The sun has come out...
Finally today the sun came out. It's been weeks since we've seen it for more than a couple of minutes peeking through cloudy skies. I woke up and there was finally blue skies, sunshine, and Red Winged Blackbirds singing. I can finally feel spring. This morning I felt like I could finally breathe... even through my congested chest.
If I'm being honest, I've spent the last few days (or more) feeling sorry for myself. I've not been feeling well, so that always makes everything more difficult, but I've also been dealing with a huge amount of problems all at one time.
This farming and raising animals stuff is not for the faint of heart. And sometimes I wonder if I am really strong enough to handle it myself. Sometimes I don't feel like I am... I do love my animals and I do love raising animals, and learning, and living this way... but it's hard and don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Many wonderful things happen and there is much enjoyment out of having happy healthy animals - which most of the time you have. But then there are the times when things just keep going wrong, and you start to wonder if anything has ever went right before.
Morty has been sick - he's just not thriving. We've tried everything and we can't figure out what is wrong - it's none of the usual suspects. He is eating somewhat still and he's still up and about but he's not good. I've been at my wits end and he's been getting needles full of antibiotics, vitamins, and etc every day along with 10 other things. So far he has not improved.
Bucket crashed and became very ill at the same time her doeling dropped dead, and I mean dropped. Bucket has since stopped producing milk and she almost died on me. It came out of nowhere, she was fine, everything was fine, and then boom. It hit me like a ton of bricks. At the same time, Biscuit, my dairy doe came in for the evening with a big slice on her udder, she had caught it on branch or something in the goat yard for the first time in five years. And Dahlia shows up with an abscess on her face. I really felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I've been here before, things always happen at once and early spring is always when things happen on the farm (good and bad) - but I didn't expect so much literally at one time and out of the blue.
I cried. A lot. And I mean a lot. I've been pretty overwhelmed with this farm before but this just seemed like too much, and with me sick, I've felt completely incapable of handling any of it.
But obviously, I can't just give up. I have to handle it. And if I didn't want stress and drama in my life, I'm living the wrong kind of life, that's for sure. So I pulled myself together and I've been doing the only thing I know how - dealing with it one step at a time.
I think I have got Bucket over the hump - she has no milk, but I have her back on her feed and she is walking again. She was outside in the sunshine today. I have been giving her injections of antibiotics, Vitamin A and D, Thiamine.... she was getting free minerals and grain before but for some reason her red blood cells seemed to have crashed from nursing the kids and she dried up. I will continue treating her and with any luck I have her out of the danger zone. But her kids, I do not. They have no milk from her and she cannot tolerate them any longer they keep banging her for milk and she runs around in circles trying to get away from them. I left them with her for a while and when I finally pulled them away (which is one of the hardest things to do) Bucket starting eating again after two days almost instantly. I am trying to get her kids to take milk now from me, because they have no other choice. But it's a major battle.
Biscuit's udder wound has thankfully healed quite nicely - it looked a heck of a lot worse than it was. I knew it was a superficial wound when I saw it - it was sliced and open but not deep. I did a ton of research and found out this is quite common and to do exactly what I already had - milk her out, clean it, and put antibiotic ointment in it, and continue this two to three times a day. It was weeping a lot which concerned me, it weeped for two days but I kept it constantly clean and on the third day, it dried up and started to scab. Obviously she is banned from the goat yard right now and only allowed in the barnyard where there are no trees or bushes or sharp edges to get her udder near. It's really healing quite nicely. Tonight when I milked her, the wound was completely dried up and scabbed over.
Dahlia is fine, I drained her abscess and dosed it with antiseptic wound spray twice and it's all dried out.
Everyone else... thankfully... is fine. Hopefully they stay that way.
In the meantime, I've been trying to get everyone through this, and well. Including myself.
This morning we all felt happier, a little more hopeful. Especially the dogs, they were glad to see the sunshine.
The only bad thing about the melting snow is that the ticks are awake, already.
Everyone was grateful for the sun this morning...
Buckwheat the billy goat is sleeping in the sunshine with his lady friend, Izzie moo...
Buckwheat: So what, I'm in love with the cow... aren't we all for accepting unconventional relationships here?
Sammy: Hey I'm just glad you can handle that cows mood swings because I can't...
Bulrush: As long as no one takes my food, I don't care what any of you do with your time...
What? You want to take my FOOD?
Basswood: Hey, I want to be in this picture too!
A three toed cow and her billy goat... true friendship.
This afternoon I headed back up to the barn to tube feed Buckets kids.
It's the first time I've ever had to tube feed. It was pretty intense, for me and the kids... but mostly for me. I was confident I could do it, but anything is scary the first time. I knew what to do, I've known for a while but I've never had to put it into practice.
