Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Looking Up.

Posted on | February 13, 2012 | 12 Comments

Throughout the tough times this winter I kept reminding myself that, no matter what, we were lucky to be having mild weather.  And eventually things started looking up.  I think this is called the power of positive thinking.  Which someone renamed The Secret and then took credit for creating.  Go figure.  I am thinking of inventing spanking in cases of bad behavior and calling it More Effective Than Time Out.

In any case, it was a relief when things started going well again and I had more blessings than just 60 degree days in January.  Especially because it eventually got cold.  20 degrees at night cold.  Which means the power of my positive thinking made it just under the wire.  Whew!

To start with, the rest of the spring goat babies arrived without any complications.  Vixen gave birth to a beautiful doeling named Eve.

Although we were disappointed that Vixen only gave birth to 1 kid, we were thrilled that she was a female.  And that Vixen managed without any help.  The Other Half went out to milk one morning and 4 kids bounced out of the kidding barn instead of the 3 who had been present the night before.  I am actually very pleased that he was discriminating enough to notice the difference.  Since one time he attempted to milk a goat who was not lactating but simply jumped onto the milk stand in the hope of extra grain.  Those ladies will play with your head if you let them.

Cocoa also kidded without any assistance.  I did happen to arrive as soon as the little guy hit the ground and Vixen was aiding with the clean up.

Too bad that when Cocoa went to hide the placenta, Vixen tried to shove the new buckling under her udder and claim him as her own.

I am writing it off as overactive hormones instead of an intentional attempted kidnapping.  After all, Vixen’s kid was only 3 days old and she was still riding the postpartum wave.  I have heard some breastfeeding women say the crying of any baby, including one that is not theirs, resulted in milk let down and the need to nurse.  I believe them, but I just cannot imagine it.  When I was breastfeeding, the crying of another woman’s baby just made me want to leave the restaurant since I was paying good money to have a babysitter for the night so that I didn’t have to listen to that.  But that’s just me.

We were a bit disappointed that Cocoa only had 1 kid and that he was a, sigh, buckling.  Just a plain brown buckling.  Until the next morning when he was dry and fluffy and we saw that he had blue eyes and was the handsomest buckling we have ever seen.

We named him Max but we usually call him Hello-You-Gorgeous-Baby-So-Soft-And-Cuddly-And-Cute-As-A-Real-Live-Teddy-Bear-With-Sparkly-Blue-Eyes-Oh-We-Love-You!!!!!!  I mean just look at those baby blues!

So with the spring kids on the ground, we can all relax a bit.  There will be no more kids until May.  And May kidding doesn’t require heat lamps or constant vigilance to keep babies from being born outside in the wet or cold.  Or freezing nights in the kidding barn, waiting and wondering if a doe will finish laboring before you get frostbite on your fingers and toes.

But a successful kidding season isn’t the only good news around here.  Blackbeard the Muscovy duck has started her first nest of the year.

She has 9 eggs in this nest and the presence of feather down is a sign that she will be broody soon.  Blackbeard is a lot more reliable than a groundhog when it comes to the timing of spring.  She always seems to know when the worst of winter weather has passed and a brood of ducklings stand a good chance of survival.  Blackbeard has been known to raise up to 4 broods a year, regularly hatches every egg in her nest, has successfully fended off a raccoon attack, and recovered from being trapped under the fence with the dogs chewing off pieces of her breast meat from inside their yard.  Hence the name, Blackbeard, the fiercest of, um, ducks.

With a 38 day incubation period, we should have ducklings by Easter.  Which is sweeter than the treats in any Easter basket.  Well, except for the Cadbury eggs.  Or maybe the Peeps chocolate cake.  Ah, the Peeps chocolate cake….

Speaking of eggs, I have discovered one of the chickens’ hiding spots in the pasture.

There is an old tunnel row cover protecting what used to be a bed of potatoes.  Before I decided that everyone who grows potatoes is a big fat liar and you cannot grow potatoes in a tunnel row cover.  Or a black plastic bag.  Or a leaf pile.  Or in a wire circle.  Or all the other ways that people say they grow potatoes.  Potatoes grow in the grocery store.  Period.

But apparently you can grow eggs in an old tunnel row cover.  Which means after gathering 4 eggs from the compliant hens using the nest boxes and 3 eggs from the naughty hens using the row cover, I get 7 eggs a day.  O.  M.  G.  We’re not making pound cake yet.  But we did have French toast yesterday.  Ah, French toast….

To top off this run of stupendous luck, Luna got a raging ear infection and required a trip to the vet.  On a Sunday.  You’re probably thinking that I’m being sarcastic.  Sarcasm is one of my strengths.  Not one of the strengths I mention in job interviews, but still.  In this instance, though, I am very serious.  Because I made an amazing discovery after sending a frantic batch of emails to friends and family seeking advice on how to pin down, clean, and apply ointment to a squirming, scratching, squealing, 80 lb German Shepherd with an ear infection so painful that she cried if you even breathed on it.

