Well technically, I should probably call it “weeks in review” for the title since I’m covering two weeks this week. Life seems to really get away from me some days. Something about taking care of so many animals, while also taking care of four human beings, makes some days just fly by!
So let’s see...what exciting things happened these past two weeks? Not much actually, and in the sanctuary world that’s a very good thing I think. No crazy surprises happening over here. We did have a quick COVID-19 scare when one of us developed a cough, but it turned out to just be a basic cold thing (or maybe too much dust inhaled while doing ranch chores).
The week of the 8th brought lots of snow, but it didn’t stick around too long. We have everything pretty dialed in here I think, so a little snow doesn’t usually cause much chaos. (Knock on wood). When it snows, we just make sure paths are cleared, shelters are warm, and water and food are always accessible. We had a big snowstorm a few years ago and that was a little more challenging because the snow was so deep the animals couldn’t make paths in it. So we had to shovel and snow blow paths all over, to and from the barn to the food and water. This winter had been pretty mild compared to that, so it’s all good.
We have a couple of goats getting up there in age, so they are always our biggest concern every winter, no matter how much snow we get. It’s harder for older animals to keep warm, so extra work can be needed, like coats if they need them and/or supplements for health. It’s not recommended to put coats on goats if they are healthy though. Goats have a two layer hair system happening on their bodies in the winter. The top layer is called their guard hair, while the underneath is called their cashmere layer. Both layers work to keep them nice and warm all winter!
Speaking of staying warm, did you know some goats are sheared in the cold winter months just to get that cashmere under layer to make cashmere clothing for humans? If you ask us, that makes no sense at all and is cruel. Taking away an animal’s protection against the cold and having them risk death just to make clothes that feel soft isn’t very humane, don’t you think? Thankfully there are so many great cashmere alternatives out there, so you can get that cashmere feeling without harming any goats. I’m a fleece fan myself and in the winter I can usually be found under several layers. I’m an old goat of sorts I think.
The art wall is up in our Art & Education Shed and we love it! I’m still in awe of all the great talent shown by all the kids that submitted artwork, and can’t wait for all our guests to see it too once we resume tours and classes. It makes us all smile here to look at that wall and see all the awesome renderings of our animals, so THANK YOU to those that helped us create it! Check out a pic of the wall below, and please visit our Instagram page for the video.
And for those kids (or adults) that didn’t create anything but still want to, we’d still love to see your art too. Just click on ART in the menu bar above and it will give you instructions on how to contribute.
So we mentioned last week Skeeter was our oldest resident, but do you know who our youngest four legged residents are (outside of the cats)? That title goes Lucky and Lucy - our wonder twin Nigerian Dwarf goat duo. They were both born on March 17th, 2019, so they are coming up on their 2 year birthdays. We’ll see if they let me take a photo of them with leprechaun hats on on their birthday. 💚
In closing for this post, just a reminder to be kind to yourself, and others, this week. We checked out of a couple of online groups recently because we felt like there was some unkindness towards folks happening, along with unnecessary drama. We aren’t big fans of creating stress where stress isn’t needed, and really couldn’t we all use more kindness and love in our lives right about now? So I’m honor of that, and of it being Valentine’s Day last week, here’s one of our favorite quote to end:
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” - Mr. Rogers
Have a great week everyone!
I felt like this week’s theme was mud, mud, and more mud. The temps have been fluctuating quite a bit, with snow one day and then warm temps the next, making for quite wet pastures. Sometimes it feels like instead of four seasons we just have two - dry or wet. 😊 I can’t complain too much though because I know our wet weather is nothing compared to what a lot of our friends in the PNW sanctuary community deal with. We are east of the Cascade mountains, and considered high desert, so we have a drier climate. My hat’s off to sanctuaries that deal with tons of rain, freezing temps, or loads of snow, on a regular basis. That’s no easy task for them!
To combat some of the puddles building, I used the tractor to move some wood chips to the pastures. Being surrounded by so many trees means we occasionally have trees that need to come down because they are dead. When this happens we keep the wood chips to use for wet spots. It’s a nice temporary fix for wet ground, but we’ve been thinking about longer term solutions for in front of the feeders to combat the mud and/or wet hay that accumulates. We scrape the ground each week with the tractor, but that just makes it muddier at times. Some longer term options we are thinking about include putting down stall mats, or gravel, or creating a cement pad. Any of those seem like good options, so it may just come down to cost.
In other news, it’s been so fun watching the cats run around the barn and entertain themselves. They are so happy! Sometimes it looks like the musical Cats is happening in the barn, with cats running to and fro (pretty sure I’ve never used that word in writing), and leaping and climbing. I may just need to bust out a karaoke version of “Memories” one of these nights. The Broadway musical version though, not the creepy movie version. 🙂
I got some gorgeous photos of the barn set against the night skies today. We spent several hours trimming hoofs and left the barn after the sun had set. I always think it is so peaceful walking back to the house on starry nights. Same goes for when the sun is setting. Always so peaceful. Unless there are coyotes howling. I’m only partially kidding on that though, because even with them howling it’s still quite beautiful. Some people are beach people, others are mountain people. Me? I’ll take forests and trees any day. Mix that with farm animals and free ranging kids and I’m all set!
