Hello, Hello and Welcome to this wild and crazy Farm Family!!! We want to start out this very first newsletter by thanking you for being such an awesome supporter of our family, farm and lives. Words cannot truly express the overwhelming feelings of gratitude and warm fuzzies in our hearts from the support ya'll have shown us since the launch of our LiveCam. I don't think I'll ever find the right string of words to express our deep feelings of appreciation. We love you, we appreciate you and we hope you stay around for this wild and crazy Syman Says Farms journey!!!
This past month has been a whirlwind of emotions. As you saw on our LiveCam, we spent a crazy 8 days helping our 10 girls deliver 16 babies! 16 BABIES?!?!? This has been our largest kidding season, to date and ya'll were right there with us! Let's recap...
On February 4th, 2019, Syman Says Farms' Goat Cam Streamed Live on YouTube for the first time
There were definitely some kinks to work out. We quickly learned how to stream, reset and check the power cord to make sure the camera didn't loss power lol. There were some hiccups for sure. But, immediately, we started talking with our brand new community of goat lovers and it surprised us just how invested ya'll wanted to be. We never ever thought you'd want to know absolutely everything about every one! There were so many questions and the days passed quickly just trying to answer them all. But the love the community showed was time well-spent.
We began Wacky Wednesdays!
We've always offered the girls special treats; Mostly animal crackers. But they've also gotten pumpkins, apples, dandelions and Christmas Trees. Our community got such a kick out of the first Wacky Wednesday, that we made it a weekly tradition to help pass the time before the "real fun" began.
Q&A With L&A
So many questions came flying in that we decided to really connect with the audience by doing our first Live Q&A. It was SO much fun and the feedback from the community was so exciting that, again, we decided to make it a weekly thing. The beauty of the Q&A's is that YOU, the family, control how it goes and what we talk about.
Sadie Kicks off Kidding Season - 3/10/2019
Right on cue, Sadie gives birth to Bear and Billy. Historically, Sadie always gives birth before her 150th day and, if we're getting down to the details, she always gives birth around day 146. This year was no exception. By the evening of day 146, Sadie's ligaments were completely gone which indicated she would go into active labor within the next 12 hours. I knew we wouldn't be getting any sleep that night as Sadie always labors and delivers quietly. But we stayed inside to keep warm and watch from the LiveCam.
By 5:30am, Sadie had progressed to the point of pushing. By 5:50am, Baby A (Billy - Short for Billion - an inside joke about another chatter owing us a Billion Dollars for the purchase price for her favorite goat, Sadie) was born. He weighed in at 6.2lbs and is a touch creamier than his twin. Here he is pictured on the left with Olivia. Immediately following, Sadie delivers Baby B (Bear - Short for Polar Bear as he has the whitest of white fur). Bear weighed in at 5.7lbs.
Being the first borns, Billy and Bear have full rein over the younger babies. They are the most out-going of the group and LOVE to jump and play. Mom Sadie is an easy-going mom who is attentive but more focused on filling her own appetite so she has plenty of milk for her growing boys.
Greta Ends the Evening by Becoming a Mom - 3/10/2019
Because Greta is a First Freshner (a name for a goat who's a first time mom), we really didn't know if she'd be an early deliverer, on-time or late. But, because she's Genevieve's daughter, we knew the family history and expected her to go on, or within a day, of her due date. After a busy morning with Sadie, we knew Greta wouldn't be very far behind her. Greta's ligaments were gone the morning of the 10th and that set the 12 hour clock for us. By 8pm, Greta was pushing. We headed out to the barn and we were pleasantly surprised by her quiet nature during delivery. One moment that may have been missed on the LiveCam was Genevieve's behavior (Greta's mother) during labor/delivery. While I sat in Greta's kidding pen monitoring her progress, I noticed Genevieve quietly standing just on the other side of the stall wall, peeking through the slates, intently watching her daughter. As humans, we sometimes wonder the capacity of our animal's minds and emotions. Genevieve showed us that night just how smart and emotional these goats are.
