52 Photos ~ Stripes


An ordinary Friday morning and I go out to the barn to feed the goats and do the morning check.

Everything is as it always is, or, at least, as it has been since the babies were born.

And then I notice little Doris, looking, well… poofy. She’s puffed up and her fur is sticking out like she’s a scared cat trying to make herself look big. She’s affectionate, but her spark is not there. She’s not jumping at my legs the way she usually does.

I know something’s not right, but I’m not entirely sure what it is because we’re still relatively new to this goat thing and our goats have been overall healthy so far.

I go in to ponder it, and do a little reading online. I’m pretty sure it’s bloat before I even start to look, but I look anyway.

I call the vet. She says, “Bring her right in.”

Right. Into the car I carry her. I have no goat carrier. I put her in a laundry basket, but she’s soon out of that (sick or not, she’s still got baby goat curiosity). I stop the car and she I finally agree that she can lie down on a pile of towels on the floor right behind the driver’s seat.

I’ve finally become one of those funky, Vermont women who drives around with a goat in her car. I want to smile at the notion, but I’m too worried. All the way to the vet, I’m singing to Doris. I’m singing her sister’s song (“Darcy Farrow”) over and over again to keep her calm. I keep getting to the part where Darcy Farrow dies, then I circle around again to the beginning and try to keep those thoughts out of my mind. I should have picked a happier song.

At the vet’s office, she’s examined.

After an x-ray (which reveals gas bubbles), the vet looks me straight in the eye. “This isn’t good.” I was already a little queasy, now I feel dizzy.

Doris is tubed (to remove gas from her stomach), aspirated (to remove gas from her rumen), given a dose of oil (to help consolidate the gas bubbles), given lactated ringers (for fluid and nutrition), given antibitoics, given her baby shots (since she’s due anyway).

Given the treatment.

Back into the car and we go home. I can’t put her in the barn because we’ve been warned we need to keep a steady eye on her and not let her eat anything. She’s still bloated; there’s only so much gas the vet can get out of her, and (the vet warns us) Doris is in guarded condition and may not last the night.

We put her in the downstairs bathroom.

Yes, in the span of one morning we’ve moved from people who keep goats in the yard to people who drive them around in the car and let them sleep in the house. I hear it eventually happens to everyone who owns goats.

We take turns being with her. The dog is inconsolable. He’s on the other side of that bathroom door and wants to be with us, with her. We even let him in for a bit. The goatling doesn’t care. She’s miserable.

More trips to the vet’s office that afternoon, the next morning, the following Monday. More of the same treatments. She’s not getting worse, but she’s not getting better.

Eventually, we put her back in the barn, in a clean stall, so she can be near her mother and sister. When you’re a goat, goat company is better than human company.

Little by little, she starts to get smaller. She nurses vigorously. She starts to generate “output”. The sparkle comes back into her eyes. She moves around more and doesn’t just lie or stand there trying to breathe.

Today, if you looked at her, you’d never know how sick she was. Eleven days later and she’s as slim and healthy seeming as her sister.

She’s not out of the woods yet, though. For now, she’s still indoors, resting her system, rebuilding the bacteria (slowly) in her rumen, biding time until she’s bigger and healthy enough to face the fresh green growth outside.

Oh, but it’s lovely to see her play, and jump on our laps, and chew a mouthful of dry hay, and nurse from her mother, lined up against her sister, two little stripes of perfect contentedness.

We all finally feel like we can breathe.

This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

Briefly, about the names

Stop moving so quickly, you blurry girls!

Long way down?

At the risk of boring you with baby goat blather, here’s just one more. Then I’ll be quiet. I’ll try. Really.

I just wanted to take a second to explain the origin of the names since a few people have asked.

First of all, we are following the convention that many goat breeders use, which is to choose names that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. The letter changes every year, advancing in alphabetical order. This year’s letter is “D” (last year’s was “C”, next year’s is “E”. You see how it works…). Our does were all born in 2006, a “W” year.

We had a lot of “D” ideas (including “Doctor Who”), but it turns out it was fairly easy to name the doelings once we met them.

Doris Maurice (Dory)

Dory learning to climb

Wellesley and Dory

Dory’s name comes from one of our favorite essays by Alan Coren, about the brutal reality of returning home after a two-week sailing trip in Greece and finding that the housekeeper has abandoned the house and pets.

