It was a dreary morning yesterday, a little colder than the last few but with no sign yet of the snow that had been forecast. After I let the chickens out and added wood to the stove, I put out a bale of hay for the goats.
Jolene was lying a stall, chewing her cud. I couldn’t help feeling a little angry at her. Her kid had been missing for two days and she didn’t seem to care. We had anxiously looked forward to her first kidding and a few days ago she delivered a big, healthy buckling. I found him not long after he’d been born and carried him to a warm, dry barn stall while Cherie and I coaxed his reluctant mother along. After a couple of days in the barn, we released them back into the pasture. And the next day the kid was gone. I searched the pasture but found no sign of him. Jolene must have left him out in the back pasture that night where he’d fallen victim to a coyote. We have a nanny goat who loses her babies like that. But when she loses them she cries in distress and grief. Jolene seemed indifferent to the loss. I could only conclude that she’s a bad mother, and that made me a little mad at her.
As I walked to the front part of the farm I stopped to look at our shiitake mushroom project. I’ve been drilling holes in small white oak logs and driving wood plugs with shiitake spawn into them. It’s new for us and I’m excited at the prospect of fresh naturally grown mushrooms next year.
It had begun to sleet lightly. The little ice particles were so small that they weren’t visible, but I was surrounded by the sound of crinkling, as they struck the dry leaves on the ground.
I spent some time weeding the asparagus, enjoying the beauty of the gray morning. It’s way too soon for it be happening, but the asparagus is starting to emerge.
As I moved on to weeding the garlic the sleet began to come down harder. Last year at this time the garlic hadn’t come up yet. This year it’s coming in strong.
Soon it was sleeting hard and the crinkling had become a roar. It’s 1/3 of a mile from our garlic garden back to our house and I walked it in the driving sleet. The ice was stinging my ears and face as it struck me and I had to smile. I must really love my job to come out and work in the gardens in the sleet, I thought.
By the time I got home the sleet was coming down hard enough to start to accumulate. Just in case it got worse, I decided to take a bale of hay back to the goats in the breeding pasture. I threw a couple of bales out of the loft and into the bed of our RTV and drove them back there. And to my surpise, and great joy, I found Jolene’s missing kid in the shed with the other goats. He must have crawled under the fence and into that pasture in search of his mother.
Despite not having eaten in a couple of days, he was suprisingly spunky. I carried him back to the barn pasture, greatly relieved to have discovered him alive–only to find that his mother wouldn’t nurse him. Every time the little fellow would try to nurse, she would push him away. As he cried and followed her around, she ran from him.
If he was going to survive, I knew this meant we’d have to bottle-feed him. And we had no whole milk in the house. By now it was starting to snow. I drove to our local country store in search of milk. Because of the snowy forecast, they were almost completely sold out. Luckily they still had a few pint bottles and I bought several of them.
After a couple of days without eating, our little survivor was a very hungry kid. He took to the bottle immediately. Fortunately he was born big and strong. A weaker baby would never have survived.
A bottle of milk, and a little TLC, turned a hungry, frightened and confused little kid into a happy little guy.
And now I sit and look out the window at the falling snow. It’s about 11 a.m. and it’s been quite a morning.
I love this life.