I apologize for neglecting the blog a bit...

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But I'm sorry, I've forgotten who I am. 

Do you guys know? 

Honestly if you asked me anything other than how much sap we have to boil and when I bottle fed last I wouldn't be able to tell you. It's been a real pleasure talking to people lately, they must all think I'm on drugs or something. When I get really, really, tired... I get chatty... unusually chatty, and I say even stranger things than I do on a regular basis. It's probably a bit alarming to some people. It's a bit alarming to me too but I'm so tired I just can't muster the extra energy to care. So what if people think I'm even crazier than they already do. No big deal. This is the time of year I run on auto. Make coffee. Feed dogs. Feed all other animals. Milk goat. Bottle feed. Snuggle animals. Feed humans that need feeding.... anything else I just don't know. What's 2+2? 6? Right? Isn't it?

The kids are all doing really well *knocks on wood, my head, rubs the Buddhas tummy for good luck.* Last night Morty moved up to the barn, which he didn't mind so much but I couldn't sleep because I was completely overcome with guilt and worry. He's big enough now, healthy enough, and he was starting to become too much for the house. With me at the sugar house or up in the barn all the time he wasn't able to run around as much as he needs to so I was worrying about him way too much while I was doing other jobs.  But still here's me, running back and forth to the barn, agonizing over what to do, leave him, take him home one more night, stay in the barn with him... 

He's doing great around the other goat kids and he's learning to eat hay (something normal kids do at a few days old, well they start mouthing it anyway but bottle babies don't because without someone to show them it just takes longer for them to learn, plus it's easier drinking from a bottle than from your mama goat who only lets you drink sometimes so one is less inclined to find other sources of food) and he's playing, he has a lot more room to run around and other goats to play with. He's happy and he's fine. 

I'm an emotional wreck. 


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On Saturday Beatrice had her kid - an adorable teeny tiny little girl. She's precious. I was so worried about her because she was so tiny and so frail when she was born but Bea is taking great care of her and the little bug is growing well and jumping around playing now. Isn't she just as sweet as a peach pie?

The triplets are growing and becoming interested in exploring... and finding trouble to get into of course.

One other reason I haven't been sleeping is because Biscuit has been showing me signs of going into labor for days... and with her I worry the most because she tries to kill her kids - so I can't just leave her to take care of the kids when they drop. It's just extra worry. She's never kidded in the middle of the night but there is a first time for everything.

Yesterday morning around 11 she finally kidded and it was a huge kid - the biggest we've ever had. She was bred to my Saanen buck unlike my other does who were bred to my Pygmy buck, but still, this kid was twice the size any of her other kids has been. She was straining through the labor and I went and got my gloves on and was preparing to assist when she finally started pushing the kid out. I could see it was in the correct position so I held back. Finally after much straining the head came out and I could see what the problem was, it was huge, so huge my first thought was that she wouldn't be able to birth the kid naturally and that she might die. When she cleared the head of the kid I could see he (I assumed at that size it was a boy) was alive, and she just couldn't push anymore. I helped her finish the delivery by helping pull the kid out very gently. I backed off to see what would happen after I pulled the mucus away from the kids nose and mouth because he was straining to breathe. As I've mentioned before, Biscuit never accepts her kids. This is her 5th kid so I expected it to be no different but I wanted to watch and see what happened. Much to my complete amazement Biscuit started to clean him. I watched and waited for over an hour. She cleaned him, he got up on his feet. He's a very strong kid no question about that. He looks like he's about a month old. After an hour, I had to go back to helping Kevin in the sugar shack. 

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When I went back to the barn 1/2 hour later, everything seemed good. So I waited some more. 1/2 hour after that I saw Biscuit whack the kid when he tried to nurse. She knocked him right into the wall. It wasn't a gentle nudge. I pulled him out and tried to give him a bottle - I had already milked Biscuit to make sure I had colostrum in case she wouldn't let him nurse. He refused to take a bottle or even try it, so I returned him to Biscuit. She was being quite nice to him - as long as he wasn't trying to nurse. I felt his tummy and it did feel like there was something in there but he's so big it's hard to tell. 

When I fed Morty his last bottle of the night at 10 PM, Biscuit and the new kid were sleeping together so I let them be. 

This morning when I went up to the barn I noticed he was up and about but I watched her refuse him milk twice more and I noticed her teats were full. We had to run into town to get Roald's last set of puppy shots finished up (his lepto) and pick up a few things. As soon as we got home I heated up forumla for Morty and headed back up to the barn. I noticed Biscuits kid was crying (I've just been calling him Bubba) So I took a bottle to him and just let him come and sniff it which he did. He put his lips on it twice but didn't try to suck. I squirted some milk onto it so he could smell it and he got a little on his nose.He was very interested so I took him out of the pen and offered him the bottle. He took it. He took it and he drank the whole thing. 

I know she let him nurse once, but she's refused him ever since, aggressively. 

So now Morty has a friend which makes me feel better and I know that Bubba is eating because I'm giving him fresh milk - I feel like I'll be able to sleep better tonight. I didn't barely sleep a wink last night worrying about Morty being up there on his own for the first time and wondering if Bubs was going to eat or take a bottle. Now I know they have each other to snuggle up to and that they will both have full bellies. At evening chores they were snuggled up together as cute as could be and Bubs had another bottle. I'll go back to the barn before bed at 10 PM and feed again and make sure everyone is snug as a bug. 