What I discovered was that one of my friends has a vet that is OPEN on Saturdays and Sundays and DOES NOT CHARGE EXTRA to patients that require a weekend visit.  This vet is also LOCAL, only 7 miles from my house!!!!  Can you say, “Goodbye, emergency after hours vet clinic and your $65 fee just to walk in the door”?  I sure can.  I really don’t have any complaints about my old vet.  Except, of course, for that annoying lecture about how if I was feeding my dog a more nutritious (i.e. expensive and only available from the vet’s office) food, my dogs would poop rainbows and bark classical symphonies. (Please note: sarcasm.) And they are not open on Saturdays and Sundays.

So I hauled Luna to the new vet on Sunday afternoon.  And I liked the vet so much that I gathered all the medical records of the dogs and the cat from my old vet and transferred them to the new practice on Monday morning.  It’s quite a relief to know that the next injury or illness that occurs Friday after 5pm, which is when it always happens, can be treated as early as 9am on Saturday.  The new vet even gave me a lecture on feeding my dogs more nutritious (i.e. expensive and only available from the vet’s office) food.  Which made me feel right at home.

Yep, it’s true.  Things are looking up.  Makes me feel downright warm and fuzzy inside.  Just about as warm and fuzzy as a dog on Prednisone, Ciprofloxacin, and Tramadol, laying next to the woodstove, in a patch of afternoon sunlight.  Ah, warm and fuzzy….


12 Responses to “Looking Up.”

  1. Sandybee
    February 13th, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

    You are a gifted story teller. I love reading about your adventures. I’m a city kid. Walking through a petting zoo is about the closest I get to farm animals. Of course, I did teach for over 30 years. Does that count as being with animals? Thanks foe the smile.

  2. Jill
    February 14th, 2012 @ 4:21 am

    Poor Luna! Please send name of vet open on Sun!! Mine is open Sat mornings which cover the inevitable Friday night cat tussle, but not the Saturday cat foo injuries… The emergency vet is a wonderful feature, but something in the neighborhood would be fantastical!!

    kidnapping! too cute.

    At least in your world girls are preferred unlike in many countries where girls, albeit humans, are quickly dispatched…

  3. Linda Kerlin
    February 14th, 2012 @ 5:09 am

    You bring a smile to my face when I read your post—-and I love the fact you are full of sarcasm for so am I either we could be friends or spit on one another— Also would you like to share the receit for the choc-peepeee cake –the grankids would think that so “cool” does that word even get used anymore in the vocabulary? I truly like the idea of you bringing back spanking and re-naming it!!! I feel it would help the young one get an upper hand on things in this big wide world—but what do I know being full of sarcasm too?!!!!

  4. admin
    February 14th, 2012 @ 5:37 am

    Hi Linda, The peep cake is so easy that my kids can make it, plus you get 2 cakes out of one cake mix. It is one of my favorite cakes to make for cake walks or bake sales because everyone loves it. Just use your favorite cake recipe to make two 8 inch or 9 inch round cakes. Frost them with chocolate frosting. Before the frosting dries, push on a row of Peeps around the outside edges, let them overhang over the edge a little bit. You can leave the Peeps attached together the way they come out of the package so they go on pretty quickly. Then press mini choc chips (or regular size) with their tips up into the middle of the cake. Definitely a job for the kids, but not as time consuming as it looks. Voila! The cake is done. I didn’t invent this cake but I cant remember where I first saw it, so maybe I did invent it 🙂

  5. Liz
    February 14th, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    I just love this! I try to check every day for a new post. You make me smile.

  6. Courtney
    February 14th, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    Your new baby goats are adorable. Nils and I will have to come for a visit soon before they get too big!

  7. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla
    February 15th, 2012 @ 7:56 am

    It seems your goats need to erm, discuss the delivery of their apples with you. I can come give a maaaa. I AM a Famous SpokesGoat….

    Thank you for visiting my blog. Your new kids are adorable

  8. Tayet
    February 15th, 2012 @ 8:03 am

    Once my family grew potatoes by buying a bag from the store and leaving it in the yard. The baby goat are adorable! I can’t wait for mine to arrive in March.

  9. Melodie
    February 15th, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    Love the baby goats! You are so lucky to find that vet! Our nearest one open on the weekend is a good hour away. I once spent hours driving around 2 counties with a goat with a stuck kid in the back looking for an open vet…in my PJ’s..sobbing..covered with everything from the goat birthing stall..on a Sunday…till I finally found the one open.The goat was saved but the kid was dead. Never a dull moment I tell ya.
    I start my tomatoes in Jiffy pellets too! I just put them in the milk cartons once they out grow the pellets and keep them in the hot house till after frost time.

  10. Leigh
    February 15th, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

    This post was a delight. Congratulations on your new little doe and that was just too funny about Cocoa, Vixen, and Max. He looks like he’s grinning in those pix!

  11. Lynda
    February 17th, 2012 @ 5:26 am

    I grow potatoes in my raised beds. Last year the underground termites came and had a party. You know that old joke about the only thing worse than an apple with a worm in it is an apple with half a worm in it? Well, it applies to potatoes and termites! I would kill them, but the only thing that works on the termites would probably kill me too. So it’s back the the grocers for taters.

    Love those goats! Wishing I had some too. Perhaps someday…
    ~ Lynda

  12. Caitlin
    February 21st, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    They are so precious! I am planning on getting goats this spring/summer. What kind of goats would you recommend? Also what kind of goats do you have?


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