Our Kids and Kid
If at all possible - we're present for every birth. Once Mom gets to give a quick lick, the kids are removed, given their mother's colostrum, and from then on hand-raised with raw goat's milk - the same wonderful liquid we like to drink ourselves. They're exposed to grain and hay as well. As soon as the kids are tattooed and disbudded (removing horns), they're able to go to their new homes. This is at 7-10 days of age.
Our herd is tested annually for
CAE and Johnes disease to maintain a negative herd. We used to test for CL and
have never had an abscess - but after studying the issue, we've decided to
vaccinate for CL as a preventative measure. On a rotating basis, and as a cross-check,
we test for brucellosis, Q fever, etc. because our herd is managed where these
are very low-risk diseases. New animals are tested before arriving. We also
vaccinate for CD/T.
Our herd is G6S Normal with the exception of Atlas, who is waiting for testing. We tested our entire herd in 2012 and are relieved to know none of our does carry this genetic defect.
Our kids are handled multiple
times a day. With bottle feeding - it's easy to learn individual personalities.
We pride ourselves on raising kids with good temperaments and winning
All kids are eligible for ADGA registration and papers are available.
2017 kids will arrive April 3-17th, with Mony and Millie in late May or
June. I have several people on the waiting list, so please contact me if you're
I don't take deposits for kids, but if you're interested, I will be happy to put you on a waiting list and notify you when the kids are born. Let me know why you want a goat (for milk, show, etc. and I'll help match you with the baby who meets your needs. Doelings start at $325. Bucklings start at $350. Wethers start at $50. Most of the does already have their milk star, so their daughters are eligible for a second star if you decide to test.
Remember - goats are herd animals. You really need two or more for happy goats OR have some other animals to be part of their herd. A single goat is an unhappy goat and unhappy goats make their owners unhappy, too. If you would like to purchase a wether as a companion for a 4-H doeling, we should have some available, depending on which bucklings are selected for herd sires.
Newborn Cherry Sundae doeling stands up in her large tote to watch for the milk maid.
It may look obvious to the camera, but she was hiding well.
What's a kidding diary? It's the story of how the kids arrived, and some of the steps we went through to get them here. I've enjoyed reading those diaries from other herds, and hope there's something here that may possibly help you. Just when you think you've got these goats figured out - they'll surprise you!
April 19 – Star is slow to come to the milk stand this morning. She got more probiotics and is still on penicillin. She ate forage all day, especially grass hay. By evening she was eager to get on the stand, but didn’t eat. So she gets more Magic and Vitamin B.
I disbudded the Dimples and Shekel bucklings. It was none too soon for these guys. The Dimples doeling (Liberty) is just not quite ready. The Rupee doeling still doesn’t have much for horns, either.
The large Dimples buck has one ear that folds funny. I tried the cardboard and tape; this time using duct tape. It only lasted a few hours, but appears to have straightened that ear. Guess I need to try taping ears on the Rupee daughter one more time.
Love that feeder bucket! Six nipples make feeding quick and efficient.
Clean-up's a breeze!
April 18 – We had a half inch of welcome rain overnight. Star refused to eat her beer-soaked oats this morning, so she got more Magic. She did go out to the corral to eat hay and stood up a lot. That’s an improvement. Some days she barely wants to leave the barn and crawls on her knees instead of standing. I’ve trimmed her hooves and feet again and again, so I don’t think the laminitis is an issue. She’s eager to come to the milk stand and holds her head up and is alert. I just need to find the magic formula to get some calories down her.
The big kids played outside for 3 hours today. Up and down and around the tarped hay and straw piles. Then they discovered the big dirt pile and climbed and slid down the wet, sandy mass while I cleaned their stall and the kidding pen. I left them out while coming to the house to feed the younger kids. 30 minutes later I found the older kids in the barn in their freshly strawed stall fast asleep. They put themselves to bed!
This concludes our spring kidding season. I didn’t intend to write so much or to go past the birth stories, but things happen. All this information is contained in my daily barn calendar. I find I tend to forget details unless I write them down, so I constantly make notes about medications, births, breedings, etc. Two minutes a day gives me quite a record to go back and review if there’s a problem.
Since I’ve still got more disbudding, tattooing and the ongoing issue with Star happening, I’ve decide to keep the diary going. At this point, it may become a blog. Hope you’ve enjoyed this journey.
April 17 – This is Shekel’s due date, but since none of the does have kidded on their actual date (Mine usually do.), I’m not holding my breath. She’s having contractions and constantly changing positions. Her udder is filling more each hour.
