Water, water, everywhere….

….Not that it was raining, or anything (for a change);

well, not first thing this morning, anyway.  Yesterday’s heavy, clinging tendrils of mist had silently disappeared by morning; replaced with overcast gloom.  We hurried around the yard, anxious to get the chores out of the way before John-the-Farrier arrived to give the ponies their bi-monthly pedicure. 

Up in the field, we’d (literally) caught the boys at a thankfully mellow moment; each of them dozing whilst waiting for their turn, hanging around hopefully in case there were any tidbits to be snaffled.  All the ponies’ feet were fine & healthy; although when it came to Darwin’s turn, the first telltale signs of early-onset laminitis were there: a slight blood line at the edge of the hoof capsule.  Basically this is when the inter-laminar bond (which is the only means of support of the distal phalanx within the hoof) becomes degraded, causing the pedal bone to rotate downwards in the foot.  This is a painful condition for the pony; & if left untreated, can even prove fatal as the damage becomes so severe as to be irreparable.  The exact cause of laminitis, is unknown; but certain triggers – such as moving a native-breed pony onto fresh grass which has high sugar levels (either spring grass, or frosty grass, as cold causes the sugar level in the blades to rise) have been attributable. 

Darwin (a Welsh Cob) has a good covering of flesh for the time of year but is by no means overweight; & we’d had no choice but to move him & the others off the quagmire in which they had been grazing.  The fact that after his trim he happily cantered away to literally ‘find his feet’, suggested there was no actual discomfort at this stage; but we gave him a small feed laced with a sachet of phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory) to be on the safe side; with the treatment to be continued over the few days as a preventive measure. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch a trench was being dug across the front of the house (so glad we had the Arrivals Yard resurfaced at astronomical cost, last year) for water pipe & electricity cable to the Dairy.  However, the excavator unexpectedly hit water, sooner than expected; as water poured into the trench from a split pipe the engineers hadn’t realised was there (nor had we, for that matter). 

Fortunately it was the pipe which led to the water supply in the Long Barn; & not one which feeds the kidding shed, field troughs, house or garden; so we were able to limit the damage & bend the pipe over (no stopcock for this supply) whilst Tony hurried into town to fetch taps with which to repair it – thankfully he knows what he’s doing!  Paul cheerily said to look on the bright side as he could now take the feed directly fom this new pipe: otherwise he would have to run it from the stopcock in the garden.  Naturally, Tony had ommitted to mention this minor detail when drawing up the plans – that half the lawn was to be ripped up by the greedy bucket of the excavator.  I’m now glad they hit the pipe, after all. 

Unfortunately there’s still a big trench left though; as we’ll now have to get a manhole cover for the new tapwork.  That said, at least we now have a stopcock for this previously untapped source…!

Once Tony was back from town I gave the duck pen a thorough clean, whilst he carried out a minor repair to the rear access door of their accommodation.  The hens were also cleaned out & fresh, pine-pungent beds of wood shavings laid for the equines, just in case Darwin does need to be brought in if the laminitis situation gets any worse.  As we were in the mood, we also subdivided & prepped a stable in readiness for the arrival of the first of 2008’s Cariadfach goat kids – probably in about three weeks’ time – & made sure the lambing shed was fully furnished with deep, fresh straw, water buckets & hay baskets, just in case; as we are bringing them down the hill to the lower pasture tomorrow.  Mind you; when we looked at the ladies today nobody seemed to be showing any inclination of popping out a lamb just yet, although they did follow us around the field so I am hopeful tomorrow’s mission won’t prove too impossible. 

I got stuck into the washing with a vengeance; not just because the pile had grown to resemble something akin to an Alpine range but because I wanted to get to grips with the new machine. It’s noisier than the other one & so far I haven’t ascertained whether I can get it to run from washing to drying automatically; as otherwise it’ll mean more broken nights’ sleep because I try to do as much washing via our ‘Economy Seven’ tariff.  So once the dairy’s up & running, to cut energy costs I suspect this will either make me something of a night owl or an astronomically early bird!  Well; they do say, “no rest for the wicked….!”

Meanwhile on checking the new machine I was dismayed to discover a telltale puddle of water on the floor in front of it – uh-oh, here we go again – but a check of the pipework to the rear, revealed a leaking connector pipe.  It’ll need replacing by a plumber, so more expense…..& more water, water everwhere: oh, joy.

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About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Diary, Equine, February 2008, Goats, Life, Livestock, Poultry, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Water, water, everywhere….

  1. meg says:

    I’m exhausted just reading this. Is that a typical day/weekend for you guys? *is in awe*

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hi there Meg,

    thanks for popping by! Alas, I wish I could say this was a typical day; but at this time of year things are relatively quiet. If you read the entries when we get to March you’ll see what I mean – we are expecting the ‘Milkforce’ to have around 40 goat kids (who will all require bottle feeding 4x per day once their Mums go to work in the parlour) & about 15 lambs as well. I’ll be milking twice per day as well as teaching this season’s new milkers the routine in the parlour, so a fair few bruises will be the order of the day.

    And once the milk starts coming, my craft in the dairy will commence; & we can formally launch our fledgeling business at last….somehow I don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep!!

  3. katie says:

    I should bail out now, Jo! Seriously, it does sound as if you’re going to be a little bit busy. Here’s me worrying about whether I’ll cope with a couple of ‘bottle babies’!

  4. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Last year was hard, as we were learning & made a lot of mistakes: I think the most stressful week of my life was just after we took the kids away from the mums in April (& we left them on far too long); the kids wouldn’t take to the bottle & the mums trashed the milking parlour as they stormed the gate every time I opened it, excited at the prospect of a good old nosh whilst being milked (& kicking me black & blue at the same time of course!).

    So we learned a few tricks for our July kidding – such as giving the kid their first taste of the teat as soon as they’re born, squeezing a little colostrum from mum & making it their first feed, after which the baby is happy. We also quietly took the mums into alternative accommodation when the kids were around four days old, immediately giving the mums a good meal in their new building whilst the kids enjoyed their first full bottle from us. It was far quieter & less stressful; the mums didn’t seem to miss their kids at all, & the babies all just played together as they mingled properly for the first time, having been kept in individual pens with their mothers.

    So this year I’m hoping for similar ease; especially as we’ve staggered the kidding, with nine due in March, ten in April & four in June. But of course there’s also the lambs to worry about…..anyone fancy helping out with a spot of bottle feeding?? It might give me a chance to get a bit of kip!

    I must add that although it’s the most taxing time of year, it is also immensely satisfying & I wouldn’t change this lifestyle – hectic though it is – for the world.

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