Any minute now, Lulu…
Two little doelings, one black and one bay; born at about 5:15 or 5:30 this morning. The black girl came out first, frank breech (butt first). Zoe was a trooper – that couldn’t have felt good! It took us a minute to figure out what we were seeing – most often the kids come out in a “diving” position, front feet and head first, so we were looking for a pair of hooves and perhaps a nose. When we first saw a “blob” with no hooves, we thought we were seeing the head and that the front legs were bent back. In that case, it’s important to gently reposition one or both legs so that the baby doesn’t get stuck at the shoulders. So, I scrubbed up, lubed, and (gently!) went in. I had to feel around for a minute to realize that what I felt was not the head, but the butt. Meanwhile, Zoe was still pushing, but the baby seemed to be stuck at the vulval opening. While Peter held Zoe and encouraged her, I used my lubed hands to gently help her vulva open wide enough for the baby’s big butt and back legs to make their way out.
With a breech birth, there’s more of a danger of the baby aspirating some of the amniotic fluid, so as soon as she was fully out we moved quickly to clear her mouth and nose of any fluids. Then Peter held her up by her back legs and (again, gently!) swung her back and forth. This is a trick we learned from our friend and goat mentor to ensure that any fluids that may have entered her lungs are drained back out. This all happened in the space of only a minute or two, and immediately after we plunked her down on a towel in front of mama Zoe, so she could get down to the business of cleaning off her new daughter.
While Zoe licked and cleaned and Peter towel-dried the newborn, I turned my attention back to the two little hooves showing at Zoe’s back end. They were back hooves, meaning that this baby was coming out footling breech (back feet first). So, this one would also need to be “swung”. She came out smoothly, a tiny little thing, and we once again worked quickly to get her mouth and nose cleared. But we couldn’t swing her – her umbilical cord was thick and twisted around and around on itself, and only a few inches long. It had not broken or separated on its own, so she was still attached to her mama’s insides. Did I mention it was only a few inches long? We couldn’t move her, couldn’t swing her, couldn’t even get her out of the now chilling puddle of amniotic fluid in which she was laying. I held her and rubbed her vigorously to try to warm her while Peter grabbed dental floss and scissors from our birthing kit. He used the floss to carefully tie off her cord in two places, and then cut the cord in between. He immediately swung her to clear her lungs and placed her on a clean dry towel in front of Zoe. Zoe went to work cleaning her up while we rubbed her vigorously with towels, both to get her dried off and to get her warmed up and get her blood pumping. At about this time we noticed that she was bleeding quite a bit from her umbilical cord, so we tied it off again, as tightly as we could.
It took a little while to get this second little girl warmed to the point where she was no longer shivering, but surprisingly, she was the first to go for the teat. She was determined to get her colostrum! Zoe didn’t know what to make of this at first and kept moving away, but once her little girl latched on and started guzzling away she settled right down.
We began cleaning up while we waited for Zoe to pass her placenta. While scooping up the sopping towels and fluid-soaked straw (birth is messy!), we also kept an eye on the little black doeling, who hadn’t yet nursed. Once we had helped her to find the teat and we saw that she got a good dose of colostrum, we packed out our birthing kit and garbage and brought Zoe some grain and alfalfa and a fresh bucket of hot water (Peter had already brought her a bucket of hot water with molasses immediately after she finished kidding; she sucked most of it down right away).
At this point all that was left to do was to dip each kid’s umbilical cord in iodine, in order to prevent infection. We poured our iodine solution into a pill bottle, picked up the first kid, dipped her cord into the bottle, and then tipped her over onto her back with the bottle pressed firmly to her belly. This ensures that the iodine coats the entire area. We repeated the process with the second kid, and then left mama and babies to rest and bond.
And, oh yeah – about that placenta? Zoe, smart mama that she is, ate most of it. What little bit she left went to the dog. Nothing goes to waste on the farm!
Our beloved and rascally Reepicheep and Pattertwig (now known as Waylon and Willie) went to their fantastic new home a couple of weeks ago. We miss them, but we know that they are being treasured and loved by their new keepers. We feel so grateful to have found such wonderful homes for both sets of twins we’ve sold over the past few months. (The above photos were taken on a sunny day in January; the bottom one is the two of them with their mama, Drama Queen.)
