Posted in farmlife, goatlife

We Called the Vet 

After four nights of 3 am bottle feeding baby goat Bert, we did all that we could, and then we called the vet at 6:45 am. I expected to leave a message, but surprisingly, my call was answered by our mobile vet and I explained that Bert had an elevated temperature,  faster than normal breathing, and weakness in standing.At 4 days old, he’s behind the curve because he did not get colostrum within the first 24 hours of his life. That first mother’s milk provides mammals with immunities to fight off infections for the first critical weeks. Without that nourishment and fluid, he’s fighting exponentially harder than his twin brother.

It’s been a roller-coaster with 3 am feedings and supplements. I’ve rationalized our decisions to this point and have been my biggest critic. Did we wait too long, should I have done something else, I am hardest on myself. 

I wrote down everything that we’d given Bert, a brief timeline of events. Jim took Bert to the vet’s place and I headed to work. Steeling myself for the worst, and knowing that going 23 hours without food is a poor prognosis, I hoped and prayed that he would either be ok or free of pain. 

About an hour later, Jim called to say that Bert was in better shape than the vet expected. He still refused a bottle, so she taught Jim how to tube feed him. The vet gave Bert an antibiotic shot, some additional anti-inflammatory medicine and said that he has and touch of pneumonia, but we did everything right. He may be a little more susceptible to infections, and he may be small, but his prognosis is good. I have to give him another shot in a few days, and to call the vet with any questions.  

At lunch, I called to check on Bert and Jim said that he perked up at the he sound of the other goats and when he heard his mother screaming for him, he actually tottered to her and she stood for a few minutes to let him nurse. Wonders never cease. I arrived home after work to find Bert napping in the hay, snuggled to his brother Ernie. When Julie Andrews spotted me, they stood up and started nursing again.  He’s still a little wobbly than the others, so we brought him inside to sleep in a laundry basket for another night while his lungs clear. He won’t take a bottle, so we tube fed him again late tonight and he’s sleeping in the laundry basket. He’s making huge strides and his eyes are clear, his coat is soft and his breathing has normalized. 

So in terms of John Wesley’s teachings, we did all we could and then we reached out for help. Our mobile vet is a blessing, an asset to the community and we consider her an extension of the family. Buy that’s a story for another day. 

Posted in farmlife, goatlife, Uncategorized

Goats in the Mist

While we wait for Betty White and Julie Andrews to deliver their babies, we welcomed two new kids on Sunday: a surprise delivery by Faith Hill, and tiny Clara Barton by Vera Wang. Before you ask, “what is in the water out there?” Remember, goat gestation is 150 days, and when Sam Elliott arrived late last summer, he liked all the ladies….a lot. 

Many mornings, I use my binoculars to peer from the kitchen window to count goats in the pasture. When I couldn’t locate Faith Hill, my friendly/pesky goat, I headed out to the barn. Hearing a new baby scream, I was overjoyed to see 2 pound MaeWest toddle to greet me. With her umbilical cord still fresh and her coat still damp with afterbirth, I scooped her in my arms and checked her. At first, I was disappointed because I thought she was a buckling. We only keep one male on the farm, and I remember the distress that Faith Hill had last summer when we separated her buckling. Picking her up again, I found her tiny “girl-parts”. And I sighed relief. She has a sweet disposition and does not run in fear like some do. 

Later that afternoon, Kelly called to say that he heard what sounded like a bird in the woods, and that Vera Wang was away from the herd. We found her tending a 1.5 pound pure white baby girl with ears as long as her little legs. Clara, named for three prominent women:

  1.  Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder
  2. Clara Swain, physician and Methodist missionary who focused on women’s healthare in India
  3. Clara Oswald, the fictional Impossible  Girl from the Doctor Who series

    Sure, she may look like Snow White, but she is so tiny that her odds may seem impossible. 