She knew her daughter was in labor and she stood there as a proud "soon-to-be-grandma" to support her throughout the entire event. Greta remained calm and composed and delivered an adorable little man, named Uno. Uno got his name as we were surprised Greta only had 1 baby after an early ultrasound confirmed twins. We later found out, when Greta delivered the after-birth, that Uno was a twin however the baby stopped developing extremely early in pregnancy. This is not uncommon but was a first on our farm. We chalk it up to Mother-Nature-Knows-Best.
Greta had a small adjustment period into motherhood. She took right to Uno and cleaned him up and loved him but she was pretty apprehensive about nursing. This is a common thing for first timers and we weren't too concerned. She had shown great mothering instincts but just needed a hand figuring out what Uno was doing back there. With a little support and coaching, Greta was quickly nursing Uno all on her own.
Uno is now a rambunctious, chunky man who loves jumping on other moms and sleeping under the corner hay feeder. He also enjoys ignoring his momma's calls for feeding-time in the middle of the night. Which startles me awake from a sound sleep most nights!
Hysterical Goat Mom - Amy - Gives Birth To Luxury Cars - 3/12/2019
Oh Amy... If there's one thing we can count on, it's that your babies will be the cleanest, best-fed and most well-mannered kids in the barn. On day 154, Amy released the hostages and delivered buck/doe twins! Just before 1pm, Amy was working on delivering her first baby. As things progressed, the "bubble" presented and I noticed something was different. Sure enough, baby A was breech. Now, a typical breech isn't the worst presentation, it just requires a faster delivery than normal. That's because we don't want the umbilical cord to sever while the baby's head (which is last to come out in a breech) is still inside the birth canal. The issue was Amy's breech presentation was that the baby's back legs were tucked up underneath her making it so baby's butt and hocks were presenting first. The baby would not have fit coming out that way and needed to be repositioned for the safety of both mom and baby.
Aaron quickly rushed into the barn and repositioned the back legs and Baby A; the first doeling of the year, was born! Baby A's name is now Tesla and she weighed in at 7.4lbs. Baby B, a buckling, followed just moments later with nearly zero effort from Amy. This was Amy's 4th freshening, so one can expect quick deliveries from an experienced mom like her! Baby B is now Bentley and weighed in at 8.5lbs. Once cleaned and fed, we placed the babies in their warming barrels where Amy insisted on joining them. Since her whole body doesn't fit, she opted for just her head. Over the next few weeks, her babies learned when it was time to eat with just a soft mutter to her children. Amy's ability to make her babies fall in line is undeniably her best attribute. The community on the LiveCam even noticed how she doesn't let her babies stray very far from her. The first day Amy and her twins were in Gen Pop (General Population - the community area), Amy didn't let those babies more than 3 inches away from her. Amy is a wonderful mom who you can always count on to have big, healthy, well-cared for babies!
Now her little ones are running and playing with the others in the barn but, in new situations; like playing outside for the first time, she holds that leash short to her body!
When it Rains, it Pours - Rainey Becomes a First-Time Mom - 3/13/2019
As a first time mom who we don't have maternal history on, we had no idea what to expect from Rainey as far as timing goes. Rainey was this years' question mark. We brought Rains home from her breeder when she was just 8 weeks old. She had been bottle-raised so we had a small concern she wouldn't know what to do with a baby of her own seeing as she never had a mom simulate it for her as a youngster. We were happy to see her mothering instincts kick in quickly. She had an unassisted and very easy delivery to a singleton buckling.
The names were flying into the Live Chat with Rainey's boy and we found it a perfect fit to name him Thunder! And, boy, has he lived up to his name. Thunder weighed in at 7.7lbs but that didn't stop him from being a tank of a man who quickly out-grew all the older kids in the barn. Thunder makes the ground quake under his hoofs. He plows through a crowd of kids to get to whatever he wants... which is usually food related. He is a looker, too. He's a handsome boy with an endless appetite for love, fun and food. At just a week old, Thunder no longer needs to waste all that extra effort to stand for the milk bar. We found him nursing while laying down one evening and just thought that was the funniest thing. Momma, Rainey, had a short adjustment period into motherhood, hit it out of the park. She took no time to bond with her baby and provide him with an ample amount of milk! In fact, we are still helping Rainey and her over-production by milking her down so she doesn't get engorged. We are very hopeful that her milk production will be amongst the best in the barn!
