The Saga of the Goat, Part 2: The Home Pregnancy Test

When the goats’ first summer at camp ended, Head Wrangler sent them off to stay at a nearby farm for the winter.  This would lighten the work load when the surplus of summer staff left for the winter.  Also,the hope was that the goats would get pregnant while they lived with a small herd all winter.  Unfortunately, one of the goats didn’t make it through the harsh winter.  When the surviving goat came back, she was very lonely in the goat pen.  Head Wrangler decided to let her roam free in the stable yard.

She became like a mascot and a menace rolled into one.  She would hang out with the wranglers while we worked.  She was fairly affectionate–probably because we all thought it was fun to share our snacks with her and find out if there way anything she WOULDN’T eat.  (There wasn’t.)  In that regard, she was like a loyal puppy dog following us around.   She would even follow us to dinner and wait outside the dining hall for us, and then follow us to our cabin!

However, she also left little piles of pebble turds everywhere she went.  She discovered that the door to the office and lounge area didn’t close properly, and we would return from trail rides to find that she had eaten pages out of Bibles and peed on the floor.  She even chewed up my straw hat!  This behavior led to much controversy over choosing a name for her.  Some of us called her Jezebel or Delilah; some called her Stupid or Idiot.  No one could really agree, and poor Goat never had an official name.

As  summer wore on, Goat’s belly grew.  We were all expecting her to give birth at any moment.  We were checking her udder for milk and palpating her belly to see if we could feel a kid or two in there.  We were certain we could feel various body parts of baby goats.  It had to be any day now!  Camp authorities didn’t care much either way if Goat was actually pregnant; it didn’t really matter either way, so there was no point in having the vet come out to check her.  However, all of us wranglers were insatiably curious as to whether or not we were going to get to pet newborn baby goats that summer.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do during our time off around camp, so many times we drove to town wandered the aisles of Kmart and FleetFarm.  On one of these excursions, we got the idea to buy a home pregnancy test for Goat.  One wrangler  was not too embarrassed to actually purchase it, so we chipped in a couple dollars each and all of us “good Christian girls” giggled our way through the check out line, out of the store, and all the way home to camp.  Of course, we had no idea if a human pregnancy test would work on a goat, but it was a fun experiment as far as we were concerned!

During that week we had 12 wranglers, all ready and willing to do the work that 4 would normally do during the off-season.  The result was that the barn had never been so clean before, and probably hasn’t been that clean since then.  The second a horse pooped, an eager wrangler was there to clean it up.  We raked the barnyard several times a day, leaving tidy rows of lines and bits of hay glistening in the sun.  I did not feel any compunction about assigning two of the wranglers who had chipped in for the pregnancy test to follow Goat around with the stick, hoping to catch some urine.

After half an hour or so, they started to get bored.  “I don’t get it!  She is ALWAYS going to the bathroom!  Why won’t she pee?  Is there something we can do to make her pee?”

“I don’t know.  Feed her some Coke?”  I joked.

Five minutes later they came back, holding out a dollar.  “Is it okay if we run to the canteen to get a Coke?”  I looked at the tidy stable porch and the rows of horses hitched to the post, tacked up and waiting for the trail rides to begin.

“Sure, why not?” I laughed.

Goat truly appreciated the bottle of Cherry Coke the wrangler girls poured into a bucket for her.  She licked the bucket dry, and showed her appreciation 10 minutes later by peeing a fountain for the girls.  I don’t think anyone has ever been so excited about a goat peeing–not in the history of all mankind.

We gathered around the test stick and watched the control line appear.  Not many women learn how to use a home pregnancy test this way!  This was one special goat, to get her very own crowd of ladies clustered around her pregnancy test.  I would remember that moment many years later when I started using the tests myself, hoping for my first baby.

Anyway, we watched and waited, checking the clock, until we were sure the second line was not going to appear.

With this anticlimactic result, we shrugged our shoulders and went back to work–still unsure if Goat was indeed not pregnant, and just fat, or if she was pregnant, but the test didn’t work because she was a Goat.

One of my favorite sayings is “Time reveals all truth.”  As the summer wore on and Goat never went into labor, the truth became obvious: her burgeoning belly was merely attributable to the snacks that we so willingly (and sometimes unwillingly–DARN THAT LITTLE BANDIT!) shared with her.  Too many Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, leftover milkshakes, soda, chips, and other junk that hard-working teenagers are sure to have on hand.  Not to mention my hat that she ate, the Bibles she destroyed, kid’s homework and tests for horsemanship class–that stuff all had to have calories, right?  Let’s not forget about the pretzels in the bathroom!  But that’s a story for another day.

Here it is! The Baked Oatmeal recipe!

Every time I make this, I get rave reviews.  I have promised the recipe to many people and they are starting to get restless.  They want their oatmeal!

