"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Foul Weather, Foul Feet

Oh, the joys of living in the great northwest in the winter. This winter in particular. We just had three feet or so of snow melt, leaving great puddles and ponds all over the place, and now the rain is coming down. Hard. There is less dry land than water on my property: of my five acres, I'd say three of them are underwater. Only a couple of inches for the most part, but still.

This is not good for hooves. Very bad for hooves. I have a barn with elevated wooden floors and straw bedding, but since it has been so cold and so wet, all the animals stay in the barn pretty much 24/7, which is also not good for hooves. They all poop and pee in there and the straw gets wet and dirty within minutes. I muck out every day but that still means that the animals are standing in bad-for-them moisture and crud for about twenty-two hours a day. This leaves them vulnerable to foot rot.

A goat's hooves grow continually, and pretty fast, too. If you think about it, this makes sense because they are designed to be hopping about over rocks and cliffs, wearing their feet down constantly. When the hoof gets too long, it creates deep pockets for mud and crap to get wedged into, which then causes infections which can spread right up into the bone. To avoid this, a goat's hooves must be trimmed every four to six weeks. 

I imagine there are nice, calm, well-mannered goats out there who just stand still and let their hooves be trimmed, but mine are not among them. Mine kick and thrash about, even when confined in a stanchion and given treats to eat. Every time I trim hooves, I cut myself and/or the goat. I've learned to have iodine, clean rags and duct tape available at all times. It's a major pain in the tuchus, and as I have six goats, by the time I am done I am usually drenched with sweat, at the very least. And it's time to do it AGAIN.

At least I am actually capable of trimming goat hooves. The pony's feet are also suffering the effects of this long wet winter, and I can't do her feet at all. In fact, I don't know of anyone who will try: she kicked the last farrier I had out and she isn't coming back. But that's a problem for another day. Right now, I hear the pitter patter of little goat feet calling me.