Trials and tribulations
The sad thing is, I simply cannot keep every kid born here, especially not the boys. Already I have 8 males here - 4 of which are weathered, one whom is for sale (a buckling from last year, Melvin, whom is amazing, polled, sweet as apple pie and has absolutely no use here since I have two bucks and he's related to my girls - but he's perfect and needs a perfect little group of goats to go live with), and two bucks and a ram. Having the animals for me is a hobby but one my heart is deeply connected to - sure I milk one of my goats to supply us with fresh milk and cheese and the kids help bring in a little money to help with Vet bills. Certainly we put a lot more money into our animals than they can give back but that's not why we have them. But I can't keep them all.
So I had decided with me being this tired and having this many projects going on instead of bottle feeding right through until weaning time and then trying to rehome Morty and Bubs then, I should do it now.
That lasted four days.
I just couldn't take it. Obviously I know realistically they cannot both stay here forever and ever - but I had a lot more interest in Morty (none in Bubs) and I cannot separate them. They have grown so close over the past few days, relying on each other for friendship and comfort when I am not around - that I cannot bring myself to separate them right now. When they are weaned and older they will have other goat friends and be more independent - right now they are all each other has when I'm not there. And aside from that, while I thought it would be easier to not have to bottle feed for the next few months - I cannot bring myself to trust anyone else to do it. Obviously some people have raised goats before and will be just fine bottle feeding. But they cannot ensure me of that and because of that, I can't trust them with my kids.
I'm sure Kevin fully expected me to tell him I had decided they would just have to wait to be re homed until they were weaned and the absolute right home came along (I think he's waiting for me to tell him I'm keeping them forever!). But he handled it better than I thought he would. He knows I've been loosing a lot of sleep over it. He has to sleep in the same bed, so he knows why I'm tossing and turning and keeping both of us up. And he understands.
I wake up in the middle of the night a lot because of physical reasons, but as soon as I'm up, I'm not thinking about what I was dreaming about or going back to sleep, I'm thinking "is Morty OK in the barn? Did I give enough hay to everyone? Oh hay, where am I going to buy hay?" In the morning in the light of day - everything is always fine and everything always seems manageable. It's amazing how at night all our worries in the world come out - whatever they may be. Sometimes they are not even realistic worries or concerns but they still seem very overwhelming at night. I'd much rather worry about them during the day and not while I'm trying to sleep!
Aside from that both Morty and Bubs are little piggies and are doing great.
The other kids are also doing great...
They are all adorable. Buckets kids just have the cutest markings...
Especially this buckling - look at those eye brows and the chin stripe! He makes me laugh every time I look at that little face.
I think he knows he's pretty cute too, don't you?
How can you not smile looking at those little faces?
Ah wait a minute, what's wrong with this picture?
Lately Bucket has been babysitting. Along with her three kids, Beatrice's kid from next door has been coming over to play and eat (hay) with them. Bucket completely tolerates it. It's hilarious. Most of the time the little girl is out running around the barn with me and Morty and Bubs, she's always up to something.
Bucket doesn't seem to mind the extra kid to watch, really, what's one more?
It's so much fun watching them play... one of the best parts of this time of year is getting to be around and have the kids always playing and being adorable. You can't help but just melt watching them.
The sap has not run for a week. It's been too cold during the day for the sap to run and we've been getting snow flurries for the past couple of days, nothing major, just flurries. It's been nice to get a bit of a break but I'm hoping we still get some run before the weather breaks and doesn't go below freezing at night any more.
We boiled last on Tuesday because we had sap in our barrels still.
It started out normally. We got the sap up to a boil...
It's not syrup until that thermometer reads 7 - or 219 degrees F.
But it was evaporating well....
Once we have syrup we drain it out of the evaporator and bring it over to our canner where it's heated up and put into sterilized jars. We use empty 1/2 gallon bourbon bottles mostly - and also decorative smaller bottles.
We were under heavy supervision the whole time...
But then something happened. We had syrup and it tasted good in the pan. Kevin drained it and put it into a glass jug and then poured it into the canner where he brought it up to temperature in the canner. A few minutes later I stuck my spoon under the tap and got a spoonful of it to taste.
I tasted it...
It was horrible. It tasted like metal.
We have all stainless steel equipment. All the same equipment we used last year and the year before. Everything was clean. The strange part was, the syrup seemed to taste fine in the pan and it seemed like something happened between the time we drained it off and moved it to the canner. So we bought new stainless fittings for where we drain the syrup - likely there was no problem there but we tried to cover all bases we could. We can't find anyone who's ever dealt with this or heard of it and a lot of people make syrup in odds pots, and use odds and ends not professional stainless steel equipment and get a long just fine, we've done it in past years before we bought our bigger evaporator. We are suspicious of the sap itself being the culprit, but we just don't know.
The sad part is, we lost a gallon of syrup. It broke our hearts. Hours upon hours of labor and care went into that gallon only for it to all be lost.
But we live to fight (or boil rather) another day. We'll try again and hopefully we'll get more sap - and we won't have a repeat of this problem. We'd feel a lot better if we had an idea of what could have caused that so we'd be less likely to have a repeat of it. I'm not sure we can mentally handle going through that kind of loss again.
Because it's supposed to remain cold all weekend (and a lot of next week by the looks of it right now) we are going to try and get the metal on the roof of the sugar shack - if the wind is not howling which it has been the past two days.
In the afternoons we haven't been boiling I've had a little time to catch up in the kitchen, baking bread, and I managed to make some grapefruit marmalade. Marmalade is such a pain to make... but it's so worth it in the end. It's such a treat.
I'm still not near caught up on chores I've been slacking on because of sap and goats, but at least I got a few things accomplished when I had time.
Biscuit has been giving me a gallon of milk a day which is enough for me to feed Bubs and also keep some for myself. For some reason her milk is creamier and sweeter than it ever has been before. It's so delicious. Usually I use a great deal of my milk for cheese but this year I can barely bring myself to part with it, I just want to drink it all. It's like drinking heavy cream but sweet cream, and ice cold it's about one of the best things I've ever tasted.
It's because she gives me so much quality milk I forgive her for hating all kids and wanting to kill them or refusing to let them nurse. She makes up for a lot by allowing me to milk her and by contributing. I have to keep reminding myself when I use the milk "don't worry you can get more" I feel like I need to hoard it, when in reality, I need to use it up.
We had to run into the city today to pick up parts for our Argo (track vehicle) which is broken. Our mule (ATV) is also needing major repair, so those are two other big jobs we have ahead of us.
For tonight I'll go and get bundled up to head out in the wind and back up to the barn. I was reminded today by a friend and farmer that I can feed the bottle babies around 6 or 7 and leave them till morning. I know he's right. But yet I still bundle up and trudge up to the barn in my pajamas in the dark at about 10 PM every night to give them a snack and make sure everyone is tucked away and comfortable. Then I can sleep better. And I am so ready for sleep tonight. I'm going to dream about goats milk milkshakes and not my list of current concerns. I'm going to dream about goats milk milkshakes with maple syrup...
Goodnight all, sweet dreams. And remember... don't worry. At least not for tonight. There's always tomorrow.