Relfections on my first week of work.


The view from just outside the window of the intern room. Not even the most impressive view on the farm.

At Deck Family Farm I have two days off every week, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I arrived on a Monday, so was offered the next two days off to settle in and adjust, or I could work. I knew I would go stir crazy sitting around, so I decided to work. I worked a full 7 days in a row, and boy am I glad for a couple of days off now. It is not that I didn’t love what I was doing, I do! But waking up at 6 every day, working a full day hauling heavy feed and such around the farm gets tiring, physically and mentally. But I love it. 

So far I have mostly helped with chores, with a few odd jobs here and there, and while they get monotonous at times, I love it.

The first thing we do in the morning is get the dairy ready for milking, which involves cleaning, sanitizing, and assembling all of the milking equipment. Then we bring the dairy herd up and get to work. We put feed in the stanchions and bring in 4 at a time. We clean them off, get their milk flowing, and hook them up to the machine. It is amazing how some of them milk out super quick, and others take a little longer. We take them off the machine when they are done, weigh the milk, and either put it in the bulk tank, or save it for the calves. We let them back in with the heard and into the barn to eat when they are done. This process goes on until all the cows are finished. Then we clean again. Everything in the dairy, as well as the dairy run (where the cows wait until they are milked). I am amazed at how fast I have begun to recognize the cows by name, and can tell you who is who. There are still a few I have to check their ear tags on, but their coloring and personalities have become a dead give away of who they are.

Once everyone is eating in the barn and while one person cleans the dairy, the other goes and feeds Papaya (the youngest calf) and the brooders (meat bird chicks).  Simple straight forward, easy to remember. Papaya is such a cute little girl, around 2 weeks old now, with a feisty personality.

Then we go to feed all of the older calves, who each get two bottles morning and evening. Even with those 4 it is incredible how different their personalities are. Bella is in your face and wants her milk and wants it now. Kokito is afraid and very tentative. Y will bop you like no bodies business if he has a nipple on his bottle that is too small and he can’t get milk fast enough. Bob is actually pretty calm.

Once they are fed we head to either the pigs of the chickens, depending on the day.

The pigs get fed grain in different proportions, the Momma’s get more than the breeding pigs because if the breeding pigs get too fat they won’t breed. But the meat pigs get free choice as much as they want so they can get fat. We clean out the excrement from momma’s in the barn pen, and lay down new straw. The pigs in the fields if their pen gets too muddies up we just move the electric fence so they can’t tear up the ground even more. Each of the pigs has a water that is kind of like a water fountain and ingenious! It only sprays with pressure, and they just put their mouth around it and suck. They get moved almost every day when the area around them gets muddy because they do spill. The little ones get slop as well. The biggest get hazelnuts on top of their grain.

We have 2 types of chickens, our laying hens (and a few roosters), and the meat birds. Our meat birds are kept in pens that are moved onto new pasture every day, and our laying hens have free range during the day. We usually move and feed the meat birds first, and then go onto collecting eggs and feeding the layers. Back home in IL we had several chickens who were SO broody and loved to peck, and sure enough we have some on this farm as well, but I am learning more tricks to be able to deal with them. We have many different breeds of chickens, most of whom I do not know the names of, and se we have a rainbow of different colors of eggs, which I absolutely love.

We feed the turkeys (which came to the farm Thursday!) and make sure  everyone is doing okay. The turkeys haven’t learned to go inside at night yet, so as of  right now feeding is all we have to do with them.

We then bring the eggs back up, wash, carton, and count them. The number of eggs gotten every day is crazy! With over 60 dozen clean and perfect eggs every day, usually more than that.

The last things we do before lunch are feed Papaya her second bottle of the day, move the dairy herd back outside to their pasture, and clean out the barn, laying down more straw on the floor and putting down more alfalfa hay for them to eat the next morning.

Those are chores, and sometimes that is the end of the day, and sometimes we have other odd jobs to do in the afternoons.

Like Sunday I helped feed the beef heard with 2 of the other interns. We stacked hay on the wagon pulled by the tractor, and after we entered the field with the beef heard, but open the bales and threw the pieces off the side. I love how they feed their beef heard, it spreads them out so there isn’t competition, and it still makes them work for their food.

