July 4, 2023 at 7:55 a.m.

Fresh from the Farm: Blessings

By Shelley Young

Yesterday I decided that it had to be a quilting day. Since our family has downsized over the years as the children have grown and gone, I moved my sewing into the family room. I have my table facing the sliding glass doors, which look out into the pasture and woods. I watched the goats walk out into the pasture after being milked. I could see the trees sway as the wind blew through them. We have a resident woodpecker who was keeping himself busy flying from tree to tree looking for breakfast. The sounds were music to my ears. The things we take for granted. I am truly blessed! I am hoping to get several quilts done this year. If nothing else, then to enjoy the scenery form my sewing room.

Show season has not begun for us yet. We will only be exhibiting at Indiana State Fair this year. The trip to Oregon to show at nationals was canceled. I have to admit that I wasn't upset that Ayana would not be making the trip west. It is quite the undertaking to get ready for these shows. I enjoy my animals right here at home. While our goat family is an incredible bunch of folks, I like visiting them without so much work involved. Is that a sign of my age?

We had a short kidding season this year. We only bred 12 animals and we were done by the end of March. Perhaps the shortest kidding season in 25 years. I did have a doe having a bit of an issue having a kid. At 1 a.m. I made my way back to the house in the rain to get a bucket of soapy water, towels and some help. I was ready to go back out in a matter of minutes. As I grabbed my bucket and dry towels, I hit that wet porch and slipped and off the porch I went upside down, with one leg caught in the door. Now my first thought was the searing pain running through my leg. The second was, if I didn't hurry, I would lose that kid and possibly the dam. Nobody else being in a hurry to help, I was on my own. Got my leg unhooked and realized, somehow, I had not lost a drop of water and my towels were still in my arms and dry. I have no idea how, but I was grateful. Rushed to the barn to figure out that Shirley was trying to deliver a kid with its head turned back. One of the worst positions for a kid to try to enter this world. Help finally arrived and I was able to get a beautiful doe kid out as well as a buck that was behind her. A little sore, but Shirley was a trooper and bounced right back. I was a lot sore and didn't bounce back as quickly as Shirley.

We are now down to milking just nine does. I can hand milk them in about 45 minutes. So, what do we do with all that milk? We still have three babies that need milk twice a day. But each doe is producing at least a gallon per day. Except Kilt Lifter. She's an over achiever at 15 pounds (almost a gallon and a half) per day. We had a wildlife rescue contact us and our does are helping to feed orphaned baby deer this year. Of course, the does get greedy now and then and want their milk back. So, for the ones that need it, they get to drink their milk back. It helps with conditioning for show, and of course it's great for their health. And for the life in me, I cannot make sense out of milking a goat and giving it back to her. But there's a lot of things that we do on the farm that doesn't make sense....but it works!

We had an interesting visitor this year. There's nothing like swinging the door open to the feed room and being stared down by the resident skunk. He was a big boy but appeared to be rather calm. At least he didn't try to spray me. He did make his way up to the house one night. I was sleeping with my window open, and his aroma was so strong that it woke me up. That's when I decided Peppy had to find a new home. My house smelled for several days. Peppy was easily caught (he loved cat food) and relocated to a more suitable place.

I'm looking forward to doing a bit of canning this year. We don't need a lot as my shelves are fairly full. I do enjoy canning green beans and tomatoes especially. And I always like to try something new. Since I don't have time to garden, I buy from Bush's market in bulk. I love to make jams and jellies, but we just don't eat enough of it to justify canning too much. I did a little last year so this year will be put on hold for the sweets. I am not so patiently waiting on Bush's to open. While I love to can, there is nothing like a pot of fresh green beans, corn on the cob, and tomatoes along with some smoked sausage, for a great summertime meal. Maybe I should have planted some lettuce. Wilted lettuce is one of my all-time favorites. My momma made the best!

We recently suffered the loss in our goat family. Bruce Foster passed away last month. This man has hauled my children and their animals all over the country showing. He was like a second dad to them. While it is a huge loss to the goat world, it has been a devastating loss to our family. Some of you may not understand the term "goat family". While they may not be biologically related, they are part of a very close-knit group that drop everything when the others are in need. It only takes one phone call and a whole herd of people show up to do whatever needs to be done. Bruce was the heartbeat of this family. He will be missed by so many of those whose lives he has touched.

It is the 4th of July as I am writing this. We are a little late getting to the barn. I can hear the girls yelling in protest. They are ready to be milked and for their grain. The horses are starring me down as I see them from the window. Now those two old girls are not lacking in body condition by any stretch of the imagination. But, according to them, they are starving to death.

I am so very blessed to have my little farm. It is my peace. I am so very blessed with the family and friends that this little farm has brought into my life.

Hug those you hold dear a little tighter. Be grateful for your blessings. Life is too short not to appreciate all that you have.

Photo credit: Shelley Young