A quick post to let you all know that with changes at our farm, in our personal lives (still happily married, but now caregiving for three 80-pushing-90 year old parents), and my switch to writing fiction (yes, you heard it here) I am unlikely to be doing many new blog posts on farmy-cheesy topics. But you never know!

The first issue in beta

We are publishing a bimonthly (max), two page email newsletter that will include farm and writing news. I do hope some of you will give it a try! Oh, I made sure you can one-click-anonymously unsubscribe!

I am also in the process of deleting our Facebook and Instagram accounts, but am active on Twitter, if that is of interest, I’d love to see you there!

Thanks everyone!

Wild Dairy Fermentation

Excerpt from my article for Fermentation Magazine, access the full article here.

One of the raw milk cheese I used to make for Pholia Farm. A Romano style goat, aged 1 year.

Long before packets of freeze-dried cultures for milk existed, there were dairy ferments. Cheese, yogurt, and kefir are probably second only to beer in the pantheon of fermented foods. However, in the modern world, 100 percent wild fermentation in dairy products is rare. There are many cheeses made from raw milk, though, and the fermentation of these is a joint effort between wild microbes and cultivated bacteria. Cheesemakers who use this approach rely heavily on wild microbes to produce a superior, nuanced cheese, but hedge their bets for optimal acidification and flavor by adding a pinch of commercial cultures. For those who want to play on the wild side, a deeper understanding of the concerns and the process is necessary.

Jon Steiger at By George Farm, Applegate, Oregon

I like to think of the teat surface as a garden from which wonderful microbes can be collected. This collection can’t happen without paradigm shifts away from the extensive udder sanitation that’s practiced on most modern dairies. But wait, didn’t I just warn you about all of the spores floating around? How can reducing sanitation help?

We’ve used lacto-fermentation regularly at Pholia Farm when making our commercial cheeses. I find it amazingly informative to the daily practices of the farm, as well as to my cheese-making. I also employ it during the classes I teach. It’s a method well worth using when making cheeses at home. The practice will help you more deeply understand and troubleshoot fermentation and issues with a mother culture. Making raw milk cheese gives you a chance to observe environmental microbes and natural milk systems at work in cheese-making, and the complex relationship these microbes share with those that exist in a raw milk source.


Training a Rat Terrier to Hunt: A novice’s approach that worked

Nifty’s first rat in 2016 (not my usual hunting attire!)

If you have a rodent problem you’ve probably tried every trap made – and then some (Google it, and you’ll find some interesting homemade contraptions) and then watched as after a few mortalities, the rats quickly learned to avoid or even disable the traps. (After finding one trap we had set literally covered up by debris that they had obviously moved over it, I almost worried they would start setting traps for us!) Rats are incredible smart, and for that, as well as their compassion for their own kind (you can Google that too) I admire them. But as farmers we have to try to limit their impact and acknowledge that they are thriving beyond a natural level due to our farming activities. As organic or sustainable stewards, we are not going to use poisons. It then comes down to employing cats, ferrets, or terriers. Cat’s can’t usually take on a full-sized rat and ferrets have their own issues of management, but terriers, in particular rat terriers, can be amazing. (Check out YouTube if you want a demo) Not to mention they are also loving, loyal, snuggly pets.

If you purchase a pup from a reliable breeder – meaning one who takes hunting temperament into consideration rather than primarily show or pet qualities, then you are off to a good start. I found Nifty by asking other farmers on Facebook for recommendations. (I’ll post his breeder’s info at the end of the article). These dogs are born with an instinct to hunt, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take an active role in refining that drive. Otherwise, not only will the rats find places to hide, but the dog is likely to want to chase cats, chickens, etc.

Video of Nifty and “his cat”:

The Goal

Again, this was my first rat terrier to work with, the commands I came up with can be altered to your own, but the premise is simply this: You will be working with them as a team. You will be the second set of eyes, the one who can poke a stick into a tight spot, the one who can lift a pallet where a nest of tunnels has been built, and so on. Therefore, you must have a set of commands that informs the dog what you see or what you are about to do to help them.

Start with a Lure

Buy or make a small lure – a stuffed bit, about the size of a rat, made of real animal fur. I bought one online, but you could make one. Don’t let the dog use this as a toy, only use it during training sessions. I tied a long string to mine and placed it behind some bales of straw with the string in my hand. When Nifty showed any interest in sniffing around the straw, I would stand by him and tug on the string. When he noticed the movement, I would say “There it is” and point. Then when he went in for it, “Get it!”.  When he did get the lure, he was praised thoroughly. Sometimes I used treats as a reward, but he loved the praise enough for that to be adequate. Training with the lure started as soon as he showed any interest in chasing the chickens, etc. The praise of hunting for the right thing HAS to happen concurrent or before any scolding for chasing the wrong thing!

A big one!

Look where I’m Pointing

Most dogs watch our hands, looking for the ball to be thrown, the treat to be doled out. I found it very helpful to train Nifty to look where I was pointing. Rats like to hide in odd places, including up in rafters where the dog may not be able to scent them very quickly. By teaching him to look where I was pointing, the rodents have a much harder time avoiding him. In addition to using the lure to help him understand what pointing means, I used treats. I would toss a treat a short distance away and then point, saying “There it is!”. It didn’t take long. It is easy to confuse them, so use this carefully. Even now, I sometimes find myself saying, “I don’t know where it is.” When the “subject” has gotten away. I shouldn’t use this; it is too close to the phrase I want him to understand.

Building on this, and as a way of practice, hiding a favorite toy, chew bone, etc., and then saying “Where’s your bone?”, looking around, then pointing and saying, “There it is, get it” is also fun for everyone.

Go Around

The other very useful phrase tells the dog to go to the other side of something – a drain pipe, a building, a stack of wood, while you stay on the other side and try to flush the rodent out towards them. Teaching this was a bit more difficult, but Nifty learned the concept through trial and error. If he told me that there were rodents under a pallet, for example, I would use my pointing cue along with the term “go around” and then lift the pallet in a way that made the side opposite me easiest for him to access. Now it works for larger spaces, sliding barn doors, sheds, etc.

The whiteboard in the barn July 2020

Team Effort

Without a doubt, using only a single dog to reduce a rodent problem will be the most effective if you plan on working as a team. I count on Nifty to locate the rodents and let me know if he needs help. He has a specific bark that I have come to associate with a located “target”. In fact, even if I don’t see it, he has never been wrong! This included him once going nuts on the outside siding of our barn. He tore and bit at the wood until finally Vern and I went into the tool room on the other side, closed Nifty in with us, and took off the dry wall. Nifty’s score board that day went up by 13 rats. (I did a lot of shrieking as the little buggers ran hither and yon in the small space trying to escape).

There are places on our farm, that despite my best efforts, the rats will always get away. But the regular harassment that Nifty deals out keeps their numbers down even when he can’t actually kill them. As a demonstration of this fact, there was a period of time where we were not able to let him out during the day (we were occupied with caring for aging parents). During that few weeks, rats and ground squirrels proliferated, including moving into an attic space. Oiii.

