We Have Triplets!!!

1-wk-old Posie is the friendliest little thing

Exactly one week after our goat Rosie gave birth to Posie, we witnessed another more dramatic birth.  Jody, our four-year-old Nubian milk goat, had triplets!  She was in labor and heading for the woods.  The new-born pen/milking parlor still had Rosie’s and Posie’s bedding in it, so we quickly cleaned it out and put down fresh hay.  Then we walked laboring Jody from the woods to the pen.

During lunch I sent our 12-year-old daughter out to check on her again, and she came hollering back that Jody was delivering.  Lunch was abandoned as we all scampered out to watch.  The first kid had already made its entrance, and it came backwards, according to our daughter who witnessed it.  Fortunately it was very tiny, so the position didn’t cause trouble.  I wiped mucous from its nose so it could breathe better, and was amazed at how tiny it was.

Jody paws (or I guess “hooves”) the ground preparing to kid. Notice her swollen tummy and bulging udder!

Kid number two presented itself correctly and slipped out with no problem.  But the sack was still mostly intact over the kid’s head and it struggled, unable to breathe.  I pulled back the sack and wiped mucous off the little nose (a few of our younger kiddos thought this was gross) and saw it take its first breath!  It was a pretty little thing, all black, brown, and white, but definitely bigger than the first kid.

Number two is being licked

We wondered if Jody was done, or if there were more.  Soon another contraction hit and it was obvious another was coming.  But after a few contractions it still wasn’t coming out.  Oh dear!  I looked at my fingernails and realized that if I needed to help things along I wasn’t really prepared.  I have rarely needed to do anything invasive, so it hadn’t crossed my mind.

I asked some of the children to run for a fingernail clipper and a clean rag towel.  By the time I had two fingernails off the kid was half way out but the contraction was ending and the kid started retracting back into Jody.  She was obviously in distress, so I dropped the fingernail clipper and carefully helped pull that kid out while Jody pushed as best she could (the same few younger kiddos thought this was REALLY gross).  That wasn’t terribly invasive, but more than what is usually necessary.

Kid number three seemed twice as big as the first!  No wonder Jody had trouble, after pushing out two, and then a giant!  And the sack was still unbroken and the kid wasn’t moving much.  Again I gently tore open the sack and cleared mucous from the nose so it could breath.  Jody was faithfully licking away at her kids, but it may have taken several minutes before she got to the big one.  I’m thankful we were there to help.

The audience

We have memories years ago of finding a perfectly formed newborn kid, dead.  We weren’t present at the birth, but felt that probably with multiple kids the mama may not have been able to clear mucous away on time and it suffocated.  So sad.

Of course everyone wanted to know how many girls and how many boys.  Jody appeared to be done so I checked and announced that the first two were girls (yay, because it’s more likely that they’re keepers) and the “giant” was a boy!

It seemed the whole barnyard had turned out for the event (poor Jody).  Tess, our Arabian mare, hung her head over the gate.   Laddie, our Australian Shepherd, kept trying to reach under the gate to help with the licking.  A chicken even broke in and was immediately ushered back out.  Rosie, our other mama goat, stood on the other side of the chicken coop answering the cries of the newborns.  And of course our six kiddos and I were present.  What a party!

I was concerned about the first tiny kid.  In fifteen years of raising goats I have never seen such a tiny one born to a larger breed like Nubians (we used to have Pygmy goats and their kids are super tiny).  It had protruding ribs and looked nothing but skin and bones.  I held it up to Mama and helped her latch on as quickly as possible.  She was quite spunky and took to nursing quickly.  She ended up being the first to stand on her own, and the first to find the teats and nurse independently.  What a little cutie she is!

The kids struggle to get up and nurse. The tiny one just latched on.

By bedtime the two little girls were nursing fairly well on their own, but the big boy could still barely stand up.  I am thinking these kids are a bit premature (Jody was bred “accidentally” by our young buck and we didn’t find out when).  That would explain the extra help they have needed to nurse.  By yesterday the boy (one day old) was finally standing on his own but still couldn’t latch on without help.  I told him if he wants to be a good billy goat he will have to get a little more spunk!

The triplets one day old

Our three youngest loving on the kids at one day old

Jody and her little family. The tiny girl is under her, nursing again.

This morning the tiniest one is filled out and the big boy is doing great, latching on and not letting his legs buckle anymore.  Up till now his left hind leg kept bending the wrong way at the knee, but now he holds it properly.  It is very unusual for a kid to need this much help, and I keep wondering if I made it worse by pulling him out.  But I really think they were preemies, because the bigger girl was slower to stand up and nurse on her own as well.  And the boy took long enough coming out that he may have been a bit oxygen deprived.

