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Spring Peeper Farm

Not for the Faint of Heart

Spring Peeper FarmOK, you've been forewarned!



The photographs you are about to see are not pretty.



So go to someone else's blog this time if you're squeamish.



OK, you were warned.



This post is about disbudding.

It's a super controversial subject among goat farmers, animal rights activists, etc., etc.

I know some people don't mind goats with horns and they say that if the goat isn't nasty that it's not an issue, but guess what ... in my opinion, horns are an issue.

I have my son to think about and the other children who come to visit to think about also. Their safety is my No. 1 priority. Also our main buyers are 4-H'ers and the goats need to be disbudded.

Several years ago, I mean 15+ years ago, I had a goat with horns. He was the most docile wether you've ever seen. One day I had to give him his mani-pedi. Everything was going well when I turned my head and he turned his head at the same time. Then I usually wore contact lenses. I never wore glasses. But for some reason I wore my glasses that day. Thank goodness I wore my glasses! Because the tip of the horn hit me smack dab in the middle of my eye! It was all innocent. But if I had been wearing my contacts I would have lost my eye.

I swore never again to have a horned goat. And for a long time I never owned a goat after that.

So here goes. This is how you disbud a goat kid.

I thought of doing a video and putting it on YouTube but then I thought that might not be a good idea.

Disbudding should be taught hands-on. Not on YouTube.

It's dangerous and should only be taught by someone with years of experience. I cannot stress this enough!

The lady who taught Dave had 25 years of experience. She was retiring from the goat business and she wanted someone to carry on the work. He didn't learn it on YouTube.

I'm just putting the photographs on here so people can see what disbudding is all about.

Kid in box

First you take the kid and place it in a disbudding box. Never, ever try and do this with someone holding the kid. EVER!

We shave the kid's head. I call it the reverse mohawk. The reason we do this is because it saves on the time that the iron has to be on the kid. The iron burns the buds right away instead of having to pass through the fur first. Honestly, the kids scream more about being confined in the box and having their hair cut than they do having their buds burned.

Iron on kid

The iron is hot! Make sure it's hot. We have lots of iron marks all over the barn, to make sure the iron is hot enough. It heats to 1500 degrees. The iron is placed on the bud for 5 to 8 seconds, then taken off to let the head cool off. We do this two or three times. Also we scrape the middle of the bud to make sure the iron gets to that point. When you put the iron on the bud, you have to do it gently, yet some pressure. Not enough pressure and you won't get anything, too much and you'll go through the skull!! That's why it's so important to have someone teach you and not a video. YouTube is good for learning how to make bread and such things ... not disbudding goats!

Copper RingsThis way we get no scurs.

The most important thing is to make sure you get a copper ring. That kills the bud.

We usually don't get scurs after. The only time is when it's a male and he doesn't get banded right away. My theory is that the testosterone must kick in and cause the scurs. But that's just my personal theory.

Banding is ... well, that's another post on its own.

All done

After it's all done, they don't seem any worse for wear. But like I've said before, don't try this without having been shown by someone that's done it many times before.

Have a Blessed Day.



Spring Peeper FarmI'm not so sure how much more I can handle.

This year has been the year from hell for farming.

It's years like this that make you want to give up.

And it's only March! I hope that it gets better instead of worse.

First it started with Woody. The vet had to come twice, which is never a good thing. Money, money, money...

Even after a few weeks Woody was still sick and not getting any better. I finally thought ... kill or cure. I cut Woody off from his milk and his feed. Only water and hay. It worked.

Thank goodness!

Then we had another calf that the dairy had given us because it looked like Woody wasn't going to make it for a while. That one was doing well. Then almost overnight it went from healthy to dead.

Then two weeks ago Murphy got sick. He got into too much grain. This was on Friday night. I called the vet and she told me what to do and we made an appointment for Monday morning. (Why do all these things happen on weekends!) But by late Sunday afternoon he was not well. Not well at all.

So Sunday at 8:30 pm we were off to the vet. Yes, a hour and a half drive on a Sunday night.

So she fixed him up and he was good as new. We only got home at midnight. But anything for our baby.

Then the ring and pinion gear on Dave's tractor went.


$950 later. it's not fixed yet. That's only the parts. Labor ... let's not go there.

We did have good luck with the chicks hatching. We had 21. We hatch them in our bedroom closet and bring them to the barn in a makeshift brooder when they're dry. Our last one hatched yesterday and when Dave brought it to the barn he noticed Murphy motionless, with his eyes open, on the floor!

He ran to him and picked him up. He was cold and stiff as a board. He thought he was dead, but he wasn't. Almost. He called the vet and then called me at work in a panic. (Not that I blame him, I would've been freaking out also!)

So off to the vet we went again. We had him in a box covered in blankets trying to warm him up. A few times I thought he wasn't going to make it. He would grind his teeth and cry. Then he stopped crying and grinding.

I was sure he was gone.