The Kill

One thing I don’t want to forget to mention is the importance of nurturing the animals kill instinct when they are very young. This is rather tricky if the first thing they chase down doesn’t happen to be a rodent. Nifty’s first kill was a poor little wild turkey poult. He trotted up with it so proudly. I grit my teeth and neither praised nor scolded him. Then I did my best to help him encounter some desired victims. If your farm has rodents, you have this opportunity. When the first appropriate kill is accomplished,  heap on the praise and start using a cue of “that’s a leave-it” or other term to apply to birds, cats, etc. (FYI, Nifty’s best bud on our farm in one of the cats, see video link above).

Nifty and “his” Cat, Dibs

When a kill happens, Nifty’s technique is not to shake-and-break. Rather, he gives it what we call “the massage of death” – rapidly biting up and down the animal’s body. I suspect this is an instinct that helps them rapidly dispatch an animal in a tight burrow or space where shaking wouldn’t be possible.

After it is properly “massaged” I let him confirm this and then take it away from him and praise him. If he is hunting multiple varmints, as in a nest situation, he will drop it as fast as he can and go for another, sometimes coming back later to confirm death. We relegate the poor little critters to the compost pile in the garden.  


Terrier breeds were originally bred to hunt animals that go underground (that’s the origin of the word terrier, for terra or earth). In recent history, many terrier breeds have been used only for show and as pets – or perhaps for agility and other field trials that don’t actually involve dispatching live animals. Rat terriers were quite a popular breed in the early 1900’s (both my parents had them, or crosses, as young people), but then became very hard to find. They have definitely made a comeback, I believe in thanks to people appreciating the organic, relatively humane way they help reduce rodent problems. But other terrier breeds and crosses might also be great ratters. Look for a small to mid-size bloodline (I’d suggest 15- 20 pounds mature weight) as this is a great size to be brave enough to take on a ground squirrel (they are fierce!) and still be maneuverable.

Nifty was bred by Clearbrook Kennels in Washington State. I hope they are still breeding when I one day add another.

My Final Novice Advice

If I, without any previous ratter experience, can successfully train a working rodent terminator, you can too. My final advice is to not put it off. Once you get a pup, you must begin to nurture its down-and-dirty, sticking its nose into every cranny, hunting nature. As with all working dogs, from livestock guardian dogs to ratters, you have to keep the ultimate goal in mind when you are raising them. Oh, and get them a good flea collar. (The Seresto 8 month collars are our choice).

DIY – Goat Decks

How to Build Sectional Raised, Slatted Flooring for Goats

Lounging on the deck

 Hands down, raised, slatted flooring for goat housing wins the prize for ease of maintenance, cost over time, and, best of all, goats love it! I call this type of flooring “goat decks”.

Goat decks allow the manure to fall through the slats (mostly) and urine runs through and/or dries. The manure collects without being compacted by the goat’s hooves, meaning it is light and fluffy and super easy to scoop out when the decking is tipped up for cleaning every few weeks. Very little, if any, feedstuffs or other bedding, makes it through the cracks resulting in a higher value manure for gardens and possible sale.

The initial investment, not counting labor, is about 3.00 per square foot. The instructions in this post are for building two 4×4’ sections, or 32 square feet. Given that a bag of shavings will cost most people about 10.00, this one-time investment will save you a lot of money over time. For miniature breeds, space the decking at ½ inch. For standard breeds at 5/8 inch. It works well even with kids in the pen.

I keep one interior space bedded traditionally – with shavings and straw – but am progressively covering the rest of the sheltered space with goat decks. Here in Oregon our coldest winters are only in the teens, usually, and even then, many of the goats prefer the decks to the bedded area for sleeping. There is no draft below them and the manure must build up some heat that makes them comfortable.

We average having to clean under ours about every 6 weeks (that was with a larger herd than we have now), but it depends on the weather – when nice, they don’t spend as much time in the sheltered areas, of course, so manure build-up under the decks diminishes.

Cleaning involves daily raking (with a metal leaf rake) the tops to clear the tops and slats, spraying the undersides with vinegar after cleaning underneath, and occasionally using a hay-hook to clean the spots between the slats where the under-framing prevents manure from falling through. I built the first decks about six years ago and they are still in great shape.

Materials Needed (for two 4’x4’ sections)

5 – 8 foot pressure treated 2×6’s (or 2’x8’s if you want them a little higher, but they will also be heavier)

12 – 8 foot 2×4’s

18 – 3 inch exterior screws

60 – 2 ½ inch exterior screws

2 – ½ – 5/8 inch thick spacers (short pieces of wood to get the deck spacing even)

Construction (takes about 1 ½ hours if you have a bit of experience building)


  1. Cut 4 2×6’s into eight 45” sections
  2. Cut 1 2×6 into two 43 ½ inch sections
  3. Cut  2×4’s in half (24 48” sections)

Assemble Base

  1. Arrange 45 inch sections of pressure treated wood with ends overlapping as shown in 2nd photo from left (alternate the pattern) and connect with 3 of the longer screws at each corner. This will form a square that is 46 1/2 inches on each side. Double check the measurements before assembling to make sure that you have the boards overlapped properly.
  2. Place the 43 ½ inch piece of pressure treated wood in the center and secure through the side with 3 of the long screws.
  3. Check “the square” by running a tape measure diagonally from each corner. They must measure the same distance. If not, adjust by pushing the long side at one corner towards the short side.

Install the Decking

  1. Beginning at one edge (with the decking boards running across the center support board)
  2. Overlap the first board ½ inch at each end and 1 inch along the long edge. Secure in place with 2 of the shorter screws at each end, one in the center support, and a couple along the long edge.
  3. Use the spacers to place the next board and secure it in place.
  4. Continue as in step 3 until all decking is in place.

Repeat for 2nd section.

The newly installed section being properly coated with goat poo. Sections in the back are about 6 years old.

Luau Style Pit Goat Roast

IMG_6229 - CopyAs some of you know, I’m on a mission to elevate the goat in many ways, including as a culinary staple and delight. With that in mind, I’ve wanted to try roasting a goat in a luau style pit for some time. As with many things, I’ve found if you commit to it publicly or with a contract, you’re more likely to actually follow through, so I announced that our farm’s fall potluck would also be a goat roast.

Most online information about pit roasting is about cooking a whole pig, which is somewhat easier thanks to their skin and fat layer helping keep the meat tender during the roast. Goat, on the other hand, is not only skinned before roasting, but is also much leaner. I found a couple of other articles on roasting cuts of various types of meat wrapped in everything from foil and wet newspaper, cabbage leaves, agave leaves, and of course  the traditional luau banana leaves. I chose to work with foil and newspaper as we were fresh out of agave and banana leaves (ha ha) and I was concerned that cabbage would add a cruciferous flavor.


