Let There Be Light

Around mid-September I noticed the girls production drop off. The Ameraucanas basically stopped laying altogether. Just before I had surgery I rigged up an LED floodlight in the hen house and put it on a timer. Now, the inside of the house is lit up from 4AM to 8AM. This added 4 hours gives them a minimum of 14 hours of daylight each day. According to the gurus of YouTube, at least 14 hours of light is required for peak egg laying.

At first, I didn’t notice any change. We would get one or two eggs from the Rhode Island Reds and maybe one a week from the Ameraucanas. But after about two weeks, it was like someone turned on the egg faucet; we were back to 3 to 5 eggs a day. The Rhode Islands are still better producers, both in number and egg size, but the pretty birds are back to earning their mealworms again. Ed PS: Today was a 5 egg day — 3 brown from the Rhode Islands and one each from Cinder and Chowder. Goldie gave me one yesterday. She’s still in my good graces.

And if you are wondering how I know which Ameraucana lays each day, I’ve figured out the colors from each hen. Goldie lays pale blue eggs. They are almost white. Chowder’s eggs are an aquamarine blue as are the eggs from Cinder. However, Cinder’s eggs have tiny speckles on them. Chowder’s rarely have anything that might be seen as a blemish.

Mucking is So Much Fun

Having surgery on my shoulder on 31 October 2023 meant I could get started rehabbing during the winter. That was a good plan but I didn’t think about how that would affect my goats. Even after I felt strong enough, with all the rain we’ve had I couldn’t get in and muck out their enclosure. Today, it was dry enough to slog around in there and get the biggest of the mess out.

These are before and after shots. The “after” represents three wheelbarrows full of wet goat shit and straw moved over into the muck pit. Just an FYI, wet goat shit is a lot heavier than dry goat shit!

I probably could have scraped out another half a load but I was just too tired to do any more. At least the stones are exposed now; B&C no longer have to tiptoe through the slop. Ed

PS: Cinder approves of my work. She’s there in the lower half of the after shot looking for earthworms.

Where are the Eggs Going?

After I started letting the girls out of the coop to roam the Back Forty I noticed a decrease in their egg production. No worries. I knew they might find a corner, dig out a little hollow, and lay their eggs there. When I detected the decrease, I walked the area and carefully looked for any nests. Nothing.

Maybe the shorter days have something to do with it. No, not late enough for that. Are the goats eating the eggs? Not likely. Goats aren't known for being egg eaters.

Yesterday, I found their nest. Under my little work table next to the compost pile they love to tear up looking for bugs was a depression filled with four eggs. The only reason I was able to catch their trickery was because two other eggs had rolled out and gone down next to the coop. I saw those and figured there must be more.

I collected what was there and put a milk crate nest -- just like the ones in the hen house -- on the bottom shelf of the table. We'll see today if they are willing to forgo the joy of using their little hidey hole in favor of a box I can reach without being on my knees.

Ed Rovera

News about Bonnie

About a month ago I noticed Bonnie limping. She was favoring her right foreleg. Then I’d see her walking just fine. Since I hadn’t trimmed her hooves since spring, I figured she had a rock under a flap of the hoof wall that had been hurting her. If it had shaken itself out, the pain was gone. I checked her hooves and they needed trimming so I scheduled a day with my son to do that.

One thing led to another and the hoof work got put off. I also saw Bonnie limping now and again. I checked her hoof and leg: No swelling and no tenderness. Titian and I rescheduled a day and we trimmed her hooves. I checked her right hoof and leg thoroughly and I didn’t find anything that looked like it was causing her pain. She was still limping, though.

Thinking I must not have looked well enough, Titian and I tackled her again. This time I used a Dremel tool to cut the hoof wall down as low as I dared, looking for some sign of infection. Nothing. The hoof seemed healthy. Time to consult a professional.

I’ve been looking for a good mobile vet who’d come and check B&C but had no luck. Turns out, I was looking in the wrong place. One of the vets I spoke to on the phone said, “Try calling Farm Vet out of Petaluma.” Petaluma? Coming to Oakland? That’s an hour-long drive on a good day. Would a mobile livestock veterinarian who probably has plenty of customers up there drive to Oakland? I figured I had nothing to lose. I googled “Farm Vet” and found their website. Using their contact form I asked if they served Oakland and told them about Bonnie. The next day I had an email asking if Saturday at 8 AM would work. Damn straights, it would work!

The next Saturday morning, Dr. Scott Cantor of North Bay Farm Veterinarians, Inc. pulls into my driveway. He checks Bonnie and diagnosed her as having arthritis in her lower leg joint. I had checked her leg from the shoulder down but didn’t know what to look for. Scott showed me how there was a slight clicking when her joint flexed. “That’s arthritis, which is common in goats over 7 or 8 years old.”

Bottom line: I now have a vet I can call when I need him for my babies, and Bonnie gets an anti inflammatory (15mg) in peanut butter on a graham cracker with her daily rations. I was also politely told to cut both goats back to only two cups of grain product a day because they are both over weight. Other than that, B&C are very healthy goats for their age.