Are You My Mother?

Have you ever read the book, Are You My Mother? It’s about a mother bird who leaves her little egg in the nest, and when she returns the baby had hatched and went out looking for his mother. He asked all kinds of different creatures, Are You My Mother?” What amazes me about that story is how it really isn’t too far from reality.

Here on the farm, we had two births within one day of each other; the first one was Brigitta, who delivered a bouncing little girl named Marta. One day later, Gretl was finally inspired and she gave birth to twins, a little boy Kurt and a little girl Liesl. The only goat birth I had ever experienced was Brigitta and she was an excellent little mommy, everything you would hope for, Marta was healthy, clean, and happy. But she was like this little bird from the book, she had no idea who her mother was at first, she would attempt to lick and nurse on our noses when we held her, she would follow Gretl and Louisa around, until she heard the call of her mother, than she would immediately perk up and run to the direction of the call. So when it came time for Gretl, I thought well it would be similar to our previous experience. Now why I would think this is completely beyond me, because when have you ever seen or heard of two people’s pregnancy, delivery, and parenting style even be similar.

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Well Gretl was no Briggita, when her kids were born, she was ornery, she didn’t act like she was bonding with them at all, she wouldn’t nurse them, and when little Marta came bouncing over to check things out, she butted her clear out of the goat house. The twins snuggled up to me, they began following me around and I started to get really nervous, they had the sweetest looks on their little goat faces, almost asking are you my mother? They walked over to Brigitta with the same look, and I immediately developed a sinking feeling that she might just reject them, because maybe she isn’t the “mothering type”. So there I stood watching goats, and playing referee, Gretl didn’t want the kids next to her, but she didn’t want anyone next to her, the goat house they had all shared for months , she now claimed as her residence and if anyone tried coming in, they quickly were reminded whose house that was. So what do I do I thought? I went with instinct, I thought, maybe she doesn’t know any better, maybe she is completely exhausted she did just have twins after all. So I decided to clean up the house put in new hay for her and the babies, and give her a little food, and reprimand her every time she was aggressive to the other goats, or to the babies. Now because I did all of that all at the same time I’m not sure which one worked, but it didn’t matter because she started changing.

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I started noticing Gretl acting more motherly, after she ate a little, knew she wasn’t going to get away with being mean and had a fresh clean place to relax, she started loving on them, nursing them, and they knew suddenly she was their mother. Now the house hogging well that took a little longer to correct, the solution, put on an addition. That very afternoon, Jody, my father, and my uncle got to work and added onto the goat house, and all seemed right in Gretl’s world.

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Here we are now three weeks later, with three little kids, who are fast as lightning, brave, spunky, and quite full of themselves. They are bouncing around, jumping over one another, standing on their mothers, and getting quite steady on their feet. They play, they butt one another, and they scream if their mothers get to far from them. Louisa is serving as the “nanny” goat, she keeps everyone in line when her besties are sleeping, but really because she is still young I often think she is getting them more riled up and showing them how to get into trouble.

Here is what I have learned watching my goats. Goats are comedians, if you are having a bad day, just for a moment watch goats play. They jump sideways, they bounce, they flip about, and occasionally (when they have some fainting goat in their bloodline) they will just fall over. And if you look at them real close, it looks like they’re smiling. Sometimes when I’m having one of those days we all have, and am particularly annoyed by someone, I think to myself GOATS MAKE ME HAPPY…. You not so much!

How long is a horse pregnant for? FOREVER!

Have you ever met someone and you just knew that person was going to be in your life for the rest of your life. Whether they became a best friend, or you marry them, or you end up having them as part of your life for years and years. The relationship that you are able to sense from the moment you meet them isn’t always apparent, but when it is, you walk away from that meeting feeling like you have known that person forever. Introductions to animals can often times happen the same way. You hear people say they didn’t pick the animal or pet the pet picked them. Unless you have experienced it, it can be difficult to explain.

After we lost our horse Bull, we were all besides ourselves with sadness, he made quite the impact on all of us in a short amount of time. We cried over that horse. Those sad tears became happy tears in a very short period of time. You see the day we lost Bull I was in Georgia visiting with a lady who had decided she needed to give up her horse, she didn’t have the time she felt the horse needed and after talking with friends of friends, she was given Jody and I’s number. Before committing to anything, I wanted to meet the horse and her of course, and see if there was anything there. Well upon introduction to Ms. Scarlett, that feeling I described above how sometimes you just know, was the feeling that came over me. Scarlett would be an amazing addition to the farm, and the feeling was mutual we immediately bonded. Scarlett didn’t come home that particular evening but arrangements were made to bring her home.