Coming in HOT - Deanndra delivers Air Force Babies - 3/13/2019
The morning of the 13th, we noticed Dee's ligaments were 100% soft. We were excited as all the Toggs, historically, go nearly a week overdue and Dee was "only" at 153 days. We waited all day. She was very antsy and vocally calling out for us. I stayed in the barn with her most of the day but had to run inside around 4pm to get a snack and warm up a bit. Aaron and our friend, Bradley, were outside working on the never-ending construction that is our greenhouse. While watching on our NestCam (a different camera set-up for the kidding stall Dee was in), we could hear her making some noise. I called Aaron on the walkie-talkies around 4:20pm saying Deanndra was getting really close, went to the bathroom and casually got dressed to go outside with her. We weren't expecting such a quick delivery! By the time I got out there, Baby A (Tally) just hit the ground and before I could pick her up and hand her to momma to lick, she was delivering Baby B (Tango)!
Holy Crap! These babies came in like fighter jets.
While momma Dee was cleaning up the babies and we all caught our breath, we discovered a very cool story happening on the LiveChat. A mom and her 2 children, whose husband/father was currently on deployment for the Air Force, let us know that her husband and his whole crew were watching from an undisclosed location overseas. We were so touched by this story and how our small goat farm and, seemingly insignificant, LiveCam brought together a family who hasn't been together in 6 months. We reached out to this mom and allowed her family to name these 2 babies. They came up with Tally, for the call name for the first woman Air Force fighter pilot and Tango, a name used in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
Lucy - Will she have twins or Maybe Quints - 3/14/2019
Going into the end of Lucy's pregnancy, I really questioned what we saw on her first ultrasound. The vet had said Lucy was pregnant with twins but couldn't rule out a 3rd or even 4th baby. We joked, as to not cry, about how Lucy was pregnant with 2, maybe 5 babies. And based on her growing belly, I was really getting concerned it was closer to the larger number.
The night before she delivered, Lucy lost her ligament. It was another sleepless night. We monitored from the house and around 4:30am, knew it was time to go out to the barn. First to be born was a darling little cream colored doeling weighing in at 6.4lbs (a decent size for a twin). What we didn't know at the time was that Lucy was about to set a 2019 Kidding Season record. Baby B needed a little assisted "traction"... meaning, as Lucy pushed, I provided slight traction so her contractions would be as effective as possible. Baby B was born moments later and he weighed in at a staggering 9.3lbs! His markings are very similar to his mom, Lucy's, however, he has unique matching white spots on both of his sides. The twins were later named Fiona and Shrek as a nod to one of our family's favorite kid movies and LiveChat suggestions.
The Day isn't Done - Charlotte's Delicious Kids - 3/14/2019
Just 4 hours after Lucy delivered her big twins, Charlotte said it was her turn. Now, up until this point, Charlotte has always been the most productive doe in the barn. When I say this, I mean she puts all her calories into producing large, healthy kids and a ton of milk. This comes at an expense though. Charlotte is thin! Also has been, and, likely always will be. Our vet has always told us there's nothing we can do to put the weight on her. She'll always put it into her production rather than on her bones. So, I know I can't feed Charlotte the calories I want her to have at the end of her pregnancy because I know they'll go into making her babies huge which can cause big problems at delivery. Her weight and body condition makes for an easy viewing window for kids kicking and moving at the end of pregnancy. Sure enough, her babies were super active and we got to see a ton of movements during the last month. They always look like aliens possessed her body and are trying to come out of her sideways.
On the morning of Day 151 of her pregnancy, she began to go into active labor. My only concern for her were if the babies had gotten too big for her to easily deliver them. Baby A was a large kiddo. I thought, for sure, he had beaten Shrek's record. I was absolutely shocked to find Shrek outweighed Baby A by just .1lb. He weighed in at 9.2lbs (although I still question the scale) Baby B came out with no issues and weighed in at 6.9lbs.
