Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hiking with Goats (and advocating for animal welfare)

Malik leading the group...
 I love, Love LOVE the article that Aislinn Sarnacki of Bangor Daily News wrote about our hiking adventures. READ IT HERE. I think the article and video shows the best parts of what we do here on the homestead. Hiking with our goats is certainly one of the most fun for both us and our goats. But, in the interest of advocating for the best care of animals, I wanted to take just a minute to clarify two points.

"Goats are just like dogs or cats." This sentiment was voiced by several of our hikers and I knew what they meant. But, I want to make sure that you all do, too. While there are some similarities; they both are smart and can be friendly, are both mammals, and have wagging tails- caring for goats is vastly different than having a dog. Goats do not make good house pets, for one thing since they are very happy to eliminate their body waste (in all its forms) wherever they are at the time. They are herd animals and NEED a herd of at least one other, and preferably two other goat companions. I could go on and on, but my main point is- goats make lovely companion animals when they have their needs met with appropriate shelter, herd mates, nutrition and care. Please, do not purchase goat kids on a whim because they are cute. They are but they grow and you may find that the "cuteness" wears off. Do not purchase a goat to be a house-goat. It is not what is best for that goat. Caring for an animal is a commitment. If you are not in a situation that is right for getting goats, visit farms that have goats and get your goaty fix there. :)

This is another clarification I feel we need to add: we select the goats for each hike based on factors that will ensure that all parties enjoy the hike; goats and guests alike. Some goats prefer other goats to people and would rather stay with their herd; we respect that. Some mothers would get stressed to find their kid missing for a few hours; we consider that. A goat may be feeling unwell or recovering from an injury; we won't add stress to their life for a recreational activity. This being the case, your hike may include goats of various ages, not just goat kids. It may not include goat kids at all. You may hike with yearlings or older goats who need the extra attention and would benefit from the exercise. The group hike featured in this article included two sets of twins, all bottle kids. As the first hike of the season, we were unsure of the trail conditions. It was important that we selected kids who we knew would stay with us and be easy to handle should we need to make adjustments. Carter and Benton will probably go on our next hike again, but Malik developed a touch of pneumonia this week. Though his treatments are finished and he is back to his bouncy self, we won't bring him along this week. He will do better resting at the homestead, so we'll select another goat (or two) for the hikes on Saturday. Our goats' health and well-being are the MOST important concern for us. Always.
Carter and Alana resting at the top

Lastly, we do not host birthday parties or any kind of gathering, really, at the homestead. We're not set up for hosting large groups and having too many people at once would stress us all out- me included. :) We do host up to 6 people for private hikes a couple of times each month. We hope you will choose to visit us and enjoy the experience of hiking with our goats. Currently, we have two times still available. They are:
May 5 2-5 pm RESERVE TICKETS HERE
May 30 10 am-1 pm RESERVE TICKETS HERE

If you would like to hike at a different time, please contact us at 207-323-4982 and we will see what we can do to schedule your preferred date.

You can enter to WIN a Goat Hike sponsored by Tiller & Rye in Brewer, Maine. This two week event will support Bangor Area Food Cupboards to assist those with a need in our community. To enter the drawing, simply bring in a non-perishable food item to Tiller & Rye from now until April 30th. Put your name in the drawing. You can enter once each day in store. Or, if you're not local, but still want to participate, follow this link and make an online donation. It's easy! Just click on tickets and decide how much you want to donate. We'll use your donation to purchase organic non-perishables and give you an entry for every dollar you donate. You can do that here: DONATION

We are excited for a new season to begin on the homestead and are looking forward to meeting many of you in person.

