It’s been a year now that we have been in our home. It still feels new after twelve months, having lived in our previous house for seventeen years, but we have fully settled in. We have named our place ‘Heather Hill’.
We have seen each season now. We moved in during wildflower season and watched the green turn to the dry beige grass of summer. The creek that flowed in the spring dried up during the summer, but came back with the autumn rains. In August we picked wild blackberries. We got snow in the winter as we had hoped, which blanketed the property in a beauty that we could not have anticipated. We smell the pine trees. That is, when we can breathe. The beauty of the area in which we live still takes our breath away.
In December, we added two new family members, Gypsy and Bluebell, both female Nigerian Dwarf goats. Bluebell had been bred a few weeks earlier, but we would not know if the breeding was successful for several months.
As the days grew longer at the end of March, something else was growing too. We noticed Blue’s expanding girth and udder. It was a sign that babies were on the way!
Her due date was Thursday, April 27th, a date I needed to be in the Bay Area for an important doctor appointment with my new oncologist. Luckily for me, on Wednesday afternoon the 26th, she became restless and appeared ready to bring her new little ones into the world. I began watching her at 4:30. By 5:30, she was pushing.
As I expected, the first baby began to emerge inside a sac as if in a sausage casing. Howard likened it to the tube he had used as a drive up teller to receive deposits from customers inside their cars. As the new little being struggled, I helped Blue tear the membrane apart, awaiting the first precious breaths.
The firstborn was a girl, or doeling, colored just like her mom. A few minutes later, a tan boy, a ‘buckling’, appeared, with a white spot on his head. Shortly after, another doeling was born, tan with a white ring encircling her body. By 6:00 pm, she was all done. Our temporary names were Blackie, Spot and Ringer.
Unlike puppies and kittens, baby goats, or ‘kids’, are born with eyes open and the ability to stand within minutes of birth. I have seen why they need to stand, as the mama goat does not lay down and allow them to nurse at leisure. They compete for the two available teats and grab on forcefully in the limited time Bluebell has patience for feeding. It seems to be a minute here and there and then she walks away!
After watching the newborns for a while, we realized ‘Blackie’ was unable to stand. Her right foreleg appeared to be stuck in a bent position and we were unable to dislodge it. A call to the vet sent us to Tractor Supply for a needle and syringe, and to our goat mentor’s house for a medication to give by injection. A selenium deficiency was suspected, but it was later determined that this was not the case. It appears to be a birth defect of some kind. Perhaps being crammed in the womb with two other babies had caused it. Fortunately, she learned to stand within a day of her birth. Several days and numerous phone calls later, it was determined the next course of action will be a consult with the large animal veterinarians at UC Davis. We have an appointment coming up on May 23rd. She is getting stronger each day, only lagging behind the other kids in development by a day or two.
The babies now have real names. Our little ‘hopalong’ who now gets around quite well on three legs, is named ‘Cassidy’. The buck is called ‘Cyrus’ and little Ringer is ‘Cecelia’ or CC.
We were prepared for cute, but we are on cuteness overload. There is cute, really cute and super cute. And then there is ‘stinkin’ cute’. Bingo! Baby goat videos don’t lie. Several times a day, I have to stop whatever else I am doing and hike out to see the goat family.
Gypsy is a good auntie for the kids and gets along well with them and Bluebell. We have started letting them free range to eat the growing greenery, the product of this last wonderful rainy winter. Their silly antics make me laugh and force me to let go of anything negative that could possibly be on my mind. I’ve had some stressful moments lately and this little family has been just what the doctor ordered!
The kids with Aunt Gypsy
We think we may keep all of them. Howard loves the idea of these little automatic lawn mowers and I can say the idea of never having to say goodbye to any of them suits me fine. We had originally planned to start learning the fine art of goat milking by now, but life has sort of gotten in the way temporarily. ( We have a son who is keeping us very busy this month with major life events!) Fortunately, there is still time to master the skill.
The landscapers at work on the front lawn
Stay tuned for more adventures from Heather Hill. I’m sure there will be many!