April, sunshine, and more
I’m not sure I’ve ever been as excited for spring as I have been this year. Just having longer days, and feeling that warm sunshine on my skin, has been so great.
Clementine continues to be healing wonderfully, and is getting around in her stall and paddock like a champ. We decided at the four week mark to move her mom Sunny into the stall and paddock with her. Sunny is a very chill goat, so there’s no risk of them getting in to any tussles and Clementine getting hurt. Also, neither of one of them ever jump, or challenge each other, I think in part because they are fainting goats and adventure is NOT their middle name. 😆 They prefer to just lounge around, so I think Clementine having her mom with her will help her not be too lonely.
We have a few projects in the works, both for sanctuary maintenance and for our own house, so we are starting spring off with a bang. The goal is to get all the big stuff done by summer so we can have some r&r then. This is our shearing month too, which is always a big day. I’ll do a separate post for that.
Speaking of summer, it’s predicted to be a bad one for wildfires due to it being so dry here this early in the year already, so if you haven’t done any fire prep now’s the time to start thinking about that. Things like creating a defensible space around your house, and more: https://www.firefree.org/10steps/
We have a lot of work cut out for us in regards to fixing the acres that burned in the March fire, and it may take years, but we’ll also will be working with a tree company on creating a larger defensible space this spring so if a fire ever comes our way again we won’t lose even more.
In happier news, the grass is green, the dandelions have returned (goats love them), and spring has sprung. Yay!
I saw this quote below and I’ve found it helpful during the difficult days we’ve had this month, so I wanted to share it here. I think it speaks of the feeling of winter turning into spring too..
“Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.”
- Mister Rogers
Clementine sailed through surgery and is back home resting. The surgeon said she did wonderfully, and it was a pretty straightforward surgery with no surprises, which is ideal.
She’ll now spend 6 weeks in isolation while it heals. The first three week she’ll keep the incision covered, the after three weeks she can get her stitches out. She’s on pain medication and anti-inflammatory meds now to help with healing.
And the rest of March
What a crazy mid to end of March we had. We were gearing up for Clementine’s amputation surgery, celebrated Lucy and Lucky’s birthday, and then ended the month with a wildfire tearing through our land. Not the way we wanted to end the month, but our animals stayed safe, and we stayed safe, so that part was reassuring.
I’ve included a collection of photos below to close out March. Everything from the animals, to crazy pancakes, to the fire. You’ll also see a photo of Lucky and Lucy on the day they arrived back in 2019. Lucky had a broken leg and his owner didn’t have time for his rehab, so we took him in, and since he had never been away from his sister, and they were bonded, we took her too. They are adorable little goats, full of so much energy and personality. Lucy is the first to run up to us when we enter the pasture, and Lucky can usually be found trying to woo the older ladies without any luck (despite his name).
March 8th - Week in Review
Some weeks we don’t have anything out of the ordinary happening, and it’s a quiet week. Other weeks, like this past week, things are a bit harder.
First, we had our vet come out to take a look at little Hava because she had some discharge from her one remaining good eye. He determined it was from a cornea scratch that looked like it was healing, so she’ll get eye drops for the next five days to help her along. She had a tiny bit of nasal discharge too, and our vet told us her breed, Barbados Black Belly, are prone to respiratory issues, so we should just keep an eye on her and it may be a lifetime thing off and on.
Since Barbados Black Belly sheep tend to be a more skittish breed, it isn’t easy to catch them, and they can also jump almost vertically, and quite high. Hava is no exception. While I was trying to corral her I blocked the barn stall opening, thinking she’d have no way to run past me. Well, it’s true she didn’t run past me, but rather she tried to jump OVER me. I’m not a tall woman by any means at just 5’3”, but she was able to jump up at me and reached to just below my neck. Impressive skills, little Hava! She’s a tiny thing so it didn’t hurt thankfully, and I quickly moved out of the way so she wouldn’t attempt that again and hurt herself. We’ll just continue working on getting her comfortable with us so we can avoid any jumping sessions down the road.
Next up we had our vet take a look at our goat Hermie, one of our gentle giants. Hermie’ s legs tend to bow inwards in the front at the ankles mostly, so we felt he should get examined. Our vet said Hermie appeared to have something called a Valgus Deformity. He felt there wasn’t much we can do about it, but there are measures we can take in trimming his hoofs to try and offset the curve. Hermie is more inclined to want to roll his ankles in because of the joints, and doing this affects how his hoofs grow too, so we’ll be creating a higher inner hoof wall so the hoofs want to roll in the opposite direction.
Moving on to our chicken flock, it was a not so stellar week there. First, one of our hens got scraped somehow (we think on a rogue branch or fence piece) so we took her to the house, bathed her, cleaned her up, and sprayed her with antiseptic spray. She had no visible deep wounds, so it seemed to be superficial bleeding. She’s 100% better now, save for a little blue coloring from the antiseptic spray.