Thanks for visiting with us today.
Sean and Sonja


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy Goat Kids, Playing

As promised for those who did not want to see the graphic realities of difficult births and still-born goat kids (I don't blame you one bit!) I am reposting the video of Rachel's twins and Bailey's boys. Four minutes of happiness for your enjoyment. It was balm to my heart to sit and watch their silly bouncing while Sean cleaned out the kidding stall. I hope your heart feels that happiness, too

Thanks for visiting with us today. Sean & Sonja

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES Rachel Kids Triples; Breech Birth

I meant to write about Rachel's kidding on Saturday, but our girls returned from visiting their grandparents in Bar Harbor and we spent time catching up on their week and watching a movie together. #familycomesfirst Then, the week got away from me a little. I finished four orders and got them in the mail, helped Sean with a couple small projects, and now it is Tuesday. On the bright side, that means that I can tell you about the kidding AND I have pictures and videos of kid and Momma updates.

Friday night was the last night of our week home alone together. We planned to spend it making dinner together (homemade spaghetti and meatballs- soooo good!) and renting a movie online to watch. I asked Sean to give me until 6:30 to finish up making the Bee's Wax Wraps™ I needed to complete an order going out to Salty Teacup #SaltyTeacup. He agreed and went out to feed Benton and Carter their 6 pm bottle. While he was in the barn, he saw Rachel do a series of deep stretching, low moans, and pawing the hay...

"Sorry, Babe. You need to wrap up now." Sean said as he came into the kitchen.

"I am almost done..." I started to respond.

"Time's Up. Rachel's pushing." Sean interrupted with a grin. This was wonderful news! Fresh milk for Carter and Benton! No more frozen milk for the twins! Fresh milk for US for cheese in the coming months. Plus, anticipated twins from one of our easiest does to help deliver. Rachel has never had any issues in kidding. She is so predictable, we planned on trying to "Go Live" via Facebook so those friend who wanted to watch the delivery, could.

The kidding kit was already packed and in the barn. I grabbed my camera and boots and headed to the barn with Sean. When we arrived, Rachel was doing all the pre-labor things we look for; staring off into space, pawing the ground, getting up, laying down, panting, breathing harder than normal, calling softly... There was no tell-tale "bubble" to signal an immediate delivery, so we settled in. We chatted quietly to ourselves. Sean plugged in the cell phone to continue charging so we could attempt to go live when things started happening. We took turns rubbing Rachel's cheeks and scratching her neck.

Two hours past. Things started settling into a rhythm. Rachel's contractions were coming every minute or so and lasting for 15-20 seconds each time. She started to push regularly. Still, no bubble. Sean and I grew concerned that something was wrong. We have assisted with kiddings when there are complications, but it is a delicate balance. On the one hand, once the bubble appears, we know that the general rule of thumb is the first kid should present within 30 minutes. On the other hand, interfering before Rachel's body had stretched to accommodate the kid coming can damage Rachel or the kid. It is too easy to rupture a membrane or cause injury. We try not to interfere as long as there is progress. Rachel did not appear to be as fully dilated as she should be and though we could see the bubble just inside, it was not progressing normally. We decided to try to gently feel the entrance to see if we could detect a problem. I gloved up and Sean squirted my hands with veterinary lubricant.

Keeping my fingers together, (always! always!) I gently felt around the opening. I could feel the bubble, but I couldn't feel anything inside it. I was torn. I didn't want to interfere if things were progressing, just slower than I expected from our experience with Rachel in the past. I didn't want to wait too long and risk losing Rachel or her kids to complications. Sean's gut told him something was wrong. He called our veterinarian, Dr. Tanja Ebel and texted her images of what we were seeing.

Dr. Tanja confirmed that Rachel was pushing too long and that we needed to get a good internal examination to figure out what was amiss. From the video text and pictures we sent her, Dr. Tanja thought that she was seeing a detached placenta. This was an emergency. Without the placenta providing oxygen and nutrients, the kid was dead. Sean squirted more lubricant on my gloved hands and I tried to carefully reach inside to feel what what happening. The bubble burst immediately. "No! No! No!" That was NOT what I was trying to do! I could hear Dr. Tanja on the phone saying, "The kid is most likely dead. You need to feel inside and get its head and feet to pull it out." Sean relayed to Dr. Tanja, "The kids were alive when we came out here. We could see and feel them moving." I was listening to them discuss what needed to happen, but the sound of my racing heart filled my ears. Along with it was the thought that I was going to mess up and kill Sean's Rachel. (We all love Rachel, but she is most definitely his goat. There is such a bond there. I knew what I had to do, but the thought of causing her death or contributing to it made me sick.)

