Friday night when we went up to feed, everything was normal. One Stripe came into the barn and got up on the milk stand to eat. Saturday morning, she came into the barn, put her front feet up on the blocks to get on the milk stand, then just stopped and looked at me. She obviously wanted to eat, but wouldn't attempt to go any further. After a little coaxing, I realized something was up, but I figured she was just getting too heavy, so I put her feed in a bowl on the floor and she ate just fine. But, after I turned her out I realized her walk had changed. She didn't go far before stopping and it appeared that one of the babies had moved back to the point One Stripe almost had to swing her back legs out and around the baby just to take a step. It now took her much longer just to go out to the pasture, with many stops, and she no longer kept up with the herd. I hoped this wasn't an indication of pre-delivery problems.
After watching her for a bit, I radioed Frank to tell him we needed to get the birthing pens set up and ready, that we might be having babies today (Saturday) instead of Tuesday like predicted. So, we got in gear, cleaned out the barn and got everything set up. We put hay in the back of the pens, so the does wouldn't stick their heads through to eat it, washed out the water buckets and checked the tote with the birthing supplies one more time. Then I went out in the pasture to bring in the girls. It took One Stripe about 10 minutes, with many stops, to walk the distance she usually covers in less than a minute. She didn't appear to be sick or stressed accept that she didn't take too many steps before pausing for a break, some longer than others.
When we got to the barn and I opened the gate to her birthing pen, she just walked right in, right at home. This has been her routine for the last six years, so she knows what is going on and is very comfortable there. That is very nice. No stress for her, no having to make her go in, no hollering for the other goats, just peaceful readiness for babies. By the way, the other does that fought tooth and nail against going in and bellowed from the time they were put in, have gone on to other pastures. That is part of the way we maintain a calm, peaceful, easy-to-handle herd. It is part of breeding in the characteristics of what we want in a goat, or cat, or dog, or chicken. We only keep those animals that meet our requirements, and One Stripe is an excellent example of a great goat.
Saturday night came and went with no babies, which was good. That would be day number 147 in my books, and just too early. Then came Sunday, day number 148. After her breakfast, I let One Stripe out of the pen for a bit, and pulled up a chair. She didn't go far at all, just across the barn and back. I could tell by how hollow her hips and tailbone were, along with a very small amount of discharge, that this would be the day for babies. But since it was only day number 148, I wondered if she would have triplets. It also occurred to me that if I had caught her breeding activity at the end of her 24 hour standing heat cycle, that my estimation could be about 24 hours off, which would put her at 149 days, but still a day early. The other factor is One Stripe's age. She will be seven in May, which is older for a breeding, producing doe. Most folks would have already sold her off as an older doe. But, for those of you that haven't read about my plans for One Stripe already, she will be staying here all the days of her life. She is one of those special goats that is calm and gentle, a great mom, a good milker, and has stole my heart. I can't claim that with any of the others, but I can with her. So, here she stays, all of her days.
One Stripe was nice enough to have her babies in the middle of the afternoon, on a sunny, 75* February day. It was short sleeve weather with no worries about cold babies, a picture perfect day. We have two friends that are interested in goats and the birthing process that I contacted when I knew for sure we had babies coming. Faith [a pseudonym] arrived in time to see the second baby born. She is hoping to buy Penny after her kids are born and I train her to milk, so she is wanting all the firsthand experiences she can get under her belt before she takes her first goat home. After the kids were born Grace [another pseudonym] and her husband came over to see them. So we ended up with a barn full of talking a laughter. Another plus on this fine February day. Plus, Frank and I got to share some of our experience and knowledge which we always enjoy. One Stripe had no difficulty birthing at all. Just like always. She started 'talking' to her stomach after a while, like she was telling the babies to hurry up and come out. That made me laugh.
