Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Family Visit: Ryan & Abigail

Myles loves peanut butter treats.
I wrote this post back in March, also, but couldn't find the time to edit images and post it until now. Time seems to be feast or famine, as many things are on the homestead. 


Sean's brother, Ryan and niece, Abigail spent the last two weeks with us. Visiting from North Carolina, they needed to quarantine so there wasn't a whole lot they could do outside of the homestead. Thankfully, we had LOTS to keep them busy right here.

Interior boards repurposed from
pallets. Exterior boards and plastic
wrap will make the shelter draft-free.
Ryan was a god-send, helping Sean with finishing up the buck barn in the back woods. They installed the roof and finished the walls. All that is left to complete is the floor on one side before the boys can use it properly. In the meantime, the older wethers and young breeding bucks are fascinated with their new space, giving it lots of attention. Additionally, Ryan was invaluable helping with animal chores morning and evening, pitched in with tracking CD&T immunizations, assisting with picking up and stacking hay stores, and even put his hand to mucking out the barn along side Sean. When we began milking this week, Ryan strained the milk and recorded milk yields for us.

Cutting Feta curds
Miss Abigail tried her hand a making bread from scratch, helped make lotions for a Tiller & Rye restock, learned how to make soaps, and made our first batch of cheese for the season. She took on the responsibility of bottle feeding Jake's morning and evening supplementary bottles and helped with tracking copper bolus treatments for our herd. Abigail is staying on here at the homestead for a while longer and we are thrilled to have her with us. While her Dad's flight was in the air, she watched Honey give birth to a BIG, singleton doe who needed a helping hand to be born. 

Abigail and Jake
It hasn't been all work. We've played board games, watched movies together, stargazed and had a bonfire in the doe pasture. Once their quarantine time was past, Abigail and our daughter had an adventure hiking and browsing for treasures at the Big Chicken Barn. Since we share the same faith, we also enjoyed family worship times and meetings for worship via zoom. Snakes, crested geckos, ferrets, and goat kids joined us for snuggle-times.

I can see why having a large family was a blessing when more folks farmed for a living. The many hands made light work of necessary chores and gave us time to spend with one another each day. 


Boy! Time has a way of flying! I meant to post this almost 3 weeks ago! Since then, Abigail has returned home to her parents and made plans to return for a visit soon. We are looking forward to that for sure. Maybe, we can even convince her hard-working Dad and Mom to come along for an extended stay this summer! Oh the projects we could tackle. I mean, how I look forward to relaxing time to chat and catch up. ;) 

Thanks for visiting with us today, Friends. We enjoy your company. 
Sean & Sonja

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Hatching Season Begins: Sebastopol Gosling

With the weather making a valiant attempt at warming, the geese, turkeys, ducks, and chickens are all thinking HATCH SOMETHING with varying degrees of success. Since we aren't ready for chicks quite yet, we have been thwarting all the hens efforts to procreate by collecting eggs from the nest boxes each morning. In response, they have begun their yearly game of "Find Where I Am Laying My Eggs Now". I have no illusions that we will win this game, but if we can help minimize the number of 'Barnyard Beauties' (what we affectionately call chicks of mixed heritage) hatched in favor of pure bred chicks which can be adopted to other families, that would be well in my eyes. 

The turkeys have started laying, but not yet sitting on nests. THOSE I do want to hatch- the sooner the better. 

The ducks have no hope of success. At least, not without my purchasing another male to live here. Our big boy, Boris passed last year and we haven't had the heart to find another until now. Without a male, our females have zero chance of hatching ducklings for us this season. And, I would love more Muscovies living here. 

Which bring us to the geese. Lucy decided to lay a nest under Sean's ladder, next to the barn, in the open. Since she wouldn't be shifted from that intent, we built a small shelter over and around her to offer some protection from the elements. And, 28 days later, she hatched out ONE single gosling. We candled the other eggs in the nest. 3 stopped developing early and 3 others were not fertilized. This singleton is getting lots of attention from the entire flock of geese. Gregarious by nature, our geese have the philosophy of 'It takes a village...' so they are all very protective and supportive of this little one. It is sweet to watch. 

