The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Helicopter mothers

Mother goat

I know most of you want to see cute kid photos like the one above. But what I've really been aching for all week is this:

Goat eating tree leaves

Poor Artemesia is a helicopter mother who won't eat when she could be taking care of her kids. And I'll admit I'm a helicopter mother too --- I fuss over our doe's dietary intake (or lack thereof) like crazy.

Goat in forest

Slowly but surely, though, we're learning how to get our mama goat to eat. Best option --- shut the kids in the coop and drag Artemesia down to the floodplain on a leash. She'll cry for a few minutes, then she seems to forget her offspring and settles down to the important task of filling her belly. The twins are always just fine when we return.

Goat family

Second-best option: cut some boot-stage grain plants and drop them off in her manger...then babysit the kids while Artemesia chows down. I've learned the hard way that just dumping the grub and running does no good. But if you stick the buckling in the crook of one arm and then pet Aurora into submission, Artemesia will actually eat.

And, yes, I've also been easing our doe onto a bit of grain as well. As much as I hate to do it, I know she needs to keep her calorie count up to feed those high-octane goat babies. Grain goes down the gullet fast enough that she can actually grab a few bites in between kid wrangling. Hopefully in a few more weeks, she'll ease off on her overprotectiveness and the whole family can go out to enjoy dinner on the green.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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