Thursday, February 27, 2014


It has been several days since Abigail, Leah, Jane, and Ruby kidded. We are checking our remaining pregnant does, Hadassah and Rachel, several times each day, always hopeful that this will be the day and that our does will have an easy time of kidding. Sean checked them at 1 o'clock and everything remained in a holding pattern. More waiting.

Apparently, when Asher escaped his stall last fall, he did not accomplish his goal of mating with any available doe all in one go. I was relieved that he did not impregnate ALL twelve of our does, especially the yearlings. Though old enough to breed, I never plan to breed our doelings until they are at least 18 months old and are nearly full grown. Sometimes the does have other ideas. And, so it was that after failing repeatedly to keep Asher secure with the bucks and waking to find him snuggled up with the does in the morning, we eventually resorted to tethering him inside his stall at night. This, after being unable to go through the fencing, he actually ripped through the plywood wall to get to the does, leaving in his wake a gaping hole. For a while, this drastic measure seemed to keep Asher contained and our doelings safely unmolested. But, as the adage goes, "If Mohammad won't go to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammad." We woke one terrible morning to find that the doelings had broken through the door to their stall and were quite happily snuggled up with Asher, still tethered to the wall. I swear he was grinning.

Hadassah was thankfully the only yearling to be impregnated. With memories of the trouble with Sapphira and her subsequent loss in the front of our minds, we approached her first kidding with feelings of anxiety and fear. I did not want to lose this doe. I don't want to lose any doe, obviously. But, Haddie is something of a favorite around here because of her cheerful and inquisitive demeanor. She is often the first one to greet us upon entering the pasture.

After Sean returned to work, I checked the goats this afternoon, but no one showed any signs of immediate kidding. As chance would have it, Sean was about half an hour later than normal coming home from work tonight, perfect timing to find Haddie very obviously mid-delivery.

<---- This is what Sean found.

Sean raced inside to get me. I grabbed the vet bag, camera, and towels and joined Sean in the barn. By the time a doe is at this stage, delivery is very nearly finished. In our experience the head is the most difficult part to deliver. Once it is out, usually the rest of the kid is born quickly.

We watched and waited. And waited. And waited. No more contractions seemed to come. Haddie was relaxed and acting as if she did not have a relatively intrusive head poking from the back end of her body. She was eating, drinking, and walking around. She paused to lick one of the buckling kids that wandered near her.

Sean broke the amniotic sac to make sure the kid could get air. The kid moved occasionally, shook its head back and forth, moved his feet, but made no further progress. Haddie had not had a contraction in over 10 minutes. The kid was alive, but how long should we wait? I was worried. I wanted Sean to call for the vet again. With Haddie being smaller than I was comfortable with, I did not want to wait until we needed the vet and not have them here. Sean listened to my fears, but told me he felt comfortable helping Haddie himself. Actually, he clapped his hands together, threw back his shoulders, said, "I got this." and headed inside to wash up.

I believed the trouble came from the kid's presentation. While it was facing the right direction, its head was fully delivered, but the front legs were held very close to its face. I thought the front legs should be stretched out in front of the kid much further than they were. I tried carefully gripping both of the kid's legs and provided gentle traction on them. Nothing happened.

Sean returned with clean hands ready to assist. Careful not to touch anything, Sean entered the stall. I squirted some lubricant onto Sean's hands. While I held the tail up and out of the way with one hand, Sean carefully eased a couple fingers inside Haddie to see if he could help ease the kid out that way. I suggested, "Can you hook your fingers under the kid's knee and pull to get one leg out? If you can get one leg out, it might provide enough room for the kid to shift and be born." While Sean felt his way around to hook his fingers under the kid's leg to draw it out, I placed my hands on both sides of Haddie's stomach and pushed from her shoulders toward her tail across the sides of her sides and again down her stomach. I could feel the kid's back legs move inside.

Sean was able to free one leg and align it into the proper position. And, finally, I felt a contraction! With each contraction, I ran my hands down Haddie's body from shoulder to tail while Sean gently eased the kid from her mother's body. In just a couple minutes, we had a live kid laying in the hay.

Haddie was interested in smelling and licking this new arrival. With it being such a cold night, I helped her to get the kid dried and warm while Sean washed the blood and amniotic fluids from his hands. I took the opportunity to check the kid more closely; lamancha ears, but everything else was from his Momma's genetics! He is gorgeous and more importantly, alive and healthy!

It is with relief and great pleasure that we introduce the forth kid born to Lally Broch Farm and we need your help. This little guy needs a name! We can't decide between: Amos or Joel. Please, help us by commenting which you prefer below. To show our appreciation for your help, we'll draw a random person from those who comment and send that person their choice of scent of a 5 oz bar of our goat's milk soap.

To help you decide, here are some pictures of the new buckling:

Haddie is curious about this new thing.

Smells right. 

Tastes right...

Guess we'll keep him
Ready? Set? Vote!

