A Journey in living simply, in living off the land and in giving back.

Month: November, 2011

A Rainy Day in Panama (And the Milking Barn Addition is Started!)

The Rains in Spain Panama

Almost all of the rain in Panama falls during the rainy season, which is usually from April to December, but varies in length from seven to nine months. In general, rainfall is much heavier on the Caribbean than on the Pacific side. The rainfall varies from 51.2 inches to 118.1 inches a year, depending what region you live in.

I can say that when it rains here, it rains for all its worth. Much better than the Northwest, where I used to live, where you were overshadowed by dark grey clouds and kept moist with a persistent drizzle for a large portion of the year.

Generally speaking, you have at least four hours of sunshine in the mornings before it does start to rain and often it will rain for less than an hour and then the sun will peek back through the clouds, depending what part of the rainy season you are in. Sometimes when I am out working with the animals, I get “caught” in the rain, but I just shrug it off because the temperatures are always warm here, it just feels like I am in an outside shower. (No problema!)

The Dogs Playing the “Bite the Water Dance” Game in the rain

Sparky says “Hey, Scoot and Wesson, Check out these moves!”

Scooter says “Step aside, buddy! You shoulda practiced more because I got natural talent!”

Well in spite of the rains in Panama, we are all having a wonderful day.

Smith and my Father are busy working on the goat shelter and adding onto it a temporary milking barn, until we build the permanent one. The reason being is sometimes at milking time the goats act like a swarm of piranhas, around the one milking stanchion. An extra Mama goat hops on the milking stanchion standing by the one being milked and two or three goats eating up the food with the Mama goat that is being milked… Utter chaos and confusion at times, yet some days, everyone behaves quite well! Go figure!

So in a couple of days, we will have complete order in our temporary milking barn. The milking Mamas will have a chute we can bring them into, to be fed as they wait to be milked. We will have little short chains to keep them tethered to their own feed bowls, where they cannot head butt or horn the Mama next to them to see if they have more food or better food. When we are ready to bring them into the milking barn, we can bring them in, two at a time with no extra goats in there and then when they are done being milked, they will be escorted out another door.  Plus there is the added bonus, our milking barn will be much more orderly, clean and proper. (The little things that make a milk maid happy!!!)

The Milking Barn Addition in Progress (Hopefully it will be done tomorrow) 

Here is Smith milking Miss Olive (She loves his gentle hands!)


Samson Overseeing the Work on top of the ATV

Yesterday we picked up a Panamanian man on the side of the road yesterday, who was walking down our rocky country lane towards town. (We often give people walking a ride in the truck or in the truck bed because it is a long distance generally to get where they are going. Sometimes they are carrying bags of groceries or have several small children with them.) This older gentleman had his guitar in tow and as we headed back down the road, he started strumming on his guitar and played us a pretty ditty with a Spanish flavor in the backseat of the truck. Very nice. You just never know who will meet or what will happen in your day down here.

I hope your week has started off as well as mine. (Somehow that always gives a body a better outlook for the rest of it, huh?)

Scripture thought for the day:

“Yahweh the Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of His bounty,

to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

-Deuteronomy 28:12

 Peace be to you one and all my dears, Rose

They Take Better Care of Their Cars than They do Their Horses

My Mother says “Panamanian people treat their horses like cars.” I am not quite sure if this is true because from what I can observe, most Panamanian people take better care of their cars, than their horses.

I am not sure how many of you are familiar with this, but there is an acronym TOWBIF which stands for Tires, Oil, Windows, Brakes, Interiors and Fluids to help you remember the maintenance requirements needed for your vehicle. I don’t think the people who own horses in Panama have any such acronym to help them remember the requirements needed to care for their horses, but I think it is sorely overdue. So on that note, I have decided to make one for them, but instead of TOWBIF, I will call it HGGBWW.

