Monthly Archives: March 2015

Baby Goat Video

We posted some cute videos of Spirit to our Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mamma-Goat-Milk-Soap/466067156859616?ref=hl

You can see the twitchy “I’m tired but I have to PLAAAYYY” energy and her lovely little face.  And her first meeting with an alpaca, complete with KISSES!

Be sure to “Like” Mamma Goat Milk Soap for updates when we post pics and videos!

Sweetie’s sweet baby

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Sweetie gave us a beautiful baby girl!  We’ve named her Sweet Spirit.  Little Spirit is already following her mamma around like a champ.  I swear, I saw her learning today!  She looked from where she was to where she had just been, like she was memorizing the distance.  She jetted across some of those distances sometimes, just for practice. Sometimes, her little face looked like she was concentrating hard.

And then I saw something funny in the barn.

Baby goats sleep in a “hut” or a small cave-like thing that lets them feel safe and draft-free when they don’t feel like interacting with the world.  Some farms make really fancy huts out of 50-gallon drums with a heat-lamp hardwired into the top!  We use what we’ve got.  So, when I setup the kidding area for Sweetie, I put in a small dog crate (without the door).  I put lots of soft barn bedding on the bottom of the crate.  And I don’t especially like the type of bedding we have right now, so I grabbed a burlap feed sack, folded it up, and put it over the bedding so her tiny baby feet wouldn’t slip on loose bedding.

And we have more kids coming.  So I setup two more “huts”.  Spirit’s hut is big enough to share when the new kids grow a little.  So I put out little huts, made by cutting a 50-gallon drum in half and cutting a little doorway in the side.  One has an open top, so I put a big bowl on it to close off the top.  That makes it short inside, but it’s strong enough for bigger kids to climb on without crushing it.  I put down soft bedding, and I decided that the burlap sack had been a success, so I took it out of Spirit’s hut and put it in the baby hut.  Spirit is walking just fine on loose bedding now, so I thought this would be fine.

🙁

And I put the two huts side-by-side while I worked.  And Spirit had a big, active day with her mamma.  When she started twitching, I took her back to the barn.  Twitching means their body is saying “sleep!” and their brain is saying “No! There’s so much more to do and see and explore and play and learn!”  They stomp their little feet to keep themselves awake, and twitch like little life-junkies.  So I take them to the barn for a nap when they’re twitchy.

Spirit walked to where her hut belongs.  But the new hut was there.  It’s a BABY hut.  Spirit walked in like she always does, but found it was shorter than she remembered.  She sniffed, backed out and looked around, as if she were checking her coordinates.  Convinced she had the right place, she got down on her belly and tried to wiggle into the baby hut.  It was still very short.  I imagine she felt like Alice in Wonderland!

She sniffed some more, decided it was the right spot, and collapsed for an overdue nap – with her butt halfway out of the hut.  I lifted the cover to make it taller, but she didn’t go the rest of the way in.  So I felt bad for her, and picked her up and put her in her own hut – the dog crate with soft bedding.

She poked her head out and looked around at where she was.  And the she sniffed the crate all over.  Something was off.  She sniffed and sniffed.  And she twitched and twitched.  And she kicked the bedding into a pile and flopped down for a nap.  But she kept twitching.  Her body was still saying “sleep!” but now her brain was saying “this isn’t right!!”   She started to get up twice.  It was fascinating to watch her!

I felt bad for her and put the burlap bag back in her hut.  When she went back in to her hut-in-the-wrong-spot, with the nice burlap bag on top of soft bedding, with plenty of room for her long legs and little body and big head with long floppy ears, she sniffed the burlap, sighed contentedly and curled up for a nap.

I know the goats sniff us.  I’ve seen them sniff our mouths to see what we’ve been eating.  But I didn’t realize just how much they use scent to take snapshots of their world!

All my goats are crazy

Pregnancy is kind of neat in goats.  Nothing much happens in the first 4 months.  The last month is when all the magic happens.  The babies don’t grow much at all until the last month.  Moms don’t even need much nutrition until the last month.  The first 4 months are just hype.  You know there’s babies in there – but they’re just seeds, waiting for springtime.  That fifth month, watch out!

Meg has been huge for several weeks.  Even though the babies just, really, started to grow last week.  She has also been hungry.  Really hungry.  Like, I am careful not to trip in the goat stall, because I just know she’d be all like, “Dinner is late.  Let’s eat Tracy!”  Seriously.  I check her weight all the time (in self-defense).  She’s a good weight.  But she acts like she could eat a horse.  “FEED ME!!!”  She’s gone nuts.

She sleeps under the hay feeder, so she can eat without getting up.  I open the barn in the morning, and all the normal goats leap up and run to me.  Meg lays there under the hay, waiting for me to actually serve breakfast before she wastes energy on rising to her feet.  Eventually, she gets up.  She eats.  All she can eat.  And then she goes outside, lays down, and grunts.  She is sooo barely pregnant.  If she is grunting with martyrdom now – oh, she’s going to be a drama queen as those kids grow.

