The "In between" times...

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Once again I started writing this post ages ago. I've been so tired and keeping myself too busy to properly focus. But today, I'm going to give it a try! So, here we go...

Spring, like Autumn, is such an enchanting time. It's a time when our senses seem heightened, when life and death seem more visible than usual. They are a time of change and renewal so powerful, so apparent, we cannot ignore it. 

Out of all the months, October and March are probably the most powerful for me for a number of reasons. But let's talk about March, since she is here and keeping all the attention to herself right now. 

March is chaotic. And she is moody. She is unpredictable, and a little... insane. She is powerful, and Vibrant. She is like a lioness waking up from a sleep induced by exhaustion and a full stomach after gorging after the hunt. 

I recognize this energy and relate to it on so very many levels. 

On the farm, in my world, March brings a whole lot of work, but rewarding work. But despite it's rewards it can be costly, and it's very sensitive. March brings goat kids, and lambs, sometimes healthy brilliant ones, sometimes ones that are weak, or need a whole lot of help to get or continue thriving. The sleepy times of keeping warm and full during winter are over, and the time of life, and, also, death, comes roaring in. There is that old saying, "In like a Lion, out like a lamb" or vice versa, about the weather in March. For me, I don't remember many years when March did not come in like a Lion, and I'm not just speaking about the weather.

On the animal front, my herd is doing great. Every one is still fat, healthy, beside themselves with excitement for the sunshine and warmer, longer days.

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Ruby and Horace sunning themselves...

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Scarface assures me spring is here...

On the 8th, one of my Pygmy goats kidded for the first time. She had twins. One stillborn, one super weak, unable to stand. She was an excellent mom right away, cleaning her baby, talking to him, and standing for him to nurse. I got him nursing with some effort, and the colostrum and milk was flowing well into his little body. Still, I knew he was a weakling. Very weak. But he was eating like a champ and she was a star, so he had the best chance possible. He got his doses of vitamins, and was kept warm. But he didn't make it very long. I took the loss hard, as I do every time and I immediately blamed myself, because I always immediately blame myself. 

I have saved a lot more animals than I've ever lost, but I quickly forget that and focus only on those losses. 

I mean I took it hard. I am an emotional person by nature. I think this is one of my best qualities but it can also be one of my worst and has sure caused plenty of problems in my life, mostly in my dealings with people and my relationships. I have been learning more self control (slowly!) mostly as I get older, and yes, wiser because of it. Age brings experience, more patience, and more understanding of life. I appreciate it more every single day. 

But as I was in the depth of my despair, I was holding a bottle, feeding a lamb who by all means should not be here at all. And she was eating vigorously, and happily...  

I've fought many battles, and sometimes I win, sometimes I loose. But I choose to fight. No one is forcing me to do it. I choose to fight, and I choose to choose life. I'm grateful for the experiences and for Kevin allowing me to have them. He loves the animals but emotionally he's not equipped either and he doesn't like the stress, or what he sees me go through when it's bad. Although I know he loves having the animals in his life too regardless. 

I realized also how much my illness has taught me. While it's been so easy for me to focus on the pain, the frustration, the depression... It's also been helping grow in ways I never even realized I could. I feel it. It's changed me and all of the ways it has changed me have not been bad. 

The next morning I woke up to Emerald calling for me to get her morning bottle. I was already awake and had been for some time. I was lying in bed, listening. I was worried. Would she call me this morning? Is it later than usual? I refused to look at the clock because I did not want to know. Then I heard from the living room: Baaa. The first one tame, and then as each baa came the level of her voice and urging building. I sat up, looked at the clock. She was right on time, a little early actually. 

So I warmed her bottle, fed her. Then as is our routine now she cuddled with me and the dogs while I had coffee, she got her vitamins and another bottle, and then I decided to put her in her bed for a bit so that I could go outside with the dogs for a short walk. 

It was 35 degrees F when I had woken up at 7 and it was still the same when we went outside for a walk at 9. The dogs were thrilled to be outside and not be cold. Rollie is beside himself with excitement that the squirrels are out and chipmunks... so many critters to chase again! 

We walked down our road so I could check to see if the sap was running.

 Tuesday the 10th, Rollie and I helped Kevin put out the first of our buckets for this year, and then I came inside to rest, while Kevin and Jim finished putting out the rest of the start of our buckets - 50 so far. We've done up to 80 but cannot keep up with the amount of sap. Our evaporator only makes a gallon a day, and that day consists of 10-12 hours of steady burning and keeping the right temperature. So we are airing on the side of caution this year so we don't waste any.