I reached my entire hand and forearm inside Rachel and felt. What was this? Was it a head? Please let it be a head. No. No eyes or mouth. What is this? I continued to one side and felt a tiny fold- a leg. Okay. Leg. No head. Then, I saw a tail and knew this kid was breach. Full-on breech. Butt first. Legs tucked back underneath it. With gentle pressure, I pushed the butt back into Rachel as far as I could. Then, I felt for the right hind leg. I rotated it back so it was sticking out. My hand back inside, I felt along the other side for the left hind leg and rotated it back, too. Rachel was crying out. It was awful. With both legs presenting, using steady downward arching pressure, I pulled the dead kid free and placed it on the towel Sean had ready. My head was not registering what I was seeing, so I started to look for signs of life. Dr. Tanja's voice cut through my thoughts, "Feel with your thumb and forefinger on either side of the ribs. If there is no heart beat. Move on. You need to get the other kids out NOW!" I checked. There were no signs of life, no heart beat. In fact, the eyes were sunken in and she looked as if she had died some time ago.

I carefully reentered Rachel and pushed my hand past the pelvic bones. I felt two heads pushing on the other side of the hips, not in the birth canal. I pushed the kid on the right back and pulled the head of the kid on the left forward. I could only locate the second kid's left foreleg, but head and leg was enough to pull it free. It was alive! "It's breathing!" I called to Dr. Tanja and Sean. Sean grabbed the second kid in a towel and brought her to Rachel's head where she began cleaning her baby immediately. I did not see any of this. I was busy with pulling the third kid free. This one was also alive. I laid it on a fresh towel. I felt around once more to make sure there wasn't a fourth kid waiting. There wasn't. Adrenaline is a strange thing. My arm and back ached from the pressure of contractions biting down on my arm and the strain of pulling the kids free. Unable to keep my feet under me any longer, I sat down on the chair and started to shake from head to toe and cry. I was fairly useless from then on.

Sean took care of cleaning up supplies, gathering towels and equipment. He made sure both kids were able to latch on. We waited for about an hour and then, Sean took me inside. Before we went inside we took a look at the kids and was very happy to find two does born. The one who died was also a doe. Three does!

Sean set his alarm for the next bottle feeding for Bailey's boys and we went to bed without dinner.

WARNING: This video might upset some readers. It does not show the birth because of the complications, we could not record it. It shows Rachel in distress and labor leading up to the birth and then, wet kids newly born. It finishes with day-old kids.



I'd like to say the rest was smooth sailing, but it was not quite. Because Rachel's placenta detached, there was a concern as to whether her milk would be the necessary colostrum or milk. Sean stripped some test milk from both sides. One side looked thick and creamy yellow, like colostrum does. The other side looked white like milk. We are sending off samples to the University of Maine for testing. We want to make sure that the milk has no dangerous bacteria in it. In the meantime, we gave the kids colostrum paste as a protective measure. We are taking all of their temperatures to watch for any signs of infection. We don't think it likely, but because of the rough delivery, it is possible and warrants some additional measures.

It took 36 hours for Rachel to expel her placenta.
Within the 48 hour time frame, but longer than we like.
Originally we told you that we had three does delivered. We were wrong about that. In the light of day and without the stress, we took a better look at the new kids. The second one born, Honey, (she has ears) is indeed a doe. The third kid born, Luka, (lamancha-earred) is actually a buck. The little kid that died was a lamancha-earred doe, colored like Luka.

I am happy to report that this is Day 3 and everyone is behaving normally. The kids are up and active. They found their leg springs this morning, which was a delight to watch. Rachel has passed her placenta and is eating with a good appetite. She is a doting mother, as we have come to expect. This will be Rachel's last kidding for us. We had scheduled her to breed this fall for next spring as her final kidding, but since she got pregnant a year early, she is officially retired- if she will cooperate and stay away from Asher!


