Skip to content

Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: kids

It started out like a normal day. The previous day, we attended a wedding and reception. It was so nice to have a break for some fun. I had decided to continue the break by sleeping in until 9am the next day.

Sunday morning, April 29, 2012, at about 10am – late to be getting out to feed the goats.

As I looked across the fenced yard, I noticed something on the ground. It occurred to me that it appeared to be a goat. Somehow that little goat did not seem familiar. I did my count, adjusting for the change in our small herd that happened the day before (Saturday morning, one of our pygmy goat kids left for her new home).

The wheels were turning slowly in my brain as I was still reveling in the uninterrupted and solid night of sleep. Something was not right in the world. Finally it registered that our Nubian dairy goat, Beatrice aka BB, had given birth.

I ran across the yard. As I am not as young and able as I once was, running is not currently my strong point. I fell on the cement walk, scraping my knee and bruising my elbow. Managing to get back up quickly, I clamored the rest of the way to the lifeless body that lay
on the ground.

Picking up the lanky little kid goat, I received another shock. It let out a screechy ma sound. Alive! My heart, that had already moved far up in my chest, jumped into my mouth. Turning to the right, I saw another small lifeless body.

There was a little clear goo (some afterbirth membrane) on its head with crumpled dry leaves stuck to it. Convinced that this one was truly dead, I mournfully picked it up. It was cold and limp. Breathing!

The race for warmth began. My kids (the human ones) welcomed a hysterical Mom into the house and began to help. Towels, laundry basket, heating pad, milk replacement recipe, etc.

Beatrice wanted nothing to do with her two little girl kids. I was not expecting to bottle feed and certainly not this soon. These were pre-term kids. From that point on, it was a “make it up as you go along” process.

Here is their first pic. They are so tuckered out.

It has been such a rush that I did not weigh them. I think they were under 2 pounds (which would be fine if they were pygmy goat kids).

This is a short video clip of bottle feeding on their first day.

Bottle-feeding one of two Nubian doe kids

I have helpers for their care. Our 23 year old daughter Eko,

9 year old son Dorian,

and 7 year old Golden Retriever.

Twin #2 aka Sally (R) standing well with Penny (L). This pic was taken Wednesday, May 2, 2012.

My husband is sure to join in on his days off (the girls arrived Sunday, which is currently his first day of the work week).

Monday, April 30, 2012 was a blur. I was running on very little sleep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012, I was able to take a quick short video of the Nubian kid girls waking up after they slept ALL night. The room is dark, so the audio is actually the best part of this clip. You can hear their little baby cries. They sound a lot like human babies and the fact that say mama is just irresistible. I cannot help but take care of them. The feeling is reminiscent of caring for my daughter and son when they were infants.

Waking Up

Despite her very large size, Beatrice has been picked on by our herd of pygmy goats beginning with her arrival here. She is hornless and the little goats all have theirs, so they win. This may have contributed to the early kids.

BB was acting weird Friday evening, April 27, 2012. I checked her – no swollen milk bag (utter) and no signs of change on her “who-ha”.

During the day on Saturday Beatrice was acting normal until she got tangled in the electric fence. I was outside and rushed to get her out. BB untangled herself in less than 30 seconds, before I made it through the gate. But, that was quite a jolt for any animal, no less a pregnant nanny goat.

Maybe this brought on the premature labor. It can be difficult to determine the cause when it happens. There are many possibilities.

I would have locked her in the well shed for the birth and also for after care (24-36 hours) if there had been any signs of labor. It has half doors and therefore plenty of ventilation. It would have been nice to have the little does born on dry straw rather than randomly in the dirt.

It is not her fault at all, but I am frustrated with BB’s abandonment of her kids. The feeling is just in me, no matter how much I try to step out of the situation to look at it rationally.

Beatrice did what nature intended. The survival of her kids was unlikely and she left them. They would have been taken back into the energy of the world so that BB could focus on her own survival.

Nanny goats often wander away from the herd for kidding, even if it is out into the rain or snow. My mistake was not separating Beatrice earlier. In retrospect, she needed to be in a non-electric pen by herself. Since goats are herd animals and do not like to be alone (at all), this is not the best option, but the necessary choice in this case.

Looking back on all this requires that we create some separation pens with their own shelters. Caring for and bottle feeding twins will certainly serve as a reminder to get this done ASAP.

The ins and outs of keeping up a hobby farm are limitless. You try things. You get better at making it all work. Then a coyote will sneak in and steal a duck. A big storm will arrive at that same time that life has you focused on some other important thing. Work (paid employment/freelance gigs) is keeping you very busy. You fail. You mope. You think about shutting the whole thing down. You get back up and brush yourself off. You really love this lifestyle.

