Thursday, August 13, 2015

New site

Well, I finally took the plunge and bought a domain name. Bout time huh? So, if you'd like to see any of the new stuff that I'll be putting up you can find the new blog at The Pagan Homesteader. I hope to see you all there!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Learn How to Give Your Goat a Shot

As some of you may know, Bell our goat FINALLY had a baby. She is beyond adorable but things have not always gone smoothly. Bell seemed to be doing well with nursing when she first had the baby but now she doesn't seem to want to stand for her to nurse for very long. This is a problem for sure but not one that can't be overcome. The other more serious issue was the fact that our latest addition was not up running around like she should. She was diagnosed with an infection in her joints so we have been giving her antibiotic injections for the last few days. 

If you are afraid of needles then you may not want to read this post but if you plan on having livestock, it may be a fear that you have to overcome. Drawing up and administering an injection really isn't difficult. The hardest part is getting past the cringe factor of poking a living thing with a sharp pointy object. 

First you must gather all of your supplies. The vet left us two pre-filled syringes of one antibiotic. Once those are done then we are to give her Penicillin for 7 days. She only left us one needle and syringe for the Penicillin but I didn't want to use the same needle over again so I picked some up at the Tractor Supply store. You can buy needles in packs of six for just a couple of dollars. The 3 ml syringes were $0.29 each.              
When you first open a bottle of medication like this, it will be covered in a thin metal cover. This simply peels off and exposes the rubber stopper underneath which is what your needle will go through. 
You can see the rubber stopper underneath.
The first time you draw up your injection you don't have to clean the stopper with alcohol. Ideally you will want to clean the top of the bottle each time with alcohol before drawing up the next dose. Next, take your syringe and pull the syringe back until you have the same amount of air to equal the same amount of medicine you need to draw up.

In our case we have to give 2 ml of Penicillin every day. Now, stick the needle through the rubber stopper and push in the air. The air will take the place of the liquid that you are about to draw out. The reason for this is prevent a vacuum from forming in the bottle over time as you draw out each dose. You don't have to do this step but is just makes it easier as you repeatedly draw medicine out of the bottle.

Now pull back on the plunger until you have the correct amount of medication in your syringe. You will always have a few air bubbles that come back into your syringe but it's not anything to worry about because you will be giving the injection into the muscle or into the subcutaneous tissue. If you want to get the air bubbles out simply pull back on the plunger once you have removed the needle from the bottle to increase the amount of air in the syringe. Slowly push the syringe forward to push the air out until you have a little medicine coming out of the needle. Recap the needle and you're ready to go!
Draw up the medication to the correct level. 

The Penicillin is given in the muscle otherwise known as an IM injection. IM just stands for intramuscular. Check with your vet to see where the best place is to give the injection for your particular livestock. Our vet said we could give the injections in her neck or butt. I was concerned about hitting the sciatic nerve however, since I'm not overly familar with goat anatomy so I have been giving them on her inner leg.

When you give the injection go in quick and at a 90 degree angle. If this is an adult animal you should be able to put the needle all the way in to the hub. If it's a smaller animal you may not be able to put the needle in all the way due to it being a smaller muscle mass. This particular needle is a 20 Gauge 1 inch needle. You will have to use your own judgement as to weather or not there is enough muscle to take the full length of the needle.

Pull back slightly on the plunger to make sure there is no blood that comes back into the syringe. If it looks ok, push the medicine in quickly and pull out the needle. Gently massage the site and you're done!

Even though these needles are being used on animals, I would still dispose of them just like I would a sharps that has been used on a person. Any plastic container will work. Take an empty soda or water bottler to dispose of your needles. When you no longer need it, you can take the bottle to your local ER or doctors office and they should be able to dispose of it for you. You might also check with your vet to see if you could bring it back to them for disposal. If you would just like to practice giving an injection go buy a syringe and needle and grab an orange. This is a great way to practice your injection technique and get more comfortable with it if you have never done anything like this before.

Giving an injection isn't hard but it can be scary if you've never done something like this before. Unfortunately this is sometimes a needed part of animal husbandry and an area that you may have to jump out of your comfort zone to learn.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goats Gone Wild: First Aid on the Homestead

Accidents can happen at any time which is one reason why it's a good idea to know some basic first aid. When you live in a more rural area, this is especially important because you may need to deal with a situation before you can get help. Not only do we have to think about how to deal with accidents that can happen to people, but we also have to be able to handle those that happen to our four legged friends.

As you probably know, goats can be difficult to fence in. Bell is no exception. She is constantly getting out of her fence and night before last she thought it would be a good idea to break out again. Unfortunately, this time she seems to have caught her back foot in the fence and broke her leg. My husband had gone outside and found her wandering around but noticed immediately that something was wrong.

This was about 9 o'clock at night and otherwise she seemed to be fine. There was no blood and the skin wasn't broken which is a good thing. We decided the best thing we could do was make a splint but out of what? Well, craft sticks worked well when the chicken broke her leg so why not?

