Push! Push! Push!

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago

For almost the entirety of the last two months, I've been pushing myself.

On February 14, 2021, most of Texas had lost electricity. We were fortunate in that we never lost power, but our pipes in the kitchen froze for a few days and we had no hot water.

Texas, Febrary 2021 photo by Jonica Bradley

That wasn't the issue for me. It was COLD and I'm not a fan of extreme temperatures, cold or hot. (I really live in the wrong place, everything here is extreme: temperature, wind, drought, or humidity. It's either extremely one or extremely the other. It is always windy.)

The issue for me came in the wee hours of February 14. I went out to feed my goats in the morning and there were two new babies. It was so cold the goats' beards had ice in them. I had to bring the babies inside to get them warm or they would die. I brought them in, dried them off, warmed them up, and returned them to their mommy for a drink of milk.

The baby goats were all wet and frozen. The little dog was very curious. Photo by Jonica Bradley.

Mommy wouldn't let them drink.

I tried several times, even putting their mouths on her teat to try to get them to suck. It wasn't working. I brought them back inside where I had set up a big dog crate in front of the heater. I trudged back outside with a little pail, some sweet feed (grains coated in molasses which the animals will eat like it is candy), and my big girl pants on.

Biiiig dog crate. They had plenty of room, but I still needed to change their bedding frequently. Photo by Jonica Bradley

I got mommy goat up onto the milk stand but she wasn't keen on putting her head through the headstall. I had to wrestle with her. She wasn't keen on being milked, either. She stomped and kicked and knocked me off the milk stool a couple of times. I had to try to milk her one-handed while holding her other leg up on my shoulder. This worked reasonably well, though it was a struggle. Mommy goat weighs in at around 170 pounds (77.11 kilos). She is strong and stubborn as a mule. More stubborn, I think.

I finally got enough for the two babies and released J.J. (mommy goat) from the headstall. Back inside the two babies took to the bottle immediately. They each got a few ounces of colostrum, or first milk, which is so important for a baby's immune system. It seemed I was going to have two bottle babies in the house.

Both babies, JuJuB on the left Ivar on the right, cuddled in my chair. Photo by Jonica Bradley.

Baby goats (and baby sheep) are just like human babies. They eat on a schedule, they cry a lot, they poop even more. In the case of the kid goats, instead of changing diapers, I was changing their bedding. About once every hour. I was feeding them about once every hour for the first few days. Slowly bringing it to once every two hours and then once every 4 hours as they were able to handle more milk/milk replacer.

Our pipes were frozen. At this moment we lost electricity for a few hours. This was well after the giant Texas Power Outage. I had to go old school to heat the bottle. Photo by Jonica Bradley

I was also going out every morning to milk J.J. (mommy goat). This was her first kidding and so her first milking, too. She really didn't understand what was going on. She kept trying to hide under her mommy, Joy (grandma goat). For 6 days I milked one-handed while holding one of her legs on my shoulder. I got knocked down a lot and even kicked in the forehead.

Finally, a friend came over with a special kind of tie. I could put this around her neck with a fixed loop, knotted so it didn't get bigger or smaller. A slip knot at the other end goes over her foot. When she tries to kick it gets tighter. This was a great way to get milk for the babies, train her to the milk stand, and not get knocked into the dirt.

Every morning, I would give her the opportunity to be milked without the slip knot on her foot. When she got fussy, stamping, kicking, and generally not cooperating, I would tie up her foot. After 2.5 months, she rarely needs to be tied. But it took a lot of patience and quite a few sore muscles (mine) to get her there.

Meanwhile, I was still caring for the babies inside. I was able to feed them mother's milk instead of mixing up formula, which was better both for them and for my pocketbook. Their little ears were swollen to the size of water balloons. One hind leg on each was also swollen.

JuJuB and Ivar. It is hard to tell, but their ears are fat and swollen. It looks like the ears had already started dripping. Photo by Jonica Bradley

After a few days inside, the swellings started seeping. Clear fluid was dripping from their ears. And Ivar, the male, started dripping from his foot. It started to get stinky. When my friend came over with the foot tie for J.J., we noticed a big blister had formed on one of her teats. The next day it had turned black. I took a picture.

At the veterinarian's office. Phot by Jonica Bradley

I had made an appointment with a vet to see about getting some antibiotics for the babies, JuJuB and Ivar (female and male).

We packed them into a smaller crate, put them in the back seat of my small Toyota, and drove them to the vet in the middle of a snowstorm in whiteout conditions.

I stopped by my friend's house first, because one of her horses had injured its foot and SHE needed to go to the same veterinarian. We tried loading the horse into the trailer for about 30 minutes in the snow and wind before my friend told me to go on and get to the vet.

After seeing JuJuB and Ivar and the photo of J.J.'s teat, the vet diagnosed frostbite on all three. He said the babies would probably slough off their feet, but mama might be able to be milked. It was too early to tell.

Ivar the Boneless. Photo by Jonica Bradley

We brought them back home with a round of antibiotics and some antibiotic spray for J.J. And I began the cycle of feeding, cleaning, injecting, changing, milking, potty training, and repeating. every parent will recognize the exhaustion resulting from caring for an infant.

