Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fawning all over you!

Going back a few weeks, to the day before my parents arrived (which seems like yesterday really), we had an unexpected arrival. In fact, we had two arrivals. A friend of mine from work contacted me, since I had been out of the office, wanting to know if we could possibly take a fawn! She even sent an adorable video of her with the fawn. I was smitten, of course. She came to have the fawn because her neighbor witnessed its mother's demise in an auto incident. She had two fawns and one ran away into the woods, but he rescued the other one and brought it home. He lives in the city and really couldn't keep it, so it went to my colleague, and thus it came to me. It came along with a gosling who had been brought out of the woods by a dog....a dog whose teeth had pierced its skin on its back. I agreed to take both of them and consider what to do with the deer. I already had a single gosling that I had hatched from an egg, so I thought it might like a friend, which indeed it does.

So, the fawn went into the pen in the barn with the young chickens. She was incredibly tiny. I honestly think she was only a couple of days old.
I had 2 chickens in the pen who had sat on clutches of eggs and who had been raising their broods in the barn in a safe spot. I received the fawn along with a can of evaporated milk and a bottle. I knew, immediately, that cow's milk is not appropriate for fawns, but I double checked to be sure what might be better. Goat's milk it was, and....lo and behold....we have goats! So, little lady of the forest began to receive goat's milk by the bottle full. She just loved it. She had the most endearing habit of sucking on the bottle for a while, and then looking up at me with her enormous, deep blue eyes, and switching to suck on my chin or my earlobe! Boy did she have sharp teeth! But, I never did have the heart to stop her!

I knew, first and foremost, that only licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialists should be dealing with her, and I also knew that, adorable as she was, she would grow up into a very hungry adult deer, and a strong, beautiful wild creature, who really had no place on my farm.
So, with a heavy heart, I asked Kelly to take her to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic at Iowa State University veterinary school. I have previously taken baby rabbits there when my dog killed their mother, and also injured birds. Kelly had to go to the vet school for his poultry NPIP training, so he took her with him and she delighted the staff of the clinic, who all began taking pictures with their cell phones.

She had no fear of humans and loved to be held. If I began to walk away, after her bottle, she would cry, little mewing/bleating noises. It was simply magical to turn around and watch her trot, unsteadily, over to me and stare up at me, begging to be held on my lap. I held her on my lap for a long time, stroking her sweet, soft fur. Her little lines of white spots were mesmerizing, begging one to count them and try to "connect the dots." She would fall asleep on my lap and be perfectly peaceful. I truly think it was an unforgettable experience to have her for those three days. I never knew that fawns had such brilliant blue eyes, or such addictive personalities!

The gosling is beginning to look very much like a Canada Goose gosling. Its back is healing well and it loves to spend time with my Sebastopol cross gosling. I suppose I shall let them grow up together and if it wants to stay on my farm, I shall let it do so, and feed it along with our other waterfowl. If it wants to migrate or leave in the fall when the skeins of geese fly overhead in their endless procession, then so be it.

The wildlife clinic said that the fawn will be placed in a program for orphaned fawns where, once stabilized, they will receive minimal human contact and be prepared (over time) for release into the wild. I think that is best, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to have shared a few moments of her life and to have been bewitched by her charm.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bad, Bad Blogger! (Baby pictures to make up for my absence...)

I am such a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in sooooo long, I nearly forget how to do it! Sorry to all - I didn't fall off the edge of the earth, nor did I get stampeded by a herd of roving water buffalo. I didn't even get hit by a bus. Instead, I had final exams. Three of them. It took a lot of studying time, and I was "sequestered" at my desk. Then, after I finished my last exam, I had roughly 24 hours before my parents arrived for a 2-week visit. You know what that house!!! So, I cleaned and organized (really, I did!) and finished up the final touches on the guest room, which Kelly and I had freshly painted in preparation for their arrival. So then, I spent 2 blissful weeks with my parents, not worrying about school or work or anything else. Just sharing the delight of their company, which I so rarely have these days.

Kelly and I so enjoyed their visit. They are tremendously helpful here on our little farm, and we manage to do things much more quickly when they visit because they are so willing to assist us! We put in more fencing than I care to remember, we planted 13 rows of potatoes (8 varieties!), we fed the animals, we laughed at their antics, we planted new plants, we weeded (especially my mother, who is an expert weeder), we transplanted 45 highbush cranberry shrubs (my father is an expert transplanter) and 5 young elm trees. We chased goats who got out of their pen, we sheared llamas, we even sheared llamas who had no desire whatsoever to be anywhere near the hand shears. I taught my mother how to use a drop spindle and showed her how to use the spinning wheel. My Dad and I taste-tested cider and strawberry lager. In short, we were very, very busy. I wish they lived just down the road so that we could visit often and we'd help them with their garden and they'd help us with our projects. But since that cannot be, we do the best we can with the short times that we spend together.

There will be numerous forthcoming blogs about our adventures, but for today, I would like to introduce our latest farm baby. Wilder was born last night to our Nubian doe, Laura. He was her first born. He was sired by our Nigerian Dwarf buck, Ramses (from Black Cat Creek Farm).