Washing the inside of coolers was another odd job I did this week, not the most enjoyable, but had to be done. The coolers get sent to markets every weekend, and when they come back need to be cleaned and prepared for the next weekend.  I washed coolers for probably 2 or 3 hours my first working day on the farm, and it was a slight reality check about what all actually goes into making a farm run.

 I had some ups and downs this week. I went from feeling good, to feeling way in over my head, to feeling amazing and feeling like I fit in and could do this. It is incredible to me feeling like part of the family, interns and all included, feeling trusted to do things on my own, and feeling confident enough that I had no problem doing it on my own. The next 6 months will be an adventure for sure, and I cannot wait to see what else this beautiful place and wonderful people has in store for me.


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First couple of days on the farm.

Today was my second working day on the farm, and man it is different than I thought it would be. I do not know what I was expecting, but I guess I had a different image in my head of what this place would look like, and how the work would be.

Up and ready to go by 7am is nothing new for me, after that, everything has been. I have milked cows (or at least tried to help and not get in the way), fed calves, fed pigs, fed and moved chickens, collected and washed eggs, cleaned  coolers, and watched baby pigs get castrated.

It is a lot to take in, but I am trying my best to keep everything straight, but it is a lot.

I know it will get better, but I am feeling a bit over my head right now with everything.

Tonight we are working in the garden, something I really know and will do just fine at.

I wish I could say more, but all of my thoughts are jumbled in my head so I can’t put them straight.

It has been a good couple first days, even with some bumps in the road.

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Three Months Gone

I cannot believe I left Antiquity Oaks almost three months ago already. But I guess that is what happens when you come home and almost immediately begin working a 43 hour work week as a farm hand on two farms. It has been very intense, and I already have a decent farmers tan, but it has been so enjoyable.

I can honestly say I will never forget my time on Antiquity Oaks. I learned more than I could have imagined in those 9 weeks.

The first time I milked a goat I never thought I would be doing it on my own, but I did, every evening after a while. It was awesome being so thoroughly trusted and knowing I was doing a good job. Mike said it too and I wholeheartedly agree, one of the best parts about milking is getting to spend a little one on one time with each of the milk goats. I got to learn their personalities; who wanted a quick milk, who would complain if you squeezed a little too hard, whose hooves grew fastest. The cold nights were the best because many of them would let you snuggle right up against their side while you were milking them.

I can honestly say I never knew that the wool that clothes are made out of was not the same thing as what came right off of the sheep. Once I felt the difference however, there is no mistaking it. Washing makes all the difference, and I can no longer remember how many fleeces I washed into wool those last couple weeks. It is amazing how a little bit of dish detergent and hot water can change a matted mess of fleece into beautiful piece of wool to be sent off to be made into rugs.

Before I arrived on the farm I was incredibly excited about being the bottle fed babies nanny. I fell in love with bottle feeding, and the babies. I got to spend time holding each one, learning their color differences, learning their voices, and learning their eyes. In the end I had 8 I was in charge of. At that point, on the very cold days, it became more of a chore, but I loved being able to tell everyone who asked about each ones personality, their colors, their habits, and their eyes. Losing one of my babies was one of the hardest times I have ever gone through. Not only did I learn how to feed babies, wash bottles to prevent mildew, and all about the digestive system changes that happen within the first few days of birth, I learned more about love from those 8 little babies than just about any 1 person has taught me. A TV show I was watching a few days ago said “The bond between bottle baby and Mom is stronger than almost any other bond on Earth.” Boy do I believe that. I never thought I could say I was proud of an animal, but boy am I proud of how those babies grew, and hope to keep tabs on them throughout their lives and treasure their accomplishments whether it be milk production or show titles.

