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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lessons on Character.....from Spiffy the Goat.

Meet Spiffy and Spy, the latest additions to our mini farm.  I had grand ideas about bring home a milk
goat, provided by my dear friends, and her jumping straight into the stanchion , eager to be milked! HA! Goats may be simple minded but that does not mean they are dumb!  We built our pen, we built our stanchion, all was ready and beautiful.... I went to my friends house the morning of the pickup, milked multiple goats, including Spiffy, to sharpen my skills before the grand moment when I would milk her on my own at home.  It went well.  I loaded her into the crate in the back of my Yukon, K held Spy in her lap in the back seat.  I brought them home, put them straight in their pen with super yummy alfalfa and grain to help them adjust.  I put down a ton of straw bedding...my first mistake...you don't need a lot...and they will pee on it...immediately...oh no not in their goat yard....in their bedding.  Okay, moving on.  My girlfriend told me to pick up just plain ol' grain.  I heard regular cob...not sweet cob.  Oops....lets just say Spiffy was less than impressed.  So the next morning it was the big moment...my first milking, solo.  I was up and ready...supplies ready the night before...teat dip, check....cleaning solution...check....milking pail...check.  That was about as smooth as it would get...I opened the pen door and she just stared at me...like "what do you want me to do  lady.." So I wound up dragging her to the stanchion....she stared at it...so I picked her up and set her on it...to which she promptly jumped off.  Okay, round two...this time I picked her up and forced her head into the lock. At this point her patience and mine were gone.  I filled the bucket with the not so impressive cob, to which she immediately knocked of the stanchion....an accident I thought, so I picked it up and put it back....down again....hmmmm so I tied it to the stanchion....to no avail she still knocked it down.  Oy...note to self by over the rail bucket. Okay, finally time to milk....or so I thought, lets just say I had to hold her up with one hand and attempt to milk with the other...remember I am a novice here.  I couldn't even get  the bucket under her...i basically manhandled her and milked straight unto the stanchion.  It was one of the most frustrating experiences in a long time!  To top it off she had diarrhea! I called AW near tears.  I didn't understand...at her house she jumped right in, let her milk happily...what was I doing wrong!?!?  So here is where I learned lessons on character from, of all things, a goat.  I tend to force things, make them happen....not always a good quality.  This goat was just removed from her heard, brought to a new home, and then expected to perform with no training (or re-training) what so ever.  I remember when AW had moved her stanchion and all her goats were confused, they are a creature of habit and routine.
So day two comes around, sure enough, she is not happy.  Since last time she was forced onto the stanchion she was ready for a fight.  I came out and talked to her gently...(I also picked up the right grain so that helped). She would not budge and she had to be milked...my frustration grew, and grew, and I wound up picking her up again and the fight was on...she stomped she kicked....she shuffled..She even sat down..she threw the grain bucket on the floor.  Oy...Okay back to the store for the right bucket....and another couple days of this and I was done! I was ready to do what all the other blogs say to do with a "bad goat." Hobble her, strap her to the stanchion etc....But I remembered what my dear friend said.  "Make it a good experience for her...she'll WANT to be up there."
The next milking I took Spy with me, slowly wrestled her into the stanchion, now up to this point she was refusing even grain! If you know goats, they love their grain.  I put Spy up on the stanchion and let him nurse for a second...I could instantly see her relax.  I quietly removed him and put him in the pen next to us.  I quickly sat behind her and tried to milk...oh no!  She began her dance.  I backed off and pet her and talked to her.  Picture a grown women, all by her self, talking to a goat.  "I WILL milk you Spiffy...it has to be done."  I began again, she sat one me....but i would not stop.  There was no bucket I just milked straight onto the stanchion.  She had learned that if she danced around enough I would give up.  It had always been a battle of the wills and I may be stubborn but not as stubborn as a goat!  I just kept on milking away! A comical sight I'm sure, a goat sitting on my arms as I milk away. The next day, I did the same routine, put Spy on the stanchion and let him take a quick sip.  But this time...oh sweet joy this time she let me milk, as long as I was talking to her.  It seemed to calm her...and to be honest made me less timid...I mean come on, how can you focus on being timid when you feel crazy enough to have a conversation with a goat!  So I talked away, prattled on and on.  Oh to be a fly on the wall right.  The next day, I went out, put Spy straight into the pen and started talking to Spiffy, by this point I wasn't having to lift her into the stanchion.  She was still a bit timid, and a bit prancy towards the end...it was taking me a good 15 minute to milk her out.  She even pooped in my milk a few times..I just kept on milking as if she hadn't done anything. (We didn't drink that milk)  She knocked the bucket a few times with impatience.  But, now with practice I finish milking before she even finishes her grain.  It became a race for me!  And now, when I open the pen...I can't keep her OFF the stanchion.  She gives a a quart and a half of sweet yummy goodness every morning.  This June we'll get a half gallon and a quart daily when Spy weans.  And yes, I still talk to her while I'm milking...or just pray a loud. The kids ask to come out with me, and yes its good for them to learn, but sometimes  I say no, so I can have a moment to voice my thoughts with out eager little ears around.
Moral of the Story: Force is not always the answer, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness and Peace, are Fruits of the Spirit for a reason!  Spiffy showed me where I was lacking in these areas.  Not just with a goat, but in life...with my kids, my husband, and those around me.  Lesson well learned, thanks Spiffy.

A Journey From Pumping to Nursing....

