Monthly Archives: May 2020

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!

Progress Report

Butterfly continues to have a good appetite and is starting to scoot around better. She got up on her own 3-4 times today, which was a huge struggle each time, but she did it! She scooted all over the yard this afternoon and even climbed a hill! We’re very pleased she’s doing so well and we think there’s a good chance this little gal is going to make a full recovery. Can’t wait to post photos and some video I took, but it’s getting late.

Butterfly Down

The day that started off brilliantly with Rita’s new babies to greet the morning ended up in tragedy. Phil and I took our daily walk at 1:30 or so and we brought Butterfly and George along. The kids couldn’t keep up on their own so Phil and I carried them most of the way. We were almost back to the house and the goats seemed to be settling down to graze under some shady trees in the pasture. I decided to leave Skeeter and her kids with the herd in this safe, pleasant spot because mama was stressed from having to babysit away from her mates all the time, and Butterfly seemed anxious to be away from the boring old goat enclosure. I had just a couple of things to do in the house and I’d be back out to supervise shortly so I thought it would be okay to leave them.

When I came back out at 2:45, the goats had moved across the driveway to the horse pasture–not a place I expected them to go, and certainly not a safe place for babies! Skeeter was upset and her kids were nowhere to be found but I was not worried. Losing babies is not unusual. The kids lay down for a nap under a bush, the herd moves off, mama can’t find them, and she gets frantic. I hadn’t left them for very long so they couldn’t have gone too far. I started hunting around and soon found George curled up next to the house. He was by himself. That was unusual and it made me worried. Siblings nearly always stay together. I went to the horse pasture where the goat herd had been when I first came outside.

And there I found my poor broken Butterfly lying like a rag doll in the dirt. She’d been trampled. Whether she was trampled by a horse, or whether the horses chased the herd and the big goats trampled her I couldn’t tell. Either way, she was clearly hurt and in shock. But she was alive. I took her straight to her mother, hoping desperately that it was not serious. I stood her up next to Skeeter and her hind end flopped uselessly over into the dirt. She couldn’t use her back legs. I carefully felt them and bent all the joints. They were not broken. My heart dropped. This looked like a spinal injury. I took her into the house and gave her medication for pain and inflammation. Swelling in the spine can lead to paralysis but can heal if the swelling doesn’t progress. She immediately started to feel better but she still couldn’t use her legs. I canceled my afternoon riding lesson and headed straight out the door to the vet, stopping only to let Butterfly nurse for a few minutes. She was hungry and ate eagerly, which was an encouraging sign. At least she was no longer in shock.

X-rays at the vet showed that her spine was ok, but it looked like she might have a broken pelvis. The soft little bones and many growth plates made the x-rays hard to read, but her pelvis looked off-kilter. The most immediate concern was that the vet couldn’t find her bladder on the x-ray and he worried that it might have ruptured. All I could do was take her home, make her a comfortable enclosure in the house with good footing, and see if she could still pass water. A couple of hours later she made us very happy in that regard. But she still couldn’t use her hind legs.

At this point it is a waiting game. So far little Butterfly is still with us and she’s got a good appetite. She is already regaining use of her hindquarters and can walk around feebly if I stand her on her feet. She can also occasionally stand up if she pulls herself up by her front legs, but this is difficult. Her little bottom is quite swollen and I’m applying bags of frozen corn. I’m hoping that at her young age there is a good chance she’ll make a full recovery if we can get her past these first few days. We’re praying that this little Butterfly will fly again soon.

This afternoon she spent time exploring the top of the stairs and made friends with one of our resident monsters. She was intrigued by his large pink flower but was disappointed to find it is not edible.

And just so you know what Butterfly’s new, goofy friend looks like…

Please keep our little gal in your prayers. A broken pelvis is a grim prospect but we hope she makes a spectacular recovery. If any little goat is able to heal from such a thing, it’s this one!

Lovely Rita, Meter Matron

It was a day of triumph and tragedy. We’ll start with the triumph. Lovely Rita, “meter maid” is now our “meter matron.” She delivered two beautiful kids all by herself at around 2:00 a.m. My friend Diana peeked at the Goat-O-Scope in the wee hours and saw a wet new kid wriggling in the straw. Diana watched for fifteen minutes or so and another kid popped out. My mother checked the Goat-O-Scope at 3:00 and saw two fresh, new babies just barely toddling on unsteady legs. I woke up around 3:20 a.m. and almost didn’t check the Goat-O-Scope because I was so groggy, but then I felt guilty and changed my mind. I saw two mostly dry babies getting their first drink. I woke Phil and we watched for about half an hour before curiosity overtook us and we had to go out and see what we had. It was a girl and a boy! We did not weigh these two, but we dunked their navels, dried off the few remaining bits that Rita had missed, and then went back to bed. Their mom had the situation well in hand and didn’t particularly appreciate our help.

We waited for daylight to take pictures. What beautiful babies! The first kid out is a little tri-colored girl colored who looks a lot like Finn. The second is a big, strapping two-tone chamoisee boy with a white face. Rita is very proud and definitely a little overprotective. We hope she settles down soon.

