Thursday, February 18, 2016


In response to Nature's effort to redecorate our turkey coop and yard, we posted a FLASH SALE on our Lally Broch Farm Facebook Page this morning. This is what our coop and protective fencing looked like on February 15th. The turkeys hop over it to free range and visit the other farm animal areas. They like to challenge and run at Molly- who can't understand why they are not afraid of her. She tucks tail and hides behind me when the turkey babies are out. I would love to say they roost in their coop, but really they don't. They prefer to sleep on the roof of their coop (or the chicken coop) or on the fencing itself. They do eat inside their coop, so all the time and effort moving it from Swanville to here, was not for nothing. :)

Mother Nature's overnight remodel February 16, 2016. I like the lack of snow cover and I can definitely work with the warmer, sunny feeling. I feel the protective fencing is somewhat lacking, however and could use some work.

I hope you will take a couple minutes to hop over to our Lally Broch Farm Facebook page to see what we have offered for sale. If you have a $5 coupon from us from a past sale/auction, you can use it for deeper discounts. Or not, your choice. ♥

Our plan for the day involves driving to meet a bonded pair of geese in Rockport and their coop-mates, a pair of hens. Their family is moving across country soon and they may be joining us on the homestead. We'll meet them before we make any decisions to make sure that this is a good fit for all of us, but I have a good feeling after talking with their family that we will be able to provide them a good home.

The 7, year-old hens we just collected from a friend in Abott last week settled in fine and are doing well. We have room to add up to 20 additional hens to the farm this year now that we have moved our ducks and geese to their separate yard. We'll breed to keep an additional 8 turkey poults, too. I am excited about hatching new chicks, ducklings, goslings, keets, and poults come Spring. If you are interested in adding some to your family, do contact us about what we are expecting to have available in these lines this year. :)

Thanks for stopping in, friends. We love your company.
Sean & Sonja ♥ 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It Rains and It Pours...

The adage says, "If you don't like the weather in Maine, wait a minute. It will change." Over the weekend, our temperatures plummeted to -30* degrees. By Monday, the brutal cold eased and we climbed to +8* degrees. Tuesday saw the temperature increase to nearly 50* degrees during the day, but with the warmer temperatures came gusting winds up to 50 MPH and torrential rains through the night. We woke this morning to survey the damage.

All the safety walls collapsed.
Thomas and Lazarus
My first thought was that we had suffered a predator attack over night. My stomach dropped and I felt sick at the thought. I stood in the kitchen window, imaging the horror of dead or missing turkey babies. It was not an attack. The destruction was caused by the brute force of the winds tearing apart 2x4 framed, wire panels. We are very thankful that all of the turkeys are unharmed. They met me at the top of the field. And are wandering the yard, as normal, right now. But, that fencing must be repaired.

The Waldo County Woodshed Shelter Disaster
The second casualty we discovered was the heavy duty shelter Sean and I built and staked down in November. It belongs, along with the wood it covered, to The Waldo County Wood Shed. Sean surveyed the damage. It seems the covering might be salvageable and if they sell replacement parts, the main supports which twisted, bent and are ruined may be able to be replaced. With a heavy heart, I contacted the coordinator to report the trouble. :( No one was injured. That is most important, but these are not the things I want to wake up to. It does NOT make for a good start to the morning.

With nothing else to do, we set to work. While we waited for the hardware store to open, Sean and I put our backs into manual labor. We cleaned out the entire barn and all its stalls. I cleared the horse stall, the main doe stall and the buck stall; Sean cleared the kidding stalls. Fresh shavings and new bales of hay filled me with a feeling of setting something to right. It looked good and smelled good. I accomplished something. A deep breath, a trip to the store and a plan for the afternoon to clean up the mess and repair what we could did much to restore my spirits.

We'll be hosting a sale in the next few days. We need to make us some money! Stay tuned on our Lally Broch Farm facebook page for that.

And, there are these to remind me to smile:

Nyota and Spock. She is almost the inverse of him in terms of coloring. While she is white with black spots and brown legs, he is black with white spots and brown legs. And they both have the sweetest outlined ears! We are going to offer this pair for sale this season once they are weaned. If you are interested, please drop me a message. :)

So that is what is going on in our world. :)

Thanks for visiting today friends. We are glad you are here.