A friend suggested giving Star beer as a means of giving her calories. This friend owns a half-sister to Star who went through something similar last year, so I get out the drench gun and open a can. Star guzzles it down. I put her out to graze and offer some sweet potato skins which also meet with approval. She sniffs the alfalfa, but digs into some old grass hay which is poor quality, but at least it’s something. She’s getting probiotics and I gave her Banamine just because it looked like she was hurting. In the evening I poured a can of beer into a feed bowl, then added whole oats until it was the same level as the beer. That soaked an hour. I offered it to Star. She sniffed, licked and then proceeded to eat the entire quart of oats, plus a little more grain. Hope this continues.
By noon Shekel looks to be making progress. At 2:30 PM Stuart has to go to town for a meeting. At 2:45 PM I see a bubble coming out and call Annette to help just in case. Shekel is so huge that everyone except me is predicting quads. I glove up, lube up and check. There’s a nose on a large head and toes under the chin. I get the legs straightened out about the time Annette arrives. The 8.6# black and white buckling is born at 2:50 PM. Shekel is willing to clean him off and rests a few minutes while Annette and I marvel at the miracle of birth. It never gets old. All of a sudden Shekel groans. I reach in and find a second kid in the same position as the first. I straighten the legs, but she’s tight and the head doesn’t want to come out. I massage her to get things opened out and suddenly – out comes a big brown head. This buckling is nearly solid brown and weighs 10.2#. Shekel cleans him off, drinks her molasses water, jumps on the milk stand to let me get the colostrum and dives into her feed trough. Just because she is so big, I do one more invasion to check, but no babies. By 6:00 PM she’s cleaned and ready for a good night’s sleep.
So how big are these babies? They’re so big that I could disbud them right now!
April 16 – Easter – People always ask what we’re doing for Easter. They seem to think you take time off for holidays, but when you’re feeding kids four times a day taking an hour each time, plus milking twice a day, it doesn’t leave time for much celebrating. I do make a ham dinner, but it’s all things I can do between feedings and while watching the barn cam. If Shekel goes into action, the oven gets turned off.
We had a high of 56 degrees, but there was a cold north wind. Dimples’ kids got outside for a few minutes but it was simply too cold.
Star is getting extremely thin. I tried feeding her moistened beet pulp, but she refused. I can’t find any grain she’ll eat and she’s not eating much alfalfa. She’s still getting penicillin and today I gave her 60 cc of Magic – a special corn syrup, corn oil and molasses solution. It at least gives her energy. I put her out to graze on the little bit of fresh grass we have. I’m very worried and pour through vet books looking for ideas.
April 15 – No kids from Shekel, who is alert and asking to go outside with the herd. She gets a little fresh air but light rain showers and swirling winds soon drive the does back into the barn.
Star is still off-feed and just not herself. I offer her milk, just in case, but she declines. (I’ve had does in the past who really enjoyed fresh goat’s milk when they needed calcium.) I decide to put her on a course of penicillin in case there’s an internal infection. She also gets more Vitamin B. Rupee’s buckling is still not himself, so I dose him with Vitamin B, too. In a few hours, he’s acting much more normal.
Dimples’ kids have raspy breathing. Perhaps yesterday’s excitement was too much. I give them penicillin as well. They’re still eating well, but I decide to leave them in the house rather than mixing them with the older kids. The smallest buck is eating as much or more than his larger siblings. While I have these on the front lawn feeding them, Star’s black doeling came up, looked in the bucket holding bottles that also had warm water and took a big drink. Guess they’re ready for a water bucket in their pen. They’ve been eating alfalfa and grass several days.
Governor Burgum signed the Food Freedom Act yesterday, so signatures and government documents are on my mind. When I think of big signatures, I always think of John Hancock, so that’s the name of Dimples’ big buckling. That brings to mind other symbols of liberty, so the doeling will be known as Liberty Belle. For the feisty smaller buckling – I think Freedom Rocks fits him. Rocky seems to approve. (Or perhaps he just looked up when he noticed me holding the bottle. LOL)!
Milk production for Cherry, Rupee and Dimples has come on strong. Today Dimples actually produced more than Cherry, who has been my strongest milker. At two days fresh, Dimples has already out produced her best day last year (8.7# today). I’m really excited to see how far she’ll go. She’s got an absolutely beautiful udder and is such a sweetheart that she’s fun to milk. Sometimes she’ll turn her head to give me kisses while she’s on the milk stand.
