A Photo Journey of Adelaide’s Birth

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The morning was quiet and spring-like.  The birds sang brightly as the dawn arrived.  Isabelle was pressed against the wall of the lean-to and was quiet.  It was time.

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I made a strong tea of nettles, motherwort, red clover, and red raspberry leaves and poured it into her drinking water along with molasses.

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The chickens were maniacal in their calling as I waited and prayed for an easy delivery.  They were driving me mad as their cacophony seemed to rise with each contraction.

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"Why can't I come in?" Elsa wondered.

“Why can’t I come in?” Elsa wondered.

The lambs stayed quiet, face to the sun.

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The contractions increased.

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“A foot is sticking out!” Doug yelled and Maryjane and I came running.  One of my students happened to be there picking up herbs so she held Maryjane while Doug held Isabelle and I pulled lightly on the feet during a particularly difficult contraction.  We had called our friend, Jenet, who just went through a goat labor, to ask last minute advice and were as ready as we would ever be.  I thought she would throw the baby against the wall in her violent turn to release her but I caught her and lay her gently on the hay.

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Isabelle lovingly and dutifully cleaned off her infant.

Isabelle lovingly and dutifully cleaned off her infant.

We waited for another baby to arrive.  She was huge, we were just positive there were more infants to come but the placenta came an hour later and that ended our birthing session.

Just before the baby was born Doug had milked some colostrum from Isabelle and we had a bottle all ready.

Just before the baby was born Doug had milked some colostrum from Isabelle and we had a bottle all ready.

We are trading this beautiful little girl for Jenet's first female born in June.  I will have a Nubian and she will have a Saanen.

We are trading this beautiful little girl for Jenet’s first female born in June. I will have a Nubian and she will have a Saanen.

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Everyone welcomed Adelaide to the world, including our kitten!

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It is amazing how quickly they gain their footing.  Soon Adelaide was jumping on the couch with Maryjane, making her away around the house, and drinking bottles every few hours.  She stayed tucked under Doug’s arm throughout the night.  She is precious and it is bittersweet that she is going to her new home Monday.  I am thankful that mom and baby are well and a new miracle has joined this world.

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Welcome Adelaide!

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Guess Who Came Home for Christmas!

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This farm just hasn’t seemed like a farm lately.  The chickens are still running amok and always hungry, the farm dog is sleeping, the cats are mousing, but something was missing.  We sure missed our goats!  About a month and a half ago they went to see about some men.  We hadn’t a clue what we were looking for regarding heat cycles so Isabelle’s original owner agreed to let the girls stay there and she would make sure they were bred.

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Goats have a twenty day heat cycle and on the eighteenth day of being at boarding school, Isabelle and Larry hooked up like long lost lovers and a few more Elsas may be born the end of April.  Elsa was not as easy to detect when she was in heat.  She is rather shy and wasn’t entirely impressed with the strutting boys.  I agreed to let the girls stay another twenty days.  We were already in for hay and Larry fees, may as well see if we couldn’t get Elsa knocked up too.  And around the 18th day she and a real shrimpy, but very good looking, Alpine got it on.  Not the original boy I had planned.  He is one of Larry’s sons, which I guess would make them half siblings….wait a ticket, didn’t think that one out….hmm.  He is a teenager himself and neither of them had any idea what they were doing, as can be true of any species at that age, but the owner of this fine barn and brothel had high hopes that she took.  So, in five months time, at the beginning of May for Miss Elsa, a baby or three may be born.

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My favorite part of Spring is finally getting my hands back in the soil and the ever enchanting miracle of baby animals everywhere we look and go, and on our own farmstead too.  Raise your glass of eggnog for my girlies and let’s wish them a healthy pregnancy and easy births!

Single White Female Seeks Single Kind-of-Wild Male (goat)

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For a one night stand.  Now, don’t judge.  Girls like to have fun too.  Well, actually this probably won’t be that fun for them but we will be having some darn cute goat kids running around here come spring that will want their bottles and will be inside watching television like Elsa did last April.  It is one of our favorite times of year.  Not only will we be surrounded by adorable babies but we will have fresh milk to enjoy and to make all of my cheeses with.  I will also have enough this year to have a proper milk share program.  I won’t have to hog it all.  Well, in order to do this we gotta go find a man.  We loaded the girls up and headed on the hour and a half drive to Cassie’s house.  Cassie has a lot of good looking male goats at her house.

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When we got there the males were leaning against the fence, wrestling each other out of the way, and hoopin’ and hollerin’ at Isabelle.  “Hey Mama!”  They were whistling and carrying on and saying things that probably were not appropriate for young ladies’ ears so we took the girls down to the barn.

