Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm not kidding.

About this time of year the goat world gets all a-twitter in eager expectation of the kidding season. Of course, “kidding” is goat speak for having goat babies. Goat people love this and many many goat websites have tons of clinical descriptions – and videos – of the joyful arrival of baby goats.

This is not one of those sites.

Fattie, not having goat babies
My pal, Freemotion, reminded me recently that while I can “gut anything that ain't smilin' at me” I cannot birth a goat worth a darn. Its true.  My entire “birthing kit” consists of the Good Neighbor's 4H kid's phone number on speed dial and a bottle of tequila.

Last year I kinda glossed over the details of the whole kidding thing mostly because my therapist told me that rehashing the details wouldn't do me any good. Now, with the blessed event so many months in the rear view, I think I can finally talk about it without getting a twitch in my eye. So here is the whole unvarnished truth about kidding. I'm not kidding.

I spent most of last spring anxiously pacing around and wringing my hands. You'll remember that Debbie's most famous “here hold my beer and watch this” moment was when I found her hanging from the feeder. We were very nervous that she would have the babies early because of the trauma. That, and because she spent three weeks with The Good Neighbor's buck, we didn't know exactly when she would kid. So it gave us a good long time to stand around and wonder if there was going to be any new goats that day. Every day for about six weeks. We paced. We wrung our hands. We stared at her hoo-hoo wondering if it looked different. Nothing happened.

I reverted back to management techniques I learned in my years as a corporate monkey. I scheduled One on One meetings with her to review her job description. We talked about her Goals and Objectives. We wrote a mission statement that said something like “Have the dang goat babies already.”  Nothing.

I started docking her pay, threatened to take away her parking pass, and even showed her a picture of a goat momma with babies and told her,  “That's what a winner looks like.” I even started rumors that her job had been listed and began running an ad on Monster.com for a GOOD dairy goat. Nothing worked.

Then I came up with a new strategy for dealing with that stubborn old goat which was to ignore her entirely. That's right, I took a lesson from the cats and employed casual disregard.  Actually its more like spiteful disregard. The last thing I said to her one night when I closed (slammed) the door was, 

"Hey Fattie, have the baby, don't have the baby - I dont care!  But just you remember that an unproductive goat has no value to this organization. And one more thing...corn is for closers! None for you!"

And then I stomped off swearing that the next step was to use Klingon Management Techniques and that wasn't going to be pretty.

Still nothing.

The Good Neighbor's had been watching these goings on and as the moon started to wax full they called to inform me that the 'alert level'  should be raised to "holy cow she's gonna blow!"  and that everyone should man their battle stations. Mine was under the kitchen table. I came up with an ingenious idea to strap a critter cam on Dog#1 so he, not me, could go out there and check on dear Debbie from time to time. Still nothing.

Then one day I kissed The Big Man goodbye as he was heading off and would be gone the entire day. The Good Neighbor Mom called and said Debbie would probably have her baby just to spite me because I was going to be there alone. The Big Man laughed as he drove off and said it was all part of the plan. There I was. Alone. With a goat that was about to pop.

After doing everything else I finally had no choice but to gird up my loins and march out there to check on the momma-to-be. And there she was. Laying down. And something too horrible to describe was happening.

I turned and ran away.

Eventually I stopped hyperventilating enough to call the Good Neighbor Mom at work.

Now, in our county "I gotta go home and birth that goat" is a legitimate excuse to get out of school. The plan had been that the oldest kid, R, would be on call and come rushing in to save the day. However, it was late enough in the day that the kids wouldn't get that free day from school.  But they weren't home yet either - and there was no way I was going anywhere near whatever was happening in the goat house. I needed reinforcements and fast.

My phone call to the Good Neighbor Mom kinda went like this:

Me: Ohmigoshsomehorriblethingiscomingoutofthegoatandi'mgonnapassoutandwhatamisup
She: Ohiofarmgirl is that you?
Me: (hyperventilating noises)
She: OK, relax. I'll call the kids - they are on their way home and should be there soon.
Me: Soon? Soon? How soon? Ohmigoshitsohorribleithinkthereisafoot
She: That's supposed to happen so that's good. Now go and get paper towels, blukote.... ..blahblahblah and dental floss.
Me: Dental floss? Mint or Regular? Wait! How can you think of flossing at a time like this?
She: For heavens sakes, its for tying off the cord.
Me: (stunned silence)
She: OFG? Are you there?
Me: Huh? What? Just tell me truthfully, do I need to bring the gun?
She: For heavens sakes, no. Now go and stand outside until the children get there.
(Sound of phone dropping on the floor and footsteps running away.)