April 14 – Rupee’s buckling is quiet this morning, but came to eat. Rupee’s udder is soft and nearly normal. But Star isn’t eating and Dimples is moving very slowly. Those two got Banamine and 6 cc of Vitamin B complex orally. (I’ve been told if you give Vit B orally, any excess simply flows out through their system without harm, since Vit B is something the rumen normally produces.) Dimples got her feet trimmed.
Meanwhile, Shekel, who isn’t due for several days, seems to be having contractions early in the afternoon. She’s in the freshly cleaned kidding stall.
Today all but one the older doelings were disbudded. Their horns were smaller than on the bucklings and things went well. Rupee’s little black doe simply doesn’t have enough horn to do.
We had a high of 72 degrees. The older kids spent a lot of time outside the barn in the sunshine. Dimples’ triplets got out to the front lawn where I could keep watch while I disbudded. I didn’t think they’d go far. Between doing one doeling and another I realized that one of the triplets was missing. I finished the disbudding and started looking. I kept thinking the doeling must be under a large spruce tree and looked around, even lifting up branches. I crawled under vehicles and searched for an hour. Still no baby doe.
I thought at times I’d heard her cry, but couldn’t decide if it was her or the older kids, so they got put into the barn. After 90 minutes I finally heard something coming from the large spruce. I crawled under and there she was, a little brown doeling curled up next to the trunk of the tree. What a relief! But now it’s past time to feed her and her brothers, then get to the barn to milk and feed the rest.
Milking time and Shekel is moaning and contracting. She stands, she kneels, she lies down. She’ll barely nibble sweet feed and hasn’t had any water recently, so I’m thinking she’s close. I’ve got over an hour’s worth of chores and Stuart’s still 45 minutes or so away. I can see me getting a doe half-milked and having Shekel decide to deliver. I can’t watch her and milk at the same time, so call my dear neighbor Annette who drops everything to come play midwife. With Annette there to watch Shekel – or to finish milking and feeding if need be – I can do chores with some confidence. After nearly losing a baby under a tree, I want the extra help on hand. Of course, this means Shekel moans and groans and sucks up the attention, but doesn’t deliver. I leave the barn. 30 minutes later on the goat cam I see she’s up, relaxed, eating hay and has emptied her water bucket. I’m guessing there won’t be new kids tonight, but set the alarm for every two hours to check. There’s no sleep for a goat owner during kidding.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a vet, nor do I have any veterinary training other than practical experience, discussions with veterinarians and goat owners and my knowledge of my goats and how they react. When I talk about medications or procedures, I’m speaking as a private person and not as a trained professional.
I believe it’s important to have a good relationship with a knowledgeable vet that understands you and your operation. Part of that relationship is making sure you pay them on time! All vets are not created equal, nor are they infallible. Find a vet that fits your operation and become a partner. It took several years before I found a good goat vet clinic with two wonderful vets, plus techs. I’m blessed to have that partnership.
When I talk about the opinions that my vet or mentor have given me, I’m relaying what I understand about their opinion. It’s not a direct quote and shouldn’t be taken as much.
April 13 – Dimples didn’t want to leave the barn this morning. She’s been moaning and shifting position dramatically. I allowed her to remain in the back stall while I cleaned the kidding stall and kid stall and set a fan to drying the floor. It’s a nice, warm day.
Disbudding Bucklings - While the stalls are drying, I decide to disbud the bucklings. I’ve put it off at least a day longer than I should have. I normally do bucklings between 5-7 days of age and doelings between 7-10. It depends on the kid. If I can clearly feel the horn bud it’s time. The younger kids seem to handle the procedure best.
The kids each get a small dose (0.2 cc Banamine) on their tongue at least 30 minutes prior to the procedure. I plug in the disbudder and balance it on a concrete block. I disbud in the garage where it’s away from anything flammable like wood or straw. I have a metal milking stool and sit on that, holding the kid in my lap. I keep a screwdriver and BluKote handy. I also have a bottle of lukewarm milk so the kid gets a treat at the end. I keep the door shut so I don’t have a cat or dog accidentally get mixed up with the disbudder.
While I don’t like having to disbud, I don’t want to deal with horned animals. Over the years, I’ve gotten fairly good at this. A really hot disbudder and working with determination and firmness makes a huge difference. Each kid is a little different, but I love it when I disbud a kid, turn them loose and have them run over and starting butting heads with their friends in just a few minutes. That tells me the procedure isn’t nearly as painful and damaging as you might think.
I used to trim the hair off the horn buds, but have started skipping that step. I find burning hair is one of the worst smells in the world, but the kids get irritated by clipping and I think the hair around the bud helps protect the rest of the scalp from burns.