I noticed this afternoon that she was covered in hay pieces.  All over her back.  I went to brush them off, and she got up and walked away in a bit of a huff.  And laid down, twisted her head around, and ate the hay off her back.  “I was SAVING that!”

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She’s a lovey goat.  Not anymore.  Now she hates me.  I try to get close to run a simple test (swipe a thingy under her while she pees) and she runs away like I’m the devil.  She used to love me.  I’m not allowed within 10 feet of her.  Unless she wants something, like a nice head scratch.  But she’ll let me know when I’m allowed near her.

Ice is our least-friendly goat.  But I told her today that she’d better have a white baby, so we can name it Caspar the Friendly Goat.  All of a sudden, Ice likes me.  Lately, she comes up to me, flashing her Baby Blues, acting like “Hey, old buddy old pal!”  Today, she was lolling around lazily – so hard she rolled over onto her back like a turtle.  This is how friendly she is: Goats should not lay on their backs.  I know this.  I walked over to her, perfectly capable of rolling her over, but I didn’t want to upset her by, you know, touching her.  So I asked her, “Ice, is this the position you WANT to be in?”

I guess not.  She rolled over again.  She was being so weird, I stopped what I was doing and followed her at a respectful distance.  She laid down.  I sat 10′ away.  She got up, turned around, faced me, laid back down.  And flashed the Baby Blues at me.

She came to the milk room yesterday, while I was milking Abbey.  I looked up, and Ice was leaning through the gate, big blue eyes wide and hopeful.  Can I come in?  I scowled at her.  “You can come in if you want to be milked.”  All day today, she was looking at her udder, like “damn you, udder, make milk!”

Well, quite frankly, that worried me.  So I brought her onto the milk stand for a look-see.  She seems fine and normal.  I gave her the icky mineral supplement, just in case.  That should be good for at least a week of Ice hating me again.  She let me lead her out of the milk room like the polite, friendly goat that SHE HAS NEVER BEEN.  And she came back a little while later and flashed the baby blues at me again.  “No way.”  She collapsed in a heap just outside the gate.  I WILL give in to the blue eyes.  She just knows it.

Sweetie – I swear, she might not even be pregnant  Well, she decided, if Meg is going to grunt her way through pregnancy, so is Sweetie.  She grunts without conviction.  But she puts up a good show.  “Uh.”  …. “Uh.”

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And, today, Mini joined in.  She’s hardly even pregnant.  “Uh. …. Uh.” 7 weeks to go, and she’s going to out-drama-queen them all.

Butters has become my little rock of sanity.  While all the girls go crazy, Butters remains a pleasant, lazy little butterball of love.  I sit down in the barn, and he runs up and pushes and shoves and squeezes and contorts until he’s in my lap.  Same as always.  I love Butters.

And then Maggie – in heat – runs up and head-butts him.  “My human!”  And runs away.  I scold her.  She comes back.  Touches the back of my head.  Tried to climb in my lap.  Runs away.  Lisa sneaks in while Maggie has me distracted.  Touches my back.  Runs away.  “Hi!  Gotta run!”

At one point while I was trying to figure out what grave disease might make Ice friendly, I sat down (a respectful distance from Ice) to observe her, and felt things on my back.  4 young goats were surrounding me from behind, touching me lightly, while Butters slipped into my lap.  Bart began nibbling the back of my shirt.  I looked down at Butters, and he nibbled my nose.  My last sane goat, and he’s still a nibbly-nibblet.  Still my baby lap-goat.  I won’t say he’s my favorite, but I sure do enjoy him.  Butters and Maggie are my best buddies.  I love them all, even when certain goats are acting a little harder to love.  And I appreciate the ones who act so easy to love, too.

 

I think my goats are spoiling me

I have been frustrated that Mocha isn’t cooperative the last couple days.  I call her, and she doesn’t come to me.  I go to get her, and she runs away.  I’m exasperated with her.

And it hit me tonight – I did Preventive Maintenance Service (PMS) on her over the weekend.  Toenail clipping, udder trimming, nutritional supplements – the works.  And some farms have mentioned to me that a goat I was going to see on their farm was acting up after shots or hoof trimming.  They say it casually, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.  Some little part of my brain accepts this without question.  Without thinking about it.

Duh.  Mocha’s being squirrelly because of the PMS.  Our goats don’t usually do that.  I mean, yeah, Fudge is crazy.  I expect her to be weird.  But that’s her personality.  Mocha has a sweet personality.  She loves attention and affection.  And suddenly she doesn’t.

I realized this, standing in the middle of the barn, and looked down at three other goats who also had PMS this weekend, leaning in for pets, being their normal lovey selves.  Even Fudge wasn’t crazier than normal.  Sweetie hardly knows us, but she loves getting petted, even after the weekend of maintenance work.

As I closed up for the night, Maggie tried to sneak through the milk gate, one last try to get back in, even after completely flipping out about hoof trimming over the weekend.

