Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Last Week at Home

Fauni, Exploring Crafts-Making Materials

Cleaning Up

Fairly Snoozing in Maaam's Hand


Checking the Mail


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Once Inside...

This Tool Saves Lives!
        Continued from "Old Dog...":

        When I arrived, Peter had a warm bottle of milk waiting, and a heating pad all ready to go.  Our frigid little kid was still unresponsive, so I laid her in with our Nubians while I loaded up the syringe and got myself settled. With a heating pad and towel on my lap, I tremulously tubed our kid and hoped for the best.  Peter slowly pushed in 60 mL of warm milk, and we removed the tube...and waited.  Nothing. Her head lolled to the side, eyes open, but her heart was beating strongly, and she was breathing evenly.  We had done what we could.

       The next thing to do was to warm her up.  Her little feet were still as cold as ice, so I tucked them up under her, and held her limp little body to my chest, with the heating pad as a blanket.  When I got too warm, I removed it, and used a sheep skin instead.  After about a half hour, she felt warmer, so I tucked her up with our "herd" (the remaining two Nubian doelings and a premature Togg), who all snuggled in close, to keep her warm.  Instinct is a wonderful thing.  I let them rest together; after an hour or so, I checked her rear hooves, and found them warm to the touch. I tubed another 30 mL into her little tummy, fed the three tiny girls, then replaced  them all in the pen for goaty comfort.  A few quiet hours went by.

Little Goaties Warming Up a New Friend
      She gazed off into a world no one else could see, while she waited for that milk to enliven her.  Her limp body lay on its side, and her open eyes were unresponsive, unfocused.  When I lifted her head, it fell listlessly to the play-pen's floor.  I have never seen a goat so weak; even the little baby we lost a week ago had better responses than this one, right up until the end.  I prayed my goaty prayers, then fed her a bit more milk before bed, just before midnight.  I tucked her in with the herd...and though I hoped for the best, I feared the worst.

  At 2:30 AM, I woke to the alarm, and stumbled downstairs, scared of what I might find.  Much to my surprise, she was sitting up when I looked in on her, not laying listlessly on her side like the night before.  I warmed her milk-replacer, and tried to get her to suck my finger; she fell over, so I tubed her and gave her 40 mL, a nice in-between number, I tucked her up with the little ones, and went back to bed.  It was so hard to sleep.

    6:00 AM: The alarm goes off, and I listen: no sounds.  I showered and dressed before going downstairs; I was afraid of what I'd find.  Peter woke more slowly, so I crept downstairs alone.

    Little ears...a fuzzy nose, and there she was, sitting up, alert; I peeked in and smiled; baby-style, she oogled up at me, head bobbing.  I crept away, happy.  She made it through the night...alert, whole, blossoming.  I tip-toed upstairs to Peter, and we hugged and smiled.

Fluffy and Fairly
   An hour later, during my first class, Peter emailed me a picture of her, frolicking on the floor with the rest of the "herd"; all four in infant-sized pampers, all four frisky and jolly.  He called her "Fluffy". He told me she had taken a bottle right away; all she needed was the strength, and that's what we had given her during the night: some heat, some nourishment, some goaty warmth.  She fell asleep on the first step to the second floor, after playing tag with her new friends.

     We are blessed by being allowed to share in the lives of our animals; we benefit by knowing them, by helping them, and by coming closer to our source through them.  This little kid will make it;  balance to the one we lost.  And once again, life perseveres.

The Old Dog, the New Kid, and the Long Drive Home

Well, apparently you CAN teach an old dog a few new tricks.

The Nubian doelings (Faun and Fiona), though small, are doing well.  Their appetite is beginning to become more vigorous, an important part of barn life.  As it's been since moments after their birth, their brother, Frankie is leading the little Nubian herd in terms of vitality.  His loud, insistent cries cannot be ignored at feeding time, just like his mama Faith's.  Nubians do have distinctive voices!

