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Friday, April 18, 2014

Baby goats


This is what our days look like lately.  Baby goats, baby goats, baby goats.
At 4 am on Friday, I woke up thinking that I should go check on my pregnant goat Gracie in the barn.  It was so cozy in my bed and so rainy and cold outside, I went back to sleep instead.  At 5 am, I woke up again, and I urgently thought that I really needed to go to the barn.  So I did, and as I turned the light on in the barn, I saw that Gracie started to push a baby out.  I ran back inside the house, put on my barn clothes, got Steve and a hair dryer for reinforcement, and together we assisted two baby goats into the world.
We now have a total of four tiny goofballs in our barn, and my human kids adore them (especially Eva and her best friend).  They are a riot together.  If you are ever depressed or sad, try to sit on the ground in a barn filled with goat kids.  They will make you laugh, probably sooner than later.

As you can see, we can't keep our human kids out of the barn to play with the caprine kids.  Even Kai, my eleven-year old, is not too cool to delight in them.  Eva sprawls on the straw with the frolicking babies and is getting entirely too comfortable underneath the adult goats, who gingerly step over her to nurse their babies.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Finally! My goat Quasar gave birth to two baby girls.  Since I didn't know the exact due date, I checked  on her obsessively compulsively all last week.  The same happened when I was pregnant with my own first child.  I was convinced he would arrive at least two weeks early.  Alas, he was three weeks late.  So in essence, I woke up every morning for five weeks, brightly exclaiming, "Today is the day!" A watched pot never boils.
But it did happen today!  Quasar did it very sneakily.  I think I had freaked her out all week, checking on her all the time, standing there and staring at her rear end for hours.  I bet she thought I had gone soft in the head.  She didn't give me too many signs of impending labor, although I did notice her full udder and softened ligaments.  When I checked on her at 4 am, she didn't tell me she would have babies five hours later.
All of my three children were present when she pushed out her babies.  What a delight to grow up watching animals being born, being splattered in amniotic fluid, and fetching things for your mother trying to clean up baby animals.
If these pictures are too graphic for you, just scroll down.  There will be pictures of blooming things and stuff.

Two feet come first, then the head, often with the tongue sticking out.
First born, Mama licking off all the goo.
Look at all my helpers welcoming the new life!
Here is the second one coming.  Another hoof showing.  And lots of goo.  It's messy business!

Nothing signifies spring more than goat babies.  And a sore back.  And sore arms.  And a sore neck.  I am gardening like our lives depend on it.  They kind of do, come to think of it, since I grow a lot of our food.
This week, I planted potatoes and transplanted all the onions I started from seed two months ago.  There is a lot of double digging of soil going on, and crouching down in one position for hours.  I'm also weeding the flower garden to make sure things don't get too much out of control for August, when our good friends will get married at our place.  It's a good thing my boys are homeschooled.  They know how to work and help their Mom when she is too wimpy to dig another shovel full of heavy soil.

Spring is very busy here on the homestead.  Goat babies, weeding, transplanting, digging, cheese making, homeschooling, harvesting nettles for pesto, keeping the cat out of the catnip, house cleaning.  Is it any wonder that I feel crazy in April?   But, oh!  It's so gorgeous here, and after months and months of grey weather and non-stop rain, we revel in baring our naked arms and faces to the sun.  We are filling up on Vitamin D whilst adoring cherry blossoms, hummingbirds, and emerging flowers.  I even manage to knit every now and then.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Today on Facebook, I posted one picture of the tulip fields from my down valley grocery shopping trip last week.  A lot of people asked for more.  I took them at Tulip Town in Mount Vernon.  People travel here from all over the world to look at these flowers.  It's like our own Amsterdam around here!

When we went, maybe only 20 percent of the flowers were blooming.  I bet next week is even going to be more mind blowing!

And here an update on our Fort.  Steve finished putting cedar shakes on the outside, and we had help washing windows.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

And life goes on...

And life goes on. I am obsessively thinking about the people affected by the Oso landslide, and our community is still traumatized by it all, but life does go on. I have to milk my goat (the one who lost her babies) twice a day, which feels like a big impact on my life. Usually, I don't milk twice a day until the baby goats are eight weeks old and weaned, but this year is different.
Coco thinks I am her baby now. She licks me and “talks” to me in the soft, nickering way a mama goat talks to her babies. She is usually a very stand-offish goat, but ever since her babies died, she follows me around like a dog, loving on me whenever I stand still long enough.

Don't ask me why Eva is dressed as a penguin...
This time of the year, my life seems to revolve around goats and the garden. I keep a keen eye on the pregnant goat mamas, because I want to be there when they give birth, just in case something goes wrong. I watch for any signs of impending labor: softening ligaments, discharge, shifting bellies, a vacant look in their eyes, any change of personality.
Every day, when the weather is nice, I walk them out to pasture. It is spring-green, lusher every day, and the goats love munching the fresh grass.

I am online every day, chatting on Facebook with my friends who also have goats. We exchange news and keep each other posted on the status of our goats. Sometimes, it feels like a reality TV show. The other day, my friend's goat was giving birth, and we walked my friend through it online. As I fixed breakfast for my (human) kids, I typed things like, “Is she pushing yet?” The answer came back, “Yes, but I don' see any hooves”. I stirred the eggs and typed back, “Maybe you should go in and feel for the head. You might have to rearrange in there”. A charming breakfast conversation, yes?

It is wonderful to have a community of ladies who are equally obsessed with goats. We help each other, not only on the internet, but also in person. The other day, one of my friends called me in panic, because her goat was in labor and stopped contracting. There is a deadly thing called milk fever or ketosis, which can kill a goat rapidly. So I hopped in the car and drove 45 minutes to help her with her goat. I had to “go in”, which means sticking my hand into the goat's uterus to feel for the kid's presentation. All ended well on this day – we were able to pull out the babies, and they are all healthy and well. I almost lost my wedding ring in the slippery insides of the goats, though...

Spring has been temperamental, as usual. We have had the wettest March on record. The days when the sun pokes through, we head outside to get our yahyah's out. My garden is coming along, with seedlings flourishing. Steve built me a moveable greenhouse, a design of my gardening guru Elliot Coleman, and I am in love! (With Steve, too, of course). It will help so much with extending our growing season. Right now, it houses kale, collards, lettuces, and soon broccoli and cauliflower.