I have done an absolutely dreadful job of keeping this blog up-to-date this summer and to my faithful readers I do apologize. It’s been an exciting summer and we’ve enjoyed these nine kids very much, but I did not get as many photographs as I usually do. In fact, most of them will fit right here in one post!
I have been very remiss in my blogging duties this summer. Our local saddle club has been going gangbusters since mid-May and when I’m not doing horsey things I’ve preferred to spend my time hanging out with the little kidlets and enjoying their company and watching them grow and play rather than taking pictures of them. It’s been a good summer and one of the highlights was when Phil’s Uncle Steve and Aunt Marianne stopped by for a brief visit at the end of June. Steve and Marianne are two of Goat-O-Rama’s biggest fans and most faithful followers.
Pizza Pringles are a dangerous thing. Marianne was quickly overwhelmed. Funny how just two eager goats can look and feel like a tidal wave of horns and hooves and noses when they are as big as these two!
Today at 5pm MST! Be there!
Tigerlily might be beautiful to look at, but she’s a very disappointing mother. After we greeted her new kids, Phil and I went back to bed and monitored the new family through the goat-o-scope. We immediately noticed something unusual. Tigerlily was no longer interested in her babies and was in fact running away from them! Every time they toddled eagerly toward her udder, Tigerlily would flee to the far side of the shelter. Phil and I watched her for a while with growing discouragement. She wasn’t savaging the the babies, but she clearly wanted nothing to do with them. In fact, she kept calling out the door as if looking for me. The bond she’d formed with her kids had transferred to me when I came out to visit.
Tigerlily started taking interest in her daughter again by mid-morning, but she wanted nothing to do with her son. On the other hand, Tigerlily was very bonded to me and kept fervently licking my arms. I managed to trick her into licking her boy by holding him in the crook of my elbow, hoping that by licking both of us she might come to accept her baby again. It worked! By next morning Tigerlily was nursing her baby boy but she’d utterly rejected her daughter. This time there was no changing her mind, so Phil and I had to hold Tigerlily several times a day so her little doeling could nurse. She’s such a confused mama!
We ended up naming the chunky buckling “Major Tom” and the tiny wisp of a doeling “Ziggy.” Ziggy immediately began associating Phil and I with a meal and within a few days she was running to us every time we called her name. Since Tigerlily was not aggressive toward Ziggy, we felt safe leaving them together. Ziggy happly bounced along behind her mama and big brother and seemed in no danger of getting left behind.
When Ziggy was five days old, I went out to feed her lunch and Tigerlily was on babysitting duty. She had Ziggy and Tom with her along with the three other late May kids, Sunflower, Skipper, and Scout. The rest of the goats were nowhere to be seen. I thought Ziggy would stay with the other four youngsters and I didn’t worry when I watched all of them trotting off into the brush with Tigerlily.
About two hours later I went out to check on the goats and I found a pile of babies curled up in a corner of the house with Tigerlily still watching over them, but little Ziggy was not among them. I didn’t worry. We’ve lost a few kids before and usually they’re within 100 yards of the house curled up in some cranny behind a rock or woodpile. I hunted around calling Ziggy’s name but she never appeared. I looked in all the usual places and a few unusual ones but she wasn’t there. I started getting nervous. She was such a tiny baby and her tan color would allow her to blend in almost anywhere. Still, I hadn’t searched long and I had to run to town on errands so I turned the search over to Phil when he was done working for the day. I thought surely he’d find her before I got home.
When I got back almost two hours later Ziggy was still missing. Phil had searched high and low but there was no sign of our tiniest little baby. I rejoined the hunt and we took our search further afield. Tigerlily was no help at all. Most mama goats will help us look if they lose their kids and often they have a rough idea of where they last saw them. But although Tigerlily seemed vaguely aware that she was missing something, she wasn’t distraught and she certainly had no interest in helping us look. We called and called, hoping Ziggy would call back, but listening for a baby goat cry was problematic. The birds were making a racket and the ranchers next door were moving cattle so the din of cows mooing and horses whinnying drowned out everything else.
We took a brief break for dinner and put the goats to bed. Dusk was falling and I hoped that as the light died, Ziggy would start to get nervous and call out. The birds had settled down for the night and the cattle and horses next door were finally quiet. Perhaps we might now be able to hear Ziggy. We took several more circuits around our property but we had no luck. It was almost dark and I was in despair. How could our tiny baby survive the night alone among foxes and coyotes? I finished my final round and waited on the back deck for Phil to finish his. I didn’t have much hope. I could make out Phil’s dim silhouette climbing the hill behind our house and he said nothing. My heart sank. He had not found Ziggy.
