Ruby and the Makings of an Accidental Milkmaid

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

Part of my morning and evening chores routine, every day, now includes milking a goat.  Milking twice a day, by hand, in the pasture.  Something I never saw myself doing.  Never say never, I should know this well by now.  A few years ago I taught myself to milk with one of the first goats to come to BGC. Since then I had only tried my hand at it again a few times when the babies born at BGC this spring couldn't keep up with their former dairy mama's milk production.  Now, it's second nature and another thing added to the seemingly never ending daily to do list.  I certainly don't need anything else added to the daily to do list but there isn't anything I wouldn't do for Ruby.  

There are some goats that instantly grab a hold of me.  Jitterbug, Evangeline, Renata, they are perfect examples of goats who instantly made their mark on my heart, and now,  there's Ruby.  There are some goats that come into the rescue that need us in a different way.  Yes, they all depend on us for their daily care and love but there are some that need more.  More comfort, more focus, more care.  The girls before Ruby that had that same hold on me, they all needed me more, just as Ruby does.  

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Ruby was a part of our Golden Girls rescue although technically, Ruby isn't quite in her golden years just yet.  Ruby is 6 years old and this year she had to have a C section to deliver her big, giant baby.  When I first met Ruby she was just a few weeks post-op and not in the best shape.  Her surgery scar was still very apparent but she was thin, oh so thin, her coat was rough and she walked oddly.  Her body had clearly suffered some trauma and although she could get around just fine, something clearly wasn't right.  The dairy knew she shouldn't be bred again so asked if we would take her along with the Golden Girls.  When I went to meet the Golden Girls I was greeted at the gate by Ruby and she never left my side, looking at me with those sweet, sweet eyes and that trademark Ober head tilt.  In that moment I knew, we were taking her and she had to come to BGC.  

Her trust in me was immediate and her affection was, and still is, over the top.  Not only is she like a puppy following my every step and wanting snuggles, she loves to lick me.  Especially on my face and especially when I'm milking her.  I wasn't planning on having to milk her, in fact, I didn't know the dairy still was until she had been home a few days and wouldn't stop crying.  She wanted to be milked and no wonder, her udder was huge.  And so it began.  

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Yes, I could let her dry up but that process wouldn't be easy given what we're feeding her to help her gain the weight she so desperately needs and not to mention, we need the milk. Between our 2 farms we are feeding 4-5 gallons of raw goats milk to our bottle babies everyday so why not milk her?  And why do I milk her in the pasture where Yumi's babies use me and Ruby as a jungle gym, yank mouthfuls of hair out of my ponytail and try and steal sips from Ruby non-stop during the process?  Well, getting into the stanchion is a struggle for her due to what Dr. P believes is a spinal injury.

Dr. P was out not long after Ruby arrived so I asked him to take a look at her.  He had me walk her in the pasture so he could watch her.  She often drags her back feet along, Dr P noted that she didn't lift her back legs past her hip joint.  He felt her muscles and pointed out how muscular she was in her front versus her back.  What does it all mean?  She likely sustained a spinal injury during kidding the year before.  That forces her to lean forward, carrying more weight than normal in her front and her inability to fully move her back legs properly.  That also explains why she had to have a C section this year and is unable to continue to safely be bred.  Thankfully, her pregnancy test came back negative, we tested her too, just to be sure.

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Ruby is on medication to help ease any pain or discomfort the injury causes her, she's likely been living with it for over a year.  She gets around well though, she has even started standing on the gate to cry for me if I'm 5 minutes late to feed her grain or if I've switched up the routine of when I now let Yumi's kids out for a playdate with the bottle kids so I can milk Ruby in peace.  She is still quite needy but even on the longest, hardest days, the days where I just simply can't get it all done before 9pm and still leave things unattended to, even on those days, I don't mind.  I always make time to not only milk her but to sit with her and give her cheek scratches, let her lick my face and have sweet conversations with me.  What I wouldn't give to know what she's saying.  She has affectionately become known as "Aunt Ruby" as Yumi's kids absolutely adore her.  Keiko & YoYo climb on her, go out grazing with her, eat with her, it's really quite sweet.  The bottle babies have taken to her as well when she spends time with them, she can get them access to branches they can't get on their own.  She is so patient and kind with them, it makes my heart hurt that she didn't get a baby of her own to keep....but those days are thankfully in her past.  

We can never erase their past.  Sometimes, no matter what we do, no matter how much money we are willing to spend, no matter the time, energy and heart we're willing to commit, it isn't always enough to make it better.  Luckily for Ruby, her injury is one she can live a long, healthy life with and she is now somewhere that her health will never be at risk for a baby or for milk. 

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This rescue life has made me many things, a milkmaid was certainly unexpected but every time I milk Ruby and she turns around to lick my face while I do, I am reminded that some of the best things are the unexpected things.  

 

Baby Bug Birthday

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

Witnessing new life be born into this world never gets old.  It is truly magical.  Even more so when the mamas giving birth are rescues.  When the babies born get to be born into the love and safety of the rescue.  When the mothers get to keep and raise their babies.  When their babies get a life that so many just like them don't get the opportunity and privilege of having.  Even more special when the mama is so close to my heart.  This day, it was a day I had been waiting for.  A day when Ladybug and I both got to come full circle with her story with a little family all her own. 

I am so happy Feather was here to capture these moments, as nerve wracking as they were.  It was not an easy birth for Ladybug, a little mama with 2 big babies meant she needed assistance to bring her little ones into the world.  At the end of the day, she had two healthy, beautiful, big, robust babies.  Babies that mean so much to me and to her.  I love this little Bug family more than I can even begin to try and express.  

It was a pretty incredible Baby Bug Birthday, thank you Feather for capturing the magic!

 

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Renata

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful" -Annette Funicello

I remember the day Renata & her babies arrived like it was yesterday.  It was the end of summer, both our farms packed with the kids of the busiest rescued baby season we have ever had, goats returning from foster, a recent slaughterhouse rescue and lots of goats via urgent owner surrender.   But when I got the message from a dairy "interested in a mom and her 1 week old boys?  She has a dropped udder"  I had that all too familiar feeling, she belonged with us.  

We asked one of our amazing foster homes if they could take them in, they agreed and we made arrangements to pick Mama & babies up the next day.  We knew that without us, the chances of Mama and her babies ending up in the hands of a meat buyer was high.  That morning they told me one of the babies was recovering from FKS (floppy kid syndrome) but that he was improving.  I had a feeling that it was likely they would need to come to one of the rescue's farms so we could monitor and treat (if need be) the FKS.  Barbara called once she picked up the family and not only did Mama goat have a dropped udder, she was in rough shape with an infected abscess on a foot.  So to BGC she was coming.  I immediately shuffled goats and had a shelter and pasture ready for mama & her babies when they arrived.  

I opened the truck and my heart swelled while tears filled my eyes, poor mama was a mess but immediately,  I loved her.  She talked, sniffed my face and nuzzled her babies.  Her udder was literally dragging on the ground.  Covered in manure and muck, it broke my heart.  She was unsure of what was happening, but she trusted me as I led her to her new pasture with her babies happily bouncing behind her.  That was the beginning of a special bond between Renata & I.  

I spent hours that day in her pasture letting her get used to me and her new surroundings.  I snuggled her babies who were as friendly as bottle raised babies and watched them jump and spin and run freely in a big open space for the first time.  Renata would often come over and sniff my face, talk to me and let me pet her.  She struggled to walk.  Her foot clearly bothering her and her dropped and very full udder causing her to have to kick one leg out and around when she walked.  Laying down was hard for her as she had to constantly reposition her udder so she could get comfortable.  Her babies had no problem nursing though and sweet little Duncan, thankfully, had no lingering FKS symptoms.  

In the weeks that followed Renata had multiple visits with our vet Dr. P.  He removed, as best he could, the infected growth on her foot.  We discussed an udder removal once the boys were of weaning age and what that would entail.  Renata started to gain weight, get a shiny healthy coat and truly embrace her new lease on life.  She had big open spaces to roam, a stall all her own for her and her babies at night with a kiddie pool full of dry soft bedding to sleep in which quickly became a family favorite spot.  She received supplemental feeding which at first was an acquired taste which is hard to believe now and she begs for and scarfs down her grain and pellets everyday.  

Over time, her udder has shrunk considerably and we no longer are having to consider an udder removal. She had been getting around great until about a week ago when she started favoring her once infected foot again.  Earlier this week, Dr. P came to see her.  Unfortunately the infected area is growing back slowly.  Sometimes no matter how much is taken out, we just can't get it all but cutting away at it.  The infection isn't spreading, it is localized in a toe.  What this means is that we will have to amputate her toe.  A procedure we are not new to.  A few years back we rescued an older goat from a slaughterhouse, Faye, who had a similar foot infection due to standing in mud, muck and unsanitary conditions and Dr. P performed the same surgery.  What this means for Renata is a few weeks bandaged and needing dry ground to stand on which in the PNW is near impossible to come by unless we keep her in a stall of the barn.  We're currently working through the logistics of it all but we will work with Dr. P to plan the best time to proceed in the coming weeks.  The amputation won't impact her mobility once she has healed but it will ensure she remains infection and pain free.  

I was saddened by the news.   Not because it will impact Renata negatively but because there is still more that needs to be done along her journey to get her to where we want her to be.   Despite still needing another surgery, she has come so far.  I can't forget that. Her transformation the past few months has been amazing and inspiring.  

