A Family Visit

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.

Sunflower

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.

Skipper and Scout

We ended up naming Coral’s kids Skipper and Scout.

It took a couple of days for Skipper’s ears to figure out which way to go. Right ear up, left ear down.

Right ear down, left ear up.

Right ear up, left ear down.

Right ear down, left ear up. Are we ever going to figure this out??

Scout’s ears stuck straight out for about a day, then the left one flopped down for a few hours before the right flopped down as well.

And for about two days, these flopped ears were the cutest ever. I hoped, hoped, hoped they would stay this way!

He looked like a puppy!

The older kids were curious about the newcomers. First Zelda and Sonic introduced themselves before Coral gently sent the big kids on their way.

Butterfly also wanted a peek at the new babies. I believe she’s asking their mama’s permission before saying hello.

I think Skipper is trying to tame those unruly ears of his.

Scout’s ears were perfect this way. Alas, within a couple of days they’d thickened just enough to keep them propped up and now his ears are straight. I so wish he’d kept the terrier look. It was adorable! But we love him just the same, straight ears and all.

A Memorable Memorial Day: Part 2

While Sadie was busy getting acquainted with her new little girl, Phil and I took Coral to the opposite side of the driveway where Coral could get down to business without distraction. It was about this time that our friends Diana and Emma showed up. They’d been wanting to see a birth take place and they were just in time to watch Coral.

Coral was the only goat this year that needed a little help, and it wasn’t because the kid was laid wrong. I think Coral’s water had broken some time before but her labor stalled out when we brought her from the shed to the field, then she got distracted by Sadie’s baby, then she got dragged to a different spot. By the time she finally settled down to business the kid was stuck and the passage was a little dry. We saw feet protruding but no progress, so I gave those hooves a pull. The head was lying right behind them in the proper position so a few tugs later, out came a beautiful little cou clair buckling–with wattles!

Until now I have never had a photo of myself delivering a kid. Diana had a great angle and it helped that Coral took a break halfway along. The poor kid was confused about his half-in, half-out situation and kept blinking and looking side to side with a somewhat frustrated expression on his face.

He was a grand buckling of 8.5 lbs. and a striking color.

About half an hour later he was joined by a 9 lb. brother of sundgau coloring. He also had wattles!

“Can I help?”

Proud mama! I do love that busy purple tongue!

Wattles!!!

The whole family, and Coral’s tongue is at it again.

Meanwhile across the driveway, Sadie’s kid was dry and leading her mama on adventures all over the pasture.

Before she left, Emma held the new little soft baby.

A Memorable Memorial Day

Well, I was planning to post these “fat, waddling mama” photos before the kids were born but somehow I got too busy and here we are. The kids are now almost a week old and two of our mamas look much slimmer while the other one never looked fat to begin with. Lucky girl!Coral was the biggest of the bunch and I was absolutely convinced she was carrying triplets. Nope.It turned out she was just FAT.

Tigerlily was also very large and Phil thought she might have triplets. Nope. She was also just FAT.

Sadie didn’t look pregnant at all except for the tell-tale udder development. I thought maybe one tiny baby might be hiding in there.

Coral and Sadie were both due on Sunday, May 24th and Tigerlily was due Monday the 25th. I thought Coral must surely kid early, but there were no babies Sunday and by Monday morning she still hadn’t produced anything. Meanwhile, Coral looked like she could hang on another month and be just fine so I was barely watching her at all. Tigerlily always goes overdue so I didn’t even bother looking for signs of impending labor on her due date.

As Monday afternoon rolled around, Coral (a.k.a. “Fuzzy”) separated herself from the herd and dug a nice spot under a cedar tree. I said, “No way, girl!” and hustled her off to the kidding shed where I could keep an eye on her through the Goat-O-Scope. Meanwhile, Sadie was acting a little strange and seemed to be secluding herself a bit, although she was still trailing the herd at a distance. Her tiny udder suddenly looked three times the size it was that morning. I didn’t think she looked ready yet, but I knew I’d better keep an eye on her.

Coral looked like she was starting labor around 4:00 in the afternoon and I went out to check on her, but when I went outside I noticed that Sadie had vanished. Coral didn’t look that close, so I took a few minutes to check on Sadie. I’m glad I did! She had just sat down under the cedar tree I’d pulled Coral away from earlier that day and was starting to push! I dragged Sadie down the hill to a nice green patch of open field and hollered at Phil to bring the kidding box to Sadie instead of Coral. But Coral was going into labor too! It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and I always prefer outdoor kiddings when possible, so we pulled Coral out of the shed and brought her near Sadie just in time for Sadie to pop out a kid–a single big doe! This gal weighed 10 lbs.! Where was Sadie hiding a kid that big?

Things got even livelier after that. Coral forgot about her own delivery and trotted over to help Sadie with hers. Soon the new kid had two mamas diligently cleaning her off. Sadie didn’t seem to mind Coral’s help in the least.

