"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, May 30, 2020

DQ74 - Double Surprise

Yesterday Flopsy, our second oldest goat at thirteen, surprised the heck out of us by popping out a single baby buckling, quietly and with no fanfare. 

It’s been a couple of years since Flopsy had a baby. She’s elderly, arthritic, and not in the greatest of health, and I’ve tried to keep her separate from the buck so this wouldn’t happen. I don’t want to tax her system - she’s done yoeman service and doesn’t need to earn her keep any longer. 

Nonetheless, she got pregnant somehow and threw this adorable little buckling. Paloma discovered him yesterday morning when she was going out to bottle feed Polly’s babies. 

Oh yeah - Polly had a rough delivery and developed a fever and went downhill so quickly that I had to call the vet out. I was worried that I’d done her some harm by going in to help deliver the babies but the vet said no - more likely she’d been developing an infection since I noticed the premature string of goo four days before she delivered. Whenever membranes rupture prematurely you have a high risk of infection. Polly has been getting a twice daily regimen of antibiotics, vitamin B, and steroids for the past several days and is much better. However she lost most of her milk and her twins need supplemental feedings twice a day. The vet says she may never regain her milk this year. For a few days we were feeding the babies round the clock, but today whenever we tried to feed them they already had full tummies and were uninterested in the bottle, so it seems Polly has recuperes enough capacity to feed them herself. 

In other news, the governor has finally decided to lift the stay-at-home order as of this coming Monday morning. Yhe actual changes to daily life will be subtle - we are still prohibited to gather in groups larger than 5, and most businesses remain closed. Masks are also required in public indoor spaces, and outdoors where people cannot maintain 6 feet of distance. 

There has been a great deal of controversy on the subject of masks - violence has broken out in some places - but I haven’t seen open conflict here. In my small community, I’d say about half the people I see in public are wearing masks. I wear my mask assiduously, because I work in health care and am at high risk of contracting the virus. Wearing a mask protects me a little, but if I happen to be carrying the virus, it protects those around me a lot. Personally I have a hard time understanding the resistance to this innocuous act, but it seems to have become a political football. 

Now that there is a path forwards towards Opening back up, I have a little bit of hope that some events planned for later in the summer that were Called off - like the fair - might possibly be “called on” again. 

In the meantime, we just keep keeping on. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

DQ67 am- More Baby Goats

Polly finally gave birth today. I’ve been expecting her to do so for about a week, ever since I saw her kneeling with a long string of amber colored goo depending from her vulva. That’s usually a sign babies will be born the same day. But for whatever reason, she didn’t give birth, and a full week went by. 

Last night I could tell it would be very soon, because her udder had gotten very tight and shiny. That’s really the best indicator. So we locked her up in the mama barn. I fully expected to find babies when we did morning chores, but still nothing. I kept checking every hour or so, and finally at around noon there was a bubble. 

I sat and waited, but nothing appeared; just the bubble of amniotic sack. After another hour or so, I could see two hooves, but no head. More worryingly, I could see flecks of blood and fecal matter in the amniotic fluid inside the sack. I don’t like to interfere if I don’t have to, but it was clearly time to see what the heck was going on.  

Homero helped me get Polly onto the milking stand, and I washed my hands, lubed up, and took a gentle feel inside.  I was worried I would find the head curled back; that’s a common malpresentation and is often hard to correct. But no - I could feel the head easily correctly positioned above the front legs. But it was very high - too high to slip under the  dorsal pelvic bone. I stuck a finger into the baby’s mouth (and promptly got bitten, proving baby was alive), and exerted downward pressure to lower the head enough to let it slip under the dorsal pelvis. After that it was easy. 

The baby was huge. A big, pretty spotted buckling. Another baby appeared quite quickly - another enormous baby, this time a doe. I decided to quickly go in again and check to make sure there wasn’t a third baby - nope, all empty. 

The babies had had a rough time, as had mama. They were stained with meconium (meaning they had pooped inside - not a normal thing to do and indicative of prolonged labor) and took their time standing up. I scrubbed them with a towel, and waited to see they both stood up, but resisted the urge to further interfere. I went inside and left mama and the babies alone. 

Checking back after a couple hours, both babies are dry and fluffy, and I could feel they had a little bit of milk in their tummies. They look like they are all going to be just fine. 

Now we only have Lilac still to go. She’s a first freshener, and so we don’t know yet how it will go with her or what kind of mama she will be. There’s always a risk with first time mamas that they might reject thier babies. But luckily, she’s the last to give birth this year and so has had the benefit of seeing her mother and auntie birth and nurse their babies. My guess is she will do just fine. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

State of the Farm - DQ66

Friday, May 15, 2020

DQ59 - Baby Goats!