Three other geese are now sitting on nests in their shelter within the pond area. If they are successful, more goslings will join our farm in May. 

These short video clips were captured in Early April. I hope you enjoy. :) 

Thanks for visiting with us today, Friends. I hope you come again.
Sean & Sonja

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Doe's Secret Code of Honor

Doe's Secret Code of Honor
Author Unknown

The doe's secret code of honor is as old as goats themselves and is ultimately the species best kept secret. No doe shall ever kid before its time. (Its time being determined by the following factors):

1- No kid shall be born until total chaos has been reached by all involved. Your owner's house must be a wreck, their family hungry and desperate for clean clothes, and their social life nonexistent.

2- "Midwives" must reach the babbling fool status before you kid out. Bloodshot eyes, tangled hair and the inability to form a sentence mean the time is getting close.

3- For every bell, beeper, camera or whistle they attach to you, kidding must be delayed by at least one day for each item. If they use an audio monitor, one good yell per hour will keep things interesting.

4- If you hear the words, "She's nowhere near ready. She'll be fine while we're away for the weekend," Wait until they load the car, then begin pushing!

5- Owner stress must be at an all time high! If you are in the care of someone else, ten to fifteen phone calls a day is a sign you're getting close.

6- When you hear the words "I can't take it anymore!" wait at least three more days.

7 -You must keep this waiting game interesting. False alarms are mandatory! Little teasers such as looking at your stomach, pushing your food around in the bucket and then walking away from it, and nesting, are always good for a rise. Be creative and find new things to do to keep the adrenaline pumping in those who wait.

8- The honor of all goats is now in your hands. Use this time to avenge all of your barn mates. Think about your friend who had to wear that silly costume in front of those people. Hang onto that baby for another day. OH, they made him do tricks too! Three more days seems fair. Late feedings, the dreaded diet, bad haircuts, those awfulwormings can also be avenged at this time.

9- If you have fulfilled all of the above and are still not sure when to have the kids, listen to the weather forecast on the radio that has been so generously provided by those who wait. Severe storm warning is what you're waiting for. In the heart of the storm jump into action! The power could go out and you could have the last laugh. You have a good chance of those who wait missing the whole thing while searching for a flashlight that works!

10- Make the most of your interrupted nights. Beg for food each time someone comes into the barn to check you. Your barn mates will love you as the extra goodies fall their way too.

Remember, this code of honor was designed to remind man of how truly special goats are. Do your best to reward those who wait with a beautiful doeling to carry on the Doe Code of Honor for the next generation of those who wait!

Friday, March 5, 2021

Hiking with Goats 2021

Spring is less than 30 days away and it is time to start planning for the new season. Activities like: starting seeds for the garden, planning building projects, repairing winter damages, improving fencing, continuing towards completing our creamery and getting licensed. Important things. Things that take both time and money. 

It is also time to look forward to hosting family, friends, and visitors in safe, distanced, private and semi-private farm visits. In 2020, we navigated the limited hosting of individuals and became practiced with social distancing, wearing masks, and setting up hand-washing stations. For 2021, we are going to continue in the same vein. 

Our first dates for Goat Snuggling and Hiking with Goats are up and active on our square space web site. Click below to see dates/times and reserve your special time with us.

Goat Snuggling 2021: 
Book a visit to the farm and interact with the goats and the other animals who make their home here. Your semi-private experience is limited to no more than 10 people per time slot (to allow for social distancing). The first 30 minutes is an informative, guided tour to meet the animal residents of Lally Broch Farm: feed the geese and ducks, find fresh laid eggs, watch the peacocks, and feed the piggies before meeting the stars of the show, 2021's bouncy goat kids- 16 have been born so far this season! The last half hour is self-guided. Hang out in the fields with the goats or revisit an animal that was extra special to you. Our studio and creamery spaces will be open for you, too. Sample cheeses. Browse soaps, lotions, lip balms, totes or the unique jewelry we create with eggshells. We offer 20% discount during Goat Snuggling days.