As you can see in the video, Bailey is alert and interested in life. Her scouring has subsided and she is eating with an appetite again. She is still limping on her right foreleg, but we are hopeful of a full recovery for her. I have more images and a post about her tomorrow. I'll also repost this video for those who wanted to skip this post.

Thanks for being with us through the good times and the rough times.
We appreciate your warm wishes and prayers for wisdom as we make difficult decisions.
~Sean & Sonja 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

How we Bottle-Feed Goat Kids

Carter using my finger as a pacifier. :)
I repeat this often in posts because I feel passionately about it. We only bottle-feed goat kids as a very last resort; when, for whatever reason, the Mother can't and the alternative would be starving kids. Our reason for this is simple. It is what is BEST for the kids. Period. Goats have a herd hierarchy. Bottle-babies, removed from the herd and raised with people, have a hard time adjusting to that. We have seen kids bullied and have lost yearlings because they were not fully accepted into their herd. I am not saying that this always happens, but it does happen- and it doesn't need to. Mothers teach their young goat manners and protect them when necessary. Secondly, kid-replacer is a suitable substitute for their mother's milk, but it is not the BEST nutrition for goat kids- their Mother's milk is. It contains the right blend of nutrients and is fed in the right amounts to goat kids. I have yet to see a case of floppy kid syndrome in a dam-raised kid. (I am sure there are exceptions, but I have never seen it.) Finally, rows of milk bottles lined up in a board without any kind of contact is.... cold. Sterile. I imagine it saves time and does the job of giving the kids nutrition and nothing else.

I am not saying our way is better than how some commercial goat dairies raise their kids, but I think there are benefits to being hands on with every kid where bottle feeding is necessary. And, I think keeping kids with their Mothers until they are weaned is a kinder, more humane practice than selling kids early.

This is how we do it...


Benton playing on Bailey. She is so patient! 
Carter and Benton are just 2 days old and took to the bottle immediately. We use a regular human baby bottle. Other nipples and styles are sold and some people prefer them. We have purchased Prichard type bottles and nipples, but in our experience, human baby bottles work as well, are inexpensive, easy to clean, and our kids prefer them. These kids will get fed 4 oz of goat's milk every 3 hours around the clock. We increase the amount of milk at each feeding to coincide with the weight they are gaining. The rule of thumb is 4 oz per 5 pounds every 3-4 hours. In time, as the kids' rumens develop and they are eating hay and browsing, we will increase the time between bottles until they are getting 4 bottles each day. When the time comes that their rumen is developed and they can eat hay and browse exclusively, we will wean them until they no longer drink milk. Bailey is with her kids while we feed them. She cleans them. She mothers them. We are only providing the milk but the kids are Bailey's to mother. (Ok... we provide some cuddles, scratching and appropriate people interaction. It is too hard to resist those faces! Besides, we do want them to be comfortable around people and friendly. We just also want them to BE goats. ♥)

Thanks for visiting with us today. (And tolerating my soap-box rant.)
Sonja ♥

Monday, February 26, 2018

Homestead Pictures

Bailey has made little progress, but also has not deteriorated either. We're still giving her medicines to help her to recover from birth. These include penicillin, vitamin B, probiotics, and banamine. Additionally, today I went ahead and gave her a dose of dewormer hoping to get ahead of the eggs that usually hatch just after a doe kids. With everything else against her, she doesn't need to be fighting off parasites, too. Her scouring has not resolved yet. I spent an hour this morning thoroughly cleaning off her udder and under her tail. She did not seem to mind it. I know I feel better when I feel clean.

The kids are doing well and are behaving as bouncy kids should. They are eager for their bottles through the day. We have already increased from 3 oz every 3 hours to 4 oz every 3 hours. We will continue to increase as they gain weight.

Here are some pictures I snapped this morning. I am hoping to catch some video tomorrow, but Kristen and Meaghan are away on a well-deserved vacation to their grandparent's house this week. Video is difficult to manage one-handed, but we'll see what I can manage. For now, I hope you enjoy this peek into this morning...

Bailey is still letting the kids nurse. Benton is getting a drink. 

