Thank goodness for wellies
I have come to the conclusion over the past few weeks that keeping livestock is more fun in the Spring and Summer than it is in Winter. I don´t think that I have ever been so cold, wet and muddy in my life as I have been during the last few weeks. The animals don´t seem to mind the bad weather as much as I do and insist on staying out in the pouring rain and biting wind right up until the light goes down at which point they finally allow us to put them to bed and return to the warmth of the house.
Never mind, the sun is back again and the land has dried out and we have been able to finish some of the projects that the weather forced us to put on hold.
We have finally finished the new, improved fencing around the enlarged planting area and although we are about two or three weeks behind it will give us a chance for to rotovate the area and the rainfall will have put water deep into the soil. The final test for the new fence will be the chickens and we will be keeping a close eye on them over the next days as they try to identify any weak spots.
A few weeks ago we were given 2 fertile goose eggs by a friend and we soon had them in the incubator. They duly hatched into two lovely little goslings. I say little but they are much larger when they hatch than the chicks that we are used to seeing. They grew fast over the first week and we kept them in a large box with the top part of the incubator to provide the warmth that they needed.
One night, after a particularly hectic day we realised that none of us had checked on them for about 2 hours. When we did check on them we were horrified to see them lying on their sides, soaking wet (they had tipped their water bowl over) and freezing cold. They were as close to hyperthermia as you could get. It was then that we realised that the incubator hood, which has a heating element and fan to circulate the warm air, had failed. The fan was working but the heating element was not, which meant that the fan was actually circulating cold air onto the soaking goslings.
We immediately wrapped them in warm towels to dry them off and massaged their legs and body to get their circulation going. One gosling (Gertie), responded very quickly to this treatment and was soon standing up again. The other gosling (Geraldine), however was in a very bad state. Her feet were curled and she could not stand at all.
She did have something to eat and that was a positive sign.
After much cuddling, stroking and massaging we finally settled them down in a now warm box for the night.
It was with some trepidation that we checked on them the next morning. Gertie was in fine fettle, but Geraldine showed no improvement at all, her feet were still curled and she could not stand. We were cheered by the fact that she had her breakfast. We began a regime of massaging her legs and feet every hour, interspersed with warm baths. After two days she still could not stand up and her feet were curled and would not open up. It was then that Emma and Nick came up with an idea. If we could suspend her so that her feet were touching the floor, but her body weight was supported then she might then try and put a little weight on the legs.
The tripod sling was made within an hour and we popped her in. The massage and warm baths continued and we noticed that her feet were looking a little better and she was taking some of her body weight on her legs. Three days later she took her first tentative steps and actually swam in her bath rather than just floating. Two days after that she was walking around the garden with her sister as though nothing had happened.
It was a truly wonderful sight, that I don´t think that any of us thought we would see – it just shows how resilient animals can be.
On a final note, we just wanted to let everyone know that we are now working with a couple of local organic farmers and are now able to offer organic veggie boxes. Produce is seasonal, and we will keep everyone in touch as and when items are available.