H was born in mid November, that's why I haven't been blogging as of late.  Not just because I had a newborn but the circumstances that followed.  As I'm writing this out I am nursing him, oh the simplicities of life, right....wrong.  He is four months old and has just started nursing!  I have pumped for the last four months, but I am one dogged person...I was hell bent and determined to nurse my son.  H was born two weeks early, from the start he was a strong nurser.  I was quite surprised at how well he latched.  With in 24 hours I noticed he was not latching as well, it got progressively worse and worse.  But he was so content, it seemed, that I didn't chalk it up to much...that is until he started to get the "brick dust" in his diaper.  A sure sign of dehydration.  He also developed jaundice, which I have had with two of the other kiddos, so he was sleepy, and more and more difficult to wake him to eat.  He was two weeks old by this point.  I took him to the emergency room and he was quickly admitted.  I am not usually a crier but I tell you, seeing your sweet new boy get poked and prodded, and he's crying for you; hungry, exhausted...it'll break your heart.  Once they started getting him some fluids and his blood work was done, his numbers weren't pretty..he was jaundiced and extremely dehydrated.  I felt like a monster...guilt right, a mothers worst enemy.  I know I did  nothing wrong, and knew that as soon as I saw the "brick dust" brought him in...but I still felt like I had failed him somehow.  So he lay there, getting hydrated and it was decision time.  A two week  postpartum Mom is not always good at decisions...He needed to eat...they didn't want me to nurse because they wanted to monitor what he was taking in, I tried to pump but was getting next to nothing.  My milk had "come in" when he was still nursing strong but try as I might...not much, maybe a half ounce all together....next problem...how to give it to him.  I was desperate to make my son feel better...So we gave it to him in a bottle along with some formula...he was  whole new kiddo.  So we continued this for four days.  I went down to lactation, the consultant said he had a "perfect latch" but didn't have the right tongue motion.  He was gumming me like I was a bottle nipple. Once he was back to birth weight we where discharged and we headed home.  My girlfriend gave me a pump to use and I set about pumping every hour for 20 minutes and giving it to him in a bottle, adding formula when necessary...a week later we went to his pediatrician and I was given the green light to nurse exclusively again.  But low and behold it did not pan out well, I noticed the same trend as before.  Loss of weight, and sleepiness.  My doctor said that he most likely wouldn't nurse and I ought to plan on bottle feeding him.  I was utterly devastated.  I wanted nothing more to be his source of comfort and nutrition.  So I immediately set about educating myself on everything breast!  I found some great resources and encouragement from my dear friend AW.  There where a lot of naysayers as well.  There where times I questioned my own sanity! Here's how it went.  At first I tried the nurse, bottle, pump routine...but with four other kids to care for it got exhausting and I wasn't being a very good mommy.  So I resigned myself to exclusive pumping and bottle, thinking when he gets bigger and has better head control maybe I would be able to switch him over.  I researched and researched....Continued going to lactation.  The consultant was skeptical...she was puzzled too, he would latch but wasn't getting much out. I took herbs, which, by the way, where a big help (Fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa, and brewers yeast) when ever I felt my supply was dwindling. And I pumped and pumped and pumped.  I tried supplemental systems with little success, I could never get the tubes right and he would only get frustrated.  I found this bottle, the First Years Breastflow at Burlington, I bought it on a whim and when I got home did some research. Boy did I like what I heard.  A bottle that mimicked let down! Could it be!?! I used it for a few weeks and thought, okay lets do the real thing.... success..at first while I was full and engorged but as soon as my milk adjusted to the supply things seemed not so good, he began losing weight...AGAIN!
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cidMoPij2YM/T9DNcXuPQaI/AAAAAAAAAdg/uwKzIadQjuM/s1600/photo.JPGSo I panicked and went back to pumping...my girlfriend AW said some very encouraging words to me.  "Give it a chance, his weight is healthy, don't panic right away and just keep trying."  She said this to me after I called her in tears, thinking I would be pumping for the entire first year!  So I listened to her,,...I took a major step of faith.  I was reminded of when my others would have their growth spurts and would seem insatiable and I would just nurse and nurse and nurse until it passed.  It was time for a "nurse-cation."  So I took a weekend and with the help of my husband went off pumping to nursing cold turkey...no transition just a "we can and we will do it," attitude.  So I nursed every chance I got that weekend, I put him to breast every chance unless he refused.  I was exhausted, I was engorged for a bit, when I adjusted fought the panicked feeling of not "making enough." Success! He's been nursing steady now, I started to write this post two months ago...he's six months now.  I donated all my extra milk, about 400 ounces to Eats on Feets, an amazing group of women who donate their milk to babies who need it, not for profit, the milk is not altered in anyway.  I know its not for everyone and of course everyone has an opinion of it. (Note, I had blood work done before, so I know my milk is safe)
My goal with this post is to encourage mom's who are in the throws of a battle like mine.  You are not alone! You can do it, you will have moments when  you are discouraged and when you feel like you are crazy to do what you are doing.  But you are sacrificing for your sweet baby, you are doing the very best thing you can for them.  Good for you!  And for those of you that can't keep it up, that have to go to bottle, know that there are resources out there for you like Eats on Feets, so if you can't give your baby your milk you can still provide breastmilk for them.
I know there is a lot of information I am leaving out.  Please feel free to ask questions!  Below is a list of sites where I gleaned A LOT of information.  I also read: "Making More Milk." I got it at my library.  It doesn't just cover making milk, it is a great source of encouragement, and covers many situations.  I highly recommend anyone, having nursing troubles, read this book!

This site is a great encouragement:

Kelly Mom is awesome, so much info!

This is a well written blog about pumping:

I used this site A LOT!

There are a ton of online communities out there that have great information as well.