Sunday, March 23, 2014

Meet the 2014 Kiddoes

We took advantage of the sunshine to get some pictures of the kiddoes. They are all officially just over a month old and we have to start thinking about finding them homes. Last year was so very easy, I kept the does and my mom took the two wethers. 

See, I have this little problem: I want to keep them all. I bond with them. 

I love them, but I know I have to find them homes this year. We are thinking that Wrong Way should be a buck, so we need someone to commit to him BEFORE I have to wether him. He is such a super friendly and spunky goat, just like his dad, Ben. He probably weighs twice what the other Mini-Manchas weigh. Sturdy and stout, with a great personality. I love it when he calms down enough to nap in my lap.

Wrong Way Feldman: Son of Vaca and Ben
 Skipper is a cutie-pie and begs for attention. He has markings just like Gypsy's kid Valentine, his older sister. He seems to know that they are alike and he bugs her relentlessly. Given the chance he will crawl right into my lap.

Skipper: Son of Gypsy and Ben

Gilly is Wrong Way's brother. Even though he is about half the weight of WW he has about twice the energy (if that is even possible). He lives to climb up me and chew on my hair, but when he's pooped he will konk right out in my arms. He is likely the sweetest kid yet.

Gilly: Son of Vaca and Ben
 Luke and Han. Now here it where we get into trouble. I've already said that I want to keep them all, but I'm finding reasons to keep these two. They have to be wethered, so they will need a job. Also, Luke has a genetic defect called entropion (inverted eyelid) and though we are working on it, there are some hard decisions ahead in that regard. I think that is a subject for another day.

I really want to try my hand at training a goat to both pull a cart and carry a pack. I'm thinking these are my boys. Fanny's 2013 kids are both strong and sturdy. These boys are already gaining weight like crazy. I would really like to have them pull ME in a cart....wouldn't that we cool?

Luke and Han: Sons of Fanny and Rhett
 If I sit down anywhere guaranteed I will get at least three little wriggles sitting in my lap and climbing up my body. It is hard to think of sending them off to new homes when we play like this 2 or 3 times a day, when they trust me and think of me as part of their herd. Sometimes these little goat piles are the only times I laugh in a day and goats have been the best medicine for me these last few years.

Goat Pile!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Miss Melly

Guaranteed to make you smile!

This is Miss Melly, though around here Ms. Melly might be more appropriate. 
She is a Nubian yearling.
She is the daughter of Ruby and Rhett Butt-ler. 
Sweet as sugar, this one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Kids: A Season of Learning

Wrong Way Feldman

Although I have a job outside the farm, I want to be a full-time farmer. I spend a lot of time thinking about what that means. I've lately fallen into a trap of comparison. Comparing myself to some ideal farmer image, the ones I call the "real" farmers and another group, the "good" farmers. These aren't real people. Nope, but they might as well be. In my mind, the "real" farmers don't cry and grieve when they lose a kid. They don't worry that their kids will end up on the supper table. They don't want to keep ALL the kids, because they love them. They run efficient, maybe even profitable farms. The "good" farmers are the ones who never make mistakes. They don't do dumb things. Good farmers are kind, but not so attached. They can sell their kids without too many qualms. "Bad" farmers make lots of mistakes. They're forgetful and miss medications. They lose kids. They do all the dumb things that "good" farmers avoid. They get attached and can't let go. 

I spend a lot of time worrying about who I am as a farmer. Real or good or bad. I don't think a day goes by that I don't wish to be a "real" farmer or admonish myself for being a "bad" farmer. Kidding was a stressful time and I labeled myself almost daily a "bad" farmer.  I made mistakes, lots of mistakes. When I started writing this I was hoping to write a post that might allow someone to avoid the mistakes I made, but to be honest that isn't where this post is headed. 

This year, I cleared my calendar and anxiously awaited the signs of labor. I was here when Vaca went into labor. She had twins boys, a tiny guy we named Gilly and a huge kid we named Wrong Way because he came out backward.  

At that point I began checking on Gypsy and Fanny with a flashlight every night at bedtime. I'd tiptoe in and peek under their tails, listen closely, rub their bellies, and generally just tuck them in if there were no signs of labor. But one night, I saw a mucous stream from Gypsy's backside. I was tired by then, but it is no excuse for mis-remembering what the mucous meant. I said, "She's going to have those kids tomorrow," then I went in and went to bed. 

The next morning I went out to find her with triplets; one dead, still in the sac. She probably had those kids shortly after I left her and had I been there the third kid probably would have made it, because it was cold and I would have helped her clean them, thus breaking the sac. I spent a lot of time beating myself up over that one. I labeled myself a "bad farmer." I wobble back and forth though, heart over head, then head over heart. I can almost convince myself that it is better that way, that twins will be stronger and grow faster than triplets. I tell myself that a "real farmer" would get over it and maybe even be glad that the twins would put on weight faster. We named the two: Skipper and Ginger

A week later, Fanny finally kids while I am gone. I come home to find triplets; healthy, but cold. I get them in and warm them up. They nurse and all is well. We named them Luke, Han, and Leia. A week later our weather turns bitter cold again. The forecast lows for that night were 12 degrees. Even knowing that goats can and will pile up to keep warm and with that pile comes the danger of someone getting smothered, I made the decision to leave mamas, kids, and yearlings together. 

The next morning I found our little doe, Leia smothered under a pile of yearlings. Again, a certain type of farmer, a "real"one,  would be okay with the loss of a triplet, because the twins would be stronger, grow faster. A "good" farmer wouldn't have left the yearlings in with the kids. Yep, my head knows the argument, but my heart was broken. See, that's my problem. I want to be a "good" farmer, a "real" farmer, but I keep being the "bad" farmer.

The next week, we took 10 roosters to be butchered. These were roosters hatched from eggs I turned three times a day for 21 days, fathered by Pip, who grew up in our bathtub. A few of them had names. One of them was mean. I wasn't attached to them and frankly, I was tired of the extra chores. I wanted to do it myself, but we knew it would take days to butcher 10 roosters. We stayed with our roosters through the whole process. We brought them into the world and ushered them out. It wasn't pretty and when we returned home, I had to put the whole lot in the freezer, not quite willing to cook chicken that night. I had to take a nap afterward, I am such a "bad" farmer.

By now you've likely noticed that I've not posted a bunch of cute pictures of kids, just WW and I having a chat. Not today. Today I need to paint the picture of what it means to me to be a farmer. I need to leave the adjectives behind. This is already hard work physically and mentally; relentlessly hard. But I can't keep doing it if I have to beat myself up and continuously compare myself to some fictional farmer.

For me, this is work of the heart. I've often said that a "good" farmer  or a "real" farmer wouldn't get so attached to the animals and perhaps that is so. But I can't do this work without being attached to them. I need the connection and so do they. I believe that even though I'm not exactly sure what I mean by it.  

Today I'm leaving the adjectives "good" and "bad" behind. I AM REAL. I AM a farmer. That makes me a "real farmer." 

Since this is a new blog about a relatively new farm I would like to make a vow to you, my readers. I vow to be as authentic and truthful as possible, to be "real."  I think we are doing something special here, something genuine and true.

I guess I needed to get this out of my system, because as I said before this was not the post I sat down to write. Next post, I promise cute pictures of goats that will make you go "SQUEEEEE!"