A few weeks ago when we were sure that the animals would be lining up two by two, I was invited to tour P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm. I donned my boots and my favorite sun hat which I figured could double nicely as an umbrella when the moment came.
This was his family’s farm in Tennessee. If you stared long enough you could see the trees and grass almost sway with wind. And imagine the work happening on the homestead. I love pieces of art that hold personal history.
They all invited you to lounge on a cushion or rest your shoulder into a windowsill and just take in the drizzle and fog of the Arkansas River Valley.
|She’s wondering why she can’t have a #nipplebucket like the baby goats at the Beekman Farm.|
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.