Wednesday, May 13, 2015
I haven't written a decent blog post in almost two months -- and that one was entitled "Catching Up," because I hadn't posted in a couple of weeks, during which time I had severely injured my back. And my back has now been re-injured so many times that I've lost count. It's somewhere around seven or eight. Each time I hurt it, I wind up back in the recliner because it is the only position in which I am not crying in pain.
We bought the recliner when I was pregnant with Katherine 22 years ago, and it used to hold such fond memories of nursing her as a baby and cuddling and reading to my children. Now, however, I am starting to refer to it as "that stupid recliner" and say things like, "I hate that chair!" Thankfully, my stints in the recliner are getting shorter. This last time it was only a day. Apparently I have a bulging disc in my back, and it takes the tiniest wrong movement to cause it to flare up again -- things like standing too long at a sink washing dishes. It isn't a big sudden, "Ouch!" kind of pain. It's a slow-building pain, which obviously gets worse as the disc swells more. I've discovered that icing my back after anything that could remotely cause a problem is a good idea, and I've probably avoided a few stints in the recliner by doing that. But sometimes I don't realize something is problematic until it's too late. Spending two hours sitting on the ground trying to get newborn kids to nurse proved to be a definite no-no.
Speaking of kids ... we've had five goats give birth since April 27, and three more are due within the next month. Aurora gave birth to quads the morning of April 27, and by that afternoon, I was in the recliner, which is where I stayed for almost a full two days. Since then, Mike has handled most of the birthing while I stand around taking pictures, trying to keep my back as straight as possible, not because it hurts to bend it, but because it will cause excruciating pain later, if I bend it the wrong way for too long. And that's the problem. It would be easy to not move the wrong way, if my body gave me some indication at the moment that I was doing something wrong. But it doesn't work like that. Nerve pain is quite different from muscle pain. It kind of feels like my body is giving me a pop quiz 24/7 on how to stand erect.
Part of the reason I haven't been blogging is because I haven't been able to sit in front of the computer for so many days. And when I am able to sit here, I spend hours catching up on things like email. I just updated the kidding schedule on our website so that people can see which kids are still available for sale. That was also about two months out of date.
The other reason I haven't been blogging is because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. So, for the record, this is not a big long complaining rant. This is just the story of my life for the past two months. And there is some usable information in here. I hear a lot of people say that they are going to move to the country and start living this life when they retire. Now that I'm "older," I can say that that is really not the best plan. Two years ago, I had no idea that my body was going to have all of the problems that it has started to have. I am so glad that we moved out here 13 years ago. I had a lot of great years doing things that I loved. I don't want it to end, and I'm doing everything I can do to figure out how to continue living this life. But had we only moved out here a couple of years ago, there would probably be a "for sale" sign out front by now. If I think of all the challenges we had the first few years simply because we were new to this life -- and if you added all of my current challenges to that -- it would have been a recipe for utter failure.
I don't usually give advice on this blog, but I'm getting older, so I figure I can throw out a little advice every now and then. So, my advice is that if you are still young and healthy, and if you read this blog wishing you were living this life, don't wait. Figure out how to do it now.
Monday, April 20, 2015
The snow has melted, the grass is growing, and everything is blooming! Here are a few pictures from around the homestead ...
More goats are due to kid soon, and we put turkey eggs in the incubator on Saturday, which means we'll have poults in about four weeks!
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
And if you ever wondered what happened when Coco gave birth two years ago, I finally tell the story in the book. If you've been reading my blog for that long, you might recall that she died of a ruptured uterus after giving birth to five kids. Actually we had to take her to the University vet hospital, and they pulled the last four kids there because they were quite tangled up. Although all five kids survived, Coco did not, and I was so upset, I was unable to write her birth story at the time. The book also includes the complete story of another goat that had birthing difficulties a few years ago.
I wrote the ebook because there are so many questions from new goat owners about what to expect when their goats give birth. The book includes several normal births, including those that are not textbook perfect but still not problematic. Those are the births that seem to confuse new people the most. And because everyone worries about the possibility of a caesarean section, I included stories of our two experiences.
The ebook is available in all formats, from a simple PDF to those that will work with a variety of ereaders from Kindle to Kobo. If you don't have an ereader, you can download a PDF or get the free Kindle reading app for your computer or iPad. The ebook is only $4.99 and is about 40 pages long. Click here to learn more and to order your copy.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Since my last kidding post, six more goats gave birth and I hurt my back twice. I can't possibly provide all of the details on everything, so here is a short summary ...
