• Tina

There are things that I do, or more correctly help do, that I never imagined myself doing. Here on the farm, we are forced to wear many hats. Sometimes the hats are happy and comfortable. Other times, the hat feels like an itchy wool toboggan that is two sizes too small. This weekend was the itchy toboggan kind of weekend. Most of the time, our mother goats do very well in kidding season. Every once in a while, there are small issues, but we have learned with time and experience how to head those things off at the pass before they can become serious if they develop at all. This weekend was a reminder that no matter how proactive one is or how prepared one feels, situations will arise to take one out of his/her comfort zone.

Waddles, Jordan's Boer doe, was the last of the Boers to deliver. The Boers have been a bit of a challenge this year. Two of the three have abandoned at least one of her kids, creating a lot of work for us. This is just par for the course. At this point, we are comfortable and capable of taking care of bottle babies. Waddles delivered triplets. Sometime during the first night, one of her kids passed away. Our diary girl, Little Black, had adopted the second-born. We don't know if Little Black just cleaned her off and accepted her or if it was an accident because both were in labor simultaneously and in such close proximity. However, this left Waddles with just one baby. Things appeared to be going well until Friday.

Eric noticed Waddles did not come over to eat with the rest of the girls Friday night. She seemed a bit off, but she was up and eating hay. He noted her behavior change but was not concerned. Saturday morning, she again did not come to eat and did not get up. This is concerning behavior for her, and without a doubt, something is amiss. Her temperature was elevated but not too high. She could get up, and she walked about but was not interested in food. Eric gave her a shot of Vitamin B Complex with Thiamin, drenched her with a power drench, and gave her a shot of penicillin. These are all practices that are recommended and have worked in the past.

Sunday, she was a bit better, but still, she showed no interest in food. Eric tubed her and gave her electrolytes so she would not become dehydrated. When a goat is tubed, plastic tubing...think oxygen run down her throat and directly into her stomach. We have had to tube only three goats in our five years of goat care. This experience never becomes any easier or less worrisome. If a tube is not run correctly, it can go into the lungs, and the dispensed liquid can drown the poor creature. We were shown by our vet how to do this. One tell-tale way to know you have correctly tubed the goat is by the smell that comes up from the tube. It should be gassy but not entirely off-putting. When Waddles was tubed, her stomach gas smelled like garlic and onions. This is not the smell of a healthy rumen. We know for sure her stomach is off. For humans, an off stomach is not necessarily a serious issue. For a goat, an off stomach can turn deadly very quickly. We have placed a call to our veterinarian and are waiting for a return call.

In the meantime, we are keeping an eye on her little one. She was given a supplemental bottle last night and this morning. We do not want to lose the little one while focusing on her mama. We also do not want her mama to stress about producing milk for her baby. The stark reality is we may end up with yet another bottle baby to take care of and feed. As long as Waddles recovers and is healthy, we will happily feed one more baby every four hours. It is a challenging schedule to maintain, but this is what we signed up for when we became stewards. Every year of goat care provides us with different, new, often stress filled scenarios. Unfortunately, not everything is bouncing baby goats, fun soaps, and smiles. If you think of it, send some good vibes to Waddles for a quick and full recovery. Also, give a mention to her little one for continued good health. As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, and keep washing your hands.

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  • Tina

As I sit watching the sunrise over the field behind the ponds, I am reminded that today is a gift, and gifts should not be taken for granted. Looking out over the expanse of the farm, this is one of my favorite views. I never tire of watching the sunrise slowly over the field's horizon and envelope the entirety of the farm in its nurturing, warm glow. Often, the Canadian geese are circling the pond, quietly crooning to one another in a series of now-familiar honks and calls. This, too, is something of which I never tire. I moved here with my parents when I was in my early twenties. Even then, I walked the fields in the morning, taking in the day and feeling appreciative that I could live part of my life here. I remember thinking, I could spend the rest of my days here and never want for more.

As the sun crests over the eastern hillside, some twenty-plus years later, I still feel this way about the farm. Living here, watching my daughter grow, building a lifetime of memories with my family in the place my dad was at his happiest is a gift I will forever be grateful to have received. Listening to the birds sing as I step out onto the porch in the morning, watching the Canadian geese make their graceful descent and then land with a satisfying splash onto the pond still fills me with wonder, joy, and gratitude. All these small things are gifts of which there is no measurable value.

Today and every day is a gift to be appreciated. I will spend today doing something about which I am passionate. This, too, is noted and appreciated. Is this how I saw my life ten, even five years ago? The answer is no. However, I have been given the gift of creating a life filled with creativity, beautiful people, and service, all in a place I dearly love. No day passes that I am not reminded of this, and I will be forever grateful.

