Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virgin Wool

The virgin wool has arrived. We have about 15 lambs on the ground now. I hate lambing. I don't particularly care for sheep. I don't eat rack of lamb or mutton burgers, I don't knit, I never understood Mary Had a Little Lamb. Each year I get my goats knocked up so they can provide milk for bummer lambs. I alter my schedule and rise earlier than I ever want, to do a "baby check" before taking the kid to school. I end up sticking my hands in orifices that were not meant for human appendages. I do find some joy in putting green rubber bands on wiggly tails. I'm warped, I know.

Shelly irritates me with her softhearted approach, and lack of ranch grit when it comes to cuddly fuzzy critters.
Shelly is even sweet talking this guy, the ram. She's gone completely soft. I did enjoy seeing this picture though. Here is Romeo posing for the camera and the ewe in the background is showing her good side. It was good for a laugh.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ranch Choices.

Everyday comes with choices and decisions. Each choice will effect the outcome of the day, some more drastically than others. Sometimes the choices that need to made here at the ranch are heartbreaking. I don't write about them often, as I'm a highly emotional person and tears tend to short out the keyboard.

I have a lot of goats. Some goats are used for meat, some for milk and some others are just for my enjoyment. Most of my Nigerian Dwarfs fall under the enjoyment heading. They live in the backyard, landscape in the summer, give kisses and beg for Fritos. I don't breed them on a regular basis like the other goats. With any pregnancy there are risks. I've lost goats from birthing kids and we've lost kids as well. Such is ranch life. I take precautions, I vaccinate and deworm. My animals are healthy. Things just sometimes go wrong.

Awhile back I met a new friend and fellow goat lover when I purchased a little blue eyed buckling from her. Gaston has since grown up and put on the perfume. He spent days singing to the girls at the fence. Eventually the lip flapping and buck musk was too much for me to handle. I picked out a doe in heat and got them a romantic spot over a few flakes of alfalfa. Pocahontas or Poky was at first thrilled at the prospect of being a new mom but as the pregnancy progressed she became more and more irritable. She had finally had it and demanded her own fluffly pile of straw in which to kid. I had moved her out of the goat yard on several occasions as she has shown nesting behavior. This past Friday was her limit. I moved her to labor and delivery, she arranged the new straw and laid down for her last real nap before the babies arrived.

About 45 minutes later as I was attempting to make bread, she screamed. I ran down to find her contracting and pushing out a bubble. Soon came feet but the feet were not the front feet of the baby they were back feet. Most times it's not a problem, the baby just comes out backwards. Things looked like they were going to be just fine. Poky was seeming to push a lot with only a little bit of progress, but progress is progress. Soon the shoulders of the kid emerged and then with a big scream and a huge push a head came out. The only problem was the head did not belong to the kid with legs and body out. I have no idea how she managed to get the body of one kid and the head of another through the birth canal but there we were. At this point I knew there was not good option. I had come to one of those choices that I dread so much. The head began to bleat and spit. I flicked the body of the other kid and got no response. I then raced down to the ranch for OB wire and Shelly. I found Shelly and told her I needed help and she raced back to the house with me. I told her en route of the problem and my purposed solution. I could think of no way to save all three. I told Shelly the only positive solution I could come up with is to separate the body from the head one of the babies. Shelly looked at me with horror. She didn't think that was an option until she saw what we were dealing with. Poky was continuing to push with each contraction which may have been instinctual but not helping our situation. Shelly took a look and then gave me the go ahead to do whatever I felt needed to be done. The baby with the head out was visibly alive, although it was gasping for air. I thumped the feet and body of the other kid again with no response so I chose to sacrifice that kid. I'll leave out the details. Safe to say it was the right choice. After I had separated the two parts, Poky was able to deliver the other baby with one push and I was able to retrieve the head of the separated kid too. Poky flopped down exhausted but immediately got to her feet, turned and began licking the baby when it squealed.

The kid was a bit lethargic at first, as anyone would be I suppose. She soon pepped up and started trying to get up and look for that first meal. We took both girls into the house and they've been living up with room service ever since.

The little girl charmed her way into a brand new home the very next day. She's been named Rigatoni and will be off to a paradise all her own in ten short weeks. Poky is proving to be an outstanding mama, fending off curious cats and playful ferrets.

So heartbreaking as it was, we did the right thing. I'm now busy giggling at Rigatoni's bouncing and Poky is feeling pretty spoiled.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Babies, New Year, Still way behind!