    Since Monday evening, I’ve battled a sinus headache and mild fever. I’m not sharing my kleenex with anyone. After a night of pouring rain and very little sleep from the congestion, I trudged to the barn to check the herd at 4 am. Light from my headlamp danced on the thick February fog. I wondered if Naturalist Dian Fossey ever saw shadows in the fog as she studied Gorillas in Rwanda. Silently, I counted each goat. So far, so good. 

    #KidWatch2017 continues. 

    Posted in goatlife, Raised by a village

    Status check: It’s a Girl

    It’s a Girl!! Rita Rudner delivered a beautiful black and white spotted 3 pound kid. She is adorable. Now, we need a name for her. I walked outside to take a photo of ZsaZsa-Noel on top of a hay bale,  and I saw something near Rita at the water bucket. I ran inside yelling, “we’ve got a new baby goat!!”

    Last night, Jim asked, “How are the goats?”

    I replied, “Julie Andrews, Betty White, Rita Rudner and Vera Wang are all still pregnant.”

    “How are the donkeys?”

    “Ney’s nose is healing from where his brother Pete bit him.”

    “How many barn cats showed up tonight?”

    “Just Soot and Tink. I think Peter Pan found better food elsewhere.”

    “How was work?”

    “Good. I wrote a nested IF (AND (OR statement that made people cringe.  How was your day?”

    This my friends is a typical conversation for us. 

    And I answer typical questions from others like

    Q: “So Janet, how many eggs does a chicken lay?”

    A: Usually one per day depending on the breed and age.

    “Why do you have goats?”

    A: I like goats. They manage the pastures so I don’t have to mow.

    “Why do you have donkeys?”

    A: to protect the goats and to eat grass. They make me laugh.

    “Why haven’t you put up new pictures of the baby goat?”

    A: Daylight standard time.

    “Do you sell pineapples? ”

    A: I live closer office than I do to the equator. 

    “Can you write are formula to calculate……..?”

    A: probably. Let’s talk about your request 

    So I don’t only talk about goats, but sometimes the conversation just returns to farm topics. 

    And yes, when I display pictures of kids, they have 4 legs. 

    Posted in farmlife, goatlife

    Walks with Goats

    I’ve been told that a visit to the farm is like therapy. Even when we’re trying to outsmart a catfood-stealing raccoon or mending fences for goat escapees, there is something therapeutic to tending the animals, walking to the creek and searching for crawdads (aka crayfish).

    Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we continued a tradition of having bonfires as we cleared more brush from the pasture and fence lines. The difference this year was that we actually had goats inside the fence with us. We even gave the newest baby goat (ZsaZsaZsa-Noel) her first vaccine, and we did a round of goat deworming medicine for the others.


    When Kristie and Ali visited the farm, we had hoped that the donkeys would bray at the sound of a violin, but the donkeys just turned and walked to the barn, much to my disappointment. Kristie said, “this is the first time my audience has ever pooped during a performance.”

    Ali fed the goats and donkeys crackers and goat snacks, gathered eggs, and we looked for crawdads in the creek. This time of year can be overwhelming to adults. It’s remembering that acorns with caps, pinecones on dead trees and crawdads under rocks in the cold creek water are pure joy.
    It’s coloring in books, spending time and being present that is the present that so many seek this time of year. When the tree is put away, the wrapping paper torn and the lights grow dim, the time we spend in the company of angels is the gift that we carry throughout the year.

    In the words of the old hymn, “What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart.”

    May you give from your heart.