I struggle to put into words my love and adoration for Renata and the bond her and I share.  I look at her and can't help but smile.  She is so happy in her new life and that, that makes me so unbelievably happy.  There is something so endearing about her.  About her story.  At first glance, her physical "imperfections" are apparent; her dropped udder, her square face with bottom teeth that often stick out, her unicorn horn scur, the bad feet that she will forever have to live with to some degree.  But to me, she is absolutely perfect.  She is an amazing mother, she adores her boys and they adore her.  At 5 months old and already 1/2 her size, she is still nursing them.  The 3 still nap and sleep in a small kiddie pool together all snuggled up.  For the first time in her life, she gets to keep her babies, it is apparent she is relishing in it, not something we often see from former dairy goats.  She loves being a mother and all that entails.  She has integrated well into the big herd here at BGC and can even be seen playing just like a kid from time to time.  It is truly the best feeling to see her jump and frolic like her babies do.  She loves her life.  I love spoiling her and giving her that life she otherwise would have never had.  Despite all she has been through, she is happy.  

Her road hasn't been an easy one and there are still more bumps ahead to navigate but all I want is for her to be happy.  I'll take care of the rest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Renata, a few weeks after she arrived, post suregery #1

Renata, a few weeks after she arrived, post suregery #1

 Renata & her boys Duke & Duncan

Renata & her boys Duke & Duncan

 Baby Duke & Duncan

Baby Duke & Duncan

 Happy baby Duke in the Christmas Day snow! 

Happy baby Duke in the Christmas Day snow! 

 Family nap time

Family nap time

 I LOVE this face! 

I LOVE this face! 

 Renata today

Renata today

Norman

 Barbara and Norman

Barbara and Norman

This blog post written by PSGR Founder & Director Barbara Jamison

I wondered how much plastic I would have to put down on my kitchen floor to bring Norman the calf into my house for the night? Making yet another trek to the barn to care for him at one a.m. on a bitter cold night, it wasn’t for Norman that I was toying with this idea, it was for me.  Norman was warm and tucked into a bedded “hot box”  in a stall but  on day three of round the clock care, I was fast approaching  the all too common “Rescue The Rescuer” status. Three days of little sleep, no shower, unbrushed hair stuffed into a stocking cap and thermal overalls thrown over pajamas—I was not a pretty site.  After seeing how weak he was, I realized making the journey from stall to house would be asking too much of him.  So Norman stayed put and I continued the back and forth from house to barn and back again every two to three hours. The “auction calf vortex” is powerful and depleting.

I quit rescuing calves from auctions 15 years ago.  The first time I naively bought two Jersey calves at auction for $5 each, I turned to the farmer sitting next to me and asked him what I needed to do for them when I got home. “Dig a hole’” he deadpanned. But he was right as one of the two died within a few days and the struggle to keep the other alive went on for several grueling weeks before he stabilized. I rescued more “auction” Jersey calves over the next few years and experienced the heartbreak of over 50% mortality. All the meds, vet intervention and love in the world cannot save them if they do not get good colostrum at birth. Even with colostrum, being taken from their mothers at a day old and hauled to a cootie-filled livestock auction doesn’t help either. The deck is stacked against them and their well-meaning rescuers from day one, especially the more fragile Jerseys.

Norman sold for $10 at the livestock auction. As I was leaving, I saw the man who bought him re-selling him in the parking lot after the auction ended. To make an extra $10, he was reselling him to a livestock hauler for $20 who was going to load him into a stock trailer already filled with full grown cows and haul him to yet another auction the next day. All with the intent of making a little more money.  Five dollars more? Maybe ten? Such a paltry sum for a precious life. It was sickening to watch the deal being made. With so many goats and sheep already at the rescue, warning bells were clanging in my head.  But I bought him from the man anyway for $20 before the hauler got him. 

Driving home with the little calf, all those memories of 15 years ago conveniently suppressed, I thought to myself, “Seriously, he looks pretty healthy. How bad can it get?”

It is day 10 and with the “shot-out-of-a-cannon” feeling in full force, I find myself sitting on a stool in Norman’s stall at 2 a.m.—overwhelmed with frustration as his health plummets .  Unable to stand, eat or even hold his head up—he is in dire condition. After the first four days of cuteness overload with Norman playful and active, it started on day five. A little diarrhea; then a fever. More diarrhea followed—more fever, then full on malaise, weakness and unwillingness to eat as little Norman struggled to fight off the inevitable viruses auction calves contract. Bitter cold and snow didn’t help. Multiple vet visits followed involving, catheters, antibiotics, fluids, and an endless mix of meds. He is a limp noodle and I struggle to hold his head up to tube feed milk into his bony body. The trek from house to barn and back continues nonstop with all the goats and sheep giving me the stink eye as I pass them by on my way to tend to Norman.  Likewise the farm dogs who are peeved and also feeling neglected. Trying to unwind for a few hours in front of the TV is unfulfilling because I know Norman is outside feeling like crap. 

 Norman's ICU area

Norman's ICU area

Day 13: The walk to Norman’s stall every morning now is a dreaded event. This morning is no different as I brace myself for what I might find. To lose them is soul crushing, especially after a protracted battle.

 Norman taking comfort from a volunteer

Norman taking comfort from a volunteer

There is always an element of disbelief that with all the meds and care, sometimes you still cannot save them. But there are wins too—so you keep trying.

 I swing open the stall door and a pair of big beautiful brown calf eyes are looking straight at me. His head is up!  He is trying to stand! It is a “Eureka!” moment. I want to jump in the air and click my heels together with joy but am too tired. So I visualize myself doing it.

As I write this on Day 16, Norman’s health continues to improve dramatically. He is drinking his bottle on his own again, and is up and roaming about.  It is time for a hot shower and sleep for me and for Norman, a long, easy life.....go NORMAN! 

 Norman today

Norman today

Filling her shoes

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

"Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world" -Marilyn Monroe 

Little miss Jitterbug will be off to her forever home next week.  I can't believe the day is actually almost upon us.  Adoption days are always bittersweet, some more than others. Some kids just make an imprint so big that it can never truly be filled.  But the circle continues.  It must.

Last year, Millie came to the rescue at just a few days old after being abandoned in a box at the end of a dead end street.  She became the queen of BGC and stole the hearts of people all over the world with her heartbreaking story and sweet face.  She stole mine the second I held her in my arms.  Something I did every day for months.  When she left us for her forever home, the void was noticeable but the circle continued as it always does and once again the farm started to fill with newborn babies and a new little girl made her mark this season,  Jitterbug.

 

Jitterbug's time with us was first filled with recovery from illness and living in the house early on which creates an even deeper bond.  Sick babies are woven into every minute of every day, the care of a sick baby, the worry about a sick baby, everything revolves around saving that baby.  A month of touch and go and we did exactly that, we saved Bug.  She was my shadow.  She wanted to be with me and held by me at all times.  Fast forward a few months and she isn't nearly as dependent on me.  Weaning babies does that.  They become more independent.  I am still "mom", she still answers every time I call her name and will still sit in my lap and chew her cud if she's not busy browsing, playing or putting the boys in their place but she doesn't need me like she used to.  And that's ok.  That's a good thing.  Bug is her own little lady now, she's sassy, healthy, and so full of love and ready to take on the new world she will embark on next week.  

 

These days, I have a new shadow emerging.  Evangeline.  A few weeks ago I went to pick up a number of does from a dairy and they had two kids they were also looking to re-home, one who was emaciated and clearly dealing with a high parasite load.  We could leave her there they said but one look at her and those big, curious, innocent eyes and that was absolutely not an option.  This girl was coming home with me.  She needed a lot of attention and care and she has received just that.  Her parasites have now cleared and her personality is finally starting to truly emerge.  Just as Bug once was, she is always with me.  Yes, she depends on me for her 2x a day bottle but I am also her comfort, her safety.  She is still learning her way in the world of BGC and she relies on me the way Millie & Bug both did as they learned to come into their own. 

Just as Jitterbug filled Millie's shoes, Evangeline is filling Jitterbug's.  They are some big shoes to fill but she will do just that, of that I am sure.  

 

 Millie

Millie

 Jitterbug

Jitterbug

 Evangeline

Evangeline

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Class of 2017 Rescued Kids!

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

It's been a record breaking rescued baby season.  116 babies saved this year.  116! So many babies! Believe me, we feel it.  It's been a very long and sometimes very challenging rescued baby season but it has been a truly remarkable one.  It all started 8 months ago with little man Charlie Brown and it's been going strong ever since.  Our youngest kids are only a few weeks old so even though there is light at the end of the tunnel, we're still not there yet.  It has been 8 months filled with countless baby goat rescue road trips, hundreds of gallons of milk, bottle prepping, bottle heating, bottle feeding, bottle washing.  Baby goats everywhere, running, jumping, playing and snuggling.  And now over 1/2 of those kids are in wonderful forever homes with incredibly loving new families.  It's why we do what we do.  These faces, these lives.  Each with their very own distinct personalities from the moment they arrive.  They all make a lasting impression on us and our farms.  It's hard to narrow it down to just a small group for each year's yearbook.  It was tough with so many stand out kids this year!

