Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Clean Your Room!

Katherine and most of her gear arrived home from 8 weeks away at summer camp.  She spent the entire first two days out in the goat pen (when the sun was shining) and stalking the NPGA “herd book.”  I guess she missed the goats a lot and needed to make up for lost time.  An inordinate amount of time was spent preparing for the imminent birth of many, many baby goats.  However, no time whatsoever was spent cleaning her room.

Katherine takes her midwifery duties very, very seriously.  Besides having long slender hands with strong fingers (perfect for reaching into the uterus of a goat), Katherine has a slightly neurotic tendency to organize --- some things.  I think it’s genetic and she has a double dose of it, poor child.

Our kidding barn is a 10’ x 12’, “Premier PRO Ranch” shed from Tuff Shed. It’s the largest size building I could erect without getting a building permit from the County.  (I really hate dealing with the Building Permit office… but that’s a story for another day).

Most of our “goat” friends have BIG barns (like 20’ x 30’) but I really didn’t want to deal with the building department.  Besides, the “tiny house movement" is gaining a lot of traction in the hipster community.  And we are hip, right?  So, Katherine and I customized out “tiny” barn to make use of every square inch.
Inside, a workbench extends along half of a long wall—the perfect operating table for the vet if he needs to do an emergency caesarean section.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much a flat surface to accumulate stuff.  A metal trash can full of grain is tucked under the bench – where the goats can’t pry the lid off. A container of extra rags is also under there in case of a kidding emergency.  A pegboard along the wall over the workbench holds leashes, clippers, wire cutters, etc.  

Three small pens line the back wall; each has its own hayrack, water bucket, feed pan, and salt lick.  A single stall fills the corner by the door.  In a pinch, Katherine can set up “x-pens” (aka exercise pens) to make kidding areas under the workbench (which is pretty high) and in the center aisle.  At full capacity, we could have up to 7 does in active labor in only 120 square feet.  No building permit required. Hah! 
A heat lamp hangs over each pen to keep the new babies warm; when not in use, hooks hold the lamps along the wall.  Goat show ribbons circle the top of the wall, suspended from picture wire. Decorative, of course (she is a teenage girl, after all).

Katherine has a precise system for her kidding supplies. On the workbench, she keeps a mini “go-to” bucket with her most basic, immediate supplies: small bottle of “loooob,” “pig puller,” “snot sucker,” and rag.  Those are the code words, of course.
The gallon bottle of “loooob” (aka lubricant) occupies the bottom shelf of the narrow bookcase near the door, as well as extra “heat lamp” bulbs, containers full of syringes and needles, and bottles of iodine. I won’t bore you with a full inventory – you get the idea.

As we near “kidding season,” Katherine gets downright neurotic about setting up for the babies.  She sweeps the barn, including the walls (!), and washes the workbench (just in case).  She re-launders the rags, beds down the pens with fresh straw, and scrubs out the water buckets.  She fills the hay feeders with flakes of alfalfa and puts new salt lick blocks in all of the hangers.  She even mixes up a different grain blend (something about protein content I think). 

Los Banos, Sutter Health
(I am distinctly reminded of my own experiences in SEVEN labor and delivery rooms.  Maybe Katherine should be an OB/GYN or labor/delivery nurse…anyway, back to our story.)

The final step is The Video Monitor.  No small task.  This summer I replaced the home wifi, which undid all the settings for the barn camera--Katherine informed me very loudly.(Whatev’ – I get wifi coverage in all the nooks and crannies of my house now, so it was worth it).
Katherine had a veritable fit.  But like a “Good Mom” who reads all the latest studies that extol praising the effort rather than the result and that lecture parents to teach kids to persevere and learn from their mistakes, I smiled and said, “You can do it! I have faith in you!” You can imagine the eye-rolls I got for that one.  (Besides, what do I know about port-forwarding and IP addresses? Nada. Zip.)

But it worked.  Katherine came back an hour later with a satisfied smirk, iPhone in hand.  The cell phone screen showed a view of the newly prepped kidding pen.  She took hold of my iPhone with great confidence and installed the app on my phone so I could see the camera, too. So proud.
The barn is ready, so Katherine has corralled the most pregnant goats and stares at them for several hours a day, assessing the “pinkness” of their…bottoms… and the “fullness” of their udders. 

I got home from a Parents Association Meeting tonight, and Katherine was sitting in the pen mumbling about the shapes of bellies and the absence of mucus plug “stringers.”  (I could show you a picture, but it’s gross, so I won’t.)  The funniest part of this rant was that Katherine was on her cell phone with a gal-pal who could not care less about goats.  It’s a true friend that listens to your incoherent ramblings, Katherine.

Meanwhile, back in Katherine’s “human space” in the house … David commented that we need a “scratch and sniff” application for computers so readers can get a full appreciation for the situation.  Laundry, back packs, lunch boxes, suitcases, DOG POOP (yes, dog poop!), cat litter box.  Gross, gross, gross.
How does one explain the total disconnect between the OCD goat midwife and the 16-year-old teenage slob?  Pre-frontal cortex development?  More research is needed.

The Teenage Brain

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