Spring has sprung at The Farmstead.
We have babies coming out of our eyeballs (and I'm not even talking about the baby in my belly).
7 of our 24 does have kidded so far this year, gracing us with 15 bouncing bundles of goat.
We've hatched out about 30 chicks, not sure when we're stopping, but probably when we hit 50.
But what does all that really mean?
Kidding season means three times nightly barn checks. Once around 9 pm, once around 1 am, and once around 4 am. If there are babies we are on hand to towel off, help get warm, and make sure they latch. If they don't latch or the mom has issues with rejection, they come inside. This means we wake up every two hours and jam a bottle in it's mouth. (My mom visited this weekend and two of our does dropped triplets. That's Harry Connick Jr Jr, one of our bucks, giving her moral support).
Simultaneously we have baby chicks hatching. We live in a studio style layout so there are no walls. Giz has a tiny closet with a window that we call her room but other than that our bed is right next to our kitchen table which is caddy corner to our kitchen. Our incubator sits right across the room from the foot of our bed. Multiple times during the night a chick hatches. If you have never heard a chick hatch, imagine this. Piercing, shrieking, peeping. When they enter into this world they are loud, loud enough to jar you out of your hard earned sleep. We pop them out of the incubator and take them into the garage where our mobile chicken coop is parked, collecting babies. Once we're done hatching we'll wheel the coop out into the pasture but for now it's nice to have it so close. Last night three chicks hatched. Three more trips away from our bed.
Oh yeah, and we have a two year old. Two nights ago she woke up at 3 am screaming, "I threw up! Vomit! I have vomit!" So I stumbled into her room, cleaned her up and brought her into bed with us. She fell back asleep but, unfortunately, threw up again. As Matthew was pulling off the comforter she leaned over my chest and kept vomitting. I didn't even move. I couldn't. My body was too tired. I just rubbed her back and told her it was okay, asked her if she needed anything (she didn't), took my shirt off, threw it on the floor, and snuggled back into bed with her.
On the nights when Matthew is home we divvy up our duties, and it's really nice. In the morning we'll have a progress report of who did what, a daily board meeting of nightly occurrences. Three nights a week he works the night shift in the ER, though. And then this pregnant lady waddles her way to the barn in a bathrobe that is much too dirty for inside use but is perfect for barn checks. Although I'm not due until the end of April, Baby #2 has somehow managed to pinch a nerve that causes searing pain in my left leg every time I lift it, so my waddle is pretty bad in an effort to alleviate some of the pressure.
In addition, our two sows should give birth soon. Luckily I've been pig farming long enough to know the nest I provide for them is just a suggestion. If they want to go farrow in the forest I wish them luck...I will not be waddling all over Pig Forest with a flashlight looking for babies. I will trust in my Mamas. If, at morning chores, a piglet looks weak or needs care we'll take it in for love. But one of the reasons I chose Old Spots is due to their ability to raise large litters, on their own, in the forest. They all proved themselves last year so I'm going to ride on the coattails of that success and hope for the best.
Did I mention we were tired? On top of babypalooza we're also wrapping up the dairy construction. We're close. So close. But we're pushing. It's one of the reasons my mom came from Oregon this past weekend to help. She had a vision for dealing with our mud in front of the parlor that was equal parts beautiful and functional (I can't wait to show you!)
But, here's the thing.
We're the luckiest people in the world. Even in the cold sleepy hours, in the middle of the night, when your tired body reaaaallly wants to be sleeping, it's easy to remember how lucky you are.
To get to hold a newborn baby goat against your body, feeling it nuzzle your neck, mouthing for milk; to get to watch as a newborn chick makes it's final push out of an egg; to get to share all of these moments and more with a tiny little human...
We're tired yes. But dammit. We're happy.
Recently my girlfriends and I went to coffee (hot chocolate for me). I was nursing a baby goat so naturally, she came inside the shoppe with us. That dang baby goat spread so much joy just by being alive, it was palpable. While we were in there a woman approached us and asked if her friend could hold the baby. Of course I said yes.
We put that baby goat in her arms and she immediately nuzzled her face against the goat's soft, velvet ears. She didn't say a word but the look on her face was so serene and so pure my heart swelled. And then she told us she was blind.
I burst into tears.
This little tiny baby goat brought a new experience to a woman she had never seen before, because she had never seen. But instead of someone telling her what that goat looked like she felt it, with her hands and with her face. This farm allowed her to experience a baby goat for the first time in her 75 plus years of life and it was absolute bliss.
I have never been more proud to be a farmer and I have never been more motivated to make this farm a success so that we can continue to share the exhaustion and the beauty of this life with as many people as possible.
And then we will start taking signups for midnight barn checks and bottle feedings.