Homecoming Queen: Jitterbug

 Jitterbug

Jitterbug

"And though she be but little, she is fierce” -Shakespeare

Sassy, sweet and everything in between.  Jitterbug has adoring fans all over the world and of course she does, how could you not love this little girl.  Her story is one of the wins of this season coming back from illness and beating the odds.  She has been the heart of BGC this season, forever our little Queen B.  

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Valentino

Homecoming King: Valentino

Valentino, the head turner.  Not only is this boy handsome and charming, he is incredibly sweet and was one of the biggest loves of the season.  He is now holding court in an amazing forever home with a number of his buddies

 

 

 Finn

Finn

Most likely to fall asleep in class: Finn

When Finn arrived at the rescue at just 12 hours old, it was dark and below freezing overnight so he got a night of house baby status.  He immediately fell asleep on my chest and slept soundly the entire night.  We quickly learned this kid can sleep anywhere and everywhere.  Finn has been known for falling asleep standing up, literally.  If you can’t find Finn, just check a swimming pool or a corner of the barn, he’s likely sound asleep completely oblivious to the world around him.

 Moxie

Moxie

The comeback kids: Moxie & Matteo

There were a number of comeback kids this season but none more dramatic than Moxie & Matteo.  Moxie & her brother Chance were born at a local slaughterhouse.  Although we were able to rescue them hours after birth and rescue their mother as well, their mother was in such poor condition that she rejected them.  After a roller coaster of health issues the first few weeks, Chance passed away.  But Moxie, she lived up to her name.  This girl is tough and a true survivor.

 Matteo

Matteo

Matteo arrived as a breeder cull baby and started having health issues not long after he arrived.  Name an issue, he had it.  He was such a trooper as we treated each ailment as we wondered how much more his little body could take.  Well, he proved to be one of the miracles of the season and this kid is now going strong

 

Valedictorian: Lance

Lance, the smarty pants and one of the most personable goats you will ever meet. He has the brains and the looks and is sure to make his mark on this world

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Lance

Most likely to win the lottery and lose the ticket: Spike

Oh, Spike.  He would be lost in this world without his girl Jitterbug.  Even then, you’ll often find Bug off doing goat things and Spike still a bit confused by the world but we love this little guy and all his “Nubian-ness”  Better give those lottery tickets to Bug!

 Spike

Spike

Teachers Pet: Max

Max.  Those eyes, that head tilt, Max can get away with just about anything and trust me, he does.  He may be a bit spoiled but how can you resist?  Little Max knows just how to work his charm to get what he wants most in the world, snuggly lap time. 

 

 

 

 Max

Max

 Juliette

Juliette

Most likely to be famous: Juliette

Juliette, the star.  We knew she was something special the moment we rescued her from a slaughterhouse just hours after she was born there.  She had the face and personality of a star.  She is now in the bright lights as a spokesgoat for Seattle Goat Yoga and has even made her first TV appearance

 

 

 

Most likely to win an Olympic medal: Team Ober

Team Ober, the “ober-achievers” Ahead of the game in athletics and just about everything else, these kids work together as a team unlike any other group of kids.  There is no play structure they can’t conquer in record time not to mention their lightening fast speed and gymnastic ability on the BGC playground.  This crew is gold medal worthy each and every day

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Most likely to still live in their parents basement after graduation: Charlie

My little man Charlie Brown.  He would have lived in my house forever if he could.  He arrived shortly before Christmas after being rejected by his mom.  A single baby in freezing temperatures meant one thing, full time house baby.  When Charlie finally got a buddy, he was so reluctant to move outside.  So much so that 4 baby goats were living in the house until it warmed up and Charlie started to embrace life in the barn and outdoors.  He eventually did but I’m pretty sure he’d go right back to his lap goat on the couch status if he could.

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 Henry & Haven

Henry & Haven

Cutest Couple: Henry & Haven

Brother & sister, twins and the best of friends!  These two could always be found together, Haven leading the way.  They were adopted together and will always know the love and comfort of one another.

 

The black sheep: Jackson

He fits the description, quite literally.  We rescued Jackson from a slaughterhouse as a newborn and he has fit right in with all the goat kids.

 Jackson

Jackson

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Joshua

Most likely to win a Nobel Peace prize: Joshua

They just don’t come much sweeter than Joshua.  He was born with underdeveloped eyes but that didn’t slow him down one bit.  They say eyes are the windows to the soul.  Joshua’s was certainly gentle, genuine and caring.  

In Memory:

Some years are more challenging than others.  2017 was one of those years.  To the little ones whose time with us was far too short, you were loved, your lives mattered and you will always be in our hearts and memories.  Their time with us, no matter how short, helps shape our farms, our rescue, our mission.  They left this world knowing so much love and the very best care.  They live on in all the little ones who did beat the odds and are thriving today.  

 

 
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A special thank you must be said to our go-to guy, our vet, Dr. P.  He has gone above and beyond for us countless times this baby season.  Answering calls at all hours, fitting us in when honestly it was near impossible and even taking home a sick baby and getting up with him every 2 hours.  He has saved us, and these little ones so many times this season.  

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And to our amazing volunteers who step up in big ways to help us during this crazy season every year with transport, feeding, chores, etc.  It takes a village to do what we do.  

By the time the youngest kids are weaned this year, the 2018 rescued baby season will be just around the corner. Hard to believe! Rescued baby season is crazy but it sure is worth it!  

Motherhood

Blog written by Sarah Klapstein

I am often asked if I have children.  Asked in a sort of assuming that I do sort of way.  It's what commonly  happens when you are a woman in your mid to late 30s, people often assume you have children.  I do have children, mine just have 4 legs instead of 2.

When I was younger I thought by the time I was at this point in my life I would have a few children, human children that is and I would be well into motherhood by now.  Well, I am, it just looks different than what I imagined a decade ago.

I am currently a mom to close to 40 rescued goats at Baby Goat Central, most no more than a few months old.  I am responsible for their every need. I feed them, clean up after them, negotiate with them, deal with tantrums, break up arguments and worry non-stop about their health and happiness.  I have been pooped on, spit up on, changed countless diapers and stayed up all night with sick babies only to catch a little sleep when they do.   I arrange care for them while I'm at work or want to be away from the farm for an evening.  I ask our vet a million questions like a first time mom at pediatricians appointments.  Neighbors bring me meals as I can barely fit in a shower most days during rescued baby season.  I have watched some be born into this world and I have held some in my arms as they have left this world.  I love them beyond words.  They are my world and I am theirs.  They are my kids.  And I am honored to be their mom. 

Neverland

“So come with me, where dreams are born and time is never planned. Just think of happy things and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Neverland!” –Peter Pan

Never say never, it’s a lesson we’re taught early in life and it is one that could not ring more true than in rescue work. I had so many “nevers” in my head when we opened Baby Goat Central. Like many things, living rescue work 24/7 is something you simply cannot truly understand until you do it. One of my nevers, I would never have baby goats in my house.

I am a bit on the type A side, I like everything clean, organized and in its place. Farm life and type A personalities don’t go hand in hand, something I learned quickly and have adjusted to a little more slowly. A week after Nicky and Nitro moved in with me at BGC we rescued two newborn Oberhaslis and with temps below freezing overnight, I got them home and immediately asked Barbara, “they have to sleep in the house don’t they?” The answer was of course, yes.

They lived in the kitchen overnight for a few weeks and once or twice slipped through the baby gate for some cuddle time on the couch. Last February, a few more spent a few nights in the kitchen and newborn baby Lamancha, Gobi, was curled up on my lap while I watched TV and had a glass of wine after the first big dairy rescue of last season. I thought that would be the extent of it. But again, never say never. In December, baby Charlie Brown moved in, full time house baby. A few weeks later, we had a friend for him, baby Rigby. Temperatures were still too cold for babies in the barn at night. Last week, baby Lamanchas Bowie & Bennett arrived and well, it’s still cold. Very cold. So from about 6pm-7am every day, I have 4 baby goats living in my house.

 Never say never

Never say never

Charlie was an ideal house baby, he was quiet, calm and loved nothing more than to sleep curled up in my lap for hours. He slept in a playpen in my bedroom at night and never made a peep. Around the time Rigby arrived Charlie was more active and getting into more around the house. Everything had to be baby goat proofed. Having a baby goat in your house is a mix between the baby goat and a toddler and a puppy. They find every single little thing they can and in their mouth it goes. When Charlie learned to jump on my furniture, it was a game changer. My mom asked why I didn’t keep him confined to the kitchen or in a pen. Well, you answer that when you’re sitting there with an adorable little baby goat face staring at you and crying because they just want to be where you are. Charlie had the run of the house.

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 Life with lap cats and lap goats

Life with lap cats and lap goats

When Rigby arrived I quickly started transitioning them to spending the daytime in the barn with time in their day pasture and Rigby loved it, Charlie, not so much. It’s been an adjustment for him but he is finally embracing it. At night I couldn’t all of a sudden confine Charlie who had spent weeks going where he pleased when I was home so Charlie and Rigby had run of the house. Night one Rigby learned how to climb on all the furniture. He was such a big baby that even the biggest diaper size barely fit. Lessons in preventing and managing diaper malfunctions were learned quickly.

When the Lamanchas arrived last week we luckily had received all our goodies from the baby goat shower and we had these great soft indoor play pens. The baby Lamanchas were all set up in there but it didn’t take but more than a few hours before I let them out to play and my house had 4 crazy energetic, active and adorable babies running about.