Should this little one be named Amos or Joel?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Deep Litter Method: Goats

When I read this post from Lil Bit Farm, I had to commiserate. We use the deep litter method. For those of you who don't know what that means, I'll give you a brief explanation. Basically, instead of cleaning the stalls each day, (like we do spring, summer, and fall) in the winter, we pile fresh hay bedding on top of the soiled hay bedding, layer upon layer, all. winter. long. The benefits of doing this is that the bottom layers begin to break down into compost over time and that produces heat. Heat is a good thing in Maine during the bitterly cold winter months, especially this year when we had steady weeks where the temperature failed to break the zero degree mark. Another benefit, in all honestly, is NOT having to chip away soiled, frozen waste and then wrestle to remove said waste through mounds of snow, several feet deep in below zero temperatures to add it to the compost pile on a daily or weekly basis.

While the "Deep Litter" Method of dealing with animal waste works, we pay for it come spring in the form of screaming muscles and the sweat of our brows- (In all honesty, there was no "we". It was Sean's brow, but you get the point). We have enjoyed a string of days well above the freezing mark, culminating in temperatures yesterday hitting 42 degrees. How did we celebrate? That's right... mucking. Sean worked for 6 hours straight pulling roughly a foot deep of compacted, soiled hay from both doe stalls. Each of these stalls are 10 feet square. That makes roughly 200 cubic feet of waste to remove by hand and shovel. Not to mention the smell! Covering the soiled hay daily prevents the smell from being offensive over the winter. Once you start digging into the rotting layers, let's just say, "offensive" doesn't come close to describing it. Sean is Superman.

The stalls look fantastic covered with a fresh layer of pine shavings. If the weather stays around the freezing mark or higher, we will be able to resume mucking the stalls regularly. Without heat, the barn stays a good deal warmer than the air outside when the doors are closed and the animals are inside- comfy, cozy for the animal inhabitants. 23 days until spring. We are in the home stretch now!

While Sean was shoveling away, I kept him company and played with the goats. Of course, I couldn't resist more videos and images of the growing barn gang.

Please, notice the "before" and "after" images of the bedding, won't you? I try to show how much I appreciate all the work Sean does around here to help keep us running. You can help me. Why not take a minute to comment? How cool would it be for Sean to return home from work today and see his efforts have been noticed not only by his wife and animals, but by our neighbors near and far, too. He might call me silly, but I bet it'll make him feel good. ♥

 Jesse ♥

Snuggles with Elisha. 

Totes Ma Goats. ;)

 One of our resident barn roos, Simon, was feeling his oats. He kept dancing for the girls and crowing for attention. Silly boy. All the girls ignored his show completely.

Simon slept outside one night last week instead of going into the barn or coop. Sean found him roosting in the bed of his truck in the morning. Consequently, Simon's waddles are recovering from frost bite. We have been keeping an eye on them for infection, but they seem to be healing on their own. We'll keep a good watch on them because an infection can be lethal.
Miss Leghorn has resumed laying white eggs for us. Her nesting place of choice is in the pig stall.
Rachel loves scratches under her chin. She is such an affectionate girl. Sean paused in shoveling to give her an ear scratch. Rachel reciprocated by licking his forearm repeatedly and rubbing against him. Just look at that face! You can just about see the love shining from those eyes. ♥

Asher was quite interested in these new little bucklings. Once the first doe stall was cleaned, we opened the door to allow the does to take a walk into the snowy pasture if they wanted and their kids to meet the rest of the herd. I was close by in case of any rough introductions, but for the most part, everyone sniffed and tussled playfully. Leah kept good watch on her young lads, too. She is really a good mother.

This week, I am working on a post regarding introducing Molly to the goats, chickens, and Jasmine. We have been working with her every day and Molly is learning a lot!

Still no news on the kidding front. Everyone is doing well right now. I'll be sure to update as soon as the rest of the kids decide to be born. :)

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, friends. I am so thankful you are here.
~Sonja ♥

Sounds Around the Homestead: Guinea Fowl

When we added Guinea Fowl to our homestead, we knew what we were getting... sort of. We read up on the creatures, of course. We talked, in depth, to people who kept some themselves. We visited them in person before we committed to purchasing them.

We decided to add guinea fowl to our homestead for a few reasons. We liked that guinea fowl have a reputation for eating ticks and other external parasites from their flock mates. They make great little "watch dogs" for their flock. They are lovely; some breeds have polka dotted feathers. And, they lay pretty speckled eggs, of particular interest for a homestead that creates jewelry from our eggs. Additionally, we intend to hatch chicks and sell hatching eggs locally for folks.

We were aware of their loud call and it's reputation to be annoying to some folk. We did not find it annoying. We still don't. Before you decide to add guinea fowl to your flock, we encourage you to read up on them, talk with others who have them, visit their farm or homestead for yourself and consider whether being greeted with this sound through the day will fray your nerves.

If you are prepared for their very loud and raucous greetings, guineas can add much joy and beauty to your flock. They have to ours. With winter waning, we are anxiously awaiting our first speckled eggs laid by them this spring. And, then, our first hatching clutches. So much to look forward to!

Thanks for visiting today, friends. I am so thankful you came.