In the meantime, Mike and I are talking about adding a first floor master bedroom because between my knees and my back, going upstairs is getting harder and harder. After 10 years, the house is still not entirely finished, so adding on sounds a little funny, but I need a first floor bedroom more than trim on the windows, so an addition sounds pretty important right now.
If you missed Friday's post about our upcoming farm dinner, click here for more details and to make reservations.
Friday, March 13, 2015
|Chef Monika's créme brûlée|
Monika Sudakov of the Chestnut Street Inn will be our chef for both events. We are still debating the main course for the August dinner, but the June dinner will feature heritage Plymouth Rock chicken for the main course and créme brulee for dessert, made with our fresh eggs. The Plymouth Rock chicken is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Although it was quite popular a century ago, you can't buy it today in supermarkets, and in blind taste tests, most people agree that the flavor is superior to modern hybrid chickens.
In addition to dinner, guests will get a tour of the farm so they can see the garden where their dinner salad and vegetables were grown, and they'll get to see the new baby goats that are due to be born in late May.
Dress is casual, as we will be dining outside. Because GPS has trouble finding us, don't hesitate to contact us for directions, if this will be your first visit to the farm.
Click here or page down for tickets to the June 14 dinner. There are only 36 seats available, and rumor has it that farm dinners sell out rather quickly, so it's a good idea to buy your tickets soon.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
|February 9, 2015|
Monday morning shortly after Mike left for work, she started screaming again. I decided to take a book out to the barn office and read because it was obvious that she was not going to stop screaming anytime soon. Even though it was a really dreadful scream, her body language just looked like she was mad about something, so I wasn't taking it very seriously.
An hour and a half after I went out there, she finally got serious, and it was obvious she was actually pushing. She's lay down, throw her head back, curl her tail over her back, and stretch her legs out in front of her as she screamed. She also quit eating. And then things got interesting.
A hoof was sticking out, but it was upside down. That meant that the kid was either posterior or breech. Breech would not have been such a bad thing, especially if it was feet first. It would actually be pretty easy for Victoria. However, after ten minutes of pushing the foot was sticking out about three inches, and there was no sign of progress. I ran my finger along the leg and bumped into a nose and mouth. That meant it was a posterior kid. The books tell you that in those situations, you should reach in and flip the kid over. Since I was home alone, the odds of Victoria standing there while I did that were somewhere between zero and never. The idea of doing that also worried me because of the risk of tearing the uterus. I went looking for some disposable gloves and some iodine, but I wasn't entirely sure what I'd do when I actually had them. In the meantime, Victoria kept pushing. About fifteen minutes later, the kid was born. The head actually came out sideways, which I don't recall ever seeing before, and the body came out with the kid's belly facing Victoria's tail, which is basically upside-down. The little doeling was in great shape, and as Victoria and I started to clean her up, I noticed another upside down hoof sticking out of Victoria's back end.
"Seriously?" I asked Victoria. "Another one?" I ran my finger along the leg, and when I came to a joint, I bent it. Since it bent in the direction of the top of hoof, that meant it was a hind leg, and I knew the kid was breech, which should be much easier than the posterior kid that she just delivered. And a couple minutes later, the breech doeling was born.
Victoria has been an excellent mom from the very beginning. I think she heard that I'm planning to seriously reduce our goat herd this year, and she wants to be sure that she makes the cut and gets to stay here. After all it was pretty impressive for her to give birth to doelings that weighed 3 pounds, 4 ounces and 3 pounds, 9 ounces, especially since one of them was posterior, which is never easy, even with smaller kids.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
I arrived in the barn a few minutes before she gave birth to the first kid -- a buckling that weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces! Yeah, that's big for a Nigerian! She took about a fifteen minute break and helped us clean off the kid. Then she plopped down and three kids -- all doelings -- shot out only about a minute apart. Two of them weighed 3 pounds 12 ounces, and one weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces, which are all excellent sized kids -- and pretty unbelievable sizes for quads! Cicada had been as big as Vera and Agnes, which both had quintuplets, but their kids didn't weigh as much as Cicada's. When you add up the weights, they were all actually carrying about the same number of pounds of kids.
Cicada is one of our top milkers and has successfully raised quads in the past, so we were not worried about leaving all four of the kids with her. Since they were all big and healthy, I wasn't worried about everyone getting their fair share, and they are all doing really well.
We will be keeping one of the doelings because Cicada is 8 years old, and I've never kept a doeling from her, which has been a terrible oversight, especially considering what an excellent milker she is. Time flies! It's hard to believe that she is already 8, and she is a third-generation Antiquity Oaks goat.
