Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tired of goats..?

If you are tired of looking at my goat pictures, I can only apologize.  Personally, I can't get enough of the little things, and feel compelled to share.
This little cutie is "Three Dollar Dewey."  He is Jane's kid and looks much like her.  Adorable.

Today the man came to disbud the kids.  Disbudding is pretty horrible, I'm sad to tell you.  A very hot tool is pressed to where the little horn buds were already erupting, and the kids cry piteously.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  The man is as kind as he can be, cuddling the kids tenderly and placing them next to their mamas when the ordeal is finished.  I stand around with my heart in my throat.  To my amazement, the kids quickly nurse then begin to frolic about.  They nap a little, then play some more. They must experience pain, but they act pretty normal.

I have tried keeping the  horns intact, but they present several problems.  Horns get stuck in fences.  Horned goats HURT goats without  horns.  Horned goats can hurt me, without even trying. This fact was pressed home to me a few years ago when we kept a few kids with horns.  One ran to greet me, thrusting his head up to rub his face on mine.  His horn very narrowly missed piercing my eye.  And few people want to buy a kid with horns.  So, the man comes when I have kids and does the deed. He does not like it. I do not like it. The kids certainly do not like it. But it improves their quality of life in the long run.  Also, the man tells me that he has a theory that that area of the goats head probably does not have the nerve structure that we might expect.  After all, goats are prone to head butting each other, hard!  I find this thought comforting, and know that my grown up goats, without horns, live pretty cushy lives.

This afternoon I sat on an overturned muck bucket and watched the kids play. Bravo watched, too.
The kids do a lot of running and leaping, twisting and bucking, dancing and frolicking. 

And all of it is enchanting. 
They are starting to nibble solid foods. Spruce trees give them fresh breath. 

And energy for leaping. 

I am not getting much done these days.  My time is well spent watching kids play.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

And then there were seven...

When the handsome Nubian buck goat came to visit us last November, Jane Doe was the first lady goat to fall under his spell.  This meant that she should have been the first to deliver, around April 4th by my careful calculations.  But she did not.  Days passed, the other goats had their babies, and still Jane languished.  I began to joke that she was not pregnant at all, but her large abdomen was inhabited by an alien.  (In fact, she did not "take" that first mating, and mated later in the month, unbeknownst to me.)
All day Sunday she acted odd.  She kept away from the rest of the herd, spent a lot of time lying down, and in general was not herself.  Monday she seemed more normal, but subdued.  This morning I knew the time had come.  The ligaments around her hips and tail bone were very loose, her udder was enlarged, she didn't want to eat, and was pacing.  

Luckily she hung out near the studio windows, so we were able to keep an eye on her while we started our first dog grooms.  Suddenly Rachel announced, "She's kidding!"  I looked out and could see something protruding under her tail.  We grabbed towels and headed out. 

Two very large feet were making an entrance to the world.  Jane stood outside, and screamed. She's always been a vocal girl, but the screaming was horrible and seemed endless. A terrible sound, an animal in distress, it cut me to the quick. To my total surprise, Celeste, Jane's birth mama, came to comfort her.  She pressed her head into Jane's neck and rubbed against her. It was quite touching. 

 We tried pulling gently on those huge hooves, but the kid was stuck fast. 

 A little nose and a sliver of pink tongue protruded. Then the tongue began to turn blue.  Jane pushed and screamed and working by gut intuition I slid my fingers inside her, on either side of the kids head, and felt around for something to get a grip on.  (Side note: there is very little I have ever experienced that is as slippery as the goo that helps a kid be born.)  Things happened fast but I got my finger tips wedged behind the jaw bone on one side and near the eye socket on the other and when Jane next screamed and pushed I pulled.  With a popping sound and a rush of fluid, an enormous head and two thick legs slid out.  In just a moment the rest of the kid emerged and landed with a wet splat on the waiting towel we had spread out.   Jane began to clean him.  He was so large that I suspected he was a singleton.  Daughter Rachel had everything under control, and I had dirty dogs to groom, so I left her to it.  

I went back to work and a moment later received a text message, "A second buckling just flew right out!"  I was most surprised.  

Two healthy boys, up and nursing in moments, and Jane, a first time mama, was taking it all in stride.  Rachel got her moved into the goat cozy and brought her a bucket full of warm electrolyte water, (think: goat Gator Aid.) Jane drank it down gratefully, grabbed a mouthful of hay and then went back to cleaning and drying her new treasures.  