I put the kid on my left thigh, with the hind legs dangling and the front legs held between my thighs. I hold the ears back and position the head between my knees – careful not to block the airway. I take a deep breath and down goes the disbudder on the right horn bud; straight down for a couple of seconds and then I twist back and forth. The head is not perfectly shaped, so when you twist, you help insure you get a complete ring coverage. After a few seconds I lift up and immediately do the left side. Then I pull back, blow on the buds and see if I can blow or push away the hair and skin. If not, I repeat. Usually that skin and hair come off.
Then the disbudder goes down again as firmly as I can and twist, twist, twist. Many times on the internet you read to burn to the copper ring. That’s just not enough in my experience. You need to go further until you actually get a cap of horn to come loose. If that sounds weird, watch the procedure once and it will make sense. Often you’ll see that the cap starts to lift, but is stuck on one side. I put the disbudder at an angle to hit the stuck point one more time. Then the disbudder is set aside and I use the screwdriver to lift the cap and toss it away.
If you stop now – you will have scurs (little horns). So I do one more straight burn with a twist, twist, twist and perhaps a little more pressure on the last area that didn’t want to release the cap. Then I burn the very center of the burn with the edge of the disbudder. Sometimes you’ll get a bit of blood with this step, so use the disbudder to cauterize.
We’re almost done. The disbudder is set aside and I blow on the kid’s head and talk calmingly. I spray BluKote on the burned area. BluKota cools and protects the wound. Then baby gets cuddled and I offer a bottle. Note: Kids at this stage don’t want hot or even very warm milk. This is one time they’ll easily drink lukewarm or even cool milk. Then baby gets returned to the other kids.
By noon I’ve rebedded the kidding stall and Dimples is trying to get comfortable. I head to the house for lunch at 1 PM and watch Dimples on goat cam. She is just two years old and stuffed full of kids. Last year as she had triplets with the first two coming backwards and upside down, so I expect that I’ll need to help.
By 1:30 PM Dimples is having hard contractions. She’s up and down and stretching. At 4:20 PM, with no visible progress, wash her vulva, then glove up, lube up and check. She’s starting to open, but there’s no kids close. I rub her back, applying acupressure to her spine and leave to keep watch via goat cam.
Thirty minutes later, the contractions are getting closer together. I grab the kid bucket and head to the barn; calling out to Stuart to join me. She’s lying on one side so I glove up and lube up just as Stuart arrives. Dimples is braced against one wall of the stall, so I have Stuart stand so she can push her legs against him. I reach in. There’s a leg and a butt, but where’s the other leg? I quickly do a mental review of all the ways a kid can be born and remember nothing about a kid arriving with just one back leg.
Dimples is pushing hard, so I wait for her to breathe, push the butt gently in an inch and search for the left hip and leg crease. There it is! With a bit of maneuvering, I find the hock and then, after holding position through another contraction, manage to slip the hoof towards me. Once I pull the second leg straight, out slips a 5.8# brown and white buckling. I slick off his face. Stuart keeps handing me paper towels as I wipe and wipe to clean the nostrils and mouth. I always swipe into the mouth and pull out any mucus I can reach. Dimples is watching and talking softly. As soon as I squeegee the main body and legs, I put him onto fresh straw under her nose. Dimples eagerly cleans off baby number one.
She doesn’t get far before strong contractions begin. She quickly lies down on one side. I check and there’s a head, but both legs are back. I can feel a third kid and one baby is on top of the other. Of course, the baby on the underside appears to be the one headed out. I pause to think and decide to see if I can get the legs forward. If I can’t make that happen quickly, I’ll have Stuart roll Dimples to her other side so I don’t have to work with the weight of the third kid pressing against us.
There’s a little more room to work. I try pushing the third kid back – just an inch or so. All of a sudden there’s room to pull the topmost leg forward. Dimples is straining against me, but I wait for a pause and slide my hand under the kid, locate the second leg and straighten. One more giant heave and she’s got the head and feet out. Dimples stops to catch her breath and heaves again. This time I have a little more pressure on those legs and out comes a large brown and white buckling – 8.8#. Only ten minutes has elapsed since the previous birth. I swipe the head with a paper towel holding the baby up by his front legs. As I wipe down his body, Stuart says, “Stop. There’s a hole in his chest. Don’t revive him!” My heart skipped a beat. This kid is warm and I’ve felt him move. I know he’s alive. “What?” I run my hands down the underside of the kid, stripping away the fluid. I twist the baby in the light and then I see it – a big, black spot just between and slightly below his front legs. I swipe again while Stuart is protesting and turn the kid a bit more. “It’s just a black spot.” He leans in and looks hard. “I couldn’t see the hair. I thought there was a hole in his chest.” We take a collective deep breath, but there isn’t time. Dimples is back at work.