Sean and Sonja

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Veterinary Visit to the Homestead

The weather is supposed to drop to -20 degrees in our area overnight. That
means the barn doors get closed and sweaters go on the kids. Sean will check
on the barn every few hours through the night to make sure everyone is okay.
Abby Arena, DVM with Judah
It has been a week around here! First, I stepped on a nasty screw in the barn while helping with the barn remodel last Thursday. Then, on Monday Sean and I were in a small car accident on 1-95 which left a dent in our van and caused the other two vehicles involved to be towed away. (All the peoples were fine- we were in the middle car, but the vehicles took beatings!) Levi took ill with meningeal worms. Cassie showed signs of an ear infection. And, this morning Bo started to be weak in the rear legs. We were very grateful that our veterinarian, Abby Arena, DVM was planning to come out for a herd check up.

Rachel was very interested in the kit.
Folks, I cannot stress this enough. Do not wait until you have a medical emergency to try to find a veterinarian who works with small ruminants. I don't know of one who will make a farm call if you are not already a client. As homesteaders, we learn so much as we go; from experience, from each other, from what didn't work~ all valuable and sometimes costly lessons, but it cannot replace the knowledge and experience your veterinarian has under their belt. If you care for goats, sheep or the like and you haven't already lined up your veterinarian, now is the time to make that a priority. And then, like we all do, hope you never need to call them for anything life threatening.

Hay on top is what we bought today.
Compared with the older hay.
Close up of good hay; green, lots of leaves, and
few stems.
Today's visit opened my eyes to some things we need to change around here and it also gave me the tools to be a better care-giver. Dr. Arena showed me her technique for tube feeding, especially how to know you are in the stomach and not lungs and left me with the proper equipment for doing it should I ever need to. (Tube-feeding can be necessary on weak animals, new goat kids are especially vulnerable.) She talked me through when and how to inject Dextrose directly into a kid's peritoneum in a case of hypoglycemia. (Triplets, quads or runts of the litter might some day need this intervention.) We looked over the entire herd and discussed their overall health and nutrition. We have been keeping goats for 6 years. We know not to be confused by a fat "hay belly" when checking for health. But, y'all we have been checking this WRONG for several years. We had been educated to check under the goat's rib cage for a layer of fat, like with dogs, to see whether a goat was too fat or skinny. Abby reeducated me where to check along the spine. We have hay available for our goats to eat 24/7. We know to look for moldy hay, but we often feed first cut, which isn't as green as 2nd cut hay. Since we depleted our regular hay provider completely out of hay and also our back up provider, we have been getting hay from a 3rd farm. We knew the hay was more brown than we'd been getting, but it wasn't moldy and the goats were eating it fine, so we never thought more about it. We were just grateful to have found hay. Again- WRONG. Though the goats were eating it and filling their bellies, the nutritional value of this hay was not ideal. We stopped using it immediately. Sean and I found some 2nd cut hay, paid $6.50/bale, and started the goats on a road to better nutrition. You can bet that I will be a "hay Nazi" around here from now on.

Today's visit also made me feel better about our herd and where we are going with our homestead. Dr. Arena complimented our barn set up for being properly well-ventilated, our new hay manger design (yes!), our large pasture/browse area, and our plans for improvements for the coming year. We talked about our change from using the deep litter method to cleaning out the stalls each week and how that is working out for us. We checked on the herd. The newborn goat kids looked healthy. Levi is on the mend with only one more dose of Ivomectin needed tomorrow. She gave him a steroid to help regain his strength. He is still weak and it will take some time to bring him back to full health, but it looks very promising. Dr. Arena talked with us about copper bolus as a preventative against Barber Pole worms. Sean and I are collecting fecal samples from all of our goats to get a baseline for the entire herd. And if there is a problem, we will work on a plan of attack for it. We'll try swabbing Ivomectin externally around Cassie's ears. She may have some mites causing the irritation and the infection will likely resolve on its own without the mites. If not, we have a plan B. We'll have another visit this summer, where any bucks that we won't use for breeding will be castrated under anesthesia. Dr. Arena is ordering us some supplies and medicines to stock our vet kit; like 50% Dextrose in small dose bottles, 25 g needles, syringes (at substantial cost savings over getting them at a feed store), and stomach feeding tubing. We'll also have BoSe on hand for kidding and a small amount of Banamine in case anyone else in the herd shows signs of meningeal worms. Dr. Arena is sending me information about everything we discussed and left me with handouts which included a great dosing chart for dewormer medicines. I just feel better.... equipped, I guess is the right word. I am so thankful to have her on our side and on our team.