I started a phrase a while through my internship; “I dislike intact males.” There are a few animals who made me say this. 1, the one old rooster who has large spurs, and HATES people. As soon as you turn your back on him he would be attacking you. 2, Dulce the intact male lama. He had free roam of much of the property, like all of the guardian lamas, and so I was never quite sure where he was, and he could sneak up on you without making a sound. He was the only lama who stared you in the face, and it was kind of creepy. He made me nervous sometimes. 3, Pegasus, the oldest buck (male goat). He was a bottle baby, so thought people were like him, and he LOVED to rub the top of his head on anything he could reach. The only thing he could reach was the lower part of my legs. Not bad if he did it on the calf, felt like a massage, but it hurt SO BAD on my shins. He also loved to jump on the door and make it almost impossible  to open the stall door. 4, Molly’s bull calf. One day Molly decided to bust down the gate and go in with the goats, and in the process of getting her back in, her bull calf went in with the goats and then got VERY upset he was away from his Mom. No injuries, nothing even close, but just unnerving. In reality, this was just a funny expression I started saying. What these 4 especially taught me is that nature needs to be respected, and that getting lazy and not being careful every time you are working with animals could get you hurt.

I learned a lot about minerals, their importance, what forms and how much each animal needs, in order to keep them as healthy as possible. I have learned the signs of certain mineral deficiencies. I have learned how pasture grass plays into their mineral needs.

I learned all about fencing, how especially how no fencing is appropriate for all livestock. It amazed me how some animals could just blow through or over fencing when they were really determined to get onto the other side.

There are so many more things I learned, that will have to be made into another post.

I miss the farm almost every day. I miss how much the animals needed me, and excited they were to see you every day. I miss milking, the intimacy of it, the skill required, and the quite time to think. I miss how much I was learning. Almost every single day there was something new to be learned and experienced. It will be an experience I will never forget, and something I will cherish the rest of my life.

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Life is Sometimes Hard

It has been a while since I last posted. Things have been crazy, and when they have not been I have been overly tired and so napping. It is bright and sunny outside today, supposed to get up to 70 here. Unfortunately what is on my mind (and will be in my post) is hovering over my mind like a dark storm cloud.

When Gerti was just a week old she was fairly easy to feed, had to take lots of breaks, but she still sucked well enough. After she was brought into the house she got a little harder to feed, almost always having to pry her mouth open in order to get the nipple in, but she still sucked. A few weeks later she got harder to feed, she was barely sucking, chewing on the nipple, and couldn’t get much into her. Then she got better again, and was taking down 9 oz in a feeding easily. Then she began to get worse again, barely sucking, barely getting 6 oz into her if we were lucky. But we thought there was hope for her eventually eating solids because although she was not chewing on or eating the hay, she was often chewing on the straw whenever we put new bedding down for them.

For a while after we moved her back outside (because she was really stinking up the house) she wasn’t liking the straw and would not lay down. She spent her nights in a dog crate in the heated office so she could rest and not get too cold. After a while she began to lay down in the straw so we left her with the other babies. She seemed to be getting better with interacting because she didn’t run away when the boys would mount her, and she would even go stand in the pile sometimes to help her keep warm.

We could see a future for her, the path there was still unclear, but there seemed to be so much hope.

The weekend of the 16th and 17th I was gone from the farm. I had something for work in Lake Forest on Saturday and so had spent some time away. Before I left Friday night Gerti barely got 3 oz of her bottle, so I told Mike she would likely be very hungry in the morning. I arrived back on the farm around 1 pm with J (my current boyfriend) who had come to visit me before, and was going to help tattoo the babies. Mike was not home yet from church and so we knew we would have some time before that process began. We went in the house and said hello to Deborah. She then said, “I have some bad news about Gerti.” While I was gone they had barely been able to get anything into Gerti, usually just an ounce or two at a time. Then that morning she has started gurgling. Sometime in the last hour or so she had started crying (screaming). Deborah also said she thought her body temperature had begun to go down so she had her on the heating pad.

