Exhausted. These days have been exhausting. Rocket (#2 – the sad little face-down-in-the-hay goat) recovered well, he’s suckling now. Still has droopy ears, which makes him about the cutest thing in the world. However, his brother, Olay, who was the first-born, became weak yesterday. Like how Rocket was on the first night. Olay wasn’t eating and he was cold. Westi tube fed him and we held him under the heat lamp in a blanket and a sweater. When that didn’t help she realized he hadn’t pooped yet, so she did something to try to solve that. When that didn’t help, she realized his stomach was full still; he wasn’t digesting his food because his body temperature was too low. She brought him inside the house and put him on a heating pad and got his temperature up to normal. And he died shortly after. “He starved to death with a full stomach.” These attempts to help Olay took place over the entire day, and so his passing was an unfortunate relief. That’s how it goes.
Made two batches of jam this morning and a batch of granola! It rained through the afternoon so I made envelopes and drew with pastels. We went out in the drizzle to put the moms back inside. Elaina, who is usually pretty agreeable, did not want to come. She was being vocal and I heard her teeth grinding, which is a sign of discomfort in a pregnant lady, a sign that things are accelerating. Same with change in personality. Westi came up the hill behind her and pointed out a small drip of clear goop coming out of her. That certainly means baby is coming! Like, today or the next.
We got everybody inside and closed off a separate section for Elaina to be in. With Grandeur. Elaina couldn’t care less about Grandeur’s company but G would go nuts if a fence separated her and Elaina. While West made dinner I sat on goat watch. This entails sitting in the pen in a lawn chair with a beer and a goat book, taking note of any notable behavior. Elaina laid down a few times and each time I thought, ‘omg, is it time!?!?!?’ but each time she was just resting and looked at me exasperated for disturbing her with my nervous excitement.
I went inside for dinner and Westi came back out with me afterward for the usual milking time. The kids did not drink from mamas today, so there were full utters all around, woohoo! Just as Liane and I were off to a great start (for once), Elaina let out a holler and Westi exclaimed, “she’s pushing!” After only a short while – minutes – a body appeared at the opening of Elaina’s uterus. She was pushing and groaning, yelling like crazy with her tongue sticking out. What was coming out was a tail, which is not good (I just read this in the book). When this happens, you need to intervene and make sure a leg exits first. So Westi reached a hand inside of Elaina to find a back leg to pull. But in order to extend a leg, she had to push the body back inside… while Elaina was trying to push it out. It was very dramatic and intense for a few minutes while Westi struggled with her hand inside the screaming goat. I felt like crying for a moment! Mike came in while that was happening, and Grace too. Westi finally got a leg extended and the baby came out slimy and matted, with incredibly long legs! It looked just like Elaina!
Grace cautiously inched closer to see the new baby; she was nervous and didn’t want to get too close. She neared Elaina’s back end and was bothered by the sight of the placenta (understandably), and as she stood there, another baby shot out without any warning! Same deal with the slime and matted fur. And after another few minutes, Elaina started pushing again, and a THIRD squirted out! Literally, these two came sliding right out. She went to licking all the babies and it wasn’t too long before they looked like tiny goats. They weren’t drinking from the utter right away like they’re supposed to so Westi milked Elaina some and squirted it in the kids’ mouth. The milk stuff is special for newborns – thick and yellow! Like eggnog.
They all accepted the nectar and soon 2 of them started acting like goats – walking around and searching for the utter. But one laid face down in the hay. We rubbed him and gave him coffee for stimulation. Put a Chihuahua sweater on him to make him look like a dweeb I mean for warmth. Tube fed him. Eventually he held his head up some but his front legs just hung lifelessly and half backward. I felt bad for him, wondering if he was in pain or confused or scared.
The other two are hilarious and adorable. The girl (#3) refuses to sit down; she will stand motionless for lengths of time until she loses balance and falls to the side. And she’s fiery already, like Cora. We left the little sad goat (#2) in a sweater in the box with the others. Westi will check on him through the night. I hope he’s alive in the morning.
Sounds like we were lucky with this birth being fast and convenient. Westi has stayed up the entire night with a goat in labor before! Still, I am exhausted. But this needed to be documented in full before time passed. And now I sleep.
The land is illuminated in an eerie way, dimly with thick gray clouds overhead. I think it would be exciting for Elaina to give birth tonight during a storm. With the half moon above. But it looks like she is holding out for another night. She is behaving differently these days, but it doesn’t mean it’s happening quite yet.
It is very still out here with only robin clucks. I am in the hammock, though daylight is dwindling and a few mosquitoes are buzzing, but it is stuffy in the trailer. It was in the 90s again today.
I hit a big rock with the mower this morning and broke a spindle. Mike fixed it. Then I got the thing stuck on the side of a hill. Mike got it unstuck. Then the belt snapped. So I called it a day with the mower. Mike later fixed it. Then I went to chip some wood but I couldn’t get the chipper started! So I called it a day with that too. Mike later fixed it. I moved on to the weed whacker and did not break that.
My hands smell like goat’s milk. Not like the refreshing beverage from the store, but like warm and sticky bodily fluid. Today I got a little more to come out but my aim is all wrong. It runs down my arm and squirts on my shorts – not even close to the cup! Liane’s been very patient with me. But I caught her giving me this expression over her shoulder that reminds me of the way Sugar would roll her eyes at me.
A cougar was allegedly spotted today at the edge of the property. The goat kids were making progress with being weaned but now separating them from mom means that one of the two groups will go unprotected.
I went hiking today and was dumbfounded by the bird sounds, walking around with a crook in my neck and frown on my face. I’ve possibly never seen so much poison oak in my life – arching over the trail at waist height, like evil snakes trying to entrance you. I did well at avoiding it until I saw a fresh pile of bear poo and then my focus strayed and I think some brushed my ankle, and finger, and arm. Will find out in a few days I guess!
Nashville warbler and ash-throated flycatcher are vocal at dawn. And turkey. A scrub jay, a crow. The lilac bush glows. The sun moves quick – the shadow on the ridge drops before my eyes.
I got bit by a goat today, because I thought it was so cute to let them nibble on my fingers. Turns out they have sharp back teeth. Tried my hand at milking this morning and got about a half an ounce. It takes practice. It’s a relief to be around goats – no need to fear for your life every time you’re in back of one. And let me tell you, that bite was a pin prick in comparison to the bite of that mustang Emma Grace.
Goats are way cuter than I imagined. There’s chickens, thank the lord, because eggs and entertainment. There are 4 ducklings that are deathly afraid of humans. And a huge black bunny, bigger than the cat. 2 cats. One is skiddish and one has an eye ulcer.
It’s so insanely beautiful here. It feels the way Trinity did to me in the spring, and it brings back all those feelings of bliss and invincibility. Until I’m laying here at the end of the day half paralyzed from hours of digging and gardening and running and sunshine (because I’ve been so lazy for the past 6 months)…!
I have arrived at Twin Pear Farm. How did I not know that this lush, beautiful, picturesque Applegate Valley exists? I love this place already just based on the drive in. My trailer is nice as fuck. Came equipped with a ton of coffee, towels, aloe and sustainably sourced facial tissue. The trailer is decked out with camo decour. The sheets, the blanket, curtains, lampshade. So great. Westi was sure to explain that it came that way, they did not, and would not ever, choose that pattern.
A breeze is already moving through the yard at 8:30. The scene before me is so alive with bird activity – finches singing from the trees, orioles calling from the big oak, doves singing from the north, a pewee off to the south, a sparrow singing from so deep in the brush it’s almost inaudible, there’s a Cal towhee stretching its wings in the shade, and cowbirds at the feeder. I’d be lying if I said they’re not beautiful, the way their brown heads glow chestnut in the morning sun against their cloaks of midnight.
When Papa Claude tells you to do something, you do it, because he knows best. Yesterday he could see I was discontent so he told me to go for a ride in the quad, so I did. And it was fun! I feel like a little kid when I’m here a lot of times. We went on down to Walmart to get a new band for my watch. I drove Joe (GI Joe, the 1945 army jeep). And then we went for a ride in the Model A and I got to drive! Yes, I feel like a little kid. We also worked together to make a new cap for my power steering fluid! It’s been a fun and heartwarming day.
I am off to start WWOOFing at Twin Pear Farm tomorrow. I feel similar to when I left here for the ranch a year ago – ready for a salvation from the road and a place to exist for more than just a few days. I am manifesting so much positivity, though trying not to have hopes or expectations.
Mountains appeared on the horizon this morning just before 10. I knew they were coming, as the roadsides started showing topography upon entering Wyoming. I am in the west now. The American West. I first set foot in this state 4 years ago and it looked the same as it does today – pale, light blue sky, strewn with thin, wispy clouds, and green hills, with freight trains inching by. I’m sure they’re not actually inching, they probably travel at high speeds, but the landscape is so massive that they appear to just crawl along.
I was greeted warmly by Bill and Jo as I pulled up, and I was told to stay for days. Bill got the sauna going and we sat in there for a while chatting. It was nowhere near as hot as the sweat lodge, but still intense. Upon entry the warmth was a comfort from the wind outside, but very quickly my face seemed to be melting off. You think that is a figure of speech, but I used my hand to investigate the situation multiple times, pushing my cheeks back into place. He threw water with peppermint oil on the rocks, which was an odd sensation, as adding water makes steam that intensifies the heat, but the mint entering your orifices and gaping pores feels cool. It is easy to forget there is a world out there when you are sweating. When I re-entered the yard I was overwhelmed by the deep gray clouds and pare aspen shaking in the wind. I staggered to the creek side feeling cleansed and rejuvenated, though dizzy and drenched in my own sweat, and I remembered why I am here. Not in Wyoming, but in existence.