~Sonja ♥

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Goat Kids This Morning

Rachel and Hadassah are both still heavy with kids. They are showing positive signs. We can feel and see their kids' movements. Their udders are filling. Their ligaments are softening. They are progressing. Thankfully, these are our final kiddings for the season. As one reader commented to us last week, we only have to hold our breath for a little while more and then, we can hold some kids. :)

With nothing much to report on the kidding front, I thought I would bring you some goatie cuteness to start your morning.

Jessie has a perfect place to nap in a stream of sunshine while Jane is eating her grain. He was quite content to bask in the warm rays until his milk returned.
Elisha (left) and Samson (right)
Leah, too, was enjoying her morning grain in another part of the stall while I snapped this picture of the boys snuggling. Check out the smile on Samson. It is nice to have a brother.

Next Sunday, we'll begin milking all the does in the mornings.  When that happens, all the new kids will sleep together overnight in a stall next to their mothers, separated by rails. They'll be able to see, touch, and lay near their moms should they want to, but they will not have access to nurse at night. After we milk our does in the morning, the kids are reunited with their mothers and the rest of the herd. They can nurse all they want during the day. They'll begin eating hay and grain and learn to be part of their herd.

Jesse belongs to Asher, but he sure did not get his daddy's gopher ears! Look at the size of those silly ears! So far, Jesse is the only kid born with full sized ears to us this year.

Thanks for visiting with us this morning, friends. I am thankful for your company.

 ~ Sonja ♥

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ruby's Passing & Jesse's Birth: WARNING GRAPHIC



I love my goats for many reasons; their unique personalities, their penchant for getting into mischief, their stubborn insistence on eating Sean's would-be grape vines, and the excited way they greet me each day among them. I am a freak that enjoys mucking out the stalls because I love how fresh and clean they look and smell when it is finished. I love the scent of our goats, maybe not Jedi in the fall so much, but overall, their scent is homey and pleasant to me. Don't judge me. I cannot be the only person in the world who feels so. I hate rising in the morning early, but I love the feeling of peace and calm that envelops me sitting on my milk stand, head resting on the warm fur of a doe happily munching her grain, the whoosh of a stream of warm milk hitting my pan, turning into a liquid tinkle as it fills. The knowledge that I will create delicious cheeses and healthy soaps for my family's enjoyment. So, when I say I HATE kidding season with a passion, please understand, that it is not that I hate caring for my goats. I love my goats. I hate kidding season. I hate the worry. I hate the possible loss. I hate the heartache that sometimes comes- even when you do everything you can to make things work out right.

In the midst of the joy of Jane kidding a healthy buck this morning and everything going just right with that labor (like Leah's yesterday), we lost Ruby. She was still laying down this morning. We set up to give her this morning's infusion. Overnight, she had swollen and dilated in preparation for kidding. We called for our vet to come out to help again this morning. With the potential for complications with Ruby's delivery, we did not want to chance going it alone. Having successfully administered her infusion last night, I felt at ease that I could repeat it, but if Ruby was unable to stand, we might need to take more skilled action than either Sean or I are trained for.

Ruby died quickly. We did not even get the IV infusion line connected to her port before she began calling loudly and straining hard- much harder than she should have been. Jen left us with some banamine yesterday, just in case. Banamine is a pain medication. We do not routinely administer it to our does in labor, but there are times when it is needed. We injected Ruby's thigh muscle with a dose. Ruby began to relax and her breathing returned to a normal rate. It seemed, like yesterday, she was making progress. Sean and I worked together to get her IV ready and in minutes everything changed. Ruby laid her head down, her eyes glazed over and she was gone. No time to grieve, we needed to get those kids out NOW. First, Sean reached his hand inside Ruby to see if he could feel a kid. Nothing. No kids were present.

Sean called Ridge Runner to see how far away Jen was, but there was no time to wait. Sean steeled himself for what had to be done. While I caught Jane's first kid, hastily got his airway cleared, and checked him over for trouble, Rachel from Ridge Runner was talking Sean through where to make the initial incision. The location was on the left side of Ruby's abdomen, just in front of the juncture of where her back left leg met her body. He cut through the skin to reveal muscle. I joined Sean and held Ruby's leg out of the way while Sean carefully cut to find the first kid. Careful not to open the multiple stomachs or intestines, Sean cut into the white sac holding amniotic fluid. Forearm deep in Ruby's body, he felt and found the first forelegs and pulled out a warm, but limp kid. On speaker phone, the calm, reassuring voice of Rachel talked me through draining the fluid from the kid by carefully hanging her upside-down and giving her a quick little jerk. The fluids poured out of the kid's mouth and nose. Rachel told me how to poke a needle into the goat's mouth (inside) at the place where the kid's upper lip joins with her nose- a pressure point to jump her into movement and possibly life. That did not produce any result. I sealed my mouth around the kid's nose and mouth and blew air into it's body. Her chest cavity inflated and deflated as I attempted resuscitation, but did not respond. Desperate to try anything, I asked, "What else can I do?" The answer, "I'm sorry. It's just too late, I'm afraid. I am very sorry." While I worked to save the first kid, Sean removed the second, a pure black boy with perfect lamancha ear buds. Sean attempted to revive Ruby's son, using the same methods, but it was just too late. We placed the kids with Ruby and covered them. Sean went inside to rinse his hands. Jane still needed our attention and she had another kid coming.

