Friday, April 27, 2007

Two Questions

So, say your husband is on a business trip to Alaska.

And you stay up until 2:00am cleaning and writing and making the parts for stuffed shells and doing laundry and showering and gathering stuff by the front door. And at 6:00am your alarm goes off, and you want to sleep but know that today is not the day, so you get up and make yourself some coffee and try to listen to your audio bible and put on a farm dress. You make breakfast and wake children and scurry around putting more stuff by the door. You put the baby in his chair and give the 10 year old some Organic Toasted O's to feed the baby while the 10 and 5 year old eat breakfast. You race around outside doing chores and looking really stupid because you are limping from the jammed toe you self-inflicted five days before. The dog steps on your toe. You run back in the house and wash up and put on your going-out clothes.

You get the kids and backpacks full of schoolwork and diaper bag and purse and cooler full of stuffed shell ingredients and a bag of empty pans and an exersaucer that you are returning to your friend and your cell phone and your bible and bible study book and notes for a meeting and cup of coffee and, oh yeah, the keys, all loaded into the van. And off you race to the big city for an 8:30 am meeting with your priest.

Get to church, settle big kids with schoolwork, have meeting while trying to keep baby from killing self with mirror on wall, electrical cords, rocks on floor. You're glad the priest has a flock of young children because you have to nurse the baby several times during the meeting just so you can hear yourself think.

Meeting ends, you load everyone in van again after bathroom visits, and head back out of the city, in the opposite direction from home. During the 45 minute drive to your friends' house (who once lived within biking distance but now are an hour and a half away) you stop at a feed store to see if they have any bales of alfalfa hay. They do, so you buy one since everyone in your area is out of them and you are trying to get your dairy goat to give you more than three sips of milk a day. You and the kids and all the aforementioned stuff are in the minivan, so you tie the bale on the roof.

You drive to your friends' house and are so happy to see them again... a playmate for everyone, even the baby and Mama. Everyone pairs off and rejoices in reconnecting. Lunch comes and your friends graciously feed you. Time for the baby to nap, and you're really happy since you think today would be a great day to take a nap with him (what with the four hours of sleep the night before). But the baby thinks today would be a great day not to nap. So you give up.

You get the five year old girls to wash their hands and have a special treat... helping you assemble stuffed shells! You are pleased with yourself that this arrangement works for everyone! ;-) As you finish up the project you realize that the clock you have been watching is actually slow, so you shift into overdrive and load everyone and all the stuff (minus the exersaucer) back into the van. The van looks like it has been ransacked. You drive off, heading back to the city to go to your bible study, where you are the provider of dinner tonight. The baby falls asleep instantly. You spend your last $2 on a Pepsi at a Taco Bell drive through.

Despite a later-than-anticipated start and rush hour, you arrive at your destination 25 minutes early. Not wanting to impose on the family who is hosting (since you are there 25 minutes before the 45 minutes early you were already planning to arrive so you could cook dinner) and since the baby and the 5 year old are asleep, you park on the street and try to nap a tiny bit. You don't succeed. Eventually the baby wakes up, screams, you nurse him.

At the appointed time you go into the house and start baking the stuffed shells. You have a very pleasant evening with friends, sharing dinner and having a nice discussion about the passage for the evening, with the special gift of having a good 20 minutes to talk without chasing the baby, who is getting better at being with the caregiver.

At the end, you try to quickly load everyone up to go home, but the 5 year old disappears into the bathroom, causing a long line at the door, and when is finally pried out, is shoeless and does not know where her shoes are. You try not to be exasperated because one of the verses that night was "Do not exasperate your children" and you figure you should model that. You decide she really won't need that pair of shoes this week, but your hostess finds them and you leave. The baby screams a lot.

It is now 9:00pm. You have been gone from home for 13+ hours. You have had a full day. You had 4 hours of sleep the night before. You have an hour drive through the dark Texas countryside. You have no money. But you have a gift card.

So, question #1:

Where do you think you are at 9:07pm?

Good answer! That's right! You are at Starbucks. In the interest of not driving into a wall, you use your gift card to purchase some caffeine.

It's in a nice part of town. The neighborhood where your friends who host the bible study live does not have yards manicured by chickens and dogs and gophers, like you do. The people who live there put their money into fresh paint and nice bushes, not fencing and feed. You are far from home.

As you load your crying baby back into the van for the fifth time that long day, you see four or five beautiful, nicely dressed young women come out of Starbucks. They look toward you and start to laugh.

Which brings us to question #2:

Why are these girls laughing at you?

Yes, that's right, very good. This IS why they are laughing at you:

And you laugh too, because it IS funny... the whole thing... hay on the van, crazy kids, all of it. It's funny, and fun, and just a bit exhausting.

The caffeine works. When you get home you are so wide awake from it you blog into the wee hours of the morning. :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First glass!

