The Last Baby is Gone

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It’s official…we are kidless here at The Broody Bantam. The last baby of the season has been sold.

Mama Toffee is just about done crying from missing her baby (my other mamas never cared). She gave a very full quart of milk this morning and definitely wasn’t empty when she became restless of getting milked.

It just not the same without babies here. We’re already thinking about the upcoming breeding season. This is new to us because we purchased all of our does pregnant. I’ll be looking into bucks and making sure my ladies are healthy enough to be nice and fertile.

If anyone has any advice on starting a breeding season please let me know. This season we had one twin birth and two singletons. 3 buckling sand one doeling. Hoping for all twins this next time around.

Happy Flocking!!

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Asher’s EoE Journey

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When you find out something is wrong with your child you automatically get in to “go mode”– you’re ready to jump in head first and do whatever you need to do to “fix” it, and you want to do it RIGHT NOW!¬† So this journey has been hard for me because it’s a lot of waiting, and honestly I’m the least patient person I know.¬†¬†After getting her diagnosis the GI told me to come back in 6 weeks to discuss it, in the mean time I’m to work with our allergist to determine possible food triggers.¬† We did initial blood work that didn’t prove helpful and then she told me to come back in¬†3 weeks to do more skin testing.¬† 6 WEEKS!!!¬†3 WEEKS!!!¬† I might as well have been asked to hold my breath the entire time. I want to know NOW, but sadly that’s just not how any of this works.¬† This has proven to be one of the biggest lessons in patience for me.¬† You know what they say, “When you pray for patience God gives you plenty of opportunities to be PATIENT”.¬† It’s been 4 weeks and in some ways it’s getting easier knowing that we are getting closer to finding out more, and in other ways waiting is getting harder because I have read every possible article and blog and watched every “Journey Story” on YouTube.¬† I’m just dying to find out information specific to her diagnosis and treatment.

So to¬†pass some time¬†I would like to share with you the journey of discovering that AJ has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE).¬† The diagnosis itself is pretty new so we’re still learning bits and pieces, but I can share with you how it all began, how she was diagnosed, what has changed so far and what’s next.

Where it all began…

When Asher Jolie was born she was absolutely perfect it seemed.  10 fingers, 10 toes and big bright eyes.

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She took to nursing immediately and was a breastfeeding¬†champ.¬† Presumably¬†all was well.¬† Eventually they came and took her down the hall to go to the nursery to get some things done and be looked over while I took a shower and got set up in my post partum room.¬† Being my fourth child I wasn’t overly concerned about her being away from me in the nursery–after a few kids you learn to enjoy the time that other people are taking care of your baby and get all the rest that you can get.¬† But¬†soon one hour turned into a few and I needed to know when my baby was coming back to my room.¬† A doctor that I hadn’t¬†seen¬†before came in and said that AJ hadn’t passed her meconium (baby’s first poop) yet and instead of stooling she was just vomiting and that she was being admitted¬†into the NICU.

img_8591-2This was a HUGE blow to me for two reasons: 1.) MY BABY WAS GOING TO THE NICU and 2.) I had been on bed rest with all three of my prior pregnancies¬†for threats of early labor and she was the first baby that didn’t really threaten to come early and¬†SHE is the one who lands in the NICU…weird.¬† AJ would spend her fist 6 days of life in the NICU.

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They couldn’t find any obstructions or intestinal underdevelopment to explain her problems, she just kept throwing up and having difficulty feeding.¬†¬†It was¬†chalked up as reflux and she was released as soon as she was gaining weight and able to hold down majority of her feeds.¬† She nursed fine at home, but did seem to suffer¬† from silent reflux issues; swallowing constantly, loud breathing,¬†needing to be laid elevated, having milk constantly kind of running out of her mouth.¬† When she was about a month old (maybe a little younger) I was taking her older brother to a doctor’s appointment and her breathing was so LOUD that the doctor stopped the appointment to check on her.¬† She wasn’t in distress this was simply how AJ sounded.¬† She informed me that AJ had Laryngomalacia (floppy airways) and that the reflux was making it worse.¬†¬†¬†She was put on Zantac to help alleviate the symptoms.