Paloma holding Bootsy, one of Christmas’s twin doelings 

Christmas cleans up Bitsy, her other twin doeling.

Christmas was the first to pop, day before yesterday. She did super well, only needed the tiniest bit of help in the form of a little bit of traction on the first baby. She gave birth to two big healthy beautiful spotted doelings, and then, hours later, to a tiny dead one. 

I don’t know what happened to number three, but it had clearly been dead for a long time, and was only about half the size of the others. My best guess is she was killed when our big mean buck butted Christmas in the side. He butts all the ladies, and it’s a problem. A problem for another day, though. 

It looks like Polly is going to give birth today. When I did morning chores I saw the telltale string of goo. So I put her in the mama barn - which meant evicting Christmas and her babies - and I will check on her in an hour or so. Polly is a wonderful mama, and I’m not worried about her. Well - I’m a little worried she might give birth to quads again like she did last year. But if she does, Paloma is ready and waiting with bottles. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

DQ51 - State of the Farm

The pink dogwood in bloom. 

It’s an absolutely unbelievably gorgeous day. It just could not be more perfect. I think it’s about 72 degrees, the sky is a clear, glass-of-water blue, and the grass is finally long enough to ripple and glint in the gentle breeze. The mountains are out, still snow capped, decorating the horizon to the North and East. 

The girls and I spent an hour cleaning out the mama barn in preparation for the goats’ kidding, which ought to happen within a week to ten days. This year, we have three pregnant goats: Polly, Christmas, and Lilac, who is a first freshener this year. Polly and Christmas have both thrown quadruplets in the past. I hope they don’t do so again, but if they do, Paloma is eager to take over bottle-baby duty. Hopefully Lilac will just have one. It’s always a bit of a gamble with a first freshener, whether she will take to being a mama well or not. The truth his it usually works out better if I stay hands-off and let the mamas figure it out for themselves, but it’s always a challenge to do that. Watching baby goats try to stand up and nurse is probably the single most frustrating thing on the planet, and the urge to interfere is strong. 

The garden is going well. The first salad greens and radishes are just about ready to harvest. It’s almost time to move the chile plants out of the greenhouse, which will make room for tomatoes. Maybe even melons? My cucumber starts have not done well, though, and I don’t know why. I may have to buy a few starts, and if I want to do that, I’d better hurry up because vegetable start season is almost over. 

We are expecting the farm store to call us any day and tell us  the turkey poults we ordered are in. I ordered half a dozen “mixed rare breed” turkeys. I’ve never found raising meat chickens to be worth the expense and mess, but turkeys are both profitable and delicious, if we can keep them safe from coyotes. 

Life feels almost normal - to me, anyway. This is the best time of year on the farm, and the best time of year in the Pacific Northwest. May days like today - sunny, serene, flower-scented - are the reason we suffer through the long, dreary months of November through  February. More than usual, I feel the need to pause, recognize my blessings, and appreciate the ordinary beauty of my corner of the world. 

Hope and I were talking today about the state of the nation, about the disruption and the uncertainty, the fear and the despair for the future we are all feeling. She said “these are shitty times.” I agreed with her and said “yeah, compared with five years ago, these are shitty times indeed. But compared with almost every other time in all of human history, these are wonderful times. Look around you.” 

Look around you. 


Friday, May 1, 2020

DQ45 - Beltane (May Day)

Being in lazy lockdown mode, I have not laid a Beltane altar.  But I can share a virtual altar - the one I laid two years ago. It was one of my favorites. 

Welcome to the divine bridegroom, who arrives today to wed the Goddess. Welcome the quickening fire. Welcome the bearer of the flowering rod, the staff that brings forth water in the dry places. Welcome the loving embrace of the divine masculine, of which this world is in dire need.

Celebrate as you see fit (winky face). 

My husband is celebrating May Day today too - a newer tradition but an important one is to celebrate International
Worker’s Day on this date. Most years we attend a march as a family, which calls for farmworker and immigrant justice. This year there was no local march, but there was a call for a caravan to Olympia and a drive-by protest to demand the state impose stricter workplace protections for farmworkers. Current standards for housing, transportation, and work in packaging plants does not follow CDC guidelines for social
distancing, nor do farmworkers get sick leave, or usually have access to healthcare. 

As most of you are no doubt aware, the pandemic has played havoc with our nations food supply chains. Farmers are rightly worried about this year’s planting and harvest seasons and they don’t want to lose crops or money. But just as other industries have adapted new rules to protect workers, so must the agricultural industry, even if it hurts the bottom line. They should appeal to the federal government for pandemic relief, and the government - state and federal - should step up with funds, FEMA housing, or whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of these essential workers. 

Rant over! Enjoy the beautiful Beltane evening and eat something sweet.