At the Vet clinic today, Rollie weighed 6 1/2 pounds! So he's four months old and as big as Norman is full grown. He did a much better job at the Vet this time, he was not nearly as nervous as he was last time. His puppy shots are finally all finished and he (hopefully) won't have to return to the Vet until May when he'll get neutered.

Aside from having and caring for babies, we've been tapping trees and boiling sap...

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Usually we put out about 80 taps. So far we've only managed to get about 68 out, but that's given us about 120 gallons of sap so far. Keeping in mind it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Still we can only manage to produce a gallon of syrup a day and that's will a full day (about 12 hrs) of boiling.

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The sap has been running later in the day than usual. Usually with the warm sun in the morning it runs early. The past few days it hasn't started to run until about 11 AM - so we are getting a shorter run during the day but still a good deal of sap. The sap is very sweet this year - you can taste the sugar right out of the tree. Usually sap tastes very much like water with maybe a hint of maple - this year it's sticky and you can actually taste the sweetness.

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This is one of our maples behind the house. Our maple trees are all spread out - we tap in groups so they are fairly easy to access. We have thousands of maples but only so many that are easy for us to get to for tapping.

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One thing you do at the sugar house is sit around a lot. It takes a loooong time to evaporate sap. So you play cards. Tell jokes. Stoke the fire. Split wood. Watch your thermometer. And drink beer - but not too much because you need to keep your fire and thermometer in check - when your sap gets boiled down and the sugar content increases it will flash in a second and you'll have a burnt pan (a very bad thing) burnt syrup and a huge mess to take care of. Plus you'll have to pay for the counselling you'll need after it happens to you.

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And then you also eat. Although I have a million other things to do and the sugar house is also about 150 yards from the house, I still make sure we all eat well. Aside from full meals (last night I drove out a full pork roast with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans) we also have good snacks like pretzels fresh out of the oven to keep up the morale- and our energy which is also lacking.

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We collect the sap in the mule in two 20 gallon containers. We make about 3-4 trips back to the sugar house to dump the sap into other containers so we can go and get more. It takes us a little over an hour a day to collect the sap and it's a two person (and at least one dog) job.

We didn't boil today since we had to leave the farm and I was consumed with milking and bottle feeding. So we'll start again fresh tomorrow morning. For the past two nights the temperature has not dropped below freezing so the sap has not run. For a good run of sap you want it to be just below freezing at night and above during the day - and already it's staying too warm. The weatherman tells us it will get cold again, but we have already seen geese flying over, moths flying around, and a Red Winged blackbird. I'm afraid the weather will break like last year and destroy our sap run, so we are rushing to gather and process what we can before it's over.

For now I'm heading back up to the barn to feed the babies and check on everyone else before I can crawl into bed and rest my eyes for a while.

Oh! And in other news we ordered a sleigh today. A real hand made big red sleigh. Usually pulled by a team of horses. To be pulled by our tractor. We mailed a letter back to the Amish fellow in Southern Ontario we happened to meet on a whim in downtown Toronto while visiting a specialist for me in January. He was there with his daughter. He sent us a picture in the mail of the sleighs he builds by hand to support his family. So we sent him an order. It's going to be a really neat addition to the farm for hauling logs and also hauling sap during maple time! 

Comments

Primitive Stars said…
Wow!!!! You are a busy gal....So happy the babes are doing well...so cute.....interesting collecting the sap....yummy.......take care, Love your blog, Francine.
I don't see how you do the things that you do!! Sorry to hear that Beatrice doesn't take care of her kids. Possibly it hurts her to be nursed? thank goodness you're there to take care of Bubba!! Bet you look forward to spring and no more snow!! Take care of yourself!
jaz@octoberfarm said…
omg...i can't believe your life! does anyone work harder? that first pic is just too precious. i am so glad to hear that all the babies are healthy and doing well. hope you get lots of sap. it was 70 degrees here yesterday and now snow is on the way. you might get our rain too. it poured last night!
good grief, I didn't know it took that much sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Luv hearing about the goat babies.

Don't apologize for life....you are a busy woman.
Ellen in Oregon said…
Holy Crapoli. I can't believe all that you have been dealing with. I am glad Morty is out in the barn on, because I thought you were going to end up with a goat who believed he was a dog. Biscuit's kid looks about the same size as Morty, so I see how hugh he was to birth. Sad that Biscuit would not nurse him. She must have no maternal instincts at all.
No wonder, maple syrup costs so much. With all the work involved it should be $100/ounce. We will be hoping for cold night & warm days for you guys.
No wonder you're so tired! You guys have so much going on right now, it's crazy! I totally understand that you have to focus on your other responsibilities right now. But I do love seeing the baby goat photos :) I pinned the photo of the little white one - so cute!
Mary Ann said…
Donna! Be careful it's easy to get hurt when you're exhausted. You must really love Biscuit to put up with her, but I'm so glad the little buckling was safe and is fine. The first picture and the picture of Kevin and Norman should be framed and hung!
jody said…
congrats on all the new babies! how adorable they are! and so glad they seem to be doing ok as it looks like you have alot going on!
enjoy your days!!
luckybunny said…
Thanks guys!! Ellen I hope you can see this because I don't get your email with your comment and that's how I usually reply to people - it does take a lot of work - a lot easier really to just go buy it but even though it feels like forced labor sometimes, we seem to enjoy it enough to do it every year :) LOL sometimes we ask ourselves why, but somehow even though we are so tired and sore, we still consider it to be "fun." :) I think we do it all just to taste the maple syrup right outta the pan!

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