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Rite of Spring

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Neighbors share joys, sorrows of birthing season

By Meaghan Downs

The babies have arrived on Wildcat Road.  
Tic and Tac, two fuzzy baby doll Southdown lambs only three days old, wobble after a sheared ewe in the afternoon sun.
Betsy DeKoster, the owner of the Lawrenceburg Bluegrass Babydoll sheep farm, explains that the third lamb triplet, Toe, didn’t make it.  
She points at a lamb named Twister, who survived a complicated birth, she said, and was safely delivered despite the lamb’s head being pulled backwards.
Veterinarian Dr. Aaron Goodpaster named him, DeKoster said, following this year’s lamb-naming theme using titles of children’s games.
Last year, DeKoster said, she named lambs after fruits and vegetables.
By day, DeKoster works full-time as a hospital pharmacist in Shelbyville and Lexington.
To the right of DeKoster’s barn is her version of “Labor and Delivery,” with 11 baby doll Southdown ewes still left to give birth as of last Thursday afternoon.
On the opposite side is “Pee Wee’s Playground,” DeKoster said, where 13 lambs stick close to their mothers as they venture outside.
By spring, DeKoster is happy to drive back to her Wildcat Road farm and discover the newest lambs to add to her flock.
“It’s like Christmas morning,” DeKoster, who has raised and sold sheep on her farm for the past eight years, said. “I come home and find lambs.”
Lambing season begins about the second week of March, DeKoster said, and ends in late April.
During those weeks, DeKoster tends the sheep when she gets off work until 11 p.m., starting all over again the next morning at 4 a.m.
“It’s just peaceful,” she continued. “If you have any kind of worries or stress, I just come out here and that all goes away. Serene.”
DeKoster grew up in suburbia, she said, but was always an animal lover.
 “Ever since I’ve had a memory of having a dream, I’ve wanted to live on a farm,” she said.
DeKoster’s next door neighbor, Alisha Williams, said she only wanted two goats.
Now she owns and operates Mini Lisha Farms, breeding goats and miniature horses, as well as selling eggs and creating soap out of goat’s milk.
“Nope, I was a city girl,” Williams, originally from Yorktown Heights, NY, said.  “I don’t what converted me. I just wanted two goats.
“Now I’m just comfortable trying to sell these animals, pay for my feed,” she said.
Six years later, Williams’ farm is home to about 10 baby Nigerian dwarf goats, 24 chickens and several miniature horses, including a few rescues.
Oh, don’t forget the potbellied pig, Williams’ family pet.
“It runs me sometimes,” Williams said with a laugh about Mini Lisha. Williams said she runs the farm full-time, but she and her husband also have a commercial cleaning business that services Lexington, Georgetown and Frankfort.
Most of the young goats were born in the last two weeks of March, she said, but one of her miniature horse mares, Jasmine, was scheduled to give birth at any moment.
“You just worry, because you just want them to be OK,” Williams said.
Williams said she delivered her first miniature mare four years ago, but miniature horses can have difficult births.
“The stress,” Williams said of what she liked least about spring foaling. “Miniatures have a hard time sometimes delivering because they’re so small.”
One of the foals died three years ago because it couldn’t get enough oxygen, she said.
“It was so sad, so sad. I was just torn up,” Williams said.
One of her young goats almost died this spring, she said, but rallied back to health to join her tribe of goats.  
Williams named him Lazarus.

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Find out more
Learn more about these Lawrenceburg farms by visiting their websites:
• Mini Lisha Farms: Alisha Williams sells eggs, miniature horses, Nigerian dwarf goats, cattle and other products. Visit her website at www.minilishafarms.com or call Williams at 859-509-6513.
• Bluegrass Babydolls: Betsy DeKoster, Williams’ neighbor, has her Spring 2013 baby doll Southdown breeds lambs for sale at her Lawrenceburg farm, Bluegrass Babydolls. She also sells the sheep’s wool. For more information, visit www.bluegrassbabydolls.com or call DeKoster at 503-472-7485.