Monthly Archives: September 2011

Goat Birth Story

Here’s Bebe with her latest batch of kids: Lazarus and Gretel.

It was August 1, and Bebe started acting kind funny one night. My friend Trista was staying at our house, and I told her to brace herself–she had come just in time to see a goat give birth. By midnight, Bebe had bedded down on some fresh straw and the birth blanket I keep around for such occasions. Nothing. I woke up at 3am and on a hunch ran down to the goat area. Bebe had already squeezed out a tiny–tiny!–little brown and black goatling who was in a heap, not moving. I’ve never had a dead goat baby on the farm so I was extremely upset. Especially because I’m pregnant myself and often have superstitious thoughts. Bebe didn’t seem to even see it, she was just delivering her second–a big healthy white doeling with red splotches. I grabbed a towel and wiped off the little guy’s face (I checked, he was a boy). Once he got warm from the blanket, he started moving around and making pitiful bleating noises. I tried to get him to suckle on Bebe’s teat, where the little girl had already latched on and was thriving. He couldn’t even stand. Bebe didn’t even acknowledge him–he was a dead kid to her.
I carried him upstairs. “Trista,” I knocked on her door. “Want to see a baby goat?” I brought him into her room. “Don’t get attached,” I said. “He’s not going to make it.” I felt a pang in my belly where my own growing child was gestating.
We looked at him–he was really cute with speckled ears. He got very quiet.
“Can’t you save him?” Trista asked.
“Probably not, plus he’s a boy–worthless in the dairy business.”
Then I carried him into the kitchen and did everything I could to save his ass.
Trista had drank a bottle of one of those Smirnoff Ice things, so I washed it out and filled it with colostrum powder mixed with warm water. I slapped a nipple for bottle feeding onto the Smirnoff bottle and offered it to the little guy. I figured he was too weak to suck. But he took to it. He gulped it down. I could feel his energy bounding back. He was alive.
I took him down to Bebe and his sister. I gave Bebe a snack of warm beet pulp and molasses water. She and her daughter were bonding, Bebe made little nickering sounds at her and licked her butt while she nursed. She would not do the same for him. I stayed down there, in the goat birthing cave swearing at Bebe, latching him on until he could get the real stuff. He couldn’t stand on his own and kept collapsing. After an hour of sneaking him onto Bebe’s teat, he finally could stand. I went back to bed thinking he was 50/50.
After a few hours of sleep I went down to check on everyone. Bebe and Gretel were snuggled up together, Lazarus was in another corner. One of his eyes looked glazed, like it had gone blind. I carried him around, warmed him up, stuck him back on Bebe.
Called my friend Kitty who also keeps goats in Oakland. I felt terrible. I’ve never had something bad like this happen with birth before. I didn’t have any medication to give him. Kitty did and rushed it over–anti-biotics for his eye and nutra-drench and a pro-biotic to give to weak kids. I was so grateful for the help and advice. I also gave him a dose of selenium just in case. After a few days Laz started to thrive. Bebe finally recognized him as her own and let him nurse without my intervention.
Now almost two months old, Lazarus is still small but he’s healthy and adorable–kind of like a pocket goat. A friend is going to take him and raise him with his other goats. Viva Laz! And thanks Kitty!

Bitch is Back

Hello Everyone!

Had such a nice summer off, but since it’s September 1, I figured I should decide: to blog or not to blog?

After a lot of discussion with friends and advisers, and bathtub sessions where I weighed the evil internet on one hand and the brilliance of connectivity on the other, I’ve decided to return. I think I’ll stop mentioning illegal things that I’ve been up to (so many) what with the man watching and all. So expect a bit tamer blog, ok?

I’ll catch up on what’s been going on at the farm this summer, slowly trickling it out over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to give a heads up for a couple of things:
-Classes have resumed at the Biofuel Oasis, my place of work. Because I wanted a break, I’m not teaching any classes, but we’ve replaced me with some all-stars (and probably better teachers than me) like Alexis from Soul Food Farms teaching a chicken class, Esperanza teaching rabbits, and Kitty teaching goats. Sign up now at the Biofuel Oasis website.

-My new book is coming out December 27 (hmm, right around the baby coming)! Willow Rosenthal and I have been slaving on this giant how-to book for the past three years or something. It’s called The Essential Urban Farmer. It’s got everything a budding or experienced urban farmer might want to know about growing veggies and fruit, securing land, and raising livestock in the city.

-Farm Stand Open in October…Maybe. We’ll see. But I’m hoping to finally get my use permit and get back to the once a month farm stand featuring greens and honey, carrots and apples. I’m also excited that my dear dear friend L is back in town after a long hiatus in dusty Texas, and we are scheming to sell cut flowers as well as all the glorious veg.

Finally, big news. Are you sitting down? I’m pregnant! Yup, that’s what happens when I take a break. Baby is due on Christmas. Billy and I are so excited. Human livestock. Wait, is that illegal?

That’s it for now, more soon–I gotta re-enter slowly….