I’ve just realised that apart from the slideshow I did for my Wildflower Project, I’ve hardly posted at all for a month. So this is just a typical diary entry to let all of you out there in the electronic ether what’s been happening around Alledal.
Things have been a little hectic to say the least. This time of year usually means my ‘to-do’ list outstrips the time available or more commonly the energy I have to do them all, even strimming the electric fence lines has become a full time job. The grass is just growing so fast. That doesn't mean Troy has been neglected. He still gets his walk every morning. This red squirrel is just one of the things we find as we wander around the Billinge countryside.
Alledal has become a nursery for young chicks of all kinds. So far, I have seven Blömmehöna, eight Gulanka, One Skånegås and best results of all the Ölandsk Dvärghöna have managed to hatch somewhere around thirty, that’s ten chicks each. I’m not sure of the exact number, as they won’t stand still long enough to be counted. They’re either scurrying around in little groups or as soon as Mama sounds the alarm they all dive under her ‘skirts’ and my two cockerels leap to defend them against all comers, including me – it’s a wonderful sight. I can hardly believe how well the little bantams have done. Their numbers are quite low and I hope that with the help of the breed coordinator to get some of my birds passed on to other enthusiasts.
The weather has been glorious, a wonderful mix of sunshine and showers. Perfect for the vegetable garden. The beans and peas are doing marvellously well I’m really hoping for a crop of fresh peas soon, maybe a nother couple of weeks. There’s nothing quite like peas fresh from the pod, or maybe thrown in a pan of boiling water with a little mint and served sott’olio. The tomatoes, chillis, basil and salad leaves are all doing well, Fresh salad is definitely on the menu, and soon it will be tomatoes, fresh pesto. Oh I love the time of year it’s a gastrophiles delight.
Now for the bad news, we had to call the vet out to Blåblomme our oldest goat and the matriarch of our herd. The day had started normally enough, she was fine first thing when the goats were milked, doing fine midmorning when I checked before walking the dog, but at midday when I went to give them some concentrates for lunch she was down, convulsing on the floor. The vet was called and we spent an anxious thirty minutes waiting for his arrival, it seemed like an eternity. He diagnosed a magnesium deficiency commonly known as ‘grass staggers’ It seems that with the last few weeks being warm with the occasional dose of rain and with the pastures responding with lush new grass, bring about the ideal conditions for ‘staggers’. Grass tetany is a disorder affecting all ruminant animals, specifically cattle, though it also occurs in sheep, and as we know to our cost goats. It most often occurs in nursing females. As the name "magnesium tetany" implies, the disorder is a result of low levels of the magnesium mineral in rapidly growing forages, as well as an interference with the absorption of magnesium due to various factors. Grass tetany is known to be one of the most substantial nutritional problems in grazing livestock. It is called staggers for good reason animals that show signs of the disorder generally will have a reduced appetite, dull appearance, and stagger when moving. Other signs include nervousness, frequent urination and defecation, muscle tremors, and excitability, followed by collapse, paddling of the legs and feet, coma, and death. The first sign will often be a dead goat that appeared healthy the last time she was checked. It seems we were fortunate to notice and to get treatment in time. Her recovery was nothing short of miraculous – ten minutes after the administration of intravenous magnesium and vitamin B she was back on her feet as if nothing had ever been wrong. We were very fortunate indeed. Long may the grumpy old thing rule over the Alledal herd.