I quickly threw my stuff down, put on my shoes and went out to the barn.  Half way across the yard I could hear her. She had NEVER been a loud goat. Never woken me up in the middle of the night to feed her. Never cried. The only sounds she made was her warbled “I am so happy you are here” when I would first go in my room or out to the barn and when I would call her to come over when she was living in my room. This was different. This was pain. I had heard animals cry out before, goats in labor, babies who had gotten their head stuck in the hay feeder, babies who wanted their Mom’s, Mom’s who were just unhappy being milked. That sounds trumped them all as the worst sound I had ever heard. It was pain, pure and simple. It was sad, horrible, pain. I run the rest of the way to the barn, trying not to slip in any of the mud that is everywhere because of the rain.

There she was. My darling baby girl Gerti, laying on the heating pad, mouth foaming with milk, screaming. I sat down next to her and began to pet her, trying to get her to calm down. I talked to her a lot. Said I was sorry. She tried to stand up but was wobbly on her legs. So I picked her up and held her for a while. But she struggled so I tried to get her to lie down again. She did thank goodness. But she continued to scream. I cried. I wept. I sobbed. J cried. I held her head. I told her I was sorry I couldn’t do anything, I told her to stop fighting, that it wasn’t worth it anymore. J held me throughout the whole thing. Held her too. Tried to comfort both of us. We sat there for a long time with her. She would calm down for a little while, nap for a few minutes, then wake up and scream again. J and I realized that there were tears streaming down her face. Neither of us realized goats could cry. But they were tears alright. I felt terrible knowing there was nothing I could do and I didn’t want to leave her side, but I knew I couldn’t sit there any longer, I couldn’t cry anymore.

J and I went inside for a while, then Mike got back and we began the tattoo process. The tattooing went fairly smoothly, although I did end up with a nice bruise on my stomach. Mike said we weren’t going to do Gerti, she didn’t need that right now. She began struggling so much she was moving herself off the heating pad, and Deborah said if she continued to do that to just go ahead and unplug the heating pad.

After the tatoos were done, J and I went back to be with Gerti. I brought one of my sweaters with me to use as a pillow for her, hoping it would help her calm down. J sat leaned against the side of the pen, and I laid down and cuddled Gerti to my chest. I told her again it was okay, she didn’t need to fight, that this wasn’t worth it, that she would be in a better place and out of pain. She fell asleep next to me for a while. Just like she had the first 2 days she was in the house, within my first week of being on the farm. But she woke up again and started screaming. I had to go back inside. I loved her and didn’t want to leave her, but I couldn’t handle it.

Deborah and I talked about who needed to be moved around so that a doe and a buck could be pen bred in the stall that Kitty and Nina were currently sharing. Two stalls needed cleaning, including the one Gerti was in. Deborah said to put her in the crate in the office, that maybe the familiarity of that space would help her calm down. I hoped it would. I gently picked her up and put her in the crate with my sweater. While J and I were cleaning stalls I could still hear her through the walls. I wished there was something I could do.

J had to leave, and I had to milk. I tried to not think about her over in the office, all alone. In pain. I suddenly realized I had never told my Mom I had gotten to the farm safe HOURS ago. I came inside after milking and Mike told me “I brought your sweater in. Gerti won’t be needing it anymore.” I ran upstairs to call my Mom, apologize, and tell her what happened. I began to weep again. Even though I wanted her to let go all day, I didn’t really want her to leave me.

I cried a lot that night. I had cried a lot of times since. I cry when I think about her screaming, her crying, her being unable to stand at the end. I cry because I wasn’t there when she died. I feel guilty sometimes. Like there was something I should have been able to do, anything, to have made the end not come, or the end better. She taught me so much about how different animals are from another. She liked being held tight, most babies do not. She couldn’t be fed if her back legs could touch the ground (or anything else that could be pushed off of). She needed a slow introduction to being with other goats, and being on straw, unlike other goats who are fine right away. Sometimes animals just need time and to not be forced, and they will eat and lay as they should. Most of all though she taught me just how much I can love an animal. I didn’t truly realize until the end how much she meant to me. I knew she was the one I was most attached to, but didn’t realize she was the one I looked forward to feeding the most. I KNEW the other goats needed me, especially for food, but I felt like she needed me more than anyone. I felt like she needed me for a lot more than just food. I loved her. Still love her. I just hope I made her short time here as wonderful as it could have been, and that she was not too scared at the end of it all.