Here is Finn’s female doppleganger. What a gorgeous little cutie!

And here is her brother. I just love his white face and pink nose!

These little guys were fixated on the left side of the udder. It was completely drained while the other half was still bulging with milk. I had to milk Rita down and do a little kid training that evening. Can’t have lopsided mamas! 
Proud mama!!
Skeeter and her kids were very comfortable in the next shed over.

“Hi George!!”

Out of the Cocoon

It turns out our little Butterfly is a real live wire! This gal won’t sit still for anything. She hopped over the lip of the shed this morning, which might be a new record for goats this young. Once out, she not only refused to go back in, but she refused to stay in when I put her back. Her mother was rather unhappy for most of the morning and early afternoon because Butterfly and George were separated. Butterfly flitted gleefully all over the pen while lonely little George cried for his sister. He couldn’t seem to figure out how to negotiate that ledge and he wasn’t motivated to try very hard. So George cried and Skeeter hollered while Butterfly gleefully explored her surroundings, completely oblivious to the hysteria around her.

I eventually liberated George from the shed so he and mom could calm down. It made Skeeter happy when both her kids followed her out of the pen so she could graze with her watchful eye on them. Unfortunately, this happy scene was short-lived. George quickly discovered Pluto’s doghouse and disappeared inside for a nap while Butterfly opted to continue exploring the yard and trying out her new legs.

Skeeter tried in vain to lead her wayward daughter back toward George. Instead, Skeeter had to abandon George so she could follow Butterfly all over the yard. Luckily George felt safe in the doghouse and was content to nap quietly while his sister explored.

This Butterfly is a brave one! She watched in fascination as Daisy scratched her ear. “What is this large, hairy beast?” 

She had to step in for a closer look…

“Ugh! The nasty thing kissed me!” Butterfly took one whiff of dog breath and raced back to mama. But it had been an exciting adventure!

After this I put Butterfly into the doghouse with George and by then she was tired enough to stay there so Skeeter could get a break. With both her babies napping in one spot and the dogs keeping watch, Skeeter finally settled down, stopped yelling, and went foraging with the herd for the rest of the afternoon. She’ll get the hang of these babies soon!

Skeeter’s Big Day

Skeeter was due Sunday, May 3rd and she did not disappoint! On Sunday morning her udder was much bigger than the day before and she was restless. Skeeter and Rita had Tigerlily, our somewhat aggressive herd queen, backed against a wall. Tigerlily was on the defence as Rita and Skeeter pounded some fear into her. “We’re going to be mamas now and you need to respect us!”

On Sunday afternoon I could see that Skeeter was separating herself from the herd and pawing nests into the dirt. Around 4:00 I went outside and Finn came up to the porch and baa-aa-ed at Phil and I with an intense look on his face. I decided I’d better go look for Skeeter. The entire herd was gathered on top of the hill behind our house, staring down into the scrub oak. It was like an amphitheater. All those goats needed was a bucket of popcorn!

Skeeter had picked a hidden spot under the oak brush and her caprine audience was transfixed. Sputnik, Skeeter’s older brother, had distanced himself from the other goats and was standing watch lower down where he was closer and could see her better. Phil went to check on Skeeter while I went to fetch the kidding box. When Phil came out of the scrub oak to inform me of Skeeter’s progress, TinCup followed Phil, baa-ing worriedly as if to say, “You can’t just leave her there! She’s about to have a baby!”

TinCup was right–we couldn’t leave Skeeter there. It was a terrible place to have kids! Not only could I not help her if she needed it, but I could just envision myself crawling out of there on hands and knees with a wet kid under each arm. That wasn’t going to work. Instead I crawled in there and hauled Skeeter out by the collar while she dragged and protested the entire way. She was actually starting to push a kid out when I fetched her! Labor stalled for a few minutes while Phil pulled and I pushed all the way across the driveway to the goat pen. We shut her in the pen, much to the frustration of Skeeter, who thought she had found the perfect place, and to the dogs, who had appointed themselves unwanted midwives. Just as I slipped in through the gate with the kidding box, the first little hooves made their appearance!

First out was a little black and white (cou clair) girl! A few minutes later she was joined by a black sundgau brother–two classic Alpine goat colors. The kids were 8.5 and 10 lbs. respectively and both were active and healthy from the get-go. Skeeter went straight into mama mode and cleaned them up expertly. She also did something I haven’t seen many does do. She reached back and suckled on herself to make sure her milk was flowing. Sometimes kids have trouble getting the first milk because of the plugs blocking the ends of the teats. Skeeter wasn’t going to let that happen to her kids!

I love how these kids blend right in against mama’s black and white coat. Doesn’t she look proud!

We’re thinking of naming the little doe “Butterfly” because of the marking on her face.