I set baby aside on clean straw while Stuart positions his legs so Dimples can leverage herself against him. I reach in again, understanding that she’s tired. This kid is positioned correctly and just a bit of pressure on the toes brings baby right out. A 6.8# brown doeling with white topknot and ears is born just five minutes after her big brother. Now there’s time to wipe off kids and let Dimples rest a bit.
The first buckling is opening and closing his mouth looking for a meal. As soon as the others are dry I know I need to fill a bottle. But first, while Dimples is still down, I invade her once more gently. There’s only fluid nearby. I don’t go deep, because I’m fairly sure there was only room for three, but at least I checked. She’s had enough of this and gets to her feet. It’s a simple matter to fill a bottle and feed the kids before we leave the barn. Dimples drinks her molasses water and tucks into some grain. I add fresh alfalfa to the manger and leave her to rest.
By the time I get the newborns settled in their kid box, I’m late to milk the others. Both the does and the barn kids let me know they aren’t pleased with the disruption to their schedule. Rupee’s big buckling is crying a bit and acting strange – almost as if he’s had brain damage. Did I burn too much? The first kid of the season is always tough to gauge.
8:30 PM – Dimples has cleaned and seems to be resting comfortably. Shekel can now spend the time with her pen buddy.
At the 11 PM feeding the Rupee buckling remains out of it. Once before I had a buckling that went into depression for a few hours. I give another dose of Banamine and offer him a bottle instead of making him use the feeder bucket. He seems to appreciate the extra attention and drinks.
On a brighter note, Dimples triplets drink so much for their late feeding that I can go to bed and not have to get up at 2 AM.
Dimples X Atlas
April 13, 2017
Big buck in front, doeling in middle back and small buck on right
April 12 – All ears were free of tape this morning. Rupee’s little doeling still has a folded ear, but the buckling looks pretty good.
Today I introduced the kids to the bucket feeder. Rupee’s little doeling – by far the smallest of the bunch – was the first to latch on and decide to eat. She really makes me smile. She may be small in size, but has more determination than any other two kids. It took three feedings before all the kids latched on and drank well. Meanwhile, they were hungry and explored the fresh grass and alfalfa more than they have been.
Milkers still aren’t producing like they should. I did a FAMACHA check and saw they had really pale eyelids. (FAMACHA is a method of detecting wormloads. http://www.wormx.info/resources) Prior to kidding, I’d had the vet check a fecal sample and wormed. Kidding stresses a doe and often you’ll see a parasite problem. Four of the does were wormed. Dimples and Shekel look fine so I’ll leave them alone and recheck after they kid.
April 11 – Took Rupee’s red and white doeling with the jaw abscess to the vet today. I had an appointment, but when I arrived they were just prepping a cow for a c-section. One vet started the operation while the other looked at my baby. He wasn’t too concerned, stating they sometimes see a bit of hair or something become encapsulated. Normally, they won’t drain an abscess like this at this stage, but I explained that I wanted to be sure it wasn’t anything contagious because I had kids to sell. He used a syringe to draw off 3 cc of clear fluid. Then he slowly emptied the syringe into a paper cup. The liquid was thick. We both smiled. The vet said he was quite sure this was a blocked saliva gland and to just monitor. He noticed that both of her eyes were watering, and said that was another symptom. (I thought it was just that she was playing in the wind.) Then he asked if the lump seemed to decrease or increase in size. I told him I thought “yes,” but wasn’t sure if that was my imagination. He assured me with a saliva gland involved that some changes would be normal. WHEW! About that time, the second vet asked for help. I’ll talk to him more later. I’m thankful this was a simple issue – and that it wasn’t my animal having the emergency. Hope the cow and calf came through okay.
Back home I notice there’s three kids that have ears which are folded close. They can open them, but seem to prefer holding them closed. I decided to try taping them open to encourage the preferred position. I used two small, thin pieces of cardboard from the back of a legal pad. One piece went on either side of the ear and then I used painter’s tape to hold things together. I learned it helps to make the cardboard a bit wider than the ear or else the edge of the ear gets folded over the cardboard as you’re taping it down. I was careful not to compress the ears too much, but in 4 hours, all the cardboard had fallen off. The first doeling looks okay, but one of the bucklings and Rupee’s small black doeling still have folded ears. I retaped them.
