I've read about it, the fact that kidding season is a total roller coaster. My understanding is that whether you're talking sheep or goats, this is the case. For me, it's goats.
My herd is still a small one; we only had three does scheduled to kid. Despite the dates calculated based on the last observed breeding, my girls' bodies were telling me their time was close, so I put then in the kidding pens a little early, just in case.
As mentioned in my last post, Snickers kicked it off for us with a beautiful set of twins. The girl was obviously the weaker of the two at birth, but she rebounded pretty quickly. Which made it all the harder when she took a turn for the worse. We did everything we could, but by midnight that night, she was gone. It seems so cruel that something so little and perfect should die.
Maybe I'm imagining it, but Snickers hasn't been herself ever since. She soaks up attention (even more than usual) and is a little indifferent to the remaining buckling - even testy at times. Forest (the buckling) is a skinny little thing, and I'm a bit concerned about him. Maybe it's just because we lost his sister. Maybe something really is off. Either way, I'll be keeping a pretty close eye on Snickers and her son.
The night the doeling died, I collapsed with exhaustion about 1 a.m. About 5 a.m., something inside me said, "Wake up!" I went out to check on the goats and heard the plaintive cries of a new baby. Cinnamon had given birth to one little one and was mid-way through the second. Baby #1 cold and weak. I ran to wake up my oldest son, who helped round up towels. We moved fast, getting babies dried off so we didn't lose another one to the weather. We were careful to do all of this in a way that let Cinnamon keep cleaning them, though. I don't ever want to interfere with the mother/baby bond.
Happily, both babies are doing well. The buckling is a little weaker, so we're keeping a close eye on him. He's also just about the cutest thing on the planet. I'm pretty much in love and doubt I'll be able to sell him. I've named him Rolo. His sister doesn't have a name because I'm fairly certain she's already sold to a friend and neighbor, so I'm trying not to get too attached. She has enough spunk to be the heroine in one of my novels, though. It's hard not to admire her pizzazz.
I have to say I'm really impressed with Cinnamon. It's her first time to have babies, but she's doing an amazing job so far.
Last night, I joked on Facebook that if Porsche, our full-sized dairy doe, wanted to wait a couple of days to give birth, that would be cool with me. When I checked her last night before bed, I knew it wouldn't happen.
She went into labor at 4 this morning. My husband heard her and tried to wake me up, but I wouldn't budge. Luckily, she didn't need me. By the time I got out there, she'd given birth to three healthy boys.
While I'm dismayed they're boys because I'd planned to retain her doelings, I'm thrilled with how beautiful and healthy they are. She cleaned them up on her own, though Adam and I did help her finish drying them so they didn't catch a chill. Babies this beautiful make me want to be a crazy goat lady and keep them all.
Here's where it's obvious Porsche is my experienced mama: when the other two young moms had something go wrong with their babies, they just frantically licked them. It was all they instinctively knew to do. They would look at me with eyes that visibly said "help me."
Porsche, on the other hand, has things well in hand. She corrals her three boys with ease and her eagle eye instantly spotted that one had a weak back leg. In response, she has started exercising him. For the first hour or so, she let him nurse whenever he wanted. Now when he wants to nurse, she faces him and backs down the length of the pen, then turns and backs the other way. He follows her like a donkey following a carrot, dragging that little leg behind. After a lap, he gets to nurse. Then they do another lap. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and it's working. Every time I check them, he is stronger.
This goat has seriously earned my respect this week. When we bought her, her previous owners told us she likes babies. I would say that not only does she like babies (all babies, not just hers), she is a phenomenal mother.
I know other farmers with much longer kidding seasons than ours. I'm not sure how they do it. I guess, like in all things, we'll work our way up to it. I'm a little sad there aren't more babies this year, but I'm not sure I would have physically withstood many more!
I can't stop laughing about the number of bucklings this year. It's a bit reminiscent of my ultrasound with my youngest. They told me he was a boy and I giggled about it for days. I'm destined to be surrounded by handsome men, I guess.
I don't mind having all boys, but when it comes to goats, the boys are hard to milk. Maybe next season we'll do better with our doeling/buckling ratio. Someone told me it depends on when the does breed, where they are in their cycle. A question for next year, I guess.
In the meantime, it's back to working on the next book for me - assuming I can force myself to stop checking on baby goats, that is.
Each of my goats has something about them that makes them my favorite, but Snickers is special. She's the family favorite. This is the goat that got on the boys' school bus last year, sat down in the front seat, and looked at the driver like, "Well, come on. What are you waiting for?" This is the goat that got herself stuck in a tree. If there is a humorous goat tale to share, odds are pretty good Snickers is involved.
I've been looking forward to kidding season since I first got goats - that incredible time of year when it would be my goats having babies. We had one baby last fall (an oops - we hadn't meant to breed her yet but she and Fernando were very determined young lovers), and he's already moved on to his new farm. So my countdown to kidding season has been somewhat reminiscent of a kid counting down to her birthday.
And yesterday, it finally arrived. Happily, it was Snickers to usher in my very first kidding season with beautiful twins. The oldest was a buckling who looks a whole lot like the first buckling born on the place. (Which is good, because I cried for days when I sold him.) The second baby was a gorgeous blue-eyed doeling. She's so beautiful she's already sparked a debate. A friend really wants to buy her; my sons really want to keep her. She technically belongs to my oldest son, so we'll see if the businessman or the softy in him wins out. I'm hoping that by the time our short little kidding season is over, there will be plenty of healthy babies for everyone to love.
