Posted in Uncategorized

All That I Can for a Floppy Goat

John Wesley wrote,

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can. 

These are words I reread and try to live out loud, even with goats. Julie Andrews gave birth Friday afternoon to two beautiful bucklings. I started calling them Bert and Ernie. Things were fine. I was starting to feel a little better than I had felt earlier in the week. Then, things fell apart.  Literally. I awoke Saturday morning to find water under the kitchen sink where a washer from the drain had rusted and separated. I dried everything and quickly realized that we needed new parts. I felt dizzy from the week’s cold (or whatever lovely virus hit me) and I napped for an hour until Jim came home from work. Kelly stopped by and I decided to give the newborns their vaccines (like normal). I noticed that Bert was standing back a little and Ernie seemed to follow Julie Andrews without problems. Nothing unusual. 

A trip to Lowe’s and we fixed the worn-out washers and drain. I walked to the barn for one last check of the goats. Bert was in the woods, laying down and looked almost dead. Julie and Ernie were further in the woods. I grabbed Bert, shook him and ran to the house. He made a few audible protestes, but he was floppy, like a wet dishrag. He was cooler than he should have been. I wrapped him in a towel, and we mixed a cup of powdered colostrum.  He wouldn’t take the bottle.  I force-fed him milliliters of warm colostrum with a dropper. 

I called two other goat herders and we talked strategies. This is where a laundry basket and a heating pad become staples on the farm. Scooby sniffed at Bert and each time I would try force-feeding, Scooby insisted on sitting on my lap beside the goat. Wrapped in a towel, I fed another few milliliters of liquid to Bert. He napped and we repeated the process. Let me tell you that 2 am feedings with a baby goat involves a trip outside to potty and a fluffy white dog who insists that he’s a nurse. More droppers full of liquid. 

Repeat the process for a 5 am feeding. At 7 am, Jim joined the fun and was able to get Bert to eat almost 2 ounces. I headed out of town for a meeting, with the promise of returning in the afternoon. 

I joined my UMW sisters for a quarterly conference meeting and worship. They asked about the goats. I am thankful to be part of an organization that loves me for me…Goats and all.

After lunch, Jim texted a photo of Bert nursing in the pasture. I was elated. Hope soared. By the time I was home a few hours later, she had abandoned him again. Ernie continued to follow her and started showing signs of normal playful 3 day old goat behavior.  I found Jim force-feeding Bert. Kelly and I put Julie on the stanchion and I milked a few ounces into a bowl. She would not stand for Bert to nurse. 

So, Bert is in the house with us again tonight. In the laundry basket. We’ll feed him another 3 ounces tonight and in the morning and put him back in the pasture again. 

He has a 50/50 shot. We take it one day at a time and hope he makes it through the night. 

Farming is not for the faint of heart. Growing up, Daddy warned me to not fall in love with animals because my heart would be broken when they die. Out of the 8 goats we’ve kidded, the countless puppies our dogs had when we were little and of the calves I helped pull into  this world, I felt love for all of them. Heartbreak has been another part of the journey. Long nights of sitting up with expecting mothers, sick animals and a possible floppy goat with a poor prognosis, that’s just part of this leg of my journey…to do all that I can. 

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, Raised by a village

As The Goat Turns

We welcomed 2 new goats to the farm.. Sam, the yearling buck, and a yet to be named year-old female who happens to be Faith Hill’s daughter. 

Any suggestions on names for the new gal? She has one white side, two black circles on the other side, a black neck and head with fawn-brown legs. 

Buckling Jim Cantore went to be a growing stud on the farm where he was conceived.