For the record, the big boy WAS twice as big as the littlest girl!  He weighed in at 7 lbs, but she was barely 3.5 lbs!  And that was after she had a good drink!  The bigger girl was 5 lbs, so their weights were quite varied.  It’s a good thing it was the little one who came out backwards.  If the boy would have gotten stuck I’m afraid it would have been beyond my skill.  And we could easily have lost all four goats by the time a vet got here (don’t think about it).  So we thank the Lord for again blessing us with a smooth delivery.

Posie climbs the mountain (of dead palmettos) with our two youngest


Priorities for Sustainability on the Homestead

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Gratefulness on Our Off-Grid Homestead

Trying to unload the "beast"

One blessing about starting with nothing and building our little homestead from the ground up is the excitement felt with every step forward.  How energy-giving to hear the children’s grateful comments about their new cozy beds, or about a repaired outside light on a dark night, or warm water in cold weather. 

In the land of plenty it can be easy to just expect our needs to be met, not even considering being thankful for basics.  What a handicap!  Some of the happiest and most contented children I’ve met lived in Haiti or South America with almost nothing.  Easily acquiring the necessities and extras of life can rob us of gratefulness.  So a grateful heart is one bonus that comes with homesteading.

Silver Oak was mostly gone this week doing landscaping.  We hope someday he can stay home and make enough here, but for now this is how the bills are paid. 

One day he got the decking for our tiny house that we still hadn’t brought home.  This extremely heavy load was all on his landscaping trailer, with the largest piece of decking (8’ x10’) sitting up on end in the middle.  Silver Oak’s cousin had kindly used his track loader to load everything, but the unloading at our house had to be done by hand since we don’t have such equipment.

All was well till we had to handle the big piece.  What a beast!  It is solidly built with many PT 4x4s and other heavy lumber, weighing a ton!

Getting the deck into place

Silver Oak fastened a cable winch to a fence post and tried to carefully pull it off the trailer with me bracing it to keep it from falling over.  That was a laugh!  When the first corner touched the ground it made a mighty lurch, fortunately away from me.  There was a lot of hollering as the mighty beast went crashing on its side, falling into the fence surrounding our “castle.”  It broke the wire and a fence post, but thank the Lord no one was hurt!

The roughly finished deck acting as a sorting place for boxes. Notice our 11-yr-old cat Marble inspecting the job.

Try as we might, even with the two older girls helping we couldn’t begin to stand that beast back up on end to push through the gate to its final resting place.  So we removed most of the floor boards and big corner posts.  It was still very heavy but we somehow (with a little more hollering) managed to get it back up and flipped end over end into the correct position to attach to our tiny house.

Once reassembled we had a nice little deck and some real steps roughly installed to replace the makeshift concrete block steps and hay-covered dirt.  This is only a start.  We hope to add the rest of the decking with a roof and screen before too long.  But even this little bit of deck is such a blessing.  The next day I sorted through quite a few boxes of belongings, putting that deck to good use!  And already there is a greatly reduced amount of hay being tracked into our tiny house.

One of my projects this week was installing an 18’ rope of LED lights under the kitchen cabinets to save on power usage.  The overhead lights are too energy consuming, so this LED rope, which was given to us, allows for alternative indirect lighting.  I hate the cold blue LED look, but this rope gives a softer, warmer-looking light.

I’m still not a pro at drilling pilot holes and screwing things together, so I had trials installing these lights.  Once I made the screws too tight and sheared off both screw heads on a bracket.  Blah!  Then I broke the drill bit making a pilot hole.  Arg!

I finally got it all up except the last several feet because I ran out of brackets, so right now there is a “tail” curled around the end of one kitchen shelf till we can get more.  But we love the soft glowing effect, and the light is ample enough except for serious night-time cooking or dishwashing.

The new lights on one side of the kitchen area

Another view

Silver Oak and I tacked up a shorter string of warm-colored LED Christmas lights under the shelves on the other side of the kitchen as well.  They give a nice glow of light to the countertop below.  I would have added a picture of these but the counter was too messy with lunch preparations, drill bits, screws, and other riff-raff.  So that side will have to wait.

On Saturday we had another garage sale at my Grandpa’s house in town, with great success.  We are now down to several boxes of things that still need to be consigned, sold on Craig’s list or eBay, or given to someone who needs it.  Of course as I unpack boxes in the shed, I find more that we can live without, so it is a seemingly never-ending saga.  But it continues to feel like relief to simplify and shed unnecessary things that clutter our lives.

Saturday night our beautiful Burmese (or Seal-point) cat Misty brought us a treasure.  She caught a mouse and was she ever proud!  She even ate it, except for the head and feet which she left for us under the canopy.  I’ve heard that well-fed pets don[t make good mousers, for they will be too lazy and unmotivated to catch mice.  But so far both of our well-fed cats have disproved that theory.  They’ve kept the mice and rat population at bay for years, protecting our animal feed.  Another thing to be thankful for.

Mouser Misty


Cold Weather, Bunk Beds, and China Dishes

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