 Night one, embracing house baby status

Night one, embracing house baby status

It’s not all fun and games, it’s a lot of cleaning and diaper changes and laundry. The evenings of hours curled up on the couch together are over, they are 4 busy babies who after turning the house upside down and mouthing everything they can, love to snuggle with each other, just as it should be. I will admit there are times I have just wanted to scream and then just simply cry. My house is often a disaster, I can’t do anything without baby goats underfoot and it sometimes just feels impossible to keep up on it all. But these sweet little babies, they can always ground you. They are the reminders of why we do all of this, why we let them take over our lives. They are safe with us. They are loved and cherished. They get a chance at a life that so many baby goats don’t get. And if living in the house some until our weather finally warms up a bit, then so be it.

It’s been over a month since Charlie first moved in and tonight, for the first time, I felt somewhat normal. After the volunteers left today all was in order outside and the babies were spending a rainy afternoon in their stalls in the barn so I went in the house, cranked up the music, lit some amazing candles made by lovely neighbor Devon and cleaned and baked and cooked and felt a little more like myself than I have in a while. The babies came in, had their bottles and went to bed, it was blissful. 4 baby goats happy and sleeping warm and peaceful while I made dinner.

The peace and quiet was short lived as all four were up and about an hour later and will likely be awake and busy until after all the lights are turned out for the night. This, this is my new normal. Smack in the middle of Neverland. I keep saying I can’t wait until they’re moved out and it will be nice to put my house back together but I will really miss them. It’s true, there is a magic that lives in Never Neverland.

 It's still Charlie's house

It's still Charlie's house

Letting Go

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"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" -Dr. Seuss

Things are a lot quieter at Baby Goat Central these days. Most of the 2016 rescued babies have found their forever homes. The ones still here have been weaned and are now living as one herd with Nicky and Nitro. They're learning to be big kids and growing up fast. The bottle feeding supplies and baby playgrounds are all in storage for the winter and the quiet, I'll admit, it's hard to get used to. It certainly isn't boring around here, Nicky and Nitro make sure of that but it's certainly calmer. We have a routine, something you simply just can't establish for more than a few days at a time during baby season. Change is the name of the game all spring and summer. Now, we get a bit of a "break" before it all starts again in a few short months. But the goings here, they're getting harder. Everyone always asks how I can let them go? How do I do it? Raise these little ones from days, if not hours old and then let them go? There are times, like this morning, I wonder that too.

Today, two of Baby Goat Central's favorite kids of the year were off to their forever home. I always hate to use the word favorite, because I truly love every little one that comes through BGC but there are some I get more attached to than others. P&B, I was very, very attached to and most of BGC's volunteers will tell you, P&B were their favorites. How could you not fall in love with these sweet little lamanchas with the most amazing eyelashes? How could you not be charmed by Petrie's head tilt when you talked to him or by Beaker's excited tail wag every time you touched him? As the BGC herd has gotten smaller, P&B came into their own, their personality's flourished. They started mimicking Nicky and Nitro in all their goofy ways, I always say "Lamancha see, Lamancha do." It was so true with these kids. They loved to snuggle and play and were defiently "mama's boys."

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As one of BGC's volunteers says, we're selfishly sad. She is so right. I am sad for me, that I don't get to be greeted by their bright eyes and wagging tails each morning, that I won't get Beaker snuggles to start every day, that this little farm just won't feel the same without them. That Nicky and Nitro won't have their playmates anymore. Watch out baby Obers, you're next in line for that role! But just as I was for all the others that have left, I am so happy that they have a home all their own and such an amazing one at that. As soon as we met their new family and saw the amazing home they've created for them, we knew, this was P&B's home. It was their turn.

It is hard to see them go. It's as simple as that. From the time they arrive, I become mom. They are my babies. But there are so many more babies that need saving and that time starts again in just a few short months. So yes, I shed some tears today but mostly, I smiled because my life and the life of BGC was so much better because P&B got to be raised here. I drove 6 hours round trip shortly after they were born to save their lives and mine has been so much better for it. Now, I get to share that love and happiness with another family.

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Among all the comings and goings there is one constant, Nicky and Nitro, aka "The Minis." Part of why I love having adopted these two crazy lamanchas last year is that there are two here that will never leave. "The Minis" thrive on all the activity here, they are the perfect Lamancha ambassadors when adopters visit and I would say they have fully embraced their big brother role. For me, I need those two as much as they need me. They make days like these a little easier.

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So how do we do it? Happy endings like the one that happened today. Amazing, loving, invested and excited families adopting our babies and giving them a loving forever home. By placing all of the lives we save each year, we get to save that many more the next year. Every baby that leaves takes a little piece of my heart but seeing how happy their new family was today, makes my heart so full.

Today was bittersweet, adoption days always are. Days like this, it's good to be reminded of the wise words of Dr. Seuss and smile because it happened.

Wilder

 "I'll keep you safe, you keep me wild"  This guy has my heart

"I'll keep you safe, you keep me wild" This guy has my heart

One of the many wonderful things about saving so many animals each year is that I get to fall in love all the time, over and over again. Often, falling in love so frequently comes with it's share of heartbreak. The heartbreak of not being able to save them all. Of not always having the answers. Heartbreak is a reality we have to face, it comes with the territory. When baby Wilder arrived and, shortly after, showed signs of not being 100% healthy, I braced myself.

We were wrapping up an amazing baby season, one that had presented us with very few challenges. Then in our last group of babies, Wilder & Griffey broke the streak. Unfortunately, despite doing everything we and veterinarians possibly could, Griffey's little body was unable to overcome the health issues he was born with. His loss was a hard one. All the while, Wilder had been struggling with issues of his own, a very painful ulcer. Here was this little baby, wanting nothing more than the comfort of milk and his bottle and it was causing him such discomfort.

It took some trial and error to find just what treatment would work best for Wilder, what his body would respond to best. It also took a lot of patience, something I was struggling to find. Wilder and I spent lots of time with him curled up in my arms while I snuggled him and told him I was sorry that he wasn't feeling better. Eating was painful for him and we could not get his digestive system on track. I felt like I was failing him, I just couldn't win. Getting babies over the "hump" when they aren't feeling 100% can be frustrating and draining. It is a challenge to my personality, one that likes lists and plans, to just wait and see how he did and go with the flow of what he was responding to. I was terrified of making a mistake and making it worse. It had been a tough go those few weeks and I needed a win. This little guy and I needed to get over this hurdle. For him. For me. For Griffey. We needed a win.

  Wilder (right) and his best buddy Blitz

Wilder (right) and his best buddy Blitz

Every day I grew more and more attached to this little wide eyed baby who was the best possible patient I could ever ask for. He loved his medicine and would often go back to where it was located and look up at it and cry for more. He followed my every step around the farm and still does. Always looking up at me with the sweetest little face inquiring as to whether there were a few more ounces of milk to be had. Every time I sat down he would crawl into my lap, tuck his head into my arms and snuggle, another thing he still does, every day.

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It took a good solid week of his most recent treatment regimen, to finally see improvement. I was cautiously optimistic at first. I held my breath every day as I increased his milk intake. He started to gain weight and grow, he wasn't uncomfortable after eating and he was far less excited about his medicine. We were headed uphill. This past week, for the first time, he has started to truly play and frolic like a baby goat. He had tried half hearted efforts so many times before but just never felt good enough to really play. Watching him race around the farm jumping sideways, spinning in the air and dueling with his buddies, it makes my heart swell. My heart is so happy seeing this little guy live his little life without pain and discomfort. Wilder & I, we won this one and my attachment to him is a special one.

Telling me not to get so attached is a waste of breath. I fall in love. I get attached. Yes, I get heartbroken over one loss. Haunted by ones we couldn't save. I get teary eyed when babies I have raised leave for their forever homes and I feel a void on the farm when they're gone. Doing it any other way, to me, would be doing this all wrong. Protecting myself from the heartbreak and sadness that inevitably comes along with this life, would also mean protecting myself from the immense love and joy I get from a once sick baby running, jumping and frolicking without a care in the world. Nothing is worth missing that.

  Wilder is now front and center of Team Ober 2.0

Wilder is now front and center of Team Ober 2.0

The kids of 2016

It's that time of year again, rescued baby season is (finally!) winding down and it's time for our annual yearbook highlights of this year's class of rescued kids! Baby season has been long and steady as 86 kids have made their way through the rescue so far this year. Over 50 have graduated to their forever homes. Our new second rescue farm, Baby Goat Central, welcomed it's first babies in December and continues to house our youngest rescues. A number of kids were raised at our main rescue location and our amazing foster homes, as they do every year, stepped up to help during our busiest times. The kids have been full of personality. From the adventurous and athletic to the quiet and snuggly. All unique and incredibly sweet. They have been nothing short of entertaining, exciting and exhausting. Countless baby goat rescue road trips, hundreds of gallons of milk, endless cleaning, endless bottles, endless baby goat cuddles. All of these things define rescued baby season each and every year. But nothing makes baby season what it is like the kids themselves and what an amazing group we've had!