I went and stood outside willing their truck to materialize. It did. And then.. and then... oh golly... the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen....

...two of the Good Neighbor kids busted out of that truck and ran toward me. I'm telling you they RAN.

Immediately they sprang to action. R had the situation handled before I could even say anything but, "Ohmigosh I think I'm gonna barf!"  And the youngest Good Neighbor kid was Johnny On The Spot – talking calmly to me and handing implements and whatnot to his sister. I stood there ineffectually and confused.

Then, before I could actually pass out....there they were. Two little bundles of joy.  I was shocked. I was awed. I was shocked and awed.

And that's what happened. Most of it was a blur but what I remember most were my two heroes barreling over the hill to my rescue. Thank heaven for the Good Neighbors! Especially for the Good Neighbor kids!

I was so relieved that it turned out so well. And I was especially relieved that there was NOT the following news story in our local paper:

Dateline: A small Amish town, Ohio

Local officials are calling two hard workin' farm dogs 'heros' today after they pulled their owner to safety during a live goat birth. Town leaders say that Titan and Lucky were able to call 911 and bark, in Morse code, the message:

"My momma passed out in the goat barn because she don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no babies.  Please come and help her."

When EMTs arrived they found the woman passed out in a heap in the barnyard and two neighbor kids successfully delivering two little bundles of goat joy.

The woman was later identified as Ohiofarmgirl. She was revived at the scene and muttered something about "how Klingon management tactics work" and needing a bottle of tequila. She was taken in for observation as anonymous source called her  a "whack job."  That gander was later also taken into custody for allegedly attacking one of the attending officers.

How I like my goat babies... ready for action!

So now I'm preparing for this upcoming spring's kidding season. Got the Good Neighbor kid's phone number on speed dial? Check. Bottle of tequila? Check.

OK I'm ready! Bring on them goat babies!


Anonymous said...

I loved it Thanks for Sharing.

Anonymous said...

I always though that goats don't need any help in this area, that they can do it all by themselves. Little goats are so very, very cute!

Anyways, I just read your old post that you linked here about your corporate years and moving to farm. It is a beautiful post and it is my goal to do the same one day.

Heiko said...

Good Luck! :D When I stayed in California many moons ago I witnessed a goat birth taking loads of photos. No one seemed to interfere much and let mummy just get on with things. I thought that was normal. I had no idea trauma was supposed to be involved.

Naomi Banta said...


I love how you put stuff.

We had one doe when I was growing up that would NEVER deliver in front of us - Mom sent us out to check her and did one day, she was fine, no discharge nothing.

Half an hour later there are twins on the ground.

Sit with the neighbor kid next time - the process is not hard at all!

Mr. H. said...

Thanks a lot, now I have woken up the entire houshold because I am laughing so hard. Congratulations, they are beautiful little ones...you and momma goat did really good.:)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Anon! Come by any time!

VRT: you would think that goats would have it down after all this time, wouldnt you? Turns out all our years of domestication has kind of dulled their kidding abilities. And thanks! I hope you make it too

Heiko: most of the trauma was mine. However, sometimes the babies get their legs all turned around. Which is why R had to "grab and pull".. blech!

hi Naomi! I was wishing for just that - no luck here. Sit there? oh heck... I was too busy breathing into a paper bag.

They needed to get up anyway, right Mr H? Ha! Glad I could give you a chuckle. Just wait until you hear what happened with Nibbles.

Mama Mess said...

I'm just wondering if you are getting the help you so desperately need...............LMAFAO!!!!

I have a video on my blog somewhere of Star's first kidding and me talking her through it. It's pretty cool.............even if I do sound like a Doula talking a person through

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

You've got the making for a top selling book - you're a talented writer that knows how to use words and humor and you've always got great story fodder around there. This story made me laugh like a hyena.

murphysranch said...

I've got tears running down my cheeks!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey GW! We take one day at a time around here. HA!

thanks, B2B! Honestly I dont make this stuff up - it all happens and i just report it.

MR - If i recall you egged me on with all the corporate monkey speak. Arentcha glad we are free of that?
;-) *hugs!*

Naomi Banta said...

Can you school me in Klingon management for my quail right now though? They are not laying at all.

My chickens don't need management but my coturnix...


Ohiofarmgirl said...

Easy, Naomi, just walk over to their pen, shake a frying pan menacingly and yell, "Look you slackers! You are gonna feed me one way or another so you might as well lay an egg!"

Leastways, that's what we do around here.

Veggie PAK said...

Sounds like "they got your goat!"

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hi vPAK! got my goat and then some! happy new year!

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