Beatrice identifies her own kids as non-goat-friendly-food items and quickly moves on to look elsewhere for the snacks she was expecting from me. What was I thinking, trying to hand her two, furry, squeaky things?

I imagined her new kid(s) keeping her company, but BB does not want to make friends with them. She is also now picking on our pygmy doe kid (who she TOWERS over). I thought that our hermaphrodite goat, Luna, would hang out with her more since she doesn’t have a close buddy, but neither her nor BB seems interested.

BB is such a sweet, people-friendly goat. She loves getting pet and will follow you around the yard – leaning into you. She may have been bottle fed, since I have heard that they identify themselves as humans and wish to hang out with them instead of their herd mates. My strange feeling of frustration with her is going away. I do love BB quite a lot.

Beatrice passed on her beauty to her kids. They will likely also follow in her footsteps as far as temperament is concerned.

We initially named BB’s kids doe #1 and doe #2. The one with the lower initial body temperature is referred to as doe #1. She picks up energy and then fades and picks up energy and so on. On Tuesday evening, she gulped down a considerable amount of homemade milk replacement – more than her stronger sibling. This behavior was encouraging.

The next morning, Wednesday, May 2, 2012, doe #1 managed to stay on her feet for a few minutes.

Her left eye was cloudy compared to the right, but she was eating and her plumbing was working. I was not worried when I took this pic. She had survived the first 72 hours.

My husband, Jamie, named doe #1 after a Levon Helm song called “Anna Lee”. Both of the girls are slight, but in this pic you can see just how scrawny Anna Lee is.

In the evening on Wednesday, things were not going well with this tiny doe. She wanted to be held more than she wanted to drink her bottle. She sounded congested. Her energy began tapering off at a fast rate.

Jamie stayed up as long as he could to help. He kept her warm on his chest and talked to her. I stayed up with her until she was gone, shortly after midnight.

Our daughter is at a friend’s and our son is at school. At this moment, they do not know that she died.

I thought that I was done crying, but it started up again as I write. It is so wonderful to have Spring babies on the farm. It is so incredibly difficult when you lose one. There is no escaping this.

Death is part of life. My husband and I are big fans of the show “Six Feet Under”. In one scene, speaking of her beloved aunt, a character asks “Why do people have to die?”. The answer given was “Maybe it is to make life more important.”.

What would life be like if you knew you would live forever? Would it be as rich? What would we have to compare things to? I could continue with this line of thinking, but it is best to move on now.

Thursday morning, May 3, 2012. Sally (doe #2) was sprawled out in the laundry basket. It almost made me laugh. Without her sister there, she had made herself more comfortable. Sally ate heartily from the bottle of farmette formula this morning. Along with the milk, evaporated milk, and buttermilk, I added some plain Greek yogurt. It is not part of the milk replacement recipe, but a little may help give her immune system a boost.

The last pic of the day is Sally in her warming blanket made from a long t-shirt sleeve. She is putting on weight, but until she is hopping around like kid goats do, we’ll need to keep her close-by. I hope I don’t pester her too much by checking in on her so often.

In the evening, my husband Jamie took this video of Sally bottle feeding while standing. It is important that she get mobile as much as her strength allows and eating is a good motivator to get her up on her feet.

Sally the Goat

It is now early on Friday morning, May 4, 2012. Sally just had her breakfast. She seemed a bit constipated, so I added 1/2 of a very small egg yolk to a 9 oz. bottle of our version of goat milk replacer. That bottle should be enough nutrition for most of the day.

Egg yolk is an optional ingredient for fresh goat formula, but can sometimes give a goat diarrhea, so I thought a tiny bit might help loosen up her stools. At the least it would add some protein to her diet.

I had found a trick that uses a warm wet cloth to replace the mother goat licking her baby’s bottom. This stimulates their bowels. It is dangerous if they don’t keep things moving out as more food comes in.

The trick worked well when I noticed Sally straining on Thursday evening. It did not work this morning. If the warm cloth does not work, you can give them small enemas of warm, soapy water. If the soapy water does not work, you can try olive oil.

10:15 am

I am on the all the goat web sites right now, awaiting a call from a livestock veterinarian. Having found a good site for emergency supplies, I rummaged through the cabinets for some and looked through my own current bin (my bag of animal care tricks). I chose a few things, one of which was vitamin B complex. Another was a syringe with a needle.

Sally had already been offered a bottle of electrolyte solution made of water, corn syrup and a pinch of salt. This and the vitamin B mix can help them get through a rough day.