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Crazy Few Days

There are several blog posts I know I still need to complete. Kitty, Agnes, and Coco’s kiddings, Nina once she kids, milking adventures, disbudding, what my coming plans are, but this post is an update with all of the things that have happened recently.

One of the weirder things that happened was with one of Agnes’ does. Deborah and I went out to take pictures of the kids that have not been sold yet and I pick her up and her up and her tail feels hard, so I lift it up thinking maybe she has diarrhea from getting too much milk and we need to be milking Agnes more, but what I see is blood and white (what I thought at the time was bone). My face must have been priceless as I said “Deborah look at her tail!” After examining it Deborah says it looks like something bit through most of the tail (bone and all) and left it hanging by a thread of skin. The best course of action was to cut off the rest of the tail, since there was no way of saving it. So Deborah sharpens a knife, I hold her close, and Deborah cut it off, and the doe barely flinches. The did however very much complain when we poured iodine over it to disinfect it. We now realized it was almost entirely scabbed over, and clearly happened a few days ago. Hindsight we both realized she had not been wagging her tail as much as normal the last few days, poor girl must have really been hurting. Within a few minutes she was up and bouncing around again though, happy, and wagging her short half tail. She has continued to do just fine, and seems much happier now that it is gone. We will never know who bit through it, Agnes would not let the cats get that close, and the sheep on one side seems completely uninterested, and on the other side of the pen are the bottle babies, who don’t have big enough mouths or egos to do such a thing. But she is happy now, and that is what matters.

The past couple of days I have been alone for evening chores because the family has been busy. I have loved the responsibility and everything has gone fairly smoothly, except for 2 things I had to call Deborah about. 1: the first evening I fed the cows and went about doing the rest of the chores. I was almost done with chores and look out through the pastures and see the two adult female cows in the walnut grove, I go over and realize the ONLY way they could have gotten over there was by pushing over the fence that part of it was now half it’s normal height. Deborah said it was not a problem, and if they didn’t make it back by morning she would just milk them in the morning, no harm done and could be good for milk! They did make it back, but I was happy to know it wasn’t too big of a deal. 2: Remember that ewe I had to carry back from the sheep pasture, because it had hurt its hoof? Well the second night I go out to feed the sheep, put down the water and feed and look over and what do I see, another ewe limping. I pour their water in and look up, and see a second ewe limping. “Really, REALLY?” I say. I feed them, catch the brown one, cannot see any immediate damage so let her go and sit down and call Deborah and am watching them and realize, all three of them have injured their front left hoof. She says that we will worry about catching them tomorrow if they are still limping them.

Well today came and they were still limping, so Catherine (Deborah’s youngest daughter) and I went out to catch them. The brown one ran past me close to the fence, I dove, felt wool slip through my hands, and ran my knee into a fence post… Slightly cut, and feeling not so great, but nothing I can’t work through. We eventually caught her by trapping her in the shelter and collaring her, leashing her, picking her up over the fence, and walking/running/carrying her back. As soon as she got in the stall in the barn she collapsed on the floor, clearly as tired as we were after trying to fight us the whole way back. We go back out for the white ewe, who Deborah has told us is likely to be much more wild. While trying to lead her into a corner, we suddenly realize a gate is open and they can get out into the large field the next pen over. We lead them back into the pasture and close off the gate. More running and then the sheep show us not only were they going through the gate, there is also part of the fence down that they can leap over. Awesome. Much more running, all around the large pasture, and the two smaller ones. By some miracle she decides to go into the shelter with two other sheep and Catherine and I are able to catch up to them. Catherine can see into the shelter, I could, she when I see a white ewe running at me I grab her, but Catherine has caught another and says “no this one” so I quickly let mine go and collar and leash the injured one. While having a tight hand on the leash I let her up for a second, and she proceeds to jump and jump and then jump and fall on her back, comical, but we feel bad and don’t want her to injure herself more. Catherine goes out of the pen and I go to pick the white ewe up and realize she is much bigger than the other two ewes we have brought back already, and that there was no way we could carry her. She is definitely a wild one, and Catherine and I took turns, one of us leading, the other one pushing the whole way back to the barn. It was a lot of work, and we still have to clean their hooves and see what the extent of the damage is, but they are caught, and we are Catherine and I are not too much worse for wear, although extremely tired.

