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!
What a lapse in blogging! The days have been flying by, even by winter weather standards. I think most of us in the northeast can agree that this has been the winter of ice, which was definitely not an easy-to-handle one. Each snow storm we had ended in rain and sleet, and the buildup of ice in all the areas where the shade predominates has been epic.
And so we enter the in-between time of icemud. Not yet mud season, but mud mixed with layers of ice… and everything re-freezes at night. Gotta love it because there is nothing to do about it! I am enjoying these 40F days, though, and afternoon chores are my favorite time of day. The sun is high and warm, and even the unrelenting wind has not spoiled how nice it feels to be outside.
On the goat front, we are just 3 weeks away from our first babies! Eleganza is our Number 1 this year, and is due on April 9th. The other two are due a week later. Our first-timer, Twig, has begun to have a nice little udder, so even though she does not look incredibly pregnant, she is chugging along well.
And so it goes! Spring is not a season that we really have here in Maine, but the trees have buds on them and the overnight temperatures are in the upper 20s and low 30s, which is delightful. Maple trees are tapped and syrup is flowing well. And Daylight Saving time is here, which always makes my day :*)
(I am a few days behind in blog posts. I keep starting them and running out of time to finish them. I should have posted this yesterday, Wednesday!)
And I am grateful for that! Eleganza had her two bucklings about noon time yesterday, which was very considerate of her! She was in the old greenhouse, which the boys and Jingle share with the girls (galvanized panels keeping the two groups separate). Jingle always has her eye out for what’s going on, and while I was having lunch, we heard her out there making a donkey racket, and knew just what had happened. She has given us the call for all the girls who have given birth in that greenhouse. What a good town crier :*) So even though I never got my little cameras installed, we have had a lot of information without ever seeing exactly what was going on!
And so we finally have Guernsey bucklings! Two beautiful boys, both weighing in at 8.3 and 8.4 lbs respectively. Eleganza made it look very easy, and they are all doing well. It was 50F around sunset last night and then the wind came up and the temperatures plummeted, so I put them in the woolly coats that my friend had made and given to us last year. I have my fingers crossed for warmer weather, but it sounds like we may have to wait until next Wednesday for temperatures near 50F. Ah well, when the sun is out, everyone enjoys it no matter what the thermometer says, even today when the wind was gusting.
Now we just have to make sure these little explorers don’t get up to too much trouble!
Both beautiful, both does. They were born on Saturday morning. Very nice of all the does to do these things during daylight hours! The reason I have not gotten around to telling Saffron’s story is that she is not making much milk, and we have been very busy trying to help her out, and also had to begin supplementing her babies with bottles. Everyone had very good feed all through the winter, and I am still not sure why Saffron is not producing much milk. She seemed to have quite a bit of colostrum on Saturday, but by Sunday morning her udder was deflating and it was obvious that the girls needed to be on the bottle while we figure this out.
Luckily, I am milking Battie (she who lost her bucklings), and I am also milking one of Pippi’s udder halves because her babies both favor one side, leaving the other to fill up to epic proportions. So I do have enough milk to feed these little girls, thankfully, and because they are so bonded with their mama (and she is a fantastic mother), I don’t have to have house goat babies this year. Yay! Feeding them out in the greenhouse is much nicer than having to deal with house goats (no slight to Peanut here!). And to give mama’s udder a break, we are penning the girls separately from early in the morning until the last bottle at night, and then letting them stay with her overnight. It got very cold last night after the torrential rains we had yesterday, so they are both coated and snuggling with Saffron at night.
This kidding season has been a strange one. I am working with a vet to get a handle on Saffron’s problem, but it may just come down to her nutrition. They have been eating second cut hay all winter, and their grain rations have been very balanced. I usually add alfalfa pellets sometime early in February, and this year I did not. If that is what tilted this balance, I just don’t know. All the other does are fine and making loads of milk. I hope we can get to the bottom of it, but it feels like one of those things where you never get a definitive answer.
We are finally having some milder days, and the snow is disappearing nicely. Not fast enough, but that’s ok!
Yesterday we let Pippi and her babies out into the general population, and the babies are loving it. Pippi is on high alert for any other goat who might be thinking about going near her babies, and she is driving us nuts with her attacks on the others with no provocation. She really needs to take a chill pill, for sure. The interesting thing about her babies is that they keep going back into the pen they were in, and sleeping under the feeder. We have made that pen the “creep” for the babies, which means that moms can’t get in, but the babies can (and Peanut, apparently!).
Tomorrow Edna and her babies will be let out of their jug, as soon as the rain that is forecast is over. On Saturday we are taking the babies to be disbudded. Ouch.
Definitely got Saffron’s date of breeding incorrect, so she and Eleganza are still hanging in there. I am just hoping that Pippi doesn’t pop either of them too hard in her frenzy to keep her babies “safe.” It’s always something.
Pippi, our herd queen, is really on a roll. She and her babies have the biggest, most luxuious jug in the greenhouse, but she spends her time patrolling the borders of her little kingdom, warning away all callers. And not just an idle goat peeking over the green panels, no, if anyone, human or goat, should so much as gaze nonchalantly in her direction, she does this:
Poor Edna is in the next jug and her hay feeder is close to the panel that comes between her area and Pippi’s. I don’t think Pippi is going to get much breakfast eaten if she keeps this up. It’s extra funny, too, because Edna doesn’t even blink. She just keeps on eating her hay, totally ignoring the loudest goat on the block. Yay for Edna!
Yesterday was a rather exciting day all around! The windchill made even the sunny morning feel well below freezing and it remained like that for most of the day.
Our original Guernsey buck, Reddog, has finally found a new home! I have been advertising him sporadically, but most of us do not think about adding a new herd sire so early in the year. We are all busy lambing and kidding! But, someone was interested in our boy, and yesterday we said goodbye to Reddog, and hello to Edna’s twin doelings :*)
Edna was the only doe on which I did not have any kind of a breeding sighting, and she is such a quiet, unobtrusive sort that I had to keep reminding myself to check on her. Other than her udder slowly growing and slackness around the tail ligaments, nothing. (Pippi’s tail ligaments were totally mush at least a week before she had her kids, if not more). So it was a surprise when we heard Jingle the donkey making a big, noisy fuss up in the greenhouse yesterday morning. Sam went to check on the ruckus, and texted me that Edna had had her babies, and both were up and looking for breakfast. They are the sweetest, calmest little ones I have ever seen. Both in the 6+ pound range. The wind would not let up yesterday, so we finally decided to put little coats on the girls to get them through the night. Once their bellies were full, I was happier about things all around.
And so now we are three down and only two to go. Saffron, who was due on Saturday, is not showing any imminent signs of labor, and Eleganza’s due date is still a week away. So we shall have to just wait and see what happens. At least after tonight the weather is going to be warming up considerably, thank goodness.
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