We were getting¬†fairly comfortable¬†caring for AJ’s silent reflux although the symptoms¬†didn’t seem an better we were happy that she didn’t seem to be in pain like most reflux babies we heard about¬†so we counted our blessings.¬† Eventually¬†it was time to start introducing solid foods when she was around 1, up until this point she was eating baby food well.¬† Although¬†(at that time–she¬†later outgrew it)¬†she did have a milk and egg allergy (nothing that we weren’t already familiar with). That’s when this happened:

She loved food and she would try so hard to eat it. She would chew and chew and chew, but she just couldn’t swallow.¬† This went on for months!¬† I would take her to the doctor and they agreed that it was strange, but this was also during a time period where she had recurring strep throat, so it was being chalked up (and reasonably so) to it hurting to swallow due to strep.¬† I was given a “GI Symptoms” log to fill out for 4 weeks.

So after months of trying Prevacid for her reflux and tracking symptoms, AJ was seen by a GI doctor who suggested that we have some tests done.¬† She underwent a swallow study…NORMAL.¬† She had a gastric emptying test done…NORMAL.¬† But she still couldn’t swallow foods that weren’t the texture of her baby food.¬† So¬†her GI doctor¬†decided to¬†perform and¬†endoscopy with biopsies.

Her first endoscopy came back showing reflux damage, but only a few eosinophils (there should be none, but it wasn’t an alarming amount and was within negative range).¬† After this first endoscopy was performed we were told that it still seemed to be just reflux and to continue on with our current medication protocol.

A year passed and during that year AJ still had reflux symptoms but she wasn’t spitting out her food anymore.¬† We were excited that she stop spitting we didn’t take that time to realize that the only reason she wasn’t spitting anymore was because she had STOPPED eating any solid foods at all.¬† She was surviving solely on pureed foods.

At some point during that year she had a severe bout with asthma and was hospitalized and put on a daily Flovent inhaler (Flovent is a medication used to treat asthma, but is also used to treat¬†EoE) it helped with her asthma and also seemed to help a little bit with her eating.¬† She could now consume pureed foods, fruits, and some other odds and ends.¬† But still not as much as she should be.¬† At this point I realized that it’s not “normal” for a three year old to eat only baby food and went back to see the GI again.¬† He also agreed that this was not normal for her age and wondered how bad her reflux was.¬† So he decided to do a¬†PH probe (see the measuring device in the picture below.) I was still skeptical of other issues going on and talked to our allergist about it.¬† She suggested having him to another endoscopy with biopsies (since he was already going to be in there) and see what’s going on.

The results came back saying that the PH probe was negative for overwhelming amounts of acids, but her eosinophils were positive.  He believe that we should move on with a diagnosis of EoE.

I remember hearing those words and going through a roller coaster of emotions.¬† I remember being excited for a diagnosis and having my smile fade and going “that’s not the one I wanted… I specifically didn’t want THIS diagnosis”.¬† He had told me prior that there was a fix if her acid levels were too high, but I had been made aware through people I know and research that EoE can be quite complex and quite brutal in some cases.

He prescribed her a swallowed Pulmicort (asthma medicine) slurry that she would use as a topical steroid for her esophagus–imagine if you could rub ointment on your esophagus.¬† Then he suggested that I follow up with some allergy testing to determine what foods we may need to remove from her diet.¬† Here’s the trouble with that, my kids are notorious for not showing much on tests even if they react violently¬†to the actual food.¬† But in general allergy skin and blood testing are typically not terribly accurate for EoE triggers, so it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.¬†We are still on this portion of the¬†journey,¬† this is current.¬† We have NOT yet determined what foods will be coming out of her diet–if any.¬† We are still in the process of testing and hypothesizing.¬† I am keeping a daily food log and symptom tracker.