After an initial fire that didn’t roast the meat as long as needed, we had great success with the second batch (the same day). We’ll be trying it again and experimenting with a few other ideas, but this will get you started! PS. DON”T FORGET TO CHECK WITH FIRE OFFICIALS IF YOUR ROAST IS TO OCCUR DURING FIRE SEASON!

  1. The Goat: I harvested an 18 month old, 100 pound, Nigerian/Lamancha cross dairy wether, aptly named Luau, 4 days before the feast. I butchered the carcass into primal cuts and brined those cuts. The brine mixture was 2 gallons water, 2 cups sea salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup cider vinegar, 6 bay leaves, and 1/4 cup mixed pepper corns. The meat went into pots and was submerged in the brine using ziplock bags filled with water. Then all went into a large ice chest with ice jugs to keep it cold. IMG_20180902_115250429_BURST000_COVER
  2. The Pit: We dug a 24″ x 48″ x 24″ deep hole in our lawn. I lined the bottom with concrete pavers and then placed 8×16″ cement blocks around the edges. I offset the second row, creating a ridge for a grate to rest upon. We cut the grate from a strong fencing panel with 2×4″ openings. Before roasting, wet the earth around the pit significantly to help create steam.IMG_20180902_102510729
  3. Preparing the Meat: Drain the brine and wrap each primal cut in a layer of foil, keep all of the seams at the top as you will be creating a container for the moisture. The steam must be able to build up and remain in the packet in order to keep the meat moist and tender. Wrap this packet in at least 8 layers of wet newspaper (keep track of where the top is on the inside foil layer). Then wrap this in another layer of foil, again, creating seams on top to hold in the moisture. (When the roast was over, we rinsed and recycled all of the foil and composed the newspaper)
  4. The Fire: Build a thick base of white hot coals over a couple of hours of burning. Just before adding the meat, add a couple of larger pieces of hardwood. Don’t allow them to start burning as you want to add the meat and cover it all up before flames are high.IMG_20180902_115704084_HDR
  5. Adding the Meat: Place the grate on the edge over the coals and wood. Add the packets of meat, you can stack them.
  6. The Thermometer: I was SO GLAD that I invested in an affordable, remote thermometer and hope you will too! Place the probe in one of the heavier cuts of meat and run its fireproof cable up and out of the pit. IMG_20180902_155514579_HDR
  7. The Cover: Place one to two layers of plywood over the pit. We had two small pieces cut that fit down onto the last layer of block, but were still beneath the top layer of soil. Cover that with large pieces of plywood that extend out over the surrounding ground. Cover that with a couple of pieces of roofing metal. (The plywood in the photo had an unpainted side that we put towards the meat)IMG_20180902_124634963_HDR
  8. The Cook: It took our roast about 12-14 hours to get super tender. The temperature it reached was just under 200 F. The meat was technically done much sooner, at about 150 F, but hadn’t built up the steam and heat in the packets needed to make it so succulent that it just fell off the bones. So give it time! The photo at the top of the article was after the 14 hours of roasting, there was still whole pieces of wood in the pit, which was great, it meant we had kept the oxygen level super low, creating a slow, gentle heat. IMG_6232 - Copy


When done, have some heavy duty oven mitts or welding gloves (thank you husband) and pile the packets into pans. You can up-wrap and shred it or let your guests do a bit of the work. We served ours with rolls, mustard, and optional BBQ sauce. I hear it was delicious!

Encounters with Enterotoxemia

You never learn a lesson quite so well as when personal experience is involved. My goat keep giving me these learning opportunities, whether I want them or not. A few weeks ago I had my first up close experience with the disease process called enterotoxemia.

enterotoxemia toxoid
Vaccine for two types of Enterotoxemia and tetanus

What is Enterotoxemia?

Toxemia means that a toxin is present in an animal’s system and is causing illness. Entero means having to do with the intestinal tract. All beasts are prone to different toxemias. Toxins might be directly introduced to the animal, but more often than not they are produced by microbes that are either accidentally ingested or reside normally in the animal’s system. In the case of those accidentally eaten, during digestion they release their toxins, with varying results depending upon the type of toxin. Microbes that normally reside in the animals system can be triggered to grow more rapidly than the animal can handle, resulting in the production of large amounts of toxins, and subsequently illness.

When it comes to enterotoxemia in the goat, the bacteria we are concerned with is Clostridium perfringens. This microbe, from the same large family as t

he one that causes tetanus – Clostridium tetani, is a normal part of the farm environment. Like C. tetani, it is anaerobic – living in conditions with little or no oxygen. This means that it can readily reside in the goat’s intestinal tract.

There are five types of C. perfringens, A, B, C, D, and E. Although types C and D are thought to be the primary ones affecting goats, type A and B have also been implicated in cases. The exact rates of each, though, are impossible to document, as most cases of the disease are never fully investigated. This is an important aspect for us to consider since the primary vaccine labeled for goats is for C. perfringens is based on types C and D only.

Frequency in Goats Alpha toxin Beta Toxin Epsilon Toxin Iota Toxin
Type A Rare Yes
Type B Rare Yes Yes Yes
Type C Uncommon Yes Yes
Type D Most Common Yes Yes
Type E Unknown Yes Yes

Each C. perfringens type specializes in the production of one or more toxins: alpha (α), beta (β), epsilon, and iota. As if that isn’t confusing enough, a variation on the β toxin has also been discovered and has been dubbed β2. 


Let’s talk about vaccination for enterotoxemia. As a reminder, vaccines are for prevention of disease, not treatment. Vaccines cause the animal to produce antibodies which are meant to protect the animal against disease. Vaccines for toxin induced disease are called toxoids. (versus anti-toxin which is a treatment and meant to inactivate the toxin produced during the disease). Most veterinarians and most literature will tell you that vaccination, for Clostridium perfringens type C and D (usually given in conjunction with the tetanus vaccine and so called C,D, and T) is a critical part of goat husbandry. You might also get the impression that if you follow a strict annual vaccination regimen, that your herd is protected. Unfortunately, when it comes to goats, this is not strictly true. The vaccine is acknowledged to be less effective in goats – not maintaining adequate antibodies in the animal’s system for long enough to protect the animal in between yearly doses. (See Goat Medicine 2nd Edition, by Mary Smith and David Sherman, page 411) It is recommended that for vaccination to be effective a goat should be “receive booster doses every three or four months throughout their life” after the initial two vaccinations as kid. Because of this as well as the possibility of other types of C. perfringens being the problem, many producers in consultation with their vets are taking a different approach that focusses on management only. This has been my approach for the last 15 years. During that time we’ve had up to 124 kids per year and at peak milked 40 does. I’ve just had our first case of enterotoxemia – and it was avoidable.

Causes and Our Case

Earlier I mentioned that for enough toxin to be produced, something must trigger the bacteria to grow out of control. The number one reason is the sudden availability of highly nutritious food in the animal’s gut – namely proteins and carbohydrates. It’s for good reason that the condition is known as overeating disease. The rapid intake of more grain, milk, or even lush pasture than the animal is accustomed to can trigger the disease and cause death within hours. Overfilling of the stomachs can lead to undigested matter, containing starches that haven’t had time to be fermented by the rumen, moving on to the gut where they provide nutrients for C. perfringens. Fast growing, healthy kids are more often the victims of this disease simply due to their success at being vigorous, aggressive eaters.