  • (Tires)-Hooves: A horse needs its hooves trimmed every 4-8 weeks depending on the terrain, time of year, weather, diet and health of the horse. (Many horses here do not have proper hoof trimming and care. I will say it is hard to find a good farrier in Panama, as I said in a prior post, you have to choose the lesser of the evils among them. One of the local farriers in our community was laming horses.)
  • (Oil)-Grass/Grain: The most natural food for horses is good quality pasture. Secondly, hay is the basic food of domestic horses, supplemented with a small amount of grain along with minerals and salt. (You would think in this land of abundant grass and jungle, a horse would never be hungry, but alas there are many starving horses, at least in the community where we live. It may be partly that people, do not have enough property and the horses eat it all up or there is poor quality grass growing… There are several horses, whom I call the Red Road Horses. Their owners let them roam the lane to search for food, eating the grasses along the side of the road.)
  • (Windows)-Gear- A horse needs a well-fitting saddle to be able to move freely and, by using his back muscles correctly, he’ll develop a rounded, properly-balanced outline. A badly fitting saddle can do a lot of damage, leading to behavioral problems or lameness. (Few horses in our community have properly fitting saddles, probably do to lack of education and finances. Thus we have many horses here, plagued with open pressure sores and behavioral problems from ill-fitting saddles.)
  • (Brakes)-Bits- Proper bit fit is necessary in every riding discipline. When a bit does not fit a horse’s mouth properly, bad habits or injuries may result. If the horse has any scars or open cuts or rubs on his lips or tongue, this means he has had bit abuse. Many times this happens when a unknowledgeable rider has used a bit that does not fit properly or comfortably in the horse’s mouth. (We have seen horses here with ill-fitting bits. One horse at the end of a road has a spade bit. The spade bit has a bar, and behind it is a mouthpiece that rests on the tongue. When used on a horse by an undisciplined rider, this can cause great pain to the horse–to his tongue, the bars, and the roof of his mouth.)
  • (Interiors)-Wormer- You should “de-worm” your horse 4-5 times per year, but the frequency depends on many factors such as age of the horse, type of pasture, how many other horses are on the same pasture, whether droppings are collected from the pasture, any history of wormer resistance and results of any worm egg counts. (Many horses are not properly wormed due to lack of finances here.)
  • (Fluids)-Water- Fresh water is a vital part of a horse’s diet. Horses drink from 5-10 gallons a day. Clean water should be available at all times. (Many horses do have fresh water provided to them, as there are many fresh creeks and springs throughout this land, but the horses described below do not have water for hours to days at a time.)

Many horses in Panama have a very tough life, I speak specifically in regards to the horses in our community. These horses are ridden for miles over rough terrain, sometimes with up to four people on them, often being constantly hit with a little whip or stick. The horses are then deposited at the end of a dirt road and tied for hours, to all day (and I hate to report-sometimes for days-The horse in the first picture below was tied up for three days recently), as their owners hop a bus to a job, to school, etc… These horses are exposed to sizzling summer temperatures to pouring down torrential rains without benefit of shelter, on a short lead without food and water, as they wait patiently for their owners to return. It is enough to break your heart.

My parents offered to pay for and build a shelter at the end of the road where are all the horses are tethered, but the their workers told them, the community would not use it and if they did, they would not keep it cleaned out.

Here is one of the local horses tied to the fence at the end of our road

Look at her ribs; She is very underweight-Not uncommon in this poor community


This horse has to stand in the mud all day

 Here is another horse patiently waiting

Tarps cover their saddles to keep their gear dry during the heavy rains

This horse waits for its riders-two young schoolboys to finish school for the day

This past week however, we were in David and to the side of the busy Pan-Am Highway a man was working his horse in dressage, just like the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions (All I could think was, only in Panama!). The time and dedication it takes of both trainer and horse is incredible to perform these skills and such horses have been likened to a highly tuned gymnast or ballerina. Though I believe there is a large percentage of native Panamanians who do not genuinely care for their horses well, there are a handful who do.

Here is a YouTube video, if you have never seen the Lipizzaner stallions before!

I want to thank all the dedicated horse lovers in Panama, who are taking time and money, educating people on how to properly care for and treat a horse.

I also hope everyone had a great weekend and a Happy Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by family and friends. We all have so much to be thankful for. May we not forget to give thanks to the One from whom all blessing flow!

 “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Psalm 106:1

Love you all my dear family,  friends and readers, Rose

This post is dedicated to all the long-suffering horses of Panama.

~Fearfully and Wonderfully Made~

Yahweh, you have searched me…  And you know me.

You know my sitting down and my rising up. You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word on my tongue, But, behold, Yahweh, you know it altogether.

You hem me in behind and before. You laid your hand on me.

This knowledge is beyond me. It’s lofty. I can’t attain it.

Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!