On a less glamorous note, I posted a photo below of a snippet of how we clean the chicken coop. We chose to use sand after a few years of trial and error. We first used pine needles, then the deep litter method, before settling on sand. We find it keeps the coop smelling better and it’s easier to clean. Each week we do a deep clean of the coop, taking a scooper and essentially scooping up any pieces of chicken poop, wet sand, and feathers. We then put it into a sifter and sift it, letting the clean sand fall through to reuse. Like mining for gold if gold was chicken poop. We also take a big ol’ shovel and scoop out all the poop from under the nesting boxes twice a week, and then lay down agricultural lime because it deodorizes the coop, is an insect repellant, and is safe for the chickens. (Btw...if you chose to use lime in your coop, be sure it’s the agricultural type and not hydrated lime which is extremely dangerous for humans and animals.)
Be sure to check out next week’s blog post for updates on the art wall. I had to move it from the barn to our Art Shed (it was a little dusty in the barn and some goats were wanting to snack on the paper). I have to say we like it so much better in the Art Shed. We hold art and education classes for kids in that spot, and I’m so excited for visitors to see the display of all the great drawings of our animals that have been submitted so far! (If your child hasn’t submitted a drawing but would still like to contribute, click on the ART in the menu above for more info.) I’ll post some photos and include them in our blog post next week.
We hope you had a good week, and leave you with these words for thought:
“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand.
Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it.
Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul." ― Frances Hodgson Burnett
It was a fairly quiet week here at the sanctuary, with the exception of a check up for Renata. A few years ago Renata was taken in by a wonderful rescue and they soon realized she had a terrible infection in one of her toes and eventually had it amputated. Fast forward to now and we noticed Renata had been walking a bit stiffly as of late. She tends to put her weight on her foot awkwardly, causing her hoof to grow at a different angle and stressing her joints. We felt she needed a vet to assess her hoof again and her remaining toe. Renata is one of our older goats, though not the oldest by any means, but we want to support her as much as we can as she heads into her older years which can mean stiffer joints for some goats. Unfortunately he said there’s not much we can do as far as correcting her walk since goats aren’t totally designed to lose a toe and remain correct in their gait. So we’ll just keep on top of her hoof trimming on that hoof so she doesn’t redistribute her weight anymore than she needs to, and maybe look at starting joint supplements. Molly’s Herbals and Fir Meadow both make great all natural joint supplements.
Speaking of all natural supplements, maybe you’ve heard that garlic oil is good for ear aches in humans, but did you know that garlic is useful for for goats and other livestock too? It has antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, and antioxidant qualities, making it a great superfood! This is a great article on other herbal supplements for goat herds: https://traditionalcookingschool.com/raising-food/how-i-use-herbs-to-maintain-a-healthy-goat-herd/
We use an herbal mix in our nesting boxes for our chickens too. Makes the coop smell good as a bonus!
I spent good chunk of this week organizing our animal records. I have big binders full of info, but I felt I needed to consolidate and organize some things. The state of Oregon has specific requirements rescues and sanctuaries need to meet in order to to get a license to operate, and this includes certain record keeping requirements. So going through all our records was a good chance for me to make sure we have everything we need on hand when our inspection date arrives for our license. One of the requirements is to have the birth dates recorded for each animal in our care. That’s easy to do for most of our animals, but we do have a few that have unknown birthdates, like the recent rescue hens we took in. Hopefully the state will understand. 😊 And on the topic of birthdates, want to guess which animal at the sanctuary is our oldest, at a whopping 21 years old?
The average lifespan of a llama is actually 15 years (20 if they are in the wild), so Skeeter is defying the odds. She still moves like a younger llama, so we’re hoping she’s got a lot of years ahead of her. Opal, our other guard llama, is 15 and she is seeming more arthritic lately, so she’s receiving joint supplements. We hoping she has a lot of years ahead of her too though!
Our next oldest animal is Sunny, the goat that thinks she’s an alpaca. Sunny clocks in at 12 years old. Since she sees herself as an alpaca, we’re hoping she follows in Skeeter’s footsteps and makes it to two decades.
In homeschooling this week, one of my kiddos took a class on organ donation and watched a real life kidney transplant video. She didn’t squirm at all, so kudos to her! She wants to be a vet when she grows up, so getting used to blood, etc. is a good thing.
That’s a wrap for this week, and we’ll leave you with this goat joke gem:
As two hungry goats tried eating movie film reel, one turned to the other.
It said, “I don’t know about you, but I thought the book was better.”