349 Mattison Reservoir Ave
Branchville, NJ 07826
Phone: 973 948-0906
The Farm Store is open on Saturday from 8-4 and by appointment. We always say if we're home we're open...but please call ahead!
THE MARKETS DON'T START UNTIL JUNE! So visit us on the farm! We have eggs, honey, soap and lotion and a few canned goods!
Registered Alpine dairy goat kids available NOW! Prices starting at $200.
See a brief overview under the CSA heading or call or e-mail for more information!
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Helping to feed your family since 1992!
As a child my father instilled the importance of treating every living thing with respect. This is what we believe, and this is the way we treat everything under our care at DanaRay Farm.
Biodynamic farming is another type of natural farming that follows a different set of practices from organic farming and is in many ways stricter than organic farming. It embraces the idea that the farm should be thought of as an living organism that must be cared for as a whole and be in balance with nature.
Greetings from DanaRay Farm,
It’s 8:45pm, and that single front hoof is still protruding ever so slightly out of Sunflower. I’ve been looking at that front hoof for two hours now. She’s bedded down next to her sister and she gives me a nervous little bleat. Obviously she saying something like…mommy person something’s is not right. Ray holds her head as I wash and glove up…the thick waxy discharge is still the cervix plug and she voices her displeasure as I try to find out what’s wrong. She’s not fully dilated but her water broke at 2:30 and that precious lubricating amniotic fluid was leaking away, I can feel one leg, obviously the one attached to the hoof but nothing much else. And as I said there’s not much room, she’s not fully dilated. I take my hand out and take a deep breath. “Don’t be worried about calling Paul…” Ray tells me and I agree it’s time.
I leave a message, telling him what I’ve got…a two year old first freshener…I’ve got one front hoof and very little room…and she’s broken water at 2:30. He quickly calls me back. He knows I only call if it’s a really bad one…all the simple stuff I can handle. And as normal the conversation goes something like… “Hey you’re kidding.” Ha ha…and I assure him I’m not and that’s why I’ve called him. And then something like… “If you can’t get your hand inside her Dana how do expect me to?” to which I respond… “You’re the one with all those letters behind your name.”
Paul only lives five miles away but it always seems to take about an hour for him to arrive. It doesn’t I know, it only seems that long. Ray checks out the barn door, again, as I stare at Sunny and that damn hoof. She whimpers at me and I give her a pet, wishing she had gotten the memo that all the births were going to be a piece of cake this year. Twelve down and only two to go and Sunny didn’t get the memo.
Paul arrives, collects his equipment and comes into the barn and I fill his wash bucket with warm water. Over the nearly thirty years Paul Tallamy, D.V.M. has been caring for our animals it seems like we’ve done this about a hundred times. Paul washes himself, gloves up, then washes the goat and I take my place at Sunny’s head and place my back into a corner, I squat and hold on tightly. I warn Sunny she’s not going to like this much. We’re talking a little, he asks Ray about his business. Now it the moment when I find out if it’s going to be just a quick little manipulation and voile kids…or…
Sunny gives a little bleat…that extends on and on and rises in volume to a scream…she pushes herself forward so she’s basically sitting on my lap, pressing her chest into mine. Now Sunny is no little girl, she’s about 150 pounds…Ray has grabbed onto any part of the doe trying to hold her still. All conversation dies as we all realize, especially Sunflower that this isn’t going to be easy.
We try to hold her still, she screams, as Paul tries to manipulate the kid into a position in which it can be born. A normal presentation for a goat is two front feet first with the head resting on top of the legs. This kid was presented with one leg forward and the other leg back with the head twisted back along its side. It could never have been born in this position. Sunflower screams, and kicks, and screams again. Normally in the barn there’s a lot of noise, little mehs, and the sound of happy goats munching away at the manger, but the barn was absolutely silent. The only doe watching was the herd boss Sukey, everyone else seemed to be cringing silently against the back wall. I must admit as time goes on that I wanted to be cringing against the wall. Sunny flips herself over totally, desperately trying to escape the pain, Paul washes again and Ray tries anything to stop Sunny from kicking Paul again and again.