April 10 (Monday) – Star didn’t touch her grain this morning. Cherry and Rupee are still a bit picky about their feed as well. Rupee’s udder is definitely softening. I put Rupee and Star in a separate stall and offered oats. This time they ate. Dimples appears to have lost her mucus plug. She’s not due until Saturday, but is really full of babies. Could she deliver early?
April 9 – Rupee’s udder gets more TLC. By evening it appears to be softening. Her temperature is normal as is a CMT (mastitis) test, so I’m thinking this is simply a congested udder that needs more massage and warmth.
Star and Cherry have rough areas on their udders. They get a Betadine wash and then massage with Bag Balm.
52 degrees with wind today. The kids spent an hour outside in a protected area while I cleaned their stall.
April 8 – Cherry, Star and Rupee just aren’t themselves. They’re acting sore and don’t have the appetite I’d expect from newly freshened does. They each get some Banamine to relieve the soreness and a large dose of Vitamin B complex. That normally gets the appetites started. I trim their hooves, too. Normally I trim hooves at least once a month. My soil is sandy so hooves don’t wear down, and the does need good footing to get up the wooden ramp into the barn and onto the milk stand. I try not to trim heavily pregnant does, so these ladies needed the manicure.
Rupee’s kids at 24 hours old go into the barn with the other newborns under a heat lamp. It was 72 degrees today so the kids got to play in the grass. Walking on solid ground really helps them strengthen leg muscles. They have a lot of oats straw for bedding, but the barn floor is wooden and sometimes a wobbly baby will slip.
The right side of Rupee’s udder is severely congested. It feels like
there’s a large wooden block inside the udder. She gets a peppermint lotion
rubdown which makes her feel better. The barn smells great!
April 7 – Despite having a 2 AM feeding, I got a decent night’s sleep without having to worry about does. Rupee spent the night with Star and was uncomfortable, but a birth doesn’t appear imminent. Star and Cherry are very stiff and sore from giving birth and not producing well. They get a peppermint lotion udder massage after milking. The barn smells great!
Even better – the House votes to support Food Freedom. Now we only need the Governor’s signature. It’s a great day.
By afternoon the temperature is 70 degrees and I’ve got the kids on the grass outside the barn. Their stall has been cleaned and is drying as well as the second kidding stall. They’re eating so well that I’m going to put them in the barn tonight so they have room to play. Stuart gets home from work and comes to watch the kids make their first attempts at hopping. We hear a strange noise and head into the barn. Rupee has a kid head hanging out….and the kidding stall doesn’t even have straw.
I get a bit of straw to set a kid down on and set to work. The head has broken the membrane and the tiny baby is breathing. Her legs are tucked back, but it’s a simple flick of the fingers to get things in position and release a 5.4# black and white doeling. We quickly get a bunch of straw spread in the stall. Stuart watches her while I get the kidding bucket – with freshly washed towels – to prepare for more babies.
Rupee is concentrating so fiercely on this little girl that she doesn’t
appear interested in delivering the rest. I finally take the newly fed baby to
a box in the sunshine while the other kids play around that area.
Once the little one leaves, Rupee decides to get with the program. I see a contraction move down her side. She squats, pushes, and looks at me as if to say, “a little help would be nice.” I glove and lube up and reach in. I feel hocks. Is that a head? No, it’s the other end. I get the legs out, confirm that they are indeed rear legs, and 55 minutes after the little doeling, a mahogany and white buckling is born weighing 7.8 pounds. He gets a quick slick off and Rupee takes a few licks before groaning again and giving me “the look.” It’s another kid positioned just like the buckling. Out come the hind legs and the mahogany red and white, 7.8# doeling slips into the world.
I’m wiping the doeling’s face when I realize there’s an abscess on the left cheek. A newborn with an abscess? I reach inside her mouth to make sure there’s nothing inside sticking through the cheek, but her mouth is clear and she’s able to eat without issue. It’s Friday evening so I guess we have to wait until next week to have her vet checked. It doesn’t appear to be an emergency.
Above - Rupee cleans off her first baby - a lovely black doeling.
Right - Rupee X Atlas triplets
April 6 – Morning – Some of you know I’ve been very involved in lobbying for the ND Food Freedom bill (HB 1433) during this legislative session. Even though the provision allowing for the sale of raw milk and raw milk products was removed from the bill in the House, there’s still a good cottage food law remaining. The Senate made amendments, so now the House needs to concur. The House is supposed to vote this morning. Of course, I can’t be there, so I’m trying to listen on the Internet. They get within two votes of our bill before recessing. ARGHH! But I need to stop and feed Cherry’s kids, who suck down more milk.