Abby Arena is in private practice and can be reached via email at or texted to 207-992-7174. She specializes in small ruminants. She is accepting new clients. :)

Thanks for visiting with us today friends. We're glad you are here.
~Sean and Sonja

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Some Days Feel Like a Win. ♥

Sean is on his way to get an estimate for our van repair from the accident on Monday afternoon. While he is gone, I thought it would be a good time to try to write a bit. The house is quiet and no one needs me at the moment. :) First of all, let me start with this adorable image of goat kid cuteness because goat. kid. cuteness, but also because this will be the image that attaches to this post and I think it is more becoming than the stall door images to follow.

Ebony and the silkies have the run of a 5 foot by 10 foot stall. I made
Ebony a hay cave under the stairs.
Ebony was not sure about this new home.
We spent the morning cleaning out Ebony's winter stall and building a 5th kidding stall in that room. Eventually (as in hopefully tomorrow), it will have a door to access it from the either the regular exterior door or from inside the kidding stalls. I love the new configuration of the barn. I am sure there will be tweaks as time passes, but for now, I anticipate this set up will be so much more convenient than ever before. Already the new hay mangers have almost completely eliminated the bullying from the dominant does towards the more docile ones. With so many feeding stations available, there is no need to fuss. An added benefit is that this new system has meant significantly less waste of the hay and that means that it costs us less money to feed them. I have lots of pictures of the new set up and also some video and I will get to posting about it as soon as I can. For now, I want to focus on an update on Levi, tell you about Anna's lad, Pete's struggle to get milk from his momma, and share a video of kid "play time" from last night.

Levi's Update:
We woke this morning to an alert Levi. He spent the night in the wooden crate in front of the wood stove. He was quite ready for Sean to help him to stand outside so he could urinate and defecate this morning. He stood unassisted and took care of his physical needs. Back inside, he had a good appetite for both hay and water. Since Sean and I planned on being in the barn for a good portion of the morning, we brought Levi outside with us so we could keep an eye on him. (I don't really enjoy having a goat kid in my kitchen, y'all. I will do it because it *has* to be done for the next few days, but it is NOT high on my list of wants.)  Levi stood unassisted and walked around under his own power for just about three hours while Sean and I cleaned out the stall and building. He laid down in a snow bank when we were nearing the end of our project, so Sean brought him inside the barn and settled him in some hay to rest while we finished up. Back inside, we administered his medicine: .5 CCs Banamine injected IM and .8 CCs Ivomectin injected sub-q. He got a treat of a celery stalk and 2 small broccoli heads while Sean was giving his shots as a distraction. It worked. Levi has been resting in his box for about an hour, sleeping on and off, eating fresh hay or chewing his cud. When Sean returns, we need to get back out to the barn to finish chores and Levi will come with us. The exercise and air will do him good. Because we are anticipating cold temperatures (of the 8* variety) overnight, Levi will remain inside in his box at night and return, goat-coated, outside with us during the day until his strength returns.

Anna's Reluctant Nursing:
Anna gave birth on Monday to a lovely Lamancha buck. She had him in the wee hours of the morning without notice nor assistance. By the time Sean found the kid, Pete was already mostly dry and standing on his own. As Monday passed, Anna gave no indication of allowing Pete to nurse from her. Colostrum is imperative to a kids health. According to this paper published by the Iowa State Extension Office, ideally goat kids should receive half of their colostrum needs within 4 hours of birth and must have it within 24 hours. After that, the kid's body cannot absorb colostrum- the window is shut forever. With these thoughts in mind, it was very worrisome that every time Pete attempted to nurse, Anna would kick him off and walk away. She had no trouble cleaning him, would call if he got out of sight, but eat? No way. Through the day Monday, Sean held Anna steady for 3-4 minutes and allowed Pete to nurse. We hoped that she would settle into the swing of things and by morning, everything would proceed normally. At least we knew that Pete got colostrum within the window.