Jane's second kid came fast, like twins usually do, but there was no movement in its feet when she pushed- no signs of life. In seconds, Jane delivered her daughter, still-born. No! We attempted to revive this kid, too, just in case, by some miracle we could bring her back, but we were unsuccessful. The second kid was born dead.

Overcome with emotion and with nothing else pressuring us to remain focused, Sean and I broke down in tears. We held each other, surrounded by the sounds of the barn and wept tears for Ruby and her passing. Tears for the loss of three little lives that ended before they had even one chance to wiggle and play. Tears for being helpless to change this outcome.

Snuggling and watching the little guys that are thriving gives me some comfort to be sure, but it cannot completely cover the ache in my heart for losing Ruby and the kids today. I wish I had the luxury of keeping goats solely as pets, never to be bred. That is not realistic or possible, though. And, the thing is, if you stop doing things because of fear that something "bad" might happen, you also lose the potential of something "wonderful" finding you. Our first year, we lost no one during kidding season, but Ellie had a close call. Last year brought us joy in the five healthy kids born to four lovely Momma does. And, the heartache of losing Sapphira while kidding. The joy to be had in this season is found in being blessed with three healthy bucks to three thriving does. This is a working farm. It has to work. We all have to contribute our part. We do not breed our does every year as many folk do. We care for our animals the best way we know how. We take the good with the bad. Today, we are living our share of bad.

I am very thankful that Jane's first born is healthy and is doing just fine. He is a beautiful little buck. Our daughter, Meaghan, named him Jesse.

Jesse is going to be full of trouble- sticking out his tongue at us already!
We'll be back to update on the kids, their mom's, and any new kidding developments. In an effort to focus on the joy, we'll also have plenty of video and images of the new kids in the days to come. Here's one to start you off:


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Kids Are Dropping! GRAPHIC IMAGES and VIDEO

More excitement and worry (and no sleep) around here last night and this morning. Sean got home from work and commenced with evening chores. Between the time I checked on Samson and assisted in his feeding at 3pm and Sean's arrival at 6pm, Ruby decided to begin labor... maybe.

Signs Pointing to Labor Beginning:
Ruby was panting.
Ruby's kid(s) had dropped and she had that "hollowed" out look when standing.
Ruby's ligaments were non-existent.
Ruby had colostrum filling her udder.
We could see her kids wiggle inside when she stood.

Ruby did not want to stand. She laid down in various positions all night.
Ruby did not appear to be dilating.
There was no bloody show or mucus.
Ruby was not straining or attempting to push.

So, was she really in labor? Or, just beginning to be? We got her settled into the kidding stall comfortably. I threw the vet towels into the dryer to begin warming them. We offered petting, which she seemed to appreciate and some grain, which she ate. She declined water, but that is normal if she was in labor.

Sean brought Samson outside for his last feeding. Abigail allowed Samson to nurse, but she still was not happy about the idea. Ruby heard Samson calling and perked up, interested. I had a thought. When Samson finished drinking, I brought him into the kidding stall and introduced him to Ruby. If she was disinclined to accept him, no harm, no foul. But, if she would adopt him, Samson could stay with his herd and be cared for by a proper goatie Momma. Immediately, Ruby began cleaning Sam's bottom and licking him all over. She would not stand to give him access to milk, but she was more than happy to care for him and snuggle with him. If Ruby was in labor and kidded soon, this just might be the solution to our trouble.

By 11 pm, no kidding progress was made. Ruby stopped panting and her breathing returned to normal. We set our alarm clock and checked her every 90 minutes through the night. All. Night. Long. Nothing. For those of you counting, that makes 3 nights without any real sleep for these homesteaders.

This morning we decided to call Ridge Runner Veterinary and get some help. Jen and Emily drove out after their morning surgery to examine Ruby.

No sooner was the call placed, than Sean came inside to inform me that Leah was in a hurry to beat Ruby and kid next. Within an hour, Leah lost her mucus plug, went into active labor and delivered a robust and healthy buck to Jedi. We named him Elisha. Eli is GORGEOUS; part lamancha (He has elf ears!), part oberhausli (Check out the stripes on his head and those pants!), and all CUTE!

This is Leah's first freshening. As with her last kidding, she gave birth to a single buck. I was hoping for twins from her this year, but I am very pleased and thankful with the healthy buck she gave us. We'll be offering this little guy for sale come early summer. He is going to father some lovely kids if someone wants to add him as a buck. Or make a fine companion if someone wants him as a pet.

This is the video of Elisha's birth. It contains GRAPHIC IMAGES. Reader Discretion is Advised.

