Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Accidental Tourists

The first part of this story is really boring so I am going to skip to the middle. This means you will have to fill in Chapter One on your own.

…Just then, the screaming started.

“Goodbye now, Greg,” the farmer said to Greg, who was in the middle of a story about the price of alfalfa, usually a riveting topic. The farmer hung up the phone.

In the barn using keen powers of observation the farmer noticed something amiss. One of the dry yearlings had a pair of tiny feet sticking out of her rear end. She was screaming bloody murder, for obvious reasons. You would too.

(timeout for a goat glossary entry) dry yearling: an unbred doe kid from the previous year.

“My goodness,” said the farmer, and ushered the yearling to the kidding stall. Not a moment too soon. The kidding stall had been prepared for Winnie (bago) who was overdue to kid and looking like the GoodYear Blimp but, much like the US Postal Service in these parts, making no attempt to deliver her packages.

Out popped a gigantic and very beautiful doe kid.

“My goodness,” said the farmer, inspecting her for any family traits which might give a clue as to her parentage on the sire’s side. None were readily apparent.

“This one will have to be DNA’d,” said the farmer mournfully. DNA services are useful but not free. The accidental doe kid was so pretty that the farmer put the pink sweater on her. When it comes to baby goats, this is like the yellow jersey of the Tour de France. Some years no one even gets to wear it.

The farmer got everyone settled for the night and put another “dry” yearling in the stall for company. The second “dry” yearling was friends with the first and they often did things together. Luckily they do not have a Facebook page because I shudder to think what would be on it.

Anyway, the second “dry” yearling was known to be bred but it was not known how this happened. The farmer wondered if possibly the dry yearling had been bred and it not marked on the chart, although this had never happened before. In any case based on appearances she had been penciled due at the end of April.

The farmer went to bed, neglecting to remember that the two dry yearlings often did things together.

In the morning there was a faint, discouraged mewing coming from the dry yearling stall.

“My goodness,” said the farmer, peering in. It appeared that the second dry yearling had just kidded. But there was no kid in the stall.

The farmer grabbed the kidding box and some rubber gloves and some towels and examined the dry yearling thoroughly, bouncing her. There did not appear to be any kids inside her.

“My goodness,” said the farmer, or perhaps more colorful language to that effect.

Again there came a distant discouraged mewing, and not from either of the dry yearlings.

The farmer looked down. There was a kickboard along one wall of the stall to prevent the goats from standing on the stall framing and pushing the plywood out. Inside this board was a three and a half inch gap. Inside this gap was a very hungry and still damp buckling, who was very good at crawling forward but who had no reverse gear.

“This one will not have to be DNA’d,” said the farmer happily, since he would be a wether and wouldn’t need any papers.

The farmer settled the new new baby in with old new baby and returned to the barn, where Winnie (bago) gave the traditional foghorn bellow signaling that she was ready to kid.

…to be continued.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I guess we are going to have a newsletter now although I'm not sure the point of having a blog and a newsletter. At some point isn't it just too much information? Or is there any such thing?

Anyway, if you want to get the newsletter it will be a pdf or something like that and will have info on baby goats, farm news, cheese news, and so on. Right now we are waiting for Winnie the hippopotamus to download her kids. It looks like she has a baseball team in there.

If you want the newsletter just click here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Thanks, BUB

After several days on the B.U.B. program, Jammies the sad-eyed mini-mancha decided that Ziggy didn’t really look so bad. She has four legs, after all, and fur. Unfortunately Ziggy has gotten accustomed to the bottle, and can’t quite figure out how a real nipple works. “It’s too lifelike!” she screams, when the farmer tries to latch her on. “It’s warm! It doesn’t taste like rubber!”

She is working on it, though, and there is one ironclad rule of baby goats that always prevails in the end: the hungrier they are, the smarter they get. In the meantime, Ziggy follows Jammies everywhere, pestering her when she wants to sleep, chewing her beard, walking in her food, jumping on her whenever she lies down.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The weather people said we might expect a holly jolly smattering of snow this morning but it wouldn’t amount to much and it wouldn’t stick to the roads. By six o’clock it had smattered up to my pasterns and by nine it was halfway to my knees. I thought smattering meant something else, as in “here is your pitiful meager smattering of daily grain, Baby Belle, hardly enough to keep a hamster alive.”

