Posted on Leave a comment

“Goat Kids in 2022!”

Well,  a month after kids hit the ground, I’ve finally made time to sit down and  post about it!

Twas a warm and sunny March 18th.  I let Tisl and Ruma graze  the meadow freely to their hearts’ content.  Tisl bred 4 days before Ruma, and theoretically today was her due date.  The girls hadn’t been out of the barn long before I heard Ruma nickering with concern.  She wandered around the barnyard and towards my dwelling, calling softly but urgently, “Je-e-e-e-e-e-en!  Je-e-e-e-e-e-e-en!

I heard her out-of-place calls and poked  my head out the window to  check  the situation; Ruma was
alone, heading in my direction, looking around for me and calling.  These girls never leave one another’s sides…  Where is Tisl?

Oh crap, don’t tell me she’s out there giving birth…!

I grabbed a  camera and  darted outside, wondering where I would find her.  Thankfully she wasn’t more than 50 meters from the barn, laying down beneath a large spruce tree.  I sat with her and watched her.  She glanced  at me, but her attention was  on something within, not her surroundings.

It is time!

I asked her if it was time.  Tisl glanced at me, then swung her head backward over her hips and nickered softly.  Ruma approached her respectfully and sniffed the  air with dilated pupils.

Yup.  It was time.  So I helped  Tisl back to the barn and set about my preparations.  I broke open  a  fresh bale of  hay and lined the small pen with deep, dry bedding.  I gathered up a clean towel and a  few cameras.

I came back to the barn just in time  to see Tisl’s water break!

Ruma waited outside the barn patiently.  The boy goats  watched restlessly  from their partitioned side of the barn. ‘Roy,  the buck, was utterly elated.  He set  about smashing heads with  the wethers with furious  amounts of  energy- so much so that he broke his scurs off  and  painted Aster, Isöl, and their entire half of the barn with blood!  None of the boys could hold still.  They took turns looming over the pallets dividing the barn, watching closely, sniffing in the scent of birth.

Tisl’s tri-coloered doeling

Tisl labored only briefly though her  entirely delivery.  Within 10 minutes the first pair of hooves appeared.  Once  those hooves were exposed enough to get a good grip, I hooked my fingers around them and waited for my chance to help.  Tisl rested for a few moments and began pushing again.  With each push from her, and I pulled gently downward on those little hooves.  As each contraction ended I backed off all tension but continued  to hold the hooves.

Within just a few contractions, a lovely little grey kid with white  stockings slopped out onto the hay.  I wagered a doeling by the face.  And indeed she was.  With the towel, I cleaned off the kid’s face and helped Tisl dry her off.  She was on the  small side, but the picture of health.

It wasn’t long before Tisl was up and pushing  again.  Again, two little front hooves appeared and my fingers latched on, working with the ebb and flow of Tisl’s contractions.  Before long, a large tri-colored kid plopped down into  the hay.  Another girl, I wagered.  And that she was.  Tisl and I hunkered down in the straw and worked clean and dry both kids.

It couldn’t have been more than 20 minutes for both kids- smooth and easy, two healthy beautiful doelings.  I felt quite contented and Tisl looked like she was doing well.  She stood  and licked the  kids up and down and all around.  I chanced a glance behind her to see if the placenta was making any progress and- wait- “Are  you having a  THIRD baby?!

As kid #3 dries off, kid#1 starts testing out her new walk-sticks! (aka “legs”)

Indeed, two little hind hooves were casually poking out of her vulva.  It’s hard to describe the kind of excitement you get when more babies are delivered than you expected!  Generally I just fervently hope that I get 2 instead of 1.  But triplets are an absolutely delightful surprise!

So as before, I hooked onto those little back legs just as soon as they made enough progress into the outside world.  Without much fuss, a tiny little kid slurped to  the ground in a pile of goo.  I wagered a boy.  And indeed he was.  He was just half the size of the tri-colored doeling, but had the cutest pinched, smiling face I’ve ever seen.  He was grey with white stockings just like the first doeling.

I hovered with Tisl for a good long while.  I reckon she had all three kids out within 30 minutes of her water initially breaking.  Everyone looked healthy and happy.  Excellent!  After burning up the storage space and batteries on my cameras, I decided to head home for a much-deserved lunch.  But somewhere near the barn I heard Ruma moan and make a strange, drawn-out noise.