Tuesday brought no change to Anna's inclination to feed Pete. Sean or I held Anna gently and helped Pete to latch on and nurse for 3-4 minutes until tail wagging was achieved. In some ways, bottles are easier. At least with them, you can see how much your little one is eating. Every time we got near their pen, Pete seemed famished. We checked Anna's udder and she did have milk- though her bag was terribly small. There was no telling how much milk she was producing. Milk production is normally an elegant example of supply and demand; the bigger the demand, the bigger the supply. Most of the time, this works perfectly. Sometimes it does not, though. With that in mind, Sean liberated 3 ounces of milk from whatever doe was close to hand for us to supplement bottle feeding Pete each morning and night. While this little is certainly not enough to feed Pete exclusively, it did a great deal to soothe my worry.

Wednesday dawned and nothing changed in Anna's mind. Rather than continuing to milk a doe and giving Pete a bottle, we decided to skip the middle man and allow Pete to nurse directly from another doe while we watched. Pete was able to finally latch on unassisted and Keziah was willing to allow him to nurse- so long as she didn't realize it wasn't her kid. We couldn't try to adopt Pete out to Keziah. For one thing, she was uninterested in adding to her parenting responsibilities. For another, Anna was an attentive mother in all other aspects. I didn't have the heart to take her offspring from her. The end of Wednesday marked 72 hours~ roughly 15 attempts to get Anna to fully accept her young. I admit, we were beginning to worry that Pete would become a bottle baby.

Thursday dawned with wonderful tidings. Sean walked into the barn to check on everyone and found Anna allowing Pete to nurse from her. Full on, standing still, tail waggin', nursing!!!! Success! 12 hours later and I actually sighed while writing this to you. I cannot tell you the relief this is for us.

Finally, I promised you some video of those goat kids playing. Tomorrow we begin milking four of the does who have kidded; Abby, Jane, Rachel and Keziah. We won't milk Anna this year at all. Though it was also Keziah's first year kidding, she is a year older than Anna and we planned on breeding her. She has a nice udder formed and I feel comfortable introducing her gently to milking. Anna is younger than we'd like. She bred before we wanted her to. This year, we are going to let her focus on being Mom to young Pete and not put any kind of pressure on her to give us any milk. We'll make decisions about which does will be milked this year as the others kid and we can evaluate them.

To prepare for sleeping in a separate stall from their mothers, we gave the kids some goat kid play time- away from their Moms. The mothers took it in stride. I nabbed Rachel's twins last and she yelled and yelled at me... until I took her kids. With a look of relief to her kid-sitter (me), she quietly turned her attention to eating in peace. It was hilarious. I could only imagine her yelling, "Wait! You forgot to take mine! I need 2 minutes of peace to pee in private! C'mon!" The kids had varying reactions. Some just wanted to tackle the stump. Others wanted to tackle each other. Some never made a peep and didn't notice Mom wasn't in the same stall. Others called and called until their mother stuck her head over the stall. With nine kids in the same stall, it won't take more than a night or two for the kids to settle in to the new routine.

I am excited to begin milking- even without shelter, in 8* weather. I have been missing the joy of fresh cheese. I should have enough milk to make chevre tomorrow and feta on Saturday. I am in cheese making heaven. To add to my excitement~ Sean got the spider webs ::shudder:: removed from the barn tonight. This forward progress feels soooo good. ♥

Thanks for visiting with us tonight friends. You make the journey all the more pleasant.
~Sean and Sonja ♥

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And, so it goes...

Remember the barn cleaning I had planned for Sean? The removal of any spider webs ::shudder:: from the barn? Surely, attempt three would be the charm in getting that done. Keep laughing, Universe. Tomorrow is another day.