Anyway they say we should expect a smattering of wind this afternoon so the farmer is going to see if the generator will start. It usually only likes to start on beautiful calm sunny days, though. You would not believe how well it runs on a beautiful calm sunny day. Like a sewing machine.

Jammies is doing better today but when the farmer tried to trick her into taking Ziggy, a little LaMancha doeling, as her baby, she wouldn’t even consider it. Instead she head-butted Ziggy – pretty nicely, considering – all the way down the barn aisle.

She prefers the B.U.B. program (Big Ugly Baby), meaning that she only wants the farmer as her baby. Too bad, Ziggy is much cuter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Some people think when you have a blog you should only write good news because there is always enough bad news to go around. But life isn’t really like that, especially on a farm.

So I just write what happens.

Anyway, after an ominous low tide yesterday afternoon, last night the barometer dropped like a stone, with a big rainstorm blowing into our area. The wind caught in the trees, and the crows cawed angrily all night as their branches shook.

Little Jammies the sad-eyed mini-mancha went into labor. At 4:30 this morning she gave birth to a stillborn buckling.

Unfortunately when the kids are stillborn they cannot help their mother, because they can’t fight to get out into the world. So Jammies did all the fighting, and it was a long hard night for her.

She is very tired. She has a funny look on her face, like a person lost in a train station in a foreign country, a person who needs to get home right away.

Now and then she gets up, murmuring, and paces the stall. She paws through the straw, looking for her baby. She knows he isn’t there.

When the farmer comes she stands quietly to be milked.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Belated Report from the Birthday Party

Ok here is what happened one week ago today during the baby blizzard.

Around 7 in the morning Peaches begins moaning and groaning and laying down. In between practice pushes she gets up and gazes into the distance or eats the new fresh straw in her stall. Wronny has her breakfast as usual. Lucy nibbles at some hay.

Around 11 Peaches gets more serious. She starts making nests in the straw and babbletalking to her babies. Meanwhile, Lucy gets all glassy-eyed and lays down and then gives a nervous yelp like when you step on the dog’s foot. Wronny has a couple of cookies and scratches her head against the rough part of the stall door.

At noon Peaches accelerates her moaning, groaning, standing, pawing, lying. The farmer goes in and tries to check if there is anything on the way out but Peaches insists on cleaning the farmer and turns the wrong end around every time the farmer tries to check the birth canal. After a few minutes the farmer gives up.

Wronny chews her cud and appears to be thinking about the economic stimulus package. She is skeptical, naturally, but willing to give it a chance. Lucy starts getting up and down. Peaches stops all labor and takes a nap.

At 12:15 Wronny makes a nest, lies down, pushes expertly a couple of times, and shoots out a matched set of perfect little black triplets.

At 12:30 the farmer calls the nice neighbor who knows everything about goats and asks if the neighbor would mind holding Peaches’ head so that a proper examination can be performed. The neighbor kindly agrees.

At 1:30 with the assistance of the neighbor the farmer pokes around Peaches’ ladyparts and discovers that there is nothing on the way out. The neighbor reassures the farmer that Peaches looks fine and is just being a slowpoke. The farmer milks a few squirts of milk out to speed things up.

At 3:30 Lucy starts to push quite seriously, her legs stretched out.

At 3:31 Peaches starts to push quite seriously.

At 3:45 a bubble finally emerges from Peaches. The farmer pops it and feels a foot. Lucy gives a bloodcurdling scream. The farmer hustles over and Lucy has got two tiny feet poking out. The farmer reaches in and sure enough there is a nose coming right behind. Lucy gives another bloodcurdling scream. Peaches gives a bloodcurdling scream. The farmer hustles over and now can feel a nose and a foot but the second leg is back.

“Uh oh,” says the farmer and fishes around to try to get the other foot but can’t get around the big head. Lucy gives a bloodcurdling scream.