Leading up to this day, I was hoping one of the girls would deliver on this special day. It was Pi Day afterall and, as the story goes, everyone in the barn was craving PIE! We found it fitting to name these twins, Pi (Baby A - buckling) and Apple (Baby B - doeling). Pi has become a favorite here on the farm and, I believe on the LiveCam. He is a puppy dog stuck in a goat's body. He follows us around as we do morning and evening chores. He demands to sit in your lap for lovin's and he loves being carried around like a ragdoll by our children. There have been no decisions made on which kid(s) are staying but Pi is making sure we SEE him!!!
Charlotte, of course, is a terrific mom. She is so patient, allowing them to jump and climb all over her as she naps and cares for her twins so well.
We almost got a day off - Genevieve Gives Birth to Jack Jack - 3/16/2019
We nearly got through the whole day without a delivery. Aaron and I had spent the day out running errands thinking no one was close enough to have to monitor from home. But Genevieve had other plans. Thankfully, we got home and she waiting until after evening chores.
During evening chores, I was very surprised to find her ligaments were gone. Just that morning, I felt them very much still there. But this is the lesson... at any moment, things can change. We got lucky! Since I knew she had ligaments that morning, I figured she was still early on into her 12 hour window, post-ligaments-loosening.
Aaron and I went inside to finally get something to eat. Our older boys had said they wanted to be a part of Gen's delivery since she is Jake's 4H showmanship goat and his absolute love in this world. We let them know she was getting close and they asked to be woken up if she went during the night. It was a school night but we were willing to let that slide for such a special moment.
As Aaron was cooking, I sat down at the computer to update the LiveChatters and connect with them that day. Not 10 minutes go by and I see Genevieve PUSHING! What?!?!? Her ligs had just loosened?! Aaron and I dropped everything, called for the boys to get their coveralls on and ran out to the barn.
Now, Jake doesn't do well with live births usually. He just doesn't have the stomach for it. But, this is his goat and he insisted on being there. Tyler, our second oldest son, also wanted to be a part of this experience. He was also involved with a couple other births this year. Genevieve had no issues delivering a beautiful little buckling. He was the second smallest kid this year at just 4.7lbs. I was so happy to see how involved the human boys wanted to be in this delivery. Tyler hopped right in to help clean the baby off. And Jake helped get the tote for weighing and later came in to help wipe the baby off. Since this is his goat, we allowed him to name the baby. There were several ideas floating around the barn that night, but he ultimately decided on Jack, after one of his favorite YouTubers.
Turns out, Jack is the perfect name for this small but mighty boy. He has many nicknames among chatters. Jumping Jack, Cracker Jack, etc.
In the first couple days of Jack's life, we were concerned for Genevieve's milk supply. She didn't bag up before delivery like she should have done and has done in years past. There was a concern for a little while that Jack wasn't receiving enough milk and we ended up doing some supplemental feedings on his sister Greta (which sounds gross as I'm typing lol) who had a ton of milk for her singleton, Uno. About 3 days in, Genevieve began making enough milk for Jack, which only came in because he nursed on her constantly! Had Gen had a lazy baby, we would have had to foster him onto another mom or bottle fed him. Jack is now a strong, jumping, bouncing, young man who loves playtime and zooming all around GenPop. He also loves a nice snuggle and kisses on his cheeks.
Danica's last and scary delivery - 3/16/2019
Danica's delivery was undeniably the most stressful event this kidding season, and arguably the toughest delivery we've ever managed without the vet's assistance here on the farm.
Do you ever have the feeling like something's just not quite right? You can't explain why you just "know". Call it a woman's intuition or experience, I don't know? But I just KNEW very early into Danica's labor that something just wasn't right. I was hoping I was wrong. Maybe I was just nervous because of Danica's history. She has had 3 other deliveries at our farm and only 1 of them has gone smooth. The last one wasn't her fault though. She was dealt a bad hand with Cache Valley Virus. I will go into more details about that later, only if you want me to. But the longer I sat there watching Dani not making progress, the stronger the feeling of angst got. I tried to tell myself that it was still early and not to jump straight to calling the vet. But I finally caved and made the call hoping the vet would calm my nerves. And she did. She told us to go inside of Danica and check and see what's going on in there... and that she was on her way to the farm.
At this point, we turned the camera's volume off. We wanted to remain true to our channel as being an educational channel first. We always vowed to stay live as long as we didn't feel things were going too far south. And this was a teachable moment for others looking to get into breeding goats or for those with limited experience looking to learn from a complication.