But don’t despair, ye lovers of baby goats: our little Zoe (Aberdeen’s daughter from 2009, now not so little anymore) appears to be in the beginning stages of labor. Soon there will be cute goat baby photos yet again! (We know that’s the only reason y’all come here…)
(For those of you that are actually still reading, apologies for yet another long absence – it was a crazy winter for us, but we’re hoping to be much more regular with posting now and maybe even catch up on some back posts we’ve wanted to write!)
Barnabas and Clarisse, Aberdeen’s kids from this spring, are the first of our goats that we’ve ever sold. It was hard, but we don’t have the space, money or time to keep all of the goats that have been and will be born here. In order to produce milk, the mamas need to have babies. (And also for their own health ? unbred does can have a tendency to put on weight.)
So far, all of Aberdeen’s offspring have inherited her sweet and gentle personality. We sure do miss those two, but oh boy did they (and we) luck out ? they went to a fantastic home, where I suspect they’re receiving even more scritches and nose-kisses than they did here.
If you want to see them in their new surroundings, click the link below (posted with the permission of their wonderful new caretaker).
(And if you’re ever in the Bend, Oregon, area and have a need to board your dog, something tells me that Tumalo Bed & Biscuit would be the place to do so!)
Drama gave birth to two little boys at about 7 pm this evening. Mama and babies are all doing well. We’ll have photos and stories for you tomorrow, we promise.
But first, a much-needed good night’s sleep (for us, and for the goats).
Thursday evening, after dark. A blanket in the orchard. Raspberry wine (for me) and pale ale (for him). Surrounded by a billion stars (some of them shooting). Dog snuffling in the grass. Just us and the Perseids. The show was amazing.
I’m just back from a week away visiting family in Michigan. Peter, of course, had to stay here to care for our 26 chickens, 9 goats, 1 dog, 1 cat, and innumerable plants. And, oh yeah, do a little paid work too.
I had a great time during my whirlwind trip (from a suburb of Detroit to the Upper Peninsula to the northwestern Lower Peninsula and back to Detroit), but today I got to snuggle chickens (well, only the couple who will let me snuggle them), kiss goat noses, bury my face in cat belly fur, and be kissed by a dog whose little stump of a tail was wagging so hard that his entire body wiggled.
I arrived home last night at around 11 pm (that’s 2 am in the time zone that my body had finally adjusted to), ate the delicious dinner that Peter had prepared, and tumbled into bed at midnight. A short while later we were both awakened to the sounds of the cat chasing something and the dog barking madly.
Just as I was contemplating looking to see whether the cat was after a mouse or only a moth (we ? and the cat ? sleep on a mattress on the floor of our loft; any prey larger than a moth would need to be dealt with), I felt something scurry across my (naked) chest.
It was far lighter than than the cat would have been.
I sat straight up in bed and said, “I think a rat just ran across my chest!”
Peter grabbed a flashlight and shined it toward the sounds of pouncing. It took a minute to figure out what we were seeing: on the floor at the foot of our mattress was an upside down bat.
Anu was pouncing on it and it was making weird little noises. Somehow it was able to right itself and fly away to hang near the ceiling on the other side of the room.
Peter then had to climb the ladder, maneuver the bat into a box, and take it outside to let it go. I got to sit in bed and hold the cat, and watch the whole thing through my haze.
The little guy was pretty cute, and made all sorts of ferocious bat noises at us. I wish one of us would have thought to take a picture, but at that point I think we both only wanted to get back to sleep.
That was definitely a first ? we’ve never had one in the house before. We’re guessing he came in through the attic. I’m sure he was just as stunned at finding himself trapped inside of a house as we were at his presence. Anu gets props for being such a good huntress, though we’d really like to keep the bats around and would prefer that she stick to the occasional mouse or rat.
It sure is good to be home.
(No, that’s not sarcasm ? I love all of the random encounters we get to experience out here!)