All posts by Nan Hassey

Little Ziggy’s Big Drama

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.

We were wrong…

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.

Anniversary Surprise!

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.

Tigerlily says, “Look what I’ve got!”

Tigerlily loved both her kids and had cleaned them up well, but she seemed especially interested in the little girl. Keep that in mind because things changed dramatically over the  next 24 hours.

Proof positive that Tigerlily did in fact voluntarily feed this kid at one time.

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.”

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.