If I take the wings of the dawn, And settle in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there your hand will lead me, And your right hand will hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me; The light around me will be night;”

Even the darkness doesn’t hide from you, But the night shines as the day. The darkness is like light to you.

For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to you, For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well.

My frame wasn’t hidden from you, When I was made in secret, Woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my body. In your book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there were none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand…

Psalm 139: 1-18-For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David.

I pray you are having a fantastic and restful weekend. I just want you to know you are special and dear to me and the Creator who made you each unique and special.

Blessings my dears~Rose

(Pictures are different scenes of Panama, my dear daughter and grandbaby and lastly the sands of Belize…)

Mabel had Two Kids!

Finally after looking at Mabel every day for the last two weeks, thinking this is gonna be the day she will lamb…. I went out to the “Cabra Casa” (Goat house) and there were two snowy white kids by her. A little girl and boy! (But phooey, I  was  a little bummed I had missed the birthing… I really have enjoyed being there with the other two Mamas when they had lambed).

Meet Baby Girl “Zelda”

And Miss Zelda and Her Floppy Eared Brother

Well, here is my good news for the day- (And  more good news, my Father went to the ER last night and feels much better today! Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes… You are all dear to me.)

Shalom shalom (Perfect Peace)~Rose

Goat Hooves (The Newest Challenge)

After obtaining our new goats at the end of last month and making out a list of monthly goat care, I realized all of them were due for a hoof trim or perhaps overdue…

So where to start…? I have never trimmed a goat hoof before. So I have  researched “how to trim a goat’s hoof” after looking at a half-dozen or so goat websites and watching a dozen YouTube videos on hoof trimming… All of the information was very helpful. I do have a pretty good idea on how to do it, but looking at our goats hooves and their goats hooves, well things look different… The other thing is, I am afraid of laming one of the goats, but then on the other hand, I am thinking that by not trimming some of these girls, they could go lame. (Now our worker, Danilo trimmed some of their hooves and we were afraid he was taking too much off, so Smith gave it a go and took off even less… but after we watched the videos, we thought perhaps we were not taking enough off at once.. Though I understand that you need to trim back overgrown hooves over a period of time.) I also am afraid some may have hoof scald or possibly hoof rot (Though I cannot smell any bad odor at this time.) Right now in Panama it is the rainy season and this is the wetest month of all… (It is good summer and drier weather is right around the corner).

In Panama, you do not have the resources like you do in the states… As I blogged before it was hard to find our goats and it may be harder still to find someone who has some wisdom in caring for hooves.  When our vet came out a month, we were asking about recommendations of whom to have trim our horses hooves and he basically said to find the lesser of the evils. (Oh great!) I do have a couple local leads, I am following up on and I am going to appeal to some on-line goat forums for assistance as well. Perhaps I just need a good courage booster and to just give it a go…?

I did snap a few pictures yesterday of some of the hooves of the goats that were limping, so you all get an idea of what I am talking about. (I have been washing these gals hooves off twice a day with soap and water, then drizzling hydrogen peroxide on their hooves.)

Marilynns Front Left Hoof

Marilynns Front Left Hoof Bottomside

Marilynns Back Left Hoof

Marliynns Back Left Hoof Bottomside

Whities Front Right Hoof Bottomside

If anyone has any ideas, please H-E-L-P, offer comments and/or suggestions. I appreciate your time.

On a side note, my Father has been very feeling poorly the last week. He has a horrible hacking cough that has gotten worse and feels achy all over. Smith and my Mother are in town right now, taking him to his physician. Please keep him in your prayers (as well as for someone to help us with the girls hooves!).

I hope you all have a blessed week.

Good Night, Rose

A Quote on the Simple Life

“But the simple life, alas, once you try to lead it, leads you into all this complication!…”
–John Seymour, The Fat of the Land, 1960–

For the last couple of weeks, I have had the resounding thought that in my pursuit of living a simple life,  my life has gotten more complex. Stumbled upon this quote  by John Seymour this evening (first on a goat forum and then again on another lovely blog about self-sufficiency; see Apparently,  I was not the first to have had this thought, (though my reasons differ slightly from John Seymour).

We have been working from sun-up to almost sun-down on the farm. So much to do, so little time.

