Goats Homestead

Colton and Holly

This is a story I have been meaning to write for a long time but I am just now sitting down to write it. It is the story of a goat kid that I gave up on however, Colton did not.

Holly was born a twin to one of our favorite does, Reeses on April 29, 2020. Reeses had always been a good mama and taken care of her babies without any help from me. This time though, she wanted nothing to do with the pretty, little milk chocolate colored doeling laying on the ground.

After a closer inspection and attempting to get the baby up to nurse we discovered that her back legs didn’t work. I am a firm believer that animals know when something isn’t right with their babies and their instinct is to just leave them to die. We have seen this several times on our farm – survival of the fittest.

Colton was upset and wanted to know if there was anything we could do to help her. I will admit I am not patient enough to dedicate time to rehab animals like this and most of the time I take the side of nature will do its thing. I told Colton if he helped me get her some colostrum he could try to save her.

Getting Reeses to let her nurse was easier said than done! Animals are smart and they know when you are trying to “trick” them into doing something they don’t want to do. In order for Holly to nurse, I had to hold Reeses in the corner against the wall with my body and hold Holly up to her udder while Colton helped her find the teat to nurse. Thankfully Holly was able to get enough colostrum to get her digestive system going.

We put her in a little pen with her brother and mama hoping Reeses would take her. After several checks, it was obvious that Reeses wasn’t going to claim her. It was also clear that her back legs weren’t starting to function yet. So we did what I always say I won’t do, and brought her into the house.

Colton fixed up a little box with a towel and we milked another goat so we could start feeding her a bottle. We put a milk jug of hot water in the box with her several times a day to imitate the warmth of laying against her mom. He was told that he would have to care for her and work with her back legs by moving them in a walking motion several times a day. At the time Colton was only 8 years old but agreed to care for and exercise her.

This went on for a day or two, the goat in my kitchen or garage depending on the temperature, with Colton caring for her by bottling feeding, cleaning the box out, and doing therapy with her legs. By the second day, it didn’t look like she was making any improvements so I asked Lance to “take care of her.” I know this sounds harsh and cruel but the reality is that without the use of her back legs, she would not have had a healthy or good life. It is also expensive to feed a goat that never gives you anything back in the form of kids to sell, meat, or milk.

We decided to give her another day or two with Colton’s therapy. The next morning, we woke up to her STANDING in her box hollering for her bottle! Needless to say, there was a very excited 8-year-old in our house that day! It was amazing to see her move around like a goat should and not just lay there with limp legs. I wish I had taken photos but I really didn’t think she would make it so I didn’t take very many.

Holly got to stay in the house for another day until it was obvious that she wanted to move around more than the box would allow her to. So we moved her back out to the barn with the rest of the goat kids. We attempted to get Reeses to take her again but even after forcing her to let Holly nurse several times she still refused to take her. It didn’t matter to Holly though since she was used to a bottle, she was just happy to be with the other goats and it didn’t take long for her to start running and playing.

Holly grew at the same rate as the rest of the goats. Her confirmation or structure is definitely not the best in our herd but Colton took her to the fair anyway because he was so proud of her. When she was a year and a half old we put her in with the buck to get bred. Unfortunately, she didn’t breed that year and once again we had the conversation about not being able to keep a livestock animal as a pet because they have to be contributing something to the farm.

After a couple of conversations with Colton, it was decided that we would give her one more chance to get bred the next year. Thankfully, this spring she had a pretty, black and white doeling we named Ivy. Holly was also the best milker we had this year. If you visit our ranch store here on our website, Holly’s milk is in our Goat Milk Soaps and Lotions. Obviously, Holly and Ivy are now favorites and will always have a place in our herd.

Colton has reminded me several times that he has saved Holly twice now when I was ready to give up on her. I had to admit that he was right and that maybe I would listen to him next time he thinks we should try a little longer with an animal. Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned that lesson well but the story of Snowy, the lamb, is for another day…..

Garden Homestead

Garden 2023

Every winter when the seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail I start dreaming about what the garden could be. It’s so fun to read about the different varieties and see all the flowers. There are endlesspossibilities of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to choose from.

Seeds arrived in March and plants started arriving in April giving me spring fever along with them! It is so hard to be patient and just plant the things that must be planted early while being patient for the rest.

I have slowly been getting the garden ready and planted for the last several weeks. This year, I am taking my time getting it done and doing it exactly how I want it instead of hurrying and then being mad at myself for how it looks. Yes, I plan my garden based on how it will look if I can keep it all weeded, as well as which plants are good companions for each other. Keeping my garden weeded always seems to be an issue though, year after year…..this will be the year that I keep up with it all!

Our garden is actually 12 beds made from cedar tree trunks from the trees we cut down in our yard. Each year I rotate what is planted in them. Lance and the kids used old hog panels to build an arch trellis between each bed for plants to climb up. I love how it looks when the tomatoes and pumpkins are growing up it!

This year, I decided to only plant the things I know I can grow, with the exception of watermelon because I just can’t give up on it yet. The garden consists of 24 tomato plants, 12 sweet pepper and 2 jalapeƱo pepper plants, a lot of potatoes, several sweet potatoes, lots of onions, butternut squash (Colton asked that we plant a lot of this!), zucchini, bush beans, cucumbers, watermelon, and several pumpkin/winter squash varieties. Everything is planted except for the pumpkins and some of the winter squash. Then as soon as the seedlings are up we will lay down thick paper with straw on top of it to help keep the weeds under control. The paper will break down over time and the straw will compost nicely into the soil improving it while it does. We also put a couple of wheelbarrows full of manure in each bed before planting to help our soil.

We also added to our orchard this year by adding 3 apple trees and 2 pear trees to the peach trees. Two grape vines flank the archway gate. Two-year-old Blueberry and elderberry bushes are also in the yard. I am looking forward to the year we can harvest from all of them too!

I believe that every garden needs flowers in it as well not only to help attract more pollinators but also because I love flowers. Once the plants are all up and we have them mulched well, I will transplant some marigolds and zinnias from one of the flower beds (I have several flower beds but those will be another post for another day!) into the garden beds since they will need to be thinned out anyway.

The goal for this year is to be able to harvest and preserve as much as we can from it so I only planted what I have had success with before. We would like to provide at least a quarter of the tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pickles we eat each year. We also go through a lot of squash and potatoes so it would be nice to have a good amount of those stored away for the winter too. If you have any recipes for preserving any of the things in our garden please send them! I would love to can a variety of recipes to see what we like best.

If you have a garden or flower beds, I hope you have abundant rain, plenty of sunshine, and no bugs except the good ones!