Ice is our worst goat.  She’s FINALLY coming around a little.  She looks completely confused.  She looks at me with big hopeful eyes, like maybe I’ll give her a cookie and a pet.  I trimmed her hooves over the weekend, plenty of drama, but not as bad as Maggie.  When I sent her back to the barn, she paused on the milk stand, picked up each foot, one at a time, put them down, and then looked at them.  Phil thought she looked happy with her “new shoes.”  A look of wonder.  “Huh.  So, humans, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can serve a useful purpose!”

I don’t know why some goats get over maintenance so quickly, and others take it as a personal affront.  Maggie really flipped out, but she’s still trying to get back in for more milk stand time.  When a goat gets all, “don’t touch me!” I squat down nearby and call them over.  They know I can’t chase very well if I’m squatted down.  They usually come over and let me make up with them.  Mocha did come over, but she didn’t enjoy it very much.  So I’ll just let her get over it.  The other goats are happy to take Mocha’s turn at getting petted.

Mistaken identity

We name our goats.  I want them to know who I’m yelling at when they misbehave.  The ones who didn’t have names when we bought them, well, they had to learn their names.  So we’d walk through the barnyard, petting each goat as we passed, saying her name.

And they spoiled me.  I call them by name, and they come.  Usually.  The other night, Phil called Meg, and she looked up, but stood where she was.  “Meg.”  She looked thoughtful.  “Meg!”  Nothing.  “Meg, come here!”  She was thinking about it.  She understood that he wanted her to come to him, she just wasn’t sure if SHE wanted to.  After a little thought, she decided, what the heck, she’d humor the human.

That’s what it means to call a goat by name.  It’s not like a dog, where they’re all slobbery-goo-goo to please you.  Most of the time, they come when we call.  Sometimes, they’ve staked out a nice spot at the hay feeder and don’t want to give it up.  A lot of times, they’re lazy.  “But you’re all the way over there!  Can’t you come here?”

But when we call them to the milk stand, we get pretty good response.  Actually, I have to guard the door, because 5 other goats try to slip through.

The other day, I trimmed Maggie’s hooves (it’s like cutting their toenails), and she flipped out.  Hoof trimming is kind of weird for them, but it’s not bad, it’s not painful, it’s simply a strange experience for a goat.  But Maggie flipped out.  Screaming and thrashing and acting like I was killing her.  So I stopped and sent her on her way.  I thought I had ruined her.  I had given her such a terrible experience on the milk stand, I would NEVER get her onto the milk stand voluntarily again.

Naw.  By evening chores, she was trying to sneak through while I held the door for Abbey.  There is some magical pull to the milk stand.  Even if they have the same food in the barn, they want to come to the milk stand.  I think it’s kind of like backstage for goats.  It’s the place the special goats get to hang out.  And I play right into that belief.  I fawn over the goats on my milk stand.  “Oh, you’re such a Milking Queen!”  “I love you!”  Or the goat will do some totally minimal thing, but, hey, she’s a goat and they don’t HAVE to do anything for me, so I thank her profusely.  I hug them and pet them and try to make things pleasant.  And the other goats watch and think “Someday, when I grow up, I’m going to be a star, too.”

But Meg has – an identity disorder, or maybe just a milk stand addiction.  Every time I call a goat to the milk stand, if she doesn’t come, Meg runs to the gate.  “I’m here!”  “But, Meg, I wasn’t calling you.”  And she stares at me like “I’m not Meg, I’m Hannah, and I’m here, so let me in.”  Meg is an imposter.  She needs to live on one of those farms that doesn’t name their goats.  That would be a luxury lifestyle for her.  Getting 3 turns because no one recognizes her.  But here, she just always hears “You’re NOT Cinnamon!”  And she replies by leaning on the gate so I can’t open it to go get Cinnamon.

It’s not just the milk stand, either.  If we’re out on a pasture walk, and I call another goat, if she doesn’t trot right over, Meg does.  Or Meg will “Mah” in reply when I call someone.  It’s like she needs as much attention as 3 goats, but she’s not going to fawn over me like the sycophant goats do.  Let Sweetie and Abbey and Butters and Maggie follow me around like puppy dogs.  Meg has a better plan.

And then Meg kind of got her wish.  Kit grew up with almost the same coloring as Meg.  Phil is always yelling at Meg “Kit, cut that out!” or telling Kit “Good girl, Meg!”  And I’ll whisper to Phil “that’s actually Kit.”  He looks confused for a moment, and then he brightens and repeats his memory technique “Oh, right, Meg has the white spot on the left, and Kit has it on the right.”  They don’t look that much alike, aside from coloring, but they both always have their heads stuffed in a feeder, so we identify them by white spots or hair length.  But poor Meg.  Kit almost never gets a backstage pass.  And Kit caught on – if I’m playing doorman, she stands by the door, ready to sidle through the velvet rope with a mild sneer at the common goats left outside.  I open the gate, and Kit looks up, hopeful and excited.  “Cinnamon!  Cinnamon!”  And Kit looks crestfallen, while Meg strides up to the gate like an A-lister.  “I’m here!”