Friday, February 10, 2012

We never learn.

Did you ever wish you had read something just a few days sooner than you did? I seem to have a knack for coming across really pertinent information just a few days too late. Old CB lost her one surviving kid, and we were not sure exactly why. After reading the wonderful diary linked off Terry Hankins' blog where he mentioned "rule #355" I realized that this poor kid died because it hadn't gotten enough to eat for several days, because his actions were exactly as mentioned in the diary. This also made me once again envious of all you married couples out there who can finish each other's sentences, and communicate flawlessly with each other. After over ten years of marriage, Chuck and I still have a ways to go with that. We had discussed CB's udder, but here is how it went:

what MJ said: "Do you think there is any milk in that udder?"

what MJ meant: "Have you seen with your own eyes sufficient evidence to feel confident that the kid is getting enough milk out of that udder to sustain himself and grow?"

what Chuck heard: "Do you think there is any milk in that udder?"

what Chuck said: "Yes."

what MJ heard: "Yes, I am sure there is enough milk getting from that udder into that kid from him to live and grow."

what Chuck meant: "Yes."

So now, after the fact, we both feel guilty and a little stupid. We should have seen it coming, I guess, but we didn't. The day I was at the farm the kid had been kept up in shed with CB all night, and he was playful and active. A few days later, he died. If only I had read that article a few days earlier, I would have recognized his actions as Chuck was describing them over the phone, and I could have told him what to try. I will be getting some ringer's solution to keep on hand. We've never needed it, but it might have saved the kid. Our does really do spoil us. We've never even had to bottle feed triplets. The only kid we have had to bottle feed to raise was a Boer kid that developed joint ill. My goal is of course to only have does that make kidding season a breeze, but even with perfect does, stuff happens. We need to be ready for anything, and we are still learning. As much as I expect our does to do the right things and as much as I realize stuff will happen, I can't help but be troubled when we lose one, and the memory of CB talking softly to her kid, asking him to come with her, after his short life had just ended, will stick with me a while.

I would recommend reading the "diary" referenced in Hankins' blog if only for the poetry of its words. Maya Angelou wrote about falling in love with William Shakespeare as she read his words, and I know how she felt. I fall in love frequently as I read, and always with a writer who has a particular ability to use just the right words to really get at the heart of the matter. I fell in love with Maya Angelou (how can a mere human being cobble together things as commonplace as ordinary words in such a fashion to make a sentence a thing of beauty?) and I fell in love with the author of this diary, too. There is a simple honesty to it, a truth, and I think for most of us who raise livestock, the sentiment he shows and the way he cares for his goats touches us where we live. And now, we have adopted rule #355 as well, just a little too late. Here is the link:

On a happier note, the goats are handling this cold snap alright. We knew it was coming, the cold. I can't imagine being so lucky as to have temperatures in the fifties and sixties all winter, and somehow when the prevailing winds finally fall frigid, it feels even ruder than if the winter had been cold all along. The past few days have reminded us badly we need to plant some sort of windbreak, but we aren't sure where to do it that it will actually be helpful and not get in the way of the tobacco guys. The human kids played in the shed that will eventually become the chicken coop (and which looks like a giant reverse Reese's cup due to me choosing poorly on the color of the trim paint), and it kept them out of the wind chill. The goat kids nestled under the bottom wire of the round bale feeder, positioning themselves to receive the sun's warming rays while protected from the icy blasts. I watched them as they would go out to play and nibble grass next to their mommas for a few minutes, then turn and run back and dive under the feeder when the cold wind proved too unpleasant. I can't say as I blame them.

Now we just are waiting for the next round of kidding to begin, and it should be within the month. We are laying out groundwork for the next small pasture, which will include not only a small unused field full of grass, lespedeza, and sticker bushes, but also a small wooded area which should provide some natural cover. Now, we just need the time to get it done, and also to pick up all the old trash out of the woods. Maybe we'll find something we can take on Antiques Roadshow and hit the jackpot. No, I'm not holding my breath for that, either, but I'm sure it will make the cleanup go more quickly!

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