We also lost one of our hens, Hei Hei, this week. She had been acting a bit lethargic for a day but had no other signs of illness. She was eating and drinking fine and no respiratory issues either. I wanted our vet to see her as well, but she passed suddenly the morning of his visit. I was the one who found her and I’m grateful for that because it’s super upsetting for the kids to stumble upon an animal that’s passed when they aren’t expecting it. They already struggle with the sadness that comes in grieving animals that pass, but is just too much of a shock when it’s unexpected. We hope Hei Hei is resting in piece right now, roaming around in a big field of clover with an all you can eat bug buffet.
If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we hope the luck of the Irish is on your side this Wednesday. A few years ago my kids made a brochure with some fun facts and history of the holiday for a homeschooling project, so if you’d like to check that out, click here.
Have a great week everyone!
“May you have…Enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow to keep you human,
Enough hope to keep you happy,
Enough failure to keep you humble,
Enough success to keep you eager,
Enough friends to give you comfort,
Enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness,
Enough wealth to meet your needs,
And one thing more…
Enough determination to make each day
A more wonderful day than the one before.” - Irish Blessing
March 1st - Week in Review
We welcomed two more beautiful souls to the sanctuary this past weekend, a California Red sheep named Fanta (who we nicknamed Fanty) and a Blackbelly Barbados sheep named Havarti (who we renamed Hava).
First their backstory...A few weeks ago Barbara Jamison, the director of Puget Sound Goat Rescue (PSGR), emailed me and asked if we could take in two sheep they saved from an auction. We’ve have adopted quite a few goats from PSGR over the years, so they know us well. Puget Sound Goat Rescue saves so many goats and sheep each year, and they are a wonderful rescue. (Check them out at www.pugetsoundgoatrescue.org)
A couple of months ago they were able to save these two tiny sheep from near death at an auction where they were being sold for meat. Both are under a year old, and had so much life left to live. Sarah Klapstein, a resident of PSGR, baby goat caregiver extraordinaire, and their Social Media Manager, detailed their horrific conditions on their Instagram page:
’‘Fanta was in a pen packed full of sheep & goats and was found one morning with her head pinned between 2 pieces of the metal pen and had been like that for awhile. She was staggering around, dazed and in obvious pain... Harvarti was temporarily blind from an eye infection and was starving, and is going to likely lose one eye despite the fact that we started treatment right away. She was so neglected and her immune system was so run down, the infection took a much harder toll on her.”
Barbara and Sarah felt these sheep wouldn’t have survived long had they not been saved, so they got them out of there ASAP. After taking them in and working hard to get them healthy, it was time to find them a forever home. With their past, and one of them now permanently blind in one eye, they wanted to make sure they went somewhere safe. Barbara contacted us and asked if we would be interested in taking them in, and said she felt our sanctuary was the perfect place for them. We said we’d be happy to give them a loving home!
Fanty and Hava are really beautiful, both of them. They are of course skittish and a little weary of us right now, but we know over time we’ll earn their trust. Check out their adorable pics below.
So that was the biggest happening here this week. In other happenings, we continued to get to know our new goats, Maizy and Ollie, and our new alpacas, Red Rose, Tina, and Summer (who are by far the loudest hummers our of all our alpacas. Like a trio of singers!)
We also moved gentle giant Wesley over to our chill herd. He wasn’t being bullied in his former herd, but he wasn’t really forming any strong bonds either, and seemed to just spend most of his day solo. So we figured we’d try him out in with our smaller goats and laid back sheep, and he seems to be loving it. He now lounges with them all under their favorite tree, and they have all taken quite a liking to him, even though he is about five times their size.
We contacted some concrete companies this week to get quotes on putting cement pads under the fence line feeders. We think it will help cut down the soggy mess they make there, and will also help keep hooves in good shape because it will be a rougher surface to stand on while eating. We have what seems like a zillion other projects in the queue, so I think it may turn out to be a busy Spring. On that note, we may start to look at having volunteers here and there, so if you are local to Bend, and may be interested in volunteering, be sure to drop a line. Our contact info can be found on the menu bar above.
Lastly, we got another submission for our art wall this week - a beautiful alpaca painting by Violet, age 10. If your child (or you) would like to create art inspired by our animals too and send it to us we’d love to see it! Click on the Art option in the menu bar above for more info on how to submit your art.
Have a wonderful week everyone!
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
February 22nd - Week in Review
Soooo, we added five new animals to the sanctuary this week! On pick up day we ran into all kinds of issues, but in the end the animals all made it safely here. They are all just too adorable!
Our comedy of errors day started with a dead car battery the morning we were set to leave to start the pick-ups. it was a nine hour trip total, so there was a long day ahead and us and we wanted to get on the road as early as possible. After unsuccessfully charging the battery for about 45 minutes it finally started, but we were now setting off later than planned. Not a great start.
About 20 minutes into the drive our youngest son got car sick and threw up all over himself. Thinking it was just an isolated incident we continued on because he said he felt fine, and now two families were waiting for us to pick up their animals and we had already delayed our pick ups previous weekends due to weather.