    Photos courtesy of Janet Reep-Morgan,  Kristie Bittleston and Jim Morgan.  Used with permission on



    Posted in goatlife

    And Then We Had Number Ten

    “ZsaZsa-Noel” was born at the farm Monday night at 7:30 pm and quickly sniffed by Pete the donkey. When Jim arrived home from work, he heard a goat scream, and headed to the barn to check on the animals. I filled the #vittlesvault with fresh cat food and secured the lid. Jim said, “Janet, you need to come here.”  Walking closer, I heard the faintest bleating. My headlamp shone in the barn and a tiny white slick  form wiggled in the corner. Connie Francis stood looking shocked and exhausted. She had been the one bleating fifteen minutes earlier with labor pains that summoned Jim to the barn. I fetched old towels and returned to the barn as Connie Francis instinctually began cleaning the baby. Cautiously, I picked up the fresh baby and announced, “it’s a girl!” My phone was dying, but I used the last of the battery to show our new addition on Facebook Live.  

    Quickly, friends began offering name ideas including Winter, Joy, Noel, ZsaZsa, Wobbles, Vanna White, Isabella, and Vera Sue. My phone battery died.  Jim secured the “maternity ward” which separated the new mother and her kid to allow for bonding (and to keep them out of the woods). Jim headed back to the house to eat supper saying, “I’m going to call her Number Ten.” With my phone charging, I read him a few of the name suggestions, and we laughed. 

    Jim went to bed, and I went back to the barn. Kelly came out, and we waited to see if another baby would arrive.   Nothing. Kelly went back inside and I made one more trip to the barn. As I sat with mother and newborn in the chilly barn, waiting to see if she would deliver a twin, I heard coyotes in the nearby woods. Connie Francis looked around and stood over her baby protectively. I tried to outfit the new kid with a human-baby onesie.  Connie Francis was not impressed, and we both agreed that alterations would be required. The donkeys, Pete and Ney, stood guard outside the barn with their ears pricked in attention listening to the nearby coyotes. 

    By this time, it was nearly midnight, so I headed to the house to get some sleep. As I turned the barn corner, I noticed the barn cats sitting on a nearby stump and wondered why they were not in the barn. Then, I saw something gray run into the barn and I thought, “that’s a big gray striped cat….ohhhh…that’s the raccoon who’s been eating the cat food!” My mind ran wild with images of a raccoon hurling itself on my head or jumping out to scare me. Compounded by exhaustion, I began seeing monsters in the dark as sounds from the woods engulfed my senses. 

    Collapsing into bed, I quickly fell asleep. It seemed too fast that my 5 am alarm sounded, and I headed back to the barn to check on the new pair. 

    ZsaZsa-Noel appears to be a healthy little girl with big ears and an appetite. Her mother is protective and keeping the paparazzi  (me) at horns-length. 

    “These names”, people always ask, “how did you come up with these names?” The goats give me their names. Just the previous day, the actress, ZsaZsa Gabor died at the the age of 99. “ZsaZsaNoel” fits perfectly with our famously-named goats and the Christmas season. I considered Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) as it would fit the Disney characters of Mary Poppins and Queen Lillian, and our twin trouble makers who were born to Julie Andrews in July. When we bought Faith, Gretel, Vera and Rita earlier this year, I wondered how the goat lady knew their names. To keep them straight, I altered their original names so that I could keep them straight. Faith became Faith Hill, Vera became Vera WangRita became Rita Rudner, and Gretel..well, she became Julie Andrews because when she walks, she reminds me of songs from The Sound of Music

    Now that I’ve been with the girls for nearly a year, I know their names like I know their spots. Each goat is named for an actor, comedian or musician whose work I like. Why would I name a goat after someone I don’t like? 

    Posted in farmlife, goatlife

    It’s 8:15, Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?

    Living next door to my brother is extremely helpful. However, I’m sure he does not want to chase goats four times in 48 hours.

    Sunday morning, I called him after discovering Mary Poppins on the other side of the fence. I was in my pajamas and boots, just outside to break the ice on water buckets. There she stood, a 50 pound 6-month-old kid nibbling on privet leaves. Her mother, Julie Andrews, was frantic when I walked back the house to get my overalls and gloves. I imagined that I could hear her saying, “My baby, save my baby!”

