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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.