With the festive season (which I'm not so festive in) came bulging bellies and cranky girls. The goats have started kidding and the sheep will soon follow with their lambs. I'm not much for New Year's resolutions or any of the other traditions that come with the holiday. I like to believe that each day is a chance to start new, to fix the oops made yesterday, to create a better atmosphere for tomorrow. So if you were hoping that I'd resolve to blog more, you will be disappointed.

So here's the scoop on the ranch. Babies! Fence that needs fixed. Babies coming. I have been blessed with a new milking barn. I should be ready for my milking pleasure tomorrow. The chickens have successfully made it through their molt and are producing beautifully. The steers came back from butcher in nice little packages and we confirmed that both Jerseys are pregnant through ultrasound. Oh and um....Babies!

Here's what happens when it's dinner time:

I don't mean the goat's dinner time. I was headed to Woodland to deliver milk and give the kid 'what for' for being a kid when Shelly texted with a message full of happy faces. It said, "Come home PLEASE, babies on the way!" and had about 30 happy faces to that. The kid and I think that the face button is the only one she can really see without her old lady glasses, so she pushes it a lot. Needless to say I turned the truck around and headed home. I thought the 30 happy faces meant "URGENT", so I went a bit faster than I usually would. When we arrived home at the barn, we found Shelly sitting in the aisle way playing games on her phone. She explained that Wynonna Goat was breathing heavy, seemed uncomfortable, and was occasionally yelling loudly. I went in and checked her out. It was obvious that she was getting ready to introduce her children to the world. Shelly and Bean decided that they'd go home, let dogs out and back in, fix some dinner and be back to check on me! WHAT? So I was elected to sit it out with Wynonna, this was her first time after all. Before the girls left I asked for a sandwich on their return trip. I also told them to be sure and bring my camera down as I only had my cell phone. They confirmed that they would indeed bring me a sandwich and the camera. I expected them to return in 20 to 30 minutes. So I settled in on my stool and watched Maggie and Jema eat their dinner.

Maggie and Jema were not sympathetic to poor Wynonna's plight. They continued to munch away as Wynonna nested and bellowed occasionally.

Eventually she found a nice place, although it wasn't in the new clean straw that I had just put down. It was in the overflow hay, which is okay I guess. Not the decision I would make but then we aren't talking about me. Before long there was a nice bubble. Actually it was quite a long time. I was starving and had expected my sandwich and camera long before this happened.

Soon after the bubble, came feet. Well one foot, but the next made an appearance soon without any intervention. That made me happy. By this time Wynonna was screaming like a banshee. She was throwing her head around and swearing at Ole (daddy) even though he was no where near her to hear. She threatened to steal Taco Dog and sell him to the Egyptians if I ever put her near a buck again. Ha! If she only knew how I felt about that little ball of fur, she'd have picked another dog to threaten me with! I still didn't have that sandwich or the camera.

Then with a mighty push and a very loud scream out came this ball of slime. Wynonna flopped her head down and sighed. I let her lay there for a few seconds as I cleared the airway of the kid. I picked up the slickery critter and laid it up by Wynonna's head and instinct took over and she started licking and taking care of the kid. I still didn't have a sandwich or a camera. Now Maggie decided she was interested in the evenings events and came over to give Wynonna instructions on cleaning the new baby. Apparently Wynonna's technique was not to Maggie's liking and tried to steal away the child as is Maggie's usual behavior. I shuttled Maggie out of the stall and let Wynonna have at it.

Eventually Shelly made it back to the barn. She didn't bring me a sandwich, claimed she didn't know that I wanted one. The camera never made it down to the barn either. So I had to bring it down later. She was able to see the second one slide out with out any of the drama that the first one brought.

Other happenings around the ranch included CAKE!

Bad Penny the Border Collie continues to be a work in progress.

My beautiful Isadora gave us quite a scare one evening.

After eating and hanging around the house for a bit she started acting oddly. She was obviously uncomfortable, hunching over and drooling. We rushed her down to Colorado Springs to the doggie ER and x-rays showed that she had a "double bubble" or her tummy was twisted. She had surgery and is now recovering quite nicely. Scary time for me.

She's spending more time in the house instead of romping around with Hamlet. I don't mind but I think she's getting annoyed with me. She making great use of the space in front of the wood stove and lounging on the human couch every chance she gets.

Bridgette Goat had a monster of a kid instead of having the usual triplets that need help coming out. I was relieved.

Right after the biggest storm we've had to so far, Shelly's tractor broke. It just broke like a toy. She was getting ready to plow the ranch and the blade broke right off. I really think somewhere there was some operator error but she's adamant there was not. Go figure!

And of course babies!