Aaron is my go-to guy for repositioning kids. He's way more confident at it than I. I can assist and calm the mom, but he's got a knack for it and I don't dare challenge it. We prepared ourselves. I restrained Danica and he went in looking for a reason her labor wasn't progressing. What he found was bizarre. In the moment, he couldn't explain what he was feeling. What he could explain was that he was feeling a kid presenting upside-down (facing up instead of down) and feet facing backward instead of forward. So he flipped the kid, pulled the legs towards him, gently guiding the kid into the birth canal and delivered her. Now, when I write it here, I'm not sure I'm doing justice to the level of stress and fear was in the air. My anxiety was through the roof. I don't think either Aaron or I were breathing. I was shaking from head to toe. We were both scared we were going to lose Danica or the babies or both! Remember, this was the worst delivery we had ever dealt with on our own. And it was a tough one!
We both looked at each other as Dani cleaned baby A off. We high fived each other and I broke down in tears. Aaron kissed my forehead and, I knew right then and there, if Dani made it through this delivery, I was retiring her. I was done. I wasn't mad at her, but I was mad at the hands she had been dealt over the years. She's an amazing mom, an even better Queen to our herd and I refuse to put her life at risk with additional, senseless pregnancies. At this time, I thought the worse was over. I called the vet back to let her know we had gotten the baby out and that we didn't need her to come to the farm.
We gave Dani time to bond with her perfectly healthy little doeling and have a moment to relax before, hopefully delivering her second baby by herself. After 20 minutes of waiting (which is the amount of time I allow moms to have before intervening), we unfortunately had to brace ourselves again to go in and check out why Danica wasn't progressing. This time, we had a breech kid. It was easier but still stressful. To our surprise, Dani had another girl!
Now, Danica's ultrasound said she was pregnant with 2, maybe 3 babies. After the second doeling was born, we noticed an unusual amount of blood dripping out of her. It's natural for things to get messy but after nearly 65 kids delivered here over the years, we just know what's excessive. I put another call into the vet and explained what we were seeing and what I was afraid of. She turned around and started heading our way again. Did I mention our vet is a saint? For real, I couldn't do this without her. She's absolutely amazing and runs off of caffeine and love for animals. I swear, the woman doesn't sleep.
So, the biggest concern I had for Danica was that during the first repositioning of the kid, Aaron had somehow torn Danica's uterus, cervix or both. This wouldn't have been his fault but rather a complication from a complicated birth. Normally, we would have gone back in to check for a third baby but since Dani had so much blood and we wanted to wait for the vet and have her deal with the examine. When the vet got here, she examined Dani and let us know the reason for her complications were due to her uterus being tilted 45* in the wrong direction. Instead of going in straight and finding a uterus, she was going in and having to turn 45* down to the ground to find her uterus. We have no idea how or why her uterus got this way. And because of the position of the uterus, she couldn't fully examine if the extra blood we were seeing was because it had torn or if the small tears she felt on her cervix was the cause.
One of the reasons I love our vet so much is because she is blunt and to the point on things. She doesn't sugar coat anything! This allows us to prepar ourselves for the worst and also give the best possible care to our animals. So when she said Danica will either live tonight or she won't, I nearly broke down again. I was emotionally drained at that point. I couldn't look at Dani thinking there was a possibility of her not being with us by morning. So I didn't. I prayed (which I don't typically do) and asked everyone else to do whatever they felt comfortable doing to help Dani through the next 24 critical hours. Meanwhile, hoping the beautiful babies she just had would get enough colostrum to jump start their immune systems if something did happen.
Dani never wavered. She never looked sore or worn out from a tough delivery. I didn't take my eyes off her that night. By morning, she remained strong. She was eating like nothing happened to her. She was nursing her babies like a new momma should. Was she in the clear? Could I breath again?
More time passed and Danica continued to look strong. I am happy to say, she's not just in the clear but she's back to reining her herd with her 2 beautiful little girls by her side. They were born at 6.7lbs and 7lbs even. We named the Grace and Evelyn... Grace means "God's Favor" and Evelyn means "Life".