Butterfly was very curious and thought she might join in on the action.

And then Sonic ventured over to help too.

All this was a bit much. I shooed the older kids away and then had to drag a protesting Coral away from Sadie’s kid. Seeing two mamas lick a new baby was cute, but I knew if I allowed it to continue we’d likely run into bonding and possession issues where the kid claimed both mamas and both mamas claimed the kid. Besides, the distraction was preventing Coral from getting on with her own project. Her own kids were tired of waiting!

Despite having more help on hand than any goat before her, Sadie really didn’t need any help at all. The delivery was quick and easy and it was a large, strong, healthy kid that was up nursing and running around within minutes. We named her Sunflower.

Looks like mama got a little carried away with the licking!

Gettin’ Religion!

When Butterfly got hurt, Phil and I couldn’t leave her alone with the herd. She was too slow, too fragile, and she couldn’t get up easily when she fell or was knocked down. So we kept her in the house at night and supervised her outdoor playtime. When Sunday came she still wasn’t ready to be left alone so we brought her to church with us! Our church has been holding services outdoors so it’s perfect for bringing baby goats. George accompanied his sister so she would have someone to play with.

George is a wild man and he LOVES people. One of the ladies in church took him around to visit every car in the parking lot. It helped keep him from bugging his sister too much.

For a few days, this was Butterfly’s favorite position. I haven’t seen too many goats that would sit like a dog, so I suppose the broken pelvis made this position more comfortable somehow. I found it absolutely adorable.

Sunday, May 10th was the first day for Butterfly to really interact with the herd. She started getting around pretty well on Saturday afternoon and was able to interact with the other babies, but her mobility was limited. But by Sunday she actually started hopping and climbing with George and the other kids.

Skeeter has been remarkable through all this. Many mothers would have abandoned a hurt baby that spent so much time separated from her. Some would have been careless and knocked their baby down or been too impatient to wait for them to shuffle slowly toward the udder. Not Skeeter. She has impressive mothering skills. At first she was a bit savage toward Zelda and Sonic when they would try to play with Butterfly, and she would even reprimand George for playing too rough. But as Butterfly has improved, Skeeter has become more permissive toward the other kids. What a smart mama! Now if only she were smart enough to keep her kids out of the horse pen! This is still a trouble spot we’re working on. Pepperjack can’t resist chasing the babies.

Daisy-dog loves baby goats.

Play time!

A week ago our friend Emma, who attended Butterfly and George’s introduction to the world, got some ducklings! She wanted me to come see, and since I couldn’t leave Butterfly unsupervised yet, I brought her along. “Butterfly, meet ‘Ducky’!”

Zelda and Sonic

We were so busy with poor little Butterfly that I never made time to introduce Rita’s wonderful little kidlets, Zelda and Sonic. In fact, for their first week I hardly got to know them myself! I quickly realized that these little babies were skittish and would run from Phil and I when we approached. That’s not acceptable behavior for Goat-O-Rama kids! We set to work remedying the situation right away and now we’re all having fun.

Zelda was the first kid born in this batch, and although smaller than her brother at birth, she is quickly catching up to him as she is the more aggressive of the two and never gets left out of a meal. She’s also bolder and more adventuresome. Except for the ears and face (which has a butterfly on it like Butterfly!), Zelda looks a LOT like Finn.

Once we started handling her, Zelda quickly warmed up to people and now she’s the most dedicated lap baby we’ve ever had. If we put her down, she immediately tries to jump back up without success. If we don’t lift her she drums her little feet on our knees and stares pleadingly up into our faces.

Zelda loves to climb. I think it’s one reason she loves so much to be held–it makes her taller than everyone else!

Sonic is more reserved than his sister and is even a little shy, not just with people but with the other goats. When the other babies chase or butt him, he tends to back down and find someplace safe to hide. He took longer than his sister to get over his fear of being petted and picked up, but once he settles into a lap he calms right down and nearly always goes straight to sleep. Although he’s taking longer to come out of his shell, I think Sonic is going to be a very sweet and dedicated goat. He may never be a “people goat” like Finn, but I have a feeling he’s going to be absolutely devoted to “his” person. 

The Flight of the Butterfly

Butterfly continues to improve each day. She can walk now instead of just shuffling her hind end, and she runs as fast as the other babies but with her hind legs together like a deer. She usually only runs on the right hind leg, but she’s dotting the left down more and more often. Her pelvis still looks uneven, but I’m really hoping that as it continues to heal it will even out in time. She wags her tail now, which she couldn’t do for the first week. She can’t hold her tail upright yet (only straight out), but I think it’s partly because her rump is at an unnaturally steep angle. I’m not sure if this steepness will be permanent or not. It seems like it’s less steep now than it was, and that the angle occasionally flattens out when she stands or moves a certain way. However, it’s rare enough and subtle enough that I can’t be sure. I’m terribly impatient for her to heal “yesterday” but I keep reminding myself that it’s only been a week and a half since her accident and she’s already RUNNING! And today she was also doing some small leaps, climbing rocks, and she even climbed up and down a set of stairs at church this morning. (Yes, I bring her to church since I can’t leave her unsupervised at home yet.)