Get to fishing pond, three fish floating in it, belly-up and covered in white spores; suddenly, oh my God, remember Doris Maurice! Doris Maurice is tortoise, so-christened by four-year-old son since no-one knew whether it Doris or Maurice, tortoise-sexing not being family talent, go to tortoise-run behind greenhouse, discover matter of sex purely academic now, as Doris Maurice look extremely deceased. Rotten housekeeper, tortoise needs water daily, pick up Doris Maurice, little legs stay outside shell, no panicky withdrawal, look at little face, Doris Maurice dead as doornail.

–Alan Coren, from “Will Ye No Come Back Again?”, The Best of Alan Coren, Copyright © 1980 by Alan Coren

What can I say? It’s a sad ending for poor Doris Maurice (which we’ve always pronounced as “Doris Morris”), but the writing is hilariously harried and exasperated. We’ve laughed about it for years, and the name “Doris Maurice” just makes us smile.

Doris, or Dory, she is. But we will keep her well fed and watered.



Partly named for Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, and partly for the song “Darcy Farrow”, an old favorite from John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High album, which I listened to fairly obsessively when I was kid. The song is another bit of sadness (we do tend to like the sad songs and stories around here), but it’s also beautiful, and delicate, just like Darcy herself.

Today, D & D are one week old and they’re bouncing around the barn and goat yard, testing their springy legs, exploring every corner, claiming every rock peak as their own Everests. The other day, I saw Darcy chasing Lars, the three-year-old wether, up the hill. I think they’re pretty well settled in to the place.

After a year+ break, we’re back to milking (just a bit right now, to help relieve some pressure from the side of Wellesley’s udder that the babies aren’t nursing from yet), and we made our first batch of cheese today. It’s busy, and all kind of wonderful.

One morning in May

We’d been on kid watch for a week, with Wellesley’s due date this past Monday. I’d cleaned the kidding stall down to the bare floor, swept it clean, filled it with fresh bedding, and assembled the “kidding kit” with supplies we might need.

Saturday afternoon, we read the changes in Wellesley’s body (softened ligaments, raised tail, hollowing hips) put her in the stall, turned the baby monitor on so we could hear her from the house, and waited.

But we’re still new at reading the signs, and had never gone through a kidding with Wellesley, so we were a bit premature. She wasn’t ready for another few days.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday in the barn with her, reading and keeping her company. She got to listen to a lot of NPR. And we talked about some things.

Wednesday morning, we knew something was afoot. She was making different, quieter sounds. And she didn’t gobble up her morning grain. We made a plan: M would take H to school, and then come back to check on things and then decide whether or not to go to work for the day.

So, naturally, Wellesley had the first kid between the time M left and returned. Minutes after M & H left, I heard a different-sounding grunt through the baby monitor. Out I flew to the barn, where Wellesley was lying down, beginning to push out those little front hooves, and the first kid was born by 7.30 am.


Wellesley went to work cleaning her, and I helped where I could, wiping the kid clean with towels, cleaning up the stall, keeping an eye on Wellesley’s posterior to see who else might be on the way.

M returned in plenty of time to help with the second kid, who, like the first kid, came out in proper position: two front hooves, followed by a nose. This time, though, there was a little waiting period between the time the head emerged and the time the rest came out. Which was a bit odd looking. Two hooves and a face in one world, a body and two hooves in another.

And then there were two.


And then we checked. And found they were girls. And there we were, us two humans, wearing big grins and our blue surgical gloves, high-fiving each other with happiness.


Another step up the Guernsey breeding ladder. Future mothers of future daughters.


We spent much of yesterday afternoon glued to them. They grow so darn quickly, we didn’t want to miss anything. Within minutes of their birth, they were trying to stand. 30 minutes later, they were walking. Another hour and they were beginning to “spring” around the stall. Look away for ten minutes and you could miss a lot of development.

We even put them in a basket to take them on their first car ride when we picked H up from school.


Just like human babies, the gentle engine vibration made them soooooo sleeeepyyy.


This morning, they were fluffy and clean, and full of spring. They nap a lot. Then they eat. Then they explore. If you sit low, on the floor or near the floor, they’ll come over and sniff you, and then try to climb on you. Awkwardly, with those new hooves, but persistently, because they’re goats and they’ve got so much curiosity in them they’d put a cat to shame.

Sunlight after rain

And today, they also have names: Darcy and Dory.

Welcome to the world, little ones. You have a sweet, attentive mama and good genes from your gorgeous father. And those long, airplane ears. And those darling hooves. And those sparkly eyes.

Let’s PLAY!



Still and motion

A new place to play