It’s been a rough month of June here on the ranch, and June is only half over. Like My Cowboy says, “When it rains, it pours.” We seem to go along real smoothly for quite awhile, then a bunch of bad stuff happens all at once.
Back in the winter, when I had my foot in a boot, and My Cowboy was having to do winter chores all alone, even tho he’s the one with congestive heart failure, we had a serious discussion about downsizing our little ranch. We decided to get out of the cow/calf operation. So we sold our pregnant cows.
On June 1st, they went to their new home. And it’s a good home, so I’m really OK with it. They will be well cared for, and happy. We still have three little heifers here, and we will wait until fall to decide what to do with them. We usually babysit a few head for a friend of ours at different points throughout any given year, and we may raise some feeder calves next summer, but we believe this will make next winter a lot easier to get through.
Have I mentioned how bad it sucks to have to “get your affairs in order”? We work on this every year, and with my brother’s sudden and unexpected passing, and the COVID-19 threat that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, we’ve stepped up our efforts so as not to leave a mess or a burden behind for those who love us. It’s hard, and it’s not fun. But I highly recommend doing it anyway.
On June 3rd, nine of my goat babies went to their new home. While that’s all right, since I know they’re going to a good home, it still hurts my heart to see them go. And I kept six of the babies.
The saddest part of it all was selling Wyatt, my billy goat. He’s been the best billy goat we’ve ever had, and no matter how hard I tried not to get too attached to him, I still fell in love with him, simply because he’s such a sweetheart.
Billy goats are not generally sweethearts, but Wyatt is different. I had two choices: castrate him and keep him for a pet, or sell him so he can keep on being a baby daddy. He produces such wonderful babies, and he’s only 2 years old, so I decided to let him go so he can keep doing what he does best. And I know where he is, so if I really wanted to, I could go see him. But that would probably just make me sadder.
Because here at Prairie Moon Ranch, we are also getting out of the goat breeding business as part of our downsizing plan. This spring’s perfect batch of 15 sweet little babies was the best luck we’ve ever had with a baby goat crop, so we’re quitting while we’re ahead. It’s too hard on my heart. I worry about the pregnant mommies, I lose a lot of sleep while it’s kidding season, and then I worry a lot about the babies until they’re at least 6 weeks old. Then it comes time to send them out into the world, and that completely breaks my heart. I can’t do it any more. And I super worry about what will happen to them if anything happens to me. Have I ever mentioned that I’m simply a worry wart by nature? It’s stressful.
So the goats we have left are the only ones we’ll have here from now on.
And here’s a goat fact: Goats prefer to eat weeds. They only eat grass as a last resort.
And we only have 3 little calves left. So we have more grass here on this farm than our animals can keep up with. So My Cowboy bought me a present!
Meet Sir Lancelot and Merlin:
These two little guys are hair sheep, meaning they won’t need to be sheared, and they like to eat grass! So hopefully they’ll be earning their keep around here, by eating the stuff the goats won’t. Merlin, the gold one, is a little sweetheart, while Lance is a bit more stand-offish yet. I’ll eventually make him love me, tho!
My Cowboy wants to call him Marty because the look he always has on his face reminds him of Marty Feldman! Too funny!
And altho that’s happy news, this is not a happy post. Just in the past week, something got hold of one of my little kittens and injured it’s arm really bad, so I’ve had her in the house in a cage to doctor her. I just yesterday set her loose back in the barn, and as of this morning, she’s still getting around and doing OK. When it first happened, I took her down to my sister’s house so she could help me assess the situation and get me started on the right track with her recovery (especially since she’s the one who gave me the kitten in the first place).
I took the dog, Abby, with me, because she loves to go play with Katy’s dog, Mojo. They play so hard it wears Abby completely out.
When we got home, Abby got impatient, and bailed out of the truck too soon, and as she did, she got her foot caught in the seat somehow and injured herself, so she’s still limping around and not able to walk right. We’ve had her on painkillers, but it will simply take time to get better. And telling a dog they need to rest their foot is impossible, but we’ve been trying to keep her more still than usual. She doesn’t seem to mind laying around inside in the AC!
