The sign of the chicken

Years ago Ben’s parents had this metal sign made for us.  At the time we were living in a small San Antonio neighborhood and I couldn’t fathom any reason why I would or should have a sign with our name and a chicken in my house.

Little did any of us know what foreboding the chicken sign would have on my life now.

For years I lugged that thing around.  Hiding it in closets, underbeds, the back of the utility room.  I was all for the country, distressed look but a chicken?! Really?!

Then  we moved to the woods.  And not just any woods.  Two acres of overgrown, barely cleared for the house, snaky woods.

Soon came the goats.

      “But why?!” I asked
      To clear the pens and chicken coup.
      “But why?!”
      So we can have chickens.

Of course.

And there I was. Finally in a situation where the chicken sign could come home to roost.  And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.  Well I would add more land for more goats and chickens and a barn and more gardens and OH a tractor and for me to be able to stay home and take care of all this stuff.  But all of that is yet to come.

But someday.
I had a sign.

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Bring your kid to work day

So it’s like having a baby and a puppy. At the same time.  With you at work.
Somewhere in this past week and a half I have a acquired a 4th child.  Kid, actually and literally.  For all practical purposes I am mom to little Blessyou Holly.  At least in her mind
The name is a compromise like all things.  I was always saying bless you because she sneezed a lot and Ben wanted to call her Holly. So either or both work.  It’s not like they ever come when we call them.
She’s wondering why she can’t have a #nipplebucket like the baby goats at the Beekman Farm.
I’m sure I’m doing this whole bottle feeding thing all wrong.  We are both way too attached.  But I only know one way to take care of a baby.  Feed it.  Clean it.  Love it.
She’s the biggest star of the church office and I’m so thankful that I work in a goat-friendly environment.  
I’m sure I may be the only person in the world to text their boss asking if it was okay to bring a goat to work for the next few weeks. 
Blessyou Holly has stolen all their hearts.  Parishioners actually stop by just to see her or are surprised by her appearance and say that she has just brightened their day.  Did I mention she’s spoiled rotten.
But after a week of juggling my work schedule and Blessyou Holly’s feeding, pooping, and social schedule, I was perfectly happy to leave her in the custody of the Spring Breakers at my house.  It’s good for her to not be dependent ONLY on me.  Because eventually she will go back into the pen with the others.  I can’t have a full size goat roaming my house.  The end tables would never survive.
She and her brother/cousin (same daddy different moms who are half sisters– see farm yard novellas!) get along so at least she’ll have a friend to pal around with.  She just needs to get a little bigger so she wont get run over so much.  And she needs to learn how to be a real goat.  But hopefully I’ll always be momma.

All kidding aside

I’ve started to tell this story so many times only to have what I thought was an ending change and change and change.

Our livestock charges have been on the calm side as of late.  We have secured most of the old fencing so as long as the gate is closed we have very little escape goat acts anymore.  And our prison fence high chicken run has helped to do away with the untimely ends of our feathered friends.

But baby goat season is never with out it’s share of farm drama.  This year was more of a rollercoaster than any of the daytime soaps of my youth, or my daughter’s ABCFamily favorites or even the last two seasons of Downton Abbey.

Late Thursday afternoon Pickles went into labor.As the sun set and the chill set in Ben and I stood vigil with head lamps strapped to our foreheads waiting. 

Baby boy #1 was born just fine.  He was all white just like his mom except for little black and brown spot on his forehead and ears.  Momma started to lick him clean as baby #2 was making its way.

This is where I start to look back and kick myself for my ignorance.  Where I wonder what are we doing even thinking we can raise livestock.  We really suck at this whole farming gig.

Baby girl #2 was breach.  And try as we could we couldn’t get the fluid out of her little lungs.  Her heart pumped and pumped until it didn’t anymore.  I tried to comfort Luke as he looked on in tears.  They love to see the babies being born.  But sometimes the harsh reality of it all is too much for him.  For all the kids.  For all of us.

We once again worried about a repeat of last year.  Was there still another?  We checked more thoroughly this time but still couldn’t tell.  And Pickles seemed to be done with birthing babies.  We staggered in to wash ourselves of the mud, blood & poop. But somehow couldn’t wash away the sadness.  I started to bed with notion that these things happen sometimes only to let the guilt of our ignorance overwhelm me as Ben read about “throwing a goat” or something when their lungs were full of fluid.  I really wished he hadn’t shared it.  Keep it for next year.

