This farming adventure we’ve only just begun to embark on is filled with exhaustion and frustration and sheer hard work. It’s also filled with adventure and learning and beautiful surprises.
On Thursday night, we stayed up late with some friends, butchering a deer (the first one we’ve ever processed ourselves) and on Friday morning we got up early to milk the animals. We spent the entire day in the hot, hot sun working on fencing and were rewarded for our hard work with two baby doelings at the end of the day! What a wonderful, wonderful life!
We’ve been watching Mini Colors since mid-September, knowing that she could kid any time after September 29th, and that it would most likely happen in early October (that’s if my records were correct, which I wasn’t taking too much stock in.) I knew that the most accurate way to predict the day of kidding was to check her ligaments so the kids and I have been checking them every morning and every night when she’s on the milk stand and feeling them slowly get softer and softer.
Friday morning all was as it has been, except that the kids noticed that her udder was significantly larger, but ligaments felt the same so we didn’t make any special preparations. That afternoon, as we were moving the fence and getting ready to take the goats to their new spot in the pasture, we noticed that she was having what looked like contractions! I checked her ligaments, and sure enough, they were gone! We coaxed her out of the pen with grain and put her in another pen by herself and the waiting began…
I called my friend Kathy (who we got our newest goats from), and she assured me that everything was as it should be (this was the first birth I’d ever been present for.) Shortly after, things started to progress and it became obvious that the first kid was on its way!
Seeing that little head sticking out, blinking its eyes and opening and closing it’s mouth had to be one of the most amazing, frightening experiences I’ve ever had with the animals. I kept asking Jon “should we do something? Should we do something?” He assured me everything was okay and that things were going exactly as they were supposed to.
Sure enough, a few seconds later……
Little one was strong and healthy and began nursing quickly, and Jon checked the sex – a girl!!! We waited to see if there would be any others and sure enough, Colors began pushing again, and this one (another girl!) was still in the amniotic sac! I didn’t get any pictures of the birth of the second one because I was too busy
freaking out assisting.
We got her delivered and out of the amniotic sac and realized quickly that she was going to need help. For one thing, she was TINY – half the size of her sister. For another, she was just laying down and although momma was licking on her and talking to her, she wasn’t showing any interest. I grabbed her and ran into the house, and immersed her into a hot water bath. That’s something I’d learned from reading the birth stories over at Antiquity Oaks Farm and from our own experiences with a baby lamb who died several months ago. I learned from a friend then that you can determine whether a baby is too cold by feeling the temperature in its mouth – it shouldn’t be cold, and they won’t nurse if they’re cold.
We got her temperature up pretty quickly and when she started trying to stand up and nurse in the water, I pulled her out and Bitty and I dried her off with a hair dryer as Jon and the other kids stayed with Colors to watch for another kid and/or the afterbirth.
We continued to monitor Baby 2 to make sure she was nursing and we offered her a bottle a few times (with varying success.) Once we were sure she’d gotten the hang of it and that there weren’t any more kids coming, we hung the heat lamp and made a little bed for them out of straw and left momma to take care of her babies. Jon and Bitty got up with them once during the night to check on them, and this morning they’re both doing great! I haven’t gotten any pictures of the first baby, but here are a few pictures I got of #2 last night:
Here she is, standing right next to her sister so you can see the huge size difference!
These are the first babies ever bred on our farm, so they’ll be the first to carry our farm name (Faithful With Little) We’re not sure yet if they’ll be kept or given away as part of the Milk Enough Project or whether they’ll be sold as pets, but either way, it’s all very exciting!