Thursday, March 7, 2013

Goat babies

So, I've avoided writing about this for over a week, because I'm never quite sure how to share this part of the farm. One morning last week, early, I trudged out into the barn for the usual morning chores. I could hear the cries of goats looking for some nice fresh hay and a scratch. Or, so I thought.

What I actually heard, was the cry one one goat baby, Noelle- I found Lucia long passed on her side, completely cold. This was... beyond shocking. I stood in the door of their pen for a minute, not comprehending the sight before me. I quickly rushed back up to the house to warm Kim before she came down to the barn, wanting the shock to hit her before she saw Lucia. The night before, both girls had been merrily following me along in the barn- munching hay and puppy playful. They both were drinking water and had bright eyes. A week or so prior, they had both gotten a look  from our neighbor who works at the dairy where they came from, who thought they looked great. So what happened?

I don't know. We could theorize, google and have an autopsy. But, these things are an unfortunate part of farming. Maybe she had a type of worm that was fast acting, maybe she had something genetically wrong- maybe... I just don't know.To be safe, we re-vaccinated and wormed Noelle- who appears to be healthy as usual. Death is just as much a part of farming as life is. You can care for any animal, any crop to the highest standards and the best of your ability- and you will absolutely still lose some. We were saddened, but now we have one little doeling who needs to be thought of and appropriately cared for. The farm necessitates moving on.

So we're headed down to Edgewick Farm this weekend after our Sunday draft horse class to acquire another little doeling for our home dairy, and to keep Noelle healthy. Goats are social, bubbly creatures, and they need company. Noelle is getting along ok with the bunnies and chickens, we've been letting her out to 'help' us with chores several times a day and keep her spirits up. We tried integrating her with the sheep, but it was a failure. She's still too small and the sheep are big dumb brutes. She needs one of her own kind to pass the days with. And we'd really like to have two dairy goats so we can alternate breeding and have a steady supply of milk. But the pressing concern for right now, is making sure Noelle gets what she needs, and we get a new doeling who is a good fit and happy with our farm. We're very excited about the new little boer-alpine cross who will be joining us. We'll spend more weeks bottle feeding her, caring for her, and familiarizing her with life on the farm. It's always exciting to add new life here.

Farming can break your heart and lift you up, moments apart. It's kind of like a really intense romantic comedy drama. You take each moment as it comes, and try to manage whatever comes you way. Sometimes, it's shocking- but it always teaches you something. You get better, and you learn that the unexpected will come- it's how you handle it that makes the difference.

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