Most likely to be elected to political office: Lockette This Oberhasli stunner is a standout at BGC. Handsome as can be and full of busy personality, everyone loves Lockette! Including Nicky and Nitro, which, is a rare occurrence. Lockette is the only kid who is allowed by "The Minis" to share their feeder, pool or picnic table, he can often be found curled up napping with one of the big boys. Lockette is always neutral, he never reacts to anyone trying to push him around, he just stays his course and does his thing, looking as regal as could be. image

Class Clown: Rama Rama is the runaway winner of this honor. There was never a dull moment with Rama around. He was a big goofball always in the middle of everything, playing and exploring. He loved being the center of attention but he loved nothing more than his little red wagon. image

Best eyelashes: Petrie & Beeker In a sea of black and brown goats, Petrie and Beeker stand out from the BGC crowd with their beautiful light coloring and their AMAZING eyelashes. These twin Lamancha boys are the sweetest of the sweetest and when they look at you with those big, bright eyes and bat those beautiful long eyelashes, you can't help but melt. image

Cutest Couple: BGC's Farm Dog Addie & "her babies" When we adopted rescue dog Addie we had no idea we were adopting the best baby goat sitter! After spending 5 years in a rescue, Addie finally has a home and family all her own at BGC and she adores her baby goats. They climb on her, nibble on her, launch off of her and sometimes curl up for a nap with her. She is incredibly patient with them and is always concerned if someone isn't where they are supposed to be or isn't feeling 100%. Addie & the kids made for some adorable captured moments this season. image

Most likely to get by on their looks: Grady & Ramsey How could you not succeed on looks when you look like this? These two lookers are just so cute! They spend their days taking their cues from Miss Millie, queen bee of their little group and the never miss an opportunity for cheek scratches. Just don't expect them to master the teeter totter or to try climbing the 8' tall A frame like Millie does, they are best at just looking oh so adorable. image

Most likely to become a pop star: Jake Nicknamed "Mariah Carey" his nickname really says it all. This kid could sing (aka scream) and that he did! He could be heard for miles around and at all hours of the day and night. Eventually even he got tired of his own voice but for a few days, he really belted it out! image

Most likely to walk the runways in Paris: Bronx & Baloo From the day they arrived at BGC at just one day old, these Lamancha/Nubian twins were known as the "super models" as they were all legs! These elegant twins are growing into gorgeous young boys, so tall and graceful. image

Best Dressed: Beasley Stylish Beasley....this flashy Lamancha/Nubian cross is a such a beautiful goat! Not to mention one of the sweetest little love bugs too. image

Homecoming Queen: Millie The Queen Bee of BGC. Millie was found abandoned in a box along side a teddy bear when she was just a day or two old. This spunky, sassy and snuggly little girl charms everyone who meets her and all the boys adore her. image

Homecoming King: Cloud Handsome, quiet and loved by all, Cloud was a head turner at PSGR this year and a friend to all. Gorgeous boy! image

In Memory: He may have only been with us a few short weeks but our sweet little baby Griffey brought us so much joy and touched so many lives. He was loved beyond words and his time with us was filled with so much love. He will be remembered always and forever in our hearts. Rest in Peace my little love.

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Are we there yet?

  BGC's first babies, Beckham & Boom arrived while it was well below freezing overnight so they spent nights in my kitchen

BGC's first babies, Beckham & Boom arrived while it was well below freezing overnight so they spent nights in my kitchen

"When baby season is over...." I think I have probably said this line a dozen times a week the past few months with a hundred different ways to end the sentence. The first babies arrived at BGC at the end of December and it's been non stop ever since. BGC's first babies, Beckham & Boom arrived while it was well below freezing overnight so they spent nights in my kitchen

Baby season is unpredicatble and monotonous at the same time. Feed, clean, cuddle. Prep bottles, wash bottles, defrost milk. Every day, the same routine. Just when we think baby season is "over," there are more babies in need of safe haven. Last week as I was back on the road for another baby goat rescue road trip, I found myself thinking about life for the few short months that aren't baby season and asking myself "are we there yet?" Honestly, I was feeling the need for a break. A break where my kitchen isn't taken over by baby bottles and drying racks and gallons and gallons of milk. When my life isn't revolving around the 3x day bottle feeding schedule of at least 1/2 a dozen babies. Don't get me wrong, I love baby season. I truly do love the work that we do. It just takes a lot of time, energy and emotion to live this life 24/7. We knew that the babies I was bringing home that day would be some of the last of the season so things were sure to slow down going forward, right? Well, in rescue work, things never slow down. Case in point, that night we got the green light for a slaughterhouse rescue.

  A typical BGC "traffic jam"

A typical BGC "traffic jam"

Slaughterhouse rescues are always hard emotionally. This one was particularly hard, I will spare you the details. After two days, we rescued over a dozen goats from death row. None who would have lived to see another 24 hours given the holiday weekend and business the slaughterhouse was seeing.

When we arrived in the early morning hours of day two we knew which two goats we wanted to pull. Two big, horned Lamancha wethers who were simply, awesome! The first one I spotted, now named Zeus, had a face a lot like my beloved boys Nicky and Nitro. I quickly scanned the pen and didn't see the other one and my heart sank. When I went in to lead Zeus to safety I was happy to spot his buddy who had been separated from him by a closed door. As I approached Zeus he stretched out his nose to give me kisses and happily followed me out and we grabbed his buddy, now known as Jupiter, along the way. These boys are stunningly beautiful and their sweet nature captured my heart immediately.

  Taking Zeus & Jupiter out for fresh browse post rescue

Taking Zeus & Jupiter out for fresh browse post rescue

As I was leading them out I passed by two young boers, no more than a few months old, curled up in a corner together. I had spotted them when I first went in on my mission to get Zeus and Jupiter out. It was clear one of these sweet babies was sick. And it was clear, these babies were coming with us. Not wanting them to be separated, even for a few minutes, I scooped them up, one under each arm and carried them out of the pen. Not an easy task. Pure adrehline kicks in when you're in these situations. The little sick doeling immediately nuzzled my face and wagged her tail. That moment, that is what our rescue work is all about.

The hard truth is, we aren't able to save them all. But we can save some. Some we save from the front lines of slaughter and some we save from ever having to go through the experience of a livestock auction, of being hauled from various states without food or water and from the horrible expereince that is their stay on death row at the slaughterhouse.

When I arrived home at BGC later that day, I drove through the gate and saw over 20 happy, healthy and quite honestly spoiled, goats. When I went into the pasture, Nicky ran right up to me and showered me with kisses, just as Zeus had done earlier that morning at the slaughterhouse. Tears filled my eyes. My boys and all of these little ones residing with us, never, ever have to experience what our slaughterhouse rescues do. They have been adored and cared for since the minute they were in our care. We work tirelessly to see that they find the best possible forever home. This, this is why we do what we do. This is why we take in as many babies as we can each year and let our lives revolve around their every need.

  Millie in her favorite snuggle position

Millie in her favorite snuggle position

Last weekend's rescue was a reminder, a reminder of the bigger picture. We take in lots of baby goats each year. Over 70 each year the past two years. They are adorable and snuggly, happy and healthy. But they are a part of the bigger picture. Slaughtehouse rescue has been the backbone of PSGR. We rescue directly from the front lines of slaughter but the babies we take in from dairies and breeders each year are part of that mission too. We're preventing them from ever seeing that fate.

Since our slaughterhouse rescue last week, I have snuggled everyone just a little bit longer, hugged them just a little bit tighter and told them I loved them more times than I can count. What I experience during slaughterhouse rescues is something no goat should ever have to endure. The babies that come to our rescue never will. And those who we rescue who have lived through that, we hope to erase that experience as best we can and give them a second chance at the beautiful life they deserve.

So no, we're not there yet but that just means that more lives are being saved and forever changed. And I'm quite alright with that.

  Bronx, one of our rescued 2016 dairy cull babies

Bronx, one of our rescued 2016 dairy cull babies

Lockette

Last Friday started out like any other day of getting baby goats from a dairy. Load a number of crates in the car, take some bottles of milk, fill up the car with gas, fill me up with coffee and it's another baby goat rescue road trip. I've been there before, I know the drill. But this day, something was different. That something, was baby goat Lockette.

When I arrived I found out there were 3 cull babies available to take that day. Just how old they were was unclear at the time but all I needed to know was there were 3 so I knew 3 were coming home with me. I was told that one was the friendliest baby on the farm. When I walked into the pen where he was living with a number of other kids and does, he immediately woke up from his nap, jumped in my lap and started giving me kisses. I was in love. It was instant and overwhelming. This little guy was amazing. "So he's on the bottle then?" I asked. Much to my surprise the answer was no, he was dam raised. This guy was a big boy, he clearly was not less than a week old, the age we typically take cull babies so we can get them on the bottle and make the transition easier for them. It didn't matter, nothing mattered in that moment other than I was in love and this baby needed to be assured a safe and happy life. We located the other 2 babies, twins, and as I carried one of them out, along came the big boy, following along, happy as could be. Before I left I confirmed his age, he was 6 weeks. 6 weeks! Well, this would be interesting. How was I going to get a 6 week old baby to take a bottle on top of the twins who I had just learned were 5 days old. The memory of Murphy's epic 4 day hold out when he arrived at just 1 day old was still fresh in my mind. This was going to be a challenge.

