03 February 2009

Midwinter Surprise

We've had a foot of snow on the ground for over a month now. I can't remember the last time the temperature climbed above freezing. Mrs Yeoman Farmer's mail-order garden seeds have been arriving nearly ever day, but I'm wondering when we'll ever be able to plant them.

In short: it is really, really, really dreary and depressing here in Michigan. Has been for some time, and will be for the foreseeable future.

And then, today, a surprise greeted me in the barn when I went out to do the afternoon chores:

Yes, a goat kid. In fact, TWIN goat kids:
I hurried back to the house and announced the news. The children cheered and screamed with excitement, and I've never seen them move so quickly to get dressed. Within minutes, all of us were out in the barn to look at our two new beautiful little girls (both do appear to be female).

Unfortunately, the kidding pen was in serious disrepair. Fortunately, I'd patched the fence and installed a new gate a few weeks ago --- but the pen itself was full of junk, and we had no water bucket set up in there. And the gate needed some chain link material fastened to it, to keep little kids from slipping out.

Our whole family went to work, clearing the junk from the kidding pen and getting it ready for our new arrivals. I set up a 250W heat lamp (usually used for brooding chicks), so the kids could get some extra warmth for the next couple of weeks. Mrs Yeoman Farmer found some goat mineral. I brought an armload of clean straw down from the loft. Homeschooled Farm Girl carried both goat kids to the pen, while I made sure their mother ("Button") followed. I then got her some grain, and MYF put some hay in her feeder.

As the kids got accustomed to their new pen, MYF and I went to work fastening chain link material to the gate. Apart from being cold (and freezing our fingers), that went off without a hitch. I went to the house and filled a bucket with warm water, and brought it back out for Button. She slurped it like there was no tomorrow.

The most amusing participant in this whole circus was Scooter, our Border Collie mix. Bottom line: it astounds me the instincts that God has given him. As MYF and I worked on the gate, Scooter hovered protectively over the goat kids. He nudged and herded the barn cats away from them, and then sat down to lick the amniotic fluid off one of the kids. When both kids were near Button, Scooter made sure he approached them in his most "subservient" posture: head down, full crouch, tail between his legs --- as if to communicate to Button that he didn't represent a threat, and was only here to help. Once near the new little goat family, he stood protectively and continued nudging the barn cats away.

At last, everything was set and the chores were finished. Scooter and I returned to my office, and the children excitedly returned to the house to finish their schoolwork. Just another dreary midwinter day at the farm...made much brighter by the addition of two beautiful new lives.

1 comment:

Joe Greene said...

Beautiful! The doe looks like a Saanen (?). What breed is the buck?

We've been thinking about a family cow for a couple years but goats would probably be more practical.