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Cassie was surprised at how big Elsa was for her age.  She gave us the green light to breed her too.  So we picked out a smaller, nice looking Alpine to make babies with.  We are hoping that she will throw color (which means have colored babies).  Isabelle is reuniting with her old flame, Larry.  He is one good looking son of a gun.  Tall, long hair, a little shaggy, a bit of a hippie, nice colors in his coat.  I picked him before I realized he was Elsa’s dad.  So, Isabelle and Larry will hook up once more and make more Elsas.  Since white is the dominant color in goats (didn’t know that) there is a good chance that some of the goat babies will be pure white.

Elsa's beau, Galliwik

Elsa’s beau, Gallywik

Good lookin' Larry

Good lookin’ Larry

I was sad to leave them there but they didn’t seem too concerned.  Isabelle was eating and Elsa was picking on goats two months younger than her.  We also looked at a few babies while we were there.  They are all six months old.  I am getting a Nubian.  Next to Dwarves they have the highest butterfat content in their milk.  They are ridiculously adorable right now but I rather fear they aren’t too pretty when they grow up.  It’s what’s inside that counts, I guess.

So, our goat saga continues.  Stay tuned!

 

Bottle Feeding Goats (a handy schedule)

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When we got our first baby goats last summer, I had no idea how often to bottle feed a kid.  There was nothing in books.  Nothing on internet searches.  I ended up texting my friend, Jill, every week to see what the new ration should be.

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This year was no different, I couldn’t remember how much to give each age and with Amy and Rob’s goats here we had three babies on three schedules.  We had their bottle feeding schedule written on the blackboard door.  Instead of a burden, it was truly an act of love and instant happiness bottle feeding the babies.

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The babies are finally weaned and the bottles go up for another year.  I thought it might be helpful for other new parents of goats to have a feeding schedule.  Also, when I forget, I can revert back to this post and see myself how much each monster gets!

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I had to call Jill one more time to find out about colostrum.  She has always given me the babies post-colostrum feedings.  She filled me in and we will be ready next year when Isabelle and the new babies start giving birth.

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Day 1-2 Colostrum.  Colostrum is the milk that all mommies produce the first few days.  It is not like the milk we think of, but rather filled with immunities and nutrients to get the little babies off to a good start.  Milk the mom immediately after she gives birth if it wasn’t too difficult of a birth.  Have some colostrum in the freezer (you can purchase it from another goat farmer if needed) to have on hand just in case.

4 oz.. of colostrum should be heated up and given to the new baby every 2 hours around the clock.  If they want more, they can have more at the feeding.  This is the most important of all their feedings and they need as much as they will take.

Now starts our weeks.

Week 1- Post-colostrum.  6 oz. of milk every 4 hours.  Feed late in the evening and then early in the morning. No more midnight feedings! (Five times a day)

Week 2- 8 oz. of milk every 6 hours. (Four times a day)

Week 3- 10 oz. of milk every 8 hours. (Three times a day)

Week 4- 10 oz. of milk twice a day.

Week 5- 10 oz. of milk once a day (this is when they start to get really nervous.)

Week 6- Weaned.  Treat if you feel really bad but they don’t need any more bottles now.  They should have noticed the other goats eating and be eating hay by now.  A touch of sweet feed as a treat starting at 3 weeks helps entice them to eat solid foods.

Sadly put bottle up and wait until next year!

priya's last feeding

A Comical Goat Nursery

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My dear friend, Jill, has to move.  She is devastated that she had to give up her goats.  She trusts us to spoil our goats and entrusted us with her “baby”, a large registered Saanen who yesterday gave us a gallon of  milk without kicking or sitting in the bucket.  Oh happy day.  Dear Katrina is on Craigslist.  The Saanen is Elsa’s mother and the two of them will make, not only excellent milkers for our homestead, but very sweet pets as well.

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Jill sold the rest of her goats to our friends, Rob and Amy, who are still waiting to break ground on their house so we were called to babysit until they can move the goats to their property.  Out of Jill’s car jumped a one week old Alpine with the most beautiful markings, a year old Saanen/Alpine mix, and the most adorable four week old Dwarf wether.  He is cute.  He screams like a little girl and gets lost easily.  In the living room.  They also bought our Buttercup, Katrina’s doeling, so all counted, we have seven goats on the back porch, four babies total, with three of them being bottle fed on different schedules.  Their schedules written out on the new chalkboard kitchen door.  Forget Prozac, we have goat kids.  A goat nursery is the number one way to lighten one’s mood.

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Goats: Leave on Mom or Bottle Feed?