    Donning my overalls, gloves, cap and with pliers in hand, I managed to rope Mary Poppins as she bleated as if I was hurting her. She slipped the rope, and I called Kelly. “Will you come help me catch Mary Poppins?” I asked when he answered the call. “Sure” He replied and I started devising a way to capture the kid.  I managed to grab her back leg. She screamed in shock, and I picked her up. As I tossed her over the fence, she twisted and head-butted my nose. It wasn’t bleeding. Then Kelly showed up we walked the fence line looking  for breaks. 

    Goat capture was not on my agenda for the day. Add in laundry, dishes, a request for a video of goat captures, and church…then fast-forward five hours. 

    In the waning hours of the day, I checked the goats. I found that I was 3 goats shy of a full herd. So, I texted to my friend Diane, “2 escaped. 1 stuck.”  Fence pliers in hand, I called her, “Where are you? I’ve got two escaped and one stuck in the fence. You asked for video, now it’s your time to shoot the video.”  I laughed and she said that they were enroute home from a day trip. With Jim at work for another hour, I figured that I could at least get one escapee back in the fence solo.

    I went into analyst mode and decided on a process flow. First, Betty White needed to be freed from the fence.  After she stuck her head through the 4×4 fence, her horns got stuck.  Suddenly faced with pliers, she magically backed her head out of the fence; she was toying with me hoping for a handful of grain. Second, I managed the grab Queen Lillian and tossed her over the fence. I heard Scooby barking as I tripped on a tree root chasing Mary Poppins. Counting down the minutes until Jim arrived home, I patiently followed Mary Poppins through the briars. 

    In the darkness, I heard, “Hey! The goat capturers are here…how do we get to you?” I looked up and asked, “who’s there?! Diane?” Sure enough Diane and her husband walked around the barn and helped snag Mary Poppins. They had been in the area and gladly helped with the escapee. Thus ended Sunday. 

    Monday night, after sitting in 90 minutes of snarled commuter traffic, I arrived home to see a light at the barn. I called Kelly, “are you at the barn?” 

    He asked, “Yes, did you get the pictures?” I looked at my phone and saw two little brown goats on the wrong side of the fence…again. Twins are double-trouble. 

    My sister-in-law heard a goat screaming and Kelly found the twins breaking fences again. We repaired the fence, replaced the goats and shook our heads. 

    Tuesday night, Jim said that it was date-night which included homemade vegetarian burritos and a moonlit walk to the barn to count goats. At that point, I and heard the love of my life saying, “there it is, the shiny new roll of fencing that we’ll install on your day off Friday.”

    You might be a goat farmer when you consider a “vacation” day from the office to be a date. Just in case you ever wondered what we do on personal days, we usually do farm stuff. 

    Photos courtesy of Kelly Reep 2016. All rights reserved by 

    Posted in farmlife, goatlife

    It Was Fun Until I Stepped on the Yellow Jackets’ Nest

    When the vet came out for a herd check in September, I took a day off from work so that I could catch animals and give the goats their CDT shots. This annual vaccine prevents against tetanus and an overeating disease (enterotoxemia). At that point  the vet told me to give a booster after  4 weeks, then plan to revaccinate annually. Each month, we also check their famacha score, monitor for intestinal worms, and give deworming medicine quarterly. That’s our “worming protocol”. 

    We planned the October booster for  weeks. We added a new catch chute, strategized and successfully completed a walk through the chute without issue. Goat vaccine day arrived and my friend Cynthia came by with her teenage daughters to help round up the goats. 

    My rule to the girls, “don’t get hurt” was said too late.  The eldest backed into the electric fence and shocked herself.The youngest got stuck in he woods in between the long briars. And the middle, she followed me into the woods and got stung twice by yellow jackets. 

