Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doors and Windows

You may have heard the prophetic statement of encouragement:
     "Where the Lord closes a door, He opens a window"
Well, let me share with you some of the recent "windows" we have been blessed with.

Monday, in the midst of the tragedy of losing Popo and Cooper, our beautiful llama, Kendra, effortlessly delivered her very first cria. Meet Bright Dreams, a beautiful, healthy, friendly little guy.

Tuesday, while out checking the stock, an odd peeping was herd from the barn.
     Where is that peeping coming from?
     Here! Behind the stack of hay bales.
     Oh my goodness.... 
     There's one of the Cuckoo Marans hens with a bunch of chicks!

Unbeknownst to us, one of the Marans hens had quietly taken up residence behind the hay on a pile of eggs.

Thank the Lord for little blessings. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sometimes, You Lose The Battle

Years ago, a wise rancher lady told me "Where you have livestock, you will sometimes have dead stock".  Never so true have those words rung true than on our ranch this week.

Sunday, what should have been a glorious event, turned tragic.  The time had come for Popo, one of our three original llama girls, to have her baby (cria).  Since Popo was an experienced mother with no history of complications, we did not expect the events that unfolded.  

Stage Stop Popo's Pillow Talk

Just as the early morning sky began to take on color, we checked our pastures to make sure all was well.  We noticed Popo laying down in an odd way, so we rushed out to check out the situation, expecting to find her in the process of delivering a baby.  Instead, what we found behind her was a mound of intestines.  Immediately, we called for a vet!

Upon arrival, the vet verified that Popo was in labor but, for some reason, her cervix had failed to dilate.  During the contractions, the baby's foot somehow tore a hole thru the wall of her uterus.  As the contractions continued, Popo's small intestine and bowel pushed thru the hole and out.  Then, her uterus began to push itself out with the baby behind it!  We could see the baby's head outlined thru the walls of the uterus, and could watch the baby breathing while still inside.

Right there in our pasture, the vet was able to make an incision in the uterus to extract the baby, clean the protruding mass, stitch up the tears and incision, and carefully put all her innards back inside.  Once she was "back together", Popo stood and walked a short distance with us.  Popo - always the trooper.  We quickly got Popo into the van with us and headed for the vet's office.  Her baby rode in front with us to get dried off and warmed up.  At the vet's office, Popo was started on an IV to push fluids and medications to stave off infection, and to prompt dilation of her cervix; the placenta was not yet expelled.  The vet warned us that Popo had a hard battle ahead of her if she was going to survive.  

Meanwhile, her beautiful baby boy, Cooper, was battling for his own life.  After such a rough delivery on a cold morning, he was having trouble warming up.  His breathing was labored, and he was struggling to survive.  The vet was able to given him some medication to help him breathe easier, and we kept him warm with hot air from the car heater till his body temperature came up.  Finally, he made a turn for the better!  The vet was able to milk some colostrum from Popo and fed him that from a syringe.  We were all cautiously optimistic.  We all prayed for a good outcome for both Popo and Cooper.

Sunday afternoon, Popo remained at the vet, and we brought little Cooper home.  We carefully fed him some more colostrum we had stored from our dairy goats, and got him situated in a protected pen with another new llama mother, Patience and her 6 day old son, Noah.  After his first breakfast, Cooper took a much needed nap, then began to find his legs.  He learned to stand up and began to move around.  We gave him more colostrum bottles (about 1-1.5 ounces at a time) thru the evening and he was doing well.  We were feeling a bit more positive.

The next morning, Monday, an early call to the vet found Popo to be "holding her own".  Cooper was okay, but acting a bit more lethargic.  He seemed a little reluctant to take a bottle, and sounded just a bit raspy in his breathing.  Throughout the day, his breathing got better, but his lethargy increased.  He no longer wanted to hold his head up, and could barely stand on his own when we helped him up.   His interest in taking a bottle was zero.  We combined Nutri-Drench (a liquid multi-vitamin) with his milk to give him a boost.  Then, at the vet's suggestion, added .5 cc of a Vitamin B complex to his milk for one feeding.  Towards evening, he picked his head and and was a bit more interactive, tho still lethargic.

Sadly, worse news came in from the vet .... Popo had taken a turn for the worse in the afternoon, and passed away about 5 PM.  Poor little Cooper was now an orphan.  We were gravely concerned that his lethargy was, at least in part, being brought on by his need for his mother's attention.  No human mother can adequately fill that role for a llama baby.  We had hoped that his companion llamas would help restore his spirit, and little Noah was trying his best.  Cooper definitely responded to Noah's attempts to interact, but his responses faded as his lethargy increased.  