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One of my favorite rituals of March is tasting the cold, crisp, sap and really, the life force of the earth and the tree. I thank her each spring for her abundance. If you do not respect nature, how can you expect for respect in return?

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The sap was indeed running, although the sun was not shining. I love how moody March is during any given day. Sunshine. Nope clouds. Now snow. Maybe rain. Maybe ice. Nope slush. 

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The sap run is just beginning and even though so far, we only make 5 or 6 gallons for ourselves it's still a lot of work. We are always exhausted during March, between the barn, regular chores and sugaring, it's a long, full, day. We often complain (all of us) at how tired we are, how sore we are. But every year we dream of this time, and look forward to it. The good, the bad, the ugly, the sweet. If it wasn't worth it, we would have stopped long ago. 

I can't imagine not living closely with the seasons, or with the earth, or my animals. It's hard work, physically, mentally, emotionally, I've said before it's not for the faint of heart. You either toughen up, or give up. I've often thought it was time to give up, and while it is a time of change for me as physically I am less capable, and Kevin grows older, it's not a time of giving up. I have toughened up, in some ways. But in most ways I am still that highly emotional girl I was when I started this venture 12 years ago this spring. I'm also a lot smarter too. Possibly also, more crazy.

And if there is one gift, one lesson I'm learning now that I wish for every single person, young or old, it is to love yourself fully, any flaw, any insecurity, any vulnerability. Young people, especially girls, spend a great deal of time fighting this. I know I have, and I still do. But I feel an acceptance, and an appreciation growing inside of me for the challenges I can and have over come, that I hope continues to. 

We are all flawed, we are all growing and evolving all the time on our journey through life, and no one, I don't care who they are, knows it all. And while we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives, decisions... we also need to accept that every one is human. I read something beautiful the other day that someone said... that to be open to love, you have to be open to loss. It's true, and it's meant on many different levels. Shift your focus from the pain, we all suffer through it in different ways. Focus on the light, and it's always there, even when it doesn't seem like it is.

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I'm so grateful Emerald is stable. She is beyond precious. This picture shows it well, but do you see the smirk on her face? It's very cute - but it's also a sign of something.

As I watched her yesterday eating, pooping, peeing, functioning well except for a continuous limp with her front leg it dawned on me, her face and the leg are neurological. Possibly. She has had both problems since she was born, and she wasn't breathing. So it's possible it's part of her problem or damage caused during the birthing from her positioning, from the trouble the Ewe had with her. She can see, and she is very alert now, and today she was even finally playing again, although she walks like her one leg is a peg. I thought yesterday it was pain I saw in the leg, and that might be. I gave her something for it and saw no response, but I'll continue to treat it for inflammation and pain. But I think also there is a chance it's damage. We will see in time.

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She is improving and eating, and while we are not out of the woods, I'm grateful for both, especially to see her more lively.

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She is such a sweet gentle soul, and she adores the dogs, especially Douglas. I think it's mutual.

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On the 11th at 2 PM, I was up at the barn checking on the girls and noticed Aurora was loosing her mucus plug. It was getting closer. As this is her first kid, and her sister had trouble, I was worried so I wanted to make sure I was there.

And I was there... for hours. When nothing had changed by 7 PM, I did the evening chores and came home to make dinner and feed Emerald again. Jim and I were doing hourly checks. He checked at 9, and I checked at 10;30- and everyone was asleep. Aurora was also just relaxing. I watched her for a while and saw she was OK so I headed home.

After a good warm day, the night felt cool and damp. The air is warmer but it chills you quicker. It was dark outside, but I like walking to the barn in the dark, I know the path and I can see quite well as long as nothing interrupts my eyes (like lights). The stars were SO bright, I couldn't stop looking up. It was an incredible show, like a painting, and with the leaves still off the trees they were glowing through the branches of all the big, dark, sleepy trees.

I knew Jim would check at midnight. His cabin is fairly close to the barn, by our sugar house.  He'd come get me if anything changed yet. I had just fed Emerald again and at midnight was closing my eyes in bed. When there was a knock at the door.

It was Jim. Aurora was screaming.

I ran in the dark with Jim running behind me up to the barn. She was indeed screaming, which isn't terribly unusual and she is very vocal, the most of any of my goats, but when I got there I could see the kid was positioned right but in trouble. So I got down and reached in.  One leg was stuck, so she couldn't get him out. I fixed it and he quickly fell out.

He was trying to get up before he was even loose, I wiped some of the bulk of goo off him, and cleared his nose and mouth.

He went to her and she put her head down and hit him, not a good sign. But while she was pushing him away, she was licking him... I could see her instincts kick in but she was confused. What new mom isn't.