The sun is now high; the geese have landed and are gliding on the pond's glass-like surface. I begin every day sharing my musings with you, dear reader. It is time to start my workday. I look forward to making Simply Goat's Milk and Lavender Oatmeal soaps with my bib overall wearing buddy and helping my bean with schoolwork. Dear reader, I hope you can find the small gifts in your life. Please know, on my long list of gratitude; you are in the top five. Have a wonderful weekend, stay safe, stay smart, and keep on washing your hands.

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Pete is the solid black baby on the left

We have an unsettling mystery here on the farm. Three Legged Pete is missing. Three- Legged Pete is a buckling born to my dear girl, Honeybelle, aka Big Red. You may remember she was the first to deliver and delivered quadruplets. Sadly, we are now down to two little bucklings for our big red girl. Suzy Snowflake, the only doeling born of the quads, passed away just a few days after her birth. Originally, we called the three boys Hardrock, Coco, and Joe. Joe was deemed Three-Legged Pete after he suffered a slight injury from his momma accidentally stepping on him and creating a rather nasty abrasion. Although his abrasion was healing nicely, he continued to favor that leg, thus the name Three Legged Pete.

During kidding season, we are in the barn almost hourly. There is much work to be done to prepare for all the mamas and babies. There are stalls to be cleaned, supplies to be restocked in case of an emergency, mamas to be cared for and supplemented, as well as babies to monitor and feed. We take baby season very seriously. It is an exhausting yet exhilarating time for us. Often, we forgo planned meals, sitting down together, and regular sleep so that the little ones stay on schedule and are in optimal health. It is hard work, but we love what we do.

On Monday, Three Legged Pete went missing. We had been in the barn every two hours the entire night through. We have bottle babies, and they require feedings every two hours for the first two weeks. We monitored the whole herd at 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. At those times, Pete and his brothers were frolicking, nursing, and napping near their mama. All was well and going smoothly. At 1:00, we noticed Pete was not with his brothers or his mom. We assumed he was in the barn napping with the other kids, but we did not do a headcount. I thought it odd, mentioned it to Eric, but because we were giving a barn tour to the Gazette photographer and there were no sounds of distress, we didn’t worry. We went out at 2:30 to check on Fuchsia, aka Little Black, scheduled to deliver next. Nothing in the barn was amiss. No one was distressed; there were no crying kids, everyone was doing what they normally do together. The Bibbed Wonder and The Bean noticed there was still no Pete. They walked the fields; they scoured the barn; they looked in all the nooks and crannies a baby could get stuck. They found nothing. They then began to worry and think of darker possibilities. They took axes and broke through the ice on the large watering troughs. They again walked the field and the fence line looking for Pete or possibly tracks in the snow where a predator could have entered and carried him off. Again, there was nothing to be found. At 4:00, we all went out and again, scoured the barn, turned over hay piles, walked the fields, checked the fence, the creek, even the wallows the pigs created. We found nothing. There were no signs of intrusion, no sounds of distress, no tufts of hair, no sign of blood. He simply vanished.

We again searched 6:00 just for our own peace of mind, and still, we turned up nothing. We have deduced that whatever happened to little Pete was instantaneous. If a kid is in distress, the entire herd is distressed. If a kid is in danger or upset, a mama is obviously stressed and showing signs of distress. We believe whatever happened must have been quick and immediate. However, aside from a haybale rolling upon him and crushing him, we are at a loss. The goats jump, play, and push large round hay bales that are in the barn. We have considered that little Pete was snuggled asleep at the base of a hay bale, and a bale was innocently pushed, perhaps crushing him. That would have been immediate and instantaneous. We have rolled bales, moved mounds of hay, and still, we can’t find Pete. It is an upsetting and unnerving development. Pete was one of our favorites and was very friendly due to being constantly handled for cleaning and dressing his abrasion. He enjoyed being cradled like a baby and was content to be carried about while we did chores or walked with the herd. Like a missing pet, our minds go to various scenarios, and we worry and fret about what could have happened to him. The only thing that brings us comfort is that he did not suffer whatever happened, and it was not violent.

As with all upsetting events, we try to glean some lessons. Now, we do a quick headcount of all the babies and the herd. We are still not convinced a predator is not the culprit. However, the likelihood of a predator in the barn in the middle of the day is unlikely while we are so frequently visiting. The Bean is a bit more cautious when going out to the barn and often requests the Big-B or Chubs accompaniment. Sadly, we may never understand what happened to him. This is just one of the less desirable aspects of farm life. We don’t have any answers, but it has raised our consciousness to secure safety measures for all. Although I can process this information, I still find myself constantly revisiting what happened to Three-Legged Pete.

As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, may you have no unsettling mysteries of your own, and wash your hands.

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