When waiting for the babies to arrive, I always think longingly of when I can start getting more sleep, and of when the order and organization of the day can get back to a new normal. I don’t know why I am so surprised when that doesn’t happen like the flip of a light switch! And this year is not going to pass without a bump in the road, either.
Saffron had a very tough time last year when I thought she had toxemia or milk fever after her babies were born and it turned out to be mastitis. She mothered her babies but had almost no milk for quite a long time. We bottle fed those girls and they did fine in the end, though. I have been watching her very closely for signs of mastitis this year, and unfortunately, she has it again. Although this year I didn’t waste time treating her for other things and just got right to the antibiotics, vitamin B, and udder massages. Her babies are only drinking from the right half of her udder (which runs out of milk pretty quickly), and the left side keeps getting bigger and bigger, and they can’t get on the distended teat. I can get the girls on that side after I milk some of it out, but once I am back in the house I don’t think they touch it at all. It also seems to be a little tender for Saffron, and that could be part of it. And so my new normal has been making many trips a day and into the evening to milk her left side and also to get the girls on that side of the udder.
The biggest difference this year is that Saffron does not appear to feel sick like she did last year, which is a huge relief. She has been very much herself, and never stopped eating her grain and hay. I have had her and the two sweet little girls in a nice large pen in the back of the greenhouse where they are surrounded by everyone else, but I know that is quite restrictive and I was as ready as Saffron for them to be released. Her girls gained a pound since yesterday and are really full of beans, so after the worst of the rain today, I let them out into the big paddock world. (The girls had not been gaining as well as they should have, although they have fared better than I expected).
Oh my gosh, those girls did not hesitate a moment! They began running and jumping with all the rest of the little ones, and mama Saffron was standing in the middle of the action trying to keep them in her sights, calling to them the whole time. They didn’t stray too far, but they are fast little imps and took great advantage of their new freedom.
If we could just get a nice stretch of weather at some point, they will really be tearing up the place and enjoying the days. Nothing better than sitting with the girls on the rock pile, watching the action in the sun. And in the meantime I will ponder whether Saffron should ever be bred again. And so it goes on the farm.
And so our last but not least girl, our herd queen Saffron, had her kids Thursday morning around 8 a.m. It was a warm day, cloudy and a little breezy, but really pretty perfect all around!
Wednesday night as I was doing my midnight rounds, I found Saffron up in the paddock whining and crying, very softly. I was a little alarmed, and couldn’t tell if she was talking to her babies and encouraging them to make an entrance already, or if she was upset at being alone up there! The two other moms were in their jugs with their babies, and Peanut unfortunately doesn’t count as a real goat with the rest of the crowd, so for all intents and purposes, Saffron found herself on her own. It was quite unusual, watching her walking slowly around the paddock under that bright moonlit sky. She definitely had no signs of active labor, so I went in and got into bed but didn’t turn the light out so I would get up in another hour or two and check on her again. Same thing going on at 2 a.m. as well!
John checked on them around 4 and 6 a.m., so I headed up to chores about 7:30 on Thursday morning. It was already comfortably warm, and Saffron was still doing the same thing. Talking, crying and walking around! She didn’t show any signs of wanting breakfast, though, so I knew she must be getting close. And sure enough, while I sat in the greenhouse with the babies and moms, I was able to watch her on the little hill, pop that first doeling out. She made quick work of getting that little girl dried off, and nursing, then her second doeling made her entrance a little under a half hour later. I left them where they were for as long as I could, but the breeze was a little stiff and I didn’t want those babies to get chilled. As I was carrying the doelings slowly toward the greenhouse, Saffron was frantically licking them both, and ended up washing my arms into the bargain! She is such a good mama.
And so our kidding year is closed now. I am very grateful, and getting more sleep is a very good thing. I am still sitting up around midnight wondering why I am awake, though!
It’s been a busy few days! All of our girls have now delivered their babies, just in time to avoid the rain that is coming in this afternoon. (Actually, I think it is already drizzling).