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AJ goes to lots of doctor’s appointmentsimg_8474-1img_8476-1

And sometimes she doesn’t feel very well.

But we are extremely blessed because this disease can be HORRIFIC and right now AJ’s disease is very mild.¬† We are praying that it stays this way.¬† That HUGE dietary/lifestyle changes do not¬†have to be made.¬† That we can let her be as “normal” as possible.¬† We pray for all of the families effected by EoE, many of which have children on tube feeds or elemental formula only with no foods.

Navigating dietary restrictions due to IgE food allergies is very familiar to me.¬† I’ve been managing food allergies sense I was 4, but THIS is different and has me feeling quite anxious to know what the future holds.¬† Thanks for coming along with me on this journey.

Happy Flocking.

Sorry I‚Äôve been MIA we have a New Diagnosis…

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I just want to apologize that I haven’t been blogging lately or making videos but I needed some time to regroup and get life back in order.

My sweet little farm helper got a new diagnosis from the doctor and it is more than I was expecting. AJ has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE).

“Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach). It occurs when a type of white blood cell, the eosinophil, accumulates in the esophagus and persists despite acid-blocking medicine. The elevated number of eosinophils cause injury and inflammation to the esophagus. This damage may make eating difficult or uncomfortable, potentially resulting in poor growth, chronic pain, and/or difficulty swallowing.” (Source: APFED)

In regular people terms it’s kind of like an ongoing internal allergic reaction that causes eating to be difficult for her.

There was a time in AJ’s life (from September ’16 to May ’17) where Asher couldn’t swallow any solid food. She would happily chew it and then spit it out. She was still breastfed during this time so she maintained her weight but she was 2 years old breastfeeding around the clock (every hour) like an infant. I knew she had reflux but she was on medication so we tried to chalk it up to her being a stubborn toddler (because let’s face it she IS a stubborn toddler), until I saw her repeatedly trying and trying in frustration to swallow and she physically couldn’t (this is called dysphasia). That’s when we had our first scope. I just knew she had EoE but lo and behold she didn’t have enough eosinophils to confirm. But acid damage was noted so we continued with acid medicine.

Over the next year she eventually weaned and she stopped spitting out as much solid food. The notable piece of information here is that she started becoming increasingly picky choosing to eat only soft foods. So she was swallowing all of her food but her diet was very soft. She is a three year old who lives on baby food, oatmeal, scrambled eggs from her favorite chickens, and apple sauce. So when it seemed as if her reflux was getting worse we tried the scope again and a Bravo PH study to see how bad her reflux really was. This is when tests come back showing that she does in fact have EoE.

Of course we got our diagnosis on a Friday evening and I just had to sit with that over the weekend. Waiting and worrying what was in store. (Little known fact: I am the least patient person I know) Would we have to start a stringent elimination diet immediately and reduce her diet down to nothing and work back from there? Would she tolerate this new medicine? There were so many unknowns swirling around my head.

So I did what I do best. I researched. I reached out to people I know (or know of) that have a child with this condition. I prepared lists of questions for our specialist appointments. I prayed. I worried, I stayed awake. I felt guilt that I had been “poisoning” my daughter with something she is undetectably allergic to for goodness knows how long.

So bear with me here while we navigate the new murky waters of upcoming lifestyle changes. I’m more than a little nervous for testing to come back and find out what foods we need to avoid.

I know that this isn’t homestead related but I do plan on keeping everyone updated on how my littlest farm helper is doing.

Thanks for your patience.

Happy Flocking

How to Tell If your goat is In Labor

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Now that I have been through three goat deliveries I fancy myself as some what of a goat labor expert *sarcasm* .¬† So I’m going to share with you how to figure out if you doe is in labor.

What you will Need:

  • Pregnant Doe
  • Magic 8 Ball

Directions:

  • Go over and place one hand on the doe
  • With the other hand hold up the Magic 8 ball and say ” is my goat in labor?”
  • Wait for response

This method may seem very left up to chance, but that’s kind of what it’s like waiting to see if a doe is really truly in labor or if she just doesn’t want you to go into the house.

