My first thought was, oh my goodness this can't really be happening. My second thought was, seriously? Aries had a baby? She never got so big that I was even convinced she was pregnant and yet this thing is half her size!! Whoa!! My third thought was, O Lord I haven't a clue how to care for a baby goat. How do I make sure it doesn't die? And then I got really sad/mad that I had missed the birth. I really wanted to see it, and for the kids to see it. I kept thinking how educational it was going to be. As I looked around the barn, I saw the placenta laying in some hay and watched Aries just doing her momma thing and I was in awe of the innate mother instinct God gave even to animals. Aries gave birth all by herself, needing no help from me at all, and started nurturing and nourishing her child without any human assistance either. I spent the day pretty much in awe of the whole process. I just stood back and watched a young goat turn into a momma. It was pretty awesome. We named the baby doe Willow.
Sunday morning, I went out to feed the goats again, and much to my surprise, April had also given birth in the night. She had TWIN GIRLS!!! We named them Traveler and Glory.
Once again I missed it, but once again, April seemed to know what she was doing. I noticed right off that Traveler was bigger than Glory, and was more aggressive and skillful at getting his mother's milk, so we had to do a little intervention to get April still enough with both twins to settle into the nursing routine. For two nights we kept the three of them in the mud room, where it was warmer and where she couldn't walk away from her babies who were trying to nurse. At first Glory was wobbly on the legs and skinny and weak, so we milked out her momma's colostrum and gave her syringes of it along with some vitamins to pump her up. Sam woke up at 4 a.m. one of those mornings so I took him out with me to check on the sweet babies. We were watching the babies, so dependent on their momma for nourishment and comfort and warmth, and I thanked God for the amazing job of motherhood. It was sweet watching the process with my baby boy in the wee small hours of the morning. :)
It has been such a cool picture to me of the power and importance of motherhood. Babies really do innately need their mommas. I have loved watching these baby goats thrive and grow on their momma's milk alone. I've thought a lot too about being a child of God and needing my Abba Father.
It has been fun watching the children get out and play with the goats:
We have this one hen, Petunia, who loves to hang out by the goat pen. She and Glory just stare at each other in wonder. :)
Since we kept thinking we had another month before the goats would give birth, we thought we had plenty of time to "figure out" how to milk the goats twice a day. Alas, this week we have had to crash course ourselves straight into action. It has been a doozy of a week trying to get it all sorted out. Farm chores were taking about 15 minutes twice a day. Now they take closer to 45 minutes twice a day and are much more physically and mentally exhausting. April and Aries both HATE being led away from their babies to the milking stand, so they fight it all the way there and all the way back, then they kick and fidget and try to get away the entire time they are being milked. Supposedly they will get used to it with time but this first week has been difficult to say the least. I will say that I have gained a new level of respect and admiration for my Allie, who has been my partner in the early morning hours. One morning April actually broke the chain around her neck and ran free out into the field. Allie caught her, leashed her up again, and brought her back to the milking stand. She is pretty amazing.
Brian left for an overnight men's conference on Friday/ Saturday. About midday on Friday, Rosemary came down the stairs with big, sharp pinking shears she had gotten out of the sewing stuff. She was using both hands to open and close them over and over. As she neared me, I reached out to take them away from her and my thumb got stuck right in the line of fire. Those scissors cut right through my thumb. I thought she had cut my thumb OFF! It took nearly an hour and lots of ice, paper towels and prayers for the bleeding to stop. I know this doesn't look too bad two days later, but believe me it was bad. And on my right hand, too. My milking hand. Yep.
Friday night I put the kids in bed at 7 p.m. and said a prayer for uninterrupted sleep. I needed it in the worst way. When I took off my muddy boots, I noticed how swollen and blue my feet were.
My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep were that we needed a fun Saturday. We had been doing pretty nonstop chores and school and cleaning, and we were tired. We needed some mindless fun. I was completely convinced by milking time Saturday morning, when Aries kicked a whole jar of milk out onto the barn floor and Sam spilled orange juice all over the library books. Yep. We needed to get out of the house. So the agenda was: Dunkin Donuts for breakfast; Huntsville Public Library to pick out some great new books; Earth Touch greenhouse to remind ourselves of all the beautiful, colorful plants growing even in the middle of the cold, harsh winter; Lowe Mill Artist Market to delight ourselves in the local arts and crafts; and Gigi's Cupcakes to take home and enjoy in the afternoon. Extra sprinkles, please. I'd say it was a much-needed reprieve for all of us. By the time we got home, we were missing the animals and glad to be back home. The outing was good for our souls. We came home with some beautiful plants:
I took some 30.5 week shots of The Bethany Belly over the weekend, and laughed at the fact that in one there is a crying baby reaching for me, and in another there is a pile of dirty laundry on the floor. This is real life! And it's nice to sit back and laugh at it once in awhile. :) I heard a quote once that life is like a plate of spaghetti: it's still delicious even when it's all tangled up. :) May as well enjoy!