Well, we have done it, we have made it through our goat birthing season. I am now at ease. It began on Christmas Day with our first birth. Barbie went into labor during the coldest weather, 0 degrees, and lost both of her twins. It was so cold that she didn’t have time to clean them up before they froze. Two days later, Noel gave birth to triplets and she lost hers as well. By the time we got the rags and some warm water she had delivered all three and they were all still born. Not a good start to my idea of increasing my herd. Five days later, Polly delivered one baby, still born. It was difficult to deal with. I had been looking forward to the new kids and was losing them all.
It didn’t seem to matter what we did, nothing could have saved them as I look back on the situation. I started watching my remaining four nannies on a schedule. Checking them in the morning, at noon, afternoon, evening and before bed. I wanted to have something set up where they could have warmth and a dry place to deliver. So we brought in some fresh straw and with the pitchfork, scattered it around the barn and in the two jugs that we set up with the fencing supplies we had so that we could separate them and their babies would be safe from the rest of the herd.
Three weeks went by and still no change in them. Then on Jan. 20th, Dolly went into labor and gave us twin boy and girl, Jack & Jill. Two of the cutest cinnamon colored kids you have ever seen. Finally, things were looking up. I put up a heat lamp in the jug (birthing pen) for her and the babies. She done well at getting them up and moving and had them nursing in no time at all. I watched them closely since I didn’t want to lose them. They were pretty small, but mama isn’t a large goat either. It took a couple of days before I was comfortable not watching them so much. Since they were so small, I placed a temporary feeder on her gate so that she could have some goat feed and a bucket of water so that she could drink. They are now just about 3 weeks old and doing great.
On the 26th, around chore time, I had just stepped into the barn to witness Frannie in the thros of labor. First came a little black bundle, coal black with three patches of white, one on her ear, one on her front hoof and one on her head, therefore, Patch, became her name. Then within seconds, a little white bundle with a red head appeared, this one named Posh. These babies were farily good size and Patch was up and going quickly but, Posh was having a little difficulty. She was having problems standing and finding the teat. She needed a little help. I was a little fearful of how Frannie would react, she would always give us fits when we would have to catch her and I wasn’t sure how she would act with me trying to mess with her babies. She did surprise me though and did quite well. Within 24 hours Posh was up and behaving just fine. She was good to go.
Five days went by checking and watching my remaining two nannies. On the morning of the 31st at 9:30 am, Sassy lost her plug and labor began. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. She was very uncomfortable and I was able to get her into her jug and separated from the others. She paced, she would lay down and up again. While this was happening I gathered up my birthing supplies to have close at hand. This went on for about two hours then, her water broke. I was excited and thought it would be over in a matter of minutes. I was wrong. Sassy started pushing but nothing was happening. Her cries became that of severe pain. She continued to push and then the head appeared but no feet. Okay, this wasn’t right. Now I was in semi-panic mode. I was home by myself and had not ever had to deliver an animal on my own before. Usually the mamas do it just fine. I saw this baby with its head hanging there and its tongue out and thought to myself that it was already dead but I was determined to save Sassy even if the baby was gone. So I called Al and asked what to do. I had to find the legs, push the head back in and pull the feet out first. Well, that didn’t go as well as planned. I got the left leg and head again but could not find the right leg or even feel the shoulder. I worked and worked with no luck. I prayed to God for guidance and strength for both of us and went further until I could feel the stomach. I kept manipulating my hand and arm around the baby and finally, after 20 minutes. we delivered a little, or should I say a 5 lb. girl at 12:15 pm. Thinking that it was gone, I picked her up to find that her heart was faintly beating. I grabbed a towel and began drying her off and getting her warm. Mama was exhausted but was strong enough to help me clean her baby. After a few minutes, we had her standing and before I let Sassy lay down I wanted to make sure the baby had its first meal. So we worked a while longer and within 20 minutes she could find the teat and nurse on her own. After I was satisfied that she had her little belly full, I situated her under the heat lamp and bedded her down. Sassy lay down beside her. The whole ordeal took approximately 5 hours from the time she first lost her plug.
