Marble Creek Acres

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Offering Mom-servations on a snowy spring day in Maine

Snow in Maine ... May 12
Featured in the June issue of Goat Rancher (pages 26-28).

Featured in the June issue of Goat Rancher (pages 26-28).

By Kathy Crise

By Kathy Crise

Happy Mother’s Day! Just another beautiful May Day here in central Maine! So far today we have six fresh inches of snow! November, December and even January snow is beautiful but this Poor Man’s Fertilizer is NOT beautiful in May! The snowbanks just melted away last week and the grass is finally turning green!

Our herd is still in their winter barn areas. Zulu, our buck, is just a watchful eye away from the big herd and he is raring to get out to the greens! His side of the barn area leads to a small grassy area and trees! He loves his trees, scraping, bending, stripping the bark, and rubbing winter’s undercoat on anything to help get it off. Oh yeah and foraging on anything he missed on previous passes.

The moms and kids’ side leads to greener pastures…literally! They have their own wooded area but they have four grassy areas that are all interconnected for ease of rotation. Last summer I gave up my “front lawn” to the herd and we fenced in a new two-acre area that can be seen from the road going by! It is amazing how many people in our little town of 700 had no idea we were raising goats! At the local convenience store, Dale asked me, “What kind of sheep are you raising up there?”

A few more weeks of greening up and the paddock rotation will begin! With our largest herd to date, 45 with this year’s kids, it will be an absolute joy for this goat-mom to take the herd out for a “walk” to the furthest paddock as they pick over what is growing there and move from section to section. Watching people drive by and do a double-take is entertaining and sometimes they even come back for a second look!

This mom is an observer (mom-server). I spend a lot of time watching our herd as they are never really that far away. We are situated on six acres of mostly fenced-in area, so no matter which paddock they are in, they are within earshot! I love to see which one of the ladies is leading the herd out to the fields, usually the same one or two! Which one is going to return to the barn area first either because the feeder might have something yummy or from the intensity of the mosquitos and/or biting flies?

Our herd was established four years ago when our daughter, Amelia, was graduating from high school in 2016. Today should have been Amelia’s commencement from the University of Maine! Congratulations Amelia on your degree in International Affairs, History minor, and your recognition for the highest GPA in your degree program!!! All your hard work AND time in the goat barn has paid off!

A lot has changed since 2016, including my reluctance to be a goat-mom! Yes, these are my kids now and I am all in with all my heart, emotions, and a very watchful eye! Most recently, a little thing known as “the pandemic” has given me the opportunity to deepen my roots in the goat barn and provided numerous hours of escape from the house while remaining home! Away from my computer, TV, and my phone, there is a bond with the goats that grows every minute I am out there.

My mom-servation (ob-servation) this Mother’s Day Weekend has to do with the mother/kid bond that I see every time I am in the barn! This is the most amazing thing to me! I did not grow up around livestock so being new to goats there was and still is A LOT to learn! Last night as the winter winds and snow returned to the goat barn, all the moms and kids were together tucked away in the barn escaping the sideways moving snow.

Meet Kona, original foundation-stock, when we had only four goats on the farm in 2016. She was only three months old when we drove to New Hampshire to pick her up! Fast forward to March 2018, in a 20+ inches blizzard, she birthed two kids, a doeling and buckling. They were both as white as their mom Kona with a distinctive blue dorsal line just like her, Nani and Honu! Nani quickly became a farm favorite with her distinctive voice and extra curious disposition. We were still expanding our barns during 2018 and she quite frequently tried to lend a hoof to whatever project we were working on! If you remember Josh’s story about being stuck on the barn roof, she was one of the kids that helped knock the ladder over, stranding Josh on the roof. She claims she was only trying to help!!!

We attended the Cream of the Crop sale in October, 2018, and returned to Maine with a new herd sire and four new does. Winter weather and temperatures were on us by the end of October, and by the first of November snow was on the ground for the duration of the winter. Our numbers were still small with two herd sires, ten does and one kid, Nani! The barns were ready, winter water was now being pumped from a garden hose connected to the house instead of lugging up 5-gallon buckets, and the herd had an area under the barn roofline barn where they could stay protected from winter!

This mom-server (ob-server) was keeping a close eye on the small herd as we prepared for our long winter with our largest herd to date. This was our first mother/daughter pair to stay together and Nani was growing to look just like her mom and they were inseparable! I had no idea that after being weaned in a separate pen that they would reunite!

Remember, this was all new to me! I was super reluctant to be involved at all with goats so Josh and Amelia had all the knowledge! Just before a wicked “Novembeh” cold snap I noticed something happening with Nani that I had not seen before with other goats. She was not her normal rambunctious, vocal, curious self. She didn’t even come out of the barn when feed was presented to the lactating dams, which was my biggest clue something was wrong!

I reported to Amelia and Josh that something was wrong with Nani. They thought I was crazy at first but once they saw her, standing at the hay feeder but not eating, leaning on her mom and finally just laying across Kona, they started checking her symptoms. All Nani wanted was her mommy, just like a human baby when they need comforting! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing but there was my first evidence that this bond existed beyond my imagination! Nani convalesced along-side her momma and was rebounding nicely within 24 hours.

I am sure that this is no surprise to you seasoned goat ranchers but I will say that this is still my favorite part of the goat barn. Nani’s first freshening happened this January producing a doeling and a buckling! They are as white as their mom with the same blue dorsal stripe just like mom and grandma! Grandma Kona kidded one week earlier, and for the third year in a row produced a white/blue striped female and male! Talk about genetics!

Mother’s Day is the most emotional holiday that the U.S. celebrates in my opinion. Everyone has an emotion on Mother’s Day regarding their mom, whether happy or sad or anywhere in between! This morning in the barnyard I immediately sought out Kona and Nani and their kids. I didn’t have to look far as Grandma and Mom were eating at the feeder side-by-side as normal with four white kids scattered at their feet eating and ruminating. A sub-herd of six within our largest herd ever of 45 this Mother’s Day morning did not disappoint!

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this, both human and four-legged from this Goat-mom that now cherishes her role as “Mom-server”!

Snow update: Lee, Maine made the state news because locally we got over 12 inches of snow in mid-May!

(Josh and Kathy Crise, and their grown children, Amelia and Kevin, operate Marble Creek Acres in Lee, Maine. For interest in a future year’s Kiko waitlist, questions or if you have topics you might like to read about in a future Goat Rancher, we can be reached at 207-619-3758, email [email protected] or