This blog has been rather quiet lately. We’ve been spending time with extended family. It’s refreshing to stop and connect with family we don’t get to see very often. But we’ve also made a little headway here on the homestead, so here’s a brief overview.
We lost one of our kids (goats, that is) to tetanus last month. We’ve never vaccinated for tetanus unless there were problems. This year after dehorning the new kids, three of them contracted tetanus! That still has us a bit puzzled, but we’re blaming the fact that they are sharing the barnyard with the horses. We hope to have that remedied by next year’s kidding season.
We had tetanus anti-toxin and penicillin on hand to treat them right away, but discovered too late for the first kid that our vial of penicillin was no longer effective. A new one yielded better results. First they get a shot of anti-toxin, then penicillin each day for five days. Tetanus causes their muscles to contract and they can’t walk or jump around like normal. Their legs get stiff, then their necks, and then their jaw (lock-jaw). If caught quickly enough (hopefully before their jaw stiffens) it can often be treated successfully.
In our 16 years of raising goats we have had only two kids with tetanus before now. The first died within 48 hours because we didn’t know what to do in time, but the second was successfully treated and recovered. Now to suddenly have three in one year! It may be worth always vaccinating them immediately after dehorning, much as I hate those mercury-laden vaccines! We treated their seared horn buds every day with triodine, but they still got tetanus. Are we missing something?
On a positive note, Silver Oak did finish framing the back end of the deck! A temporary tarp blocks the cold wind, and the screen will come later. One day good friends from PA came and he helped frame, and my dad helped another day.
My mom also came and helped to start painting the big shed. The front with the most tedious work is almost done!
We tried to fix a soft sandy spot in our lane that tries to swallow little cars. When it’s wet it’s fine, but several dry months have made the sand really loose, especially in that spot. We added gravel, which improved it, but we’re not sure if that will be enough.
When cleaning rabbit manure out from under Evenstar’s rabbit hutches, we found HUGE earthworms! They were carefully transported to a new home in the garden.
Silver Oak is in the middle of erecting our new windmill to pump water from our well! We’re not using any big equipment to dig the holes or set up the tower, so it is taking more time and man power.
We built a rocket stove on our deck, not expecting much smoke. It took less than 30 minutes to assemble 16 fire bricks on a block base made of things we already had from our big Craigslist purchase in December.
It took much longer to get a fire going properly and make popcorn on it. It took forever! And it smoked like mad, all over our deck and into the house before we got the windows shut! It was a bit discouraging. I was really hoping to use it to heat pots of food which could then be placed in a basket slow cooker to finish cooking, using absolutely no fuel except for a few of the many sticks found lying on the ground in the woods. This smoking dragon not only smoked up our deck and house but made my pots terribly sooty and black. Ugh!
The next day I examined the instructions again and discovered we didn’t do a few things right, like make the center bottom brick thinner than the others with a thicker brick in front for the burning sticks to rest on, allowing air to flow under them. Hmmm. Perhaps that was the problem. We’re not giving up yet. As soon as we can we plan to move it off the deck and to the side so smoke won’t be drawn up there, and make those minor changes to hopefully stop the smoking problem altogether. According to the instructions a rocket stove is not supposed to smoke! We’ll see.
Next time I’ll share some things we’ve been doing with extended family. It’s been a busy month!