But somehow we made it to the vet with him still breathing ... barely. The vet gave him a shot of epinephrine to get his heart pumping again. Then filled him full of glucose and warm liquids. Took blood for some tests and also gave him some painkillers and a shot of steroids. When he was stabilized she ran the blood tests. But they came back inconclusive.

He started coming around and seemed OK considering what he had gone through. But Dave noticed that he seemed to have slow reflexes on the left side. The vet called for a second opinion, and they concluded that he had head trauma or a stroke. We were just about to decide on the course of action, when his heart rate started to go down.

This was not looking good. He didn't have a good prognosis. It was time to decide. They escorted us into a room to talk and think about what to do. And to cuddle him a bit longer.

Murphy and scarf

Murphy is in goat heaven now.

I'll never know if we did the right decision or not, we'll never know exactly what happened either, but this way his suffering is over. Ours has just begun.

We miss him horribly. I'm having a hard time writing this without crying.

Eating hay

He really touched a lot of people in his short little life. Like Dave said, he was our little buddy.

Trying to get in feed bin

It's times like this I hate farming.


The Liquor Store Heist

Spring Peeper FarmI have not been in a liquor store in 10 years.

But a few days ago I HAD to go in the liquor store.

I found a recipe online for vanilla extract.

I have vanilla beans coming out of the ying yang, so I thought I'd try my hand at making homemade vanilla extract.

But the main ingredient was alcohol. Not rubbing alcohol, but the good ole-fashioned drinking kind of alcohol.

For those of you who are new to my blog, my family and I are Wesleyans. So that means that we abstain from partaking in alcoholic beverages.

We've been part of the Wesleyan faith for 10 years now, so that means we haven't touched a drop of alcohol or been in a liquor store in 10 years. (With the exception of a few years ago, when I had to go buy my FIL a 3 litre of whiskey. Obviously, he's not a part of the Wesleyan faith!)

So Thursday night I went into the liquor store. They must have thought me nuts. I was walking around with an empty shopping cart looking lost until the cashier asked if I needed help. (The shopping cart was because I had been in the grocery store that is attached to the liquor store, not because I was planning to buy them out!)

So she asked if I needed help, thank goodness!

She showed me the various sizes and types of vodka. My goodness! There's a whole bunch of different kinds now!

So I stuck to ole faithful (what I used to get when I did partake!) – Absolut!

I just got a small bottle. Not the tiny little ones, but the next one up.


So from what I gather, this is the recipe to make vanilla extract.

Take 5 vanilla beans and cut lengthwise.
Put in one cup of vodka or another alcohol of choice.
Shake and let sit for 8 weeks or so.
Shake every week.

VOILA! Vanilla Extract! I'll let you know how it tastes in 8 weeks.

I saved the vodka bottle so I can transfer the vanilla back to it, when it's done. Just to freak people out! Hee hee!

Have a Blessed Day.


I Betcha Can't Get Just One

Spring Peeper FarmOK, it all started with Cindy, one of our goat friends and a disbudding customer.

First we bartered Peeper from her.

Then she came down with three minis to get disbudding as a part of our deal.

Well, she came with three ....

... but she left with two.

How on God's green earth could you resist this!


I dare you. He stayed behind, and we're bottle feeding him.

Murphy's Nose 

Look at that nose!

He's in love with Peeper, and Peeper is in love with his new buddy.

Now what's this little one's name you may ask?

Well, a lot of thought went into his name.

He needs a special one.

I found that look so much like a donkey.

So we named him after Murphy, but since Jamie is so much into hunting these days, he wanted Cabelas or Winchester. At first I'm like, ahhh ... no.

But then the more I looked at him and the more I found his coloring was like Winchester Cathedral in England, where we had visited many, many moons ago ...

So his name is Murphy Winchester III.

Murphy in his dish

Why the Third? Why not.

So far Murphy Winchester III is still a he, but in a week or so, he'll be going through the process of becoming a eunuch.

I'm not used to these minis. I'm used to 150-pound goats that eat like, well, like goats.

So the vet had to come over for Woody again. It looked like he wasn't going to make it. He had a turn for the worse. So while the vet was there, I asked how much should I be feeding this tiny little thing.

He quickly did the math in his head and said, "About two cups of milk."

To that I replied, "A feeding?"

"No, a day."


"How much have you been feeding him?"

"Six cups a day. But he won't even look at the grain! He's going to starve!" (In my self defense!)

"No wonder! He's not hungry! Tone it down to three cups a day, or he'll turn into goatzilla."


So Murphy Winchester III is down to three cups a day. And if you're late for a feeding by even just a few minutes, he does turn into goatzilla.

So just an update on Woody.  Before the vet got there, we were sure we were going to have a cow funeral. Then the vet showed up. The healthiest calf around! They're just like kids. They'll make liars out of you every time!

The vet said he did have a fever and gave us stronger meds. Woody is doing wonderfully ... again.

Have A Blessed Day!



Spring Peeper FarmWell, here's a quick update on Woody.

He's doing wonderfully!

He's pulling through his illness.