Starting out I watch my friends, read books, ask questions, then try to make my own way.  Whether to leave the baby on the mother or bottle feed was no exception.

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Friend #1 takes the baby from the mother immediately.  She gives the baby bottles of colostrum for a few days then off they go with their perspective owner or stay with her bottle feeding for ten or so weeks.  The mothers truly forget what they were doing.  They can be in the same pen with the infant and have no maternal urge to nurse or protect the youngster.  On the same note, the baby thinks that the bottle feeder is her mom and is happy as can be playing with the other goats and drinking bottles.  Her goats are super friendly (Loretta was a bottle baby, and so is Elsa) and excited to see people.  More like small dogs, they are playful and love attention.

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Friend #2 leaves the baby on the mom.  After three weeks she separates them at night, milks in the morning, then lets the baby stay with the mom all day.  She gets plenty of milk, and then doesn’t have to worry about bottle feeding, weaning, or anything but once a day milking.  The babies are nice enough, though they do prefer to stay with their mom, which seems quite natural.  Friend #2 slaughters some of them for meat.  She has a full circle farm.  Bottle babies become apart of the family, it would be difficult to eat a baby that you kept in the house and watched American Idol with.

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When Katrina had her baby, Buttercup, I opted for friend #2’s approach.  Wasn’t it mean to take away the baby from the mother?  Wouldn’t it be easier to milk in the mornings since we are just getting started?  Wouldn’t the baby be healthier if I left her on the mom?  Buttercup is adorable, and as she gets bigger, she gets faster.  The family that bought her come to visit often.  At the beginning, we could swoop the small infant up and snuggle her, but now we have to plan and coordinate her capture.  She is like a feral cat.  Her mother, who was already ornery, is now a beast with her infant by her side.  She charged Bumble, the greyhound, and pushed him into a fence.  He is a rather docile creature and easily injured.  He did not understand why he was being attacked.  He looked at me with big humane society eyes.  The second time she was charging full speed towards him, thankfully, Doug was there to grab her collar and curtail her attempts at maiming the dog.

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I discussed my issues about milking with Friend #1.  Because Katrina is nursing all day, she doesn’t let all her milk down for us.  She is also a Nigerian Dwarf so has less milk anyway.  Friend #2 has Nubians, so she gets plenty of milk.  With a baby by her side, Katrina is not friendly.  Milking time is no exception as she kicks, spills the milk bucket, and tries to get away.  She sits down and thrashes about.  She is a nightmare.  If she didn’t have a baby that would relieve her of her engorgement soon, she might be more apt to let us milk.  Maybe.

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Elsa is a bottle baby.  She doesn’t miss nor does she remember her mother who is happily getting milked twice a day.  Elsa is excited for bottles and is content playing in the yard or sitting on my lap.  She is growing steadily by the day and is more certain on her long legs.  She enjoys sleeping on my lap alongside my cat while we watch singing shows in the evening.  She doesn’t seem overly traumatized from the experience of bottle feeding and lack of caprine matriarchal care.  I seem to be a fine substitute.  Elsa went and visited 119 middle school children yesterday at the schools I was speaking at.  She was lovey and adorable, a great ambassador to the future farming world of some of these children, with any luck.  There is no way we could have taken Buttercup.

The notion of bottle feeding goat kids being a nuisance is no longer contemplative.  It is one of my greatest joys in farming.

With this small of a farm, I have to be choosy about what animals I have here.  I have to consider that I do not have a lot of animals.  I do not have a pack of goats or alpacas or sheep that sit out in a pasture all day.  We have a sixth of an acre in each pasture.  Our farm here was set up to be an example that one can farm anywhere, as a place where kids can come out and see vegetables growing, find eggs, and pet the goats.  A place that may inspire them to have farms of their own when they get older.  An aloof goat does nothing for atmosphere!  This is also a homestead, and a place where I spend much of my time.  I prefer very friendly animals.  Even my chickens enjoy being picked up!

I am sure there are many situations where leaving the baby on the mother is beneficial and necessary on many farms, but for our small piece of friendly farm, as I sit writing this with a baby goat on my lap, bottle babies will be in our future.

Goat Playing Piano

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On Sunday morning, as we cried for Loretta, a baby was being born.  One of Jill’s does gave birth to twins.  Olaf and Elsa are half Alpine, half Saanen, pure white with tiny waddles under their chin.  We brought home Elsa yesterday.

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She is not quite solid on her feet yet.  She looks like Bambi on ice trying to maneuver the floors.  She slides into the splits then promptly gets back up to play.  Ichabod the cat has adopted her and they played peek a boo with the shopping bag.  Elsa played Maryjane’s piano, watched American Idol, and drank a few bottles.  She may very well be already spoiled.