How Ivar got his name. His right hind foot appeared to be boneless. You can see on the front of the foot where he started seeping fluid. He would ultimately loose his entire foot. Photo by Jonica Bradley

Ultimately, we had to put little Ivar to sleep. His foot fell off completely and he would not have had a good quality of life. But little JuJuB was doing ok. She had no idea she only had the use of 3 legs. She would zoom around and play. I still had to take her outside every hour to pee and poop, but she was completely potty trained. She was sleeping through the night. During the day, when she wasn't outside, she pretty much lived on my lap. She didn't like to be in her crate during the day.

JuJuB on my lap, using me as a living sofa, after she lost both ears. Photo by Jonica Bradley

Writing was difficult. It is hard to type on a laptop with a growing baby goat on your lap. I managed to keep up with my editing duties, though I cut back a lot. I wasn't writing for the publication, I wasn't writing my book, I wasn't doing artwork. My every moment was taken up with this sweet, little baby goat.

When the antibiotic shots came to an end, I took JuJuB outside to live with J.J. and Joy. At first, her mommy and grandma didn't want to have too much to do with her, although they had stopped pushing her away. I would make a bottle every 4 hours and feed her. I was still arguing with J.J. over the milking process, but not as much.

One day, JuJuB started nursing on J.J. as soon as J.J. was locked into her headstall on the milk stand. Over the next few days, JuJuB turned away from the bottle and eventually didn't want it at all. I thought I was home free.

Until one morning, after milking and cuddling, I discovered I was covered in blood. It was coming from JuJuB! Her little leg had fallen off. Back to the vet where I got medicine and bandages. By this time, the weather was turning warmer, but it was still damp and muddy and sometimes rainy. The doctors recommended I keep JuJuB inside for 2 weeks to keep the bandages dry.

The red line marks the place her leg fell off. It looks like her leg was shrinking. It wasn't. She was growing around it.

Oof! Longest two weeks of my life.

JuJuB went back into the crate and I went back to bottle feeding her and being her living sofa. We went back to hourly bathroom breaks and playtime with the big goats. JuJuB got antibiotic medication in her bottle every morning and pain medication two times a day. I changed her bandages every 2 to 3 days.

Changing her bandages was a major procedure and a two-person job. My husband had to hold her still on her side while I worked on unbandaging, cleaning her wound, putting on the medication, and rebandaging her leg. It was time-consuming and physically uncomfortable for all of us. Once bandaged, I had to cover her stump with plastic to keep it dry

At some point during these two weeks, both of her ears broke off. I medicated them with the spray. But I couldn't spray it directly on her ears because she would wiggle and I might get it in her eye. I would spray it on my fingers and quickly rub it into her skin.

Plastic bag over bandaged leg. Photo by Jonica Bradley

When her oral antibiotics were finished we went back to the vet. They gave me a different medication, a silver nitrate cream (used to regrow asking on burn patients), and more bandages and instructions to leave the bandages on for 5 days instead of 3.

JuJuB was way too big to live in the house. She was chewing on everything and jumping on the furniture. I sent her back outside to live with the other goats, wrapping her bandage in plastic to keep it dry.

Home after the visit to the vet. Poor juJuB wasn't feeling very good.

(Her bandage is completely off, now, and her leg is healed. Sometimes she will open it up a little, probable from climbing or jumping off walls, and it will bleed. But it is not getting infected and will heal up just fine. She is only drinking milk from her mommy. It is pretty unusual for Mama goats to take their babies back after being separated for so long.)

J.J. on the milk stand and JuJuB playing peek-a-boo. photo by Jonica Bradley

I finally thought I would be able to catch up on some sleep, recover my energy, and begin writing and making art on a daily basis. My editing duties were basically only twice a month at this point. Bandaging JuJuB was once a week. I would be able to rest and slowly get back into the groove.

JuJuB nursing on her mommy, J.J. with Joy, J.J.'s mommy, eating in the background

Then, I discovered read.cash and noise.cash. I started earning a lot more than I was earning before. This pushed me to write more frequently, to publish more frequently. I was spending at 4 hours in the morning (before my chores) researching and writing. Then, outside to feed and milk. And back inside to research and write somemore.

I loved spending time with my goats and my turkeys and chickens. But TomTom the male turkey decided one day that I was a threat. He started attacking me. I could not get to the milk barn without spilling all of the feed.

TomTom and PomPom. This was taken just a few days before he started attacking people. He attacked my husband and brother-in-law as well, but really went after me.

No matter how much I loved TomTom, and love him I did, I couldn't fight with a turkey every day, coming and going to milk the goats. So, I did what every good farmer does. I killed, processed, cooked, and ate him.

He weighed 18 pounds (8.16 kilos). That's a lot of bird!!

Plucked and ready to go in the oven. That is one big turkey!

This ordeal was exhausting physically and emotionally. I still miss TomTom. He was quite a character. I really bonded with my turkeys when they were babies. Predetors in the form of a snake, a fox, and a dog took all but two turkeys (out of 25) from me. And processing TomTom left only one.