Ruma moaning under a young fir tree after Tisl’s delivery

You better not be out there giving birth right now!” I called out.

Ruma bred several days later than Tisl, but she was absolutely gigantic.  I worried what  surprise she had in store for me, considering her fiasco with triplets the previous spring.  I left the barn and found her under a small young fir tree beside the barn.  She looked dazed and birthy, but I observed no contractions.  So home to lunch it  was.

I spent the day and subsequent night checking on Ruma every 1-3 hours.  She looked birthy but was not having obvious contractions.  She worried me due to her complications last year- I didn’t want to miss her water breaking and leave her straining for hours with no progress if she had another kid-jam in her birth canal.

Ruma strung me along that day,  and the following night.    I set punctual hourly alarms and said ‘goodbye’ to sleep.  The night passed without event.  The following day trickled by.  I spent a fair portion of it in the barn with the fresh new goats.  The following night would not be as easy to go without much sleep, so, reluctantly, I spaced my alarms out to every 3 hours.  I couldn’t not check in on her- I didn’t want anything going wrong.   But the night passed without event.

Crack-o-dawn goat selfies: Farm life at its finest!

At the first faint light of dawn, I awoke to Tisl nickering softly with concern.  I bounced out of bed to investigate.  Her tiny, spunky little buckling had wandered out of a gap in the barn door and she was discretely  calling him back into the barn.  I scooped up the wayward kid and couldn’t resist some crack-o-dawn goat selfies with the tiny goater before bringing him back into the barn.

There lay Ruma, a bulging bubble of water actively appearing from her vulva and bursting.  What timing!

I ran back home to prep my supplies.  I hoped she wouldn’t have another complicated birth, but I felt uneasy about it.  Still, I decided not to pre-prep warm soapy water buckets unless need be.  I wanted to get back out there ASAP and help her out! I brought a bright spotlight, towel, and cameras back to the barn with me.

Ruma was restless, just like last year; she’d have a couple rushed contractions, then she’d turn around and look for a kid that wasn’t there.  She inspected Tisl’s kids.  She investigated me and licked my face, asking questions.  She sniffed the cameras and licked them.  “Where is my baby?

Two tiny hooves protruded from her vulva.  She pushed, paced, pushed, paced, pushed, paced…  I knew she was bound up almost right away… but I had hoped she wasn’t, so I let it play out for a few minutes to be sure.

Push, pace.  Push pace.  No progress.  That kid wasn’t moving and should have been out already.

Dang it.

Thankfully I was ready this time, no doubts.  Last year she labored for almost 3 hours before I realized she was all stuck up.  So without further ado, I moved to intervene.  I locked her in place by blocking her chest with my left arm and began easing into the task with my right hand.  Ruma couldn’t help herself- my cold, unwelcome hand made her jump forward.  She got away from me a few times…  I was reluctant to plunge into my task a, and she was  reluctant  to let  me.  But I reminded myself that this was unavoidable, and the sooner I got those kids out, the less trauma to her body there would be.

Tisl’s kids 1 day old.  This buckling has a very sweet face.

Somehow our dance calmed down, and I found myself fishing around in her birth canal, taking stock of the situation.  There were at least 2 kids side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder vying for the exit.  I knew from the previous year that I would need to shove all but 1 kid WAY back, much farther than I felt was possible.  Between Ruma’s contractions I eased kid#2 backward.  It  resisted and kept pushing forward, but it wasn’t long before it gave way and plunged back down into her uterus, leaving the first kid alone in the birth canal.

While I was solely focused on what my hand was doing where I couldn’t see it, somehow Ruma and I had settled on an agreement.  She knew I was there to help but couldn’t keep herself from jolting forward away from me while I worked.  After some absent-minded dancing with her, she stuffed her head between two pallet slats along  the barn divider.  Each time she jolted forward the pallet kept her from moving, a bit like a stanchion.  She gritted through my work splendidly, letting the wood hold her still while I untangled  her kids.

I showered her in praise as I worked.  She cried with her contractions but stayed standing and held still.  Kid#1’s head finally made some progress!  I latched onto its hooves, its nose was now exposed.  A handful of contractions passed but it made no progress.

Crap.  Did that other kid pop back out again!?