So what happened on our farm? As a part of my current herd management strategy, I keep kids over a certain age off of their moms at night, milk the mom’s all or part of the way out, and then recombine them for the day. The moms rarely let the kids nurse for long – a few sips over a few seconds and then they walk away. I’ve noticed this behavior seems to be directly linked to the age of the kids. It appears to begin when the kids are about two weeks old. Perhaps the kids are just too annoying and rough by then, or perhaps instinct has the mother’s not allowing them to overeat – given that by then they are eating roughage and ruminating. The kid I lost was one of triplets, the biggest and most vigorous. With three kids, I didn’t really worry about anyone overeating, but I should have. On the morning in question I was teaching the last day of a three-day class at our creamery, in other words, in a hurry with my focus elsewhere. To save time and the distraction of hearing kids yell, I let the kids out before milking. When their mom came up on the stand, she was much emptier than usual when the kids had been allowed to nurse before milking on other occasions.

Within an hour or so the kid was in severe distress. There is a cry a goat kid makes that lets you know it is in serious agony. Once heard, never forgotten. This kid was making those sounds, lying on her side, and extending her back legs stiffly. When stimulated, she would get up and walk to a new spot and lie down again. The fact that she could walk seemed to rule out a spinal injury. Her temperature was normal, rumen not distended as in bloat, inner eyelids nice and pink (no anemia as in a severe case of coccidiosis), but rumen sounds and movement were diminished. I gave her Banamine (flunixin meglumine) for pain, B vitamins for rumen support, electrolyte liquid, probiotics, put her in a pen alone, put a goat coat on her, and went in to return to my responsibilities to the class. My husband kept checking in on her and reporting back to me. The Banamine helped with the pain. One of this drug’s side effects is to calm the lining of the gut, so I was hoping if it was a case of colic or some other gastric upset, that there would be hope, but given how she had sounded earlier, my hope was low.

By the class lunch break, I could hear that her distress had not only resumed, but had turned a corner from which she could not return. I went to sit with her, trying to decide if there was even time to perform that last act of euthanasia. I sedated her to at least remove her awareness of the final pain, and she died quickly in my arms. From first symptoms to death only 3 hours had passed.

Clostridium Perfringens Types C & D Antitoxin

Enterotoxemia type C and D antitoxin (not toxoid) can be used if a case is suspected. I had been dissuaded by vets as to its effectiveness, but I sure wish I had had some to try, just to know. It is also used in some cases as a preventative, repeated every few weeks, to maintain antibody antitoxin levels in the animal. Be aware that when being used as a treatment for an active case, the dosage is at least two times that as for a preventative! See Goat Medicine (info at end) for suggested dosages for treatment of different degrees of the disease – peracute, acute, and chronic. Be aware that this dosage instruction includes follow up injections.

Necropsy and Diagnosis

If you’ve read much of my work, you know that I always try to perform my own, albeit amateur, field necropsy on any goat that dies from unknown causes. In this case, I waited until the class had dispersed, with the exception of one student that was staying on our farm to also learn about goat farming. I offered for her to watch if she wanted to. It’s not an easy thing to do or to see, the investigation of the inside of an animal, but she was game. In my book I teach you how to perform a field, or gross, necropsy and tell you that you don’t know if you will learn anything that answers that particular animal’s mystery, but you will learn something. This case was proof of that.

When talking about the case with a friend and fellow goat farmer a few days later, she said “Was it enterotoxemia?” That diagnosis hadn’t even been on my radar. I honestly didn’t know that milk could cause it. I talked to my vet, and she said that yes, in some species it is even called milk toxemia. So I sat down with my books and correlated the necropsy findings and symptoms with the information and concluded that yes, she most certainly died of enterotoxemia.

These are the abnormal things I found on the kid’s necropsy:  A small amount of clear fluid in her abdominal cavity (peritoneal cavity) that drained with the first incision; her abomasum (fourth or true stomach) contained large pieces of undigested matter (by the time the contents get to the abomasum they should be very broken down from rumen activity and rumination as well as the work of the omasum); the first portion of her lower intestines (the duodenum) had areas of taupe/brown color on the outside; the next section (the jejunum) had light, milky green liquid in it. Everything else appeared to my non-veterinarian eyes as normal. I didn’t think to check her kidneys for a change in texture – “pulpy kidney” is associated with this disease, but is seen more often in sheep than in goats. Often a section of the lower intestines is found to be red and inflamed (hemorrhagic), but this kid’s appeared normal to the naked eye, but no doubt was damaged at the microscopic level.

In reading different cases (see references at end), you find a variety of symptoms, some that correlate with the type and toxin, and others that seem interchangeable. Without a full necropsy with lab work, there is no way to know for certain which C. perfringens is the culprit, but enough of this kid’s results, and of course how she exhibited pain along with her sudden death make it an easy conclusion. Being a superior eater, she had filled her rumen with roughage, her abomasum was no doubt already full. Then she filled up on milk. The overeating caused two things to happen, roughage passed on to the abomasum before it was ready and the milk moved on to the intestines before it was ready. This provided a sudden, rich source of nutrients for the C. perfringens bacteria. The bacteria grew swiftly and released toxins that caused the neurological symptoms (back legs stiffening).  One of the effects of the bacteria is a rapid thinning of the intestinal wall, causing the leakage of serum into the abdominal cavity – which was seen on necropsy.


I always tell folks in my classes that the longer you have goats the more you will learn, and many of the lessons will be quite painful. There will always be something waiting to humble you and remind you of your own lack of full control. It’s important to accept this fact, but at the same time keep adding knowledge to our collection – and sharing it with others. Oh, and I ordered a bottle of anti-toxin, hopefully it will sit unneeded for another 15 years.

Review on Pulpy Kidney Disease, Dinsefa Jemal, Mohazeba Shifa and Bedaso Kebede, Journal of Veterinary Science and Disease:

Clostridium perfringens type A and type A and β2 toxin associated with enterotoxemia in a 5-week-old goat, Tammy Dray. The Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Goat Medicine 2nd Edition, Mary Smith and David Sherman, Wiley Blackwell, 2009, pages 406-412


Philosophy of a Vegetarian Butcher

I’m a vegetarian. Lacto-ovo. For almost a quarter century. I also harvest (as it’s so appealingly called these days) meat for my omnivore family. In addition I’ve found it gratifying to teach others how to respectfully take the life of a gentle beast and convert its life into sources of life for others.  I don’t find this a conflict at all.