“I’ll be right back, Peaches,” says the farmer, and hustles over to help pull out Lucy’s first baby, a strapping buckling. Lucy lays stretched out, completely spent and flat as a pancake, but gobbles a cookie when the farmer puts it in her mouth.

The farmer hustles over to Peaches’ stall where a fat little white and black buckling is enjoying some warm milk. “Excellent,” says the farmer.

Lucy gives a bloodcurdling scream and when the farmer gets back to her stall a second kid, this one a little doeling, is laying in the straw. Oddly, Lucy is still lying flat as a pancake with her legs like boards. In fact, she looks paralyzed. “That’s odd,” says the farmer. When the farmer stuffs another cookie in her mouth, she gobbles it without moving anything but her mouth.

Peaches gives a not that bloodcurdling scream, more of a half-hearted bellow. A second little black and white buckling, this one not quite as fat, is enjoying some warm milk. The farmer hustles back to Lucy’s stall, where she is still lying flat, stiff, and completely motionless. The farmer is not in the mood.

“Snap out of it, Lucy,” says the farmer. Lucy shakes her head like a boxer who has had his bell rung. She sits up.

“Thank you,” says the farmer.

The End.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Ok, Atty performed his annual inspection of babies on their first day outside yesterday. We are still way behind but catching up a little. There are seven. Lucy had twins, Wronny had triplets, and Peaches had two exceedingly fat but extremely cute minimanches - one black and one white - with perfect ears. Lucy's adorable little daughter is at the bottom.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Kids

Well the photographer did not get here yet so I will just tell you that the new kids (all 7) are very cute. Hope that helps.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

White-out Baby Blizzard Blows Itself Out

Everybody got here ok. In the end.


What is the point of having a schedule if no one will keep to it?

The farmer is very exasperated. Peaches was supposed to have her kids yesterday. Did she? No.

Wronny is supposed to have her kids tomorrow. Will she? No.

Lucy’s due date is March 7th. Is she going to stick to it? Ha.

All three are kidding today and if all three have triplets the farmer is going to have to buy three lottery tickets at three different stores at three o’clock. Ish.

But what about Hannah Belle, someone wanted to know? We don’t have time to explain, we’re in the middle of a baby blizzard.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Oh Very Young

It takes three things to make springtime. First it takes the frogs in the pond singing. That started two nights ago. It’s funny how they do it: it isn’t one and then another and then after a few days a whole jamboree. Instead it is none, not a peep, and then the next night a hundred frogs singing 'denim blue fading up to the sky.'*

Actually I prefer it the way they do it, I guess they know what is best.

Then it takes flower heads. Our last (we hope) snow is gone and all around we can see little furled flower heads poking up out of the dirt.

Third, and most important, it takes baby goats.

There are four very fat ladies in the barn, and the barometer is dropping. That means one thing, and only one thing.

The candidates: Lucy Goosy is Penrose’s daughter, she will be a first freshener, and from the expression she has been wearing the last few days, she is going to be very surprised at what happens next. Then there is Wronny, fabulous last place Wronny who has never had a buck kid and who holds the world land speed record for delivery. Really, she should get a job at FedEx.

Then there is Winnie, who made the farmer mad by coming back into heat after she was bred so that now we don’t know if she is going to kid tomorrow or in three weeks. Then there is old faithful Peaches the mini-mancha, big as a house and just as mobile.

“But wait,” says the farmer, looking at the chart, “wasn’t there someone else bred in October?” There is a smudge on the chart, as usual, probably caused by a free-range goat under Wendell’s supervision.

The farmer gets out some sat-on scratched-up reading glasses and peers in dismay at the chart, muttering darkly. The farmer looks around at the fat ladies. “Where is Hannah Belle?” the farmer asks no one in particular.

Stay tuned….

*that's what it sounds like they are singing, anyway.

Economic Downturns Hits Home (Washington); Wendell Fired

Almost every day someone gets to be a free-range goat. Usually it is me or a skinny yearling or someone everyone else picks on. The free-range goat gets to go where it wants and eat what it wants (no rosebushes, please) and gets special treats from the farmer.

