nothing changed. I'm sad, he was a sweet sweet buck. He wasn't here very long but he was special. I hope he gives me some kids to carry on his line.

My appendix.... well, it burst, while filming a short documentary for PBS show Victory Gardens. How is that for best / worse case, all in one day? The fateful day started off fine, though towards the end of day, I kept thinking I'm too old to keep up with these filmographer's. I slept the next day, in pain. Woke up a day after that, called a friend to feed for me, and she insisted I call 911. I guess, I didn't look too good. It must have burst while showing off for the film crew. I'm very curious to see if it shows how sick I was on camera.

PBS with Edible Magazine  is doing a series called 'Victory Gardens' and they were in Florida for a week to shoot various people. I was lucky enough to be chosen. We'll see if it makes TV or online viewing or both. We filmed from morning to evening chores, and everything in between. It truly was fun. And awesome. Despite the next month's nightmare.

About the appendix....Recovery is good and I'm almost back to normal. It was a mess in there the doctor said, and the surgery took about 3.5 hours to fix me up. There also was an abscess found 4 days after the appendix surgery.  The abscess was drained. After 9 days in,  I had had enough and started my campaign to leave, they wanted me to stay another 4 to 5 days. Not a chance. The stress was just too great... With drains in, still stapled, I walked out of the hospital (barely). I got home, and stayed on the couch another 10 days.  But at least I could start damage control, call clients, order feed, see the animals, and manage with some help ( I will never be able to thank all my friends that came daily to care for me, help with goats, and do chores)... I've never been away from my animals for more then 2 nights, even then I saw the effects of not being there and what it does to them. 10 days and well....  If I'm not working then no money is coming in. If i'm not milking they decrease. If I'm not on the computer, I lose touch with customers, and clients. I felt better, I was recovering faster then most and kept telling the doctors this will ruin me, let me go home and recover. They only cared about protocols, lowest common denominator, general patient recovery and covering their ass. Which I respect. But, in my instance, not being home was going to drown me. They just wouldn't take into consideration me, my personal recovery rate, or my personality. They weren't dealing with a normal person. So, I walked out, drains and all.

The goats decreased all milk production during this time by half, most if not all should still be in milk and are not. Design work had to be re-routed to others, or pulled altogether, income on both fronts, gone. I have no idea what is going to happen next, or if i can pull out of this, I'm lucky to be alive, the goats are pregnant, design work is starting to come back, the market season is starting again, hopefully, we're getting back on track. January can't come soon enough. But this profound point of farming that one little setback can break you. 10 years of working my butt off, finally to see that light of recognition, and then possibly all could stop.

Sept 16 started out as one of the highlights of my farm life, and in one fell swoop became the worst... Life in the farm lane.



11.28.2014

Late Lactation. What is it?

Inevitably, I post about things and forget that the terminology is for those in the field and can be confusing to lay persons. In this instance, I might tell a milk customer that during late lactation I get a higher butterfat then in in early.  They look at me like I have three heads. Or we're slowing down and the girls are producing less and less every week.

Late lactation is just saying that the girls have been milking for about 9 months or longer. They milk generally 305 days, 10 months. You can push it. I do with some of the girls that look good.  I sometimes can milk 12 months or more but generally their bodies know it, show it, and milk comes out accordingly.  It's why I start off with so many and by the end of lactation I might only have a few milking. This year I started with 11 in milk. Today I'm milking just one. It's the  eleventh month of lactation.

In late lactation they will also decrease in production. Goats don't start out at day one of milking and give the same amount till the end. They peak on a grand curve from day 1 to day 305. My girls peak at the 3 or 4th month mark in that timeline. Then they level out for a few months. Then start the decline. As well in that time, one might get sick and get pulled from lineup. One might have no desire to milk that year, i pull etc. They are just like us. Some have great years some don't. the curve average gets lower and lower.

Of course, they also peak and wane within the months as well. During times of stress, heat, estrus. And their ages are important. This year I was milking 5 first fresheners. (ah, what is that?) A first freshener is a young goat in her first year of giving birth and milking. It's like a 15 year old getting their learner's permit. They're not quite proficient, need lots of patience. Don't know the ropes. Don't expect much from them,  but expect to spend more time on them. They can't compete with a seasoned pro.

This time of year is frustrating for me, my milk customers demand doesn't decrease, but the milk does. One of the things I've been trying to do is get only half pregnant for January, and then the other half for March, or even April. This way there will always be a sufficient supply of milk.  The last two years haven't worked out that way. The weather, the goats, their ages all come into play and there is never a hard and fast rule to this.

The chart below helps me since I'm a visual thinker. The line (green) is just approximating from this years production. Brown is what I expect to see since they would kid out in warmer months and height of lactation would be at height of a Florida summer. Expectations are lower. I think it gives a good idea what a lactation curve is, how, when, etc. See how it plummets around October? November? this is my late lactation if they were bred in August and kidded out in January.






The best I can do is just estimate as the year unfolds. I'm always thinking ahead to the next month. But its never set in stone. It's all dependent on outside sources you have no control over. But that is what its like with animals.

Goodness Gracious More...

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