    During the goat roundup first pass, Faith Hill followed me through the chute and stood for her shot. Vera Wang and Rita Rudner were fairly cooperative. Betty  White escaped and vomited in a panic. Julie Andrews gave chase. Sam, Queen Lillian and Mary Poppins were decent, but Connie Francis made the afternoon into a full scale goat-hunt. We followed them into the woods, and  I stepped off he trail into a yellow-jackets’ nest.  The first 3 stings on my elbow felt like razor blades. Then, I screamed, C screamed and ran from the woods. A sting on my chest left me saying a bad word and a quest to find the  gas can. 

    Those goats could wait long enough for Kelly and I to kill the nest. We retraced our steps. Kelly found the small opening in the ground where foraging yellow jackets flew in and out. I poured gasoline on the hole. Kelly received a sting on the arm. He poked the ground. I slapped at my knee and felt more stings on my arm and leg.  

    We left the nest and tried once more to capture Betty White and Connie Francis. Successfully, Connie Francis came through the chute, and I managed to give her a shot with two people holding her.  At that moment, Betty White escaped a second time and I called the event to an end. I said, “well, if she dies, I’ll dig a hole” knowing fully that if she can be held for 5 minutes I can vaccinate her. She escaped twice that week and I did not feel like adding to her anxiety by continuing the chase. 

    My forearm throbbed. Four stings on my already sore arm (tennis elbow from goat wrestling  the previous month), one sting on my chest and one on my leg made me the winner with 6 total stings. At the end of the day, the girls said that they had a good time…minus the shocking, getting lost in the briar patch, and enduring stings by yellow jackets.

    The next night, Kelly and I checked the nest. It was dead and quiet.He dug out the bottom layer full of eggs. We refilled the cantelope-sized hole it dirt so that we wouldn’t break an ankle accidentally stepping into it. 

    Goat ownership, with its scheduling and pasture management, is like tinker toys …limited only by imagination and financing. It’s all fun and games until a goat fails to cooperate or somebody steps on the yellow jackets’ nest. 

    Posted in goatlife

    Goats Just Want to Have Fun

    Looking for ways to make milking fun? I adorned my Alpine milking goat named Faith Hill bright pink tutu. She easily stepped into it as she stood on the stanchion. 

    Walking around in tulle is not a fashion statement every goat wants, so it’s important to help her remove the accessory before returning to the herd. Especially if there are not enough for everyone. 

    This elasticized ensemble can be reused for 5K races, Halloween parties and bonfires.  You just never know when a good tutu will come in handy. 

    Posted in farmlife, goatlife

    Weirdo Goats

    As the days turn to fall, the days shorten and dusk falls earlier each night. The goat still needs to be milked. Tonight, it was just me with Faith Hill who easily went to the stanchion. As I sat to milk her, 3 other goats nudied my legs for treats. Then, I felt something breathing on my neck. I jumped, turned and met the gaze of ADHD Sam, who licked me on the cheek. At least he didn’t make those crazy mating calls. I gave him an apple treat, and he headbutted Connie Francis. Rita Rudner laid her poke-berry stained head in my lap and Betty White nibbled at my apron.  I only screamed a little when the old barn made creaking noises and a barn cat streaked by my feet. Weirdo goats. 

    Posted in goatlife

    American Ninja Goats

    I admit it, I watch American Ninja Warrior on television. There is skill, training, dedication and hard-work that these folks demonstrate on national television. There are gyms across the country that teach people to master the skills necessary to compete. The website to submit an application to compete on the show is impressive in itself.
    For me, racing against the clock to jump onto plexiglass walls over pools of water is quite foreign. I spent years balancing on rocks crossing icy creeks in the winter and dodging steaming piles of cow manure in the pastures of hot, humid summers. Yet, devoting hours each week to mastering an obstacle course never really crossed my mind.

    However, our goats love climbing.They attempt to climb trees, hay bales, and they even like to stand on the donkeys’ backs. To amuse them, Jim built a goat tree house / obstacle course, worthy of the American Ninja Warrior contestants. Now, they spend hours jumping on the boards and knocking each other off.  We lack the television crew to film their antics, but their dismounts are medal-worthy!