Tigerlily finally kidded last night at 10:00, just as I was about to give up and shuffle off to bed. She had to kid during a snowstorm too. But this adorable ball of fluff was totally worth all the nonsense Tigerlily put us through! Introducing Snowball!
At 6:30 a.m. we had two beautiful bucklings on the ground. First came a very light tan and white with frosted ears and frosting around his eyes who we named “Yeti,” followed almost immediately by a rich brown and white boy we’re calling “Thor.”
Tigerlily and TinCup appear to be holding out, so I’d better post these photos before more kids come and steal the spotlight!
We had the kids in last night for their first movie on the couch. Much fun was had by all!
Sometime around 2:30 she started the licking routine. Imminent mamas like to warm their tongues up and get in some licking practice just before the kids arrive. Phil’s hands provided a good workout routine.
After the birth everyone stepped outside for a little fresh air and clean grass while I cleaned the shed. Mama’s still working that tongue. She’s always sure she missed a spot. Did you ever see such a fuzzy brown baby?
This kidding was not as easy for Petunia as her last couple. Her contractions were weak and we had to help pull the kids even though they were presented correctly. We weren’t sure what was wrong except that earlier in the week Petunia had been hit really hard and was bowled over on her back. I thought maybe that affected her delivery but I was wrong.
Next morning Petunia was so sick she couldn’t stand and her lungs were full of fluid. She spent all day looking like each breath might be her last. She was too sick to take to a vet and the mobile vet in our area doesn’t work Thursdays so I had to wait until my neighbor Kathy, the vet at the Pueblo Zoo, got home from work. Kathy came around 6:30 pm and said that Petunia was hypocalcemia, which is a fancy word for a sudden, severe calcium deficiency that can happen after giving birth. Kathy and I spent two hours in the shed with Petunia while Kathy hooked Petunia to an IV drip to administer fluids and the life-saving calcium. This condition can be caused by too much or too little calcium in the diet prior to kidding. The weak contractions should have clued me in, but I was distracted by her accident earlier in the week and didn’t think to give her some calcium paste. I’ll have to think about my feeding regimen because I don’t want to have another scare like this again! I was afraid we would loose our “Pretty Pet”!
As of this morning, Petunia is weak but recovering. Her babies are thriving. I had to feed them bottles while their mama was sick, but they are both good eaters and had no trouble taking milk from a bottle.
I got very behind on my blog following our trip to Texas and now there have been so many things to post that it’s hard to get them all out at once! The morning after we got back from Texas (April 10th) we were greeted by a morning rainstorm with a rare west-side rainbow.
Ok, now it’s time for a little show-off session. Or maybe I’ll call it a “training clinic” so I can pretend that I’m not just boasting. Finn gave us a textbook-perfect example of how a well-trained goat should cross water and I can’t help but post the whole thing.
There was a small corner of the lake that I wanted the boys to wade through. Finn and Sputnik must have decided to trade personalities, or else Finn was trying to make up for his disgrace the previous day because Finn is usually sticky about crossing water and Sputnik generally plunges right in. This time they were the opposite. I grabbed Finn first and he demonstrated the kind of water crossing I didn’t know was achievable with goats!
I have now put a little gentle tension on the lead–enough to show Finn that I DO want him to follow me into the water and not avoid it by leaping over the narrow spot to the left–and he is responding beautifully. He’s stepping down the bank cautiously but without balking.
And here he is, walking nicely across. The lead is short but I have very little tension on it. The bottom is very uneven and I’m not sure whether it might be slippery in spots, so I keep Finn close so I can grab onto him if I lose my footing.
Now it’s Sputnik’s turn! Sputnik is usually not too concerned about water. When we go hiking and there’s a creek crossing, Finn always takes the log bridge or finds a spot narrow enough to jump while Sputnik plows right through the water. But Sputnik isn’t too keen on this pond for some reason. You can see the tension on the lead and Sputnik’s body straining against the pull.
