spring’s tragedies and triumpths
It’s April 4th, and we still have snow all over the farm. In fact, the past two days it has been snowing! Not that it is accumulating, but how very disheartening to have more snow coming down to LTD Farm. We thought by now we’d have our field prepared and ready for sowing and planting. We pictured carrots sprouting, lettuces and cold hardy greens planted in the ground on April 1st. Alas, all our little seedlings still sit in planting flats in our grow room and hoophouse….waiting. There is a huge variety sprouting up already- curled green endive, cabbages of all sorts, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peppers, hot peppers, many kinds of tomatoes, peanuts, cucumbers, basil, parsley, lettuces, arugula, spinach, creeping thyme, mesclun salad mix, kale, collards, chard, mache, pea shoots, brussel sprouts, chinese cabbage, celeriac.
March brings us baby goats. Metallika’s sweet triplets, born mid- March, are thriving under her excellent care. Prince knows what is most important- food, so he constantly runs to Mom for nourishment. Nobella and Segway are more vivacious with spritely curiousity over everything. They clamour at our legs hoping for a chance to jump up on our backs, if we’d just kneel down for them! How fun, and what a great way to spend some breaktime between all the hard labor we are doing in preparation for gardening time. Sometimes that last wheelbarrow-full of duck bedding to the compost pile takes you to the limit of exhaustion, so babies are a lovely distraction while resting one’s muscles for a few minutes.
But we have to honest, it isn’t all fun and sweet times- Goats are bullies and brutual to the underlings in the herd. There is always a bully in the group, the boss goat. All winter long, that was Cedar. Cedar actually was butchered a week ago, as we didn’t need to keep his excellent genetics on our farm anymore, with his daughters around. Inbreeding is not a good thing. After trying for over a year to find another goat breeder interested in giving him a new job, we decided to butcher Cedar. One too many times he was way too rough on the pregnant goats, demanding prime placement in front of the hay, and keeping the underlings away. When a goat is growing little ones, she needs to be able to eat as much as she needs. So off went Cedar, to goat heaven, in a very respectful and peaceful harvest. They say buck goats are no good to eat, but we have to tell you that his meat actually tastes delicious!
So, bully removed, and a new one steps in: May.We had a tragic incident with Metallika’s daughter who was born last spring, our little girl Trixie. She’s a robust, vigorous little bombshell of a goat, and we were so excited for her kids due in two weeks. Trixie has the best genetics, as her Mom is our best lady milker, and her Dad, Cedar, like Metallika, has been so ridiculously healthy his whole life without any chemical inputs that are the norm for goat farmers. But May hates Trixie, and cornered her while she was munching hay, her head in the hay panel. I saw this happen- May dive bombed Trixie’s belly with her massive horns, and an hour later I found two TINY kids in the straw in the barn. The tiny beautiful boy kid was dead, unreviveable despite CPR attempts. The other baby was crying out, but they were both soooo premature that the little girl did not live long. We even tube fed her colostrum, a blow dryer pointed near her belly to warm her. Their eyes weren’t even open yet, they were so premature, and probably their organs were not quite ready to handle life on earth yet either. A terribly sad and horrible loss for Trixie and us. Because of the trauma that induced this early birth, her normal placenta delivery did not happen. We watched and watched for two days, hoping she would be able to overcome this situation, but finally we had to intervene with some uterine contraction inducing drugs, to help her expel the remaining afterbirth. Then there is the worry of infection, and after much debate, we put her on the antibiotics our vet gave us. What happened to Trixie was not her fault, and she should not be put to the test of how strong she is, just so we can keep to our non-medicating philosophy. However, this really has been a hard blow for her. She’s still rather lethargic, but seems to still have that spirit we know and love and everyday is getting more active. I crawl in next to her at night, giving scratches, handfuls of grapes (her favorite snack) and lots of love. Poor girl.
Still we wait on two more girls to have their kids. Desti has been due since March 29th, and looks bigger and bigger each day. The afore-mentioned May, our bully, is also HUGELY pregnant and due any day. To feel these girls’ big bellies, and the kids swirling around inside, is purely astounding. We will announce their births as soon as they happen! May may have triplets, she’s so huge.
What else… our 10 turkey babies are still in the bathroom brooder, but they are growing so fast, it is time to upgrade to the hoophouse. We’ll put them out there in a larger brooder-type container (they still are fluffy, not feathered, so need extra heat and protection from drafts) once it stops snowing and being so windy! One thing turkey babies do well is jump up and out of their box- we’ve had many mornings where there is a turkey baby or two running around in the bathroom, or hiding and pooping in the bathtub. Oh boy. That’s when they get the nickname “turd-keys.” Never a dull day!
Our three pigs, now about 250 lbs each, are out of the hoophouse now, tilling up new gardens for us. When we moved them out last week, the ground was still all covered with snow. We’ve moved them two more times since, as they are making quick work of the the sod and turf as they discovered it under the snow.
Even though it doesn’t feel like spring, we see it’s evidence: MUD PATHS. Any trail we take frequently has turned to pure slushy, slippery mud. This is pretty different from a week or so ago when we could run out in our slippers over the frozen crust to check on the goats. Of course this would also be the time of year when your muck boots develop cracks.
We’re so grateful for all the wonderful people who have signed up to be CSA customers this season! We’re totally committed to providing as much goodness as we can from this little chunk of the earth. XOXO to our LTD Farm!