Last night, when I arrived at the barn after school, little Frank bounced over to greet me, yelling all the way to the stall gate.  He screamed for dinner while I milked Faith, screamed while I got hay, and then drank an entire 16 oz. bottle of his mama's milk.  And I still heard screaming, which sounded just like him; therein lies the REAL story for today.

Nubian voices are piercing; the little voice I heard was equally piercing, so I followed it to its source: a fairly large Toggenberg kid was under the manger, apparently unable to extract itself.  I pulled her out, and set her under her dam to nurse...and she fell over.  He rear legs were immobile and cold, stiff to the touch.  After trying to work them a bit, I concluded that she must have been injured in the stall somehow; those clammy, wet legs were lifeless. I bundled her in my coat, and she occasionally let out a bleat, getting weaker now; her head flopped to the side.

After showing Kathy the kid, and discussing the situation, we came to the conclusion that she must have had her back broken sometime during the day; she had been a vigorous eater just yesterday!  We opted to do the humane thing, so I wrapped her in a towel, placed her on the seat of my truck, and headed for the vet; I nearly turned back once, as she had become unresponsive.  I thought nature had taken its course, but a flutter of her eyes told me differently.

When I arrived at the veterinary clinic, the vet happened to be in the lobby.  I told him who I was, and that we had called ahead.  He asked me to put her on the floor so he could take a look.  He lifted her up, and though she didn't move her legs and fell right over, her tail waggled; this was NOT a broken back!  This baby had been neglected by her dam for just one day, and had come very close to death.  Apparently, when malnourished, a newborn kid will have trouble maintaining its body temperature in cold weather.  Our baby was slowly dying right before my eyes...but there was hope.

The doctor taught me how to use a gastric tube to feed her.  I have never done this before, but when circumstances demand it, we can do nearly anything to preserve these little lives, can't we?  He told me it was crucial to get her temperature back to normal, and to get warm milk into her belly.  I bundled her up, got into my truck, and headed out.

I knew that everyone at the farm thought she was a goner, and I was desperate to tell them otherwise, so I did what I know is wrong to do: I used my cell phone while I was driving.  I had a starving, hypothermic kid beside me, the means of saving her, and no time to spare.  I thought it was warranted.  Apparently the police officer who saw me try to make that call thought otherwise; luckily, he was in an exit lane at the time, but he did cut through a parking lot to tail me...and tail me he did, for the next 8 miles; he was wily; he exited and reentered on a second short ramp, then paced himself just behind me...but I saw him back there and behaved myself.  With one hand on the kid, and my eye on my rear view mirror, I quit trying to call the farm and headed for home (just under the speed limit!), where I knew I had the time and supplies I needed.  I ditched the officer about a mile before I arrived, and blew into the house, kid-in-coat, to begin working on her. be continued... (photos to follow)

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Fiona and Frankie

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy News!

I'm a Grammy again!  Well, sort of.  My goatie girl, Faith,  delivered triplets last night. I'll spare you the labor shots.  Here are a few shots of the little darlings.

Little Fiona, brand new and slippery.

I got the call from the farm at about 6:30 PM.  I'm fighting a stomach virus, so I had to get dressed before we could hurry to the farm. When we arrived, this little girl had already arrived.  Faith's #1 baby this year: Fiona. Shortly after we arrived, Faith began to deliver #2, who was presenting exactly like the little white doeling we lost last year: head turned back, to the side.  You see, kids are normally born like little divers: you see two little feet first, then a nose follows, and next thing you know, you have a wet kid in your hands.  This baby wasn't cooperating; Faith couldn't pass her unassisted, so Kathy stepped in and helped. At one point I had given up on the baby and was mainly concerned with Faith, but Kathy never gave up on either of them.  She pulled that little girl out with three of us holding Faith, and breathed life back into her.  She was significantly smaller than the first kid, which (combined with Kathy's heroic efforts), probably saved her life.  Last year's doeling wasn't so lucky, though her male twin, born after her, did survive.  That's him (the surviving white twin from last year), on my blog banner.  He lives with Cory (holding him) now.

#2, Faun, needed some time to revive.  You'll see her later. 