Ruby was not in any better shape when Jen and Erica arrived mid-morning, but she stood for them for a few minutes before laying back down. As she examined Ruby, Jen advised us that this could be a couple things. One was a calcium deficiency that sometimes happens just before a doe kids. Another possibility could be a more serious kidney/liver issue. If that were the case, we could perform a C-section to try to get the kids out and give Ruby the best shot of recovering. I usually opt for the least invasive treatment plan first and work up from there. Our course of action for Ruby was to get some calcium into her via an IV line sewn into her neck. The calcium was given in a saline drip infusion. We would repeat the treatment with a 1/3 bag of saline later this evening and if Ruby was still not up and about, repeat in the morning.

Erica prepared Ruby for the IV port by shaving a place on her neck. A needle was inserted and Jen sewed it into place. They left us with all the supplies we'd need to do this ourselves overnight. A blood sample was drawn and a stool sample collected to be checked back at the office. The final part of their visit was a physical exam of Ruby's cervix. This revealed that Ruby was not in labor yet, but her cervix was softened and ready to begin dilation. Jen predicted we'd be having more kids within 24-48 hours. I really appreciate how patient they were with my questions and how thoroughly they walked us through the procedure. This is another reason why I love this veterinary office.

Jen called later to let us know that Ruby's iron was very low and that her worm load was high. She advised us to treat Ruby with Ivomectin now instead of waiting until kidding and to continue with the IV infusions. To add some iron to Ruby's diet naturally, we offered her some collard greens and a tablespoon of peanut butter, which we had on hand. Ruby refused both. Spinach and beet greens are both better sources of iron so we'll purchase some at the store and offer those to her.

This is how things stand in a nutshell: Sean milked Abigail this evening and we collected 9 ounces of milk from her. We'll begin milking her twice each day tomorrow and see how she does. Samson has adopted Ruby as his "snuggle and sleep mama" and Leah as his "milky mama". Both Leah and Ruby seem amenable to this arrangement. Ruby is undergoing treatment for worms, iron deficiency and low calcium. She should kid any day now. It would be best for her to regain some strength first, but we'll deal with things as they come. Leah delivered a fine lad and is active, alert, and recovering as if it was a walk in the park. Rachel is showing signs of kidding, too. I suspect we'll have more kids tomorrow.

I'll be sure to update you all as things progress. Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're sure glad for the company.

~Sean and Sonja ♥

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Updates and Musings

From the inception of my writing about our family's journey homesteading, I have enjoyed sharing our life with you. I appreciate your encouragement, comments, and suggestions. Visiting with you brightens my day and keeping this record has been beneficial for keeping me motivated to continue to make improvements. Every day I learn something new. I do not compile and regurgitate other people's writings, though I do certainly pass along information with convenient links to sites that I have found helpful and think you will enjoy. This blog website has never been set up to be a "how to" type of site where I share a self-proclaimed vast base of wisdom. Rather, I share our personal experiences with you. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes there is loss, but always, always I open our lives to share with you. I hope that you find encouragement to tackle projects of interest in your life, that you laugh along with us in joy and learn from some of our mistakes so you don't face the same heartaches as we sometimes endure.

Today's post was going to be a simple update about our littles, Molly and Samson. But, as I was sorting images and editing video, thinking of what I wanted to share about Molly's progress with her training, I realized something important had happened in the past two weeks. I have been working hard training Molly, but she had been training me right back. How? Among other lessons, Molly is teaching me to stop working, to look up, and enjoy playing a little.

See, I can be a little, shall we say, "obsessive". This can be a good thing. I tend to be driven. I work hard when I have a task in front of me. I plan things to the Nth degree and then WORK my tail off to achieve the results I want. I hate to say, "No, I can't." because in my heart I believe I can help out and do whatever is asked of me, whether that is realistic assessment or not. I often take on more than I should. I confess, there are times that HOURS pass with me working diligently on a project. Engrossed, I forget everything else. I get so focused and caught up on what I am doing, I forget physical necessities, like eating. Sean comes home and only then do I notice my back aching from bending over my work all day. It can be good to be focused, but balance is wanted. I am working on it. And, THAT is where Molly enters the picture.

Caring for a young puppy forces me to stop what I am doing every couple of hours, to get up, move about and refocus. Molly needs to go outside every couple hours for a few minutes, which means I have to go outside every couple hours. Molly eats 3-4 times each day, which means I am reminded to have a little something to eat through the day, also. And, Molly needs to exercise and play. She needs to learn and be trained to behave acceptably. I have to stop what I am working on and focus on her. I've only had her for 2 weeks, but such a difference she is making in my life. It seems MY training is coming along just fine.

How is Molly's training progressing? I am happy to report that Molly is very nearly completely house trained. She always goes to the door to be let outside. And, she whines to let us know what she needs. The only accident that happened this week was due to human error. We fed her and then got distracted by the phone and failed to catch her cue in time. We were a full week without accidents until Monday night. Yesterday was accident free, so we'll start our count again. Molly comes when called for about 75% of the time, on the first call. She always eventually comes, but sometimes it takes more than one command of "Molly, Come." We are still perfecting that. This week, I started playing catch and retrieve with her. It took a couple days, but now that she has the hang of the game, she is progressing nicely. I taped a short snippet of us plaing this morning to share:

This video is a perfect example of Molly training me. Notice the soap making supplies on the table and the cleaner. I was in the midst of cleaning the kitchen to prepare for soap making. I still worked, but taking 10 minutes to play catch and bask in Molly's fun added to my joy. Such a little thing, but so important.