When we arrived back at Baby Goat Central the boys ran and played for hours, experiencing grass and a big open space for the first time. The twins then curled up for a nap and Lockette began to realize his mom wasn't anywhere around. He cried for hours. Heartbreaking cries. I would go in and sit with him in the pasture, trying to provide him any comfort that I could. It helped, I was a distraction but I wasn't his mom. At least not yet. Usually, because the kids are less than a few days old when they arrive, they transition to their new reality pretty easily. It was clear it was going to be a little different for Lockette. I kept telling myself he was better off with us then he was anywhere else and that I was doing everything I could to help him make this transition but his cries broke my heart. I tried giving him a bottle a few times and although he didn't fight it, he had no idea what I was trying to offer him. He preferred to chew on my hair, my sweatshirt, my boots. When it was dinner time I steeled myself for a battle but bless their little hearts, the twins went right on the bottle, first try. Lockette was interested in what was going on, enough so that I thought I had a window. Sure enough, he took right to the bottle. I was in disbelief! Finally he got the comfort he needed and settled in for the night.

A week later he has handled the transition far better than I could have ever imagined. He has become my shadow, he goes everywhere I go. As adorable and entertaining as he is, he is exhausting. He's like a busy, trouble making toddler. He is into everything. And I mean everything. I turn my back on him for a minute and it looks like there was a tornado in his wake. There are holes in my shirts and spots of hair half an inch shorter because this kid loves to chew and nibble on everything, all the time. He races around the property at lightening speed and loves to go into the big pasture and challenge Nicky and Nitro to a battle. I have found myself sitting outside in the pasture nightly, catching up on phone calls and emails, while he explores and plays long after everyone else has gone to bed.

Lockette is the essence of why I choose to give so much of my life to this work that we do. Despite there being 17 other baby goats currently residing at BGC, Lockette brings a new energy and life to the farm. One that would not have been possible if his life had not been saved that day. He makes every day a little longer, a little more tiring but a lot more entertaining and a whole lot brighter.

Murphy

Organized chaos, that is how I refer to life at Baby Goat Central right now. The babies all come bouncing out of the barn in the morning after their bottles and go in 10 different directions. My boys, Nicky and Nitro, go running and jumping out of the barn, caught up in the energy that babies bring to the farm. Only after they have investigated, moved and disassembled everything in the baby stalls once the babies go out for the day. Elliott is standing on the fence of his pasture "mooing" as he does for me to let him out for supplemental grazing. The pygmys he lives with, Dixie and Atlas, decide since Elliot is talking so should they while they bounce around because, well why not, everyone else is. Between working a very full time job and what I have come to refer to as feeling like I'm simultaneously raising toddlers, teenagers and a bunch of newborn babies, I'm in survival mode. Surviving we are, and quite well I might add. But two weeks ago when 4 more newborn dairy cull boys joined me at BGC and among them the adorable Murphy, I was on the verge of tears for 4 days straight. Tears of frustration. Tears of sadness. And finally, tears of joy. All because of Murphy and a bottle.

A fair number of our rescued babies arrive not yet on a bottle. We are no strangers to transitioning babies to the bottle and inevitably, every year, we have some holdouts. Typically the holdouts are a few days old and have spent a number of days nursing from their mom. Typically, the younger ones take to the bottle right away. Such was the case for the members of our most recent rescue. Except for Murphy. Given that Murphy was only a day old, we weren't expecting him to refuse a bottle. Not only did he refuse a bottle, he fought it. We spent hours upon hours trying every trick in the book. We've used them all before. Typically we find one that works but for Murphy, we kept hitting a wall. He was sad, I was sad. He was frustrated, I was frustrated. I felt defeated. It is heartbreaking to watch a baby who is clearly hungry and needing not only the nutrition of a bottle of milk but also the comfort, not make that transition. I became the bad guy coming in to scoop him up and stick a rubber nipple, one that he made it clear he wanted nothing to do with, in his mouth. I tried to counteract that by spending as much time snuggling with him without attempting to feed him as I could. He still knew what was coming every time he saw the bottle and would struggle.

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We supplemented him through tube feeding him the first few days because he was so very young but the stress it caused him was by no means an ideal situation. So Barbara had the idea to take him over to the main rescue location and let him nurse off a doe there that was still in milk. Our hope was to be able to slip the bottle in while he was attempting to nurse off of L'Oreal, who by the way, was incredibly patient with the little guy. He wasn't falling for the switch trick but it did get him a tummy full of milk the natural way and much to our surprise, helped the process. We were concerned it might set us back. He now had a tummy full of milk and had gotten exactly what he wanted, to nurse, naturally. However in the bottle feeding attempts that followed, we seemed to make progress. Having him nurse seemed to have re-set him mentally. It calmed and comforted him and reignited his sucking reflex. He started nibbling on my clothes, lips and earlobes, he started watching the other babies take their bottles and looking to me for milk, all signs that he was close. But the following day we seemed to have lost all ground when I tried a bottle in the morning. After an hour of sitting with him, he took a few ounces from the bottle at his mid day feeding with Barbara. When I got home from work that night I prepared his bottle with little hope he would take it. The past few days had been so tough, I couldn't bear to get my hopes up again. I didn't lock the gate after I pulled in fully expecting to have to be going back out to take him to nurse from L'Oreal again. I fed the other 3 babies, including his twin brother Moose who is always by his side and he watched me and them intently. He lined up with them while they were drinking and started nibbling on my jeans. When they were finished I quietly picked him up, held up a bottle and he nibbled. I slipped it in his mouth and he drank. I almost didn't believe it and expected him to stop at any second and squirm away but much to my surprise and relief, he drank the whole bottle. I was so happy I almost cried. The sense of happiness and relief is one I can't even put into words.

Over the next 24 hours I watched him become a happy, bouncy baby who had the energy to keep up with his brother and crazy roommates, Tag and Renegade. He had some ground to make up but that he did. He received a few extra feedings and still, two weeks later, he drinks faster than anyone else. He loves to snuggle which is no surprise given how many hours I spent holding him in my lap those first few days. Holding him just willing him to give in and take the bottle.

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Those 4 days were hard. Another piece of the baby season puzzle that we look back on and wonder how we survive it every year. The next time we have a holdout we can remind ourselves and each other, "remember Murphy's epic holdout?" Just like last year when it was "remember Guinness's epic holdout? Oh and Dexter's?" Like I said, we're no strangers to this but for me, this is my first time living rescued baby season 24/7 so much of it feels new again.

Another feather goes into the hat of the first year at BGC and now the adorable, sweet, little love bug Murphy is a constant reminder that we're going to get through this crazy, busy, deliriously exhausting yet wonderful time of year at the rescue. Even if some tears are shed along the way.

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Family ties

"Hi baby" I said softly as I picked up Birdie, Bess's first born triplet, just seconds after she was born. It was one of those unexplainable, instant connections. The next words out of my mouth were "I love her!" Within minutes Gumby and Jackson had arrived and the love was tripled. Bess, one of the most gentle and sweet natured goats, had just given birth to 3 amazing babies 4 months after we rescued her from a local slaughterhouse and I was in love.

Every year we get the privilege of witnessing little ones make their entrance into the world. To watch one life we saved from slaughter become two, three or even four lives saved. A number of does that we rescue from the slaughterhouse each year are pregnant when we do, unbeknownst to us. A month after arriving at the rescue, we run pregnancy tests on all the rescued does and make our guesses of what the results might be. For the record, we're rarely ever right.

We were excited to learn that Bess was one of two expectant moms from the September rescue. Bess was one of those goats who we couldn't really get a feel for at first. She was nice, she allowed us to walk up to her at the slaughterhouse and pet her. She was easy to handle. But she kept to herself and didn't really seek out attention or comfort as so many of the others did. Once we moved her into the expectant does area, her personality really started to blossom. It became apparent once she was away from a big herd, just how truly charming her personality is. She loves attention but even more, she loves to rub on people. We affectionately refer to her as the "butt massager." She will literally move from person to person rubbing her head on each person, quite vigorously in fact. She is incredibly calm and gentle. Even while kidding and trying to figure out what was going on with three little ones crying out and wobbling around the birthing stall in three different directions, she remained unfazed.

There is something truly special about Bess and it is apparent that her babies have inherited that magic from her. Their individual personalities were apparent from the start. Birdie may be half the size of her brothers but she is full of gumption. Gumby is a snuggly little love bug who adores people as much as his mom and siblings and Jackson is full of goofy personality. Each posses their own truly unique personality but they all share that same special magic as their mom.

Bess and her babies represent the back bone of the work we do, rescuing goats from slaughter. I can't imagine a world where these babies didn't get a chance to make their mark on it. They have certainly made a big imprint on our hearts and we know they will on the family that will be lucky to provide this little family with their forever home. One life saved became four lives saved that day and Bess, who had never really bonded to any one goat at the rescue, now has 3 precious little ones to spend her days with. A perfect little family.

Sparkle

 "Shine bright like a diamond" -Rihanna

"Shine bright like a diamond" -Rihanna

In every slaughterhouse rescue run there is always a diamond in the rough. It never fails, each time we are there we come across goats who have succumb to the stresses of their experiences and surroundings. Experiences that can start well before they even arrive there. We never get to know their stories. We don't know whose stories include being shuffled through livestock auctions, who was purchased states away and thrown into a hauling trailer with no food or water while they traveled days to their destination or who was purchased off craigslist under the ruse of a pet home only to be sold to the slaughterhouse. All we know is that they are now on death row and in desperate need of help. There are always those whose bodies have given up. Those who have lost hope and take to standing in a dark corner letting the days painfully pass by until their number is up. On our last rescue run, that goat was Sparkle.

