Friday, June 30, 2017

Fruits of the Labor

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a trip to my home town for a class reunion.  I flew into Salt Lake Cit early on a Friday morning.  All my friends were working so I had the whole day to myself. Since I don't get to see mountains in Oklahoma I choose to spend my down time hiking a mountain trail that I frequented growing up.  Getting out of the city and spending time in the quiet surroundings of nature was very therapeutic.  It was the most peaceful and stress free I had felt in a long time.

Mountain Hike

The following Friday I was back in Oklahoma.  I tried to get home a little early on Fridays because the back of our property was over grown with wild blackberries.  So I put on a generously amount of deet, grabbed a bucket, and got an early start on the weekend's chores.  
Wild Berries
There are a few berries that can be reached just past the back fence to our main pasture but you have to go to the back side of the patch to get the mother load of berries.  The back side is down in a gully that runs past the back fence of the pasture.  My kids call this spot The Cave because you have to climb down into it and once you are there you have foliage growing over you in all directions.  
The Cave

We put a fifteen foot ladder from the top bank to a fallen tree in the middle of the gully so that we can climb down.  The photo of The Cave shows the fallen tree in the top left corner of the photo.  The fallen tree is a few feet above the water that was running through the gully from this morning's down pour.  Sitting in the gully picking berries I thought to myself that the best part about having wild blackberries on our property is that they are the only thing that could get me to build a bridge across a ravine covered in thorns so I could climb down into it, because as I sat there I realized that I was in a spot as unique and remote as the mountain outlook that I hiked six miles to stand on in Utah. 

Lost in my own backyard.

 Without the blackberries I would have missed this perfect little moment. I felt as stress free and peaceful, in a part of our property that is seldom ever visited, as I did thousands of miles away on a mountain trail in Utah.  I don't think that sitting in the middle of a over grown gully would have been as peaceful without the beautiful berries against the bright colors of the plants that were cleaned and revitalized by the morning rain.  

Fruits of the labor
It is not easy work to collect wild black berries.  There are lots of thorns so if you don't have nimble fingers your hands will get filled with thorny slivers and your arms will be covered in scratches.  Still the fruits of the labor are sweet.   

How much did we get?

Last week I had J helping me and we got about two pounds of black berries.  Today I was working by myself so I didn't get quite as much but next time you are at the grocery store look at the price per pound for organic all natural blackberries and you will see why I am so happy to pick my own all summer.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cottontail in the Chicken Yard

This rabbit thinks he is one of our pets.  I've never tried to really pet him, but he has no fear of us and will hop, eat and sniff around even just three feet away from us.  The birds pay him no mind, and I even had to shoo him out of the goat barn once.   Maybe he is just one of a whole warren of cinnamon cottontails living here and planning an invasion but he is so friendly, I doubt it.

Today I noticed he had an abscess on his neck.  I hope it heals and he doesn't disappear.  He might also be a "she" which might be a problem.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Which kid is mine???

With eleven new kids in the yard, the mothers sometimes have to sort through them to find their own kids!  I often see the mother goats sniffing each kid, budding some out of the way and pushing past others, until they find the right one.  Then they give a little "Baaa" and the baby runs to nurse. 

Playing on the Slide


Curious Geese

I went out today to get some pictures of my turkeys, yet when I looked behind me, this is what I saw....


Here is the Turkey shot I was trying to get:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Kids being Kids


Wanting to be Milked

Ebony really wants me to milk her.  Not that she currently needs milked, but because she wants the handful of grain that she gets as a reward for getting on the stand.

Gabby and Daisy look on, in hopes that I reach for the grain bucket.

The New Babies

We've mentioned some of the new kids names, but here is a better look and introduction.  Most of these kids will be sold simply because we are out of room. 

 This is Ace.  He is one of Ebony's sons, and is really friendly.  His coloring is a typical pygmy goat coloring, but he is 100% Nigerian Dwarf.  I think he looks like a little burrow. Look at those ears!
 Here Ace is on parade!
The little black doe to the left is named Avonly.  She is Ebony's only daughter.  Lately she will come up to me out of curiosity when I am feeding her little brother, Alaska Star. 


This is Luna and she was the smallest of Blossom's quads, but she is getting along just fine on her Mother's milk.  I tried to bottle feed her because I thought she was too little, but she didn't take to that.  Now I just shut her in with her mom all alone for a little while each day so she gets her feeding.

 My daughters named this little buck, Jupiter, but I'm calling him Two-Spot.  Want to guess why?  He is so big compared to his sister Luna and his little brother, Neptune.  He is also full of energy and thinks he is as big as the older kids. 
Here Two-Spot is testing out the toy, and just decided it is too high for his liking.

 This is Neptune.  He is also one of the Quads from Blossom.
Penelope and Piper are hiding from the hot sun while taking a nap in the barn.