As time passes I’m thinking “I don’t care about the kid…just save the doe, please.” She screams…I know I’ve never heard a doe scream like that. She flips herself over again. “Maybe a C-section?” I think, but then goats never seem to do well with that…most don’t make it, but anything to stop her pain.
I don’t know how long it took. Hours it seemed when finally Paul was finally having success. Sunny was exhausted, puffing and crying and once again trying to kick Paul away. Ray dives in to hold her leg. And then in the bloody discharge a kid’s head…did I see it shake its head? No quite impossible, there’s no way a live kid could come out of this horrid birth. Sunny had given up and is no longer pushing, so Paul was slowly pulling the kid out. Finally the shoulders pass and the kid is born.
Paul hands the kid in my general direction with a terse “clean his mouth,” as he attends Sunny. I quickly wipe his nose and mouth but there’s nothing…no little spark…nothing…
“Paul he’s blue…he’s gone.” I say softly, looking at the blue lolling tongue and gums.
“I don’t care about blue…” he says grabbing a piece of hay and quickly jabbed it up each nostril. With the second jab the kid sneezed and then gave a little wheeze. I gasped and began to towel him off, briskly against the direction of the hair, which helps to stimulate the kid. Another weak breath. A twitch. I wipe the nose again and lift the kid by the back legs…once again it stimulates the kid. Perhaps another breath. Paul dashes to his truck and returns in a minute with a tiny tuberculosis syringe, he opens the kid’s mouth and injects it beneath the tongue. The breathing becomes stronger and steadier. The horrid blue mouth begins to pink up…and he bleats. He bleats!
I place the kid before Sunny. She’s on her feet swaying from exhaustion looking like she doesn’t care about anything. She grinds her teeth. I hold the weakly struggling kid beneath her nose and after a moment she chuckles…the noise they only make right after they kid. She gives the kid a little snuffle, and then a lick, and she begins to slowly clean the kid. I milked a bit of colostrum put it in a bottle and put it in the kid’s mouth…amazingly he sucked a few times…weakly but he took a bit of milk.
”I think that’s the worst one I’ve ever seen.” Ray said. “Hmm.” Paul agreed and gave a little nod.
After everyone was cleaned up Paul bid us adieu…telling us the kid may “not be quite right,” because of the oxygen deprivation. And he did definitely looked a bit dazed and confused. Sunny was looking much improved and was happily cleaning the kid after a dose of banamine (a pain killer and fever reducer) and antibiotics. After a time he struggled to his feet. Always a miracle but especially so with our blue baby. He didn’t try to nurse though so I once again put a bottle in his mouth and he managed to suck a few times.
Over the next two days I fed that kid a few mouthfuls of milk every three hours or so. He slowly took a bit more every feeding and got stronger and stronger. He wasn’t the brightest bulb in the room…or the sharpest knife in the drawer…in fact I was thinking as I walked to the barn for the tenth time that first day…that he’s about as smart as a turnip…so that’s what I call him. Turnip. Ray calls him Lazarus…which I admit is a much nicer name and really reinforces his miraculous birth and all…but to me he’s Turnip.
At the end of the second day he was strong and behaving like a newborn. Pushing against my hand to be fed. By the end of the third day you would have never thought anything was ever wrong with him. And now at just over two weeks he’s racing around the barn and doing all the things kids do. Perhaps it’s just all the extra attention he’s received but he is especially sweet and friendly.
Being a male dairy animal is not a good thing, you only need one for a whole herd. So while keeping a pet is not really practical…well we don’t always do the practical thing here. Sometimes we just try to do what feels right.
Sunflower has also recovered perfectly from her ordeal. She’s happily joined the milkers and is racing to the milkstand morning and night to be milked and a receive a bit of extra attention.
We’re not sure if we’ll keep him or try to find him a really, really, really good home. For now he’s playing in the sunshine with his brothers…thank you Paul, for this little spring miracle. Mother and baby are doing just fine.
Talk to you soon,
Dana and Ray.