It's a beautiful, sunny day... the sun is glistening off the snow outside my window. There's still about a foot and a half of it out there, but the sun and the drips off the roof and from the trees make it possible to believe that spring is on it's way. It's our anniversary today... 13 years!
This is the first chance I've had this week to sit down and write; I've wanted to other times, but the needs of my children, my husband and my animals (combined with a need for sleep) have won out.
This week my children are fighting a cold (one of the only ones to affect our family this whole season, thank you Lord) and I have 'upped' the normal amount of raw food we eat, in an effort to help them shake it faster.
One of the baby goats came down with pneumonia, which we very unfortunately lost him to.... he died very peacefully, in his sleep, curled up with a doe of mine who had kindof adopted him. In a way, I was happy for him... It's always a struggle to know what to do with all the little boy goats each spring, but without babies, the goats do not make milk for our family. This is something it surprises me how few people stop to think about.... to make milk, a dairy animal (like any mammal) has to give birth. This creates new babies, which keeps the species going, but in a world that desires milk, and therefore female replacement stock, very few male animals are needed to keep that going. This creates a surplus of dairy, rather than meat type male animals, in the cow world and the goat world, the small farms and the big ones.
Most of the ones on small farms, like ours, end up being meat animals. Many of the ones born on larger, cafo type dairies, would be lucky to end up so well. Anyway, destined to become meat anyway, passing on as a little tyke, curled up close to someone you know loves you, without ever knowing any of the cruelties of this world, seems a bit like mercy.
The doe who bonded to him has a bad case of mastitis. We haven't had a doe with mastitis for years... but this sure has been a nasty case of it. We're treating it soley with natural treatments, something that has been a bit of a trial, but also satisfactory in some ways.
To start, I gave her options to eat that included Redmonds Real Salt, Azomite, fennel seed, rosemary, rosehips, licorice root, comfrey, stevia leaf, raw apple cider vinegar, some really good quality vitamin B sublingual tablets, and garlic. I also am regularly applying lavender essential oil to her cornet band (the line where her hair and hoof meet, by her feet).
She ate huge amounts of the garlic the first 2 days, along with stevia leaf, a bunch of fennel seed, a little comfrey, some rose hips, and some vinegar. I also went out several times a day to massage peppermint and eucalyptis essential oils into her udder, milk her out, and put warm compresses on her udder.
By day two and a half, I was sure I was losing her... she wasn't eating, was down, depressed seeming, and had a runny nose, too. The morning of the second day, after doing some research, I took out several homeopathic oral treatments, which she readily gobbled. These included Highlands Bryonia Alba, and Source Naturals Wellness EarAche. The earache one may sound wierd, but it had several things in it I found indicated for treatment of mastitis, and several that were for treatment of fevers and general discomfort and pain. Anyway, by that night, she was standing, eating, drinking, and begging for more homeopathics and garlic.
Her udder is in bad shape, and I am convinced she will lose that side; although I have to wonder if that would have been the case had I given her the homeopathics earlier. Her nose has stopped running, also. I am happy though that I think she could go on to be productive again in the other half of her udder, and still produce babies.
This may seem like a lot of information for a blog, especially to those of you who aren't closely connected with farming, but I wanted to include the information in case it could help someone else, and because I think it is not bad for the 'non-farmers' to have a chance to see/hear what goes on 'down on the farm'.
I love so much of our life as farmers.... the family togetherness, the garden, the sun, the animals, the wide open countryside, the option to chose how our food grows (both animal and vegetable), and the opportunity to share it with friends and community. Sometimes, though, farming can be tough; it can be the decision not to use antibiotics, even though you know it would probably be a quick fix. It can be the decision to put down an animal you believe to be suffering, or to butcher and eat a beautiful, perfectly healthy animal, because we are meat eaters.
There is solid attachment to our food, all of it; but I do not tend to struggle with the decision to pick a zucchini. The decision to not just go to the store and buy a neatly packaged little steak, which did come from an animal, but most likely one that had a much more unhappy life than any that live here on our farm. But to raise an animal, feeding it well, allowing it to be all of the animal God created it to be, loving it and watching it grow, and then eating it; it is not a decision to make lightly, or nearly as easily as the one made in the grocery store... it is a decision made only fully realizing the very personal impact you are making on the life (and death) of an animal. It is a decision that makes me very greatful for the meat I do eat, and also causes a hightened awareness of what Christ did in His sacrifice for us... The ultimate laying down of life, for ME.
To all who read, may you have a blessed day!