First drink. These kids were up and at it in no time! I’m so proud of this beautiful, capable new mama. She did everything by herself with no fuss or nonsense and she’s attentive without being overprotective. But she learned from the best. Petunia was an outstanding mama, and Skeeter reminds me so much of her. In fact, ever since Sunday I keep slipping up and calling her Petunia and Phil keeps correcting me. “Sorry, Skeeter. Just take it as a compliment!”

Emma takes riding lessons with me and I called her mom just as the kids were being born. I was hoping they could be there in time for the birth, but Skeeter was too quick for them. She was almost too quick for me! But Emma was able to help dry the kids off.

Skeeter did not seem to mind letting a stranger handle her babies. In fact, she seemed rather proud.


Another name idea for this little gal is “Firebird.” Her face marking is taking on more of a phoenix or firebird shape now that it’s dry. We’ll try some names out over the next few days and see what sticks.

I don’t know why but I almost immediately named this little guy “George.”

“Welcome to the family!”

Once Phil and I showed up, the rest of the goats quickly lost interest in the proceedings. They had more important things to do–like graze this glorious spring grass and bask in the sunshine. Skeeter picked the perfect day to bring her little family into the world. It could not have been more beautiful.

The Nublets: The Whole Story

My faithful readers will recall how FAT Nubbin was in the photo taken a few days before her due date. The poor girl could hardly waddle about. You know how it looks when someone tries to push a wide, heavy table across a carpet by themselves, rocking it back and forth and lifting one leg at a time to sort of shuffle it along? That’s how Nubbin looked when she walked. Carole and I measured her that night and she was 64″ around!

Because she’d been induced, we expected labor to begin no later than Wednesday night. But Nubbin wasn’t going to be that easy. She spent a ridiculously long time in pre-labor and was unfortunately getting weaker and more exhausted by the hour. Carole and I spent the night in the barn with her. Sometime around 2:00 a.m. we were startled awake when Nubbin lumbered over and started pawing Carole’s legs. She was trying to make a nest in on Carole’s sleeping bag. I reached over to shoo Nubbin away so she shuffled off to an even better position–right on top of Carole’s head! Carole was trapped on the floor with Nubbin’s front feet tangled in her hair. I struggled out of my sleeping bag to rescue Carole before that enormous goat sat on her face!

The rest of the night passed fairly uneventfully. Nubbin got up, pawed, shuffled around, and laid back down quite a few times, and occasionally she gave a push, but it wasn’t until around 7:00 that she finally started labor. It wasn’t a very strong labor. Nubbin just didn’t have much “push” in her and I had to help deliver all of the kids.

The first little gal was a hard delivery. Nubbin pushed as hard as she was able while I pulled as hard as I dared. She wasn’t a big baby, but the lack of proper contractions meant Nubbin wasn’t as well dilated as she should have been so it was a tight fit. But we got her out and were delighted to see a pretty little chestnut!

Nubbin spent time cleaning the kid and took a 45-minute break before she was ready to deliver the second baby. This baby was upside-down at first and it scared me to death, but she was very much alive and kicking. Every time I grabbed her front legs, she pulled them right back out of my hand! She did that 3-4 times, but somewhere in all that tug-o-war she managed to flip herself over and come out the proper way. And then there were two baby girls: A pretty chestnut and a stunning bay!

The third baby made me nervous. When I reached in to get her she wasn’t moving and I told Carole I wasn’t sure if this one was still alive. But when I pulled her out she gave a couple of convulsive gasps and and showed us she’d made it. The third kid was black so now we had three different colors!

Kid number four was easy. I had to reach far down to retrieve her but she gave no trouble. She was also noticeably bigger than the other three and I was sure we had a buck. But no, it was another girl! Another beautiful bay like her mother and sister.

We took the four kidlets out into the sunshine while we heated up a bottle to feed them because Nubbin was too exhausted to stand up and nurse them. It was hot day so we laid them on the cool porch to nap.

And here they are in order. Kid #1: Doeling, 7.5#, chestnut with white markings. She might be the sweetest and friendliest.

Kid #2: Doeling, 7.25#, red bay with white markings and solid ears. She is the most vocal and is also adventuresome.

Kid #3: Doeling, 6.75#, black with white belt and one white leg. This little gal did not want to eat all day and we worried about her because she seemed weak compared to the others. Luckily she did perk up during the night and finally started eating. Phew!

Kid #4: Doeling, 8#, red bay with almost no white but with frosted ears. This is the liveliest of the bunch and the most assertive. She’s going to be bossy like her mama!

Kid #2 was my favorite. I love her deep reddish bay coat with the black accents. She’s going to be stunning when she grows up.

Poor Nubbin was so tired.

Carole was drinking a Guinness and I had her take some out to Nubbin who looked like she needed a beer more than anyone. She slurped it right down and wanted more. I told Carole that Nubbin could have as much as she wanted. She’d earned it!

We estimate that Nubbin was carrying a total of 30 lbs. of kids and at least that much in fluids for a total 60+ lbs. of extra weight. No wonder she could hardly walk! For the last month she could not lay down comfortably and I’m sure she wasn’t sleeping well.  She should feel much better now that she’s back down to a normal weight.