Mike read the most tell-tale sign of when a goat is due to kid is when the tendons on either side of the tail disappear. Scarlet was huge and looking so uncomfortable so we were checking her tendons daily. Really simple check just put your thumb on one side of her spine at just above the start of her tail and your first finger on the other side, there they are. In the last few days I could feel the tendons feeling thinner and more string-like until Sunday; they were gone. Mike checked. I checked. They were gone.

We moved her into the barn and blocked the boys out, then started checking on her every few hours. She should have kids within 24 hours. Mike and I took turns running out to the barn there was nothing going on at the last check before we went to bed. It was decided we should check on her during the night as well. I don’t know if I would call it luck, but my migraine medicine wore off in the middle of the night so I was up without an alarm to alert the kids.

It was a slow, dark walk to the barn. Everything was still. There was no wind, the frogs were silent. It was nice. Scarlet was a bit annoyed when I woke her with the creaking of the barn door. She had nothing going on. Which was just fine with me at that point.

The next morning Mike did the chores and came in to report she still had nothing going on. That was okay but making us a little nervous. According to our reading she should be having her kids at any time now and we were both going to be at work for the day. The cows I don’t worry as much about they do their thing without help. It’s not their first time in the pen and they know to get their babies up and eating. This is Scarlet’s first and we wanted to make sure it went well for everybody. At the same time there is nothing to do but wait and pray.

Mike left as usual. I got the kids ready and we were soon to go as well. I stopped by the barn on our way out just for one last check. It was really odd, the barnyard was quiet. All the animals were looking at the barn. I should have taken a picture because it was really weird. I opened the barn door and all I heard was a tiny goat voice otherwise silence.

Scarlet had one baby on the ground and slightly cleaned up and had a second sack hanging from her. I knew what that was. The cows have the same thing- pre baby comes a sack of clear liquid, then baby. I sent out a poorly typed text to my boss and daycare that Scarlet was having babies and I would be late.

It was my turn to make a call from the barn. I called Mike and told him what was going on, then practically hung up on him to take a video. I was just in time. Once the second one was out I got the little boy out of the car and he came in to see the new goats.

Somewhere in there I had managed to run to the house and get a couple old towels. I dried off the oldest one as best I could. A boy. That’s when Mike arrived. He got the little Miss out of the car while I cleaned off the second one. A girl.We were all excited.

I put down some fresh straw and Mike moved a heat lamp. It has been pretty cool and rainy. The little boy started to get worried he was going to miss lunch at daycare and wanted to get going (it was about 9:30). He climbed back into the car to impatiently wait.

Both kids were dry and walking with wobbly knees. Once we saw them both start to eat we closed up the barn and left them to settle in.

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She Just Climbed Over and Thump!

The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.

Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!

I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.

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Goat Poop is Not Raisins

I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.

I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).

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Lining Up the Ducks

Really?! Ducks?! -Clyde

My last attempt to ready a spot for wintering the ducks. I spent my time this weekend installing a duck fence around the bottom of the goat pen. This summer the ducks made a sloppy mess of the south chicken run, the rain was no help in the matter either. Unfortunately their water loving habits don’t let up just because it snows and I won’t have then ruin the floor of the coop this winter.

As much as I like eating duck I was really hoping for eggs from these guys and don’t want to eat the birds. I was going to keep Henrietta and Lucky and let the rest go. I put them up for sale or free online. One found a new home and the gal who said she wanted the rest was a no-call/no-show. This seems to be the way a lot of online deals go. A little common courtesy would be nice. That’s ok though, I didn’t really want to give them up.

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Tales of the Pregnant Farmer: Winter Pedicures in the Barn

I don’t know if this is really worthy of the Tales of the Pregnant Farmer files but that’s where it’s going today!

Every four months or so the goats need their hooves trimmed and New Year’s was the perfect day to get it done. I bundled up (yes, my coveralls still fit), put a roll of saltines in my pocket and headed out to the barn.

Over the summer my hoof trimming technique was… learned. Perfected is still down the road, but I know what I’m shoot’n for and haven’t over-trimmed anyone yet. Hank is still stinky and in a pen of his own, so I climbed over the fence into the other pen first. I have learned that Clyde is the hardest to catch when it’s trimming time so he got to go first. I pulled the roll of crackers out of my pocket and I had three of the world’s most starved goats, or so one would think. Clyde was pretty easy to get a hold of when he was preoccupied with a soda cracker.

Front hooves first. I got his head pinned between my knees and lifted his leg to start trimming. This takes a bit of balance as it is. I’m standing on uneven hay, with the other two very curious to see what’s going on. So curious in fact that to get a better view they are peering over my shoulder. Yes, there I was bent over, Clyde’s head pinned between my knees, trimmer in one hand, goat leg in the other, with both of Scarlet’s hooves on my left shoulder and Lyle perched on my right. Their little noses busy by my cheeks. I should have gotten a picture, but I kinda had my hands full. I can only imagine it was quite a sight.

Then for the back ones. After struggling with a jumpy, “kicky”, Clyde, I change the routine a bit. The other two got their front hooves done the same but when it came time for the back, I grabbed them a little quicker, it was just enough to get them to stiffen up so I could easily lay them on their side. I would think they would be expecting something as I still had hold of them from trimming their front; it worked either way. I got them laid down and was able to keep them pinned long enough to get everybody’s toes look’n nice.

Mike walked in the barn as I was just finishing up with Lyle. Perfect timing to help with Big Hank! He’s not as smelly as he was this fall but he hasn’t had a bath either. I don’t think you bathe goats unless you’re going to show them at the county fair or something… I’m not about to start anyway. He stinks, there’s no denying that. It’s not horrible, but it’s distinct that’s for sure. It’s not “what’s that smell?”, it’s “Ooh, that’s Hank.” Mike and I climbed over the fence and into Hank’s pen (that alone make us smell like Hank).  There’s no gate, by the way, that’s why we had to climb. We could have went through the gate in the outside pen, but then would have had to crawl through the little goat door in the barn. Climbing is easier.

Mike got the job of holding Hank down. With the extra help, I told him my “grab the back leg” trick, that way Hank got to lay on his side for the whole “pedicure”. For the rest of the day, even after washing up and changing clothes, all I could smell was Hank. But at least his toes look nice.

The main reason that we have to trim their hooves at all is because they aren’t walking on rocky terrain every day, to keep them nicely filed naturally. There are a few rock piles in their pen to play on but not enough to do the job. If they get over grown, the nail will cover the bottoms of the hooves. They can trap “gook” (technical term there). They can get spongy and rot which leads to even bigger problems. When properly trimmed, their hooves are really cool, they’re kinda “grippy” (another technical term). It really is neat though!

It should be noted that their hooves can rot even when trimmed if they don’t have a dry place to stand. So in the spring, when they ground is really soft and the rain is, well, frequent, it’s really important the goats have a dry place to be.

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