Dani will remain here on the farm for the rest of her days. She will rein her kingdom with an iron fist her peasants have been accustomed to. She will never be bred again, no matter how much she complains to me in the fall. And one of the special Togg girls from this Kidding Season will continue her legacy here.
Last But Certainly Not Least - Poppy - aka Miracle Baby - 3/18/2019
As if my nerves weren't already shot after Danica's delivery just 2 days prior. Poppy entered into early labor on day 155. Now, it wouldn't matter what day this happened on... the first day of kidding season or the last. I would have been a wreck regardless. We had been working on keeping Poppy "healthy" since her bout of botulism hit her back near Thanksgiving. At that time, we weren't sure either Poppy or the baby would survive. We kept Poppy eating but she never gained enough weight for us to believe she could have enough strength to deliver her baby at the end of this pregnancy.
Poppy got extra monitoring throughout her pregnancy to make sure both her and baby remained healthy. We did a total of 3 ultrasounds on baby. During one of them, our vet let us know she believed the baby was a boy. We were hoping for a healthy mom and baby at the end of this. And, the reality of a farmer is, as long as mom is healthy, we can try for another baby. If something happens to mom, it's game over.
So, with Poppy's history, it had always been understood that our vet would come out and be on the farm "just in case" something happens during Poppy's labor/delivery. So when she entered into labor, I put the call in to the vet. We kept Poppy comfortable and prayed she didn't start actively pushing. She did a great job at staying calm; something I can't say I did a great job doing. After the longest 40 minutes of my life, the vet showed up JUST as Poppy started actively pushing and started presenting hoofs.
Now, I should remind everyone that Aaron and Jake were both inside with the stomach flu at this point but Aaron was wanting the play by play with Poppy and the vet. I'm not sure what he thought he was going to do to help that the vet and her 2 assistance couldn't manage? lol
The vet and her student intern delivered Poppy's little baby right into my lap where I gave it to Poppy to clean up. The baby was perfectly healthy! The vet then went on to examine Poppy and give her some calcium, oxytocin and vitamins her body needed to sustain herself. We were all concerned Poppy's system would crash after delivering because her body would put every molecule of her being into milk production and the delivery could have possibly thrown her fragile body into shock.
Thankfully, Poppy's body responded well and she transitioned seamlessly into motherhood. Her focus was on cleaning and nursing that precious baby of hers.
We weighed Poppy's little bundle of joy and SHE weighed in at 5.4lbs. What a wonderful surprise to end kidding season with. After expecting a boy all this time, we were beyond thrilled to see girl parts!!! We decided to name her Penelope.
The next day we noticed a small defect in her upper eyelid. Sometimes babies are born with inverted eyelids which can easily be rolled outward. On rare occasion, a stitch is needed to keep the eyelid rolled out. Well, Penelope's eyelid wouldn't stay rolled outward like it's supposed to and she needed the vet to put in a small stitch so her lid wouldn't damage the surface of her eye. We are thankful that that small stitch did the trick and her eye is completely healthy now.
We finished Kidding Season with a bang. For a while there, it was looking like we were going to have a heavy buckling year. But we ended the season with 9 bucks and 7 does... And most of our sanity. Not too bad!
We are so excited for the community's reaction to our Goat's Milk Lotion. As of 3/31/2019, we've received half our labels, all our bottles and pumps and some of our packing material. We've also gotten about a gallon and a half of milk from Rainey and Greta stored away in the freezer so we can, hopefully, start filling orders well ahead of our expected date of early July!
Life outside of the farm... I know, there kinda is one :-)
Our oldest son, Jake, joined the track team at school. We cannot wait to see him compete this Spring!
We received a phone call from one of our Swanky Sauce retail locations asking for Tyler, yes the 10 year old, to do a sampling event at their location later next month! Aaron will, of course, help him with that!
Liv just got her acceptance into the STEM Magnet school for Kindergarten next year. The younger boys attend there as well. We are so excited for her!
Quinn has been fighting this nasty upper respiratory thing for a while now. We hope he turns it around and feels better soon!
OH, and the farm finally got a real truck!!! Since moving here, we've always had a large SUV and used it as a truck. Now we have a real truck for a real farm!