Kid#1 was huge- I could not fit my hand in around it’s face…  So I apologized to Ruma and kid#1 before plunging it back in to find out.  And indeed, there was another kid jammed alongside it, preventing kid#1′ shoulders from leaving the birth canal.  I felt urgency for kid#1, and felt pity for Ruma, so I steeled my resolved and pointedly, albeit still gently, plunged kid#2 back down as far as I could, and very swiftly worked to guide kid#1’s shoulders forward.

Hooves out.  Head out.  Contraction.  Contraction.  Shoulders out.  Phew!

A huge brown buckling with white stockings for Ruma!

Ruma laid down now  to rest.  Kid#1 hung limply from her, half exposed in the morning cold.  It was getting lighter out, I could see well enough without the spotlight’s help.  My heart sank-  the massive kid was unmoving, its tongue hanging out limply.  It looked mooshed strangely from the kid-jam.  I assumed it was dead and sighed…  she stopped pushing and laid resting for what seemed like too long a time.

The most  important  thing was to get Ruma through this with her health in tact.    “C’mon, girlie.  You got a dead kid hanging out of you, you gotta keep pushing…

Eventually Ruma gave a few more heaves and I guided the massive cold kid out onto the hay.  I patted Ruma and praised her hard work, taking stock of the limp kid and the loss.  Then, quite unexpectedly, it sputtered and sneezed!  Excellent!  Wonderful!  We had a live delivery!

I cleaned its face and set to drying it off.  The emotional rollercoaster leaves me with a blurred memory over the next few minutes, but with kid#1 delivered and looking robust despite first impressions, kid#2 was on its way.  Ruma delivered a second absolutely massive kid.  Both were clearly little bucklings.

In the chaos of delivery I didn’t take photos. Here are Ruma’s boys at 1 day old.

Ruma’s belly was so impossibly huge that I wasn’t sure how many more kids she might have, nor how big they might be.  I stayed with her for a hour.  She made no further deliveries  nor passed her placenta.  The sun was up proper and I wanted to clean the dried goat  goo off my arms and get some breakfast.  Ruma was healthy and stable.  Her body was not shocked by the delivery, and she had only the slightest evidence of any kind of tearing or bleeding.  I would check back in a bit to see what  the verdict was, but started to feel confident she only had 2 massive kids.

Later in the morning Ruma passed her placenta- 2 healthy giant boys was all she made, I can be happy with that.  Though I worry  that this will be a theme with her: if her 3rd delivery with me likewise goes wrong, I will stop breeding her.

In retrospect, I made 1 big mistake; that limp kid needed to be moved, rubbed, touched, and compressed.  In the future, if I have an apparent still-born again, I will work its body and try to get its heart started.  I have a strong suspicion that Ruma’s final contractions brought it to life.

 

– – –

 

1 week old and exploring the world

That means 5 kids is the 2022 tally!  All healthy and robust, now 1 month old and romping the barnyard with goaty vigor.  I am fond of lying down while they’re out playing- the  moment one spots me on the ground, they all come thundering on tiny hooves to dance on my back!  I consider this good trust building with goats.  Only their mothers will tolerate them jumping and climbing, so offering tolerance and vulnerability to them and remaining calm opens up the doors to a new kind of exchange and relationship in their little goat-minds as they form goat-opinions about the world around them.

In another month or two I will begin placing these beautiful little being into new homes.  They will all hopefully spend long, fit lives as packers, milkers, and/or breeders.

 

– – –

 

The herd heading out into the meadow to graze

With every passing year, as I maintain my adult animals and help bring new young ones into the world, I reflect on my relative success.  I do not give any injections, medications, or supplements and I never have.  The goats eat hay and fresh forage, with free-choice mineral offerings.  I keep the animals in as clean and spacious quarters as I can. I offer them as much ability to roam and forage as is possible.  Chemicals are little to no part of their world (or mine!).

I see the prevalence of illness  and death on so many (most, if not all) farms I’ve visited. I clearly see a difference in the vitality of livestock being raised “conventionally” (medications, strict regimens, and ‘scientifically formulated’ feeds) and what I’ve experienced in my own animals over the last 11 years. I have never really had to deal with lack-luster livestock, poor vitality, or any real illnesses or diseases. Losing livestock is a miserable experience, and it’s a huge shame that so many people experience it so much even when they’re doing everything “right”, as far as our culture is concerned.

I’m sure sooner or later, one way or another, my turn will come.  But for now, as far as I see it, the proof is in the pudding.  These critters are happy and healthy and have remained so as long as they’ve been in my care.  I will  always strive to keep it that way!

Leave a Reply