Unfortunately I don't have any other photos for you because I upgraded my computer with the newest operating system and now Photoshop doesn't work. Hopefully I can get that fixed before more kids are born. I'll be telling you about Victoria's kids within the next couple of days -- they were born the day after Cicada's.
Now we are waiting for four more does to kid -- yep, right now. I don't think anyone will kid within the next few hours, but they are due now, so we'll have more kids within the next few days. From the looks of it, there will be some more multiples. We're hoping that four is the most anyone has, and I'd be happy with triplets, but I'm not holding my breath.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Agnes looked just as big as Vera at two months, but I was dismissing the possibility of her carrying quints because no one else in her line has done that. However, I had not looked far enough back in her pedigree. Her great-great grandmother is Vera's great grandmother -- a goat that had quads several times and then had six once!
On February 2, Vera gave birth about 38 hours after Agnes, and she also had quints. I am really enjoying our video monitor because I got to the barn about ten minutes before Vera actually gave birth, which was especially nice since it was 14 degrees out! I am grateful for every minute that I do not have to spend out there. I'm also grateful that my camera recorded the times the photos were taken because it verifies the fact that Vera torpedoed those kids into the world at light speed ...
At 5:03 p.m. she was pushing ...
By 5:14, two had already been born ...
I had no time to take pictures of the third and fourth ones as they were born because by 5:18, five had been born ...
And then she scared the daylights of me because she gave another big push only a minute after the fifth one was born. I screamed, "Oh, no!" as a big bubble emerged. "You are NOT having six!" Nope, she wasn't. It was just a big bubble of water, and I was so relieved when I discovered that there was nothing in that bag other than water.
Final tally was three bucks and two does.
We brought two inside to bottle-feed -- the little doe that weighed only 1 pound, 12.4 ounces and the buckling that was 2 pounds, 1.2 ounces. The three that we left with mom weighed 3 pounds, 5.2 ounces; 2 pounds, 15.1 ounce; and 2 pounds, 8.2 ounces. That was a lot of babies for Vera to be carrying around!
Here is a picture of the four bottle babies today. The two on the left are Agnes's, and the two on the right are Vera's ...
And now we're waiting for Cicada to give birth. She is as big as Vera and Agnes were, but I don't recall thinking that she looked pregnant at two months, so I'm hoping she only has four in there.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Yesterday I had a speaking engagement about an hour from home, and there was a snow storm in the forecast. It started raining as I was heading home at 3:30, and I watched nervously as the thermometer on my car went from 37 to 34 degrees. I was very happy to pull into the driveway before the roads started to freeze. Mike told me that Agnes had been in early labor for a good chunk of the day, so I came into the house and changed into my farm clothes and went out and checked on her. Yep, early labor.
Agnes is a Sherri granddaughter, and all of the Sherri does are very stoic until the first kid is actually being born, so there have been many mad dashes to the barn in the middle of the night when we heard a scream over the monitor. We've had a video monitor for the past couple of years, but that doesn't help you when your eyes are closed. I decided to go to bed last night at 9:30, assuming I'd be awaked at midnight or so. When I woke up at 2 a.m. from a hot flash, I started to worry that Agnes had not kidded yet.
I sat on the bed and watched her on the monitor. I could see her stretching her legs out in front of her body as she was silently pushing. Then she'd stand, turn around, lay down, and push her legs out in front of herself again. Yep, she's pushing. But after 30 minutes, I started to wonder if maybe she was just uncomfortable. It really didn't seem that she'd be silently pushing for that long simply because the Sherri does usually have pretty short labors. So, then my brain switched back to worry mode. But then I reminded myself of my mantra -- if the doe's happy, I'm happy. And Agnes was clearly not unhappy. If I had just walked in on the situation, I wouldn't be worried in the least. Then she stood up, turned around, and stuck her nose into the straw. Ah, ha! She's licking up fluid! Her water broke! About that time, Mike woke up, and I told him I was headed out to the barn.
As soon as I walked into the kidding pen, I could see a bubble sticking out from under Agnes's tail. Agnes bleated when she saw me. A minute later, I could see a black nose in that bubble! I grabbed the towels, and within five minutes of arriving in the barn, I was drying off the first kid! I placed it on a towel in front of Agnes, and she started licking it while softly bleating.
Just as I snapped this picture, she gave a little push, and I saw another bubble sticking out from under her tail. Less than one minute after the first kid was born, kid number two made its entrance into the world! The shiny black blob that Agnes is licking in the picture below is the second kid. Sorry the picture quality is so terrible, but I only managed to snap two pictures before I realized that kid number three was about to make her appearance!