Today, for whatever reason, my oldest son decided to take the Szondi personality test, which asks participants to look at a series of faces and pick the most pleasant and unpleasant from the bunch. When it told him he had Schizophrenic tendencies and that he was arrogant, he decided the test was bunk.
So then I decided to take the test, just for giggles. It told me I was merciful, charitable and had a sense of justice. I decided the test was pretty spot on.
So then it occurs to Dylan that maybe he just didn't take the test right, so he retakes it. The second go-round tells him that he's rigid and unfriendly.
By now, my husband is in the game and takes the test himself. It tells him he's cheerful and optimistic, and that he both makes and loses money easily. Pretty accurate.
Highly irritated, Dylan takes the test a third time. Its results nearly send him into madness.
"Well, it finally says I'm a nice guy," he tells me.
"That's great, honey." I guess it's time to stop laughing at my son's expense.
"It also says I'm a cross dresser."
Maybe not. Maybe it's time to giggle so hard my sides hurt.
In theory, I should be a lot further along with the book I'm working on. I want to be further along. I have the whole thing mapped out in my brain.
Despite this, I find myself getting easily distracted with pretty much anything. Some of the distractions are irritating but to be expected (like my goats figuring out where the fence was weakest and going for a walkabout), some of the distractions are dangerous to my waistline (like the delectable peanut butter cookies I made last night), and some are just another example of me having the attention span of a gnat (like me sending my husband links to properties in Ecuador, just in case we ever decide to move there).
One of my colleagues at Booktrope posted a great article on Facebook the other day, Twelve quotes from authors to remember when starting your first book. I'd venture to say that they're quotes all writers should remind themselves of. One in particular that I needed to hear was this:
People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it." - Harlan Ellison
Keeping that in mind, and given that I am so stupidly excited to share my next book with someone other than my dog, I'm going to try to spend a little less time house hunting in Ecuador and a little more time getting that next book out the door. The goats, well, goats just have no appreciation for the literary process, so wish me luck where they're concerned.
Every now and then, my animals stop acting like little beasties and they're just really cute. Today's one of those days, so I decided to share their cuteness with you. I apologize for the quality of the pictures, though. I can't seem to actually find both my good camera and the cord for it on the same day. I can find one or the other lately, but not both.
Skittlez saying hi. He's my son Dylan's Nigerian Dwarf buckling - the "z" at the end of the name is a teenage boy's way of making the name Skittles sound manlier.
This little guy is the softest and sweetest goat I've ever met. If I pick him up, he gives me kisses on my chin. Or he's trying to eat me alive. I'm telling myself they're kisses.
If you are anywhere near the baby goat pen, then you have to beware of the three-headed beast that will greet you. All three kids stick their head through wanting attention. Anna, the little boer who's not entirely in the shot, has taken to biting you in hopes of finding a bottle you might have hidden on your person. That girl is an eating machine.
Twix, the brown doeling on the right, is also Dylan's. She's half Toggenburg/half Nigerian Dwarf, and she's got the gentlest, most graceful nature I've ever seen in a goat.
So basically, the two sweet goats in the pen belong to Dylan. The terror is mine.
You'll never be able to convince me that George and Po aren't posing for me in this one. The first shot of them was a typical "surprise" shot - one was blinking, one was licking his lips. Once they realized I had my camera, they did this. I just want to hug them.
Notice how wide the light brown goat is... Poor Cinnamon still has a month to go in her pregnancy and she's as big around as the does who are due in two weeks.
When we got Cinnamon, she came with the light tan wether. I got both of them for the price of him because her owner said she was too wild to do anything with. I thought she was a pretty little thing, so I decided to give it a shot.
She's now my favorite goat (don't tell the others). She's still the most skittish of the herd, but she lets me pet her and even seeks me out. I have does whose kids will be worth more, but she's the one I'm counting down for. I can't wait to meet her babies!
This isn't cute, but I had to include it because look at that sky. This right here is one of my favorite things in life: looking out over my field to see my animals happily grazing under a bright blue sky.
While I'm hard at work on the next novel (which I'm stupidly excited about), there are some great deals on some of my earlier novels happening for a limited time!
Suddenly a Spy is one of the featured deals on BookBub today. If you haven't read it yet, you can snag it for only $0.99 if you act fast.
Fool's Game, my latest release, is also $0.99 on Amazon. I have no idea how much longer that will last, so grab it quick!
Throwaway is still free on Amazon and iTunes - please tell everyone you know and maybe even a few random strangers.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of my wonderful readers for your support. I hope you have a fantastic day!
Sometimes I forget how fast paced our world as become. Living in our little cabin has reminded me things used to take longer - there was actually a time in this world when everything wasn't instantly available.
Since I get twitchy if a webpage takes more than a millisecond to load, this has been an exercise in patience for me.
Topping the list of patience-building activities is cooking. For as long as we're in the temporary cabin, I don't have a "real" kitchen. Most of my cooking is done on a griddle or a wood cook stove. The griddle, I love. It takes me back to my days as a short-order cook, which is actually a good thing. I get a dorkish amount of joy from cooking on a griddle.
The wood stove has its charms, but it's also painfully slow. I now understand why there was something cooking over the fire all day in those old westerns. My poor kids have had quite a few meals at eight o'clock at night because I forgot dinner would take forever and a day to make. I'm getting better, though. I'm learning to view it as more of an old-fashioned slow cooker.
I used to laugh that patience was a virtue I did not possess. I'm not laughing anymore because God has apparently decided it's time to teach me some. My stomach has always been a pretty good way to get my attention.
And yes, yes I am really hungry and staring at a pot of water that refuses to boil. Why do you ask?
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.