Hiking with Goats Experiences 2021
We are looking forward to hosting your family of up to 6 people for a completely private farm tour and guided goat hike up Mount Waldo to the quarry at the top. Your 2.5 hour experience begins with an educational and interactive hour long tour of the farm where you will interact with the animals who live here, including ducks, geese, doves, peacocks, heritage turkeys, chickens, Vietnamese pot belly pigs, and of course, goats and their happy, bouncy kids. Spend a little time in the pasture getting to know the goats within the herd while our family packs a snack of our own freshly made cheeses, local breads & crackers, in season fruits, and home made lemonade to enjoy at the peak. We'll choose the most suitable goats and kids to come with us for your adventure. Once people and goats are safely loaded up, you'll follow us in your vehicle to Mt. Waldo (5 minutes away) where you and your new goat companions will enjoy a guided half mile hike. 

There are two turn outs with spectacular views along the trail. These make excellent places to stop for pictures or to rest, if needed. The path is quite steep, but we have hosted children as young as 3 years old and adults into their 70's. The trail is not wheel chair accessible. Though we hike at your pace, it may not be a suitable activity for those who are not able to walk unassisted. If you have concerns, please call (207-323-4982) or email us ( so we can help guide you in booking this adventure or amending the tour to fit your needs. Our goal is to provide a safe, educational, interactive experience for your family to enjoy. :)


It may not seem like it when the thermometer is hovering around 14*, but Spring *is* coming, Friends. With the year we've all lived through, it is the perfect time to do something special, like visit our homestead. We would love to host your family. 

Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are thankful for your company.
Sean & Sonja

Thursday, March 4, 2021

What's in a Name?

One of the most common questions we get asked is some variant of "Do all the goats have names?" in a suitably surprised tone. Followed by, "How do you remember them all?"

The short answer is. Yes. They do. All of them. And, we remember them because we develop love for each one. On our family farm, we are there for nearly every birth and death. After nearly 12 years, we know their parents and grandparents and at this point, sometimes their great grandparents. 

So, who are they? Well, writing a post about 58+ goats in detail would get quite involved, but I thought I would share our herd queens with you. 

{I am including animals who may have [passed] or been //adopted//. Those are indicated with the symbols in the last sentence. :) }

Rachel- our first purchased female goat. She broke her horn when just a kid and it grew back curly. She's technically Sean's girl. Her twin, [Leah], was mine. Leah passed in the winter of 2019 at 11 1/2 years. Rachel is mother to: Karen Happuch (aka Quinn), Keziah, [Lydia], //Mason//, Honey, and a yet to be named son. Grand kids and Great Grand kids born to this line include: Piper, Isaac, Damaris, Martha, Brigitta, Comet, Hope and Nisan.

Abigail- first female kid born on our homestead. Her Mother was our beloved [Ellie]. Abby had a twin brother, [Asher]. Abigail is a hearty keeper and an easy milker of wonderfully, creamy milk. In her prime, Abby provided 90 ounces of milk to a milking. She is mother to Eleanor, Mitzpah and twins this year- they are still awaiting names.

[Leah]- Rachel's twin and my first female goat. She is the beginning of the naturally polled gene and perfect lamancha ears being introduced into our herd. She was a quiet, sweet soul who is still missed. Her young include: [Judah], [Elijah], Eve, Tierzah, //Rocket//. But every goat born here that is naturally polled can be traced back to her, though her sons and grandsons. 

Jemimah- My anniversay gift and one of the sweetest girls you want to meet. Quiet in disposition, but oh so vocal, with a distinctive gait from breaking her front leg years ago and striking eye stripes. She came from a farm in Houlton, and was worth every mile. Her perfect Lamancha ears and creamy milk make her invaluable to our creamery plans and breeding program. Her children include: Iscah, Milcah, Bathsheba, Daniel, Tamar & Ezri. She became a grandmother for the first time two season's ago when [Keturah] was born and again this year with the addition of Ja'el. 