Today was spent in getting Levi back on his feet. For the past couple weeks, Levi has been acting "off". He is eating normally, rumen is functioning fine, no signs of illness, fecal counts came back good [57 total egg count; Barberpole (Haemonchus Strongyle) & Coccidia], and eyelids are a nice, bright pink. His main symptom is that he is weak. We thought that perhaps Asher and Eli were bullying him causing Levi to not get enough hay. To remedy that, we offered extra hay in the field where the larger bucks could not get to it. That didn't seem to help. After finding Levi down on his side, we separated him out into a private stall to try to build his strength back. Our course of action was: all the hay he wanted, water available 24/7 and we added 1 cup of grain to his diet in the morning. Additionally, we gave him an injection of 5 CCs vitamin B subcutaneously and 5 CCs of Propylene Glycol orally. He seemed stable, but not gaining ground until yesterday. Our spending so much time in the barn has the added benefit that we are able to really watch all the goaties. I remarked to Sean that I thought Levi had turned the bend. He seemed much stronger. Apparently Levi heard me. This morning we found him stiff, cold and on his side. I thought for sure he was dying. So did Sean.

Sean picked him up and we headed inside. We injected 5 CC's Vitamin B sub-q, got 5 CCs Propylene Glycol and 3 CCs CMPK drench into him orally. We attempted to take his temperature, but found our brand new thermometer was not functioning(!). I felt inside his mouth. Levi's gums were wet and pink. Eyelids a nice, healthy pink. His mouth felt warm to the touch, but not hot. His breathing sounded good, nice lung sounds. His heartbeat was slow. We got a blanket on him and settled him in front of the wood stove. Levi showed no interest in eating hay and could barely hold his head up. I warmed some penicillin (just in case we needed it) and Sean called our veterinary, Dr. Arena and left a message with her. He laid curled in a ball for about 5 minutes and then, began chewing his cud in this position. So weird!

There was nothing else to do for him at this point, we left him to rest while we fed Anna's new kid and got the rest of the herd their morning hay. Meaghan and Kristen were inside. We asked them to keep an eye on him and if he started to cry or call at all, come get us.

When we checked back with him an hour later, after the morning chores, Levi had started to perk up a little. We gave him another 5 CCs oral Propylene Glycol and I mixed 5 ml Probios in a cup of apple cider to offer him. If his rumen was off at all, the probiotics might be of use. He still was not interested in eating or drinking and couldn't stand unassisted. This was a critical situation, we were just throwing anything we could at him at this point- anything that might help. Sean grabbed a cup of grain and I cut up a fresh carrot. Levi could not hold up his head unassisted, but with Sean's support on his neck and me holding the dish, Levi ate a cup of grain and an entire carrot. We offered hay, but he did not want any. Sean messaged Dr. Arena again.

Another hour passed and Levi started to get a little stronger. Sean carried him outside, where he both urinated and passed perfect pellets. I messaged our friend Shea to pick her brain for what else I could be missing. Shea offered to loan us a pet thermometer and agreed to run another set of fecals for us. She also offered a flake of the greenest hay she had in her barn. I can't say how grateful I am for Shea's friendship and her willingness to help- however it is needed. Levi seemed willing to eat, just not hay, so we gave him a couple celery stalks and a few small pieces of brocolli- just trying to get anything into his system resembling food. I know browse/hay is the best food for him, but I felt that we were at a point that anything was better than nothing.

When Sean returned, we checked Levi's temperature. It registered 98.8. We took it a second time, 98.6. The normal temperature range for a healthy goat is 102*-103*. A temperature this low is critical and is, in itself, life-threatening. We gave him a 2nd injection of vitamin B (5 CCs) and decided to give him an injection of the penicillin. While I didn't think he had an infection, I just didn't know what was going on and doing something felt better than just waiting. I figured best case, he had some kind of infection that was causing his weakness and we got a jump on it. Worst case, he didn't need the dose we gave him and Dr. Arena would let us know that when she called back.