I checked for another baby coming with my hand and did not feel one, but she was big enough for two and she is a Pygmy.

Meanwhile she got up and really went to work cleaning him, all the while talking to him. After a while he started looking for milk, and after a while of watching him struggle, I helped. It took a bit, but I cleared her teats so the milk was flowing well, and got him to suck. He was up but clumsy so having a hard time getting food. She was standing for him but not for long. I got out of the pen and just watched, letting them have space and after some more time, he nurse twice on his own.

Just after 2 she passed her placenta so we were done. He was still nursing. Finally I could sleep.

For less than 4 hours.

Then it was up with Emerald.

The next morning I felt a little zombie like, I had a lot of coffee, and Aurora and her little boy were doing great.

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He's got a fully tummy and he's very fiesty and strong, as a healthy kid should be.

Aurora loves her little guy, she's a great mom. It's heart warming.

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I went up for a quick check again of the baby at 9:30 and I noticed Brie had discharge and had totally pawed up her pen.

I waited an hour and with no change, I came home to tend to Emerald and the dogs, and do laundry... and we started every 1/2 hr checks based on where she was at with it. We were really hoping she wouldn't also wait until midnight!

At 3:30 Jim went up to check since I was in the middle of being crazy - when I get over tired I get hyper, so I was making Shepherds pie, Maple syrup pie, buttertart bars, hard boiling eggs, making the bed up with all new bedding, and doing laundry. I was just realizing I was crashing and needed to take a break when he came right back and got me. It was time.

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Once we got there Brie had a healthy Saanen kid already up, and almost nursing without any assistance. I went in and cleared the plugs from her teats so the milk was flowing free and easy and within minutes he was nursing several times on his own. She was also tending to him like a star, better than I've ever seen her tend to her kids. She always get a little moody with them but this guy she was all over. He's big, healthy, and strong, and I'm grateful for that.

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I was also happy to see that Aurora's little boy was nursing at the exact moment I went to check in on them.

I've also noted that everyone came through the winter quite well since all the does that kidded don't even look like they did, they are still so fat!

Now, back to today the 21st of March. 

It's spring now, and heavy wet flakes of snow are falling from the sky.

I am worn out. But everyone is doing well. Jarlsburg, the Saanen buckling is huge! And Spriggan, the Pygmy buckling is fat and round and making good use of his built in Pygmy "spring" by hopping everywhere and never walking :)

Emerald is doing amazing. Two days ago she started spending the days at the barn because she needs to run around also spend time bonding to some of the animals there, so she spends the day playing with the goat kids inside and comes home for the evening/night. I'll continue that until the night time temperatures even out, hopefully next week, and then she'll move up there. She is growing like a weed and her leg has almost completely straightened out. She has NO limp. I am sure now all of her problems were because of out growing her mother and not having enough room. I am so grateful my hard work is paying off in this happy, energetic, fat lambie.

The sap has not run but maybe one day so far as the temperatures are not on our side. Even when it is above freezing the wind is bitter and cold. I'm not sure what this will mean, whether the run will come late or not at all. If the weather suddenly breaks into spring and does not ever find the happy balance of just below freezing at night and above during the day, we won't have much of a run. We've had almost no sunshine this month either, which has been tough on the trees and every one else.

Now hopefully, I'll be able to write a post that doesn't span the length of 2 weeks! I have many new pictures to share and plan to do so now that things are settling down for a moment. But I wanted to catch up with everything that happened here.

Yesterday and again today, I'm trying to get a little rest. Running on little sleep and lots of work has left me pretty worn out since I am still not myself. But I've been managing better than I would have expected. The dogs are thrilled to be able to rest since they find running around after me all day instead of sleeping all day, quite exhausting :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I hope also that the sun comes out soon, we all need it or like the trees, we will also just want to stay asleep. 


Anonymous said…
What a fine blog! You're a very busy woman who slides easily from observing the nature of animals and trees to self, and all without whining. Bravo
Barb Wirt
Bobbi D. said…
Spring time and all the babies! Yay! I am glad you are doing ok too. Hope the sun comes out soon. :)
The JR said…
So happy to see the goat babies and glad Emerald is doing great. Sorry you lost one of the little ones.

The boys look fantastic. I always love seeing their pictures.

I'm jealous of those sugar maples, but you can have all that snow :)
O'Quilts said…
Welcome back...this was some post..beautiful.
Leigh said…
Donna, very well said. Living close to nature is bittersweet, but worth it. Love the animal photos. Losing kids is sad, and the healthy ones are a joy. Thankfully the joys outweigh the sadness. May warmer days find you stronger!

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