Vegetarianism in all its forms is a luxury of time and situation. In my case, I have never liked to eat meat. When I was a kid, the only way I enjoyed it was if it was marinated and then cooked to well done. I don’t like the taste of fresh milk or eggs – especially healthy, farm eggs. There is just something about my system that doesn’t crave, enjoy, or seem to need meat. But I am fortunate to have access to homegrown fruits and veggies and an amazing spectrum of local products, rice from our region, beans from many places, organic tofu, amazing cheeses, and numerous other foods and supplements that seem to provide all I need. But to practice abstinence from animal products as a superior lifestyle is to disrespect indigenous cultures throughout time, those living in less bountiful societies, and indeed, our own origins as a species.

To believe that vegetarianism is more evolved and more ethical is the ultimate arrogance. It implies that humankind is above and separate from nature – indeed we seem drawn to this paradigm in almost every aspect of how we treat the planet and its systems. When it comes to eating meat, however, humankind can rise to a level that our non-speaking predator animal kin cannot – we have the potential to take the life of another creature for sustenance with respect, honor, and appreciation. It’s the lack of realizing this potential that is the true tragedy.

To blithely shop the supermarket meat department, its refrigerated cases stacked with tidy rows of bright claret steaks; to selectively dine on primarily just the choice parts of the animal – bacon, chicken breasts, lobster tails; to expect flesh to be inexpensive – all of these things support and create high efficiency, large-scale farming, where the animal, the human worker, and the environment pay the price. Meat, of any kind, should be relatively costly and eaten in proportion to what the animal, the workers, and the land can, without undue compromises, provide.

I don’t expect everyone to be able to learn to slaughter and butcher. Even 15 years ago, I harbored a prejudice toward friends who were able to kill their own chickens, it just seemed a bit barbaric. I was raised on a farm by parents who were not from self-sufficient upbringings. But they aspired toward that. In addition to a massive garden, orchards, and a home-scale wheat grinding mill, we also raised animals for milk and meat. But others were paid to kill and process them. It was so hard for my mother, in fact, that she would load me and my sister in the car and take us to town on the day the kill truck came. I took the next step. And my children have a more innate sense of balance regarding life and the food chain than even I do.

In 2003 I told my husband, a happy omnivore, that I wanted to raise a batch of meat chickens. He was uncomfortable with the idea. He was raised on what I call a rural suburb – small lots, dads that worked 9-5 and whose farm skills were topped out by mowing the front lawn. So we made a deal. I’d do the entire processing, serve it up, and if he and our girls could tell me that the meat wasn’t superior, I wouldn’t do it again. You can guess who won – we all did.

The first goat I butchered was named Minerva. She was an adult Nigerian Dwarf doe, but without a good future. Other than being cute, she wasn’t a good milk goat, had an unbalanced personality, and was very noisy. To have given her to a pet home would have likely doomed her to a string of unhappy owners and poor living conditions. I had taken the lives of a few goats before – using a bullet to euthanize them for various sufferings. But I had never processed a larger animal into meat. I printed out instructions from the internet, bought an inexpensive set of butchering tools, and steeled myself.

I made a good portion of the harvest into jerky. I’ll never forget what happened next. I handed a slice to my youngest, an animal lover whose dream was to one day open a cat sanctuary, but who also relished a good steak. She skeptically put a bit in her mouth and chewed. Her eyes widened and she said “Is there anyone else we can off?” The wall had been breached.

It has been my privilege to grow to the point of being able to share these moments with others. Hopefully helping them on their own journeys of returning to balance in the food chain. Life is sacred and so is death. Both must be respected and neither can be avoided. If you aren’t ready for direct involvement with this process, you can still try to honor it. Purchase only “expensive meat” from local farmers who care and are involved with every step of the harvest – even if that means they oversee the animal’s last moments at an FDA approved facility; if you must by from an unknown source, seek out humane certified producers or failing that, organic; don’t eat fast food meat; don’t eat much meat; and finally, try to eat the meat in proportion to what the animal offers, after all there’s much more to a pig than bacon. If you have children, you can guide them toward a level above your own – let them raise an animal, help a farmer harvest meat, learn to cook meat, and above all, never to waste meat.

I sheep farmer friend once taught me the following mantra, and its one omnivores should live by: “Every animal deserves a good life, a good death, a good butcher, and a good chef.” Amen.

The FDA’s Food Safety Plan Builder – Cheesemaker’s Perspective

Perhaps you’ve heard of the free software being provided by the FDA to help food producers develop an in depth food safety plan, called Food Safety Plan Builder, or FSPB for short. I had been eagerly awaiting its release, which happened in August 2017. This article will share my experience of working with the software – and the FDA when problems arose. To reassure anyone who is concerned, this is entirely downloaded software, none of it is “in the cloud” or stored on some lurking governmental server computer. The FDA has no access to this, unless you send them a copy or they show up to inspect.

Our Existing Food Safety Plan and My Background

I had a fairly complete food safety plan in place for our company, Gia’s Cheesorizo and our previous business, Pholia Farm Creamery. Our plan had some gaps that I was aware of and probably more than a few that I hadn’t yet discovered, not to mention it consisted of stacks of binders and no simple way to navigate the entire body of info. As members of the Oregon Cheese Guild, we have some exceptional resources for plan review thanks to Dr. Lisbeth Goddik at Oregon State University. We are on the list for a “mock 3rd party audit” during which our plan and our process would be scrutinized. We are also working with UL Everclean (a large company that does 3rd party audits), but were in the initial stages.


I have taught a decent number of classes on developing basic food safety plans for small cheese producers. My emphasis in these classes is helping people understand the concepts so that developing and implementing the programs makes sense. Working with the FSPB will come most easily for those who have had at least one thorough class on food safety plans. Later in the article I include a link to a pdf of one of my classes on the subject.

The Download Lowdown

The initial download of the software went fairly well after I realized that I didn’t have unzipping software on my old Windows 7 computer. The instructions on the FDA page for downloading were and helpful, but on my newer Windows 10 computer, I found that the “unzip” option is now called “extract files”. I downloaded the program to more than one computer so that I could work on the plan while traveling and in the office. (Download the plan at )

When I was a week or so into the program, however, it hit a glitch and wasn’t performing as advertised. Namely (in case you accidentally end up with the first version 1. 0 0 0 instead of 1.0_0_1) that once the Hazard Analysis tab is completed and you’ve moved to the subsequent tabs and then go back and make changes to the hazard analysis, then importing those changes to the subsequent process controls tabs failed. I used the link provided on the instruction page of the FDA’s link to contact them for help. They were quite quick to respond, but it was a bit of an insight when they got me on the phone and we spent about 25 minutes trying to trouble shoot the problem. There were two people helping, one an admin person and the other IT. The Admin guy seemed to really want to wrap it up and get home for the weekend and the IT guy, with a lovely Russian accent, wanted to figure it out. In fact, even though the admin fellow finally gave up and said they would get back to me the next week and had the IT guy hang up, the IT fellow kept at it on his own and then emailed me about an hour later with the fix. Hurray for IT! Bottom line, be sure you have version – or even newer if they make further updates (which I hope they will as you will read in a bit).