We found Sparkle hunched in a corner of a dark shelter area of the slaughterhouse. She was temporarily blind from an eye infection and was extremely emaciated. Upon arrival at the rescue she took a big, long drink of fresh water and although she seemed interested in food, she wouldn't eat.

  Finally some fresh water

Finally some fresh water

We moved her to our ICU area with fellow critical patients Lucky & Duncan. We tried every kind of hay we had, grain, fresh cut browse, even picking fresh grass and offering it to her but for days, she would hardly eat. We were thrilled if she took a few bites a day. Every night she would curl up with Lucky & Duncan and the three would sleep intertwined. It was a relief to see her take comfort in their company.

  The first nights in the PSGR ICU

The first nights in the PSGR ICU

Finally a few bites a day turned into steady eating. She regained her sight and would accompany Lucky & Duncan on their trips out grazing each day. To most, Sparkle would have seemed beyond hope that day at the slaughterhouse but we have seen goats come back from seemingly impossible conditions. For us, there is always hope.

Over the past few months we have watched her blossom. Although she has been a very sweet goat from the time she arrived, she now seeks out attention and affection in a way she didn't before. We did everything we could to help her understand she was now safe and cared for when she arrived but she had to learn to fully trust that in her own time. It took her time to realize that she would never be put through undue stress again. That she would never be hungry or without a fresh drink of water. That she would never be neglected again. These days, she is fully embracing her new reality. She loves to be brushed and spend one on one time with volunteers.

Lamancha does often hold the alpha role in our main herd dynamic but Sparkle is quite omega. For that reason, Sparkle had been spending a lot of time in with the pregnant does the last few months. The afternoon Bess went into labor as we waited (for hours!) for the birth to begin, Sparkle climbed onto the wooden spool I was sitting on and stood next to me for quite some time while I scratched her cheeks and gave her the attention she relishes in these days. The babies finally started arriving and in the middle of the bustle of three newborn goats I turned around to see Sparkle, about 10 feet away, sound asleep. Such a sweet girl!

The day we rescued her she had all but completely given up but we knew this sweet girl could sparkle again and now, she knows it too!

Ober Obsession

If you ask Barbara, she will unequivocally say her favorite breed is the Saanen. For me, it would have to be Lamancha and Oberhasli. Lamanchas are by nature incredibly sweet & intelligent and the absolute cutest little babies. And yes, I’m biased as I think my Lamancha boys, Nicky & Nitro, are the most perfect little goats on the planet. But this past year through baby season and slaughterhouse rescues, it’s become clear, I have a real soft spot for Obers. I have always loved the Oberhasli breed. I’m drawn to their beauty, gentleness and calm demeanors. Obers hadn’t been all that common at the rescue. That is until Team Ober made its way to PSGR this past baby season. It started with two, our very first babies of the season, Remy & Bandito. I was instantly in love and so excited for baby Obers! Then there were 4 more a few weeks later. I took time off of work to be with them all day, every day while Barbara was out of town. Then there was Percy, my sweet, goofy little Percy who was like a little old man in a baby goat body. By the end of the season, 11 Ober kids had come through the rescue, via road trips in my Prius and I had a soft spot for each and every one.

  Percy, the day he arrived

Percy, the day he arrived

This past slaughterhouse rescue I was instantly drawn to a number of Obers amongst the countless number of goats there that day. Winnie was the first. When I entered the pen a number of Obers were around a feeder trying to eat the little bit of hay placed out for them. I reached down and touched the smallest one who immediately turned around and stared at me with these big, bright eyes. A moment that I knew was going to change her life because I knew in an instant, she was being saved that day. Something about this young doe captivated me. She is such a little love; young and innocent and so, so sweet! A few times I’ve caught a glimpse of a sassier Winnie, pushing some of the other Obers around. She is half their size but that doesn’t stop her. However, the minute she sees me, she gives up whatever point she’s trying to make with them for pets and kisses.

  Winnie

Winnie

As healthy and vibrant as Winnie was, Dante, a strikingly gorgeous Ober wether, was another story. He was clearly suffering from the stress and conditions of the slaughterhouse and was so very thin and weak. When we arrived back to PSGR from the slaughterhouse, he ate a few bites of hay, took a big drink of water and promptly laid down and went to sleep. A sleep that had me going over to check that he was still breathing every few minutes. Thankfully, he was. I sat down next to him and lifted his head up into my lap where we sat for a long time. The first few days we continued to be concerned about him and whether or not he could overcome everything he had been through. He received the necessary medical attention he needed, had an all you can eat buffet, and was segregated from the main quarantine herd with a friend so we could be sure he didn’t have to fight herd hierarchy for anything. We did all we could and we waited. Waited and hoped that all our efforts would be rewarded. And they were. Dante is steadily improving and gaining back his health and weight each and every day.

  Dante, a few hours after his rescue

Dante, a few hours after his rescue

Dante now gets to share in the produce I always bring to the farm with me for Faye and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t often slip Winnie a handful of grain. These two hold a special place in my heart. I make sure that every time I go to the rescue I get some time with them. If Baby Goat Central was 10 acres instead of 2.5, I’d be pleading with Barbara to let me adopt them.

  Dante

Dante

In just a few short months Team Ober 2.0 will start to make their way through PSGR and I can’t wait to have baby Obers descend on BGC. And when we make our next slaughterhouse rescue you can be sure I’ll have my eye out for Obers. So yes, it’s safe to say that I have a bit of an obsession with Obers. But don’t tell Nicky & Nitro, they are still number one in my book but maybe, just maybe, they’ll have a little Oberhasli sibling or two one day.

I milked a goat!

I will begin by admitting that I fully realize that the significance of this is likely lost on most, if not every person reading this blog. Some have been milking animals for decades. I even know of an adorable two year old, affectionately referred to as “the littlest milkmaid,” who milks goats. Others probably think, what’s so hard about milking a goat, especially if a two year old can do it? Well, in fact, it’s not hard. It just takes, at least for me, some getting the hang of. Over the years we have occasionally gotten in does at PSGR who were “in milk” and were in need of some relieving along the process of drying them up. I had tried, rather unsuccessfully, to milk a few of these does. A few ounces and I was satisfied that I had made an effort and called it good. Leaving it to Barbara who had far more experience.

Then last weekend 4 goats came to live at Baby Goat Central. Not our plan but rescue work is nothing if not unpredictable. You learn to go with the flow. You learn, as Tim Gunn would say, to make it work. When 4 lovely LaMancha ladies urgently needed a place to go, we figured BGC was ready enough and moved them in. Elsie, a beautiful young doe was in milk. A lot of milk. Barbara milked her out the first night they arrived. A few days into the week, both Barbara and I in the middle of a busy work week with our day jobs, I found myself late one evening, looking at a goat uncomfortably full of milk and realizing I had to take the plunge and figure this out. I put my arm around Elsie and reached under. After dancing around for a few seconds she stopped and let me start trying to teach myself to milk. She quickly grew impatient with my inexperience and decided it wasn’t worth it and went off to resume eating her dinner. The next night I was determined and bless her heart, Elsie let me have another go. I put an arm around her, fumbled around and then, there was milk, a lot of milk! I was ridiculously excited and Elsie seemed quite content with the results as she started to chew her cud and stood, perfectly still, in the pasture and let me milk her. No stanchion, no lead, no holding on to her; she just happily stood and let me milk her.

image Elsie

For me, it was a milestone. One of many on this road of rediscovering my farm girl roots. Of taking on this new phase of PSGR. I had a lot of anxiety of how I would balance my very full time job and all the volunteer work I currently do for PSGR with now adding a barn full of goats to be responsible for. Elsie and the lovely LaMancha ladies have been the perfect transition into this new reality.

Yes, I now get up in the dark, at an hour no person should have to get up, so I have time to go out and check on them each morning. I come in for the night, 14 hours later from when I started the day, so I can spend time with them and make sure I am being the best “goat mom” that I can be. I worry about them during the day and am guilty of asking the wonderful neighbors to do a drive by the first few days to make sure they were all accounted for. But this new reality; worry, exhaustion and all, makes me so happy. This is what I signed up for. Sometimes I think diving into the deep end, unexpectedly, is the only way to do it. You just have to let go of the worry of how it all will go, adjust your expectations and make it work.

The day after my successful milking of Elsie, I was at work, visiting a pumpkin patch with the kids I spend my work day with and one of them asked what the white stuff was all over my boots. I looked down, not having noticed it before and with a beaming smile I answered, its goat milk! I milked a goat!

The Golden Girls

Every year at PSGR we see lots of youngsters through the rescue. They bring an energy and a life to the rescue that is nothing short of exhausting, entertaining and adorable. We also see a number of young and mature adults who come to us from a variety of circumstances. They know their way around the world yet often have a youthful spirit. Among them, every year, we rescue some more mature does. Does that have most likely been through a lot in their years and who arrive at the rescue ready to relax and ready take on the world to do so. The Golden Girls as I like to call them. Our current cast of Golden Girls is by far one of my favorites. Saffron was part of a June slaughterhouse rescue. I didn’t see her on my first pass by of the front pen, a pen that is the last holding area before animals are processed. But the final time I passed by for one last check, there she was staring at me with those big eyes. She was the last goat in our truck that day. When we arrived back at the rescue she didn’t really want anything to do with us. She was standoffish and honestly, who could blame her. She had given birth each year to triplets for her former owners who then traded her to the slaughterhouse for some pigs and chickens. She arrived back at the rescue, got poked with a number of vaccinations, received a toenail trim and just wasn’t all too happy with us. But as the days and weeks went on, it became very clear to us, she was one of the sweetest goats on the farm. One of the first to greet anyone who enters the pasture, she will stand by you for as long as you will stand by her. She finds people quite useful as a head rest. When we take the herd out forest grazing, instead of feasting on all the browse, she just stands with me, often resting her head on me. She has been one of the biggest surprises with how incredibly people loving she is and I absolutely adore her.

