What’s up with the Goats?

Hobby Farms Magazine had an article recently titled “How Do You Make Money Farming? Raise Meat Goats.”  If you saw it you might be wondering how our goat business is going.

IMAG1592You might say it hasn’t really gotten out of the box yet.  If you are a long time reader you will recall that we started with 3 young female goats – Ginger, Nutmeg and Honey.  They are all part Kiko (a meat goat breed from New Zealand).  They are great goats – lots of personality and a very hardy breed.  Because we were thinking of making goat’s milk soap, we decided to add a dairy goat to the herd and we acquired Tinker, a Toggenburg/Alpine mix who, in the vernacular of goat farming, had been exposed to a buck.  Tinker was a bit more skittish than the hand raised Kiko does but a pleasant goat with a long beard (which the kids thought was pretty funny).  We weren’t there when she gave birth and one twin was dead and the other barely holding on when we discovered that her time had come.  We doted on the little survivor, a doeling we named Doty.  And all seemed well.  IMG_0723

We added a Kiko buckling to the herd – Hot Rod was going to be our herd sire and he grew nicely with large curling horns giving him a vigorously macho appearance.  Next we added two full-blood proven Kiko does, Cotton and Cocoa.  Cocoa had given birth to quadruplets in her first kidding and we were looking forward to seeing her next kids.  Both does had been exposed to a full Kiko buck so their offspring would have been valuable additions to our herd.  We had 8 goats, 3 part-Kiko, 3 full blood Kiko and two dairy goats.  Now all we needed was for Hot Rod to do his part.

Then things started going downhill.  Tinker developed symptoms of two goat diseases,  Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis (CAE) and Caseous Lymphadinitis (CL), both fairly prevalent (I learned) among dairy goats, both potentially contagious to the other goats (and one to humans as well under certain circumstances). Our local rural vet tested Tinker for CAE with a positive result but felt that she didn’t have the more dangerous CL.  I wasn’t convinced that he was correct but before I had a chance to do more testing Tinker unexpectedly and abruptly died. We were saddened but given the situation I also felt somewhat relieved.

That was until other goats became ill.  Their condition deteriorated rapidly – they would seem fine in the morning, listless by evening and comatose by the next day.  It was a mad scramble to try and figure out what was happening. We got little Doty to a large animal vet who was able to solve the puzzle – a fecal sample showed she had an infestation of the Barber Pole worm, a  gastrointestinal blood sucking worm that can cause severe anemia, dehydration, loss of blood, diarrhea and internal fluid accumulation.  This worm is resistant to all the over the counter dewormers (which we had been using) so the vet gave me syringes full of cattle dewormer and I raced home to inject the herd.  We lost Hot Rod, then Cocoa (who was clearly pregnant) and then finally even little Doty. I don’t know whether the dewormer just didn’t work on those individuals or whether the infestation was too far along to be effective.  It was a devastating loss.

So there were no new little kids in our barn this spring and until I have a job we can’t afford another buck.  We think we will add one at some point and keep trying. We’ve put gutters on the barn, making the goat pen a lot less damp (barber pole worms thrive in damp conditions) and we’ve increased the grazing area so that we can rotate the goats (also supposed to cut down on worm exposure). We’ve added a herbal wormer to their routine as well.  Some people swear by it, others poo-poo it but I figure it can’t hurt.

We are hoping that our goat farming will some day be profitable money-wise.  In the meantime it’s been good for all of us to have something to care for and concentrate on – animals have a way of getting you to focus on the here and now.  And they can be pretty funny as well – they often bring a smile to our faces with their antics!IMAG1385IMAG1593

Posted in goats, hobby farm | 4 Comments

Dog Days of Summer- spoiler alert – depressing!

It’s hard to believe but as of next Friday (July 4th) our summer break will be half over.  The busy part of the summer is over – the garden is in and (mostly) growing, the kids have gone to camp (4-H, WonderLab and IU’s informatics and computing; the last two great opportunities on scholarships) and I went to my teacher conference in Washington. June has been a very busy month.

Now July looms in front of us like a big, hot and sticky mess of overweight, damp cotton candy. No plans to speak of, just a long list of wishful thinking but unfunded projects like building a deck and a hen house, putting gravel down on the drive so the propane people can deliver the gas we need to cook and heat the house, and putting up jars of salsa once the garden starts delivering.  And of course the endless job search.

So far I’ve applied for seven jobs.  Of the three that have closed I had an interview for one (but they hired someone else), one I received a canned email saying thanks but no thanks, one I found out through reading the paper that the job had been filled.  That last one stung a bit as it’s my home district – the in which one my kids attend school and for which I’ve been diligently substitute teaching.  I thought I’d get an interview for that job (or at least some communication about it).  The four open jobs are moving into the interview phase as the application period is about to end. Two are middle school science teacher jobs, one is a high school position and the other is a 9-week temporary sub job covering maternity leave for a middle school science teacher.  I’d take any and no longer have any hopes of getting one. It’s been a little discouraging to say the least.

I have the grades (GPA 3.9), the certificates, the glowing letters of recommendation ( “…a self-motivated and intuitive professional who assesses and responds to situations calmly and efficiently. She is confident, flexible and natural as a teacher. ”  “…a professional both inside and outside of the classroom. She is always enthusiastic in her teaching and treats her students with respect and kindness.“) but I’m not getting interviews. I worry that my age (given away in the dates of my various diplomas and degrees) is an issue. Sure there’s the lack of teaching experience but the younger set in my Transition to Teaching cohort have the same amount of teaching experience and they are getting jobs.  The one other older student also hasn’t found a position.

I’m also trying to find a part-time job for July (I expect to continue substitute teaching in August as I’ve been told it’s the way to get your foot in the door even though it’s more babysitting than teaching) to bring in some money.  My last paycheck (of $97) was at the beginning of the month and while all the free camps were great they’ve cost a lot in gas money.  And naturally the utility bills keep coming. I’m working on a few suitcase dog beds to sell and the kids are sorting through their toys to come up with some eBay items (we think we have a Nintendo DS and an American Girl Doll for the auction block).  I’ve listed the bunk bed we used at our relative’s house on craigslist.  It’s a hardscrabble life!

As much as I enjoyed going to the Noyce conference in Washington, especially spending 2 nights in a nice air-conditioned hotel room (which was nearly as big as our house), I fear the contrast between the nice surroundings and gainfully employed professionals and my life has left me just a bit depressed.

I try to maintain an optimistic outlook on this blog. It doesn’t always match my internal outlook and on these horribly hot, muggy days when sweat runs in rivulets down your back and the cistern is dry and the propane is exhausted and it’s 88 degrees in the house with all the window fans running and the job situation seems stalled at best and loan payments and medical bills loom and the kids want (ice cream, bikes, outings with friends, the Lego movie….) stuff I can’t afford it’s hard to be Pollyanna! I’m worn down and I’m finding it harder to keep my chin up.

Posted in 2nd Career, 4H, depresssed, expense, frugal living, garden, hopelessness, Positive Thinking, poverty, recession, teaching | Leave a comment


Thanks everyone for the enthusiastic response. I admit that I don’t feel “done” with this journey or the blog quite yet. But perhaps we are moving on to a new chapter – one with a little less chaos and a little more stability! I sent in another job application today and now we’ll leave the cool library where we’ve been enjoying a respite from the overwhelming heat and go home so I can pack for my little adventure.

If any of you feel so inclined, we could use some help paying the website renewal bill so I can continue the blog :-)


Posted in survivor | 3 Comments