Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year, New Kids

I had thought she was due around Christmas. A couple weeks before, she had minor signs of labor (some distress, followed by mucus discharge), then nothing. Her belly went from wide to round, so I assumed the kid(s) had turned. Christmas came and went. No signs of labor. Just the last few mornings, the possibly pregnant doe and her mother stayed in the barn when I brought feed out.

Sunday morning, I was groggily getting ready for milking when I heard loud calls. Distress? Wild animal? I peered out the window with the flashlight and saw all six pairs of eyes in or near the barn, in turn reflecting back, the light caught their coats and I could see each was there. Hunger? Extreme hunger..? I tucked in to the bedroom and grabbed the handgun, in case heroics were needed after all, and stepped out front. “MMAAAAA!!! MMAAAA!! mew! MMAAAA!” One of those sounds was not like the others. I headed back in to grab what was needed, when Ben appeared. He was already in his coveralls, great big weapon in hand (probably having flashbacks of a previous feral animal encounter). Great! He’d go straight out and see and I could get my milking equipment together, so the milking does wouldn’t be off schedule. I reassured him that I didn’t see any extra animal, and the calls sounded like hunger cries. Off he hurried to be sure all was well. Supplies in hand, I headed out. My routine is to get the alfalfa first and take it to the barn, which is what was needed!

I arrived to find Ben nervously watching over our panicking smallest doe and her two new kids. The first had been in the doorway of the barn and the second near the back. He had pulled off his shirt and wrapped the first, got it into the birthing stall, found the second and moved it, took the little mama and tucked her in with the kids. “She’s really hungry!”

With the pressure of the full uterus relieved, hunger had set in full force. She focused on filling her rumen. I sent the man for towels and hot water. With the towels, we dried off as much of the babies as we could, leaving their faces with just a bit of labor goo for the new mother to smell and clean off, then set them near her front end. I tucked into the milking stall and took care of the milkers while he watched over the little family. The milk pail was stuck into a snow bank near the gate to cool so I could watch the kids and mama. Once satiated, she seemed to realize that she was separate from the other goats, alone with the kids, and calm down.

The new mama focused entirely on the black and white kid. I checked her udder, and it had bagged slightly. I milked out one squirt from each side to clear any obstruction, then waited impatiently. Ben was concerned that putting his shirt on the kid may have given it too much of his smell and the little mama was rejecting her baby. Once she seemed satisfied at the first kid’s level of cleanness, she gave the second kid a curt lick or two and went back to kid one. Good sign: no head butting. Patience paid off, and they settled down. The kids started looking for her udder and had their first colostrum just fine.

Kids in January! The temperature was barely above freezing. I still had one sweatshirt sleeve “sweater” from last spring, but couldn’t locate the other. I spent a couple hours making crochet sweaters (the first pattern was huge!). Once in the barn, I took the sweaters and rubbed them on mama, then dressed the little goats in them. One of the kids had seemed weaker than the other (it may have been stepped on by the doorway), so I tucked it under mama to encourage nursing. A full belly cures many ails. In a short time, they both were nursing happily, and we left the little family to figure things out.

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