Saturday, March 29, 2008

Farm Update 3/29

I owe ya'll a great big newsy update and a great big newsy update you shall have! So make yourself a cup of tea and pull up a comfy chair. 

First of all, please join me in welcoming a whole boatload of new shareholders who joined us after reading the article in Spin Off! I had no idea that this little article (article-ette?) would reach so many people and I am just over the moon about it. Because we have so many newbies I am putting lots of links back to older blog post in whenever I can so that the new folks will feel up to speed. The rest of ya'll can just ignore them.

Things on the farm have been chaotic, maddening, hilarious, heart melting and exhausting this week- in other words fairly routine. The new kids are bouncing all over place and sometimes it seems like there are 600 of them rather than just six. The older four kids who were born at the beginning of February seem enormous next to the new babes. Even my sweet little Basil seems like a thuggish teen-ager when standing next to the little peewees.

But I was reminded that Basil really is still a baby when I went over to check for new kids last night around 10:00 p.m. Basil was snuggled up so close to his mama. It brought tears to my eyes!

Chive and her mom were snuggling too, but in a way that made me laugh rather than cry. She is one well-fed doeling!

It was so cozy in the barn that for a moment I wished I'd brought my sleeping bag so I could bed down right there with them.

We are still waiting for #6 to kid but she doesn't seem to be in any rush to oblige. She is already in her kidding pen because I wanted to be able to leave the heat lamps on in case she kids while I'm not there. Every time I go check on her I expect to see twins beside her, or even triplets, because that goat is enormous with a capital NORMOUS, but she could just be carrying one big kid.

I'd be happy with a single, thrilled in fact, but I am ready for this roud of kidding to be over. For one thing, it has been going on since February 1st and I have made approximately 72 million barn checks in the last two months. But the more important factor is that we have a whole other group of nannies that should start kidding in May and I would love to get two full night's sleep
in a row before that happens.

Kidding is absolutely the best time of year on our farm but it's sort of like birthday cake. Now, as some of you already know, no one likes cake as much as I do. My ex-husband used to say that I got Cake Face as soon as someone walked in the room with a slice. But, much as I love cake, even I know that eating cake three times a day would not be good for my relationship with cake. Cake and I need our space. Kidding is kind of like that.

Although, I have to confess that I wish I could put these babies in the freezer and keep them young forever. They are so joyful, so full of life, so new. I spend hours at the barn just watching them and taking pictures and it's like medicine for my jaded, former-journalist soul.

Here are some of this week's highlights in pictures:

Saffron, Sassafras and Rosemary are like the Three Musketeers, always together, even when they sleep. 

"Walking on Mom" seemed to be the theme this week with the bucklings. Even Sage - now about half his mother's size- seemed to want in on the fun. 

Some of you may remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrongly suspected Biscuit of injuring one of the nannies for about 15 seconds. I felt terrible about it because Biscuit is the most patient, loving, loyal dog in the world when it comes to her flock. And it's a good thing too, because the new kids discovered her this week and it took every ounce of patience that poor dog had not to kill one of them. 

Cilantro's mom, Mrs. Doubtfire (#25) seems to be fighting some kind of infection. She was the nanny who just didn't seem right to me last week, causing me to call in the vet. She seemed fine, but yesterday when I arrived at the barn in the morning she didn't get up to eat and screamed her head off until I found Cilantro and brought him to her. I nudged her to try to get her up to no avail and finally had to drag her up by her horns so Cilantro could nurse. While he was eating I checked her out and found an icky discharge coming out of her va-jay-jay. Not good.

I think I have mentioned before that there are a couple of things old farmers say about goats that we have found to be close to true. "Goats are born looking for a way to die" and  "A sick goat is a dead goat."  The thing is, a goat has to be pretty darn sick to go off feed. I needed to know if Mrs. Doubtfire was really sick or really, really sick, so I put her in a kidding pen along with Cilantro and gave her her very own bucket of grain. She went to town on her feed, so I knew the situation wasn't serious. I gave her a shot of penicillin just in case the vet's examination caused some kind of infection and she seems back to 100%. I'm keeping her in the pen though so I can keep an eye on her.

Patrick and I found out this week that our bid to farm Tisbury Meadows was accepted! Tisbury Meadows is a beautiful piece of land owned by the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank that has been sitting idle for ages and ages. We've been negotiating with the Land Bank on this since September so it is a huge relief to finally have a signed contract.  

It has five fenced acres, although they aren't fenced very well. Patrick and Mark are going over tomorrow to assess the situation and come up with an estimate for refencing it. Fencing is mad-expensive, and we are only willing to do it because we got a five year lease on the land. Once the new fence is in place, all the rams and bucks will be moved from Felix Neck to Tisbury Meadows.  It's important to keep the males and females apart for some time before breeding again in the fall.  

In other news, my plans for a Shepherding Camp are well under way and I'm actually going to do a giveaway next week of the very first weekend session. There's one catch though- I really want to get the word out about our camp, so we will need to get at least 300 comments in order to giveaway the weekend. As in our other giveaway you don't have to be a shareholder to win. So start looking through your address book for family, friends and neighbors to email the blog url to. UPDATED TO ADD: Don't post your comment here to enter the contest. Post it on the 4/8 entry titled "A whirlwind of activity" above.

Thanks to all of you who have been worried about my health. I am feeling much, much better thanks to your good wishes and some ass-kicking antibiotics. I am still taking it easy though, so don't worry. Patrick was incensed by my post last week in which I said that he let me sleep in one morning while he fed the animals because I was sick because it sounded like that's all he did. He did a lot more than just that, believe me! 

I have been getting the best emails for you all, which I lovelovelove. So many of you ask really good questions that I decided to do an FAQ tomorrow and share the answers with everybody. So shoot me any questions that you've been holding on to and I'll try to answer them all.


SeDress said...

This one is for Patrick:
Dear Patrick, please know that we appreciate all you do, and that we know you do much more than just let Susie sleep in when she's not feeling well. [although we do sort of worry about the whole kids in the bucket thing [[if that was Patrick??]] as that seems sort of strange.] Anyways, thanks.

Susan said...

Heehee! I made him hold that bucket of babies so I could take the picture.

--Deb said...

Oh, more adorable pictures. It's probably just as well I'm as far away as New Jersey, or I'd be on a sugar high from all that adorable sweetness. So. Cute.

Now, I have to go remind Chappy that no, he may NOT stand on me, no matter what the little fleecy ones are doing....

Oh, and yes, Patrick--we appreciate you, too! Somehow, Susan just doesn't seem to mention your work as much as her own. Hmmm.... (grin)

Katharine said...

Jim and I love your pictures! And you are a fabulous writer. This morning we read the update aloud to each other and pushed the laptop back and forth across the table to see the photos. While knitting -- of course! Can't wait to meet you and the rest of your farm family of readers who are coming on the 19th.

Nancy said...

I would love to spend a weekend learning about raising goats and sheep. Keep the pictures coming, the kids are all beautiful.

patrick said...

Thank you for your nice comments, sedress and deb, but Susie is the Queen Bee, and I (alas) am just a drone hoping to catch the Queen's eye after Kidding Season :) Susie is a fantasic partner and she makes awesome dinners, so it all evens out! Thanks for all the support you give her.

Shirra said...

Ok. I commented about the shepherding camp elsewhere, so I guess this should only count as 1 comment-but if it gets close to 300, count them twice ;). It sounds like a great idea!

kch said...

I would love to come to camp! I have fantasies about owning goats (and/or alpacas).