It’s been a full summer. Here's the update.
Picking up where I left off… Temperance’s kidding was difficult, and the kid who survived, Kasia, had a rough start. At one week old, it was obvious she was not thriving. The vet determined she had floppy kid syndrome, and likely pneumonia. Floppy kid syndrome isn’t well understood, but apparently the gut doesn't work properly and the kid can’t digest the mama’s milk. The milk becomes toxic and the goat quickly declines. Our vet saved Kasia with several doses of a baking soda, vinegar, water solution that reset her digestive system. After two weeks of very intensive care, including a couple of midnight and early dawn trips to our vet’s house with Kasia in the cat carrier, she came around and turned into a silly, playful goat kid. Our vet told us we’d know she’s healthy when she makes us laugh out loud with her ridiculous antics. Kasia definitely makes up laugh out loud. And just look, is she not the mini-me of her mother?
In other goat news, I have mastered a new skill. Three times a year we need to check the goats’ feces for parasites. For the past two years, I’ve done this by standing in the goat stall with plastic baggies, staring at the goats’ rear ends waiting, willing them to poop, and then scrambling to catch at least a few fresh “berries” to send off to the lab. The first two goats always poop right away, but the third will inevitably hold out for at least an hour. It is particularly unpleasant waiting around in the winter, especially because the minute you decide you can probably just sweep up this pile of hay or shovel out that pile of muck (to stay warm more than anything else), the goat will poop and you'll miss it and, even worse, you might not even know you missed it. But there’s another way. A more efficient way. You can go in and collect fresh berries. That is what I did last weekend. In fifteen minutes, I got what I needed. Why did I wait two years to figure this one out?
We have bees! The queen and her 15,000 worker bees arrived in May and seem to be settling in quite nicely. We see them doing their thing around the garden. Dave does all the work of taking care of them and I watch from a distance hoping they don’t (1) swarm, (2) lose their larvae to the bear in our woods (larvae are a crunchy, protein-packed snack for bears), (3) get mites, (4) get too hot or too cold, or (5) die/leave for some unknown reason. Dave just hopes this hobby fares better on the expense/gain tradeoff than my goat hobby. Maybe next year we’ll get some of their honey…
The garden is sadly neglected. But underneath the thick growth of weeds we have a fall harvest ripening: corn, pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. We also have way more garlic than we’ll ever use. But I have to grow that much garlic in order to satisfy my garlic scape pesto cravings. Tonight’s garden chore is making many batches of tomato-garlic soup.
We said goodbye to our old man cat. Alfred was 18 years old. He came to us off the streets of DC when he was three. He was the best cat ever. He was so great, I’ll hashtag that. #bestcatever. This spring he seemed to lose his spark. The vet diagnosed him with “outliving his kidneys and a touch of kitty dementia,” meaning he couldn’t make it to his litter box if he got too far away from it. We finally decided it was time for him to move on to whatever comes next for cats who, as our kids say, are “all done living.”
We welcomed a puppy into our family (unrelated to Alfred's departure, although perhaps not unrelated to Dave’s limit of two furry indoor pets at a time, implemented after we adopted Caroline the cat last summer). Finn is a sweet little lab-mix rescue (anyone want to guess what the “mix” part is?) from Virginia. He’s a good pup, and even though everyone says puppies are a ton of work, I don’t notice it all that much. It’s just another layer of care on top of our already complex schedule, and Finn's routine fits in quite well. He is good in the car, so he keeps me company when I drive the carpools, gets his exercise at soccer practice, and even has a puppy friend for puppy playdates. What I do notice is that I now see the stars every night (at 1:30am and again at 4:30am), and it is awfully nice to have a small being submit to me, and eagerly at that. Unlike the other three small beings in this house who may or may not listen to me.
Once Finn learns his golden manners, he’ll be a fine dog.
Having a dog has also gotten all of us into the woods and out on hikes more often (if Finn goes, the kids want to go). Now that they can keep up with us (thanks to Katherine’s 9-year-old strength, Clara’s stamina, and Alexandra’s sheer determination to keep up with the big sisters), family hiking & biking are turning out to be a lot of fun. Perhaps we are finally entering that era of fun family outdoor activity that, according to Facebook pictures of #blessedfamilyhikes, everyone but us has been enjoying for years.