Naomi- came to us from a neighboring farm who purchased her at an auction house. She didn't fit in at their homestead because of her bad attitude towards people and bullying of bigger goats. She is a beautiful red Nigerian Dwarf. Though Naomi doesn't seek out our company, even after many years here, we have an understanding and she has a permanent home with us. Naomi does not appreciate being milked, despite our best coaxing, so we respect that choice and leave her be. She has given us beautiful, friendly, hearty offspring: //Anna//, //Jareth//, //Tobey//, Neptune, [Myra]. And includes grand kids and great grand kids: Julia, //Leisl//, [Peta], //Gunter//, //Kinder//, //Margo//, & //Elliott//.

Lily and her sister, [Bailey] came to us from a devoted goat keeper who could not continue to care for them because circumstances in their life changed. These ladies have been loved since the moment they met Reva and her family and have a home here as long as they live. Lily has a genetic abnormality or scar tissue which prevents her from nursing her kids. She is a fantastic, protective mother and we help her out by offering bottles of goat's milk to her kids so they have the nutrition they need to grow. Between the sisters, we have welcomed our beloved goats: [Chloe], Becca & Tabitha, //Jacob//, [Freddie], Kestrel & Hawk, Hannah, Quark, Riker, & Jake.

When Quinn and her newborn kid, Piper were adopted along with Jesse many years ago, they began their own herd living with a loving family in Bucksport. Life changes over the years, and when circumstances for the family changed, the entire herd came back here. We got reacquainted with some and introduced to others: Piper, Ruby, Penny, Hope, Copper, Ginger, Henry, Pat, and Nellie.

Phoebe is the daughter of [Jane] and brother to Jesse (our gentle giant with stunning horns). With her mother's passing many years ago, Phoebe has become this line's matriarch. She is part Boer and part French Alpine and is one of our best milk providers. This line includes [Salome], //Hadassah//, //Moses//, //MacKenzie// & //Bryce//, Jay, Ross, Ruth, Elizabeth and her newborn son. Phoebe is due this year once more. We can't wait to meet her kid(s). 

With 16 kids born to us this season, we have more names to bestow. Each year we choose a theme to name those kids who will eventually be available for adoption as yearlings. Themes from previous years have included: ER, Star Trek OS, birds, solar system, The Sound of Music, and this year we are using Star Trek: TNG and DS9. (When we have time to watch TV as a family, we rely on old science fiction shows. :) ) This year we have named Riker, Quark, Ezri, & Jake with that in mind. While goats who will live here permanently will be named from people in the Bible: Isaac, Damaris, Ja'el, and Tamar are named thus. We have 8 kids in need of names. As we watch them over the coming weeks, we'll get a feel for them and name them appropriately. We love suggestions, too. (You can comment them below.) 

As the children, grandchildren, and great grand children grow and spend time with us, we learn about their individual personalities, their goofy quirks, and preferences. We live in harmony with these animals. Kids stay with their Mothers until they are weaned. The girls stay with their mothers all the time. At weaning, boys move to young buck housing together. We only milk once per day, in the mornings, leaving the rest of the milk to be available to nurse kids as they choose. Those goats who want to be loved on and snuggled with have lots of opportunities for that kind of affection. We go hiking with those who enjoy that activity. And, for those goats who prefer the company of their herdmates to people, we respect that decision, providing food, water, shelter and caring for any medical needs. 

We did not host any Hiking with Goats Activities for 2020 because, well, 2020 should say it all. But, we are looking forward to 2021 and offering Hiking with Goats for you once again. We are looking at dates and times for kid snuggling, too. If you haven't visited us yet, 2021 is the perfect year to make that happen. If you have, it's a great time to come again and see how we've grown!

Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are happy for your company! 
Sean & Sonja 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Marathon Goat Kidding Weekend (GRAPHIC)

I don't even know where to begin. What a kidding season so far. We have more than a dozen experienced does expecting kids this year and five first fresheners. Those worry me. Not panic, but the uncertainty of milk coming in properly, kids positioned normally and sized appropriately, among other things, weigh heavily on my heart and mind.