I was so sad my mother missed the birth of this little darling boy. She would have loved to be here for it. After we dropped my parents at the airport, we ran some errands and came home for supper. It was after supper that I ventured out to the barn to feed the chickens and close them up for the night. As I wandered into the barn, I saw Laura, with the telltale mucus hanging from her back end....she was in labor. I rushed back to the house to call Kelly and we went and sat in the barn, expecting a baby any moment. We waited, we talked, I read a book, we waited some more. Kelly went inside and I had the cell phone to call him. Then I went inside and he came out. She passed the mucus, she strained, she pushed, she stared at the ceiling, she lay down and stood up repeatedly, and nothing happened.

I went in to look up goat labor on the internet, to see if it was taking too long. Everything I read suggested 1 to 2 hours after the mucus had passed was normal. We hummed and hawed. Finally, about 5 hours after it began, I decided it was time for an internal check. I donned the shoulder-length gloves that we have for this purpose, and used generous lubricant. This was my first venture into the inside of a goat. I had read about it, studied pictures, learned the various ways a baby goat could be positioned and how to try to fix it. I felt like I could handle it, but I was still kind of nervous. It was about 11 pm.

About 3 inches into the canal, I encountered hooves. Two of them! Yay! I moved a little further in, and found a head. Yes, that meant they were front hooves. The baby was positioned normally. I stopped and let her continue. She pushed, she strained, she arched her back, she stared at the ceiling, she lay down, she got up....well, you get the idea. Nothing happening. So, around midnight, I made the executive decision: it was time to deliver a baby.

Kelly held Laura (much to her dismay), I reached in and grabbed little hooves and began to pull out and downward, Laura hollered like a stuck pig, I kept pulling, Kelly kept holding, and out popped a bouncing baby boy. I was amazed at how easy it was to pull him out. Yes, it took effort and a calm deliberate persistence, but he came out fairly quickly once I had the head out, and then Laura was all over him, licking and grunting in that way only mother goats do.

We toweled him off and within less than 10 minutes he was standing and nursing.
I was soooo relieved. I was afraid he would be stillborn after all that time, afraid that he was breach, afraid that he was not going to be healthy. None of those fears were warranted. He is a sweet bundle of joy.

I can't resist posting this picture of how I found them this morning, lying side by side in the lambing/kidding pen. He is so very tiny compared to her. His parentage makes him a mini-nubian. He is possibly smaller than Luna when she was born.
Since his mother's name is Laura, we named him "Wilder" after Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the "Little House on the Prairie" series of books, which I enjoyed as a child. He is the little goat on the prairie. We welcome him to our farm.

I have blog awards to write about, I am behind on emails, I haven't read anyone's blogs, and I am woefully behind on everything else in life, so please forgive me if I haven't returned an email or if you think I've abandoned your blog. I haven't! I'm back, and will be catching up soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

After the rain...

Well, I have an exam at 8 am tomorrow, so this is a short blog. I just need a quick break from studying, and I can't help but show some of the photos I took earlier this evening. There was one of those tremendous Iowa spring thunderstorms this evening - dark as night, lightning and thunder crashing, torrential rain, and then within 15 minutes, glorious sunshine again! The hens all scattered when the rain came, taking cover under anything handy, or running back to the coop. The goats and sheep went into the barn, the llamas lay down in the rain (crazy animals) and the donkeys watched from the barn door. The ducks had a splash-fest.

Then, as the sun came out, there was an incredible double rainbow, and I had to grab the camera.

As you can see, the bottom rainbow is much more vivid, but both were there, and both were full rainbows. I can't remember the last one I saw that was so vivid!

As the sun came out again, the ducks began to dig through the puddles left by the rain, including the one by the downspout.
They all wanted to get in on the act.
The hens went digging in the compost pile for worms.
And the mosquitoes came out in droves...
So the human went back into the house to keep studying. Yawn....

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sven, the heartthrob lamb!

Oh Sven, you just make my heart go pitter-pat. If I were a female sheep, I'd be following you around with my tongue hanging out. You just make one little "bleat" and I come running to make sure you're alright. It's clear, you have me wrapped around your little hoof.

Seriously, what's not to love about this lamb?

I love all our lambs of course. This has been our first year of lambing and it has been exciting and thrilling and entirely fascinating. I had never watched a lamb being born before, never held a newborn lamb that was still wet from birth, never participated so closely in their care. Even though I did bottle feed a couple of lambs as a child, this spring has been just remarkable in terms of what I've learned about sheep, lambs, and fleece! Here's the crew of 2009 lambs - Sven and Bramble in the middle, Calypso and Clipper both to the left, and Rocky and Bullwinkle front and right.

Even so, there is always one lamb that stands out. Sven's little sister, Bramble, is adorable because she's so tiny and sweet. But Sven himself is bewitching. His shape is so square and solid - you can already see that he's going to be a lovely adult ram. He is always with Bramble! Here they are, sleepy in the sun.

His face is very symmetrical and well shaped, with those horns just bursting out already. I think his face will just get more beautiful as he becomes an adult. I hope his horn set is good!

His fleece is gorgeous - he came out jet black, but his "sugar lips" gave away the grey trait, and now it is beginning to show. He will have a gorgeous soft grey fleece, perfect for spinning!

So, much as I love all my 2009 lambs, I think Sven is my favorite so far in terms of his overall appearance and traits. Of course....we're still waiting on the ever-huge Kitkat.

I'd love to know what other Icelandic sheep owners think of my Sven!