Am I typing? I canít feel my fingers and toes yet. Not that I type with my toes, but being cold just makes you wish they had heaters on these computers. Artic blasts have been rolling in one right after the other this past week. We woke up one morning to fifteen degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and thatís not counting the wind chill factor. This type of temperature is still with us.
It was so cold that I was forced to keep the house 80 degrees (we have wood heat before anyone faints over the heating bill) so that when we came back in we could defrost quickly. And, I have to be warm and toasty in the house before I can stand to go back outside to the extreme cold. If the house wasnít 80 degrees, Iíd be forced to pull a gun on myself to make myself go back out to do chores. Being totally warm in the house gives me courage to venture forth to artic land.
In the afternoon, on one of those artic days, I was outside watering the goats. Itís a real challenge to make sure everyone is getting enough water on bitterly cold days. You have to have extra buckets and tubs so when one freezes solid, you have another you can use. When they all freeze solid, you cart them up to the basement and put them beside the wood stove to thaw enough to knock out the solid block of ice, and start the watering all over again. Itís cold hard work.
So that afternoon it had finally warmed up to zero and as I was dragging the water hose behind me through the pregnant girls pen, I noticed Cricket in one of the run-in sheds acting oddly. I didnít have her bred date down because I didnít see it happen, but she wasnít bagged up much at all, so I thought it would be another two weeks. And, why I thought she was acting oddly was that she didnít blast out of the building at the sight of me. Sheís a wild child and an unbelievably hardy and hard to catch goat.
Then she spoke to me. No, not in words like with the burning bush. But, she softly spoke to me in little goat dialect. This caused me to drop my water hose and walk into the run-in shed and she allowed me to lift her tail and peek to see if there was any string of mucus or anything like that. Nothing like that, but she still stood her ground and didnít run from me.
I knew I couldnít drag her to a kidding stall into the barn. It was too far from the barn and she was too stout. But, another run-in shed nearby had an extension cord running to it for a light and it also had a tarp over the front big opening and a small door that could be shut to keep other goats from coming in. I was able to push her into this and I laid down fresh bedding. She immediately went over and inspected it and it met her approval.
I hurriedly went to get a heat lamp and she let me mess around with tying that up and I brought some spare kidding towels from the barn and turned the heat lamp on. She laid down under it and started kidding. Just that quickly.
She kidded out a big kid and was thrilled to see him. She ignored me as I checked her teats and milked out the milk plug. And, didnít mind at all that I had a towel helping her dry him. I was worried that at zero degrees and even with a heat lamp, the run-in shed was still a bit drafty and the kidís ears could freeze into stiff little boards which later would swell and he would lose his ears. So, I worked on those ears while she cleaned the rest of him.
About that time Lee rolled in from work and came down to see what was going on. He set up another kidding stall in the barn and I carried Cricketís kid and Cricket willingly followed the kid to their new stall. Normally, with both of us near her, Cricket would have already gone into orbit, as little as she liked either of us, but this was different, she was focused on her darling kid.
Naturally, after we had everyone settled, I found my hose froze solid. Lee dragged it up on the hill so that the next time the sun shone, it could thaw and drain out. He then went and got the other hose to finish watering. Remember, in winter time with artic blasts lurking about, you need about two of everything that has anything to do with water. When one freezes, you have a back up.
Now, Cricket has a different problem. She has reverted back to her old self of not liking me, but she wonít run wildly around the stall for fear of hurting her baby. And, the truly horrible thing for her is, the kid likes me. He totters up to me now wanting a petting and plenty of compliments. She stays right by his side and just shudders that I would be so close, but she wonít budge. I know she is hoping he will grow out of this phase of liking people and I'm hoping he sticks with it. Nothing like getting even with a goat who usually flies into orbit if you just look at her.
If this artic blast wonít leave, I hope it stays warmed up to zero for the rest of the kidding. And, I also hope our wood holds out. Staying thawed out takes a lot of fuel.