January 25, 2010
This weekend hallmarked the 2010 kidding season, and, as always, its never dull when there are babies arriving.
Friday night, following 6 days of pounding, drenching rain, Thistle, the eldest of the Saanen does, was obviously in labor. Since it was still very, very muddy with a cold wind blowing, Rebekah and I had to devise alternate kidding locations and since it was getting dark, opted for the front of the hay shed where we could run electricity. We bedded it down, brought over a hog panel (shorter than cattle panels, but tall enough to keep a very pregnant doe in), ran an extension cord from the house, then introduced Thistle to her new "bedroom". Labor immediately stopped. After watching her for a bit, we returned to the house, bringing dinner out to the shed.
After dinner, there was still no sign of imminent birth, and while the contractions were returning, she was still restless and just not settling down to business. A quick check revealed no dilation of her cervix to speak of. Sigh. We opted to head for bed and check on progress during the night. At one in the morning, it was finally time to help things along. With much protest from the goat, it was discovered that the head of the first kid was not only back along his ribs, but flipped upside down, as proven by finding teeth of the top of the jaw instead of the expected location on the bottom of the jaw. With some help, the first kid arrived, a little buck. Moments later, sister came out on his heels. Final kid count, 1 buck, 1 doe, later named Azalea.
The next morning, as we had expected, Katie, my LaMancha 3 year old, had begun nesting in the back shed, kicking all the other does out. By 10:30, she was in active labor and less than an hour later, the first kid appeared. A doe kid, I was particularly thrilled since this was the first set of kids from last autumns attempts at AI breeding - a new addition to our repertoire of management tools. Arizona, as she soon was named, was quickly cleaned and cared for by her mother, but to me it was obvious that there was a second kid yet to be born. Coaxing by removal of Arizona produced feet, but no nose. Another fishing expedition yielded that this time, the kid's head had folded down between her front legs back toward her navel. Soon, a second squirming doe kid (Alaska) landed at her mother's feet.
A long weekend with two instances of "floppy heads", not to be confused with floppy kids, and a pair of AI twin doe kids to round it out. Oh, and more rain!
January 21, 2010
Yesterday was by far the worst storm we've seen in the Central Valley in at least a year. With more than an inch of rain in 6 hours, combined with gusts of wind +50 miles an hour, it was starting to resemble the Florida hurricanes, only with colder temperatures.
At Durham Ferry where I teach, the barns looked like an imagined scene from Noah's ark, and at 10 AM we sent all the students home due to power outage. Reaching home, not a soul came to the pasture gate to greet me as I pulled in, even though the rain had stopped falling. Not even a scoop of grain could entice the girls out of the shed into the sticky brown mud. As I dumped the grain into the bottom of the feeder (just a little snack for the girls) it became apparent that Thistle, Rebekah's Saanen 6 year old, who is due to kid this weekend was severely favoring one foot that was swollen, and upon examination, quite warm to the touch.
Now, it's not particularly easy to convince a 150lb. Saanen doe, heavy with kids, to go out through the mud at any time, but with a hurt foot, she was more than obstinate about making her way over to the gate where I could tie her to get a better look. I'm still not quite sure HOW she hurt herself, but it's obvious she either caught it, or pulled it up against a sharp object, tearing the hoof wall up near the coronary band. Talk about a freak accident. So needless to say, between torrential rain and goats getting into trouble, it was an interesting day...
January 11, 2010
Sometimes I think my posts must remind people of a newbie because I get all excited about the small things. But then, in my mind it is the people who have put years and years of work into these animals who have the right to get so excited about them. After clipping the first 4 does who are due to freshen we can now sit back and observe their udder growth. On one doe this will be her third lactation, while it is not that her udder growth is less important, it is just that it is not as fun to speculate on as the younger does. It is the first fresheners who it is most exciting to watch. Will they have a nicer udder than their mother? Did their sire do any good for their udder? Will she have a pocket in the front? How tightly will that udder be held up there? All of these questions float around through my head as I stand and watch them eat their grain. Two of the first 4 to kid are animals who have left the herd and now returned. We didn't see them growing for many years, but now we get to see how their udders are looking and how they will come out? Sigh, just things to ponder as we sit around waiting for kids.