Milking goats, bottle feeding baby goats, caring for sick animals (suspected mastitis in Thelma and Marilynn, Mabel’s abscess burst today-needed cleaned, Samson has a cold-giving him Echinacea and Astragalus), caring for all the various animals, training horses, amending the goat house, gardening, hanging out clothes on the line (no electricity here-except when we run the generator during certain times of day), cooking and cleaning, taking my Father to his therapy appointments twice a week and then spending an entire afternoon afterwards in town running errands, etc. etc.

(Where does it all end…?)

But then again, there is this:

“I know the modern…worker is supposed to lead an “easier” life than, say, a French peasant.

But I wonder if this supposition is correct.

And I wonder if, whether “easier” or not, it is a better life?

(Is it) Simpler? Healthier? More spiritually satisfying? or not?

I don’t wonder very long.”

–John Seymour, The Fat of the Land, 1960–

Life on the farm…

Simpler. Sometimes. Healthier. Definitely. More spiritually satisfying. Absolutely.

I do not have to wonder very long either…

I must admit nothing feels better than working outside all day-clad in just a t-shirt, little cotton shorts and squeaky black rubber boots that almost touch my knees, working my body as it was created to do, breathing fresh country air, feeling the warmth of black soil in my hand, milking goats by hand in the evening, as I listen to the birds singing praises to the Creator and the gurgling of the stream and feeling a gentle breeze blowing my hair in my face.

Would not trade it for the world.

And one final quote for the evening by John Seymour:

“If a man does not undertake some really hard and even violent manual work fairly often he becomes soft, his arteries harden, his heart weakens, he puts on fat, he develops blood pressure, his liver gets hob-nailed – I hate to think what he looks like inside.

And outside he doesn’t look much better.”

I have dropped 25 pounds in two months without even trying. My blood pressure is down and hopefully things are looking better inside and out!

That all being said, I hope you can make your life a little simpler… (Moving to another country and/or living on a farm is not for everyone! But comes highly recommended.)

A few ideas on how to bring simplicity into your life:

    1. Evaluate your time; Spend more time with the people you love and doing the things you love.
    2. Get rid of clutter and excess; Look for items you do not use or wear in your house. Search your cupboards, closets and garage. Let everything have its place.
    3. Learn to say no; Don’t take on too much. Spend your time doing things that bring value and meaning to your life.
    4. Limit your time on the computer, iPad, iPhone and/or in front of the television. Read more.
    5. Be present; Focus on the here and now-Live in the moment-Be aware of what is happening within and around you.

Would you share how you keep your life more on the simple side? (Would love to hear your ideas!)

Good night each and every one of you. You are all near and dear to my heart.

Sweet dreams~Rose

Horsing Around and Annie’s First Bath!

This afternoon we bathed two of our horses, Annie and Yola, then applied a mixture of Butox, Asuntol and Enicima and mineral oil to their coats. This is a mixture that is supposed to help the horses’ fungal infection which is caused by the rain. It was recommended by our veterniary. My Mother has tried other various recommendations by the locals, but to no avail.

My Mother who spent much of her youth with horses says she has never seen a skin condition like this. Of course, we are in Panama now and have a variety of diseases, which are different from the ones in the states.

Here is my Mother’s horse, Meridian, her face is badly affected by this infection

Annie is my filly. She is not as affected by the fungal infection, as Meridan and our other horse. The veterniary said some horses are more resistant to it than others, however it is a good idea to put it on all horses during the rainy season.

Steve gave Annie to me as a present, to commerate our second anniversary. Annie had never been touched by a human up until the end of August, until I first started working with her. In spite of all the hospitalizations and time constraints in this household, Annie has done remarkably well with her training- either she is a quick study or I am the next horse whisperer (Ha-ha!).

Annie awaiting her very first bath today (“Help! I am being held hostage” she says!)

My parents horse Yola awaiting her bath (She doesn’t mind a bath)

Annie watching Yola getting her bath so she knows how it is done; Danilo bathing Yola

I hope you all have had a great start to your week. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Blessings to you all my dear ones, Rose 

~Lying Down in Green Pastures~

The Kids Lying Down in Green Pastures

Yahweh is my shepherd,

I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever.

~Psalm 23~

Yahweh bless and keep thee, my dear friends and family~Rose 

Mastitis… and Sick Kids…. and Mastitis again…

Twenty four hours after Thelma had given birth, I went to milk her. I noticed her udder felt a little warm. She gave me no milk whatsoever. Now this was the first time I had tried to milk her and she has a low set udder, but I was sure that neither of those things were the problem, something was wrong.

