Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hola amigos! It's been awhile, quite awhile, since I last posted. We've experienced a great deal of upheaval since I last wrote; such is life! We planned, organized and designed my girlfriends wedding (it turned out amazing!); my grandmother, whom I had been caring for this past year, left this life in December; I rewrote our curriculum and we've welcomed an abundance of life and mourned our fair share of death on the farm in the last few months.
There's really too much to recount so I'll begin anew, with trying to hatch some eggs. As we have mating pairs of geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens, we decided to side step the whole buying of baby chicks this year. Of course, I'm sure we'll still pick up a few adorable associates along the way, we've decided to try and breed, hatch and raise our own butcher stock this year. My mother so kindly donated a mid-range incubator and I've spent the last two days pouring over poultry books trying to decipher exactly how to ensure a healthy hatching. After ascertaining that I'll most likely fail, I threw our clutch in the incubator, or as I've fondly begun to refer to it - The Eggzabator, last night. Included in our hatch hopefuls are 6 turkey eggs, 12 duck eggs and a lonely goose egg. The problem with incubating these three breeds together is that the duck and goose eggs need more humidity then do the turkey eggs. And since I can't figure out how to get the Eggzabator to get more humid, I just threw them all together and I'm innocently, or ignorantly, hoping for the best. I never said I was a great farmer, just an enthusiastic one!
Another wonderful addition to the 'stead is Whitney Houston. What a horrible name, you say? Yes, I do have to agree with you. Unfortunately, I had no say in this matter. The story is long and sad and sweet; I'll begin. Arwen was accidentally impregnated, through lackadaisical farm standards assuredly. We didn't even realize she was prego until a week before she delivered. The day of her birthing, February 12, I inspected her to see if she had any telltale discharge from her vagina, as usually occurs in almost laboring nannies. As discharge was discernibly absent, I relaxed and went about my day, to be culminated in a date night with my partner Nik.
6pm finds me looking pretty and ready to hit the town (the local bar) when my mom calls frantically saying that she heard splashing water in the barn. Now, as preface to what I've just relayed, I must explain that there are two houses on our property. My Mum lives closer to the Habitat (barn yard) and is always calling to say that the animals are making weird noises. Keep in mind weird noises are what barn yard animal do. A squawk this way to mean that, a quack that way to mean this. That's what they do. Anyhow, she calls to say she hears running water, or splashing in the back and she's worried there's a raccoon killing the goats or something. Nik and I run back to the Habitat, as we always do when my mother worries, and what do we find? Arwen, in labor, with two babies at her feet and a third halfway out. Now did I mention how cute I looked? I looked good! And here I was, about to kneel in the hay and blood and all sorts of fluid from a birthing mama goat. Why do I even try? Anyhow, after pushing the last baby free, Arwen immediately stands and starts licking clean the larger, brownish kid. The other two she ignores. At first I thought the first one she had birthed was dead. He was covered in amniotic fluid and didn't seem to be breathing. I cleaned his face and that of the last kid born. The larger one, the one Arwen immediately took to, was already up and around, nursing some of that excellent colostrum. I tried for quite some time to get her to nurse the other two; she just wouldn't. After about 30 minutes, I took the two small kids inside.
For the next two days I bottle fed them every few hours and tried to help them thrive. They began to walk about 12 hours after they were born and I had the highest of hopes. I even named them in the belief that my positive energy and love could help them thrive. I named them Zora Neale Hurston and Herman Hesse. Good, powerful names after favorite authors. Unfortunately, they both passed within 4 days of life. They both passed at Woodburn Veterinary Clinic, after lots of time, energy and money. During that time my mom took it upon herself to name the surviving kid. I was so busy with the two runts that I gave no thought to her naming choices. Whitney Houston... Oh woe! The travesty of her discretion on top of the death of two beloved babes! I was in a funk that was inescapable for a week.

Whitney is now healthy and happy and the light of our farming days. She's got more personality then a lot of folks I know and she's never above a romp. I choose to take every experience as a learning opportunity and try to never miss the simple joyful happenstances that can be found. Apart from being more careful of breeding mishaps, I've come to cherish Miss Whitney more then I had hoped as she symbolizes the dichotomy of birth and death, renewal and the passing of energies. And she loves to poo on Nik's favorite chair in the living room. His subsequent annoyance is the remedy for all that ills!

Happy wintering!