The Milkweed Diaries

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Taking Care of Babies

2011 is The Year of the Animal on Red Wing Farm.

First there were our girls -- three young Nubian does (Zuzu, Jojo, and Foxy Brown) and a Sannen doe named Rosie. And Buckley, a handsome Nubian buck. These goats came to us from Three Graces Dairy up in Madison County and piled out of the truck into the newly-built barn and made themselves right at home.

Then came more two more goats from Three Graces, a dog, and a brief duck experiment. 13 chickens and one deranged pea hen have been bustling around in the background through it all.

We have been taking care of babies all Spring. It started in February with the spontaneous adoption of Mona, a wonderful mama Nubian, and her 9-day old doeling Moonpie (pictured a few days after their arrival, above).

Then came little Merlin, a 4-month old buckling given to us by our friend Val at Double G Ranch, a "buck trade" on the promise of a future buckling of ours to go to Double G.

On June 1st, our Nubian first freshener Foxy Brown gave birth to the first baby born on the farm, little Felix. Motherhood did not come naturally to Ms. Foxy--she looked at Felix first with confusion and then with fear. She rejected him completely, refusing to let him get anywhere near her to nurse. We had to hold her and force her to let him nurse at three hour intervals for the first four days of his fragile little goat life, and then, miraculously, she figured it out.

The same week Felix was born, we found a listing for a full-blooded Border Collie surrendered by a breeder to an animal shelter in eastern Tennessee. We had been looking for quite some time for a rescued Border Collie to train as a goat herder, and we had to act fast. So I drove to Chuckie, TN and collected Maisey, a sweet and smart 3-month old pup who everyone has fallen in love with.

In the midst of this animal explosion, we tended and sent to new homes somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 annual and perennial seedlings. The plant babies were demanding in their own way, requiring daily attention from February through the end of May.

Three more goats are pregnant, so the babies are going to keep on coming through the fall, and we will very likely have a small flock of Khaki Campbell laying ducks established down by the pond by the end of the year.

It has been an exhausting, gratifying, and humbling experience caring for and connecting with all of the new nonhuman members of our farm family.

I've fallen off the blog wagon as animal and plant chores have eclipsed everything else. But I wouldn't have it any other way - our fridge is full of goat milk, goat sour cream and yogurt are culturing on the counter, Maisey's crashing into things on the porch chasing her tail, and baby Felix is frolicking up a storm. And The Year of the Animal continues!

Christopher and Moonpie at 4 months

Newborn Felix

Little Felix at about two weeks old with Mama Foxy


Anonymous said...

Babies! Life is so fun with babies, especially when their own mothers take care of them, whew!

Glad your first-timer caught on. Such a huge bummer, milking just to bottle-feed, trust me.

have fun and get some rest in there sometime.

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Chin up! You are building such a life, even though you don't always have time to see it.

Dana said...

Whoa! That description made me tired just reading it! (Well, that and I just got back from a 14 hour day in Asheville, most of which was in the bazillion degree sun...) I like to hear you giggling about funny things the animals do in my mind. Can't wait to check it out in person one of these long days. Love you all,

Milkweed said...

The bazillion degree sun makes everything more exhausting, it's true.