Back to the barn to check water and put out more hay. But what’s this? Star is pawing her straw. I run to the house for the kidding bucket, and back to the barn in time to see a large head emerge as Star cries. No feet in front! Is this a pattern?
10:05 AM - I glove up and reach around this very large head…only to find two sets of toes tucked up under the kid’s chin. It’s a simple matter to tug those toes forward straightening the legs and making him streamlined. Star has more strong contractions and a large brown and white buckling slips into my hands. All I can think is wow…this is an enormous kid. I wipe off his face, slick off his body, and sit back to let Star do her thing. She is really getting into the licking and cleaning.
He’s 11 pounds – the largest kid ever born on this farm. (Our previous record was 10.5 pounds.) Even before attempting to stand, he is opening his mouth and asking for milk. He drank 8 ounces with barely a breath then was ready to sleep. It’s hard work being born.
Star is relaxing, nibbling grain and checking on the baby in my lap. She refuses anything to drink, but doesn’t seem to be having contractions. After 45 minutes, I take baby to the house to join Cherry’s kids and let Star rest. I check her on the barn cam – and she’s actively pawing. I ran to the barn.
11:00 AM – Star is having contractions and there’s a baby bubble, but something seems stuck. I glove up, lube up and reach. There’s a head but the legs aren’t in place. One more time I reach for those slippery legs and as soon as they are pulled forward, out slips an 8.4 pound, brown and white doeling. I slick her off and make sure she’s breathing well, then hand off to Star. Once again, mama Star really gets into the cleaning with no contractions. Again I wait – this time for an hour – until Star decides she wants her molasses water. Is she done? It would appear so. The baby and I head to the house while Star gets a bit of quiet time and rest.
1:00 PM – The kids are settled and I’ve got a chance to eat lunch while listening to the Legislature. They gavel in and….what’s this? They’ve added a few more bills to their calendar and my bill is now far down the list. Still, they ought to get to us today. While I watch the floor action, I start thinking of kid names. Perhaps these last two should have “Freedom” in their name?
2:00 PM – It’s time to feed Cherry kids again and the Star babies want a chance at the bottle as well. For the first time I’m using a very soft, clear nipple made by Producer’s Pride. I don’t think they’ll last long, but the kids love them and eagerly latch on. By the time I finish feeding, the House has adjourned without getting to my bill. ARGH!
On the barn cam I can see Star has cleaned, so I head out to turn her into the corral and clean her stall and Cherry’s (already with the herd). Star whickers at me, and asks for a hug and more pets, then stamps her foot and starts pawing. I see a big contraction ripple down her side. What’s this? Two toes and nose pop out and I move into position to catch the black and white doeling – another 8.4 pounds. That’s a total of 27.8 pounds of kids in a 170 pound doe. In 2015 she produced triplet bucklings with a total weight of 28.6 pounds. No wonder she was so uncomfortable!
April 6 - Early Morning – At 2 AM, Cherry seems even more restless. I don’t have sound working on the barn cam and decide to just go see for myself. Cherry looks tired, but she isn’t pawing the straw or making a nest. She eats a bite of sugary cereal, but nothing more.
In the next pen Rupee is groaning and constantly switching positions, while Star is sleeping soundly. They each eat a handful of cereal. By this time, I’m starting to wonder if Star is really pregnant. I’ve never had a doe this late before. But I remember how miserable she was and how wide she was earlier. If something happened to the kids, they’re not causing her stress. My lesson in patience continues.
4 AM – Cherry is increasingly restless on Goat TV. She’s pacing, but no stamping or pawing. I watch for a minute, then decide to wait. Back to sleep.
5 AM – No change from Cherry, but I get up anyway. I take the dogs out and monitor via the barn cam, but finally can’t stand it any longer and have to go to the barn. I’m beginning to wonder if “the watched doe never kids.”
By 5:30 she starts pawing and is eager for attention. Then a kid bubble appears. Cherry pushes hard and utters a cry of distress. I see a nose but no legs. Quickly I glove up, lube up and gently place a couple of fingers on either side of the head, which has just emerged. Still no legs. I reach further in and find a knee. A slight twist and the leg pops free – toes pointing out to freedom. One more contraction and the shoulders slip free. From that point, Cherry takes over getting baby out and I use my fingers to wipe the goo off the kid’s face and body. It’s a doeling! A pretty red and white doeling! 6.6 pounds. What a great way to start the season!
Just five minutes later Cherry paws the ground twice and another head – no feet – slips out. I repeat my role and Cherry passes a red and white buckling easily. I slick off the goo and make sure his nose and mouth are clear before handing him to Cherry to dry off. This guy’s a nice 7.8 pounds.