She was whining with every breathe and periodically tightening her abdomen. Our little doe may be very constipated. She strains but only wets. I thought she was uncomfortable from pressure in her digestive system.

Her temperature was 102.4 (normal) when I checked it mid-day. She was able to lay with her feet tucked under and head upright – not on her side. I thought she might be getting ahead of whatever was wrong with her.

Sally perked up a bit on the long ride over, but was very hot with fever when I arrived at the vet appointment. It was now 5:15 pm. Her respiration was labored and she could not hold her head up. She was fading fast.

The vet said that her chances were slim. It was likely that pneumonia had set in. I accepted the help of antibiotic injections. On the way home, Sally’s eyes were shaking strangely (neurological?) and she cried like she was hungry.

She had a big seizure minutes after I arrived home with her. She had a few. I could not believe she was still alive after that.

Sally kept trying to stay with us, just like Anna Lee, but she passed away within 1/2 hour. I then wished that I had never gone to the vet and had let her go more gently by staying at home.

My feelings are that I wish that I had found the twin kid goats sooner, before they ever got cold outside. I wished that I had found them gone already. I wished that I had never gotten any goats. I wished that I did not have any pets. I wished that I had never gotten attached to any pet and, for that matter, any person.

I remembered what I wrote earlier, the quote that I had actually agreed with “Death makes life more important”. Thinking of that again sparked an older memory.

I moved to the city (Atlanta, GA) at 18 years old, after having grown up in the blue collar suburbs of Burlington County, NJ. It occurred to me, when I had lived there a while, that there was a poignant difference between urban living and where I had spent my childhood. There was so much more life happening. It was faster and there was more of it, all at once.

Now I am 48 years old. And we have a farmette. It actually reminds me of the city. In an average household, there is more focus on individual pets, since the number of them is lower. Our pets are also livestock, which are used as sources of food (eggs and milk), sales (chicks and an occasional goat kid) and labor (watch dogs, cart pony, brush clearing by goat power, etc.). On a farm, the population of animals and related activities is greater. The pace of life here is sometimes fast. Plants and farm animals and wildlife are all around us growing, and helping us to grow.

I enjoy this life – overall, but it can be so extreme. It is such a thrill to watch an egg hatch or to experience the birth of a kid goat. It is heart-wrenching watching a young animal die. You learn a lot from it – quite a lot.

Again, I cry. But, I am glad to have known the little goat kids. I hope that they felt loved and taken care of. I hope that my decisions did not cause too much suffering.

Today is Saturday, May 5, 2012 – Cinco de Mayo

Click the following link for good advise on the care of newborn goats.

Today is Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lastly, there are two things that I would add to preemie goat care. The next time we have goat kids, I will steal a bit of colostrum from the mother right after they are born and freeze it for future use. This is produced the first few days by the nanny goat (and other mammals) providing immunity to diseases/infections. Secondly, I will use inject-able antibiotic (available at most farm supply stores) at the first signs of stress in a newborn kid. It certainly would not hurt as a short-term treatment, even if infection is not the issue.

Anna Lee and Sally were beloved babies. I truly hope that there is a heaven, even though my beliefs don’t really work that way. And, maybe, I will see them there – that is if I am worthy and, if I am lucky.

Posted on May 7, 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“RESERVED with $60.00 deposit” by Jessica C.
1. Jessica C.
2. Chelsea F.
3. Laura B.

We’ve been calling her “Little Jeffrey”. It does not make any sense since she is a girl. But, pygmy doe kid #2 born March 9, 2012 is colored just like her daddy, Jefferey (colored creamy white with chocolate markings.). She doesn’t seem to mind it. The name is only temporary since she is up for sale.

Doe kid #2 AKA Little Jeffrey was born the second of two. She was a nice hearty 2 pounds (her sister, doe #1 AKA YoYo was 1.5 pounds at birth). At one week old they are hopping and skipping all around.

LJ’s price is $100.00. She can be reserved until she is weaned for $50.00 ($25.00 of this refundable if you change your mind). We do not expect her availability to last long, so reserving may be your best bet.

She will be ready for her new home the weekend of April 28-29, 2012. LJ will be handled a lot and exposed to children and dogs. We leave our pygmies with horns due to their size, even the boys. Our herd sire will push his harem around, but never ever attempts that with us. As soon as he was weaned – he was raised here. We did not play rough with him as a kid which helps keep the bucks tame.

Pygmy goats are great for brush clearing. They can be milked. The production level just won’t be as high or the milk quality as great as a goat bred for dairy use. Ours are also our very entertaining pets.