Carter needs another bath! 

Bailey's udder is HUGE. I am using warm compresses to help alleviate
the discomfort until the milk absorbs. 

Benton's favorite spot. 

Bath time! 

Boris and Anya have become friends. ♥
Thanks for visiting with us today. See you again soon!
Sean & Sonja ♥

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bailey Kids (finally!) WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

For the past several weeks our family has slipped into a functional, (but ultimately unhealthy) sleep schedule. Because of the cold and the potential complications with Bailey kidding, we have been checking on Bailey every hour around the clock. After the first week, Kristen and Meaghan pitched in and offered to take the 10 pm to 2 am watch, which helped immensely. Still, we have all been waiting impatiently for Bailey to go into labor. About two weeks ago, Sean excitedly announced that there was a discharge from Bailey's vulva. Losing the mucus plug is a sign that we are getting close. But, though her udder filled and her belly dropped, nothing happened night after night.

Friday night we started our routine dance. Sean and I headed to bed around 10 pm and the girls began their watch. We set our alarm for 3 am. Some nights I fall asleep as soon as my head touches my pillow. I woke to Sean, "It's time." Sean said quietly. I thought he meant that it was 6 am and time for us to get up to get ready for a soap making class. "Not yet." I answered and settled back to sleep. "Sonja, Bailey's kids are coming. It's time." THAT woke me. We already had our kidding kit in the barn, so it was just a matter of grabbing boots, coats, and camera.

Meconium stained first born.
In the barn, Bailey was laying down and her kid's nose was presenting in the "bubble". If all went well, her first kid would be born within the hour. The first thing we wanted to know was whether the kid was in the proper position. As its nose protruded, we were expecting to see hooves along the sides or underneath. When more of the head was delivered and no hooves were present, Sean sprayed lubrication on my gloved hand. Slowly I eased my hand inside with my fingers held together (Never enter with fingers splayed. That is very dangerous.) to feel for hooves. My hand immediately hit a hoof. Good news. Slowly, I felt for the other hoof along the other side, but I didn't feel it, only the shoulder. That meant one leg was in the correct position, the other was laying back along the spine. Not a perfect presentation, but the kid could be born this way. I added gentle traction to the hoof I could feel and to the kid's head. As Bailey contracted and pushed, I helped pull the kid slowly until the shoulders were delivered. I left the rest up to Bailey. Within minutes, she delivered her first kid.

Being born is tiresome work!
The first thing Sean and I noticed was that there was fecal matter present in the sac and the amniotic fluid was definitely yellow. Meconium in the amniotic fluid does not necessarily mean that the kid is going to do poorly, but it is a sign that there was some fetal distress. It is important that we watch for joint ill, lethargy, or difficulty breathing which could indicate respiratory issues over the first few days. If signs present, we'll call in our veterinarian. I helped clean off the large bits of gooey membrane from the kid and then placed him on a clean puppy pad in front of Bailey so she could do her part in cleaning her kid. I took pictures and chatted with Sean while we waited for the next kid to be born.

The second kid presented within a couple minutes. We could clearly see the hooves of both front feet in the unruptured amniotic sac. We waited to see the head present. After about 10 minutes, both hooves protruded about 5 inches but there was no head was in sight. Concerned that the head was turned backwards, Sean sprayed more lubrication on newly gloved hands and carefully I felt inside to see where the kid's head was. Just inside, the head was there, facing the right direction. Good news. We waited a little longer and the nose presented and within minutes the second kid was born. The amniotic sac did not rupture during birth, so I opened it and helped clear the fluid from the new kid's nose and mouth before placing him near Bailey's head for her to clean off her kid.

Good job, Bailey!
While Bailey met her kids and cared for them, Sean and I cleaned up the soaking wet puppy pads and towels. Sean grabbed some grain and fresh water in case Bailey wanted to eat or drink. I took pictures and video and sighed in relief that the kids were alive and so was Bailey. And, that we might get some sleep again (At least until it is Rachel's turn to kid.)