These are the large wood craft sticks that you can buy at any craft store. We taped four of them together to make it good and stiff and give it some bulk.

Next we wrapped duct tape from one end to the other. You know what they say, duct tape fixes everything! We tried to make sure the ends were covered well and padded so they won't rub against her.

Now we had to get it on. With flashlights in hand we traipsed back outside. The Oldest had been out there holding Bell and keeping her happy with some feed while we got everything together.

Hubby aligned her leg and held the splints in place while I wrapped them with Vet Wrap. If you don't have Vet Wrap yet I suggest you either check online, your local feed store, or your local Tractor Supply store. It's only a couple of dollars per roll and is definitely something you should have in your first aid supplies.

Ideally I would like to take her to the vet but unfortunately we just don't have the money right now. If it had broken the skin then I would suck it up and take her but in this case we are going to try and take care of it ourselves. 

Overall I think it turned out rather well. We checked on her again the next day and it seemed like it was holding up well. She was lying on it and getting around pretty well. Of course right now she doesn't want to put any weight on it and she's also not very happy about being confined to her pen.

If you've never taken a first aid class I highly suggest you take one. Not only can it be useful for you and your family but your livestock as well.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Winter Predictions

As the cooler weather moves in we always wonder what the coming season will hold for us. This has particularly been on people's minds here, as Oklahoma is not known for its calm and accommodating weather. We had an extremely mild storm season and a moderate summer. The weather has been so nice that most people think it is inevitable that the proverbial other shoe will drop this winter.

Today we rely on our local forecasters to tell us what to expect when we walk out the door but for years man has turned to nature for clues as to what to expect for the next few months. Most people do not take these practices seriously anymore but they can be fun and it's always interesting to see if they will turn out to be true.

Recently I saw a snippet on the Farmer's Almanac where a lady said she checks persimmon seeds every year to see what they foretell for the coming winter. When you cut the seed in half you will see one of three things. A fork, a knife, or a spoon. A fork means you will have a mild winter. A knife means it will be bitingly cold and a spoon means you will have a lot of snow. She said she had never had all of the seeds that she cut open show the same thing and they were all spoons!

We have some persimmon trees down the road from us so we thought we would check our persimmons and see what we got. We only cut open a few but they had spoons. The Farmer's Almanac is not predicting a very snowy winter for us but the persimmon seeds are telling a different story. So what predictions are you seeing where you live?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Finally! A bathroom!

This is a momentous occasion for the homestead! Finally, after four years, we will once again have a full bathroom. I cannot even begin to express my excitement at the idea of having some privacy and a door that actually locks! When you embark on an adventure such as this, you know you will have to make some sacrifices and compromises. Some you expect and some you don't but you never truly appreciate some of the little things in life until you have to do without them for a while.

It took us a little while to get the area cleaned up where the new building would go. We decided to place it at the end of the shed so that we wouldn't have to go too far to get to it. We considered placing it behind the one we are living in or at the very end of the building with the porch facing the road but we felt that it would be too inconvenient when the weather is bad. We decided against joining the buildings because they have different roof lines and you never know if we will want to move the building at some point in the future. 

I first saw one of these buildings when I went with our new neighbor, Karin from Rancho No Dinero, to look at some buildings or her property. A building of this size is listed as a "playhouse". The outside dimensions are 8x12 but the interior is 7x7. When we first saw one of these buildings she commented that it would be perfect for a bathroom. I agreed and it set the wheels to turning in my little brain.

We wanted a painted building because the paint lasts longer than the stains put on the building. We ordered this one and had to wait two weeks for it to be built. In the pictures the paint looks gray but we had it painted a taupe color with almond trim. We also went with a metal roof to make it easier for collecting rain water. The building on the lot had a wooden door but we went with a steel door so that it will close easily and it has a lock!

As you can see from the picture above, a shed is brought in on a flat bed truck and it simply slides off into place. Once he has the building on the ground it can be leveled. We thought we might need to have some blocks to level the building but he brought some scrap wood from the plant that was used to bring the building level. 

He used a standard jack to lift the building and of course checked it with a level. As you can see the backs of the buildings are not even. We did this so we wouldn't lose the window on the larger shed by looking out and only seeing a wall. 

Of course, no sooner was the building of the truck than the kids had to go check it out. 

 Here is a picture of the inside from the doorway. As you can see, it isn't very large but it will do very nicely for a bathroom. We can put a standard size tub in it with a vanity and the composting toilet. Like so many projects on a homestead, this one will be completed a little at a time. It will take a few months before it is done 100% but hopefully we will be able to put it to use even before it is completed.
And here she is! The latest edition to the homestead. eventually we would like to build a deck between the buildings with a cover. We left about four feet between the buildings so we can get to the air conditioner and it will also give us a place to stack firewood close to the door. Stay tuned for updates. Hopefully this little project will show you how you can convert a shed into more than something for storage.