Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Snow days, babies and jamborees... what a week!

For some reason the last week has felt rather overwhelming and therefore I am behind in some basic tasks that need to be done. Perhaps it was because Rachel had exams and her English Literacy Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) which is required in New Brunswick - I suppose because we are bilingual  they want to make sure that not only have the students grasped French, but GASP they have also managed to learn their own language - English! Most students write this in Grade 9 and if they don't pass it they get another opportunity in Grade 11. Of course we weren't here for Grade 9 and Rachel had to take the 3 part exam during the last week along with her other exams. Add two snow days and classes/exams being moved around and voila - chaos! Fortunately it is now done! Today high school students were to return to school and we had ANOTHER snow day!
Oh well, winter in New Brunswick.
Simba about 2 hours old
I watch the weather reports avidly each day. What's the temperature? How are my animals? Can we travel? Will school be open? Can I make it to the farm market? Well, last week there was a storm brewing for Friday and that impacted the farm market plus the school had pre-advised possible closures - so I spent Thursday morning making all my breads for market early and getting a list of tasks together to head to town. I decided if I couldn't get to town Friday then we could go on Thursday! (I am getting smarter at this whole rural thing!)

On top of all this, I had a mama goat who by my calculations was due on Saturday January 28th. I took pictures of her body and how she was progressing gestationally and sent them off to my goat whisperers, experts in the field of Canadian Goats. Of course the more experts that enter a conversation the more (and varying) advice you start to get! What seemed consistent is that my girl was not due to have her baby(s) for about another week or two. I definitely have leaned toward the advice of the Crazy Goat Lady - Bonnie and the Tiny Goat Lady - Karin - thank you both! So, I developed a baby goat  pool based on the suggestion of my reflexologist, Tracy (who I now learn just wanted to win the free bread and eggs being offered!) (Winner Carolyn!)

I went to bed Friday night, not expecting anything to happen Saturday other than attending the community jamboree that was planned for the afternoon. So, on January 28th I stayed in bed, cuddling under the covers since it was about -15c outside. Len went out around 8:30am to check on the livestock and feed the dog his daily meal - I was surprised when Len came quickly back inside with the news - we had babies in the barn! 

Mike's Hard Lemonade time!
Since these were Freya's first babies, she showed no pre-natal labour signs that I had been watching for and she did it all on her own. (Nature is truly a miracle!) The first baby, a doe was still born, eyes closed. The second baby, was mewling, moving around and looking for food. He was so tiny and had long jittery legs, he looked so weak, pushing up on his hind legs, forelegs folded beneath him. I had been advised that the colostrum in the milk was necessary and he should have at least 4 good feeds within his first 24 hours. Since we didn't know if mom would accept her babies, I prepared by purchaseing from the feed store - bovine colostrum for lambs and goats. I ran into the house, made a measuring cup with enough for the first day and tried to put the formula into a water bottle with a lambing nipple. Nope, no way that was going to fit and the bottle kept caving in. Now what? Yay! Mikes Hard Lemonade! (No just the bottle! I figure with the alcohol in the bottle and a good rinse it was sterile right?) 

While I made the formula, Len disposed of the afterbirth and the doe - into the forest, the circle of life, from the earth, back to the earth. I had an old towel to  rub down the little guy and make a bed for him. I cuddled him, mewling away and offered him the bottle. I remembered how the hospital nurses showed me to open a baby's mouth and force the bottle in but this guy was having none of it! He only wanted his mama and she was still a little freaked out about giving birth. (Seriously, we all have nine months to plan, talk to people, imagine a baby... and she wakes up with cramps one morning and has some live creatures fall out of her butt? I would be freaked out too!)  

We decided to leave them be for awhile and head into the house to make a few calls - to the experienced goat people I know. I called Freya's previous owners, MaryEllen and Keith, who offered me advice, a heat bulb and to come help put the baby on the teat if we had trouble. Len, Jessica and I headed back to the barn and we had to be a little rough - just to get things started. Len had to get Freya, hold her down on her side, I had to grab the baby, force his mouth open, push the teat in and make him drink. (Again, very reminiscent of one of my babies in the hospital, who needed some extra support to get going.) Fortunately we only had to do this for two feedings and then mama and baby both got on board! 

Saturday afternoon there was a Jamboree at the community centre. A good old country music, down home, honky tonk, a little gospel, sometimes hill billy and rock a billy musical day - overall a great way to spend a freezing afternoon with good company, fun music and some corn chowder, chili, beans and biscuits for dinner! Gib, the local president had suggested that Jess and her friend Jamie might want to sing since they do sometimes at church and the talent shows at school - but they said no. They said no, that is until the second band, got up and sang "Soul Sister" they were then motivated to sing their personal hit "Jar of Hearts" by Cristina Perry. They headed off to the bathroom, played part of their tune on the cell phone to get them started and with many giggles, nervous legs and anxiety they came back to wait their turn. Of course the band did NOT know the song so they sang A Capella and it was BEAUTIFUL! They received the loudest applause of the day and were invited by the band to practice with them to do a few numbers at Field Days this August! (I am a proud mama!)

The first 24 hours of little Simba's life (that is what we named our baby goat - soon to be a wether - castrated or sold off as a  buck. ) My main concern now that I could see he was feeding was to get those front legs up. So I spent a lot of time with him on Sunday, stretching his legs, massaging them, standing him up and nudging him to join his mama. I am happy to say he is now walking, getting the teat on his own, following mama around the barn and surviving in the -24C weather!
Simba - 3 days old - walking, strong and feeding!
I must say attending 4-H Sunday afternoon I was feeling like quite the farm girl! I even picked The Horse Whisperer as my Sunday night movie - Yup, it was an amazing week! (Oh and the cat, Mr. Finnegan, has VERY much enjoyed the colostrum formula!)

Another success - down home, on the farm!

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