Once the kids got their legs under themselves and began to stand, we helped them to latch on in turn on Bailey's good side. It took a little practice, but they both got a drink before we left the family to bond and we returned to bed.

A little backstory for those who didn't know. Last year, Bailey kidded twins. Since she has kidded before and mothered beautifully, we didn't worry too much about them. Once we made sure they could latch on properly and were drinking well, we left Bailey to care for them. There was a problem, though. Bailey developed a severe form of mastitis, an infection in her udder. Though we used the medications penicillin, Today (Cephaprin Sodium) and then Tomorrow (Cephaprin Benzathine), had the multiple abscesses lanced by our Veterinarian and gave pain meds, Bailey's left udder was severely damaged so that scar tissue blocked access to any milk production. We dried her off and over the course of the last year have fought with several on-going infections that spread through her body. Her kids from last year suffered, too. Franklin contracted pneumonia four times over the course of the year, nearly dying on us twice. His brother, Kurt did die. We had NO plans on breeding her ever again. She had other plans.

When we discovered that Bailey was going to kid this season, we were worried for her health and that of her kids. If she had twins, they would have to share one side of the udder because the left side produces milk, but there is no way for it to pass through the teat. Based on the poor production of the right side, we need to be watchful that the kids are getting enough milk from it. If they are, great! The right side will stop producing in time and the kids can be reared sharing the right side. If not, we needed to be prepared for that. I had frozen colostrum from last year's kidding season. And, I have frozen milk from our final milking in December to feed the kids until Rachel kids. Then, I can milk her and feed the new kids. We only bottle feed if absolutely necessary. It is really not the BEST thing for the kids, but it is certainly better than the chance of them starving to death without interference.

This is all we have been able to collect. :(
Back to the present... Sean and I were both able to milk about 2 ounces from the working side of the udder. It was not much, but we were hopeful that under the laws of supply and demand, Bailey would produce what she needed to in order to care for her bucks. When we checked on the family at 9 am, Sean was only able to get a half an ounce from the working side. No need to jump the gun, the kids might have already nursed and emptied the udder. Bailey developed scours in the hours after kidding which made her backside and her private pen a mess. While Sean cleaned Bailey and her stall, I brought the kids inside to wash off the dried fecal smears and introduce them to Kristen and Meaghan. I warmed 4 oz of colostrum and gave them each half by bottle-which they took to easily. Then, the boys fell asleep, cuddled with us.

We thaw colostrum in a double
boiler until warmed.
When Sean came inside, I suggested we keep the kids inside for a couple hours to give Bailey's udder time to fill up. The plan was that Sean would milk her out after 2 hours to see how much milk she was producing. If she was producing 6 oz or so, that would be a good sign. Sean returned inside with a mere half ounce of colostrum. Not good news. I added it to another package of colostrum from the freezer, warmed it and fed the kids another 3 ounces each. We returned the kids to Bailey. She may not be producing enough milk, but she is their mother and has shown a desire to clean them and sleep with them. So long as that continues, we'll not pull the kids.

Over the next 24 hours, the kids each ate 24 oz of colostrum from bottles and Sean attempted to collect colostrum from Bailey. Each attempt yielded no more than half an ounce of milk. Bailey's scouring (diarrhea) had not resolved by morning. Because the kids were born coated in meconium and Bailey was showing signs of developing mastitis again in her left udder, we injected penicillin, vitamin B (for energy and to stimulate appetite) and banamine orally (to help with the pain of an engorged udder). We also gave her pepto bismal to help ease her scouring. The kids were covered in dried fecal matter, so once more, we brought them inside to clean off. We let them stay inside with us to eat and dry off (about 3 hours) and again, Sean attempted to get milk from Bailey. Again she only produced about a half of an ounce.