Video Tutorial and ACS Helpful Docs

You’ll definitely want to watch the video tutorial. It’s a good overview of the program and kind of prepares you for the lack of intuitiveness and the redundancy of some of it. I wasn’t surprised by these characteristics as anything produced by a regulatory body is likely to be such, in my experience. (My husband was a career Marine Corps officer, so we’ve had our fair share of experience with the realities of beauracracy.)

I used the American Cheese Society’s page Safe Cheesemaking Hub to access some sample documents to help me along. In particular two documents were super helpful: The first was created by the Center for Dairy Research (thank you Marianne Smukowski and team!) and is called “Food Safety Plan for Pepper Jack Cheese”, the second is “Food Safety Workbook for Farmhouse Cheesemakers”. Visit the Hub and its templates page at:

The first of these is helpful as it uses a product, pepper jack cheese, as a cheesemaker’s-real-world example. It helped me understand better what the FSPB was trying to do. The second document, a publication out of Ireland, is the best I’ve ever seen on the topic of farmstead cheesemaking as it includes the milk production side of the equation. If you are already a farmstead cheesemaker, then you KNOW that without scrupulous process controls of things such as animal health and milking hygiene, then your cheese might not be safe. Here in the states, the FDA doesn’t want to include these areas, as they are not under their jurisdiction as inspectors. But YOU can take that into your own hands and include documentation of the farm-side practices in your plan. I used this booklet and its handy checklists to track our practices and then entered them into the FSPB software. I’ll go over some of the differences and what you’ll have to work around in the “Working with the Tabs” section.

FSPB Overview

The program is arranged by helpful tabs that correlate with sections that you complete in order of their presentation. It starts out pretty simply and fortunately you can make changes to each section as many times as you need (quite a few times for me).

There are some terminology and methodology differences in this program that I think are quite sensible and forward thinking. Namely the lack of the term “Critical Control Points”. It was always confusing to me to create a plan and then try to segregate out which steps were the most important and then write a separate document just for them. Instead this approach identifies every step along the way and the “process controls” that you use to reduce any risks associated with that step.

When you click on each tab, you are presented first with a dialog box which is meant as an introduction. I recommend reading these the first time. Sometimes they are helpful, others they are redundant. You can select “do not show this again” if you get annoyed, but in my version, they reset and appear every time I reopen the program. Grrr.

Once a tab is fully opened, the presentation gets a little clunky. On the left is a helpful outline of what is inside the folder. Usually this outline is created as you add information, but in some cases, it is partially or totally preexisting. In the center is the meat (or should I say, the “paste”) of the software, where you see what you are working on and add information. On the right is the section that is the most awkward. In fact, I stopped paying attention to it as it seemed redundant, then low and behold, it did contain useful information. In general it is quotes from pertinent sections of the Code of Federal Regulations and therefore, by nature, hard to understand. Often it is not pertinent to the small producer, at least in wording. I suggest always looking at the information, but don’t let it confuse you if it doesn’t make sense at this time!

Working with the Tabsfspb

Depending on the size of your company, some of the tabs might not apply to you. As usual, I’m going to focus on information that is most likely to help small producers (not only because that’s what we are, but because the big guys are going to have a qualified individual or team working on this, it won’t be the farmer/owner. Here are the tabs you’ll be completing – in the order you will complete them (think of this as your table of contents) and some information about working with them:

Facility Information

Where you are located, your FDA premises ID number, and who is on your safety team. Everyone must have a FDA premises ID. The safety team might just be you, or you and your partner.

Preliminary Steps

Information about what you make and how you make it. This part is fairly straightforward with the exception that they call the process steps a “flow diagram” and that it instructs you to “enter all of the steps from each flow diagram”. I guess they are assuming you have done an actual diagram on your own. I expected it to generate one for me after entering the steps, but it does not. Flow diagrams are very helpful, though, and if you want to create one on your own, both of the downloadable documents from ACS include examples.

GMP and Other Prerequisite Programs

The first part of this tab is an acknowledgment of your review and acceptance of the Good Manufacturing Practices as defined by our government. If you haven’t ever actually read the GMP’s, it’s a good idea to do so.

The second part, “Other Prerequisite Programs” is for documents you have created elsewhere such as SSOP’s and SOP’s – instructions for cleaning, sanitizing, and performing tasks. The FSPB does NOT help you create these documents! My “No Hassle HACCP Power Point ( pdf version, might help you. This part of a food safety plan is very important and also very time consuming. But just get it started and keep adding as you have time. A plan in progress is better than no plan!

Hazard Analysis and Preventative Controls Determination

This is probably one of the most helpful sections, but since it comes early, it is also a bit confusing, at least to me. To help me understand this step, I relied heavily on the corresponding portions of the Pepper Jack cheese food safety plan (that I mentioned earlier). Even then, I had to go back and make changes and corrections as I went through the subsequent tabs. You have to do this section before you proceed, though. Once complete, the software will generate a nice table that should make any regulator beam (only on the inside, of course). The table (as viewed in the Food Safety Plan tab) would really benefit from some pertinent headings for the 6th-9th columns.

Process Preventative Controls

When the previous section is complete you can work on the next four tabs, the preventative controls, in any order you like. In each you will import the Hazard Analysis once and then again if any changes to it have been made. If you have done a decent job identifying the risks at the proper step, then these sections are fairly straightforward. BUT, the questions/directives are a bit cumbersome and the tables generated are a tad silly in that they include the directives in the table. I really hope this is addressed by the creators rather than later as it results in a document that is much harder to understand than is necessary. Compare it to the pepper Jack cheese process preventative controls and you’ll see what I mean.

Food Allergan Preventative Controls

For most cheesemakers, this step won’t be too complex as we are usually working with only one allergen, milk. This is addressed by ensuring that the product includes a label that lists milk. You don’t have to worry about cross contaminating a non-milk product produced in the same plant. If you use any ingredients that are allergens, though, cross contamination must be addressed.

Sanitation Preventative Controls

When I got to this section, I initially thought it was woefully short on usefulness, as sanitation preventative controls are really the core of safe cheese production. I muddled around with it and was griping to my husband about its shortcomings when I noticed that the Supplementary Information side (on the right) had a useful directive at the very bottom:

“Instead of describing the sanitation preventative controls in the “Comments” box you could reference an attachment(s) and place that document(s) in the “Supporting Documents” tab.”

 Okay! That would have been nice to see first. So here is where your hard worked SSOP’s can be cited. The “Supporting Documents” tab, you can add documents to it at any time, allows you to attach all of your SSOP’s and SOP’s (or whatever you call the detailed descriptions and step by step instructions of how you do each task such as cleaning, washing, and operating equipment). Unfortunately these docs won’t appear when you click on the “Food Safety Plan” tab, but they will be accessible to any regulator or insurance person reviewing your plan. I suggest printing them all out and putting them in the pertinent sections of the plan generated by the FSPB.