Yesterday I came and went over and over again up to the paddock, and around 1:30 I decided to take the lawn chair to just outside the girl’s greenhouse, and relax for a few minutes. The sun was warm, and there was a breeze, but not a bad one. I closed my eyes, and then realized I was hearing two things: Eleganza, who was in the greenhouse penned with her babies, was calling to Twig, her 2 year old daughter, who was outside in labor, grunting. Oh my! That goes to show that you are never finished with being a mom! It was so sweet. Twig grunted and growled, and Eleganza called.
Twig was doing really well, and didn’t even get up to get that first baby out, a little doe. What a cutie she is, very spunky at a minute or so old! I didn’t have to guess her sex, as after only a moment, she squatted to pee! That is something I have never seen before. Twig is showing herself to be as good a mother as Eleganza; she had that baby cleaned up and on her feet in record time. As the afternoon wore on, however, I realized her next baby in line was having issues. He had his head tilted up and back, and one leg was all the way forward and out, while the other was all the way back. I don’t think I have had to help any goat births in about 10 years, and here we had two situations in two days that needed a little push. You just never know!
As soon as I got the little guy’s head down and out the back door, she didn’t have any problem getting him out. He’s another beautiful red buck, with a little white blaze on the top of his head. They are both very active babies and are doing well.
And so it goes! 4 babies down. I’ll tell you about Saffron a little later!
Is always so precious and wonderful. We finally have had our first babies of the season! Eleganza, our beautiful Guernsey girl, went into labor this afternoon. I wasn’t there for the very beginning, but when I went out around 2 PM, I knew that she had not just begun her labor. She is a real trooper, and last year had two 8.5 lb bucklings without any help from us. This time seemed to be a bit different.
Goats and sheep usually deliver their babies in an intact sac filled with amniotic fluid. You can usually see the head resting on the two front legs, as they come to meet us as though they are diving into a pool. This one was no exception, nothing wrong about his presentation, but there was something wrong with her ability to get him delivered. This poor little/big fellow was coming out and going back in, which is not unusual, but our girl Eleganza was not making any progress. I don’t tend to interfere with a birth if it looks normal, but after almost an hour, as she began to lose steam, I waited for my chance and helped the little bugger along as she was having a contraction. He is a very big boy, over 9 lbs, and I am glad I did help him out as he had been so stressed that he was passing a lot of meconium poops into his amniotic sac. And so we have our first baby of the season!
And then his brother made an appearance an hour later, just as I like to see it, so that the first could have all his mother’s attention for a bit before having to take care of the second baby. Our little guy was up and nursing before I knew it, and the second large buckling was born with no help from me, thank goodness. The darker red buck is actually the second born, and the smaller of the two, although he looks bigger because of the camera angles.
I love it when we have babies in the daytime! And no, we still have no spring peepers!
We have had some lovely weather in the 50s (F), and now today it is sleeting and snowing and blowing, but isn’t too very cold at least. Just what I want with one of the does due to kid tomorrow! I hope she waits until tomorrow, but compared to some of the years we have kidded and lambed, I can’t really complain too hard about the temperatures. We have historically lambed and kidded in early March. Brr.
Our Eleganza is the one up for tomorrow, and our Saffron due a week from today. Both are experienced and wonderful mothers. Twig, our two year old first time mom, is due next Tuesday. All in all, a nice tight cluster of sleepless nights and early mornings. Not too bad, really! In looking back on the two older does, they have both kidded every year during the daytime. I would be very grateful if that trend continues!
We have also been enjoying our local wild turkey population immensely. Our house is on a mostly wooded site, with a beaver pond down back just barely visible through the trees. And so our yard is a heavily travelled turkey route, which currently includes the back of the house at our bird feeder. There are two or three fairly large toms that are traveling with a large group of females and a few jakes (young toms), as it is the mating season. We have been treated to a daily show under the feeder by the tom. His harem, however, doesn’t even give him a glance! They are busy eating the fallen seed and the little chunks of stale bread I throw out there, and as they move on, the tom moves with them – after he has put on quite a show! I think when he is showing off he looks like a wind-up toy.
And now I think I will be off to check on our expectant mamas again!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!