They need fresh water, grain or hay or brush… and a good dry shelter for the rain and cold. Ours prefer to stay outside. The shed gets use if it is wet outside or extremely cold and windy.

FYI: Goats are herd animals, so it is best to keep at least two. They will bond with a human or a dog or a horse… but other goats are their favorite above and beyond the rest.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The freelance work that I would be working on right now has been delayed a few days, so I seem to be taking the opportunity to write some blogs. It was not planned out and it is not as if I don’t have a thousand other things to do, but I am stealing a little time for myself. Writing feels good.

Everyone is fed and watered for the morning, bills are paid (for the most part) and our son got out the door to school. There are house chores to do and chicken coops to build and errands to run. And I sit here writing.

My Fall surgery helped out a lot. I am not completely pain free, but I am able to do more and more as the months march on. Being able to get some sleep has benefited me greatly. The neck pain keeping me tossing and turning to get comfortable all night long was really driving me insane.

I can use the computer and drive now as long as I pace myself. If I overdue it, I pay the price dearly with the sensitive nerves (the ones that were crushed between cervical vertebrae) retaliate as if they were yet again being compressed.

That’s more than enough on that subject. Let’s move on to more fun things on the farmette!

Waiting for Abbey – Update:

The “goats begin to bag up with milk starting about a month before kidding” rule does not necessarily apply to Abbey. She started in at the end of January and it is now March the 7th.

She has decided to be friendly again, at least for today. For the past month, she has been aloof and even though she is carrying a lot of extra weight, can out run me.

Abbey is obviously pregnant

We just purchased a surveillance camera to see who is coming down the driveway… It is presently be used not only for security, but as goat TV. It is a good way to keep an eye on Abbey as she comes down the final stretch.

Her milk bag is really full now and last night her kids positioned themselves to look like torpedoes sticking out of her sides. They are back in place today. The birth is imminent. Our original guess was two but there might even be three babies in there.

Pretty girl

I know that the minute I am not paying attention or out and about grocery shopping, Abbey’s kids will arrive.

She seems content to keep her kids on the inside for now.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Abbigail, daughter of Olivia, fathered by black and white pygmy – name unknown, is about to have kids of her own. Pygmies don’t commonly come with papers, being non-dairy type mini goats. They can have pedigrees and do produce milk, but are not really bred for any of that.

I am impatiently waiting for the birth. With my health off kilter leading to surgery this past Fall 2011, keeping track of breeding for our goats and chickens just got completely off track. So, I can only guess as to her due date.

At the end of January, Abbey began to “bag up”, meaning that her milk had started to come in. I was not even sure she was bred until this happened. This process can start about a month ahead of the birth, but it is now February 24th and nothing has happened. 

We can feel the baby(ies) kicking. Our guess is that she will have twins. Goats can have 1 to 4 kids, averaging 2 and rarely 5. Last year was a bust as our only available nanny goat Olivia, delivered about a month early to one little buck kid that never took a breath. He looked like a little rubber goat with no hair but little hooves and horn buds and all. It was sad. He is buried in the flower garden.

This is Abbey on the 21st. Her kid(s) have been hanging low, so I thought maybe they’d be here by now. No luck…

Abbey modeling her big belly.

Cute Abbey, our little pregnant doe. She looks so much like a dairy cow that we almost named her Bessy.

So, I am extra excited about Abbey’s upcoming kidding since it has been so long since we had little goats here. They are extremely cute! If there is a girl, we will keep one. The boys must go since Jeffrey is now our herd sire.

We added a dairy goat to the mix recently. She is a Nubian goat, bigger than our dogs. Her papers name her as Katie Jeanne, but we call her Beatrice or BB for short. You could not have a more cooperative, friendly goat. Apparently this comes with the breed, but she is especially awesome. BB will walk on a leash, do what you ask of her and stay right at your side if you are out in the fenced area.

Beatrice and her new pink collar

I wish that BB had horns. She was disbudded as a kid . Our pygmies did not have this done and therefore pick on her. She holds her own since she is big, but it is certainly a disadvantage. I like to keep the horns on so that they can protect themselves. We have two watch dogs outside and an electric fence, but I still worry a little about the coyotes. They wander in to scoop up poultry if they can get away with it.

She is bred to a moon-spotted buck named Picasso. Nubian goats come in lots of colors and you never know what you’ll get, although with the spots in the mix, the probability of spotted is higher. Depending on what we get from her, there may be selling or trading involved. We’ll need a Nubian sire for her. A good way to get one may be to trade a buckling for an unrelated buckling.