As promised, I have some images of Samson to share with you, too. Samson is spending all day with his Momma and they are doing much better. Ellie, Abby, and Sam are all staying in our "milk room" for now. We moved our milk stands upstairs into storage back in December, so our trio has a nice airy place to be. We won't be milking for a couple more weeks and keeping them in this area is convenient.

Abigail is still not 100% on board with being Samson's Momma, but she is allowing him to nurse. His dropping have changed from the tar-like meconium to more goat-like specimens and I observed him urinating twice today. That, coupled with his energy level, are good signs that Samson is thriving. Sean and I go to the barn every couple hours to check on things. These are some images I captured from when I checked on them earlier this morning.

I appreciate your visiting with us today. Thanks for stopping by.

~Sonja ♥

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Goats in Diapers

It has begun.

At the start of evening chores last night, Sean swept inside to greet my friend, Cherrie and I with a newly delivered, wet heap of limp fur. The lump was very cold from its abrupt entrance into the world from the warmth of its mother's body. It had been licked mostly clean and the cord cared for. Naomi was standing with the little one in the barn, interested in this new life.

"Whose?" I asked Sean.

"I think the red dwarf's. She was standing with the kid and protecting it. I looked around quickly for others, but I'll head back out in a second to check Mom and see if we're done or expecting another." Sean replied as he headed for the bathroom to run some warm water and I went to fetch a towel.

"Boy or girl?" I asked.

"I didn't take the time to look. It was cold. I just scooped and headed inside." Sean answered.

"But, there weren't any others out there?" I worried.

"Not yet. I am headed back out to check out Mom. Just want to get her wrapped up first." Sean assured me.

"Well, Zach gave us a lovely gift." I paused looking the kid over. "It doesn't look like Naomi or Zach, though, does it? All black with some white spots. And, the size is wrong. Too big to be a dwarf kid. That is Asher's kid. Look, Lamancha ears. Are you sure that's Naomi's kid? It's a he, not a she, by the way." I rattled off.

"I'll take him." Cherrie offered and settled with the kid on her lap.

Sean went back to the barn, while Cherrie and I petted the new buckling. I named him Samson. Molly was very interested in this new addition. She stood sniffing him, desperate to see if it was either edible or chase-able. Each time the kid let out a little "meh..." Molly jumped to attention, barking and wiggling, determined to investigate and possibly eat this new thing. So exciting!

Molly was not to be deterred from an introduction. Her barking was loud and startling to the kid. I did not want to put her in another room, though. We are in the very beginning of her bonding with us as her pack. And, we are hoping that Molly is going to be a working dog on our farm.

So, I took Samson, sleepy, but warm and sat with him on the floor to begin the careful first introductions.
"What is this new thing?" Molly wonders.
"Smells delicious from top to bottom!"
"How 'bout a little taste?" Molly wanted to nip so badly and
pounce, but she did really well for a first meeting with just
sniffing and licking.
Sean returned inside to reveal that Samson's mother is, in fact, Ellie's daughter, Abigail born to us April 1, 2012. (Read about Abigail HERE.) Our first doe kid born on our homestead had her first kid last night. That's kind of cool. Abigail was doing fine physically and only birthed the one kid. Since Samson was warmed and dry, Sean and I decided to return him to his mother and move the pair of them to the milking room with some fresh hay to bed in, near the rest of the herd, but safe from accidental trampling.

Abigail was easily coaxed away from the herd with an extra serving of grain. But, that is where the ease ended. She wanted nothing to do with her kid. Each time Samson tried to get close to her, she either stepped on him in an effort to escape or lowered her head and rammed him forcefully with her horns. Maybe, she was just scared? After all, this is all new to her. She just gave birth. Abigail was probably a bit unnerved by the experience and more than a little sore! We decided to bring Ellie into the same stall to see if she would accept Samson and show Abigail that it was alright.

We wanted to make sure there was no plug formed in Abby's udder to prevent nursing. Sean held Abigail gently, petting her while I attempted to massage her udder to get some colostrum to flow. After a minute or two of no success, we switched places. Abigail had not yet bagged up, so her udder was really small and hard to hold, but Sean was able to get colostrum from both sides. We attempted to encourage Samson to nurse, but he was disinclined, wanting only to sleep. I was hopeful that the physical relief of nursing coupled with the endorphines and hormones released by nursing would help Abigail to accept her son. But, no one was cooperating and it was getting late. We decided to leave Ellie, Abby, and Sam to rest. We'd check them again in a few hours.

