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Farm Update

Although our kidding season has been blissfully uneventful and easy, on Friday, we experienced our first stillbirth of the year. A complicated or worse, stillbirth always saddens us. Merribelle, one of our Boer does who was raised as a bottle baby, gave birth to a very large, beautiful, spotted doeling. Unfortunately, the extra large little girl was born dead. The Bibbed Wonder had to help Merribelle deliver her little one because she was so large. Although we hate to see a loss of life, especially the loss of a new life, we have come to understand that this is simply part of the reality of farming. Understanding this does not make it any easier.

As human beings, we tend to think of ourselves as superior to all other creatures. After experiencing years of caring for animals, my unpopular attitude that all creatures are sentient beings capable of love, devotion, happiness, sadness, grief, and depression is confirmed. Our little Merribelle clearly expressed grief, despair, and loss over the death of her baby. These creatures feel a wide range of emotions. If you don't believe me, spend some quality time with them, and I am sure you will change your thinking. Poor Merribelle cried out and called for her kid. The Bibbed Wonder gave her time to sniff the baby so she could understand it was gone. However, this did not ease her loss. For two days, she appeared confused, depressed, and sad. It breaks your heart to see a mother, any mother, in pain.

We tried to have Merribelle adopt Fergus, our bottle baby, but even with her afterbirth rubbed on him, she knew the difference. Sometimes, a grieving doe will readily adopt an orphaned kid, but I believe Fergus is too old to fool Merribelle. We gave Merribelle all the extra comfort and care we could, but we knew only time would heal her loss. After almost a week, Merribelle continues to appear depressed. Her health is good; we have kept a close eye on her. However, sadly, it is her mental state that concerns us. She will be given extra attention and care as she moves through the grieving process. We understand that her loss is real, her feelings are valid, and her pain is palpable. Time is what our sweet girl needs to heal.

When we first got our girls, we removed the babies from them as soon as they nursed and took in the life-giving colostrum. We did this because we were newbies. Removing the kids from their mothers was how the breeder raised them. After a year or two, it just didn't feel right to remove babies from their mamas. I believe it is an unnatural process that is cold and callous. Yes, we step in and help if we are needed. However, our girls all seem to benefit from raising their kids, and no doubt, the kids benefit from staying with their moms. We don't get nearly as much milk from the girls when they are raising their kids, but it is natural and the way God intended. I can't in good conscience remove babies from their mamas so that I can have more milk for my products.

You may notice our moisturizer inventory is low or even out of stock during this time. Be patient with us and our girls. They are doing the more important job of raising little ones. We need fresh milk for our moisturizer. Moisturizer cannot be made with frozen milk; it turns runny. Until the girls decide to wean their babies, and yes, we leave this decision up to them, we will have limited fresh milk available. In several weeks, most girls will decide they have had enough of their little ones nursing, being lifted off the ground by babies too tall to nurse, and the constant suckling of multiple mouths. We will see them push their kids away, head butt them, kick them, or run away if their kids approach. At this time, we will gather all the weanlings and separate them from the herd so their mamas get some peace. There will be a few days of constant calling for their mamas, but eventually, they will settle down and realize it is natural for them not to nurse. The kids go from sweet little babies to the equivalent of tweens at this age. They are rambunctious, often slip out of the fence, don't want to be handled, and are into everything.

Overall, we are pleased with the path this kidding season has taken. Although loss is difficult, it is part of the process. We will continue to care for our babies and mamas the best we can. We treat the girls and their little ones with love and respect, giving them the freedom to forge bonds, experience motherhood, and decide when it is time for their little ones to move on. It may not be the most productive or lucrative approach to farming, but it is natural and the way God intended. For me, it is essential to honor the natural process of all our animals. You will never find us tricking their internal system so we can profit. We won't push our girls to produce more milk. We won't overbreed or take advantage of their natural system. I don't believe I am smarter than Mother Nature. Who am I to mess with nature?

On this rainy spring day, stay safe, be smart, honor the natural process, don't be greedy, know your farmer and their practices, and keep washing your hands. (By the way, soon you can wash your hands with honeysuckle-scented and almond-scented Foaming Hand Soap!) Go ahead, dance, squeal, clap, whatever you need to do! Also, Honeysuckle and Lilac soaps and moisturizers are now available exclusively on the website!

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