I have a funny story from Butterfly’s vet visit. The clinic does not allow customers in the building, so masked vet techs were coming outside to get people’s information and take animals into the clinic. I handed my little baby over to Doc so he could take her inside for x-rays. About half an hour later a vet tech unlocked the door and furtively beckoned me inside the building. I fixed my masked in place and ducked covertly inside. She quickly ushered me through and locked the door behind me. The tech bustled me past the lobby and into the dispensary where I was ordered to wait “RIGHT HERE!”

About 15 minutes later, Doc came out to talk about the x-rays, but he couldn’t show them to me in the lighted dispensary.

“Do you mind coming to the back?” he asked, shifty-eyed, with a guilty tone to his voice. I told him I didn’t mind a bit and followed him through, but it felt like we were in a spy movie or carrying out a museum heist. We snuck stealthily through the building as if to avoid prying eyes. It was like being back in college when we would find ways to sneak into locked buildings just for the heck of it. The slight twinge of guilt. The thrill that someone would catch us doing something off-limits.

Doc and I squeezed into the small x-ray closet and he closed the door. The second we were out of sight, he whipped his mask off, took a deep breath, and whispered furiously, “I’m so over this COVID business!!”

I couldn’t help laughing. He’s an older man who has had some recent health scares. I’m sure everyone is constantly on his case about keeping his mask in place at all times. Before we exited the closet he was careful to hitch his mask back into position. The whole experience was like “Pandemic Theater” and I know I wasn’t the only one in the vet clinic who felt that way.

And one of these days I’m going to post photos not only of Butterfly and George (who are growing like weeds), but of Zelda and Sonic, who are two of the cutest little babies ever. They got a bit neglected during the first week of Butterfly’s drama and got a little skittish, but we’re making up for it now and they’re quickly coming round. Zelda is especially bold and now instead of shying away she jumps up on our knees and demands to be picked up. Sonic is still a little shy but he’s making progress.

One Day at a Time

Butterfly spent most of Thursday and Friday last week in the house with me. She couldn’t stand up without help and she usually laid with her hind legs stretched out. Despite being largely immobile, she nevertheless kept up a keen interest in everything around her. And is that not the sweetest little face?

Movies on the couch with Butterfly and George snuggled up together made the evenings pleasant.

Skeeter comes into the basement several times a day to nurse her kids and visit. She’s been a fantastic mother through all of this–never losing interest in her little crippled baby, and always being extremely careful with her and patient to let her nurse her fill.

On Friday afternoon, Phil and I took down our ping-pong table and built an indoor playpen for Butterfly and George. The vet said good footing would be key, so we put down some of those jigsaw puzzle mats used in Sunday school rooms for the kids to play on. It’s soft and has excellent traction. Then we added a thin layer of pine shavings and a box for the kids to feel safe in. The pen is big enough for mama to visit!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now one week later and these kids don’t fit in this box any more! I thought it was a big box!

On Saturday afternoon, Butterfly was doing well enough that I felt safe taking her outside to the goat pen with supervision. Rita was very sweet. She thought we had brought her more babies and she seemed very delighted, but Skeeter soon put an end to that notion! Skeeter is extremely protective of Butterfly, even to the point of hitting Rita’s babies very hard to keep them away. I don’t think it’s in Skeeter’s nature to be mean to babies, but until Butterfly is fully mobile, other goats young and old are going to have to watch out for the wrath of Mama Bear!

Butterfly was especially enamored with Rita’s doeling, who we named “Zelda.”

Rita didn’t get much opportunity to hang out with Butterfly, but in those rare moments when Skeeter was occupied, Rita showed nothing but tenderness toward the little hurt baby. I’m so proud of her! Every herd needs good mamas who take care of all the babies regardless of who they belong to.

Skeeter eventually felt safe leaving Butterfly with me and Phil so she could take rambunctious little George for his first outing. The little guy was bursting with excitement and curiosity and thoroughly enjoyed his first adventure with the “big goats.”

I never have to hold Skeeter still to nurse Butterfly. She takes such good care of this little one and makes sure she’s completely finished eating before walking off, and is always careful not to bump her as she walks by. What a good mama!

Butterfly was beginning to get depressed on Friday and Saturday because of her immobility. She was eating less and her ears started to droop. Taking her outside to be with the other kids on Saturday afternoon really cheered her up and restored her spark of life. It was a bit rough-and-tumble, especially when George got into the mix, but Butterfly didn’t seem to mind a bit. In fact, it inspired her to try harder at walking and to pull herself up if she fell or got knocked down. Since Rita’s kids are a little smaller than Butterfly, they make perfect playmates. What a trio!