And for the last two weeks, my precious girl, Sissy, has been sick.
After trying everything we could think of, hours of research online, hundreds of dollars on meds, some advice from our vet (who isn’t a goat expert by any stretch of the imagination), and round the clock treatment, we lost her yesterday afternoon. She left behind her devoted sister, Sassy, and her two little babies, Agnes and Arthur.
For those of you who followed the journey of Sassy and Sissy since they were born on January 25, 2018, here’s a little recap photo album of Sissy’s too-short life . . .
They were born as a set of triplets, and rejected by their mother. They lost their brother, Hunter, at three weeks of age. Sassy and Sissy lived in the house for about 6 months, spoiled rotten and raised on bottles. They were constant hilarious entertainment . . .
. . . good kitchen help . . .
. . . trash can raiders . . .
. . . and loved to chew on everything.
They also loved cardboard boxes, and playing with all the cat toys. For a long time, I’m pretty sure they thought they WERE cats! They were just so stinkin’ adorable (as baby goats tend to be)!
Spring came, and it was time to introduce them to the outside world. On their first outing, they had no idea what to do. They just stood there!
But they got the hang of it pretty quickly, and graduated to eating real food outdoors.
And when they were 6 months old, it was past time to wean them off bottles completely, and let them start living outdoors permanently. This was my first attempt at leaving them outdoors all night. They looked at me through the window, and cried a little, and I went and got them and brought them right back in!
But we kept trying, and eventually, they managed a full night outdoors, and grew up fast.
Sassy and Sissy were always together. Sissy had such a meek and timid personality, and was very prone to stress, so it was difficult for her to be part of the larger herd because she got bullied a lot. Sassy, however, protected her from all that. Without Sassy, Sissy might not have made it this far, or I’d have just had to keep her indoors forever!
Best friends, always together.
Their first Christmas:
Their first birthday:
They were great photo shoot help:
Their second birthday, January 25th, 2020:
Then . . . I discovered that Sissy was pregnant, by accident, because Wyatt broke into the goat pen when he wasn’t supposed to be in there. I never meant to breed her, so this, naturally, worried me greatly. But she did really good, and had these two cute little babies.
And she was a good mother.
Since I’m such a worry wart goat momma, I keep a really close eye on each one of them, so we noticed right away when she started having issues, and started doctoring her immediately. It is often said, tho, that by the time a goat shows any symptoms of being sick, it’s too late to save them. It was certainly true in this case. I feel like we treated her like a pincushion the last week or so — so many injections, and poking meds down her throat. She got to where she’d try to escape if she saw My Cowboy coming, because she knew what time it was!
We managed to halt her decline, but were having trouble getting her to improve. Just yesterday morning, she showed a couple signs that she was making a turn for the better. She ate some food I hand fed her for lunch, and drank a good amount of water. But none of that helped in the end. With her sister and her babies close beside her, she simply gave up.
We buried her under the tree where they had their first outdoor outing.
Thank God for Sassy, who has taken over the care of those babies like they’re her own. She can’t nurse them, but they were pretty much weaned already, and at least she can offer them protection and consolation; and they love their Aunt Sassy, so that makes me feel a lot better, even tho my heart is broken for Sassy and the babies and myself.
I’m sure everything will eventually be all right, but for now, I’m sad and broken hearted.
I don’t like to post sad stuff here, but I also can’t pretend that everything is always sunshine and roses here at the ranch, because it’s NOT. So thank you so much for reading and being a part of the entire saga of Prairie Moon Ranch. And after two really sad “News From the Ranch” posts, I’m really hoping that the next report is a happy one!
It has cheered me up to be getting happy mail from so many of you, tho! I’m getting lots of signature blocks in the mail, so thank you so much to those of you who have sent them, and if you haven’t yet, don’t be thinking it’s too late because I’ll be collecting for awhile. I hope you will make one and send me! You can find the info HERE.
Until next time . . . happy stitching!