Julia on her way to Belfast Veterinarian
I guess the best idea is to try to arrange events chronologically. So, starting on Wednesday, that would bring us to Julia's kidding. Julia began labor around 10 am on Wednesday morning. Things progressed normally for several hours with mucus and contractions beginning. In the early afternoon, things started to go pear shaped. Contractions stopped being regular and slowed to almost a stop. We called our Veterinarian's office and decided to bring her in. If the kid were still alive, we hoped for them to be able to help her deliver it or if not, we expected to pay for a c-section. Upon our arrival 25 minutes later, their exam revealed that Julia's kid was dead. They helped her to deliver and we brought her home to heal and rest. A sad ending, but we took comfort that Julia is alive and expected to fully recover. 

Elizabeth with newborn son
Thursday was spent caring for Julia, watching Moms with their kids, and our normal routine. Because several does were due any time, we started checking does every 2 hours through the daytime and every 3 hours overnight. It makes for restless sleep, but it is necessary when the weather is in the single digits. 

Assisting Elizabeth
Elizabeth went into labor on Thursday evening and delivered a large, single boy around 8:45 pm. It was a challenging birth for her first time. The kid presented with one hoof forward and it's head. The second hoof lay straight back, along his back. Sonja helped deliver this kid after 20 minutes of pushing hard with no forward progress. Firm, outside pressure on the base of the kid's head, which was through Elizabeth's pelvis, helped bring him forward enough to then provide traction in a downward motion to help him be born. We helped Elizabeth to get him clean and dry. First time Mom, Elizabeth was immediately attentive and her son was up, walking and eating within hours. They continue to do well. 

Look at those Baby Bumps! 
At the 6 am barn check on Friday morning, Sean discovered Eve had a mucus discharge. We got her settled in her private kidding stall with water, hay and grain to await delivery. By mid-morning, chores were finished, tails were checked, and since no one seemed imminent, we went inside to warm up and eat something. Sonja cooked breakfast. Sean took out a warm water bucket to Elizabeth and have one last look around. The table was set when Sean returned with the news that in the 45 minutes we had been inside, Rachel- who showed no signs of kidding had delivered a son, who was clean, dry, standing and eating. Breakfast needed to wait. We thought we could move Eve out of her private stall to allow Rachel and her kid to have a safe space, inhale our breakfast quickly, then set up another stall for Eve- who was still only having occasional contractions.

Rachel and newborn son
Nope. No sooner had we escorted Eve out of her stall, that she started actively pushing. That meant delivery would be sometime within the next 30 minutes, if all went normally. Breakfast would wait. Sean set up a stall, moved Rachel and her son- who was bouncing along on his feet as if he were days old, into it and returned Eve to her original kidding stall.  

Eve's labor continued normally and around 1:30 pm, she delivered twins; first a daughter and then a son. Eve needed no assistance with the delivery of her first kid- perfect presentation and delivery. We helped Eve dry her daughter while we awaited her second kid. The second kid presented one hoof and head (again!). Twins are normally smaller and this one was being delivered just fine without our assistance until it's shoulder emerged. Then, the kid went stiff, then limp and its eyes rolled back into its head. It was clearly in distress. Sonja pulled the kid and began stimulating it by rubbing him firmly with a towel and suctioning his nostrils and throat. It seemed so much longer while it was happening, but in reality within 45 seconds or so, the kid was breathing and crying on his own. We helped Eve to clean and get him dried. Both kids were up and nursing in short order and Eve is a very attentive mom. They continue to thrive.

On Friday afternoon Sean left a message with Dr. Caputo to update her on Julia's recovery and in light of two more first fresheners getting ready to deliver, possibly over the weekend, discussed options for treatment if things went south. The receptionist confirmed that we could simply call and Dr. Caputo would meet us at the office. Armed with that knowledge, we felt as reassured as possible. Things would probably go just fine, but in case they didn't we had a plan.

Abby and her twins
Kid watch continued as Tierzah, Abigail, and Hannah were all due at any time. On Saturday morning, Abby delivered first with no complications. Within half an hour, she had given birth to a daughter and a son. Small twins, their legs were bent in strange angles and not strong enough to support them in standing properly. This is common; colostrum and time sort things without assistance most of the time. Abby was attentive to her twins, but we didn't have time to watch the new family closely because it was Tierzah's turn. 

Tierzah went into active labor around 10 am. With our new barn cameras installed, we messaged our friend, Shea from Knotty Goat Soapery, to see if she wanted to tune in and watch the delivery. When 20 minutes of steady pushing passed with no progress, Sean called Dr, Caputo's answering service and we asked Shea to come out to give her opinion. Things might have still been okay, but we were getting prepared in case they weren't. 

They weren't. First, Dr. Caputo's answering service informed Sean that she was out of town for the weekend. Our safety net was gone! Through mixed wires, we thought we were covered and discovered we could have a problem! We quickly messaged our local goat peer group asking if someone might have time to call into local large animal practices to see if we could be seen if necessary. We are so grateful for their willingness to help take that off our shoulders so we could focus on Tierzah. They were fantastic and within minutes we had leads on several potential experts should it come to that. 

It came to that- Tierzah had a large, singleton who was presenting head first, no hooves. While waiting for Shea, Sonja gloved up, squirted on lots of lubrication, and did a careful internal exam. She could feel the kid's head ready to be delivered, but no hooves present. Knowing we would need to push the kid's head back inside in order to find the hooves and that smaller, more experienced hands than ours were 10 minutes away, we decided to wait. 

Shea helping stimulate kid
When Shea arrived she did the same exam and reached the same conclusion: the kid's entire head was in the vaginal vault (past the pelvic canal) but her folded front legs were holding her back. Shea tried to push the kid's head back inside to try to grab hooves, but couldn't get her hand inside far enough. We paused and discussed alternatives. The BEST option was to have a veterinarian assist. They have the good medicines to manage pain and the ability to perform c-sections, episiotomy, and control complications. The closest veterinarian who could take us in an emergency was hours away- a ride which would almost certainly mean that we had given up on a live kid birth and would be trying to save Tierzah's life.

We decided that Sonja would try again. She pushed the kid's head back inside the pelvic cavity and was able to get her entire hand inside this time. She could just feel the smooth surface of a hoof, but couldn't manage to grip it hard enough to pull it forward. When she removed her hand, the head followed back into the vaginal canal. Sonja asked Shea, "Do you want to try again before we give this up?" Once the kid begins taking breaths, they can't be pushed back inside; they have to be delivered or die. Time was running out. Shea agreed. 

Tierzah and daughter
On her second attempt, Shea was able to insert her entire hand. She could just feel a hoof with her pinky finger. Closing her pinky and ring fingers together, she pinched the hoof and pulled it forward. As she withdrew her hand holding the hoof, the kid's head stayed in the forward facing position and followed. One hurdle passed. Tierzah's cervix was dilated properly, but as a first freshener, the kid's huge head had a hard time pushing through the vaginal opening. In the end, it took Shea applying pressure to the base of the kid's head, externally, from the base of Tierzah's tail with one hand and carefully easing the kid's head through with the other. Sean had the kid's leg and it's head pulling it downward and out. Sonja was holding Eve's head to prevent her horns from injuring Shea accidently with one hand and easing the other side of the kid's head through with Shea. Tierzah had the hardest task- she pushed and strained with all she had. And, it worked. Somehow, it worked. The kid was born, but our relief was cut short when it stiffened in distress instead of coughing or crying. 

Shea and Sonja stimulated the kid by rubbing it with towels and used a syringe to remove fluids from nostrils and mouth. It took longer than seemed comfortable, but in minutes, the kid began coughing. Tierzah was initially not convinced this wet, crying ball of goo was worth her time or the efforts to deliver her. It didn't take long for her to change her mind. For all the trauma of birth, the kid- a girl- was active and nursing in short order. The pair are doing great.

Shea left around noon. With everyone stable, fed and watered, Sean and Sonja grabbed a quick breakfast/lunch of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We called the back-up veterinarians who offered to take Tierzah to thank them for their time and confirm that we had one more mother due sometime within the next 24 hours. We were hoping Hannah would hold out until Monday, but in case she didn't we wanted to be set up. Most of the time, goats will kid without needing to call out a veterinarian, but when you need one, you NEED one. We don't dare be without a plan. 

Abigail's daughter
During the rest of the afternoon, we saw that Abigail's twins were having a hard time maintaining their temperature and they didn't have a rooting or suck response. We brought them inside to warm up on a heating pad. When they were warmer and began to be active, Sean milked Abigail and we offered the kids a bottle. The little girl drank 4 oz without hesitation. The boy would not suck. Not the nipple, not my finger, not anything. We took him outside to try to get him to drink from Abigail, but he wouldn't even try. He was clearly not doing well and needed colostrum. 

With no other alternative, we tube fed him 3 oz of his mother's colostrum. Warm and full, we returned the twins to their anxious Mother while we continued to monitor their progress. In the early evening, we attempted to get them to nurse again from Abigail, but they were weak and unwilling to try. It is not usual, but sometimes it takes a little bit to get sorted. We offered a second supplemental bottle of their mother's colostrum and this time both kids drank without a problem. We returned them to Abigail's care. 

I realize at this point, that this is an extremely long post, Dear Reader. However, we didn't get a break all weekend, and neither shall you.

At 5 pm, Hannah went into labor. She had contractions here and there, but nothing regular. First timers can take a longer time in stage one, so we were aware, but not overly concerned. By 8 pm, a large bubble appeared and popped in a whoosh of brownish liquid. A second bubble appeared immediately after. A little strange, but not uncommon. Some does have two or three bubbles appear before the real one shows. Worth noting, but no need to panic. The lack of visible contractions and pushing WAS more concerning, as was the lack of vaginal stretching in preparation for birth. Sonja asked Sean to call the Dover Foxcroft Veterinarian Hospital answering service to have a veterinarian call us back and she messaged asking Shea to come out again and give a second opinion. Shea arrived in about 10 minutes and the veterinarian called back at the same time. Shea agreed that the delivery wasn't looking normal. We decided to drive the hour+ to get to the veterinarian. Normally we would do an internal exam first, but we didn't want to rupture the bubble or have a half delivered kid, stuck and us having to drive for help. Under the circumstances, we loaded Hannah and went. 

Hannah and her son
We arrived at 9:50 pm and met the wonderful Dr. Kat. Her initial exam showed a perfectly positioned kid. What should have been an easy delivery turned into an hour long event. The kid was through the cervix, but stuck within the vaginal cavity. We all thought this must be a huge, singleton kid. Dr. Kat prepared and began pulling the kid with both it's legs; it's nose perfectly ready to come through. Sean held Hannah to provide counter pressure. Sonja waited out of the way. After a few attempts went nowhere, Dr. Kat tried to pull the kid using chains. It was unsuccessful. Sean and Dr. Kat switched places to see if Sean could apply enough pressure to pull the kid. Though the vaginal walls thinned and turned nearly inside out, the kid would not budge.  During this attempt, to everyone's surprise, the kid who had been limp up until now gave a twitch of it's tongue and leg. We had all assumed with the problematic delivery that we were dealing with a kid that had died en utero and we were just trying to save Hannah. This made everything more urgent and complicated. Sonja asked if she could glove up and help. We took a breath, gave Hannah a quick rest, and discussed trying once more before performing an episiotomy. Dr. Kat pulled legs, Sean held Hannah in place and Sonja pushed the base of the kid's head from outside, near the base of Hannah's tail.

All at once, with a swoosh the kid was born. Not huge at all. 5 pounds would be generous. Sonja got to work trying to stimulate the kid who had been in distress for a while by the look of the copious amounts of meconium staining and dark fluid. It was gasping for breath in slow spurts. Dr. Kat was busy with Hannah, checking her internally, injecting calcium, oxytocin, pain medication, antibiotics and drawing two steroids and an antibiotic for the kid- who we were all surprised to find alive. His nasal passages were clear, but the kid was shocky and not willing to breathe normally. While waiting for the steroids to be injected, Sonja gave him a couple mouth to nose breaths, which seemed to help him get oxygen. The towel was soaked with amniotic fluid and blood. With nothing else to hand, Sonja took off her undershirt and used it to continue to stimulate the kid to wake up. He started to cough and make weak crying noises. The steroids were injected and he began to perk up more and more. 