After that he crosses pretty easily, but not with Finn’s nonchalance. Once again, I’m holding my goat close so we can support each other on the uneven, invisible bottom. I love the way Finn is looking down from above. I think he feels superior. “I did it better, Sputnik!” And I admit–Finn DID do it better. On the way back, Sputnik balked before suddenly jumping down into the deep spot. He made a big splash and soaked the back of my pants, so I got to be wet for the rest of the morning. Unfortunately, Phil did not manage to get a picture.
Our big packgoat “meet ‘n’ greet” day dawned foggy and wet. We were joined early in the morning by Kim Fox, another fellow NAPgA member, but no other members showed up. Bad weather kept most of them home, but our spot near Ratcliff Lake was good for stormy weather. It was humid and there was drizzle, but the rain and lightning mostly stayed away until that night so we had some good workshops. The FS put up flyers telling people to come learn about packgoats and a few brave souls ventured over. None of them had ever heard of a packgoat before!
The pavilion even had electrical outlets and lights, so it was a great spot on a wet day! Sputnik showed everyone how packsaddles work. He was a funny boy. When I was done using him for demonstrations, I tied him up where I thought he would be no trouble. WRONG! He’s a goat, isn’t he? Sputnik kept reaching over and pulling down the equipment draped over the rail. I scooted the saddles further and further from his reach, but he simply reached further each time. When I finally managed to get everything out of his way, he started hunching his back and attempting to spray like a buck (unsuccessfully, thank goodness, but these displays are always rather embarrassing!). I slapped his rump a couple of times to make him stop, so he got up on his hind legs and began gnawing on the beams of the pavilion and then clacking horns with Finn. He was really quite full of himself and was determined to remain the center of attention. I did eventually bring him back onstage so he could show off his tricks and he was immensely pleased to be once more in the limelight. What a ham!
After the packsaddle demonstration, I hitched Sputnik to his cart and everyone took a turn at the reins. Fellow NAPgA member, Connie Losee, may have had the best time of anyone. Just look at that grin!
We spent the afternoon trimming hooves, fitting and comparing pack saddles, and jawing about goats. Finally, Phil broke out his fiddle and played us some tunes. Sputnik and Kim’s Toggenburg wether, Lucas, were both intrigued.
Finn got exiled to an outside picnic table about halfway through the afternoon after he disgraced himself by butting heads with another goat while Connie was in the way. He grazed her with his horn in passing and while he didn’t hit her hard enough to hurt, it startled her and made me angry. I gave him a thorough dressing-down and dragged him outside to stand by himself at the picnic table for the rest of the afternoon. He was quite upset at being left in timeout, but he must understand that he cannot spar with other goats if there is a person in the middle!
After our visit with the Texas family, Phil and I took our goats and headed southeast toward Davy Crockett National Forest where we had organized a small rendezvous with other members of the North American Packgoat Association. Unfortunately the forecast was not in our favor. We arrived at the NF and were greeted by enthusiastic park rangers who told us that our original choice of location at the Piney Creek Horse Camp was not ideal for wet weather camping. They relocated us to a much nicer spot near Ratcliff Lake with solid footing and bathrooms complete with running water and hot showers! We were very grateful for their accommodation in light of the fact that pack stock are not allowed at Ratcliff Lake Campground. But the Forest Service rangers felt that our goats don’t quite belong in the “pack stock” category and could fly under the radar on such a soggy weekend. It was a beautiful location!
Nevertheless, Phil and I explored our original location at the horse camp just to see what it was like. It was also very nice but had no view of the lake. It had longer grass for the goats, but the ground was fairly soggy and I fear we may have gotten some of our trailers stuck.
It turned out that the horse camp was quite thoroughly trashed. Although we weren’t going to stay there after all, Phil and I spent some time that afternoon picking up garbage along the roadway leading into the camp. We were not able to get all of it, but we did our best to make a dent! By the end, both goats’ panniers were full to overflowing.