So, this is our plan for now: We are applying warm compresses to Bailey's udder every three hours, when we are also cleaning off any fecal matter that is on her back end. Tonight, Bailey enjoyed half a dark beer (helps with probiotics), and did not enjoy, -but needed- Probios paste (helps with probiotics), an antibiotic injection, pepto bismal orally, and vitamin B. She has all the hay she wants 24/7. We want her to produce milk, but we also want the left side to dry up. As any woman who had had a child understands, there is some pain involved in engorged breasts. We are trying to alleviate that, too. We hope that in time, the left side of the udder will stop producing milk and the swelling will come down enough to allow the right side's passages to open to allow more milk to reach the outside. At the moment, she is HUGE, but only drops are coming out of the right side. If that happens, great! The kids are still trying to drink from that side. We're hoping that helps, too. In the meantime, we are bottle-feeding the kids 4 oz each every 3 hours around the clock.

Carter & Benton
As for the kids, they are showing no signs of distress. They are both alert and active. Both take the bottle without trouble already. They are making loose milk poops and urinating normally. We expect they will grow to be healthy additions to our homestead. And, one last thing, we promised to reveal their names... These lads are named Carter and Benton. This year's naming theme is the television show ER, since that is what we have been watching on our "down" time in the evenings.

Benton
Here is a short video of them both minutes after their birth and 6 hours later~


Thanks for visiting with us today. :)
 ~Sean & Sonja

Toms Calling and Adding Muscovy Hens

Today is a spinning-my-wheels kind of day. I have a list of things that need doing as long as my arm and absolutely ZERO inclination to start any of them. The cure would be to simply pick a project and start it. Simple, right? It surely would be, if I had any motivation to put thoughts into action.

Part of my funk is Mother Nature's ridiculous mood swings! Yesterday was a gift; 60 degrees and sun. The snow and ice thawed to bare ground in spots through the yard. The geese and ducks were in heaven, playing in the open water of their small pond. Turkeys are beginning to have loud disagreements with one another over who is going to make babies this season. And our lovely flock of free-loading chickens are beginning to lay eggs again! The goats took advantage of the unusually warm day to venture into the pasture to soak up some sun. This morning we woke to temperatures in the single digits. Seriously. These 50* shifts in temperature are getting old.

I took advantage of the warmer weather to spend some time outside and took some pictures to share with you all. Our group of turkey hens sat to one side of the porch while the boys had a discussion. The loud disagreement between Aquila and Lazarus made me smile. It was a sure sign that Spring is on her way. We have high hopes of hatching a couple clutches of turkey poults this season. Of all the birds on the homestead, the turkeys are my favorite. Because they are used to us (and because they have never had cause to fear us) they are quite tame. The toms tolerate being handled; several of the hens absolutely love it. They are usually content to sit in a lap and be petted. :)



On the goat front, Sean woke me at 6 am to let me know that once again, Bailey had a thick discharge coming from her tail end. "Finally! I think today is the day with Bailey. Do you want me to stay home?" he asked. That was good news. We haven't enjoyed a decent night's sleep in nearly two weeks. "No. Go ahead to work. Bailey kids easily. I can handle it." I replied, relieved at the prospect of sleep somewhere on the horizon. Sean left for work.

I checked Bailey through the morning, waiting for her contractions to begin. They did not. Not only that, but the discharge stopped and disappeared within the first hour of my watch. I checked on her each and every hour, hoping that she was indeed, in labor. She was not. Another sleep-less night anticipated, but such is homesteading.



Ilsa (left) and Anya (right)


Sean and I visited a neighboring farm, Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham, Maine. Our mission was to purchase two female Muscovy hens to be companions for Boris. This winter has been very hard on the animals. While the Mallards and Black Swedish ducks have borne it well, we lost our Muscovy females. It makes us sad, but more importantly, Boris has been lonely for the past month. When we saw an advertisement for a couple young hens, we answered it. And, so it is that Ilsa and Anya have come to join our homestead. Until the weather breaks for good, for their safety, they are being housed in the downstairs portion of the bunny hutch in the potager garden for now. This will allow them time to become comfortable with their new home and its other residents (including us), to learn where the food comes from (again, us) and where the water is, and to settle in before being let loose to roam as they want to in the duck yard. We hope that they will choose to lay eggs and hatch out a nest or two of Muscovy ducklings this year.



Thanks for visiting with us, Friends.
Sean & Sonja