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Upon my return though that evening as I entered the barn, and was struck with the visual of Bull being gone, a friend that was visiting noticed, AJ had what they call“bagged up” meaning you could see her milk bag, which usually is a sign of pregnancy. Now this was a wild thought to us, because first of all we did not have a stallion anywhere close to her since arriving, which would mean she would have been bred before we even got her. We were in disbelief and were trying to put all the pieces together.  So we decided it was time to call Dr. Jessica back to the farm, now remember 24 hours previously she had been her to put down our horse. Now she was being called to confirm a pregnancy. What a difference a day makes, huh? Well let’s just say the milk bag never lies. Miss AJ (Angelina Jolie) was definitely pregnant. How far along she was, who the father is, and when this baby will arrive is all still a mystery here on the farm.

Many months later, we still have a pregnant horse and a pregnant donkey. They love to give us false signs of labor. They have been moody, exhausted, and downright unhappy, but they are still holding on. It’s the joke around here, you still have that pregnant horse, or you still have that pregnant donkey? It feels like we are waiting on them, like the world was waiting on April the giraffe. Every time they make a noise, disappear from view, lay down, or put their ears down we think they are in labor. I just know at this point when it does happen we are going to probably have none of the signs we have been looking for and we will walk in the barn, and their will be an extra 4 legs waiting on us. We have waited on every full moon, new moon, old moon, rain storm, weather change, or any other thing they claim can cause an animal or woman to go into labor. We have had both Christina the Donkey and AJ the horse checked, rechecked, and  ultrasounded, all confirm the same thing we have two VERY pregnant animals.

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So that feeling I had, it was accurate! Scarlett arrived at the farm, and she has thrived. She went from not knowing her place and her role here with the other girls, to being the boss. Scarlett rules ALL! She is affectionate, sometimes pushy, and always looking for attention. She fits in perfectly, she loves to run and doesn’t like anyone in front of her. She immediately bonded to all of us, she is friends of Bing, occasional stall mates with Deani Martini, and besties with Carousel. Introductions went well, when we brought Scarlett here, we put her with the donkey’s in an adjoining but separate pasture, one where they could see and hear one another but were separate enough to not injure one another, after a few days we allowed them to touch over the fence, but still not be together. Finally in just a few days we put them all together in the same pasture, and what a sight. The three girls all ran around Scarlett, and they lapped the acreage again and again, once they stopped they would talk to one another, and then run around again.

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It didn’t take long for her to be accepted. Now they hate being separate, one day when we were painting my parents house, my mother went outside and standing in her driveway were two people with a bag of carrots. As some of you read this that will probably strike you odd, and it would have struck me odd before moving her. But since moving here it is NORMAL, we often will walk outside and people will be standing on the fence line taking pictures, or just watching the animals. So when I heard this I assumed they brought treats for the horses, it wasn’t until I saw the look of panic on their faces that I knew something was up!

The man said to me, uh we were driving up this way and saw two horses standing in the middle of the road, we didn’t know whose they were until we saw that fence over there was open (of course an open fence). As he is talking I’m trying to figure out how to get the horses down a very steep path, through a small gate, but hold on a second, how on earth did they get up that steep bank in the first place, suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the horses who were still behind the fence screaming to the two that were outside the fence.  I decided to run to the barn to get a halter and lead rope. Upon my return, the girls on both sides of the fence had gotten themselves so riled up, that Scarlett was running like she was in the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby. The visuals that were happening inside my mind were terrifying, and all of them ended badly. Two options, open all gates and hope that the girls in the fence stay in the fence and call her in, or hope she wears herself out and allows me to put the halter on her so I can walk her back in. I opted for the first, and opened the gates, one person stood at one gate, one at another, as we tried guiding her into a smaller area which then led to the open gates. After what seemed like eternity. WE DID IT! Scarlett, Carousel, AJ, and Oreo were reunited, and have never used their horsepower on the road again!

As I conclude, AJ and Christina would like everyone to know, “YES THEY ARE STILL PREGNANT!”