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When she grows up, she will give us roughly two gallons of milk a day.  That’s a lot of Swiss cheese!

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Goats are pack animals, they need a community.  Since Buttercup, Katrina’s baby, is already sold, Katrina would be all alone.  Pity, no one to bully.  Good thing Elsa will be a large goat!  She takes a bottle every four hours right now so is living in the house for a few days.  She will gradually start sleeping with the alpacas, peeking at the goats through the fence, then will move over to the goat yard when she is a little sturdier.  Buttercup will go to her new home and I will have Elsa and Katrina.

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Welcome, Elsa, to Pumpkin Hollow Farm!

The Important Things In Life

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Through it all, is there nothing more lovely than family and friends?  Despite our heartbreaking moments this weekend, it was also a weekend filled with celebration.

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A year ago Saturday I posted one of my all time most popular posts, And A Child Was Born, about our first granddaughter being born.  What a blessing.  No one could have told me how intense that love is for a child born to one’s child.  She has filled our house and our lives with so much happiness and fond memories.  How grateful we are that, even though they are teenagers, Emily and Bret decided to keep and raise the most beautiful princess, Maryjane Rose.

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Doug’s birthday was Sunday and we all headed out for pizza with our kids and their boy/girl friends.  Then onto an amusement center where we wiled the hours away with bowling, laser tag, and ski ball with friends and family.  A nice change from the solemnity of the farm, I tell you!

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It is entirely possible that we will be adopting a day old bottle baby goat kid tomorrow.  I shall keep you posted.

Thanks for being a part of our lives, if through sharing our small town, joining in our family memories, are blood related, or through script, I love being a part of such a large community of friends, talented writers, and family.

Anthropomorphizing Goats and Breech Babies

Throughout writing this blog, I have been adamant about having upbeat writing.  I delete negative comments.  I try to only write positive and humorous articles and keep you laughing as we dictate the pages of our history.  It seems as if many of you have become family.  Friends.  You have entered our lives through the portals of social media and writings and live each day as it unfolds for us.  You have watched our children grow, our granddaughter be born, this farm come into being, and have cheered us on and rejoiced as corn grew and animal babies were born and adopted.  There have been a few articles as the ebb and flow of life come upon us.  The death of our daughter’s dear friend, chickens killed, dog died.  It is a part of the life of a farm and one I didn’t fully understand when I decided upon the most upbeat, fun, and humorous blog I could muster.  Overall, I hope that I have given you a fun blog to read each day.  Something to brighten your day, to live on a farm even if you don’t, or to nod your head in knowing if you do live on a farm through my stories and antidotes.

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I often anthropomorphize my animals.  Anthropomorphize is a literary term used to demonstrate giving animals human feelings and characteristics.  It is often used as folly as opposed to reality.  A term that hints that animals don’t actually have feelings.  I can tell you right now, folks, that every single one of my chickens has a different personality just as my cats do.  It is wonderful to live among so many sentient beings.  To share my life and days and time and memories with so many animals.

Loretta

We have all been waiting with baited breath as I have cried wolf so many times for Loretta to give birth.  Loretta is a small, black goat, the size and stature of a basset hound with the personality of a young child and the firm belief that she is a dog.  She follows us everywhere.  She helps Doug with the morning chores.  (Helps is relative.)  She cuddles and gets excited to see us.  She greets people that visit the farm.  She was to be our mascot as I would like to do more children’s programs here at the farm.  She is a perfect farm animal.  Loving and sweet.

We found out she was pregnant when I posted a picture of how big she was on the blog and my friend that gave her to me rushed over.  Sure enough she had accidentally been bred when my friend left her at a boarder’s.  She was not quite one year’s old so we prepared for possible problems but stayed optimistic.  Twins.  We just couldn’t wait to see those tiny black goats running about.

She went into labor yesterday morning and the two babies ended up being one large boy.  Jill came over again to see what the hold up was and realized the large boy was breach.  We tried everything yesterday.  The vet, her experienced friend, back to the vet.  A foot stuck out of her backside for hours until she was able to get in for a C-section.  The baby had ruptured her uterus.  She wouldn’t be able to have any more babies and the baby within her died.  We cheerfully said that would be fine, she can be our mascot for the farm!

She was in dreadful pain last night as we checked on her.  She was dead this morning.

I hope that this news will be one of just a few snippets throughout the years of bad news.  That it will be highly unbalanced with great news.  Babies being born, adopted, corn growing, family growing, farm growing, beautiful prose, memories, and funny recollections of farm life.  But in real life, I suppose, there are the sad moments as well.  Today is a sad moment.

Rest in Peace Loretta.