Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Kidding Story

I feel as though the past two weeks have been a strange dream, where one day passes into the next, the countless hours spent in the barn, night and day. The sun will set with the last glimmers of daylight dimming unnoticed between the chinks in the barn walls. We've been too concentrated, analyzing the goat's movements, behaviors, eating habits, wants, needs...

Then in a rush of adrenaline, the babies are here! And a new kind of worry sets in. Are the mom's ok? Are the babies ok?  Is everyone warm, are they eating enough?

If anything, the girls gave us two opposite examples of how goat kidding can go.

Knit was our first. She was easy as pie. We came out to the barn to find a beautiful newborn fuzz ball, bright and alert. Mom was already cleaning her. We helped dry her off, cut the cord, tied it with dental floss and dipped it in Iodine. From then on, Knit took over. She nuzzled the baby up, lifted her back leg to expose her teat, and shoved the baby under her. Beatrix, latched and took her first drinks of colostrum.

Knit rubbed the babies bottom to keep her nursing and we were enveloped in the joy of watching nature, instinct, and the true miracle of life unfold before us. I thought to myself..."This is easy!"...and snapped a few more photos.

Then there was Purl...She's always been a more obstinate goat from the beginning, so it doesn't surprise me that she would give us troubles. By chance, we went to go check on her right when she was ready to deliver. We realized after quite a few unsuccessful "pushes" that she was having some troubles. One of the hooves and a nose were out, but she couldn't get him passed the second shoulder. I grabbed the birthing kit and put on some gloves, lubed up, and helped her. I really didn't do much as far as "assisting", I mean we're talking just a couple of fingers to sort of adjust his shoulder. I wouldn't consider it a difficult birth, but she might have suffered a bit had she done it all on her own.

Purl was exhausted after he came. We named him Ichabod, and placed him on a towel and brought him right up under Mom's nose so they could bond. She cleaned him, and everything seemed to be going splendid. After a while, she stood to drink some warm molasses water that we brought her. Ichabod stood as well, started "pouncing" along his mothers side, looking for an udder. He found it, and he nursed for the first time. I thought to myself..."Pretty easy!" We left them be and watched from outside the stall so Mom and Son could have some private time.

Purl, seemed to be getting some energy and she stood again, and stretched her aching back. Ichabod came stumbling over for another chance to nurse. He pounced his nose against her side, again, looking for an udder. When suddenly Purl looked at him as though she were being attacked by an alien. She spread her nostrils, and flattened her ears, her eyes went wide, and she bolted away from him and stood in the corner. Ichabod went toddling over to her for a second try, again, she bolted. This went on for quite a while, until Ichabod was looking pretty exhausted from chasing his mother around the pen. We were afraid to step in too soon because if she was having bonding issues, we didn't want to stress her even more. We thought that if we fed Purl she might be preoccupied with eating and let him nurse. So we gave her her grain, and placed him by her side. Again, he tried for a drink, and she gave him the "alien" look and ran.

Over the next 4 hours, we tried what felt like a thousand different positions, trying to get Purl to nurse, but she wouldn't have it. Each time, I would think, "Ok, if this doesn't work, we'll bottle raise him." But she ran each time. I don't think it would have bothered me so much, if I hadn't seen how beautiful a bond was between Knit and her baby. I wanted that for Purl and Ichabod, and my heart ached for her that she didn't understand what to do with him.

We brought him in the house to get warm, and to discuss what to do about the situation. Purl was full of healthy milk, so I didn't really want to feed him a replacement unless it was necessary. We decided that we would go into "dairy goat" mode, attempt to milk her, and feed it to him. Luckily, I had ordered some milking supplies as a precaution in the case that something like this might happen. We left him with my mom, wrapped in a towel to go milk our Angora goat. Surprisingly, Purl let us milk her without much of a fuss. She wasn't thrilled with the idea at first, but once I washed her udders with warm soapy water, she relaxed and gave in. To be honest, I think she was bursting, and she probably felt relief.

We brought the milk in filled a bottle fitted with a lambing nipple and warmed it up a bit in a pot of hot water. I imagined that he would be starving, and want to guzzle the milk down, but like everything else that day, he fought me like the dickens. I would get the bottle under his lip, and he would shake his head away. I would force it under his gums and he would cry and wrestle. Finally, after warming the bottle three times, he started to catch on and drank the bottle dry.

Now we had another decision to make. What to do with him? I was afraid to put him back in the pen with Purl, as she showed no interest in taking care of him. And as much as my weepy side wanted to keep him in the house, snuggling, bottle feeding, and watching old movies together on the couch, we felt that he should be bonding with the rest of  herd.

We thought that since Knit had been such an outstanding mom from the get-go, maybe she could love this little one as well. So while Knit was laying with Bea, we snuck him in, and laid Ichabod next to Knits true baby. At first, she hardly seemed to notice. Then it was as if she was surprised at what had happened, and she frantically smelled each baby back and forth, as though she was worried she might loose track.
After some really concentrated smelling, she let Ichabod nurse very shortly.

It's day two, and the three of them are settling in nicely. Knit lays with the two babies, and keeps them warm. She licks them clean and takes good care of the two of them. She's still not really sure about nursing him, she'll let him under her for a second or two, but it makes her nervous. So we've been bottle feeding him Purl's milk to make sure he's getting enough, and to make sure that he's not eating Beatrix's portion. Purl is still fairly concerned about Ichabod and calls to him through the fence. We've tried putting him back in with her, but she freaks out and runs away each time. So strange.

The cousins are getting along really well and seem to enjoy each others company. They snuggle together, and now that they're getting their land legs, they've been playing, which is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. 


Clint Baker said...

They are so so beautiful, thank you for sharing!

Melina said...

congratualations! They are beautiful!

Bonnie said... should have one more farm number...mine.

Yes, Knit can feed two. Vicks vapor rub is a wonderful thing, when trying to get a mom to realize she is a mom.

Perhaps you can mix them all together and purl will giver her nuzzles and attention and knit can feed her, might help her with her next baby.
Good luck.

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