When I arrived at the barnyard (for the fourth time this morning) with my tubes and supplies, I noticed my ewe Lila lying completely flat out on the ground. She looked dead - not like she was sunning herself like the other critters. Right away I knew something wasn't right so I set down all my supplies and went over to her. On the way towards her I noticed what was happening - she was lambing. The lambs head was sticking out but Lila wasn't pushing or doing anything, she was just lying there, flat on the ground. The lambs eyes were closed, so I stuck my finger in her mouth and she took a deep breath so I knew she was alive. I spoke to Lila asking her to push, and I got no response. Lila is a good girl, and I've yet to have a problem with her when lambing or with any of her lambs so this was strange. I put my hands on the head of the lamb and just gently tried to move it and I felt resistance. Lila didn't even try to push. It was time for me to intervene.
I slowly inserted my hand inside of Lila and started to feel around the kid and quite quickly I found the problem, the lambs right hoof was bent and stopping it from coming out. It was impossible for Lila to push the lamb out with the hoof in the position it was in. I pulled it around and slid it out beside the head and immediately, Lila started to push. I held onto the lamb and gently let it slide out into my arms as Lila pushed.
It was a beautiful little ewe lamb. I cleared her nose and her mouth and she opened her eyes and took a big deep breath.
I stood up and backed off, the lamb started trying to come towards me and that's not what I wanted, I wanted it to go towards Lila. Max the Great Pyrenees was present and very concerned, even when the lamb was still coming out of Lila he was licking it, trying to help. He stood beside me and we waited and watched. After a couple of minutes Lila got up, and so did the lamb. She went straight to work cleaning the lamb and amazingly within five minutes, the lamb was nursing.
Lila: Boy I'm glad that's over.
This is life on the farm. You win some, you loose some. You learn a lot about life, raising and keeping animals, about how to accept the good with the bad, how to find balance and how nature works. It's not always easy to learn, but you do. And even in the sadness you begin to find some kind of... understanding for life. In all it's ways. It's beginnings, and it's ends.
Afterwards I was able to tube feed the kids. I marked how far I wanted the tube to go in, made sure I was inserting it into the stomach and not the lungs and tried to remind myself to breathe while I was working. I got some milk into them, which is better than nothing. They are eating hay and grain but they need milk and while I have been able to get a bit into them by way of the bottle, it's not enough. I'll try the bottle again in the morning and if I cannot make progress there, I'll tube feed again.
It is definitely mud time again everywhere on the farm. Our roads are all a mess, especially the one between the house and sugar shack because we drive back and forth two dozen times a day.
Yesterday most of our buckets were overflowing, which was a welcome sight. Even when the sap ran earlier in the month, our buckets were half full or less, not overflowing.
I finished collecting sap last night while Kevin was burning and late in the afternoon the sun peaked out promising it would come back soon.
It definitely feels like sugar time now. I just hope it lasts long enough for us to finish boiling a few gallons or more of syrup.
We are trying to get sap evaporated to make room in our barrels for more since we've got more sap than we can handle right now.
and when it turned to 60 Brix - it's syrup. We managed to get our first 1/2 gallon last night. We got another 1/2 gallon today, so we've got our first gallon of syrup. We collected 100 gallons of sap yesterday, only 60 today. We'll see what tomorrow brings - but the run is coming to an end, hopefully we'll end up with a few gallons of sap before it does though.
When I started writing this post this morning, Rollie was sitting beside me chewing a stick. No word of a lie, one of his puppy teeth came flying out, up in the air, and landed on the computer. I think it was one of the crazier things that's happened to me. He's been teething for over a week - loosing all those puppy teeth and cutting new ones.
Does this mean the tooth fairy is going to come now or what?
Of course I put it in a bag and labeled it and will keep the tooth. A memory from puppy hood.
I started this post this morning at about 8 AM and I am just finishing it now at midnight. I hope it makes sense and I'm sorry if it's all strung together a little strangely. It's been another very long day and I've had so much to share with you all. Syrup was made, sap was running, the sun was shining, new life was brought into the world, and new lessons were learned. But it was also stressful, and exhausting. My head and heart are very heavy.
My favorite book is Kahlil Gibrans, "The Prophet." Every time I read the beautiful words of that book, it's comforting and inspiring to me. It's very spiritual. One of the parts of the book that has always really spoken to my heart is this:
And a woman spoke, saying, "Tell us of Pain." And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And while it's made sense to me on more than one occasion, it sure seems fitting for right now too. So many difficult and sad things and so many wonderful happy things, all mixed together.
But tonight, everyone is tucked away warmly and safely, they are all fed and resting. I can sleep knowing I've done what I can and tomorrow I will wake and give everything I have all over again.
Maybe the sun will come back out for a little while.