We made it to our first destination, Grants Pass, later than we wanted but happy we got there with no more car sickness for the four hour drive. Sure enough after leaving Grants Pass to head to our next pick up the car sickness kicked back in, and continued off and on for the rest of the drive. Yikes! In between his bouts of throwing up he felt just fine, so that was a good thing I suppose. The second pick up was thankfully already on the drive back, but still 3+ hours from home. If I could’ve turned around and gotten home in a shorter amount of time I would’ve done that because it was I hated seeing him sick, and at this point everyone just wanted out of the car.
We did the second pick up quickly, made it home, unloaded the animals and introduced them to their new digs, cleaned up my son, and headed to bed around 2am. A long day, but we went to bed happy to know the animals made it into our care safe and sound, and our son was feeling much better. So not the easiest of days, but it all worked out in the end.
So now to introduce these new additions, with photos below!
First, meet Summer, Rose, and Tina, the newest members of alpaca herd. These three ladies needed a retirement home as their owner was moving to Alaska but she didn’t want to sell them. We’re overjoyed that they get to stay together and live out their retirement years here. They are all between 11 and 15 years old and have really pretty coloring, and quirky personalities.
The next additions are two goats - Maizy and her younger brother Ollie. Both goats are Nubian and Nigerian mixes. Maizy is 4 years old, and Ollie is ten months old. Ollie was still nursing from his mom, something his owner didn’t want happening, but she didn’t have the space to separate them. We know that goats listed on Craigslist always run the risk of being bought to be eaten sadly, even if the buyer promises that won’t happen. The owner had rescued animals her whole life, and wanted a nice, safe home for Ollie, so we said we could take him. She then asked if he could go with his big sister, and we said of course! We like to keep families together whenever possible, and knowing this, the owner said she may reach out to us next year and give us their mom too. That would be such a great thing if Maizy and Ollie got to be reunited with their mom, so fingers crossed that happens.
We have two more animals arriving this weekend, and possibly one more in April, but more on them later.
Our intakes come from private owners, rescue organizations, and other sanctuaries networks. The goal with taking in animals is to never just go by if we have the space, but more do we have the space PLUS herd dynamics PLUS our current and projected workload, what’s our bandwidth so to speak. Last thing we want to do is take in too many animals and then feel spread too thin constantly. Ideally we’d never ever have that feeling, but realistically caring for this many animals it’s hard to feel like you have enough time and energy some days, and I’ve been struggling with health issues for awhile. So it’s all about finding a balance we can work with. We feel like we’re close to a pretty good number now, so we’ll hold off on intakes for awhile again after April. We have quite the menagerie here and love them all to pieces!
That’s all for now. Have a great week, and here’s a little camelid humor to close things out...
What did the alpaca see when she looked in the mirror?
Her spitting image.
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!
February 1st - Week in Review
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
January 25th - Week in Review
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.”
January 18th - Week in Review
This week we finally got the snow we had been hoping for - hooray! Aside from making snowmen and sledding, we also spent a good chunk of the week preparing for, and celebrating, the inauguration. The kids enjoyed learning all about past Presidential inaugurations for their homeschooling activities this week, and we topped everything off with homemade red and white sprinkled cupcakes.
In animal news, Shermie, brother of our goat Hermie that just passed away, seems to be handling the loss of his brother alright. Goats, like humans, form strong family bonds, and it’s not unusual for them to grieve when a family member passes away (further proof they are sentient beings). You can often find them calling out for the member that passed, or displaying other signs that they are hurting. From Dr. Barbara King’s Book titled How Animals Grieve:
"When an animal feels love for another, she will go out of her way to be near to, and positively interact with, the loved one, for reasons that may include but also go beyond such survival-based purposes as foraging, predator defense, mating, and reproduction." (page 8) And, furthermore, "Should the animals no longer be able to spend time together -- the death of one partner being one possible reason -- the animal who loves will suffer in some visible way. She may refuse to eat, lose weight, become ill, act out, grow listless, or exhibit body language that conveys sadness or depression." (page 9) Thus, "Grief can be said to occur when a survivor animal acts in ways that are visibly distressed or altered from the usual routine, in the aftermath of the death of a companion animal who had mattered emotionally to him or her." (page 163)
Science tells us animals do grieve, and have feelings, which is why it’s important to treat them as the sentient beings they are. And not just dogs and cats, but all animals. They all love, feel joy, experience sadness, and more.
If you’re interested in learning more on this subject, we suggest checking out this article: https://www.bbcearth.com/blog/?article=the-truth-about-animal-grief or picking up a copy of Dr. Barbara King’s book.
Back to the snow - I love seeing all the little paths the animals make in the first fallen snow of the season. Like little freeways for hooves, to and from the feeders and waterers, and shelters. The chickens and ducks went out for about a minute before deciding it wasn’t for them. Ruth the turkey, on the other hand, decided to avoid the cold ground by flying onto the roof of the loafing shed, all while ignoring my pleas for her to come down. She’s a sassy turkey that one. 😆
We’re hoping the snow sticks around for a bit because it makes everything so picturesque. Well also for selfish reasons I’m not excited to have the snow melt quickly because once it melts we’ll then have the dreaded three letter word happening - mud. Not fun for anyone. Except maybe the pigs.
Four Roots Ranch & Animal Sanctuary