Well, I've milked Domino every day for a week now, except Sunday. Every day, for one reason or another, I've had to dump the milk. Today I was DETERMINED that no matter how much we got we were going to try this milk!

Here are the results of about an hour of work (with some of today's freshly washed eggs):

And here are the Princess and Farmer Boy trying it out (we had to split the above amount three ways... a swallow each). Note the suspicious looks on their faces. :-)

The Princess' comments: "It was good. Well kind of strange. It will probably be better when it is cold, like after it is in the refrigerator."

Farmer Boy observed: "It was fine. It just tastes goaty."

I did it all by the book... washed and sterilized the supplies, hobbled the goat while on the stanchion, washed and dried her udder, milked and milked and milked, carefully covered the bowl to keep stuff out of it, put the bowl in ice water and stirred to cool it rapidly, put it through the special milk strainer. Took a lot of picturees of a pitiful glass. And after 30 years of waiting drank a mouthful of milk. :-)

I am not giving up! I am still getting the rhythm of milking properly, especially since she has small teats. I realized I may not be feeding her enough to produce for us and the two babies who are still on her. I can also separate her from the babies during the night and she'll give a lot more in the morning. And of course once the babies leave we'll get all the milk. Right now they are actually helping her teats to become more user friendly. ;-)

We're well on the road to really having our own milk! Yippee!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Milking stanchion

Stephen spent Saturday building our new milking stanchion. Here is Domino trying it out for the first time:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

First milk

On Wednesday I milked Domino for the first time. Here are the results:

I know, not much, but it's something! After about an hour of preparation (figuring out how to mix up the udder wash and the dairy soap and the sanitizing spray and how to get all the supplies to the barn without them becoming contaminated, etc, etc), I loaded the baby into the stroller along with lots of supplies and headed down. We didn't have the milking stanchion built yet so I attached Domino to a fence with a 2 foot dog leash (she has a collar), hobbled her back legs just in case, gave her some food and tried to milk. I managed to do it, with lots of interference from the kids (the four legged ones) and the puppies. It was VERY frustrating.

The next day, more frustration, but good news, which is that it seems Domino has a good milking personality (goat-ality?). I didn't hobble her and she didn't mind me milking her.

I've tried to milk each day, just so we can both get practice, but haven't been able to save any of it yet because of constant interference (and therefore contamination) from curious puppes and goat babies. One of the challenges is that Domino has fairly small teats so it feels awkward to milk her. Even when I use only three fingers with the thumb, I sometimes end up with milk dribbling down my hand. We'll figure it out.

Today Stephen built the milking stanchion (pictures to come) so tomorrow I will be able to milk her in the barn and CLOSE THE DOOR! Thank goodness.

Monday, April 02, 2007

They're here!

Well, golly gee whiz, I was right! Yippee! Domino is the proud mama of twins!

I kept checking on her today, and all of a sudden there were babies! :-) She birthed unassisted and did just fine without us.

Here is baby #1:

And baby #2:

Domino was not very interested in them at first. I found them still wet and shivering, so I raced back to the house to get towels, and iodine for their navels. Of course the human kids couldn't be left out of the fun! Farmer Boy took this picture of a very happy Mama, toweling off baby #1:

Baby #1 wanted to nurse and kept following The Princess around and trying to nurse from her pink dress and pink boots. He had the color right at least, but the species (and a whole lot else) wrong!

We ended up having to help the babies nurse. Stephen held Domino while I got the kids to latch on. It was not as easy as it sounds like it should be. But eventually everyone figured it out, and after the kids had a good drink, and we saw that Mom had licked each of them, we left them in peace for a while:

Names to come!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Well... maybe tomorrow...

Domino seems ready to pop! I have a gut feeling that the babies will be born tomorrow. I may well be wrong (I don't have any experience to go by here) but it'll be fun to see if I have any natural instincts about goats.

When oh when oh when?!

You know the saying "A watched pot never boils"?

Well, Patti Brown's farm corollary is "A watched goat never gives birth."

We have had many babies born on this farm since we moved here, but I have never felt like this before. For one thing, we've had goats for two years now and this is our first successful pregnancy. Snowy, our old doe, has had a series of questionable bucks in her life (first one left a lot of does he bred with open that year, second one was ancient, this year we're still unsure because Esau was so little when he tried).

When Domino and Elf came to us, I wrote down that Domino was due 3/15 and Elf 4/1. When Domino was overdue I wrote to her original owner and found out I had the dates backwards. Domino was actually due 3/30. Elf, our dear departed doe, had been the one who had bred first. So I've been thinking "Any day now!" for about three weeks.

Poor little Domino... I've spent a lot of time looking at her rear end for signs of imminent birth (don't worry, not touching, just looking!). I know those babies will come out eventually. But when?! I'd so love to be here for it. But it wouldn't surprise me in the least to go out one day and see them already born and frolicking around.

On top of all this, I have wanted goats for milk since I was seven. That's thirty years of waiting. I suppose I have earned the right to be a wee bit impatient.