Violet's Easter Kids

We have been expecting Violet's kids for a week now. Juniper kidded early and suddenly, catching us by surprise, so we have been watching Violet very closely. Last Saturday, we were convinced that she was about to pop. Since then, we have been checking up on her every couple of hours, including once or twice in the night. Finally we became convinced that she was waiting for spring to return to the Helderberg hills before she would bring her kids into the cruel, cold, damp, windy world. Last night we just stayed in bed.
This morning when we went up the hill with water and hay, we noticed Violet was acting pretty strange. I checked her again a little later, and then we knew it was time. We grabbed the Goat-Go bucket with all our supplies, and a couple of magazines (just in case it was going to be a while).
I was super excited because I missed half of Juniper's kidding; Farmer Fin was nervous because he didn't miss any of Juniper's kidding, especially the part where he had to adjust the unborn kid's legs while on the phone with our wonderful & helpful vet.
We hunkered down in the barn. The rain was cold and the wind was trying to pry the roof right off the barn. It was when Farmer Fin had run to the house to grab a clamp for the roof that Violet let out a powerful yell and I saw a pink balloon emerge from her hindquarters, and inside the ballon...a teeny tiny hoof! F.F. had heard her cry, and he sprinted into the barn a moment later, while I was donning my shoulder-length plastic gloves. No need for them, though; the first kid slipped out smoothly, perfect little head between the teensy white hooves, and Violet, a natural for a first-time mother, started to clean the baby off right away. The second kid slid out just as easily, and Mama Vi seemed to have no problem multi-tasking.

Within fifteen minutes, both kids were
clean and on their feet

It took them a while to figure out how to nurse, and unlike Juniper's kids, these two really resented our efforts to help, as evidenced by amazingly loud and angry cries of protest. They tried to nurse their mama's neck, each other's noses, and the folds in our jeans, complete with head bumps (they do that to stimulate the flow of milk from their mom's udder) to our knees.

That is just not going to work.

Finally they figured it out.

The whole thing is just amazing to me: their little voices and the way their mom talks to them, how they stand up within minutes of entering the world, their playfulness and curiosity and determination...and did I mention they are really, really cute? I feel very lucky today.
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Free Rangers!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Beatrix, our collective of Barred Rock Hens, doesn't.

We have been letting the chickens wander freely this spring. It's still really cold here, but apparently the bugs and worms know that it's spring, and the chickens know they know. Our nine hens wander the property all day eating little critters and the tops of the new grass, and digging all around in last fall's leaves and piles of dead vegetation. They have been helping out a lot with the spring garden tasks of pruning, raking, and turning soil.

Celeste, the three Rhode Island Reds, take their landscaping job very seriously. Since it's been too rainy to get started in the vegetable garden, I've been focused on the perennial garden across the road. Celeste has taken to following me over there. Not right away; they will scrape around in the leaves by the side of the road for fifteen minutes or so before one of them looks around, decides it's time, and waddles across to the perennial garden. I have seen her do it. She does look both ways, but I'm not sure she knows exactly what she's looking for. If she gets bored before I finish, she goes back home. If not, she follows me when I go back.

Both chicken cohorts have been sticking pretty close this week. They follow me around the yard wherever I go, trying to hop into the car when the opportunity presents, or trailing me up to the goat yard, much to the goats' alarm. Yesterday evening, when the sun finally came out, I went to take pictures of them returning to their house, but when they saw me out there, they changed their minds.

About face!

The eggs are getting more and more delicious as spring progresses. And April showers bring May flowers.

Go, Spring!

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Happy Birth Day Kids!!!

Welcome the new additions to Cotton Hill Farm!

Farmer Fin really earned his farmer stripes today.

Kids and Mama Juniper are healthy and adorable.


Obligatory Think Spring Post

We had ourselves a real upstate NY winter this year. Cold, snowy, and as it turns out, long. The sign outside a firehouse I pass on my way to work reminds us - farmers, commuters, teenagers, schoolbus drivers, old ladies - to "Think Spring," as we cruise by. In the past week or so, it's easier; the sky is fully light by the time I get there. This morning I did chores without a flashlight to a soundtrack of song birds.
Of course, I was also shuffling through a couple fresh inches of snow.
Ah well, it's almost here.
...because the crocuses are here.

We can hardly wait!