As it turns out, we were way off base with this one. Based on the symptoms, Dr. Arena believes that Levi contracted Parelaphostrongylus Tenuis or Meningeal worm. We checked all the right things to start with, but missed this one completely having never come across it before. Our experience told us to check eyelids, gums, fecal count for worm/parasite load. The problem is, this type of worm does not show up on fecal exams because they do not live in the gastrointestinal tract. They live in the muscles of an infected host and move towards the spine. This is what causes the tell-tale signs of weakness, usually presented in the hind end first and progressing towards the front. For those interested in more information about this, you can check out this link to read about the identification and lifestyle, clinical disease, prevention and treatment: (Meningeal Worm). The article is not long and it was very helpful to my understanding of how my goat contracted this worm and what treatment ahead would look like for us. The sooner it is identified and treatment is started, the better the chance of recovery. Our treatment course is .5 CCs banamine injected IM once per day. .8 CCs Ivomectin injected sub-q once per day for five consecutive days. Dr. Arena may also prescribe a steroid to help Levi in regaining his strength.

It looks like it will be a long road ahead for this guy, but he is able to stand and that is a good sign that permanent damage has not set in. Dr. Arena warned us that he may look worse before he gets better. We'll let you know how it goes.

In better news, we got to have some goat kid play time in the barn today and I have some great video of the nine goat kids playing together. I'll try to get that posted for you all tomorrow. I'll also post some pictures of the new chickens, too. That is, if everything goes according to plan. Laugh away, Universe.

Thanks for popping in for a visit today, friends. We are glad you are here. ♥
~Sean and Sonja

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Best Laid Plans...

There is never enough time in the day to get done all that I plan. Today was a shining example of that. Sean and I intended to drive to a friend's house in Abbot, Maine to pick up seven, 1 year-old hens and then stop in Bangor on our way home to pick up heavy hinges for Asher's new stall and our son, Brian for a lunch visit. At home, I planned to help Sean install the hinges, take pictures and video of the new stall manger arrangement- which we LOVE, and update you all on those sweet goat kids. I had six batches of soap to package and some earrings to finish while Sean cleared spider webs *shudder* from the barn ceiling. Easy day.

Anna and her son, 3/4 lamancha 1/4 nigerian dwarf 
Instead, the day began with Sean bringing in a dripping wet, freshly delivered goat kid. Number 9 for the season. The PERFECT combination of color and ears that I am trying to breed here, except it is a buck. *Sigh* I am thrilled that Anna kidded so easily and that her buck seems healthy, especially since we hadn't intended on breeding her until next year. Sean has especially worried over her well being. She showed us. She wasn't showing signs of labor at 3 am when Sean last checked out things in the barn and her kid greeted him a couple hours later. She had already passed the placenta and was busily eating hay from the newest manger, oblivious to her kid curled up on the floor, snoozing next to Lily. While I finished cleaning off this latest addition, Sean moved Anna, Naomi and the kid to our vacant 4th kidding stall. A little late, but the stall will afford Momma and kid some privacy and time to get to know each other without being trampled by the rest of the herd. We let Naomi join Anna since she has strong mothering instincts and was interested in helping to clean off her grand-kid. Besides this, Naomi is due to kid out herself in the next couple weeks and we are running out of empty stalls! :) We waited until the newest kid had latched on for necessary colostrum and was resting before we left for Mission Chicken Relocation.

This surprise addition put us an hour and a half behind when we wanted to leave for Abbot, which is an hour and a half drive north. We messaged Sarah to let her know we were on our way and Brian to let him know we would be later than originally planned and set off on our adventure. Thankfully our GPS sent us all the way around the barn to get there so it took us nearly two hours!?!?!?! Despite the added time, it was a nice drive. Mission Chicken Relocation went off without trouble and before too long, seven lovely ladies were settled inside a large dog kennel in the back of the van.

On the way to Bangor to pick up those heavy hinges, merging onto I 95, we got into a fender bender. Sean very nearly avoided the crash with quick thinking and reflexes, but the car behind us pushed a third car into our passenger side door. Thankfully, no people or chickens were injured, but I felt bad for the other two cars that were towed away. We had to reschedule our lunch with Brian, too.