But then the impossible happened.  Ben came home during the day on Friday to get something and 18 hours after the first baby was born Pickles had given birth to another goat!  There were 3 after all!  A little girl, finally.  Unfortunately Pickle didn’t want her.  It was so heart breaking to see her push the baby away.  I’ve had so many people express their surprise and disbelief that a mother would do that.  This is where I have to remind them we are dealing with animals and try as we want to give them names and act like their instincts are ours at the end of the day they are still animals.

Pickles was still having a lot of after birth problems.  So much so that by the time I am writing this she is baby-less.  We have decided not to breed her again.  Its just not good for her or the babies.

By Saturday it was clear that we would need to start bottle feeding her if she were to stand a chance.  So in the middle of history day presentations and family reunion 50th wedding anniversaries I was trying to figure out how to to get the poor little orphaned goat to take a bottle.

Like goat milk formula (yes, they do have such a thing) through the baby bottle, so are the Days of Our Farm Lives.

This day has been saved

Happy Daylight Saving Time, which means……. It’s baby goat time again.  Not just at The Darley Farm but all over the goat loving world.

This is our newest member of the herd.

Patches had a little boy Sunday morning.  We had Luke’s birthday party on Saturday and felt sure that all of the kids were going to get a lesson they wouldn’t soon forget in child birthing.

Pickles is still very pregnant and looks very miserable just like a human momma in the last stages.  We are sure she will at least have twins.  I am nervous and hope to be around when she does go into labor just because she had so much trouble last year.  We still have her baby Snowball with us from last year.  He was wethered last season and still keeps pretty close to mom.  It will be interesting to see if that all changes once the new babies arrive.

Try as I have I’m just not a fan of the taste of goat meat.  And I’m not saying this because they are too cute and I couldn’t bare the thought of eating them.  I’m just not a fan of the flavor.  So what are we to do with all of these goats that we keep acquiring?  I’m dreaming of Angoras and Ben is looking into a milking machine.  I must say that I do LOVE goat cheese and have found that goat milk soap is the best around for a facial cleanser.  And it does pretty good on the hair as well.  Maybe that is in the horizon.  We will have our own little Beekman 1802.  Not sure when Ben will find the time to do all the milking.  

Speaking of the Beekmans.  I am every so lucky to have signed up to beta test their baby goat cam.  Can I just say it’s the cutest this around.  I just got to see Farmer John come in and tie up a light higher that the babies kept swinging like a pinata.  When they are all awake it’s like watching a baby goat pinball machine or a baby goat version of the West Side Story as they dance down the street.  Baby goat parkour!  The Beekman baby goat cam will be live to the public hopefully sometime this week.  So stay tuned.  I promise there is nothing that will brighten your Monday morning like a stall full of baby goats.

In the mean time take a look at their slide show of babies.

Ready to get gardening

I am itching to get my hands in the garden.

Last night I was up until midnight laying everything out using the free garden planter on the Smart Gardener website.  I cannot say enough about how much I love this app. In my early years my gardening attempts were plagued with over planting, forgetting to mulch, or to fertilize.  Smart gardener now send me gentle email reminders of my tasks in the garden. 

I long for all of these duties to be like second nature.  I want to be a habitual gardener where the ebb and flow of the seasons tell me when to plant, when to harvest, when to save seeds, when to till up and weather down for the winter. But that probably won’t happen until I’m not running kids everywhere. So until then I’ll use Smart Gardener.

The Arkansas Flower and Garden show is this weekend.  Be sure to stop by and see all the lovely ladies of Arkansas Women Bloggers at booth 17.  The unofficial official “Social Media Megaphone of Arkansas” (they are handling the social media so be sure to follow them on twitter with the hashtag #afgs2014).  I’ll be catching it on Sunday. This weekend coincides with our yearly celebration of Ben’s birthday and we are heading to the races again.  I’ve been looking forward to the corn beef sandwiches all month.
But when I get back it’s time to get busy.

View my garden plan and many others at Smart Gardener.