Wendell gets to supervise the free-range goat, since he is a herding dog in training. Wendell has been a pest his whole life but now he is four he is starting to be less pesty. He doesn’t eat eyeglasses or cellphones any more, for example. You can even put a cellphone down next to him on the couch and he (probably) will not do anything to it.

Two years ago Wendell got his first baby goat to supervise – Sammy. The farmer was very impressed; Wendell kept both ends of Sammy very clean and followed Sammy wherever he went, supervising him.

Last year, Wendell had Filbert. Filbert was a lot harder to supervise but Wendell did a pretty good job. Filbert was a Nigerian, so he was a lot smarter than Sammy, and he could also fit through any kind of opening, so he was much harder to keep track of, but Wendell made a reasonable effort.

So he was promoted to free-range goat supervisor, which is an important but usually very easy job.

Unless you get a Lamancha doeling. The problem with the LaMancha doelings is that they are all bottle babies and all spoiled rotten. They follow you everywhere and have no sense of personal space. I have told them to buzz off frequently, like when I need some alone time to think about Swedish fish or those pretzels with the candy coating. What are they called? Candy-coated pretzels? Do you know the ones I mean? It’s a sort of a whitish coating, kind of lemony tasting?

Anyway, sometimes you have to bite their ears (the LaMancha doelings) to get rid of them. Only they don’t have ears, so what can you do. You’re stuck.

Jessie was the free-range goat today. She is going to kid in April so she is up in the big barn with the big fat milkers, and she is doing okay up there but the farmer coddles her anyway. So she came out and was following the farmer around as the farmer did various chores, including painting the lattice for the arbor. Wendell was supervising her and everything was going well until the farmer had to go inside.

“Watch Jessie for a few minutes, Wendell,” the farmer said, and went to get a phillips head screwdriver.

Before you can say Man of LaMancha Jessie is at the back door knocking to get in. That is bad enough, but when the farmer comes to the door it is apparent that Jessie has been inspecting the painted lattice at much too close a range, which is clearly a failure of supervision.

“Can you explain this, Wendell?” the farmer asks Wendell, who obviously supervised the whole breach of free-range-goat etiquette. The farmer indicates Jessie’s bright green lattice-colored lips, leaving no room for misunderstanding.

Wendell offers no explanation. He is fired from his supervisory position and will go back to keeping baby goats clean, both ends, as soon as they arrive.

I Used to be The Decider

As you may know, Eo is the Ayatollah of the minis. During the winter she rules the down-below pasture. She rules as if she were Grand Empress of all the Russias, not as if she has five disgruntled fat underlings on an acre of wet grass with a tumble-down shack to live in.

Sometimes Eo will boss you for no reason, just to show she can boss you. That is why I avoid her and stay up in the big barn with the milkers where the living is easy and Brandy runs the show. Brandy is the boss of bosses, but nobody minds her because she is fair. Strict, but fair. Also, unlike Eo, she is not an earbiter.

Anyway everything was going fine until we got to the end of February. Then the farmer turfed everybody out of the big barn unless they are going to be kidding soon. Including me, which doesn’t seem fair, since I am Baby Belle and not just an ordinary goat. So I am stuck down here with Eo, the fat underlings, two trample-mad Nubians, and a hodgepodge of other luckless individuals.

What is it with the Nubians? They cannot just walk anywhere. Everywhere they go they have to trample. They trample over to the feeders in the morning, they trample out to eat the free-range grass, they trample along the fence to look at the frogpond.

Anyway the first thing that happened was that Eo was dethroned. No one knows who is in charge now, we all just know it isn’t Eo.

It might be Boo, or possibly even Betsy, although that seems unlikely. It just isn’t Eo.

Eo isn’t taking it well. I imagine she feels kind of like George W. Bush, strolling around Home Depot and telling people, “I used to be President, you know.”

Yeah, right, buddy. Get to the back of the line.

Anyway, Eo has taken to sitting alone and sunning herself and plotting. I can tell from her eyes – just look at the photo – that she is plotting. I don’t know what she is plotting, but she is certainly plotting something.

She has also intimated that she plans to challenge me in future Best Beard contests. I laugh at that. You probably do too.

She may have a beard, but she will NEVER have a magnificent snowy beard.