A friend of mine referred a woman (Cindy) to me who has a Bearded Collie who needs exposure to sheep.  I am not doing any instructing, just allowing her to walk her dog around sheep in an attempt to settle him down.  My sheep didn’t take too kindly to her dog which is no surprise.  The kept high-tailing it away from the dog as fast as they could, even with two of my dogs holding them.  Given that most of my flock is lambs I decided that it might be best to use the goats.

Separating the three steer goats from the buck and getting the two dairy goats out of the fenced-in area without the buck raping them was a bit of a trick.  Cindy manned the gates while I shuffled.  I ended up having to drag the buck off the does by his back leg.  He wasn’t going to give up.  Talk about one track minds.

The goats were more tolerant of the Beardie and eventually we got him tired enough so he relaxed around the goats.  I used both Gel and Cian to keep the goats from heading back to the gate and hoop shelter.  If they got near the hoop shelter it turned into a game of peek-a-boo between the goats and the dogs.

Cian surprised me.  He did a very, very good job of keep the goats to me and lying down (yes, lying down) when the goats stayed where we wanted them.

Cindy is unemployed, as is her husband so charging her money for sheep time was out of the question.  The cool thing is that Cindy has access to wholesale meat!  Whoo Hoo!  So in exchange for sheep/goat time, I’m getting meat at greatly reduced prices.  I did send her home with a bag of venison, a rabbit, a jar of goat milk, a jar of tomato sauce and a half a loaf of homemade bread.

This bartering business is nice.  If more people would barter for what they have in exchange for something else, we might be less dependent upon factory farms, oil, credit, etc.  Instead of everyone in it for themselves, we could depend on each other.  A novel concept, huh?

My neighbor dropped off the Sunday papers, but I haven’t looked at them yet.  I’m almost afraid to because I know what I’ll see: no jobs in my profession and few in any other.  I need to read and sign my severance papers and get those back to former employer so I can have my severance pay lined up.  At the rate things are going, I might have to file for bankruptcy once my severance runs out.  My unemployment is not going to pay for my rent, car payment and other bills.  I am not even sure I can get a job at Wal-Mart or some other like job.  Maybe I can get holiday employment.  I can make $113 over and above my unemployment which would help, but it’s still going to be tight.

The first loaf of bread I made didn’t come out.  The yeast was old and it didn’t rise, so the puppies got it.  I made another loaf yesterday and it came out perfect.  I’ll use some of it to make french toast for breakfast.  I got another two quarts of milk from the goats yesterday, mostly from Rain.

I got bad news about Dobie on Sunday.  I wrote the woman (we’ll call her “CS”) who sold her and told her that Wally bought her for me.  CS wrote me back and all but ripped my head off (virtually of course).  It seems the doe, who is six and named Esmeralda, is CAE (caprine arthritis encephalitis) positive.  CAE is a viral infection of goats which may lead to chronic disease of the joints and on rare occasions encephalitis in goat kids less then six months of age.  So it seems CS has kept this goat for over five years, probably bred her every year (according to CS she was a good brood doe), but she didn’t give much milk and it is the conventional practice to remove the kids from CAE positive does the second they are born.

As is the case with most diseases, conventional medicine does not know how CAE came about and they do not have a cure for it.  I’ve always been a fan of the Fias Co. Farm website and her page on CAE reflects my feelings on the disease.  CAE can be triggered by stress.  A doe who tested negative at her place of birth may go on to test positive if she is sold and moved away to a new home.  What would be more stressful on a doe than to have her baby taken away from her?  Poor Esmeralda has been used for the past five years as a money-making vessel.  She’s from very good lines, in fact CS wrote back telling me if I wanted her papers, I could have them for $100.  I wrote CS back and told her she could shove her papers up her butt.  I suppose CS decided she might as well get that last dollar out of her and brought her to that hell-hole of an auction and sold her.  I wonder if she didn’t realize that anyone seeing a doe who was in milk would have considered buying her as a milking doe.  CAE is not transmittable to humans or other animals so I have no concerns over using her milk.  That CS knew that she didn’t give much milk makes me believe she was milking her.  Milking machine equipment is one way CAE can be spread to other does.

You will recall that when I first asked CS why she sold this doe, she said because she was a bully at the feed trough and wasn’t producing enough milk to justify what she ate.  I guess she didn’t want me to know that she kept CAE positive does in her herd and that she’d knowingly sell one at an auction. Of course buying an animal at auction is always a risk, however, I thought that given I knew where the goat came from, had been to the farm, etc. that it would be safe to buy her.  I know better now and my opinion of CS is now very, very low.

The only symptom of CAE that Esmeralda is expressing is a hard udder.  I noted that about her when I first handled her.  There is alternative treatment for that and I am on it.  There are herbs to increase milk production and Fias Co. Farm sells an udder massage salve which can be used to help loosen up her udder.  As with all viral infections, vitamin C may be helpful.  Esmeralda is a good eater so I won’t have any trouble getting her to eat herbs, etc.  Fias Co. Farm sells an herbal worming formula which I think I’m going to try.  I’ve been meaning to try it and now will be a good time.

I was so upset Sunday night I couldn’t sleep and got up and wrote a scalding e-mail to CS.  I saved it and went back to bed.  When I got up on Monday, I re-read the e-mail and elected not to send it.  In this case, silence is likely best.  What’s done is done.  Esmeralda will live out the rest of her days here and this time she will keep her babies.  As soon as she comes into heat I’ll breed her to Obie then his rotten butt is getting sold.  I have someone lined up to buy him.  I won’t sell her babies to anyone (unless of course they are sold with the understanding they are from a CAE positive doe and there’s always the chance her kids will be negative), they’ll stay here and either be replacement milkers or be raised up for meat.  I think she’s due that, don’t you?

In advertisements for dairy farm CS says that her does are treated kindly, etc.  I don’t know about that.  I don’t know that many people who are in the business of making money off animals can treat them kindly.  Maybe they start out doing so, but things change.

Finally, I have a date today!  I’ve been a member of Green Singles (another on-line dating site) for quite a while now.  I thought my profile was hidden, but I guess it was not.  I got an e-mail from a man on the day I was laid off.  Interesting timing.  We’ve talked almost every day since and we are meeting for lunch today.  He’s very interested in getting into organic farming and has the property to do so.  Right now he owns a laundry mat and two car washes.  He’s an avid cyclist.  His first wife died from cancer in 2006.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m at the point now where if I could find a compatible mate, I would probably be more open to it.  It’s damned hard making it on your own these days.  The weird thing about this guy is when I joined Green Singles I searched for men in my area and never saw his profile.  I get e-mails when anyone new in my area joins up.  I don’t know where he came from … maybe a gift from above?  We’ll see.