I called the couple who had sold us our goats. They asked me if I had taken her temperature (and that I needed to do that first.)

  • The rule is whenever a goat is ill or not acting right, you should check its temperature.
  • Every farmer should have a baseline reading of their goats normal temperature, so they will know for certain if their goats temp is elevated. I was told a goats normal temperature is 102.3 but most internet sources stated it can range from 102.0-104.0 depending on the individual goat.

The couple questioned if she had warm and/or hard udders/teats and/or any blood/lumps/clumps in her milk-some of the signs of mastitis (an inflammation of the mammary gland). They also asked if she had any white or yellow discharge from her vaginal area or a foul odor-some of the signs of a partially retained placenta.

I went out to re-evaluate Thelma. I used an old-fashioned mercury thermometer complete with a string on one end and a bit of petroleum jelly, to check her temperature.( And yes, farm animals can “swallow” a thermometer-better to be safe than sorry!).

Everything you need to check a goats rectal temperature!

Her temperature was 102.6, she had no milk production, warm hard udder and no discharge or odor from her vaginal area. Mastitis was suspect, (though from my research it might have been a congested udder-but decided to err on the side of caution, as our veterinary was out-of-town.)

I did not have Clavamox on hand, so the couple generously offered to give me enough to get me through the next day when the feed stores would be open. So I drove out to their farm and picked up the Clavamox.

  • Clavamox is given for mastitis twice a day for three days. You apply teat dip to the teat, then take a hold of the goats teat and administer the medication directly into the teat. (Ouch! And trust me Thelma thought ouch too!) You then pinch off the end of the teat and move the medication upwards, when you are finished, apply teat dip again.
  • It is also important to apply warm wet compresses to the entire udder and then massage the udder and teats. I also applied an anti-inflammatory cream twice a day to the udder and teats, after the compresses.
  • Excenel, an injectable antibiotic, is also given once a day for three days.

**Please note: These were the prior instructions given to us per own veterinary, in a suspected case of mastitis. Always follow the advice of your personal veterinarian for your animals care and well-being.**

As if this day could not get any worse, Thelma’s kids who seemed so vigorous and well yesterday, seem listless and unwell. I tried to give them milk from the other Mama goat, but they would not take a bottle. I then had to resort to syringe feeding them, 10 mL at a time, every couple of hours (and they both fussed at that!). I was stressed out.

I kept the goat babies in a large dog kennel filled with straw, in the house that night, so I could keep an eye on them and feed them through the night. By morning, they were both accepting a bottle of 2 oz of milk at a time and were standing on their feet, wagging their little tails with enthusiasm. (Big HalleluYah! And a phew-ew!)

However, when I went out to check on Marilynn the other Mama goat, her udder was hot and her teats were hugely swollen. She had a temperature of 105.3. I was able to milk her but she had  low milk production. I felt sick… It looked like another case of mastitis. So I started her on the medications as well.

In researching about mastitis, I found that it can be hard to cure, because the goat has such dense mammary tissue and the antibiotic cannot reach all the bacteria because of this. The article stated goats often times are culled due to recurring chronic mastitis. (I thought, oh no, did we just buy a bunch of goats with a history of mastitis…?) There had never been mastitis on this farm before with the other two goats. I talked to the couple again and they told me neither of the Mama’s had mastitis in the past (So all I can do is hope this is true)…. They thought perhaps it was stress due to the recent change of environment. That made me feel much better. I just prayed if we were truly dealing with two case of mastitis, they would be healed completely and quickly.

I also learned about a test called the California Mastitis Test, in which I can test the goats myself for mastitis. I am hoping to I can find this at the local feed store, but this maybe difficult, as this is Panama and not everything is as easy accessible to a person, like in the states.

So let us pray I can find the test!

It has been a couple of  stressful and busy days here on the farm. The rest of the week does not prove to be anymore restful, as there are two days I need to drive my Father to his therapy appointments and complete various errands, as well as milk the goats, take care of the sick Mama’s and bottle feed all of the baby kids.

Pray for my strength!

With much love my dear friends and family, Rose

P.S. Here is some information on mastitis in goats from Fias Co Farm’s website:

From my research on goat mastitis, prevention is the best medicine, as the old saying goes. Practicing good washing of the milker, cleaning of the udder and using proper teat dip and clean dry living conditions go a long way at keeping this disease away from your milking girls.