Soon the two newcomers will pile up with the these 5 and add to the whimsy that is encapsulated when you have a whole mass of precious baby goats lying in a warm tangle.  I can hardly wait. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Small goats, big world...

The new goat kids have been kept in small pens with their mamas since they were born. This kept them safe and warm, and helped the little families bond. Though they did entertain visitors, they had not seen beyond the goat cozy since they were born last week.

 Today was sunny and warm, and the pens needed to be cleaned, so I opened up gates and threw caution to the wind.  It didn't take long before they ventured from the goat cozy out into the pony room.  They danced and hopped and had a lovely time.  And then they peeked outside. Soon they were taking tentative steps out into the sunshine to explore their new world.

I was a bit concerned about how Abraham would receive the newcomers.  He is very territorial over his pasture, chasing crows and ravens away, and woe to the unknown dog that should venture in.  He gave me the fright of my life one day when a friends little Boston Terrier slipped through the fence. He went after her with a terrible vengeance, trying to stomp in her head with his hard hooves, teeth bared, ready to bite. It was a miracle she escaped, and a moment I will not soon forget.  I put a halter and lead rope on him in hopes that if he did go after a kid I could stop him before disaster occurred.
Little Roxy ran right up to him. He was interested to meet her, but showed no desire to crush her skull.  In fact, he looked a bit bemused when all 5 came out, skittering around on new legs.

Roxy also ran fearlessly up to Chanel. I had no worries at all about the horse, she has always loved new kids and been nothing but gentle with them. In fact, when our first kids were born at FairWinds, she helped clean them off, then ran excitedly about the pasture, calling out, as if to announce, "New life is here!" Today she extended a gentle nose and gave the wee doeling a good all-over sniff.

I let Bravo meet the kids up close and in person, too. He has been staring at them through the gate, and was very excited to get to sniff and lick them.

While we are on the topic of Bravo and little animals, look how sweet he is with the new chicks.
All day the tiny kids wandered around the pasture.  It was great fun to see them as they played or napped in the sun.  Tonight they are tucked back in their freshly cleaned goat cozy with their mamas.  And tomorrow there will be new things for them to discover.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Little faces...

Years ago Chris stated, "We have a lot of little faces at our house."  It is spring, and the faces are multiplying.  This keeps me busier than normal, and has kept me away from blogging.  My apologies... please let me make it up to you with pictures of some of the faces in question.

Thirteen baby bunnies fill the big hutch.
They are about as big as your hand now at 4 weeks.  They eat solid foods, (they can decimate an apple in about 60 seconds flat,)  and hop about like whimsical, fuzzy, jumping beans.

And the chicks have arrived.  26 of them, in a box delivered through the mail.  The phone call came at 6:45 AM. "It's John at the post office,(in the background frantic "cheeps!" can be heard.)  Your chicks are here."  15 minutes later I had them next to me on the front seat, and 15 minutes after that they were settled in with food, water and a heat lamp. The frenetic voices stilled, and soon they were calm and quiet, eating and eating and drinking and napping under the warmth of the light.  I can hardly stop watching them.

Most exciting of all are the kids.

There are five of them.  Ella had triplets on Easter Sunday.  This is interesting, because she was one of three kids born on Easter 4 years ago.  She is my naughtiest goat, but an excellent and devoted mama.  Her kids (two bucklings (boys) and a doeling, (girl)  are lovely and thriving.

Celeste delivered twins on Wednesday. She labored all day, pacing, stretching, pawing the ground, and I got worried.  After a chat with my patient veterinarian around 4:00 pm, friend Marion came over and gloved up.  She checked things out, and could feel two little hooves and a nose. She came in for a visit and a brownie, and 20 minutes later Celeste delivered two very pretty little doelings.   The only other time she kidded she firmly rejected her babies.  I was delighted that she accepted these babies, cleaning them carefully, and talking to them in the special voice that mama goats only use with their new kids.  She has had some difficulties letting them nurse, but things seem to be improving there.

Jane Doe goat is still expecting, and should deliver any time now.  We are going to be rich with laughter watching all those kids bouncing and flouncing around the place.

Bravo is fascinated by the bunnies and chicks and kids.  So far I have kept him away from them, but he he watches with great fascination from the closest vantage point.

These are the things that keep me busy this time of year. Little faces to feed and clean and watch with joy and enthrallment.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thud day...

April 7th marked the anniversary of my epic fall last year, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder and changed my life for many months.  So we celebrated what I will forevermore call, "Thud Day."