I owe thanks to my friend Lisa for passing the recipe my way.  It is a staple in my house!

Here is the basic recipe:

3 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick cook)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup margarine or butter

2 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375.   I usually melt the butter in the microwave first thing.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into 13 x 9 greased pan (either use cooking spray or grease it and flour it).  Bake for 25-35 minutes until it starts to look brown on top or around the edges.

Now, I never just follow that basic recipe.  I usually add fruit (fresh or frozen–IT DOES NOT MATTER), nuts, or both, and reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup, and I use white or brown sugar (or raw, or honey, or whatever!) depending on what else I am putting in it.   Here are some of my favorite variations:

White sugar, sliced strawberries, 1 tsp vanilla.

White sugar, blueberries, ground flax-seed (I don’t measure.  I just dump some in), 1 tsp vanilla, sliced almonds.

brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins or canned pumpkin or both.  Or you can substitute 1/2 cup molasses for the sugar.

Get creative–I’ve never had it turn out badly!  Tell me when you try this and what you do to it to make it especially delicious.

It was raining in Victorville

The Saga of the Goat, Part 1: Speaking “Goat”

The horse stables at camp had a revolving menagerie of random animals people donated.  The two white pygmy goats were my favorite.

The first summer they were there, we had them in an enclosure right by the area where we would line up with the horses about to go on a trail ride.  There was an electric fence, and when they touched it, they would sound like this: “Maa. Meh.  Meh.  Ma–MEEEH!”   By the time I got there for the summer, the goats never even touched the fence anymore.  But someone had discovered if you “talked” to the goats, they would answer you.  And if you made their “goat-touching-the-electric-fence” noise at them, they would make it back.

All summer long, the wranglers kept campers entertained by talking to the goats and getting the goats to holler.  At first it would freak them out, because the goat pen was hard to see through the trees and the campers would wonder what was making those awful sounds!  The trail rides didn’t always leave on time, for a variety of reasons, such as:

“I need to take my ponytail out!  It doesn’t fit under my helmet and it hurts!”

“My stirrups are uneven!”

“I think I’m going a little crooked.”  (Usually said by a rider leaning off at a 45 degree angle.)

“I changed my mind.  I’m too scared.  I don’t want to go.”

“My horse is hungry.  He wants a snack before we go.”

“But I don’t want to kick him too hard and hurt him!”

So, while waiting to go, I would look at this…

…and I’d talk to the goats.

How hard is it to get one good photo?

Today I dressed my kids in matching tees that have a little monkey holding a suitcase and saying, “That’s it!  I’m going to Grandma’s!”   This mandated a photo shoot of them together.  Right?

Here’s the best shot I got where you can (mostly) see their shirts.

Here is what I went through to get it.

Lion Cub getting adventurous.

And Blue Dragon flying high.

That’s my Lion Cub saying “Cheese!”  (sounds more like “deese!”)

Finally I resorted to bribary.  (Sit nice for mommy and you can have a cookie!)

This works with horses too.

“What?  Do I hear you opening a peppermint?”

“Is that the hay wagon we hear???”

Some lessons from wrangling horses do translate to kids quite well.

(PS: camera settings for the kids’ pics today: f2.8, 1/200 (I think), ISO 800.  The first pic I did brighten and sharpen a bit and the rest are SOOC.  The horse pics are scanned from old film prints.)

Kids songs for overlooked topics

My mom and I were talking about making an album of songs for toddlers and preschoolers that teach often-overlooked lessons.

So far we have come up with ideas for these songs:

“There’s more than just water in the pool”

“Keep your hands away from your poo”

“Dog bowls are for dogs”

“We love sunblock”

“The doctor is your friend”

What are we missing?  Please share your ideas!

Nursing Toddlers are Fun

One of the misconceptions about breastfeeding is that it is for small babies only, and that once babies can walk and talk they are probably too old to nurse.  But in my experience, that is when the fun really starts!  When you have  a toddler that is nursing, you have the benefit of being able to be apart from them for a while without them NEEDING to nurse.  Yet you can still enjoy the closeness and the cuddles that come with the nursing relationship when you are together.  I’m not even going to address  all the health benefits in this post.

Back to the fun part.  When you have a toddler that is nursing, they can really show you how much they appreciate it!  I tried to get my little Lion cub to do his “happy milkie” dance of anticipation for the camera, but he wouldn’t cooperate.  If I ever catch it on video, I will show you.

I only wish I had seen him when my mom took him through the lingerie department at Target.  He gazed up, down, and all around in wonderment.  It looked like a buffet to him!  He shouted, “ME!  ME ME ME ME!”  (Me-me is his way of saying milkies.)  He thought the lingerie department was better than the toy aisles.

Can your newborn nursling be THAT entertaining?  I didn’t think so.

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