I clean off Cherry’s teats enough to milk into a warm bottle. One by one, I pull the kids into my lap on a towel to wipe any areas Cherry missed and give them their first meal. The kids get a little more time with mom while I get her a bucket of warm molasses water. Cherry drinks nearly three quarts. I take the kids to the house. They’re warm, dry, fed and ready for a nap by 6:30 AM.
CHERRY X ATLAS - TWINS!
1 Doeling - SOLD
1 Buckling - Available
Above - Cherry's Son - Cherry Pie Alamode
"Pie" is available for placement.
Meet Cherry's Daughter - A Cherry Sundae!
April 5 – Cherry is due and spending more time shifting around. Rupee and Dimples are huge and uncomfortable. Star begins the day her happy self.
By mid-afternoon, Cherry and Star both start to move away from the herd. I put them into kidding pens and watch on the camera. Rupee decides she wants to keep Star company; so in the pen she goes. They all nibble a little sweet feed and sweetened cereal for energy, but leave the whole oats alone. They’re barely drinking, but nibbling at alfalfa. No one seems stressed – just content.
By 10 PM, Cherry has quit nibbling anything and is restless. This is her third kidding for me and she had one kidding prior to coming here, so she’s experienced. For me – she normally has twins. She takes her sweet time getting them into position (often hours) and then WHAM! Out pops a couple of babies in 15 minutes. I make sure the barn cam’s working and set my alarm to wake me every two hours.
April 4 – Morning arrives with no action by Star. The wait is getting to me, but I have to remember these creatures don’t read calendars. I’ve talked to my mentor who reminds me that sometimes does like to kid together, regardless of due date. She counsels patience.
April 3 – “B” day – the day when Star’s pregnancy hits 150 days and she “should” give birth. My herd usually kids on that 150 day mark with rare exception. Star is eating and drinking normally and staying close to the rest of the herd. I’m constantly checking, but she acts as though she has weeks to go.
Tonight she goes into one of the kidding stalls with her pal Rupee. I’ll check the barn cam every couple of hours just in case.
Meanwhile, Cherry (due on the 5th) and Rupee (due April 8th) have both lost their mucus plugs. Their tail ligaments have completely softened. Could they deliver before Star?
April 1-2 – This month is starting out with beautiful weather. It’s perfect for the pregnant does to get out in the sunshine, though as the temperature rises, the does tend to look for a bit of shade. Star continues to look happy and comfortable. All the walking has to help the kids position themselves better than when she’s staying in one main position.
One more big clean to the barn; getting those wood floors as dry as I can and spreading barn lime and fresh straw. Stuart has the barn camera installed. We’ve used a Foscam system for three years. It’s a real time and step saver – especially at night. We can view the camera on a computer or smart phone.
March 31 – Today Star surprised me. She’s up moving around and her shape has definitely changed. The kids must be repositioning themselves. Star’s not only eating, but pushing her way between goats to the feeder instead of waiting for me to deliver hay to wherever she’s sleeping. She’s bright-eyed and happy. I’m reminded of a pregnant woman who cleans the house in a flurry just before delivering her baby. Could Star deliver early?
Meanwhile Rupee and Dimples are extremely full of kids and in full moan. LOL!
March 30 – For several weeks, Star has been sore-footed and so full of kids that she can barely walk; let alone rest comfortably. Unfortunately, this is typical for her. She suffers from laminitis, so I am constantly trimming hooves and watching her diet. She’s only nibbling at grain, but does seem eager to eat her alfalfa and other forage. She’s quite thin and has a poor coat. I’ve given her minerals, and as much baking soda as she’ll eat. We did a fecal test and wormed her. Every year I worry about Star’s pregnancy. She’s due April 3rd.
Mid-to Late March - Getting ready for kidding….
Kidding season is always exciting. For the most part, we know what day each doe was bred, so we can calculate due dates. Usually, our does read the calendar, but once in awhile they decide to fool us.
Preparation for kidding includes putting together a kit with plastic sleeves, towels, OB lube, paper towels, a bottle and nipples. I keep this in a large plastic bucket with a lid so it’s easy to carry to the barn when the does are ready. The two main kidding stalls are cleaned thoroughly and fresh oats straw added. (Oats straw is very nice and doesn’t tend to splinter like wheat straw.)
This year Star is due to start off the season on April 3rd. Star generally has triplets – often very large kids – and can have trouble. I always watch her carefully. It will be good to get her kids out and have that worry behind us.