Friday, October 1, 2010

Sue Weaver: Goat Lover’s Diary, Part 3

These entries from my abandoned Backyard Goats journal explain how my senior buck, Ozark Jewels General Martok came to live with us. He’s a big boy now, father of a dozen goatlings and author of Hobby Farms Online’s Mondays With Martok. Martok also posed for Hobby Farms’ Mondays with Martok 2010 calendar; if you want one, download it here.

Martok grows up.

Thursday, 06 March 2008
I’m getting a baby buckling! He’s one of a set of triplets Emily Dixon’s beautiful Peppercorn kidded sometime Monday morning. It’s quite a story! Here’s what Emily posted to my NotYourUsualGoatList e-mail list:

I did the unthinkable last night: I slept through my alarm clock while I was on doe watch! And Peppercorn was looking soooo close.

A little background: Peppercorn is one of my favorite 2007 Nubian doelings. She was the only doeling bred to an outside buck. She was bred to a good friend’s yearling buck that she had great hopes for. He was the biggest yearling buck I'd ever seen and so correct in every way. She lost him during our worst weather spell in February. It was terrible. So anyway, there was no way to repeat this breeding ever again. I planned on retaining a doeling if one was born.

The weather last night was a combination of cold, wind, ice, and snow. Peppercorn was looking suspect last night at bedtime, so I set my alarm for midnight and went to sleep on the couch at about 11:00 p.m. Next thing I knew, my sister’s alarm woke me up at 5:30 a.m. My alarm clock was in my hand, so it must have gone off at midnight; I shut it off but didn't get up. I have no memory of it whatsoever.

I threw my boots and coat on and slipped over to the doeling pen with my flashlight. Duke, the year-old LGD who guards the doelings, came barreling out of a shed barking and growling at the flapping coat and flashlight running toward his charges. He figured out it was me and became all love.

Peppercorn was in the first shed I checked, chewing her cud and wondering what I was doing. She looked sunken and empty. There was a blob of placenta behind her that Duke gulped up just like he'd been doing it all his life (this is his first kidding season). I checked the whole shed, rudely pushing doelings to their feet and checking for kids. Nothing. I am feeling sick, crying, and I just *know* that Duke, being unsupervised, had eaten the kids. I've possibly ruined a good dog and lost the kids that I wanted so badly, just because I overslept!

I checked the next shed, nothing. Then I remembered the furthest shed that Duke had come barreling out of so protectively when I first ran out. I ran over there, and tucked away in the back corner, clean but a bit dog slobbery, were very cold triplets. Duke was right with me, licking the kids and snuffling them toward each other as they lay there.

I scooped them up in my coat and ran to the house. Two were cold but okay; the third was barely there. It looked and felt dead, but there was the faintest slow heartbeat. It needed to be immersed in warm water, and of course I don't have running water, so I had to heat it up on the stove. I tucked the kid into my shirt and kept rubbing it while the water heated. The other two were on a towel by the woodstove. Tiny things, I'm guessing about 5 pounds each, maybe smaller. I got the cold kid in the water and kept rubbing. I could actually feel its heartbeat get a little stronger. Then its eye twitched! It came around slowly, so I wrapped it in a warm towel and sat with it by the woodstove. I tubed about 2 ounces of colostrum to it and set it down beside its siblings while it continued to come around. I went out and milked Peppercorn and came back to find one of the warmer kids standing. The cold one was sleeping, and it was warm!

They are all up now and dry; all have sucked colostrum till they’re full, even the cold one. I finally checked the sexes: two doelings and one buckling. The cold one was a doeling, and I imagine she was the firstborn.

They are just beautiful: black with white, cream, and tan trim, with frosted ears like their sire. I can't decide which one I want to keep yet; I'll have to see how they look when they start moving around. Even if the warmer one is nicer, I don't know if I can sell the little cold one. I'm rather attached after our early morning experience.

Who knows if Peppercorn abandoned them or if Duke thought he should be the one to care for them? But I’m thankful he slept curled around them or I might not have been able to save them by the time I finally woke up.

So the morning turned out okay, even though we have 5 inches of snow and it’s still coming down out there. I'm going to buy another alarm clock so I can set two . . . maybe three! I've never done that before, and I don't want to again. . . .

Martok is that baby buckling and the almost-frozen doeling is my boy Edmund’s mom, Ozark Jewel’s Juniper Berry.

Young Martok

Sunday, 23 March 2008
Martok is unlike any bottle baby I've raised so far. He's like a tightly coiled ball of energy. He does cuddle from time to time, but for the most part he prefers to run! I can't take pictures of him using John's camera because unless someone is holding him or he's asleep, all the pictures are blurred. Today I'm going to shoot print film through my 35mm just so I have baby pictures of the boy!

He's such a vivacious kid. And he smiles (pulls his lips back from his teeth like Bon Bon does). What an adorable baby!

Sunday, 23 March 2008
I put a warm blanket on Uzzi today and took him out to spend his first afternoon in the dairy goat shelter with Tank.

I took Martok along to play in the yard and when I put Uzzi in the pen, Martok shinnied through the pipe gate and joined us. He stands barely as high as Latifah's hocks (he isn't even 3 weeks old), but he was smitten. He sniffed her and flehmened — then he took a running leap and threw himself at her backside. She was dozing in the sun when he slammed into her.

"What the heck . . . ?" she said, as her eyes opened wide. Then she turned her head and spied Martok gazing adoringly up at her. She was not amused!

I guess I won't have to wonder if he'll be mature enough to breed the does this fall. . . .

Note: This is the last installment in my goat diary series. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting my boys! As you see, Martok grew into a big, burly buck and has fathered a passel of handsome goatlings, sometimes due to his extraordinary ability to squeeze into places and do things most bucks wouldn’t. In fact, thanks to his imagination and athleticism, he’ll become a daddy again this November 5.

Big, gruffy Martok today

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including The Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, The Appaloosa News, The Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and The Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and Get Your Goat! to be published in 2010. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

Visit my Dreamgoat Annie Web and The Mopple Chronicles

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