Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

The Calm Before The Storm.

Posted on | December 11, 2013 | 1 Comment

Brianna was one of our very first goats.

She and Carmen arrived together.

Although Brianna quickly established who was in charge.

From that day on, it didn’t matter how many goats arrived here.  Brianna was always on top.

She was an experienced goat.  She was already 5 years old and had several herds and plenty of kiddings behind her.  Which meant that during our first kidding season, while I was running around with baby monitors and print outs and goat books and emergency kidding kits, she calmly went to a corner and birthed 3 kids.  Without any help from me.

Which was good.  Because I was unlikely to have been much help anyway.  Those kids were the first goats born at Woodland Pond Farm.

For years after that, Brianna birthed without any complications.  She always had 3 kids and she never needed any assistance.  She had a champion udder and the kind of teats that all Nigerian Dwarf owners hope for.

She always provided enough milk for her kids, our family, and whoever else we were bottle feeding at the time.

I’m not going to say she never led the herd  into trouble.

Or that learning to milk her wasn’t a trial.  Because it was.

If it hadn’t been for the old towel trick my dad taught me (tying a towel around the belly of a dairy animal that likes to fidget, squat, and stamp during milking), we might not have made it through.  But in the end, Brianna taught me the lesson that would withstand the test of every goat that came after her.  Milking doesn’t take a lot of complicated skills.  It just takes confidence, calm, and perseverance.    Plus, sometimes a lot of grain in the feed bucket.  🙂

But last spring, at age 10, her kidding wasn’t so easy.  She birthed 3 kids without any trouble.  But one of her kids died within the first 12 hours.  And she rejected another kid after the first week—-kicking him away from the teat endlessly, until we took over bottle feeding.   And she took some time and some supplements to recover her usual vigor.  I scratched her behind the ears, rubbed her chin, and promised her she’d never have to do it again.

This fall, she wasn’t bred.  And I started looking for a suitable retirement home for her.  However, she wasn’t the only one.

Tina needed a place, too.

Probably everyone who reads this blog is familiar with Tina.

Although she kidded without any trouble this spring, too, her buckling had a minor version of the leg defects that she had when she was born.

Even though his legs strengthened and straightened on their own within the first week….

…Tina would never be bred again either.

Oh, there were lots of people that wanted the goats—to clear their woods or as extras to their large herd or as pets in the suburbs.  But there was always some reason that it wasn’t right.  I didn’t want them used as brush goats and then dumped.  I didn’t want them added to a large herd and lost in the crowd or accidentally exposed to bucks.  I didn’t want them in a backyard without blackberry brambles to browse and downed tree trunks to climb on and a pond to gaze over.  So we were milking Brianna and Tina, going about our business, ignoring rumblings from The Other Half about “too many goats around here”, with their exodus just a glimmer in the future, when the perfect home became available.

A family on the coast with a small farm and a flock of chickens was looking for goats for their kids.  They didn’t have any other goats and didn’t want to get into milking (they actually asked me to dry them off).  They just had the space and the time and a bunch of kids that loved to pet and coddle critters.

4 kids.  Perfect for ear scratches and lap-sitting.  Which I figured would feel just about right to Brianna and Tina.

And they had a Great Pyrenees that acted as livestock guardian for the hens running loose in the barn, the woods, and the pasture.  Which I figured would feel pretty annoying familiar to Brianna and Tina.

So we dried them off, loaded them up, gave them good bye hugs, and sent them on their way with their new family.

Turns out that Brianna and Tina retired to the beach before I did.  I’m hoping they save me a good spot.

Thanks for the ride, ladies.

Merry met, merry part.

We wish you the best with all our heart.

But it sure seems quiet around here.  I’m down to 4 goats.  Only 4 goats!  (Not counting the 3 bucks—because bucks only count once a year. ;))

Also, there’s no milking going on.  This is first time in years that I haven’t had at least 1 goat in milk.  Sometimes after I feed and water the barnyard crew, I just stand there, at a loss, feeling like I’m forgetting something.

I also feel a little bit nervous.  With my milkers gone, the chickens on egg-laying hiatus, and winter ice approaching, we might end up like every other sap headed to the grocery for milk and eggs. Just imagine the shame of it (shudder).

In any case, you’ve probably noticed an increase in postings.  Because I have so much more free time.  And because I’m trying to keep my fingers limber.  Since all 4 remaining goats are due to kid in February.  And my milking abilities will need to be in tip top shape then.

The next few months are just the calm before the storm.

Of course, CC was happy to keep me on my toes.  She developed a miserable case of the “slobbers”.  Probably because the high winds kicked down some leaves or branches that she nibbled on and then found they didn’t sit well with her.  She needed to be hand fed peppermints and radishes from the garden for a couple days.

Not because peppermints and fresh radishes are a cure for the “slobbers”.  Just because they are her comfort food.  What can I say?  A sassy pony requires spicy comfort food.

Thnak you, CC.  I knew I could count on you.  After all, I’d hate to get bored.


One Response to “The Calm Before The Storm.”

  1. Lin
    December 12th, 2013 @ 5:34 am

    While I’m very happy to hear that Tina found a good home, I’m sure gonna miss Tina stories. 🙁 Love you, Tina!!

    Uh….what is the slobbers? I’m almost afraid to ask.

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