We volunteered to do a small work project, so the Forest Service brought us some tools and told us to go to work clearing brush and weeds around an old, overgrown sawmill foundation next to our campsite. The goats loved this idea and went to work right away!
Phil and I had really a special day with our goats after we left Charles and Dominique’s house. My aunt Jana asked if we would be able to visit her mother at an assisted living home only half an hour from Granbury. Our schedule was open, so Jana and her sister organized our visit with the home’s activities coordinator, and despite the chilly weather, every resident came out to meet Finn and Sputnik and take a ride in the goat cart! Unfortunately, all of our names got lost in translation and the advertisement printed up by the activities coordinator came out rather hilarious.
This wonderful gentleman (I think his name was Jerry) may have had the most fun of anybody. He was the first to volunteer for a ride, and he honked the horn all the way around the circle. He had a hard time talking, but he had absolutely no difficulty smiling!
Mary was a little bit sneaky. She was one of the first to ride after Jerry, but after a few more people went, she got back in line and pretended she hadn’t already ridden. Someone made the excuse that her memory was starting to fail, but I saw the crafty gleam in her eye. She knew exactly what she was doing and no one was going to tell her she’d already taken a turn! We weren’t going to argue with her.
Peggy finally got her ride. She’d raised Spanish and Cashmere goats, so she had never seen any as big as Finn and Sputnik. She was thrilled to have her first ride in a goat cart!
Aileen (in the blue bath robe sitting down) spent a good bit of time holding onto Finn while Phil played his fiddle. Finn was a very good boy and let everyone pet and admire him. What a wonderful day! I would do this again any time. It brought so much joy to these wonderful folks who are now mostly housebound and no longer get to be around animals.
The “Christian Hymns” advertised on the flyer turned out to be “Be Thou My Vision” (which is the one hymn Phil had music for) and a lot of traditional Scottish and Irish fiddle tunes. Everyone loved the music as much as they loved visiting the goats.
Sputnik and Finn were both such good boys through all of this! Finn was patient, calm, and kind around all those frail old people with their scary walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. It was the first time our boys had experienced something like this and they were very well-behaved. Sputnik enjoyed pulling his cart. Every resident took a ride. One woman name Sue could not speak or walk at all, but she nodded when they asked if she wanted a ride. Three nurses had to lift her from her wheelchair and into the cart. Sputnik was nervous at having so many people crowding around his cart all at once, and he wasn’t sure if he should stand still when the cart bumped and rolled as Sue got situated. He jumped when the nurses hastily flung a blanket over Sue, but I calmed him with cookies, and once we got underway he was fine again. Sputnik got a big kiss afterwards for all his hard work!
After lunch we said our farewells and struck out for Crockett, TX to embark on our “Lone Star Hoofenanny” adventures. We stayed that night at the Warfield Bed & Breakfast which was located right next-door to a funeral home. Since no one was having a funeral that night, there was plenty of room to park our trailer.
After we left Jana and Peyton’s, we traveled down to Granbury where we visited my grandfather Charles and his wife Dominique. They recently installed a small elevator in their house and we got to ride in it. I was told I needed to get a goat to ride in it too, but even if Charles and Dominique had allowed it, I don’t think either one of our goats would’ve fit!
Not only were the goats supposed to ride the elevator, I was also told that we must have one of them pose on top of this big tortoise. Charles objected on the grounds that the goats’ hooves might damage the paint or dent the metal. So the goats stayed off the tortoise and Phil faked a shot of miniature Finn standing on giant shell.
After that we went for a walk around the property. In addition to the huge, beautiful lawn and gardens up top, Charles has a series of stone walkways going down to the lake. Finn and Sputnik love stone stairs, and Charles had no end of amusement watching them climb up and down, nibbling the variety of tasty overgrowth as they went.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing around in the sunshine on the grass, drinking in the sights and smells and sounds of Charles’ peaceful yard. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I just love Texas in the springtime.