In addition to predators getting the turkeys, something got my bantam hens and one of my full sized hens. I only have two egg layers now. Nature is cruel, sometimes.

Everybody seems to think I am a sofa or a bed. JuJuB taking up my entire lap while the little dog, Bok Tui, looks on with envy. 'Bok Tui' is Laotian for Fat Boy. Photo by Jonica Bradley

I got my first dose of the Covid 19 vaccine and had a negative reaction. Not too negative. I never felt sick, but I did have a lot of arm pain. This pain caused me to sleep very poorly. This in turn sent my stress levels through the roof and I got very foggy in my brain. I think it is a combination of diabetes and stress that give me brain fog. My blood sugar goes all over the place. But, I survived.

Chicken egg, turkey egg, chicken egg, turkey egg. Your eyes are not deceiving you. Those chicken eggs ARE green. Photo by JonicaBradley.

So, here it was, the end of April and I thought I would be ok. Surely now I would be able to rest my brain and my body. I would be able to reboot.I was looking forward to some very lazy days. Until my inlaws decided to come visit. Big sigh!

Planting vegetables. These are pepper plants. Photo by Jonica Bradley

Even if my inlaws and I got along and agreed upon religion and politics, their visit would be exhausting. As it is, we do not agree on those things. We have not ever had a close relationship. My husband doesn't have a close relationship with his family. He is [retty close to his mom, though. I've known these people since I was 14, for over half of my life, Believe me, we've tried getting along. We just can't. So we tolerate each other for my husband's and my children's sakes.

These are all the weeds I had to pull. Their roots are long and thick. It feels like someone is on the other end trying to pull the weed back through the other side of the world.

We spent this visit gardening, cooking, and talking. Well, she talked. A lot. A LOT a lot.

I am extra-introverted. Any lengthy interaction with people, no matter how much I like or love them, sucks out all of my energy. It takes two to three times as long as the visit to recharge my batteries. If the visit is 3 days, it will take 1 to 1.5 weeks to feel "normal" again.

Daffodil Flower from our front yard.

Two days after my inlaws left, I got the second dose of the vaccine. In addition to the brain fog, I had a more severe pain reaction along with a serious headache, a sore throat, and a slight cough. This lasted only 3 or 4 days during which time I continued to plant and weed the vegetable and flower gardens.

And now it is today. Despite how incredibly beautiful it is here, and how much I love it here, I need a bit of a vacation.

I still do not feel rested. I still feel brain foggy.

I know I need to rest. To take a few days off from everything. From writing and from cleaning. From making art and from making conversation.

One side of a bottle I hand painted over cloth. photo by Jonica Bradley
Hand painted bottle design. Photo by Jonica Bradley
The rest of the bottle. This one already sold but I hope to make many more when I get back on my feet.

Unfortunately, I feel shame if I am not constantly producing some kind of work product. Whether it is writing, editing, planting, harvesting, or cooking for my family. If I do not produce, I am not caring properly for my family. At least, that is what my mind tells me. If I'm not creating helpful, fresh, valuable content for read.cash or Medium, I'm not earning enough money.

JuJuB before her ears fell off. you can see where they are still swollen at the bottoms. Photo by Jonica Bradley

I don't know how useful this story is, but I hope it offered the value of entertainment. It also gives you all a glimpse into my life. And lots of adorable baby goats!

I'm always on the lookout for sponsors. I also like to give back by sponsoring people. I love responding to comments. So, if you have something to say, please feel free to say it. I will also answer any questions you might have.

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago



$ 0.00
2 years ago

Good..Delighted to see your care for animals and love to agriculture as well.Applause

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2 years ago


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2 years ago

I just tagged you here so you could read a little bit more about the animal situation here.

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2 years ago

My family also has its own farm animals. We don't have kids, but we have chickens and quails. We used to have geese. I love your post!

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2 years ago

Thanks. I just posted another (with more photos).

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2 years ago

Those turkeys are growing huge! Wow, 8 kilos!! I bet it tasted good too! On another matter, I also despise lengthy conversations in person with others. I don't like debating either, I feel that it is a waste of thoughts and energy. I was always like that since a child, I felt that all the small talk was not required, and was very bored to discuss something not exciting. Writing is different though, as we take time and may find something appropriate to say.

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2 years ago

If the subject of wonderful, I can talk with someone for hours. Or even if the subject is, like you say, interesting. I won't even know the time is flying by. But to just sit and listen to half truths and hateful beliefs, ugh. I just...I need more wine.

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2 years ago

That was quite a read. Felt like I was in the farm with you and tending to the animals, too! LOL. What I love most about reading is being able to picture in my head what is happening. The way you wrote this entire narrative had me doing that so I felt tired, too! Thank you for sharing!

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2 years ago

I tired myself writing it. I took a break to milk J.J. (stands for Joy Junior), pet Joy, play with JuJuB, transplant some seedlings, and start a few more.

Then I just plugged away at the story.

Then I made caramels.

Now I'm exhausted, hungry, and too tired to fix any food. lol

Hummus it is.

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2 years ago

Good story

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2 years ago

Thank you. It was looong.

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2 years ago

Indeed it was 😂

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2 years ago