Aside from this method there is one other SURE FIRE way to know if your goat is in labor.¬† Look on the ground beside her.¬† Is there a baby goat?¬† If so, congratulations she was in labor.¬† If not, nope she wasn’t try asking again later.

See where I’m going with this?¬† It isn’t always easy to know whether or not a doe is really in labor.¬† But to be honest it wasn’t easy for me to know whether or NOT I was really in labor with any of my 4 kids either so I don’t blame them entirely.¬† But I do blame them a tiny bit because they follow “The Doe Code”¬†(check out this video by The Goat Mentor), meaning they make it their life mission to NOT have their babies until we are a frazzled mess.

But all joking aside here are some SIGNS that your do may be nearing labor/delivery:

  • Swollen Vulva- Now take this sign with a grain of salt because the vulva can be swollen long before delivery (ask any pregnant woman–TMI…sorry).¬† But typically as a doe nears delivery her vulva will become¬†particularly puffy (how’s that for an alliteration…grammar).
  • Bagging up- You will notice that her udder went from being what you thought was¬†plump and full to TRULY¬†plump and full.¬† Like shiny and¬†ready to burst.
  • Discharge- For my goats no discharge was present until it was delivery day and they were in labor.¬† However I have been told that discharge can show up days, or even a week before show time.¬† Sometimes you won’t see that actual snail trail, but you will notice that hay is stuck to them where it has dried.¬† Hay stuck on the rear end of your pregnant doe is a good sign.
  • Loss/Softening of Ligaments- One of the best ways to know whether or not your doe is getting close to labor is checking their tail ligaments. The area will soften and loosen up.
  • Sucked in sides- Usually after ligaments loosen and the babies start to shift into position the belly will “drop” causing their sides to suck in and their hips to look hollowed out.
  • Vocal- All laboring women are different, and goats are no different.¬† Some goats will whine and become very vocal during labor.¬† Some will be quiet.¬† Some goats will demand ice chips¬†and scream that they hate you and no matter how much they beg, you¬†should never take them to be bred again, it just depends on the goat.¬†You know your goat best.
  • Excessive Pooping- It’s the cleaning out for labor stage.
  • Going off on her own- A lot of goats will wander off from the herd (if not already separated into their own birthing stall),
  • Can’t find a comfortable position- If you notice your goat pawing the ground, getting up, laying back down, moving around and stretching those are typically signs that she is trying to get the baby into position.
  • Staring into space- The stage that I’ve noticed all of my goats go through before they start pushing is the “Zone Out” stage.¬† They just kind of stare off into space
  • Talking to baby- Sometimes you will see your doe laying down and making small noises in the general direction of her belly.¬† From what I’ve been told she is quietly talking to her baby.¬† I imagine that it goes something like this, ” Look kid you can have all of my grain ration if you just please come out.¬† I’ll even share my chaffhaye and my favorite butt scratching spot if you just GET OUT” I remember having negotiations with my own baby not too long ago myself.
  • Contractions- You will see their stomach tighten, their vulva suck in, and their legs get very stiff and “posty”.¬† Don’t ask them any dumb questions right now like “Does it hurt” or say “wow that was a really big one” or they will tell you to shut up.¬† Well deserved really.

If your doe is displaying some or all of these symptoms congratulations your kids will arrive….eventually.¬† Remember to practice your Lamaze breathing, pushing will be exhausting for you both.¬† Yes you will absolutely be pushing with her, I HIGHLY recommend using the restroom before this starts so you don’t have any unwelcome accidents if you know what I mean…you definitely know what I mean.¬† But don’t worry Obstetricians everywhere agree that pooping during labor is perfectly normal, so I’m guessing pooping during someone else’s labor is okay to.¬† I won’t judge you.

Good luck with your babies and I pray that you have an easy and successful delivery.