  Saffron

Saffron

One who wasted no time warming up to us was Chiquita. I cannot help but smile every time I see Chiquita. Chiquita was a standout during our last slaughterhouse rescue, following us all around the slaughterhouse and sticking her face in ours. This poor gal was extremely emaciated and her feet were in such neglected, poor condition that she had a hard time walking. I don’t think she has stopped eating since she arrived. Her favorite food, you guessed it, bananas! She got daily maintenance on her feet the first few weeks and she is now getting around without a second thought. She is the first out of the gate every day, always wants to have a conversation and is just one of the coolest goats we’ve had. We don’t know their past stories but if we had to guess, she was likely a dairy goat for many years until she was deemed too old or not producing enough milk and was sent to a livestock auction. We rescued another Saanen doe that same rescue, Athena. Chances are they came from the same place. Athena is much more reserved than her counterpart but she is another sweet, mellow gal that has likely seen a lot in her day. Currently Chiquita rooms at night with Jewel, an Alpine doe from the same rescue who, like her Saanen friends, was incredibly thin and could hardly walk due to the condition of her feet. She is incredibly sweet, follows Chiquita everywhere and has the same crazy appetite. Seeing them devour a bowl of food is a sight to be seen!

  Chiquita

Chiquita

  Jewel

Jewel

Then there is Margarite, a goat who cannot be missed. She simply won’t allow it. Forget about the street sweeper brush, she uses anyone who will stand still as a human scratching post. A big, beautiful Alpine, she really is a neat goat. I will admit she drives me a bit crazy at times; she often catches me off guard when she comes up behind me to use me as a scratching post, she wants to be the one and only goat through any gate in case there just might be an apple slice involved and when she doesn’t want to move, she doesn’t move. Albeit stubborn at times, she has a fun, youthful spirit and clearly age has not slowed her down one bit.

  Margarite

Margarite

For most of these lovely ladies, we hope that wonderful adopters come along to give them that perfect “retirement” home they deserve. For some, such as our beloved Faye, that place is PSGR. Faye was one of the first stories I shared on this blog. Faye pretty much has the run of the farm. Sometimes she likes to spend time hanging out in the common area hoping to find the ICU stall open so she can sleep in the small straw filled area in there. Sometimes she’ll find her way into the kid areas while we’re cleaning and curl in their straw filled pools. Do you see a pattern here? She loves her beds. She still gets the pick of the produce from my refrigerator each week, she’s quite spoiled, just as she should be. PSGR just wouldn’t feel the same without our old gal Faye.

  Faye

Faye

When I think about these Golden Girls, I can’t help but imagine them as retired ladies who lunch, in pearls and big hats, sharing stories of their years. I can just see them now…..Saffron; the wise one, Chiquita; the excentric, Jewel; always by Chiquita’s side, the voice of reason. Athena; the quiet observer, Margarite; the queen bee and Faye; just sipping her tea taking in a cozy day with friends. A sisterhood. One where after years of being a dairy producer, a brush clearer or a family pet, they were set aside but luckily, PSGR exists to make sure their stories don’t end there. They get to celebrate their golden years with beds full of straw, regular pedicures, friends and all the bananas they can eat!

Many of these Golden Girls are, or soon will be, available for adoption. Please email us at rescuegoats@yahoo.com for more information

The Name Game

“Do you name them all?” This is a question we are often asked by visitors to the farm. The answer: “Yes, yes we do.” And it’s not always easy. Occasionally a few private surrenders will arrive with a name but a majority of our rescues arrive without names. Some arrive as numbers from auctions and the slaughterhouse and the babies, they never have names. To us, they are individuals and we believe that everyone needs a name. So as part of introducing them to the new chapter in their lives, we name them. We like to give new arrivals names that “fit” them. A name that reflects their appearance, personality and/or their story. A name that celebrates who they are. For some, we instantly find a name that’s perfect. Others, it can take a while.

When I first started volunteering at the rescue, being a part of the naming process was very exciting. I spent hours combing through the name lists that Barbara has compiled over the years. I would find and bookmark websites with names from all over the world. I would make lists of new arrivals and name possibilities and run them by Barbara. We’ve found that bouncing names off of each other is far more effective. It’s fun to be creative but 20, 30, goats in each year, it starts to get a lot harder and the creativity gets harder to come by. Especially during baby season when dozens arrive at a time. So far this year, with the busiest baby season in the books, a slaughterhouse rescue and a number of private surrenders, we’ve named over 100 goats. We’re well aware of the fact that many goats get new names as soon as they take their victory walk and leave PSGR. However, in the time they are with us, they have a name that we choose just for them. Just how those names come about, well, just as there are 100+ names each year, there is 100+ ways on how we come about them.

Two months ago we rescued a wonderful group of goats from a local slaughterhouse. A small LaMancha doe was the “train wreck” of the group. She was in very poor physical condition; thin, losing her hair, caked in slaughterhouse muck, but this gal was spunky! The slaughterhouse experience certainly hadn’t killed her spirit. She was full of life and clearly had a strong will to live. A few days after her arrival we were still at a loss of what to name her. So I posted her picture on Instagram and asked our followers for name suggestions that represented her spirit; one of a fighter, a survivor. Within hours we had over 80 name suggestions. We sat down amongst the goats and I read through the names. As soon as we read Katniss, we knew that was it. Such a fitting name for this girl!

  Katniss; Rescued, June 2015

Katniss; Rescued, June 2015

In that same rescue was a sweet Nubian doe, temporarily blind from an eye infection and as thin as could be. She was wearing a collar, one with a name tag. Her name was Greta. But Greta was a name associated with a life that was now in the past. One that cared enough to engrave a name tag for her at one time but not enough to prevent her from ending up at a slaughterhouse. When we arrived back at the rescue, we threw it away. She would now be known as Daphne. We were so happy when Daphne regained her sight a few days later and was able to see her new life.

  Daphne; Rescued, June 2015

Daphne; Rescued, June 2015

During baby season we’re having to come up with a lot of names. 86 this year to be exact. One of the first groups to arrive was 4 Oberhasli kids that I picked up while Barbara was on vacation out of the country. The smallest had these little pointy ears and an adorable short little face. Immediately I started calling him Gizmo. I know Barbara well enough to know she would have nixed that name had she been there. I tried countless other names but I kept calling him Gizmo. The farm sitter started calling him Gizmo. The volunteers started calling him Gizmo. When Barbara got back, his name was Gizmo.

  Gizmo; Born & Rescued, February 2015

Gizmo; Born & Rescued, February 2015

When it came to naming my boys, who I still, and probably forever will, call “The Minis,” no names really stood out initially. These two were always all over the place, into everything, bouncing off of anything they could, moving 90 miles an hour. We thought of something tsunami or hurricane like but nothing fit. Until reading through a list one night in the barn we came across Nitro. As it often does, it just clicked and that was it. We decided to go with another N name for his twin. Nico was settled on when honestly, we had pretty much given up on going through the list again and again, but a few days later Nico just wasn’t fitting. So it was changed to Nicky and their names are now so perfectly fitting that I can’t imagine having named them anything else.

  Nicky & Nitro, "The Minis"; Born & Rescued, March 2015

Nicky & Nitro, "The Minis"; Born & Rescued, March 2015

With so many kids this year and so many names to remember I had to make signs on each of the baby areas with descriptions of who was who. Cheat sheets if you will. Although that is not always a failsafe. With so many Saanen kids this year it was hard to tell them apart. Despite slight variations in size, facial features or ear size, it was tough to keep them all straight. Especially in the first few days of arrival when we have to monitor who has learned that their milk now comes from a bottle and how much they’re eating. So Kodiak became known as, nail polish on back right foot, Eljin; nail polish on back left foot, Yuki; nail poish on front right foot, etc.

  Kodiak, Sundance & Yuki; Born & Rescued, March 2015

Kodiak, Sundance & Yuki; Born & Rescued, March 2015

Some of our rescues get to bear a namesake of those who have come before them. When Levi, a longtime resident Saanen wether passed away due to old age last winter, we knew one of the kids would be named in his honor this season. The first Saanen that arrived this year was named Levi to carry on the legacy. We could not have picked a better namesake for Levi. I am still waiting for a special little doeling to come along to carry on the namesake of our beloved Mia.

  Levi; Born & Rescued March, 2015

Levi; Born & Rescued March, 2015

Whether their name is one that has a long story or one that is simply “just because it fits”, they are no longer an auction number, no longer one in a hundred babies born on a dairy or waiting to be sold for meat. They now have a name and a new life ahead. It is always a relief when all the current residents of PSGR are named. That is until another new arrival comes through the gate and we look at each other and say “we have to think of a name” and once again it's time to play the name game.