I covered the three kids because it was happening so fast that I couldn't adequately dry each one before the next one was presenting. I didn't know it at the time, but after downloading my pictures on my computer I could see that the first picture was taken at 3:01, and the one with three kids (below) was taken at 3:04!
And then a fourth kid.
And then a fifth kid! As soon as the fifth kid was born, Agnes stood up to continue licking the kids.
That was when I realized I was going to need some help. There was no way I could get five kids nursing on my own. I had been having enough trouble simply getting the kids dried off. In past years, I was out there crawling around on my hands and knees drying off kids as they were born, but my right knee, which was injured last March and has grade four arthritis, was not willing to let me do that. It doesn't bend completely any longer, and simply trying to make it bend that far is quite painful. I quickly realized I was limited to either sitting in the straw or laying on my stomach. So, I called over the monitor to Mike, asking him to come help.
We eventually ended up milking Agnes and giving each kid 3 ccs of colostrum in a syringe to try and get them interested in nursing. The two smallest ones -- a buck at 1 pound, 15.6 ounces and a doe at 1 pound, 15.1 ounces -- just wanted to go to sleep. The three larger does, between 2 pounds, 9 ounces and 2 pounds, 13 ounces, were alert but not showing any interest in nursing, so I told Mike that I was going to take the two smaller ones into the house and bottle-feed them. I don't usually make the decision that quickly, but the two smaller ones were clearly having more trouble than the larger ones, probably because their smaller body mass made them more susceptible to hypothermia. So, I took the two little ones in the house with some colostrum from Agnes. Mike stayed in the barn trying to get the other three to nurse.
Once the kids got warmed up in the house, they took to the bottle like ducks to water. I put the nipple in the little buck's mouth, and he immediately started to suck. When he finally let go of the nipple, I looked at the markings on the side of the bottle to see that he had consumed 2 ounces. Then the little doeling did the same thing, only faster!
I still had two ounces of colostrum left, so I went back to the barn. One of the doelings still had not nursed, so I gave her the last two ounces, so that Mike and I could come back into the house and go to bed. By then it was almost 6 a.m.
Here are a couple of pictures of the two kids taking their bottles this morning ...
Did I mention that the snow storm did hit. And now it has turned into a real blizzard. And Vera is at day 148. Mike went out to the barn an hour ago and said that he couldn't find Vera's ligaments. I really hope that's because of his inexperience. The temperature is falling into the single digits tonight, so I'd really prefer to stay in my bed all night!
And Vera looks like she has four or five kids in there again this year, so it's going to be a production when she does kid.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Here I am on January 13, and I've already messed up on my resolution to blog on here twice a week! I was hardly home last week, but that doesn't mean I could not have posted on here. I was at the Illinois Specialty Grower's Conference, and I had a great time meeting like-minded people who like to grow food. I am also in the midst of a big life-changing decision, and being there helped me to clarify a few things. I was attending a session on growing tomatoes hydroponically, and once the speaker got into all sorts of technical stuff, I had a huge urge to leave and head to another session. I wound up listening to someone talk about marketing your crops, and my brain said that I should let someone else grow the tomatoes. Considering my physical challenges, that's probably a good idea. Give me a phone and a computer, and I can market.
What's the big life-changing decision? I'm at a crossroads with the farm. I have to either cut back to almost nothing, or I have to ramp it up to the point that we can hire someone. Mike is frequently late to work, which is not acceptable because we need his salary to live. And I know I'm just one fall away from being incapacitated again. I suppose that might be true of everyone, but I know how true it is because after falling in March and June, I was unable to do anything on the farm for many months. And I used to fall a lot! I had no idea that my knees were so fragile, and now there's the sciatica. When you can't bend over and you can't squat, how can you garden?
As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that maybe this is why I don't blog that much any more. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but this is the type of stuff that goes through my head every day.
So, what's up with the picture?
The black and white goat in the middle is Agnes. She is due to kid in two weeks. I'm betting there are four kids in there, and I wouldn't bet against someone that said there were more than that. The poor girl is huge. She had four a couple of years ago, so it's not crazy to think that there could be four in there again. Vera and Cicada are also due at the end of the month, and they are equally huge, so we could go from zero to a dozen kids here really fast. Vera had quints last year, and Cicada usually has triplets or quads. So, hopefully I'll have some happy, healthy kid pics near the end of the month!
Posted by Deborah Niemann at 9:13 PM