The peach trees are blooming profusely in the orchard still. I’ve watched each of the ten trees one by one be ornamented with delicate pink blossoms, and then the slow, graceful dance of lacy green leaves unfolding. So quickly the flowers fade and are gone, but for these three weeks or so I am enchanted by their beauty. How many springs do I have left to soak in the beauty of the peach blossoms?
We had such grey, rainy days last week. When I woke up the world was white and heavy with mist. It hung between the trees and lingered like a soft curtain, muffling and softening all the sounds except for the birdsong from high up in the leafing branches that trills and tinkles and rings and chimes.
Even the distant sounds of mankind that boom over the quiet miles of pines and white, dusty roads have been changed into a distant hum like the sound of a cave around your ears.
Everything looks so green on these rainy, gray days. It almost feels like a pulse of lifeforce, beating green up from the grounds, green that moves and seeths and dazzles the eye.
The little goats that were born last week are doing well – skipping and playing and sleeping together in a little heap of brown with white splotches. They are spry enough that a few nights ago when I woke up to sheeting down rain and ran out in the dark to tuck the babies in the milking shelter, I had to chase one of them around and around a large oak tree while we both got soaking wet, until I pounced on him, and with a little bleat, he was set down next to his mother under the roof.
Just that next morning, Sugar Plum kept talking to me while the rowdy goats crowded into the headgate under the dripping eaves for their morning treat and minerals. As soon as I released them, she ran out into the cold, dripping rain and went to stand in the farthest corner under the same pine trees that her mother, Mab, had given birth under just a week before.
I watched her wagging her tail and stretching. Her udder was very large and stretched tight, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, this was the day she would kid.
I finished my other chores, and went back to the kitchen to eat breakfast. I had just told everyone how Sugar Plum was behaving that morning, and said over my shoulder as I walked out, “I’m going to see if she’s actually in labor,” and turned around and saw across the garden, Sugar Plum with a long string of water sac swinging from under her tail. Prophetically spoken!
We rushed up, thinking she had already kidded, but actually it was just beginning. Little hooves were showing now, but she looked nervous with everyone coming towards her, so we hung back and talked about the plans for a new garden space for this summer where the big pigs are now rooting. In just a few minutes a long, dark kid slid out and fell to the ground. Sugar Plum turned and began sniffing her new baby.
Last year was her first birth. I had helped her, because she was just a yearling, and it was a large kid. This was nothing like Avacado’s birth this year, though. The kid slid out easily as soon as I pulled its legs. It was a large buck kid we named Barley. He was healthy and beautiful, but Sugar Plum had gotten up and walked away, leaving him bleating for her. We had to dry him off with a towel, and I had to put her in the headgate with some feed to get her to let him nurse.
It was the strangest thing, but she didn’t recognize him as her kid. She would bleat and look for him, but when we showed him to her, she would kick him away, and look at him unlovingly. I tried to bottle feed him, but he refused, doing the iron-lips thing that goats do, locking his little jaws and absolutely refusing to drink at all, and letting milk dribble out of the sides of his mouth. All I could do was to put Sugar Plum in the headgate four times a day to let him nurse. Eventually she came to slowly realize he was the kid she was nursing while she was in the headgate, and bonded with him and began mothering him, but it took about three weeks. It was the same way with her mother, Mab, when she had kidded for the first time. Some goats from high milking lines have lost their mothering instinct, and the kids must be taken away at birth to prevent them from killing them. My goats always raise their own kids, so this must have been from a buck I had brought in.
It was with a little trepidation that I watched her with this kid. But this time she was not taken by surprise. She eagerly began cleaning the kid off, and making small noises to it. I brought a towel over to help, as it was chilly and wet that morning under the pine tree. I pulled strings of water sac off of the kid’s face and nose. It was a doeling. She was cold and shivering, so I wrapped her in the towel to warm her, but she struggled out and immediately began trying to stand and nurse. Sugar Plum nibbled and licked and lapped at her to clean and dry her. She nibbled and licked and lapped at my knees while I crouched there with the kid, too. We decided to call her Coconut, with her pretty dark coat and white underbelly.
It began raining again, so we shooed all the big goats out from the milking shelter, and put all the mamas with kids in out of the rain. We nestled little Coconut in a bed of hay, and left her there sleeping while Sugar Plum kept a close eye on her, rousing her now and then with a little nibble at her ears.
Here is my second spring radish recipe for you! The radishes this year were so beautiful! I love the ones that are colorful on the inside. The pink radish is the Pusa Gulabi Radish from Baker Creek, and the purple is the Farmer John Purple Daikon from the Southern Heritage Seed Collective with Working Food (I grew and selected these seeds last spring!!). Stir-frying the radishes makes them mild and sweet, and the miso-tamari sauce gives them delicious flavor. It’s great served with rice!
Radishes with Miso-Tamari Sauce
Enough fresh-pulled radishes to make 2 cups sliced radishes
1 tablespoon sesame oil, for frying
For the Sauce:
1/3 cup tamari
2 teaspoons red miso
1 clove grated garlic
1 teaspoon coconut sugar or sucanat
Sesame seeds for garnish
- Wash and chop the radishes (I never peel them when they are fresh out of the ground).
- Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan, and stir-fry until the radishes are tender.
- Meanwhile, whisk up the sauce ingredients.
- Remove from heat and toss with the sauce and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds. The pretty radishes make it the most gorgeous side dish!