Patch was born first in the classic, front feet, nose, head position. In less than two hours, Patch was trying to jump around, like baby goats do. But then she would fall over, making me laugh. That is when Grace told me that Frank and I have a great life. She is right. It is a great life, and we are very blessed. Patch is a very active, vigorous baby girl, with beautiful dark brown ears, which Frank likes. We may just have to keep her.
Breakfast, yes, we named her brother breakfast because that is what he will be, was born back feet first. When the amniotic sack appeared and stayed unbroken, I thought something looked odd and kept trying to see if the head was following the feet. It didn't take long for him to be born, and my only concern was that final push or two when most of his body was out, but his head was not. I wanted to make sure he was out and able to breathe well. But he came out fine and all was well.
When the kids are born, if I get to be there, I swipe the mucous from their mouths so they can start coughing and breathing well. Depending on the temperature, I may dry them off some with a towel. Since the weather was so nice yesterday, I didn't dry them, but left them to their mother's attention. Another huge benefit of having tame, easy to handle animals is that they don't mind having you in the birthing pen with them when the time comes. We have had does that ran to the back of the pen like cornered animals, or does that tried to ram and run out of the gate when I went in, especially first fresheners. We did not keep them. It makes it much harder to help the kids if they need it or make sure they are nursing. It also makes for wilder kids that are difficult to handle as well.
It wasn't long before both kids were dry and fed. We clipped their umbilical cords and applied a strong 7% iodine to cauterize and sterilize them. While all of this was going on, Faith described markings on the first baby, a girl, and said something like, "That white square looks like a patch. That would make a good name." And it stuck. So, meet Patch.
Upon discovering the second kid was a boy, Frank said to Faith, "His name is Breakfast." We have a running joke that all bucks born here have the name of Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. Some folks think that's funny and some don't, but all males born here are destined to be meat for our table, unless by chance, someone comes by that needs a new billy goat. But that doesn't happen very often. We had chevron patties for supper last night, but it wasn't Breakfast. It tastes great.
|Faith and Patch|
I milked out about a quart of colostrum from One Stripe last night. It makes it easier for the babies to nurse, and begins the stimulation for One Stripe to produce more milk. This morning I brought her in on the milk stand to eat. It gives her some movement, lets her eat in a normal location, and makes it much easier for me to milk her, sitting in a chair instead of kneeling in a crowded birthing pen.
|Copper with her ears out|
It was a great day. Easy birth, great weather, good company and beautiful babies. It doesn't always go that way, and since One Stripe aborted last year, she had many prayers for a successful pregnancy this year. Now, to wait a few more days for Copper to kid. Yesterday afternoon as she lay out in the corral, I noticed her ears were out. That is usually a sign of listening, but at this stage, it is also a sign of discomfort. According to my records she will reach 150 days on Wednesday, two days from now. But we watched her closely because we have had does go into labor right after another one gave birth. Something about the sight, sounds and smells of birth can bring on labor in another animal that is close to her due date. For the farmer it can mean turning around to help another goat for a few hours, just when you thought you were finished for the day. We had that happen once about 10:30 at night. Just finishing up and making sure babies and mother were all settled and doing well, only to realize the goat in the next pen was laying down pushing. That was a long night indeed.
|One Stripe is doing great this morning.|
This morning Copper hasn't shown any signs of birthing. But the day is young, we will see what it brings. Today is forecast to be sunny, 65* and light winds. Another great day to have more baby goats. But then, for me, just about any day is another great day to have baby goats.
|Good morning, Breakfast.|
|Good morning, Patch.|
We look forward to having some fresh milk in a few days. We will wait until Friday to start keeping the milk for ourselves. In the meantime, I will be milking One Stripe, and Copper after she kids, twice a day. This milk will go to the chickens, cats and dog. Later on when Cricket, Lady Bug and Penny birth and I am training them to be milkers, we hope to have some pigs that can benefit from some extra milk as well. By then the garden will be half planted and spring will be well on the way. The seasons change, and this time of year brings new life on the homestead and blessings to our lives.
Until next time - Fern