Shady Apple Goats Newsletter

JUNE 2011

News from the North Forty Farm, June 2011

June has been one of those months that has taught many lessons and given me a great appreciation for everything that I have.

Three goats gave birth to ten babies this month. Olive went into labor first and had one of those long labors on a hot 100 degree day. She gave birth to three gorgeous kids — her boy — Oliver has become our favorite. He is named after our dear friend Nancy's mother who passed away from breast cancer this year — Ellen Oliver). Oliver will go to anyone and fall asleep in your arms. He sleeps even when getting shots! Every year there is one extra special baby ... this year it is Oliver.

Buttercup went into labor a week after Olive. It was a long labor. Hot. She seemed to push and nothing was happening. Finally, in the middle of the night I helped her and she delivered a beautiful stillborn boy. The stillborn kid seemed to have held up the rest of the kids. She pushed #2 quickly and he is a huge healthy buckling. Again, her third kid she could not seem to get out even with pushing. This was her girl. I helped her to deliver a beautiful big footling breech girl. She was a stillbirth. Then, quickly came #4. A tiny little boy, but vigorous. We named him Button ("cute as a Button.") We have cried many tears over those lost kids. We thought we might lose Buttercup in the labor so are grateful to have her with us but the loss of the kids was devastating. Butter had a slow recovery with a fever and retained placenta but is doing great now. She is a great mama goat and has a huge udder that we love to milk!

Miracle went into labor one week later. We were grateful that her labor was quick. She waited for me to get home from work and then quickly began active labor. She delivered two vigorous kids — one boy and one girl. Then, she pushed out a tiny little kid. Number three. We called him Jack. Jack was slow to start and had trouble walking. Miracle rejected him and we began to bottle feed him. Nancy kept him in a basket by her bed and fed him every two hours and still we could not get his temperature up. He was gentle and sweet and not meant for this world. He died quietly in my arms one week after he was born. We buried him under the apple tree with the two others we lost this year.

People say it never gets easier to lose your babies ... you just get through it and are grateful for what you are given. As I watch these kids grow big and strong, playful and running through meadow grass as high as they are, I am grateful for the joy and health of the goats that remain with us. I am also so grateful for the wisdom of goat friends who guided us through a difficult year and for the strength of Nancy who picked up the pieces and put it all back together again. And for the love of Lisa who mourns every loss and loves me all the same...

The garden is in full swing and bountiful again this year. The bees are covering clover and lavender and bee balm and take all this nectar back to the hive. We are all enjoying the amazing honey. You can taste the earth in each bite of this honey.

The CSA has begun. The CSA members are so appreciative of what they have picked up ... and so patient as I learn to become a cheese maker (hot weather does not make happy cheese!) This month our neighbor gets his Jersey cow Sallie — and we can finally get milk from a local source. Sheep milk is in right now — selling for $24/gallon! I am going to make feta this month — using sheep, cow, and goat milk. I'm also going to try freezing sheep milk this year to see how it holds up for cheese making later in the Fall. There are those few precious months when sheep milk is available and I plan to make the best of it!

So, we are milking the girls and are so grateful for the milk they give us. Most of the kids have found loving homes and will go to their new families when they are weaned the first week of August. We added a third hive. I am making lots of cheese ... and the CORN IS IN!!! This is my favorite time of year...