Supply-Chain Preventative Controls

I also found this tab confusing. But it boils down to one question. “Do you use any ingredients that include a potential hazard and your process does NOT include a kill step?” For example, if you herbs to your cheese and don’t boil, Pasteurize, irradiate, or otherwise treat them first, then you will need to fully address this section.

Recall Plan

Our existing recall plan was already one of the strongest parts of the plan. I know too many people who have gone through a recall and of those, the only ones that survived it had a solid plan in place. If you don’t have a solid recall plan in place, step up its priority! In fact, I’d almost recommend doing it FIRST, it helps light a bit of a fear-fire under you which is great motivation for completing the rest of the plan!

When you complete the “external notification” section aka “recall press releases”, don’t just copy and paste the suggested talking points from  instead, copy, paste them and fill in as much as possible ahead of time. If you ever have a serious recall, you will likely find that you aren’t thinking clearly and will be very glad that these important documents are almost ready to go.

I chose to import our current plan into the Supporting Documents tab and then reference it in the comment section of the Recall Plan tab. When I print out the entire food safety plan, I’ll print out and insert our recall plan and place it in the binder.

Reanalysis of Food Safety Plan

Having just done the initial work in this software, this step isn’t pertinent to me yet. In addition it states that such work “must be done by a preventative controls qualified individual (PCQI)” Our company is too small to require such training at this time. But read the info in this section anyway, it will help you understand the expectations of others.

Food Safety Plan

The Food Safety Plan tab creates a printable document of all of the information you have filled in and organizes it into sections that should make an audit or FDA inspection much easier, at least from the navigation standpoint. It will also make updating and refining your plan very easy. I’ll cover more about the awkwardness of some of the information generated in this tab in the next section.


This is totally self-explanatory and easy to complete.

 Record Keeping Procedures

This is a checklist of topics that you will complete when your plan is done. The first section is self-explanatory, but the part 2, with just one question, confused me. It states “The facility maintains records of the basis for NOT establishing a preventative control, if applicable”. After reading the section of the code that applies, CFR 117.136, I can’t foresee an instance when any small to mid-scale cheesemaker would click “Yes” in response to this statement. An example of a time when “yes” would be appropriate, would be when a cheesemaker sells tainted product to a secondary processor who will reprocess it and makes it safe. But most of us won’t be doing that. Step 4 is a follow up to this query.

 Important Contacts

This tab is easy to navigate. I appreciated that it included the FDA contact links that can be a pain to track down. I already had some of them in the recall plan, but these were nice to find here. We use a wonderful inventory management software called Fishbowl Inventory which integrates with Quickbooks – creating every tracking document we could ever need as well as allowing me to update company contact information in one report. So I didn’t include company contact information here, instead I referenced this software as well as will print out a report of contacts for the FSP binder.

Supporting Documents

This is where you will create links to documents on your computer or online that round out your plan. All SSOP’s, existing recall plans, floor plans of hygienic zones, and research articles that support a practice (for example wood shelving maintenance and safety). There should be a lot of documents in this section. I suggest naming them in a way that makes them easy to navigate in case of inspection or audit, such as beginning all research articles that pertain to a process control with that word or acronym. Such as a preventative control related document: PC_Dry_Ingredient_Kill_Step. Something along those lines!

The problem with the way this tab functions is multi-faceted. First, you can only add one file at a time – not highlight and move an entire set of files. Second, once imported, the folder that is automatically created was hard to find on my hard drive. (The instructions as to where to find this folder are vague, at least to a non-tech-savvy person such as myself). Third, you cannot drag and drop files into the folder created directly from Windows File Manger – you can copy them to the folder, but then they don’t appear in the FSPB program. And finally, if you want to make changes to these documents, you’ll have to work directly in this new folder, not where you originally created or kept these documents, so be sure to either rename them or otherwise tag the old versions so that you don’t mix them up.


I love that the FDA has created this software! I think it can definitely be improved, but you have to start somewhere. The most unhelpful tab currently, in my opinion, is the Sanitation Preventative Controls. I would appreciate seeing templates for SSOP’s, hygienic zoning, environmental monitoring, and the like integrated into this section. I think this is the area that most cheesemakers would really love help understanding and creating.

It would also be great to see the table for process preventative controls (created in the Food Safety Plan tab) more closely resemble the example in the Pepper Jack Cheese document created by the Center for Dairy Research.

Bottom line, this program should help most of us fill in some gaps in our existing plans, create a sound new plan, understand what the regulators are focused on, and come up to the expectations of the FSMA. Give the FSPB a try.

Goat Midwifery – an Excerpt from “Holistic Goat Care”

To Pre-order Holistic Goat Care (out early June 2017) visit the book’s listing at Chelsea Green Publishing or Amazon

The Assisted Delivery

 Over the years I have become quite good at sorting out kids tangled up inside the womb and successfully delivering them. There’s no way to develop competence at assisting during difficult deliveries, though, without having to go through some very stressful and challenging times. I learned early, when I still needed a vet’s help during particularly difficult deliveries (dystocia is the proper term), that the essential attitude to cultivate for success is a combination of patience and persistence. If you are lucky enough to have a goat mentor who will let you be present during deliveries then you will gain a lot of useful knowledge. That same mentor might be willing to walk you through the steps over the phone. When I teach our “Goat Academy” here at Pholia Farm, I try to time it for a week when several does are due to kid just for that opportunity. And hopefully this book can help you learn the skills needed to assist during deliveries.

I always err on the side of helping a doe earlier in the process, rather than regretting later. My perspective is that the animal is only in this predicament due to my choices, so she deserves my help. Another part of my viewpoint is the potential to decide to stop breeding a doe for good if difficult deliveries are her norm.

Seven Things to Remember During a Tough Delivery

  1. Keep calm!
  2. Take your time. Move methodically and slowly inside the doe.
  3. Give the doe and yourself a break every 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If the delivery requires intervention that increases the doe’s pain to the point of causing her extreme distress, administer pain medication (Banamine, which requires a vet’s prescription, is a good choice.)
  5. Medicate yourself! Have a helper bring you a quick shot of tea or even whiskey.
  6. Give the doe a dose of high-potency oral nutritional supplement during the delivery, between kids or pushes, and when delivery is over.
  7. Keep calm!

When a doe is in labor and you’ve decided that further manual exploration is necessary, first take a few moments to gather your

Presentation 1 (see details below)

supplies—which hopefully will all be near at hand already. Fill a pail with a warm water and Betadine wash solution (follow the dilution instruction on the bottle). Be sure your fingernails are trimmed, remove any rings or bracelets, and put on gloves. You can use long OB gloves if you like. A trick I learned (from that patient vet I mentioned earlier) that leaves your fingers more agile than using an OB glove alone is to cut the fingers out of a long OB glove, put a nitrile glove on your hand first, and then put on the fingerless long glove over it. It’s preferable to use your dominant hand for exploring the doe. This may mean you have to roll her over. If it’s not possible to do this, you can use your non-dominant hand, but it will feel more awkward. If the doe is standing, ask an assistant to try to hold her head to keep her still.