As the day came to a close and night deepened, Cooper began to fade.  In the early morning hours on Tuesday, beautiful little Cooper quietly passed away in his sleep.  Cooper went to join his momma, Popo, in the great pasture beyond.

We are truly heartbroken.  It hurts to lose a beloved llama friend ... times two.  There will be better days, and we will keep our happy memories and derive much learning from this experience.  We chose to share this story here so others who follow our blog might find some useful information in its contents, and another llama life might be saved someday.  Life is not without challenges, and they are challenges worth facing.

A special note:  

We are immensely thankful for Dr. Wright and the vet team at Belton Veterinary Clinic who worked so hard to try to save both Popo and Cooper; we could not have asked them to do more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Enjoying the Day

Ashlee's adorable boys, Dexter and Patrick, just enjoying an afternoon break basking in the sun.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Great Pyrenees Puppies

On April 10, Greta delivered a healthy litter of Great Pyrenees pups. DaKoda is the proud Daddy. The little wriggling balls of white fur are all doing well.

Pictures and more information will be coming in the weeks ahead.

If you are interested in reserving a puppy, please contact us and we will put you on the waiting list.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Three More Buck Kids

On Sunday, March 29, Valentine delivered a single buck kid. Oscar is like a small copy of his Mom and Dad - black with white and grey spots all over. A very handsome little guy!

On Wednesday, April 1, Ashlee delivered a near-matching set of twin buck kids. The main difference in their coloring seems to be that Patrick has Ashlee's frosted ears, and Dexter has Oliver's black ears (with a few white freckles). Ashlee has been a very attentive first time Mom, but she is still figuring out how to let them nurse. With just a little intervention, both boys are doing great.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nubian Kids - the Fun & the Challenges

We have been generously blessed with 10 healthy Nubian goat kids so far this kidding season. We still have three does due to kid in the coming weeks.

During the cold, rainy days we had late last week, Glory and Surprise each kidded with a single kid.

Glory kidded first with a beautiful, heavily spotted buck kid. Baxter was born just as the storms were starting and the cold winds were blowing hard. Even with our efforts to keep him warm and protected from the driving rain, he had trouble regulating his body temperature effectively. Ultimately, we brought Baxter into the house and got his temperature to normalize. Over the next few days, we combined bottle feeding with regular visits with his mom to nurse. On Saturday, once the weather improved he was reunited with his mom full-time. He is now happy and thriving with the rest of the kids in the pasture.

On Friday, in the midst of another round of cold blowing rain, Surprise kidded with a beautiful little doe kid. We moved Surprise and baby Shasta to a protected area with a warm heat lamp. Once again, we faced problems with a baby not being able to stay warm enough. For about 24 hours, Shasta joined Baxter in the house with regular visits to her mom for nursing. She, too, was reunited with her mom on Saturday.

After kidding with triplets on March 7, Ophillia developed mastitis on one side of her udder. We proceeded to treat with a combination of massage and anti-biotic shots of OxyTetracycline. (More information can be found at Fias Co Farm). After 5 days of anti-biotics, the infection seemed to be better, but we still had some problems with milk flow on the affected side. Following the much appreciated advice provided by Irene Ramsay's website, we follow-up the anti-biotic treatment with several days of "own milk". We are relieved and ecstatic to report that Ophillia is now doing markedly better!

We have already completed the dreaded deed of disbudding all the boys (except Baxter); we will do the girls and the remaining boy this coming weekend. This is, truly, our least favorite job on the ranch.

In the end, there is nothing like watching all the happy, healthy kids bouncing merrily around in the pasture enjoying the sunshine. Were we totally exhausted from several sleepless nights? Definitely! Is it worth all the work to make sure they are and will stay healthy? Absolutely!

Rain & Drought

Our dry pastures were blessed with about 3" of rain last week!

Over the course of about 3 days, we saw boughts of heavy rainfall combined with brutal, cold winds. Thankfully, the parched ground was able to effectively absorb a good portion of the rainfall to help spur some much needed forage regeneration.

Sadly, the effects of the rainfall are sure to be short-lived. We are already seeing cracks resuming in the dry ground and our wet weather creek has already returned to it's empty state. Area lakes showed only small increases in the lake levels since much of the rain was absorbed. According to the drought monitor system, we remain in "exceptional drought" status.

A new article released 03/13/09 details how the drought, even after the rain, is affecting Texas agriculture: