A KID IS BORN
Today was a momentous day here at the homestead, for we had our first animal born on premise.
Late this morning to my utter surprise, when I went to check on Luisa and Tony Meatballs, I found that there were three goats, instead of just two. This new addition was a cute kid, our first home-bred miracle, which prompted me to text and tell family, “I finally feel we’ve got a real farm now!”
Although we were of suspicious minds, with Maddy, Enzo, and Chelsea all saying that they thought Luisa looked a little pudgier in the middle than when we first acquired her three months ago, I couldn’t really tell.
Since gestation takes 145 days, nearly five months, on average, we now suspect that Tony may not have been the father, especially since we never witnessed him in action, which is not an unusual sight at a farm.
Either way, the kid is adorable, is now standing and nursing. Hence, hopefully, happy and healthy.
The whole affair prompted us all to action because we weren’t prepared and had little to no clue as what to do.
I immediately called our resident shepherds who were in route from Arizona back home and asked for some guidance. “Keep the baby and mother warm,” of course, I should have thought of that sooner. So then I ran to The Shed and got a thick blanket. “Spread the straw bale over the wood chips we have in the goat shed,” was the second piece of advice I got from our traveling nomads. Check two.
After calling Chelsea, she and Sarah came up with the kids (the human kind) and likewise began trying to figure things out. Meanwhile, I ran to The (Big) Shed again to get the heat lamp we’ve used countless times to keep chicks warm and set it up in the goat shed.
To run electricity out there I had to siphon off the line being used for the trailer, which could only serve as a temporary fix because the “big kids-cum-young adultish” children of ours were due back this evening and would need that line to warm their home.
This prompted me to finally break out the solar-panneled generator Santa brought me. As with many new things around here, I had been procrastinating a little because I presumed it required some complicated configuration. After I called our resident DIY and jack-of-all-trades, Beth, for some guidance on the Jackery equipment she recommended to us, she put me at ease by advising, “Just plug it in The Shed to charge a while.”
And so it was, easy as 1-2-3, our newest toy of empowerment was plug-n-play after all.
Not long thereafter I was asked to go to our newest favorite store, Trailer Supply Company, to buy some colostrum just in case the new kid on the block refused to suckle the chiva’s chichis.
Luckily, Heather was there at TSC to reassure me and give me all I needed. Along with the baby goat formula, a bottle and a syringe with gel to force-feed the newborn if it would not take to the teat or the bottle, the most important thing she gave me was advice.
Having been a cattle rancher for many years and raised many a calf, her first words of wisdom were, “Don’t panic.”
This was followed by, “If they’re not nursing now, it could take up to twelve hours, especially if this is her first-born,” which it is. “Make sure mama is well fed and she has fresh warm water, and don’t change her diet - stick to just alfalfa for 48 hours, don’t add any supplements.”
I also mentioned that I had seen a mouse scurrying out of the doors of the goat shed when I had first arrived and without skipping a beat she explained, “Oh, that’s probably because it’s after the placenta, along with the coyotes once they smell it. And don’t be surprised if the mother eats it either, it’s simply nature’s way of keeping her and her baby healthy.”
Later that afternoon, my father-in-law came up to do a little repair and he mentioned that it was a little rough getting up the hill with his van.
Coincidentally, I had heard just an hour earlier that my brother-in-law likewise had to weigh down the 2WD minivan, by asking the kids to move to the front of the car, in order for them to make it up the hill.
So, now that I knew we could handle the birth of Rosemary’s Baby - a horned, evil-eyed, albeit quite-cute little devil-goat child - and also a heartbeat later having moved one step forward toward being off-the-grid like all my neighbors on the Mesa, I thought it was prime time that I finally hitch up the Ram with the beat-up ol’ bed frame.
I’d already successfully used it to level a good mile of hiking and ATV trails and now I was motivated to finally try to conquer that bedeviling hill up Horny Toad Road. It’s notoriously known to provide a few used car salesmen in Santa Fe with a fair living and has tested the mettle of every 4x4 that dares climbs it.
My father-in-law had suggested when we first moved in to use an old bed frame like they did in Michigan. It so happened there was a rusty-but-hardy one waiting for us at the entrance of our new home. However, he also ominously warned, “I don’t know if it will work. It’s the poor man - redneck solution.” Thus, I balked for a while, because I didn’t want it not to work and have all the neighbors blame me for making it worse.
Hence, my procrastination - until now. Now that the need was immediate I had no choice but to finish what I had set out to do once and for all. I had the truck, the hitch, the chain and the bed frame - now all I needed were the balls to at least attempt what I was ultimately meant to do.
Channeling the newborn, albeit cuckold, proud papa - Tony Meatballs, I hitched it all up, got behind the steering wheel and drove. And drove and drove - up and down that hill half a dozen times, without a hitch (the stymie-ing esoteric kind), no broken axel or impassable road, but rather a much smoother ride than we’ve had for the last few months, ever since we had paid our friend Owen to do us a favor and bring up his tractor to flatten the little mountain for us, so that he could then tow up the trailer we had just bought from him and Elizabeth.
Wow, what a joy to finally accomplish something I had been anxiously hesitant to try. Guess the goat gets all the credit for spurring us all into action today - just another day here at Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms.