Being the total farming newbies we are, we were not quite sure if the goats had actually gotten bred. We know there had been some significant trying going on, but it wasn’t clear if the buck’s equipment would be in proper working order quite so early, and the goats weren’t looking all that fat. I’ll tell you, halfway through my pregnancy, I am looking a whole lot fatter than the goats were on Friday (which would have been approaching term for them, if they’d been bred).
Well, it turns out, they were. We were in town for a coffee with my father yesterday, and did not get home until just after dark. We pulled the car up near the barn, so Hubby could see to do the evening chores – I’ll admit, I stayed in the car where it was warm. Hubby was having trouble rounding everyone up, though, so I got out to help a bit. It was about then that we realized there were extra bodies in the pen. Very teeny bodies – two of them. Missy and Saffron were the two that should have been bred for sure, and were also the two who would not go in; upon closer examination, it was Missy who was covered in gore, so at least we knew who the little guys belonged to.
Missy is a first-time mom, and it shows. She had the babies in a snowbank outside, instead of on the nice clean straw in the barn, and it looks like she had them and just kind of walked away. They were still wet when we found them, shivering in the snow, and their little ears were frozen stiff. They did not look like they’d managed to stand yet, and they were both looking pretty weak. We scooped them up in some towels and took them inside to warm them up and dry them off. I put a panicked message in to a homesteading board I frequent, and got immediate advice – get those little guys warm and dry, and go out and milk some colostrum from the mom to get into them, stat. Without it, the babies would probably die.
So, back out to the barn we went, to milk a skittish first-time mom while kneeling in the snow, pregnant and tired. That didn’t go so well. I checked Saffron, and discovered she is ‘bagging up’ – she’s starting to produce colostrum, too – she will probably have babies soon, herself. Well, we took some colostrum from Saff, who stood pretty quietly and saved a great deal more frustration and swearing, and went back in to feed the babies. That went over well, and eventually they were warmed and fed enough to put back out with their mom. At about midnight.
This morning, we found both babies doing okay, but not as perky as I’d like, especially the girl, who seems to be the weaker of the pair. It wasn’t clear if Missy was letting them nurse, so we tried putting them on her. They nosed around, but ended up sucking on her elbow, or her fur – if this is how instinct operates, I have to admit, I’m not impressed. Unfortunately, the couple of times the babies did get close, Missy walked away. We decided to give her a couple more hours before interfering any further. I was afraid I was going to have to try to hand milk her again, but at lunchtime, we went out, put Missy on the milking stand, and got the babies to latch on. Missy did not look too impressed, but she stood still for it…more or less. We’ll follow up by doing that a couple more times, but the babies are looking stronger, so they may be able to manage it on their own, now, especially if Missy has finally gotten the idea of what she’s supposed to be doing. We’ll see, tonight.
In the meantime, some gratuitous cute kid pictures:
Both kids together