But as Phil trudged closer to the light cast from the back porch, my heart leapt. What was that tiny parcel tucked into the crook of his elbow? It was Ziggy! I raced down to meet Phil and cried tears of joy as Ziggy wriggled happily in his arms. She didn’t seem to know what all the fuss was about. Phil had found her way down beyond the pond at the edge of our property line. Phil had been walking along calling, “Baby goat! Baby goat!” as he went. Suddenly he stopped. Was that a small voice answering him? He called again and this time there was no mistake. Ziggy was calling back. Phil walked toward the sound and then he heard Ziggy rustling through the thick brush next to the trail. He could not get to her through the dense growth, but he kept calling as Ziggy struggled through the thicket toward the sound of Phil’s voice. Suddenly she burst out of the undergrowth and straight into Phil’s arms. We’d been searching for six hours and we were exhausted, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. Our littlest baby was safe at home again.
June got away from me and here we are in July with no updates about our little goat herd or its last two additions which were born on May 29th, which happens to be me and Phil’s anniversary. Tigerlily was due on May 25th, but I had a feeling she’d make us wait. She has a history of going well past her due date and this can be a real problem if she’s carrying a single large kid. This time, however, I felt confident that she was carrying two so I allowed her to take her pretty time about it. I also had a feeling she was going to kid in the middle of the night so I made sure to lock her in the shed with the goat-o-scope so I could keep an eye on her.
Sure enough, around 3:30 in the morning I awoke to see Tigerlily tenderly licking and caring for two new babies standing on wobbly legs and searching for the milk bar. They were almost dry and looked as though they’d been born about two hours earlier. Phil and I watched them on the camera for about half an hour before we decided to go out and dunk umbilical cords and see what we had.
We’re not sure what order they were born in, but we had an almost 10 lb. baby boy and a 6 lb. baby girl. Both were two-tone chamoisee and the girl had a white face with the cutest little pink nose. Tigerlily did a great job delivering them and cleaning them up all by herself. Phil and I spent 20 minutes looking them over before we headed back to bed, but we managed to snap a few photos.
Cupcake was very interested in the new arrivals. In fact, Cupcake is always very interested in everything having to do with our herd dynamics and is one of the sweetest and friendliest goats I’ve ever seen. She greets everybody and never picks a fight or acts pushy. She is almost universally liked by every goat in our herd despite her low status on the “goatem pole.”
My brother Tim, his wife Heather, and their two daughters Nora and Ivy came for a brief visit near the end of May. They were hoping to be there when Sadie, Coral, and/or Tigerlily kidded, but they held out another couple of days. No matter! There were loads of other babies to play with!
Ivy was very excited to meet the goats! Finn and Sputnik came in close to see if there might be cookies involved, but when they discovered there was no food in the offing they moseyed along. They’ve met little kids before.
Nora was determined to hold a baby goat on her lap. One problem: the baby goats are big and Nora’s lap is small. Zelda, our dedicated lap addict, was the only one who really tried to make this work.
Nora quickly realized that it was much easier to forget about holding the baby goats and just let them sniff and be friends.
Butterfly showed Nora how to nimbly navigate a steep hillside.
Rita was convinced that miniature people are extremely dangerous. She kept running as far and as fast from Nora and Ivy as she could. I had to catch her so we could bribe her with cookies. She ate the cookies, but I’m still not sure we won her over.
The horses harbor no such suspicions of little people, and the offer of food is welcome from any hand that extends it. Dusty loves kids and is very gentle and careful.
Pepperjack doesn’t have much experience with kids yet, but he’s a gentle, quiet horse and looks like he’ll be a good one for teaching riding lessons someday.
Little Sunflower has turned out to be the liveliest baby of all this year. This little gal hit the ground running and she hasn’t stopped!
Sunflower’s mother is a worried first-timer who had a tough time keeping up with her little one at first. Sunflower kept eluding Sadie and sneaking off to play with the big kids. After about a week, Sadie eventually gave up and if you ask her where her daughter is, she gives you and exasperated look and would probably throw her hands in the air if she had them. But we don’t really have to ask where Sunflower is because she’s always in the thick of things–smack dab in the middle of the crowd of kids and usually playing hard with the biggest, roughest, wildest ones.
I was able to get a few shots of Sunflower by herself when she was a day or two old. Since then she’s either been a black blur in the middle of a crowd of kids, or she’s been a little black ball curled up sound asleep.
It was this face that made me think of the name Sunflower. The black with white stripes reminds me of a sunflower seed.