By the time the police came and got everyone settled and we drove from the scene, ran our errands and got back home, it was 4:30 pm instead of 1 pm. Sean and I set quickly to afternoon chores, checked on those sweet kids, and finally got into the house around 6 pm. While I worked on a short video for you all and packaged soaps, Sean made us grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed the tomato soup I made yesterday for our dinner. After dinner we finished the soap packaging and I am stealing a couple minutes to write this for you.

Tomorrow is another day. I think we'll stay around here for the day- the 3-5 inches of snow we're supposed to get overnight will make that an extra appealing proposal. I hope to get those earrings finished and perhaps get another post written for you. There is so much happening that we want to share with you. For now, I leave you with this short video of goat kid cuteness.

Thanks for visiting with us tonight, friends. We're glad you are here.
Sonja ♥

Saturday, February 6, 2016

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Abigail's Kids are Born

Spock, newly delivered.
While I was helping Sean with implementing the new hay manger/wall design I dreamed up for inside the barn (a post for another day), I noticed Abby displaying signs of pre-labor. She couldn't seem able to get comfortable; she'd lie down, then immediately stand up, repeatedly. Next came Abigail pawing the ground and calling softly. Then, began the contractions. Abigail has always had an easy, normal delivery. We like that and vote for the streak to continue. While we're making preferences known, it would be awesome if she could take a year off. We hadn't intended on breeding her this season. Clearly, she didn't understand that. Or, she had plans of her own. 

Abigail's kidding was nearly text book. Active contractions began at 12:15 and she was completely delivered by 1:00 pm. Abigail gifted us with two, 8 pound, perfect little bucks. Her first kid presented himself nose and hooves first. After a couple good pushes and not much forward motion, Sean applied a little traction on the hooves and within a few minutes, "Kirk" was completely delivered.  Abigail took immediate interest in cleaning him off.  I helped with a towel to speed the job before kid #2 presented. About 10 minutes after Kirk was born, his brother entered the world. We named him "Spock" because of his upswept eyebrow markings and long ears. He is stunning. With an anticipated season that could potentially give us 20 kids, we cannot keep them all, nor even most of them; I am sorely tempted to keep him based on his markings and character. He is all GOAT. While Kirk is happy to snuggle down with his Momma, or enjoy some warm milk when it walks by and naps the rest of the time, Spock wanders into whatever pen he pleases- to explore, to bounce upon on unsuspecting chickens or sleep in a goat pile with Rachel's kids or Jane's. Oh! You caught that, did you?  Yes. Wednesday saw an explosion of kidding on the homestead. Between noon and 4:30 pm, we delivered 8 kids to 4 Mommas.

After Abigail's delivery, we gave the other goats a once over. No one seemed to be heading into labor, so Sean and I went inside to clean up, eat some lunch, and spend some time with our human kids. We finished the final half hour of Star Trek "Generations" (which may have been what led to the strong Vulcan resemblance I saw in Spock). Sean went back out to the barn to check on the kids and Abigail while I posted some images of the new kids on our facebook page. Sean was gone about two minutes before he raced back inside to yell, "I have a hoof!" pause "Keziah" pause "Hurry or you're gonna miss it!" Door slam. Feet running.
I grabbed my boots, camera, fresh towels, the goat kit and headed back to the barn. We thought Keziah had about a week to go before kidding, so she was still with the rest of the herd. When Sean got to the barn, Keziah was on the floor of the main stall, crying with contractions. Her mother, Rachel was standing over her, protecting her from the unwanted attention of the other does. When I got to the barn, Sean was furiously screwing in the panels of our kidding stall to make a separate space for Keziah to kid in peace. Between contractions, we assisted Keziah to her feet and helped her into the private kidding stall. Rachel was determined to follow her daughter. We didn't stop her. Rachel's presence seemed to help calm Keziah as much as anything we were doing for her. Rachel helped clear away the mucus discharge. She was quite the midwife, actually.