Sean checked them through the evening hours. Each time, Abigail was nowhere near her offspring. Ellie was willing to lay next to him, but without that maternal bond, she was just as likely to wander to another spot in the hay and leave Samson all alone in the cold. As the temperature dropped to 2* and finding Samson alone and cold to the touch on his last visit to the barn for the evening, Sean decided that it was safer to bring Samson inside for the night. Which explains how we retired to sleep with a goat kid wearing a diaper, laying in the crook of my arm. Sean cradling Molly in his arm and neither of us were very hopeful of getting much sleep. As it turned out, Sean slept like a log. I awoke to Molly laying across my chest, snuggling under my chin, snoring softly, wrapped in one arm and Samson wrapped securely in my other arm on the other side. Oh, the glamorous life of a farm wife!

Still, everyone survived their first night and now that morning had dawned, I was hopeful that Abigail would be in a better frame of mind to accept her kid. I have zero interest in bottle feeding a goat kid. I do not believe it is what is best for the kid. As a very last resort, I will do it, but thankfully, I have never had to. Even when we have a rough start, our does have always come around to care for their kids. I was worried that Samson seemed too weak to stand for any length of time and he was not showing any signs of wanting to nurse. In my experience, most goat kids will attempt to suckle fingers. Samson was not interested.

Sean and I ventured to the barn to greet Abigail and Ellie and feed them some grain. While Abigail was busy eating, Sean held her collar gently, lest she decide to kick or bolt and I attempted to coax Samson to try to eat. I was very encouraged and relieved when Samson perked up and wiggled his way around his mothers underside searching for milk. Abigail was not happy with the proceedings and stamped her feet in agitation. I started each nipple so that the colostrum flowed easily and helped Samson to latch on. He drank for a few minutes before losing his place and tried to nurse from Abigail's leg. I helped him latch on a couple more times. Abigail was very upset. She refused to eat her grain, she stepped into her water bucket, kicked over her grain bucket, and moved away or attempted to kick Samson repeatedly. This was not promising. I prayed some quick petitions asking for help. I do not want to bottle feed this kid! I feel terribly inadequate to the task and I am daunted by the thought of having to milk several times a day to collect enough milk for Sam. And, I will confess that I just don't want to have to find the time in my schedule to baby a goat kid, too! All in all, it would be much better for everyone, especially Samson, for Abigail to be the Momma. It is best for him to have full access to his herd to socialize and learn to be a goat, to have all his mother's milk to himself for a few weeks. It is best for our schedule to milk once a day- just in the mornings- beginning in March. Obviously, if it is necessary, I will do it, I just don't want to!

After 2 hours of watching and hoping, Sean decided it was safest and best to bring Samson back inside with us. Abigail is not only uninterested, she is actively attempting to injure Sam. Sean hand-milked Abigail and we filled one of the kidding bottles with it. I offered it to Sam, but he did not want to drink from it. I am hoping he got enough while outside with Abigail and he was just tired and ready to nap. I'll try again in a little while. We are not giving up. When Sean returns for lunch, we'll bring Samson back outside and try to hold Abigail steady for Sam to nurse. Maybe, if Abigail bags up and feels the relief of nursing, she'll be better inclined to allow it. I am still praying for that outcome.

Thankfully, I am not alone in caring for this new one. Miss Meaghan was kind enough to kid-sit for me while I wrote this, washed the floor, showered and got ready to work. Kristen and my niece, Micayla will take their turns, too.

Sean came home for lunch and held Abigail steady so Samson could nurse. The girls tried to use the bottle to feed him mid-afternoon, but he could not get the hang of it. He was able to drink about an ounce from a bowl, which was promising. Then, at 5 pm, Sean brought Sam outside to nurse again and Abigail let down much quicker and allowed him to nurse a little before walking away. We are still hoping and praying she'll accept him in the days to come.

In the meantime, I am very pleased to announce the birth of Samson to our farm. The first of the 2014 kids has arrived. He is a beauty and will make a fine addition to grow someone's Lamancha herd in the years to come. His dam and sire are unregistered with the ADGA, but both could be. I'll be searching for a good home for him in the months to come.

Thanks for visiting, friends. We're glad you stopped by.

Sonja ♥

And the winner to our drawing is: Heather Browning Dugas. Please, PM me on FB with your address and choice of soap scent. :) If I do not hear from you by 5 pm EST Feb 19, 2014, a new winner will be chosen. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Puppy Training

I am never getting anything accomplished again in my life.

I reveal this knowing full well I brought this upon myself and that though I have the power to change it, I won't. I can't say I really mind it all that much. I am smitten. This is a case of full-blown puppy love. Quite literally.

It has been nearly 20 years since I have had a puppy in my life. We've had dogs and still do. And they are fine creatures; good companions, excellent listeners with just the right balance of pain-in-the-buttedness. We tend to get dogs when they are past their puppy stage. Our dogs usually find their way to us via adoption when they are between the ages of 2 and 6 years of age. House training has been accomplished by the time we come along. As is spaying/neutering... usually. Any little personality quirk or allergy is well-documented and comes as no surprise to us. Puppies are a different thing all together. They are all surprises, all the time. From their terrible puppy breath and needle-like puppy teeth to their frequent use of their puppy bottoms, puppies are tiny bundles of care.

So, how about an update on Miss Molly's first days as part of the Twombly homestead?