Wash the doe’s backside with a bit of the warm Betadine solution, then dip your gloved hand and forearm in the solution and shake it off. Dispense a generous amount of lubricant, either gel or powder, on your gloved fingers. You don’t need to squeeze it all over your hand; it will spread as you enter the doe. Repeat this process whenever you reenter the doe.

Presentation 2 (see details below)

With your other hand, lift her tail. Bunch your gloved fingers together, holding them straight, with your thumb tight to your palm, and then insert the fingers into the vagina. The doe is likely to begin pushing as the pressure of your hand in her pelvic canal stimulates that response. You will have to push against it. Slowly but steadily continue to move your fingers forward, then your hand. As you move forward, note the tightness of her pelvis and the dilation of the cervix. When the cervix is fully dilated you might find that as your hand goes into the vagina, the cervix will feel like a funnel, with the small end toward the uterus. You will feel the rings of the cervix and maybe even feel parts of a kid through the cervical tissue. Do not mistake the tissue of the cervix for an amniotic sac and try to push through it! Instead, continue straight forward until you find the final cervical ring. Then your hand will enter the uterus. Sometimes the body of the uterus will feel large and spacious; other times it will be small and tight, with the kids positioned in the horns.

In this collection of illustrations you will see many of the possible presentations of kids—but not all of them! The possible combinations of presentation that can occur is huge. Because

Presentation 3 (see details to left)

the scenarios can be quite complicated and because you will likely be anxious in the moment when a delivery is taking place, I recommend you take the time to study all the illustrations below well before kidding season arrives. Imagine each one, and mime the movements you would make with your hands to assist in the delivery. It can make a big difference should an emergency occur.

Other possible presentations not shown here include a normal front presentation, but with one front leg crossed over the neck; two twins presenting normally, but both trying to exit the uterus at the same time, and so blocking each other’s way; a kid presenting stifle joint first (this is so hard to imagine, even though I’ve seen it occur, I couldn’t figure out how to draw it!); and back pressed against the cervix. And there are many more; too many for me to describe here.

Guide to Common Kid Presentation Illustrations

(Note, illustrations show the pelvis as transparent so that you can view the uterus and kids. In reality the kid passes through the pelvic outlet between both sides of the pelvis)

Presentation 1: Normal presentation of twins, one in each horn of the uterus, before labor begins.

Presentation 4

Presentation 2: Normal presentation of twins, delivery of twin in right horn, front feet and head first. No assistance should be needed.

Presentation 3: One front leg and head first, one front leg back. Usually no assistance is necessary. If help is needed, apply gentle pulling pressure to the presented front leg and around the kid’s skull. If this presentation is determined before the kid’s head clears the pelvis, the front leg that is back can be repositioned.

Presentation 4: Normal presentation, back legs first.

Presentation 5: When a small kid presents butt first and the back legs are forward, no assistance is usually needed. But in this instance, two more kids are present. The one in the left horn is a larger kid, with front legs and head first. In this case, the larger kid may block the exit of the smaller, backward kid. You can gently push the smaller kid farther back into the uterus and deliver the larger, normal-presentation kid first if needed. The last kid is upside down in the right horn. As it is pushed by the contractions up toward the cervix, it may rotate on its own so that it isn’t upside down. If not, you may need to gently rotate its head and front legs before the kid can clear the pelvis and be delivered.

Presentation 5

Presentation 6: Butt-first presentation with hocks bent, causing the kid to lodge behind the pelvis. To assist, reach in and gently push the kid toward the mom’s head. Then follow each back leg down to the hock, continuing to push the kid back in as each contraction pushes it toward you, and hook the lower legs up and toward the cervix. Once they are freed of being caught behind the pelvis, they will quickly extend backward into the vagina and the kid can be easily delivered.

Presentation 7: This kid is almost in a normal presentation of head and front feet, but its elbows are back just enough to cause the shoulder blades to broaden and become wedged in the pelvis. This is sometimes called elbow lock. It can happen with the kid a bit farther out, too. When it does, push one leg backward a bit and pull gently on the other leg and the head.

Presentation 8: In this drawing twins are presenting with the left twin in a normal, back-legs-first presentation, but the larger twin in the right horn is head first with the front legs back and

Presentation 6

is blocking the cervix. In this case, the doe may not even dilate fully or perhaps not try to push. When you reach in, you will feel the larger kid’s head and perhaps the back feet of the other kid. If you aren’t sure if they are back feet and even which kid those feet belong to, follow the neck of the larger kid to its shoulder then down to the front legs. Then you have two options: You can push the bigger kid back in a bit and hook up and bring forward its front legs, one at a time, and deliver it first; or you can push it down into the horn and deliver the other kid first.

Presentation 9: In this common presentation the front feet are first, but the kid’s head is down. Help is usually required. Reach in and gently push the dome of the head back in toward the mom’s head until you can reach under its chin and lift the muzzle up between its front legs. While you do this, you may “lose” a front leg and have to hook it back up and make sure it stays in place as the kid moves into the birth canal. Less common but with a similar presentation is front feet with the head turned to the side. In that case, when you reach in you will feel the neck at the throat. Push on the neck to move the kid back in a bit, then follow the neck to the head and swing it around. When it has been bent down or sideways, it will want to move back to that position, so keep your hand on the dome of the head until it moves into the vagina.

Presentation 7

Presentation 10: The first kid presenting has its head down and its front feet back. A triplet in the left horn is presenting normally with front feet and head, and a triplet in the right horn, below the first kid, is presenting normally, but backward. Because the first kid is blocking the cervix with its forehead, the doe may not have fully dilated or may not be pushing. When you reach in, you will feel the forehead of the first kid, but you will also likely feel the front feet of the kid on the left and maybe even the back feet of the other kid on the right. You’re likely to want to first raise the head of the kid, but be sure you determine which kid’s feet belong to that head! Once the kid that has been blocking the exit has been delivered, the other two shouldn’t need assistance if the doe is still strong and pushing.

Presentation 11: When the cervix hasn’t fully dilated it might feel like a funnel when you palpate it. You will feel the other rings as your hand moves toward the uterus. The last ring will be the smallest. Because of the funnel-like form, you might feel the kid through the cervical tissue. Don’t mistake that tissue for an amniotic sac and try to break through it to reach the kid!

Presentation 8

Presentation 9

Presentation 10

Presentation 11


















(All of the above illustrations will be found in full resolution in the book along with a complete guide to Breeding, Pregnancy, and Delivery in Chapter 8)

Illustrations copyright © Gianaclis Caldwell 2017 

pH and Acid in Cheesemaking

In this video I go over the intricacies of monitoring pH at different stages of cheesemaking – including what that pH tells you after the cheese is done or partially through aging. I throw in tips and suggestions for how to control acid production in the vat and why it matters! I sure wish it had chosen a frame with my eyes open!

This 24 minute video is useful for cheesemakers at all levels, unless you are brand new to cheesemaking and not quite ready for some deeper science.