The vet came over Friday night and checked him out. She (Dr. MacHattie's daughter!) gave us extra meds, took his temperature, listened to his lungs and heart and did all the things that doctors do to sick babies.

She also took a sample home ... if you know what I mean. Ewwww.

She called Monday to say he had no parasites or anything out of the ordinary. 

So Woody just had the stomach flu. Go figure.

He's supposed to be down to one bottle a day of milk, but since he's lost so much weight, I'm keeping him on two bottles a day for a few more days. He's still on penicillin because his umbilicus was swollen. (I really should have asked what that meant!)

And another day of electrolytes and Kaopectate for a bit longer.

Dr. Nicole gave us a BIG bottle of Kaopectate. This way I don't have to run to every drugstore in the area and clean them out!

It's kinda funny. Whenever I go in a drugstore in the area now and ask for Kaopectate, they know either a goat is sick or a cow.

People are starting to know me. 

Too funny.

But all in all, Woody is doing A-OK!


Have a Blessed Day,


I'm In The Wrong Business

Spring Peeper FarmWell, well, well.

One of the calves is not doing so well.

In fact we're not sure he's going to make it.

It came upon him quick also.

Daisy the heifer is fine, but Woody is sick.

He was fine yesterday morning, but by evening I noticed he was not getting up when I walked in the barn. That is strange for him. He's usually at the door bawling for food, like Daisy.

I called Dave over and he said the same thing. Plus Woody was trembling. So we gave him a shot of penicillen and a shot of Newcells.

This morning is seemed like he didn't even want to suck on his bottle. He only ate half his ration.

So Dave called the vet. He has no fever so that rules out pneumonia. So Dave took orders from the vet, and we put Woody in a stall by himself. He's got the poopies in the worse way. So it could be anything.

The vet thinks maybe coccidiosis. So we're giving him Amprol.

But from late afternoon to after supper he went downhill fast!

Dave called the vet again (these guys are the best!), and she suggested Kaopectate and to make a homemade electrolyte solution and feed it to him on top of all the other things we're giving him.

Dave had to leave for a meeting so it left me to try and get a hardheaded sick (half dead) calf, that is still very strong, to drink disgusting medicine and a 2-liter bottle of electrolyte.

So I got everything ready, got dressed in my barn clothes and told Jamie, "I don't know when I'll be coming back in!"

I marched into the barn determined to save this 3-week-old baby!


I came out pretty much covered in cow slime, Kaopectate, electrolyte solution and probably poop.

But you know what? I loved every minute of it!

I am one strange cookie, yes, I know. I've been told this many times. I could do this everyday. I don't mind the slime, gook and gore of animals.

I just love knowing that I helped a helpless animal. I got him to take all the medicine and he drank most of his electrolyte solution. 

But I actually think he's going to make it.

I told him that he's not going to die on my watch!

I'm praying that God will let him live because he is destined to feed many people. It's probably not a happy ending for him, but it will be for the less fortunate this fall.

Have a Blessed Day!


And My Projects Begin A Bit Early

Spring Peeper FarmWe had put our name at the local dairy farm for two bull calves this year. Like I mentioned in my last post, we're going to raise one for us and one to donate the meat to people in need.

I wanted the calves around mid-February to early March. Because we do have lots of goats milk in a freezer in the basement (that's an understatement! It's a FULL freezer of milk) that's getting old and needs to be used up. So I figured it would get rid of most of the milk and by then the does would have kidded.

Well, things NEVER go according to plan. Last weekend the dairy called and said they had two calves if we wanted them. I was like, uh, ummm well ... but when they said one was crossed with a beef breed I said yes right away!

You NEVER get them crossed with a beef breed. That meant that one of them is going to have lots more meat on it when it's time for the butcher.

So Dave went to get them a few days later.

When he gets home he tells me that the brown one is a heifer!

HOLY COW!!! Pardon the pun.

They only want purebred Holsteins at the dairy and somehow one of the girls got in with a beef bull.

(Go figure)

I take one look at Daisy's (that's what I called her, not a bright move I know.) long eyelashes and think there is no way on God's green earth I can eat this cute little thing.

So I get a brainwave and tell Dave, "We could raise her and breed her!!"

Uh .... no.



I didn't realize that heifers have to be 2 years old to breed, then another year of gestation, then another year for the calf to grow to maturity. Sooooo ... 4 years down the road, we'd have meat!

Plus the main thing is that she was sold to us on the condition that she goes for meat.

So we are people who keep our word and Daisy will go for ... meat this fall.

That just kills me.



Also, if I told you how much we paid for these two you would not believe it!! Extremely cheap. I'm almost tempted to get another one ... maybe not.

Because after only being here for five days, the freezer is almost empty!!!

We're going to have to buy calf starter because I can't give the calves all the milk. I have soap orders to fill and I can't make goat's milk soap with milk I've purchased from the store.

Ain't gonna happen.

So what we saved on the price of the calves we're going to pay in calf starter.

Oh well, it's all a worthy cause.

Have a Blessed Day