Blackberry Mountain
Our farm has grown from two goats to three.  On Saturday, April 16 at 12 a.m., our first goat kid joined us, birthed by an incredible mom, Roses.  Labor was obvious to us for about three hours but we believe she may have been in labor most of Friday.  Roses showed all the signs when I got home from work on Friday evening so we waited.  I did so much research to be prepared but there was nothing I could do as Roses let nature take its course.  It was not quick but it went smoothly and healthily.  Jeremy and I watched as our farm grew.  Roses moved around quite a bit and at the end of labor she sat in a corner and gave it her all letting out quiet moans throughout.  She birthed and immediately began to lick and clean her kid.  I’ve never seen anything like it and could not imagine a better image for motherly instinct.  We actually didn’t even check the sex until the next day because Roses was so motherly.  This was truly moving to me, to see nature at its best.  We did learn, on Saturday, that our kid is a male.  We named him Mikey and it fits him.  Roses has been producing quite a lot of milk so we had to milk her in order for him to get a good hold on her teat.  He was happy after that and nurses as he needs now.  Roses is very motherly and she spends time guarding Mikey from the dogs and Bella by running at them and grunting loudly and head butting when needed.  Mikey is very active when awake, hopping and running around curiously.  Now we continue to build onto our farm making room for our new friend to grow. 

Spring is a season of new life but this year it seems that death and suffering loom with the death of Jeremy’s uncle Michael, after a year long fight with cancer and the unexpected death of Lonus, a buddy of mine from church.  Death is something that touches us all and one thing that we all have in common.  Death is unavoidable and while it can be painful it can also be peaceful and the much needed end to a long, hard journey.  The reason we named the kid Mikey was in memory of Jeremy’s uncle and my friend.  Michael Lonus will remind us of the death of Michael and Lonus but will also be a reminder than even in the midst of our sorrows and tears a goat kid is being born, crying as we welcome him into the world.  We all have death in common but we also have life.  Michael and Lonus began a new part of their journey this past week as we begin our new journey on the farm.  And the circle of life carries on.

Roses in waiting 04/11/2011
It seems that we share pieces of information about our animals over time but rarely give you a full introduction to the animals of the small farm that we are developing here in Cherryville.  In order to expand on today’s blog topic I will first need to share some information on our goats.  It was this time last year that we began to have some issues with a neighbor of ours regarding our grass growing taller than they wished.  The county police stopped by to let us know that we needed to deal with the problem (the problem being our grass, not our neighbor).  So within a few days we purchased a goat.  We had no clue what we were looking for or where to begin but it turned out a local young adult raises his own for showing purposes so we worked things out and brought home a year old Boer doe.  Jeremy named her Bella and she gave us hell, to speak as kindly as possible, for the first few days but she began to like her new home and her new human, chicken, and dog friends.  Goats are herd animals so we planned to get another in time and that is what we decided to do last November.  We wanted a dairy goat because Boers are meat goats and so Bella will never give milk abundantly, even when bred.  We found a good deal on a dairy goat and an added bonus was that the family also set it up to breed her before we purchased her.  Jeremy and I went to the next town over to view Roses, and to choose her “date” for the next time she came into heat.  Basically we got to check her out and see if we still wanted her (with goats you check their eyes, hooves, udders, etc. to be sure they are healthy) and then we got to look at the males that were old enough to impregnate her.  We selected a LaMancha buck, which is a different dairy breed, to mix things up a bit.  Roses stayed for a few more days to spend some time in a pen with the chosen buck and we returned to pick her up.  Roses, at the age of 7, joined us here in November.  Bella and her fight like crazy but that is normal for female goats, though it did keep our nerves on edge for the first few weeks.  Roses is a dominant goat and she shows Bella and the dogs that she is the boss. 

Roses joined us nearly 150 days ago which means that, according to goat biology, she is due to kid this coming Saturday, April 16.  Goats can kid anywhere from 145-155 days so it is important to be ready a week ahead of time.  I have been researching for a while, reading a book I purchased, visiting a very informational goat husbandry website, and contacting Roses former owners.  Now we wait…and check on her often.  I have a hectic work schedule but when I am home I check on Roses often even during the night.  The weather has been severe this weekend so I set my alarm to check on her during the night every few hours.  Starting tonight I will have to pick up my pace and either camp out by the pen or check every hour on her behavior.  I hope that I will be able to be there for the birth but also know that Jeremy is prepared to handle things as well.  I have put together a goat birthing kit with different items for cleaning, sanitizing, and feeding the mother and baby.  As far as preparation, we are “ready” but I also realize that with something as natural as birth there is nothing that can fully prepare us, plus Roses is the one that has to do all of the hard work.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and probably again)…now, we wait!