A Bit of Gardening

Our tomatoes are producing and we've found a zucchini or two this last week even in our grassy garden.

A few cucumbers are appearing, but they are the pickling type.  I never seem to be able to find and pick them before they get too big.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cyclops Baby Born Yesterday!

Cyclops Goat

Our huge pregnant goat Blossom had her kids yesterday and delivered Quads all by herself!

Three of them were born big and healthy, 2 boys and a girl.

However the forth little goat was born with a rare condition called Cyclopia, a disorder in which the embryotic head doesn't divide properly to form two eyes, and instead the baby has just one eye and usually no nose.

That is exactly what happened, but our little goat also didn't have ANY HAIR except a few strands on the tip of his tail.  He may not have developed like his siblings and been born a bit premature before the hair formed, or maybe he was just a natural Sphinx??  Sadly, he did not live. 


  I was busy getting dinner ready for some guests when our goat Daisy started making distressed beatings.  I knew something had to be up in the goat yard, and guessed Blossom must be delivering kids and Daisy just had to let us know about it.  I told my children that our last goat might be delivering babies and they raced out back to go see.

  However, before I could get my shoes on, my oldest daughter comes running back in in near hysterics and tears.  "Mom!   Mom!  She had them too soon, and they look like Aliens!"   My oldest was very distraught.  I suddenly imagined Blossom with eight tiny babies that would not survive, and for some reason my daughter thought they looked deformed.  I tried to calm her down saying that sometimes this happens (not really knowing what had happened) as I hurried out.

  The first little goat I came to was the little Cyclops.  He was deceased but not so cold.  His deformity caught me off guard and I had to agree with my daughter, he looked like an Alien! 

However his appearance didn't gross me out, but instead intrigued me.  I wondered if he had been born alive or not and was suddenly very sad he had died. 

I mean, how awesome would it have been to have a living Sphinx Cyclops goat in my barn yard! No hair, and that huge head!  I had to pick him up before I located the little, single eye in the middle.  His skin was slick and delicate, his body soft and small.  I knew immediately I was looking at a rare Cyclops goat.

I quickly looked around for the others, wondering if I had a whole litter of Cyclops, but was relieved (yet strangely a little disappointed) to find three normal healthy kids in the barn, still wet, up and walking around, calling to their momma.  I was mainly relieved they were alive and was impressed by their size.  They were all bigger then Ebony's tiny baby, Alaska Star, and even the Cyclops looked big enough to be full term. 

Blossom is a good mother, nursing all three of her living kids, and I think they will all be just fine!

This picture is fuzzy, but it is of Blossom's 3 living kids, still wet from their birth.

More pictures of our Cyclops baby.  No nose formed and he has just one small little eye above his mouth.

Baby Alaska is being bottle fed.

Alaska Star is having a hard time eating from his mother.  Ebony must sense that he is not as healthy as her other kids because if she realizes he is trying to nurse she will kick him away. 

This is frustrating to us but I realize animals do it to benefit the kids that have the best chances, which are his two other siblings.  Alaska is so small, easily the smallest goat born on the farm this year, so it is funny how we called him Alaska- the largest state.   

Luckily our farm is not a nature movie where you have to watch helplessly as the poor reject starves.  Alaska is getting star treatment on the bottle, filled with Ebony's fresh milk.   Ebony produces a good amount of milk and will stand still most the time while we milk her, so this arrangement is working fine.   Hopefully when Alaska is stronger and more able to stand his ground we can nudge him back on his mamma. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ebony had Triplets!

Yesterday we arrived home to find Ebony in the barn with triplets!  Two boys and one girl.  The smallest boy only weighed 1 pound 8 ounces!  He was unattended to in the corner, still sloppy from his birth, but not cold because it was nearly 90 degrees outside.  The other two kids were up and nursing.  I cleaned off the smallest, which my girls are calling "Alaska Star,"  and held him up to his mom.  She licked him and he started to nurse.  His legs are still weak, and I'm guessing it may take him a day or two to find them but we can help him out until then. 
  Here comes another night of going out ever 3 hours to help feed a baby!

Here the little girl is nursing, and Alaska Star is laying in the hay.

The biggest triplet is a boy we are calling "Ace" and he is black with frosted ears and a muzzle, a white mullet and "glitter" down his back.  The other triplet is a little black girl we might call "Avonlea" that looks identical to Alaska Star.

I set Alaska Star next to our cat Tippy when I brought him up to the house.  Tippy is a small cat, so you can see how little the triplet brother is.  Tippy is very patient, but she wasn't really in the mood to adopt a kid.  She sniffed him and went her way.  This morning I was happy when Alaska Star was standing on his own and ready for his Mom full time.  I will continue to check on him every 3 hours and make sure he is feeding.
We now only have one pregnant doe left!  How many babies do you think Blossom will give us??