Overall it has been kind of crazy lately, but I have been glad I was here to help when the family needed me, and really happy with all of the experience I have been getting.

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Gerti, the Blind Goat

When I first arrived on the farm on February 17, I was put in charge of the two bottle babies, Anne, and Gerti (who did not get their names until later). The first day I was here they were both outside in the kidding barn staying close to Mama and the heat lamp, and both seemed to do okay with the bottle. I thought it was fun, if a bit cold at times, to be their permanent nanny. I was told that the water bucket was hung on the side of the pen because Gerti had crawled into it several times and gotten completely soaked. They had some suspicions she had something wrong, possibly that she was blind.

Within the first few days of me being on the farm we cleaned out a stall in the big barn and moved Anne, Gerti, their Mom Sadie, their one nursing sibling, and several other Mom’s and babies into it. We did this so they could have more space, and to make room for the next round of kiddings. We put a heat lamp in their new stall close to the door, and many of the babies stayed fairly close to it for the first few days.

ImageAbout a day after we moved all of the goats, I go in to give Anne and Gerti their afternoon bottle (around 1), and notice that Gerti was just laying in the middle of nowhere, while all of the other babies were either cuddled with Mom’s, or under the heat lamp. I tried to get her to nurse, but she wouldn’t take down more than 2 oz (she should have taken 4). I quickly brought her inside and Deborah quickly determined she had a minor case of hypothermia. She and Mike had to run into town so she gave me a heating pad for Gerti, and told me to hold her close and try to warm her up. She spent the rest of the afternoon in my lap or on the heating pad, she even napped with me for a little while.

When Mike and Deborah got home we put Gerti in a clothes basket and Deborah watched her while Mike and I went to do chores. When we came back inside Gerti heard the door and jumped out of the laundry basket, but got lost about half way through the door. Again the idea that she may be blind came up.

Over the next few days she continued to get stronger and seemed to enjoy being inside. We began to notice more mannerisms unique to her that made us think she may be blind. She ran into things a lot when I let her run around my room. She put her head on her back and swayed (Deborah nick named it her Stevie Wonder impression). She ran in circles, a LOT. Plus whenever she would walk around somewhere new, she would keep her head down like a dog, sniffing/licking everything. When given a bottle she would run the bottom of her chin across the tip a few times and then grab it, like she was feeling where it was. Unfortunately she slowly began to forget what the nipple was, and so now we have to force the nipple into her mouth, though she sucks down with great gusto once we do.

Friday March 9th we decided we would move all of the bottle babies outside, it was fairly warm and there was no super cold weather predicted in the future. We also decided to bring Gerti out first so that she could get used to her surroundings before introducing everyone else.

Around 2 (warmest part of the day) I brought Gerti out and sat with her, aside from a couple of bumps and not being used to the feeling of straw under her feet, she seemed to do really well. Around 2:30 I decide to go get Anne from the other barn. With me in the pen Anne just climbed all over me, so I stepped out and watched how she interacted with Gerti and in the new space. She almost immediately reared up on her hind legs and tried to head butt Gerti, who was none the wiser. Anne then gave Gerti a small smack on the side. I thought “no big deal, she just wants to prove dominance and it should only happen once.” I went back in to fetch the six little babies, and over the monitor hear a baby scream, I thought and hoped it was just a Mom accidentally stepping on or laying on a baby (which does happen). When I walk back into the kidding barn with the 6 little ones in a laundry basket I see this: Gerti running around in circles, Anne full tilt running behind her trying to head butt her in the side. As soon as Anne sees me she stops and runs up to the gate, and Gerti stops her circle all legs fulling stretched out panting and screaming. I immediately deposit the 6 little ones in their new home and scoop up Gerti, who proceeded to sit still in my arms, which she hasn’t done in weeks. I gave Anne another chance, which she immediately ruined by bowling over two of the little ones. I put Anne back in her stall with her Mom, sister, and other older Mom’s and babies and return to the kidding barn and sit down in the stall to help the little ones and Gerti.