Don't think about resting now,
I am about to be in labor, too. 
While I watched them, I noticed that Rachel seemed to stop and tense for a second, every now and again. I was suspicious that she, too, would be going into labor shortly, but Rachel did not have any discharge or udder forming so, I focused on the kidding immediately to hand. Keziah's single kid was a hearty, 8 pound doeling. She presented perfectly, but with this being Keziah's first kidding, we did not let her strain and push alone. Once the head and legs were free, we applied careful pressure to help the kid be born more quickly. Immediately, Rachel set to work, helping to clean off her grand-daughter. Keziah was more interested in grabbing mouthfuls of hay and the bowl of grain I offered her. Once she'd eaten, she turned her attention to cleaning her young.

And, then Rachel began active labor. We decided to just let her kid in the same stall since it was both convenient and seemed to be acceptable to the does. In between contractions, watching Abigail's kids to make sure they were up and getting colostrum, watching Keziah and her kid, I glanced over to the other side of the wall and spotted Jane, panting. She couldn't also be going into labor, could she? Now? Right now? Her answer: Labor. Now.
Right now. The other does, having met foul tempered Jane when she is NOT in labor, decided to give her a stall all to herself and watch from the relative safety of the doorway to the main doe stall. Still, we felt it best to add a couple more panels and seclude her for her comfort and safety. No sooner were they added, both Rachel and Jane began straining and panting.

"Do you want to call Shea for the extra pair of hands she offered?" I asked Sean. Our friend, Shea from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm had offered to come out if we wanted more hands.

"I'm on it!" he replied. We have 5 years of experience helping our goats to kid. But, asking for some assistance seemed the wise course in the wake of three kids already born to two Mommas needing attention compounded with two more imminent deliveries. Shea arrived within minutes and then it was a back and forth rash of kiddings. Jane delivered before Rachel, a healthy robust chamois colored buck. As I was getting him sorted, I heard Shea say, "I have a nose right on top of hooves. Do you want me to straighten a leg?" Sean replied,"Give her a minute to see if she can deliver... *heart beat*... Like that." No sooner had he responded, Rachel delivered her first kid, a black buck with just a touch of white spots along the edge of his ears. He was delivered still inside his membrane. Shea broke it for him, introduced him to Rachel and worked with her to stimulate the kid. I looked up to see all was well and turned back just in time for Jane to deliver another buck. He dropped onto the floor still housed in his caul. I opened the membrane with my finger. Though it only took seconds, it felt like forever as he started to thrash on the floor. Sean grabbed him, turned him upside down and cleared his nose and throat of mucus and fluid. The kid was fine and quite probably would have been fine without the extra effort, but watching a kid thrash is scary! I am glad Sean jumped into action. As soon as the kid was laying on the towel again, Jane turned her attention to stimulating and cleaning him. There was another push and Jane's third kid shot out of her in a slippery, whoosh onto the floor, which seemed to surprise her as much as it did me. Our first triplets born on the homestead! All boys!

I couldn't really pay attention to Sean and Shea delivering Rachel's final kid, a lovely chamois doe, but it seemed that the delivery went quickly and without incident. Normally, we have time for one of us to be on the camera or video while the other catches a kid and helps dry it off. Once dry and standing, we weigh the kids, dip umbilical cords in iodine to help dry them up, and make certain everyone is getting colostrum. We have had multiple goats kid in one day. We have NEVER had them kid all at once, back to back! It was exciting. I'll say that for it!

When all was said and done, at the end of the day we had 4 happy Mommas and 8 healthy, perfect kids; 6 bucks and 2 does. We are very pleased to introduce you to our first kids of 2016. Most of these will be available for sale.
Kirk, 8 pounds, Lamancha buck, cauliflower ears

Spock, 8 pound Lamancha cross buck

Mason (left) Sanaan/Lamancha cross buck (full ears), black with white spots on the ear, 7 pounds
Nyota (right) Sanaan/Lamancha cross doe (full ears) She is going to be paired with Spock, 8 pounds

Lydia, Lamancha doe, chamois colored, 6 pounds. We are keeping her.
Mason, for sale (see above)
Nyota for sale (see above)

Jane's triplets. Un-named as of now...

Black buck w/tan eyebrows & legs and white splotch, lamancha/french alpine cross, lamancha ears, 5 pounds
Chamois colored lamancha/french alpine cross buck, lamancha ears, 7 pounds
Spotted brown and white buck, lamancha/french alpine cross, 6 pounds, ears