It took three days, but we are finally getting into a training routine. It looks like this:

I ate all my breakfast.
Like an infant, Molly sleeps with us. Usually, she curls up in the hollow of my arm or lays on my pillow, resting on the top of my head, like a hat. It is important that Molly sees herself as part of our pack, with Sean and I at the head. She has the natural tendency and desire to be part of her pack. Our training works with that inclination. She sleeps where her pack sleeps, when her pack sleeps.

Molly wakes us between the hours of 4am and 6am with whining indicating that she needs to go outside. Sean handles this early morning task, usually bringing Fenn with him, too. She is learning to follow us outside- we go through the doors first and she follows. Sean leads her down the stairs calling her to "come." Then, Sean says, 'Go pee, Molly." And, she does. If she has other business to attend to, she does that, too. Sean praises her for being a good girl with pets and loves. We make a big deal when she does what we want her to do. At this age, she wants to please her pack leaders. Sean calls and Molly follows him up the stairs and back into the house. Again, Sean walks through the doors first. He is the head of the pack. Sean deposits Molly back into bed and we all go back to sleep until it is time for us to get up.

Upon awaking, it is breakfast time. Molly gets her breakfast fed to her separately from the other dogs since Fenn can be food aggressive. This morning breakfast was boiled egg. After breakfast, it is my turn to take Molly outside. She has quickly learned to pee on command, which is convenient. I have quickly learned to take her outside every 2 hours. She whines when she needs to go outside, but she does not hold it for long!

After breakfast is playtime. We pounce and play together. I made a ball from an extra sock and we play catch. This entails her growling at me while I bat the ball back and forth. I roll the ball to her and one of two things happens. 1- Molly gets hit with it and ignores it completely in favor of charging me or 2- Molly gets hit with it, pounces upon it and runs under my bed with her treasure. This game is a work in progress.

Molly LOVES the snow. 
Once playtime is ended because I really have to get some work done, I prepare her snack. This morning's snack was carrots. I give her snack in her basket, which sits beside where I work. While she eats, I get set up. When snack is finished, we take another trip outside and then, Molly is ready for a nap. Like a new mother, I snap into action the minute those eyes close, eager to get some work done while I can.

The rest of the day is made up of lunch, outside, play time, outside, snack, outside, and evening nap before Sean returns home from work. He cares for his farm chores and then joins me for a game of "Call the Puppy." In an effort to train Molly to come to us whenever we call for her, we take turns calling her to us, back and forth, through the house. She is rewarded with treats and loves when she gets it right. Coming when called is an important first training step. Once mastered, we'll begin training "Sit" and "Stay". "Lay Down", "Off", and "Release" training will follow.

All in all, I am pleased with the results of these first days. In the last 3 days, she had an accident in the house twice. Once when she woke us at 3:00 and we were not quick enough to respond to her whining and the other when the girls were watching her while I worked. Molly comes to us about 30% of the time the first time we call for her. We have some progress to make there, but I see promise.

That's it for us for today. Thanks for popping in for a visit. :)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Four Puppies 6 Weeks Old.
"We are not keeping a puppy." For the past 16 weeks I have repeated these words over and over and over. This, in response to the "accidental" mating between my daughter's two unfixed dogs. Accidental in that their dogs had not yet been fixed and succeeded in mating while Maggie, their registered Yellow Labrador Retriever, was in heat.

For the nine weeks of Maggie's pregnancy, I repeated to anyone and everyone who would listen... "Yes, they'll be cute. No, we are not keeping a puppy." For the past seven weeks, chock full of nine puppies developing from small, blind, helpless blobs into nine very loud, wriggling puppies full of yips, nips, and pounces. That's right, NINE puppies."I agree, (insert name of various child here). They are the cutest things I have ever seen (besides goat kids~ I add in my head) and they will look even cuter in their new homes with their new families. We are NOT keeping one."  I stressed adamantly.

Six puppies met six new couples and found six new homes to grow up in and bless within just a few weeks. I have no doubt that the other two will find equally good homes. What's that? Something is wrong with my math, you say?

Well, the missing puppy is currently snuggled in our bed in the crook of Sean's arm, fast asleep and snoring. Her name is Molly.

This is what I want,
except with goats. 
THIS is what we have.
Molly is 1/2 Lab, 1/4 Border Collie, and 1/4 Stratfordshire Terrier. We hope she'll grow to be calm, docile, and loving like her
mother and as quick and clever as her father. Molly is to be a working dog. It will be nice to have one of these. Our current lot are champs at chasing around our much smarter cats and guarding the favored napping spot. Fenn knows the added tricks of howling loudly non-stop, for hours, when he feels the call of the wild and running away any time the chance arises. No, our pooches were all much too old and set in their ways to be of any use on a goat farm by the times they found their ways to us. We love them just the same.

There were other compelling reasons to keep a puppy, of course. I had gotten rather used to sleeping through the night, for one. We had nothing living here to chew on my limited supply of shoes or the cords to my computer for another. And, I hardly ever awoke to puppy breath in my face and sharp teeth lodged onto my nose or finger tips. Clearly, something was missing in our lives.

Ah well, sleep is over-rated. ♥