The big deal with BB will be the milk, which we can make into cheese, yogurt, butter and soap. She is not “freshened” right now. That means that she has given birth and is therefore producing milk. Beatrice is so easy to handle. It seems as if she will make a great milking goat. That is good since I have no idea what I am doing. I’ll figure it out. 

As with everything on the farmette, practice makes perfect, or at least manageable…

P.S. You’ll be sure to get an update when Abbey’s baby(ies) arrive!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Goats have quite a lot of horsepower for their size. We have four pygmy goats. Ours are 35-50 pounds each. One of them can make a formidable opponent in tug-of-war. When you need to move an unwilling goat on a lead, that is the game you play.

They have several jobs on the farmette, one of which is being a playful, cute pet. Goats are also foragers, and so clear brush like no weed-eater you’ve ever seen. They produce milk, which can be a great source of dairy foods for your household. Hopefully, this year will be the one that we actually try milking our goats. We have two very tame girls that should not be too much trouble to train to the milking stand.

Our little billy goat boy, Jeffrey, has turned out just as planned. He is very small, but gets his job done with his harem.

Jeffrey - Our Herd Sire

A nanny has to give birth in order to produce milk. A lot of people take the kids away and bottle feed. This way, the nanny will think of you as her kid when you are milking. Then you can share the milk with her real kids. The following pic is of Luna, who is 1/2 Nigerian dwarf and 1/2 pygmy. She should make a great milker since she is tame and friendly. Also, the Nigerian blood will make for better milk production.

Luna - Nanny #2

I had to give Luna extra attention when she was born since she was a super-runt, being half the size of her two brothers (her mother had triplets). She is my favorite due to the puppy dog-like personality that developed from the extra care.

We sell off the boys (you only need one). The sales goes into our farmette’s feed and grain money jar. Goats are a great livestock animals since they serve so many purposes. And again, they are very endearing too.

Special Goat Tip; Double up on the collar and connection when you leave them out on a lead. They are very agile, mischievous animals and it helps to have back-up security on tie-outs.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

April showers bring May flowers… and stupid jokes. Our E-April Fools shenanigans (Facebook focused) story unfolds.

Re-touched photos were posted after the initial announcement: “just went out to check the barnyard. one of our goats just gave birth to a kid with 2 heads!!! yikes! if it makes it, i will post pics…”

"Ditto" the 2-headed goat kid

The original pics were from last Spring’s twin kids. The black and white girl “Abigail” and the tan striped boy “Billy the Kid” were both fine, healthy and one-headed. I also stole an x-ray from the net after googling – animal x-ray pics.

Original Part 1

Original Part 2

Yes, it was corny. A few friends chimed in and added to this tall tale.

We ourselves are pretty gullible. I think because it involves so much trust. And our friends and family are likely to trust us. We took advantage of that and of them. For that, we are sorry. But it is hard not to giggle…

My husband made comments to Facebook as if he were sending updates through his phone while we were at the vet; making sure she had two esophaguses by taking an x-ray, that the two heads might have resulted from some unknown source of radiation, that we hoped she would make it through the day, etc.

2 headed X-ray

Piece of Original X-ray

It was a busy day of errands and what-not, but what better way to spend our spare moments on April 1st than to try to find victims of our April Foolery…


“I’m cuter than my sister Ditto (I mean April – April Fools)”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We had a new billy reserved to replace the one we sold recently (“Billy Bob”). I was not planning on picking him up yet. But, when I went to get a round bale of hay, it was weaning time. I was urged to bring him home instead of waiting until the next hay run.

"Jeffrey"

“Jeffrey” is extra small, which will make him easier to handle when the hormones start to kick in. He will also have curved horns. Our first billy had straight horns. Curved horns are a little safer since you can avoid the points more easily.

"Billy Bob" (Sold)

Another reason that we want a small breeding billy is for head size during kidding (birth). If the male goat is considerably larger than the female, her babies may be too large. One of our girls goats is very small. We especially don’t want to put her at risk.

I have heard stories of standard size billy goats breaking into the pens of pygmy or nigerian dwarf nannies. The outcome is usually death for the kid(s) and the mother during birthing.

The other male kid we have is now neutered. “Billy the Kid” is actually no longer considered a billy. He is now a wether. Billy is not only related to our Nanny (her son from this Spring), but too large to be our herd sire. He is only a few weeks older than our new boy kid. If you look at the next pic, you’ll be able to tell why Jeffrey was a good choice as a small breeder.

"Billy the Kid" and "Jeffrey"

Jeffrey will be ready to breed mid to late Fall 2010. This will give us our Spring 2011 babies and access to goat milk.

Tags: , , , , , ,