I took a picture with my phone and sent it to my Little Ranch Hand, Kalissa, and asked her what she wanted to name her. Since she is brown with one white spot on her head, she said Cocoa. So Cocoa it is. She is the only single we have but has already began to show her independence. She is very adventurous and goes everywhere. Mama has a hard time keeping track of her at times. She and Mama are doing well.
I was on cloud nine. I was able to save them both. I know that God was with us and had placed me there at the right moment to help her bring her baby into the world. It was a wonderful day.
I now only had one more to deliver and if you could have seen her you would have thought she was going to deliver three or more, she was that big. We were still on watch and on Friday the 5th, she began to lose her plug around 5:30 pm but after spending most of the night in the barn with her and watching her pace and paw and lay down and get up and wine and cry, by morning it all stopped. Besides being exhausted I was confused. This shouldn’t be happening like this. I went in and slept for a few hours and was back to check on her and there was no change. This went on all day and nothing. On Sunday, the 7th, in the late morning it began again so I took up watch once more but by 10 pm it all came to a halt. I was really getting frustrated now. She was miserable and couldn’t get comfortable in any position but finally did get laid down and fell asleep. I called it a night.
Monday morning showed no change. She ate and drank, was up moving around and everything was as it had been over the past few days before these false contractions had started. I had to be gone for a couple of hours so I made sure she had fresh bedding and fresh water before I left. I knew she would eventually begin the real thing but right now she was showing no signs of that at all.
When I returned three hours later, I walked into the barn and she was pushing. Before I could grab the towels and get in the pen with her she had a little buck on the ground and just as fast came a little doe. She had delivered and began to clean herself within minutes. Now that is how they are supposed to go once they start the real labor. I helped her clean her babies and the buck was up and going at top speed. He went right to the teat and began to eat. That is how he got the name, “Hoss.” The little doe needed a little guidance but within a few minutes she was up and going also. Her name is Holly. These twins are white with black and white on their heads. Hossis bigger than his sister with more white on his head than she does. They would weigh in at approx. 4 lbs.ea. Nice size babies. Beauty was a proud mama and became very attentive and protective.
Today I turned them all out together and they just played and jumped and ran all over the barn, it was quite the site. I enjoy just sitting and watching them. Patch and Posh have the most fun at climbing on everything they can. Al had came in and sat down while I was with Beauty and the twins, Patch and Posh, just began climbing all over him. It was amazing to watch them because they seem to have no fear. He just sat there and Patch finally accomplished her task and was actually on top of his head. I grabbed my phone to get a picture and she fell off just as I snapped it. It was dark in the barn and the lights dim but we did get a picture.
Now that I can rest easily, or at least I thought, and not have to worry about anymore babies in the cold, we began our calving season a month earlier than planned. Little Sophie came into the world on Sat. the 6th. She is the first of 40 due within the next two months.
Okay, we are good to go. Well, not so fast, we brought up the horses on Tuesday, the 9th, to feed and put up for the night and my horse, Blaze, did not come with the rest. We went to see what was happening and he seemed to be having problems. It was as if he couldn’t cross the creek and was limping. Al went after him but he managed to finally cross the creek and make it to the barn. It was dark out and without close inspection we assumed he had sprain his hind leg again. This is the same hind leg, left, that he severely injured two years ago.
Upon closer inspection Wednesday morning, I noticed what I first thought was just swelling but when I brought him out of his stall to get a better look, it was worse than expected. He had somehow sliced the front of that foot right above the hoof wide open. We are assuming he did it on a piece of tin from an old barn that had fallen during a wind storm. Anyway it is a seriously deep cut and we are cleaning and changing bandages twice a day. I just hope it heals well. The girls were just beginning to want to ride him and they have set on him before and really liked that. I don’t know if we will have complications since it is the same foot as before, I just hope we caught it in time to keep the infecti0n out.
Out around the barn there is always something to do and something going on. It is rare to find any dull moments when you have so much to see and do. If you don’t live on a farm, take the time to visit one near you. You may even be surprised at how much fun you can have.