Rachel and I had pineapple juice with a splash of champagne with lunch...
and Chris and I went out for supper with our friends.  There was a band there, which was quite good, and I danced. A lot.  I don't dance very well, but I like it, and I had a blast bopping around.  It seemed so good to be able to dance and move and rejoice when a year ago I was in very sad shape.

When I went to the emergency room after my fall, someone there told me I'd be pretty much back to normal with three months. Three months seemed an impossibly long amount of time to me.  But it turned out that the damage to my shoulder was more severe than they realized, and now, a year later, I have about 80% mobility of the joint.  But I can do what I need to... lift my arm to wash and comb my hair, pick up wiggling dogs, shovel horse manure, hug my husband.  I can even throw a ball for Bravo, something we both enjoy.
I didn't like what we called, "being broken."  I didn't do it very well.  I pushed the limits and did more than I should have at first. But I was determined and tenacious about getting well, and followed my amazing physical therapists instructions to the letter.  So now, with spring finally returning on tiptoes over the landscape, I can look back over the last year and delight in the wholeness and general wellness of my body.  After a night of unaccustomed dancing my knees, hips and ribs are complaining, but it feels rather good.  I can move and rejoice.

I can do my work and enjoy my life and for this I am grateful. Sometimes it takes an epic event to sharpen ones focus, and my injury did that for me.  It made me appreciate my wonderful, helpful, loving family even more than I already did. They were so kind, patient and supportive while I healed.  And Rachel and I working together made us even closer than we already were. We realized that not only do we enjoy being mother and daughter, we make an excellent work team.

So I am celebrating Thud Day and good health. My sense of gratitude was honed by my injury, and I am embracing life with a dash of extra joy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Slow start to spring...

It snowed all day Saturday. Sunday the sun shone and snow vanished at an astonishing rate, leaving boot-sucking mud in its wake.

Walking around the yard I saw...

Sprouts. Daffodil and tulip leaves, pushing through the cold earth, reaching for the sun.  Despite tomorrows forecast for more snow, I did what I must.

 I bought pansies.

Those jewel tones called me and two entire flats came home in the back of the truck.  I planted a little pot for the picnic table, two buckets to adorn the steps by the entry doors.  I still need to do a big pot by my sign post, and I have a secret plan for the rest.  They are destined to bring a smile to a friend.

The little window box on the chicken coop got stuffed full of pansies, too.  The hens stared up as I worked. I tossed them a few spent blossoms, and they gobbled them down.

I want to gobble down the colors and scents of spring, too. I settled for dirt under my nails and buckets full of promise on my stairs.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


While we were on vacation in Mexico, we took a day trip to a magical place called Xcaret.

Wikipedia has this to say, "The nature-based attractions of the park include a river that goes through the Mayan village, a subterranean concrete sluice in which people can swim and snorkel with a life vest. Near the inlet there are recreational activities at the beach, snorkeling, Sea Trek and Snuba in the nearby reefs, or swimming with dolphins. The park also has a coral reef aquarium turtle nesting site. Next to the inlet there’s an area for manatees. The park also has a bird pavilion, butterfly pavilion, bat caveorchids and bromeliad greenhouse, an island of jaguars, and a deer shelter, among others." 

To me the most magical thing was the bird pavilion. 

The place is arranged so that one can walk from the bottom level, where you might see ducks and pelicans, 

to middle levels where one might see familiar birds like Grosbeaks... and beautiful unfamiliar birds, too. 

And then an upper level, (complete with a heart stopping suspended bridge!) where one could look down and see everything... and some lovely birds flitting around the heights. 

 We logged over 5 miles that day.  I loved watching the manatees eating romaine lettuce.

And dolphins parting the water. 
The butterfly garden had a tropical magic...

We saw big cats...
and a scrawny house cat grooming itself on a cat statue...
There were baby turtles the size of my hand, 
And some beauties that were much, much larger than my bathtub... 
A good size crocodile... 
 And his cousin, a bold iguana.

I was enamored by a  flock of brilliant flamingos.  

Everywhere we looked there was beauty and amazement.  Screaming scarlet macaws circled the jungle and sapphire sea, slicing the sky with brilliance. Tombstones designed by family to illustrate the personality of the deceased climbed up a steep hillside.  I particularly liked this one with a big dog staring at at miniature chapel.

It was an altogether magical day, one I still think about with wonder.  Xcaret was a reminder of just how much beauty and marvel there is in the world. All encapsulated in one stunning space. We were blessed to see it.