ImageAt this point Gerti is running around in tight fast little circles, which she hasn’t done in weeks, running into the side panels of her new home, and running away from anything that makes the straw move. She ran into the panels so hard she made her head bleed. I picked her up and try to comfort her, telling her Anne is gone and will not be coming back. She eventually falls asleep in my lap, another thing she hasn’t done in weeks, and once she woke up seemed to be calmer, although she was again wary of the 6 littles she had known since the day they were born.

The rest of the day seemed to go fine, until late in the evening. Gerti kept going into this weird position like she intended to lay down, but wasn’t going all the way down. I decided to put a towel in the corner under the heat lamp, hoping that would help her if she just didn’t like the straw. When I went back for the last feeding she took the bottle okay and I put her in the corner under the heat lamp and fed the other 6. She backed up into the corner and just started shivering. I picked her up and her shivering was so violent I brought her back inside and told Deborah I thought we should bring her inside again for the night. She said it was up to me because it is my room, but she was wondering how I would sleep tonight anyway since my room would be so quite.

She has seemed to do well since then. Realistically I know she can not stay inside for her whole life, but I don’t know how to get her used to being outside. We are also now faced with the task of figuring out how to introduce solid foods into her diet, which after a morning of Googling, I still have no good answers.

Even though she is more of a handful than the other 7 bottle babies combined (I can hear her crashing into the sides of her play pen right now) she has a special place in my heart. She was the first baby who tried to die on me, and whom I helped bring back from the edge. She has been living in my room nearly as long as I have, and snores in the middle of the night so I know she is okay. I have grown very attached to Gerti, and wish I could take her home with me, but sadly my township has a strict no livestock law in which “goats” are right in the middle of the off limits animals. I do not know what is going to happen to her when she grows up, Deborah doesn’t really even know yet, but I know she will always hold a special place in my heart. I have read a few stories (in my Googling) about people who would rather butcher a blind goat than take the time to raise them, and although I have NO idea how to get her to eat solid foods, I can’t imagine making that choice right now. She is one of the kindest animals here, and I know she will be the one I miss most of all when I leave. Image

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Not Dressed for Sucess

I have decided that if I do not dress prepared for anything, something exciting will happen.

The first two births I witnessed this was the case; Alex was around 6 when I went out to feed the bottle babies in clothes I decided would be fine because I would be “out for just a minute,” and Kitty was in the morning after I crossed the creek in the short boots and got my pants soaking wet.

This time was not with a goat in labor however, but one of the sheep.

A couple of days earlier I had fed the sheep and noticed the girl bottle baby (only know that because she is one of the only that doesn’t run away) was limping, and dripping blood every time her hoof touched the ground.  I picked her up and put her back down deciding I should ask Deborah first before just bringing her back. She said since it was not much blood, and there was still snow on the ground, the pasture would probably be cleaner than a stall anyway. So she decided she would just make sure to tell Jonathan to keep a look out.

Mike and I had been outside doing something else when chore time came around, so I decided I would be fine and didn’t need to put on my water proof pants, I would make it work. I go out to feed the sheep again and notice she is now not using her leg at all. So I examine her hoof and then hit myself for not actually looking at it earlier, it looked like she had tried to rip off half of her hoof. So I run back tell Deborah it is really bad, discuss where to bring her, grab a collar and leash and go back to fetch her. I was hoping she would walk on the leash, but no such luck. I carried her most of the way back and in crossing a drainage ditch that is pure mud slipped and fell on my butt, coating my pants in mud. I finished carrying her back and Mike, Deborah and I have a laugh about my pants.

Deborah and I treated her hoof with warm water, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine. It seems to be getting better, and there is not a whole lot more we can do right now.

We were really glad we brought her in for another reason too. She was extremely thin. She was probably getting bumped out of the way when trying to get to the feed pan. So we are giving her plenty of hay and water to help her recuperate.

So now, if I want something exciting to happen, I just have to dress expecting everything to be normal.

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