Fiona and her younger brother, Franklin (it's an "F" year)
As Faith was recovering from her ordeal with #2, and we were drying off and stimulating little Faun, she began to push again.  We thought it must be the placenta, but after the second push, we were rewarded with a great big newborn buck.  Faith looked as surprised as we were!  Peter was SURE she was done, but when I caught the baby, cleared out his mouth and gave him a little breath, he let out a yell that woke the chickens.  That's no placenta, baby.  That's Franklin! He's a rough and tumble buckling, and will be kept on the farm as a new addition to the bloodline.
Find the triplets.  Student volunteers helping warm up the new arrivals.

It was in the low 20's last night, so we took special care to bundle up the babies as they arrived. 

Faun and Fiona, "sistas"

Faun gets a colostrum boost.

Little Fiona, all dry and fluffy.

All dry and beautiful.

The triplets: Faun, Fiona, and Frankie 

In birth order: Fiona, Faun, and Frankie
Faun's tiny size may have saved her life.
Faith's Nubian triplet (Fiona) next to Rosie's half-Toggenberg twin (Baby Huey, in MY book...though that doesn't start with an "F")
In the same stall, just moments before Faith delivered Fiona, Rosie delivered twins.  I'm not sure of Rosie's breed (Heinz 57?), but the babies look a lot like George, and he's a Togg. Look how big they are compared to our mini-princess, Fiona!  And there are still so many more to come!

Farming and animal midwifery, unlike other walks of life, don't stop if you're under the weather.  Life is insistent, and urgent, and you rally your forces and pitch in.  You forget your own bodily concerns and save little lives; you have to.  And you're rewarded in kind; it's an excellent way to live in the moment, to "Be Here Now", as Ram Dass taught us in the 70's. There is a dynamic interplay of hope, faith, and hard's powerful and oh, so satisfying.  He said it this way:

"The game is not about becoming somebody, it's about becoming nobody".  

Being nobody is pretty awesome when the world unfolds right before your eyes. You're in it, and of it, and one with it. And it's beautiful.

Happy Birthday, babies!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I needed to see my girls this morning.  Recent events have underscored the precious tenacity of our fragile little ones; our little doeling died in her sleep last night, swaddled in sheepskin, warm and safe.  She had a full tummy, and sweet dreams, and drifted off into one of them, never to return. 

The girls were doing yoga when I met them, mid-morning.  There's a strange calm over the barn these days.  Pupils are dilated.  I feel a sense of...willful the air. Does are blessing each other with velvet lips on huge, moving bellies. We're waiting for the stars to rise over the mangers , and bring us our newborn spring.

I cannot mourn a life unlived; I can only send my hopes to the still-struggling babies and mothers.  There's a plan to it all; we're all caught in the balance. We can mourn our hopes for that lost life; nothing more.

I decided to spend an hour with my new seedlings upstairs, and as I separated the weak from the strong, and cast aside the broken stems and weak roots, I understood more deeply that we're all part of the energy that surrounds us, and a fragile life lost (any life) will express itself in another way. Energy is eternal. I've understood this for some time, but nursing a six pound kid in your arms at 1 AM in the morning, and watching her nostrils dilate and eyes flutter in milk-bliss brings vivid memories of my own child; those instincts are too strong for my rational spirituality.  My love for my child, now grown, is deeper than my love for myself; some of you understand.

Each baby is a promise of a future; some futures are returned to the source, to try again.  Life (large "L") is blessed...and goes on...regardless.

Sweet dreams, baby Frieda.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Third: Happy Birthday!

A Toggenberg kid; mom wasn't ready...but baby is doing fine.

This baby is weak.  But so beautiful.

Big sister "Frisky", sound asleep

Frieda and Frisky, Toggenbergs

Dolly's kids.  We lost one of the triplets; no wonder she was huge! 

Dolly's kids, up and bouncing!

Dolly cafe'


"Lambie Jammies": look them up on Mondays with Martok (on my links).  They're saving our kids in this cold spell.