Happy Birthing…I mean FLOCKING!

I had to Bury One of my Best Friends

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Even though yesterday was an exciting day filled with new life it wasn’t without its hardships.¬† My favorite hen, my beloved Hei Hei fell ill and passed she passed away this morning. HeiHei

I have had HeiHei since she was two days old.  Early on we noticed that she had a crossbeak and knew she would have her challenges, but she rose to the occasion.  HeiHei was sassy and spunky.  She had the personality of a dog and was loyal and followed around at my feet.  She even came when I called her.  And in true HeiHei (Moana) fashion she was just a little bit (or a lot of bit) derpy.  But oh I loved HeiHei with all of my heart.

Yesterday I was doing morning chores and I noticed HeiHei standing hunched.¬† I wasn’t sure what that was all about but I went about going to the shed to get their feed when I hear AJ say, “Mama dat chicken dead”.¬† I dropped the feed bucket and came running, when I got in eye shot of the chicken run I screamed.¬† I scooped up my beloved HeiHei and she moved.¬† Thank you God, she was still alive. I was crying hysterically running into the house, stopping impatiently every few feet for my toddlers tiny legs to keep up.¬† I burst threw the door where my husband met me, because he heard me crying, with a terrified look on his face.¬† Honestly I expected him to be relieved when he saw that it was “just HeiHei” but the look of terror remained because he KNOWS that HeiHei is my favorite, she is my FRIEND.¬† He asked me what happened, and I thought I was explained it to him, but it came out as more of hysterical squeals.¬† She was deteriorating fast and her eyes were closing and there was NOTHING I could do.¬† I knew she would die.¬† I fixed up the hospital kennel and fed her electrolyte and probiotic water in an eyedropper.¬† A few hours later she was STANDING.¬† I had hope for a moment that my beautiful HeiHei would live.¬† But I knew it was foolish.¬† I could tell by the way that she was standing that she wouldn’t survive and honestly I was probably just prolonging her suffering.

Then I began to think the unimaginable.¬† Was I really about to have to “put down” my best friend?¬† With my own hands.¬† My husband offered to do it, but I couldn’t bear the thought. If she was going to be culled it would be me. It had to be I owed her that.¬† She layed down and went to sleep and I decided to give her until morning.¬† More for me than her, but she had perked up once before maybe she could do it again.

This morning HeiHei was gone.¬† I haven’t cried any more I think I did all of that yesterday.¬† But I also haven’t spent much time with the chickens or working in the run.¬† It just isn’t the same without HeiHei running up to my feet.

HeiHei wasn’t some stellar show bird since her face was deformed and she wasn’t an excellent layer, after all she was almost 1 and NEVER laid a single egg.¬† But she was simply perfection and my flock will never be the same without her.

Fly high my LOVE!

Toffee Gives Birth‚ÄĒVideo with a close up view!

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The day has finally come.  Sweet Toffee, our Mini Nubian has given birth.  Click Here to see the birth video

It all started last night (Sunday the 20th).¬† I was doing evening goat chores and milking when I noticed that Toffee had discharge hanging from her.¬† Her ligaments were gone and she wasn’t acting herself so I figured this was the big day.¬† We kept a close eye on her until¬† midnight.¬† At midnight I had a feeling that she was still a little ways off and new decided to go to sleep.

When I woke up this morning (Monday the 21st) I looked out of the window and didn’t see Toffee, which meant she was laying down in one of the goat houses.¬† I quickly got dressed and went out to check on her.¬† She popped up and came over to me…NOTHING.¬† I figured that she was just playing me and it’d be a few more days.¬† Every time I checked on her throughout the morning she seemed slightly off, but mostly fine.

Closer to around 11 she started having harder contractions and zoning out and I knew that today really would be the day it was just a matter of me having patience.  A watched pot never boils after all.

So to find out what happens check out the VIDEO.

And if you want to know more about what we do AFTER delivery check out the link on Post Partum Care for Goats.