Understandably, Hannah wanted NOTHING to do with this troublesome thing. The shock of the traumatic delivery paired with the loss of blood and sedative effect of the pain medicines combined to make Hannah a sleepy mother. She slept next to her kid all the way home. We stopped several times to check on them, but they were exhausted. We considered Sonja carrying the kid during the ride home, but feared removing him would add to the possibility of rejection. 

Hannah and Jake Day 2
We settled the family in our laundry room for the night on a stall mat covered with absorbent pine shavings. The kids legs were swollen and he couldn't stand on them. Hannah was dazed and bleeding slowly. There was no way to get him up to nurse, but he needed colostrum. Plus, the act of nursing would help stem the flow of blood and the release of oxytocin would help with bonding. Sean milked Hannah gently and we bottle fed the kid, who ate thirstily and without any trouble. Hannah only had a little over an ounce, but it was a start. 

A few hours later, Sean milked her again and only came up with about half an ounce from both sides. Her udder didn't fill at all. She just wasn't producing milk yet. We weren't ready to give up. It can take a day or two sometimes. To help stimulate milk production, we kept milking her every few hours. When she didn't produce enough, we added some of Abigail's colostrum to fill the 3 oz we needed per serving. 

Hannah and Jake in barn
Through Sunday, the pair remained in the laundry room, where it was warmer than the barn stalls. Hannah lost so much blood and the kid was still unable to stand after 24 hours, though he could move his legs and was active. We bottle fed the boy, who Sean named Jake, every three hours around the clock. We gave Hannah pain medication and more antibiotics. The biggest concern is that though Hannah is not hurting the kid, she is also not cleaning him or coming to his calls. He may end up being bottle raised for nutrition, but if he can be raised beside his mother within the herd, that will be the best for him in the long run. 

Another issue arose on Sunday, Abigail's twins were having difficulty maintaining their temperature on their own and they still were not latching on vigorously, nor moving as actively as they should be. We supplemented with bottles again. The boy drank normally, but the girl (who had been doing so) absolutely refused. She would not latch onto Abigail either. We warmed her and put her back with her mother to try to get her to drink normally, but she refused to try. After 5 hours of nothing to eat and refusing to suck, we tube fed her 3 oz of her mother's milk and returned her to Abigail's care. When Sean checked her later that night, both kids were finally on their feet steady and rooting under their mother. That's a relief! We will continue to watch the family, but it looks like things have turned the corner there. 

As I write this Monday night, all of the families are doing great or improving their conditions. For those keeping track: 
1. Jemimah: 2 girls named Tamar and Ezri
2. Iscah: 1 girl named Ja'el
3. Becca: 1 boy named Riker
4. Tabitha: 1 boy named Quark
5. Keziah: 1 boy named Isaac/1 girl named Damaris
6. Julia, one stillborn kid
7. Elizabeth: 1 boy, unnamed yet
8. Rachel: 1 boy, unnamed yet
9. Eve: 1 boy/1 girl, unnamed yet
10. Tierzah: 1 girl, unnamed yet
11. Abigail: 1 boy/1 girl, unnamed yet
12. Hannah: 1 boy named Jake
Elizabeth and son
12 healthy mothers, 8 hearty sons and 7 thriving daughters so far this season. 
We have 8 mothers left to kid. This year's naming theme is Star Trek: TNG & DS9 for kids who will eventually be adoptable and as always, we use Bible theme names for those who will stay here forever. Do you have any suggestions for names? Comment them below! 

Thanks for visiting with us, Friends. We are happy you are here.
Sean & Sonja

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

GRAPHIC: Becca Gives Birth

Becca with her kid
Plans changed.

We thought I was going to make two double batches of soap and then work on some lotions for delivery to our friends at Tiller & Rye in Brewer, ME. Sean thought he was going to frame in and install a door in Bucksport, ME. Nope. By 8 am, plans changed. 

Becca was in active labor, pushing. A few days earlier than I had planned, but nothing to worry about. A quick check showed perfect placement; nose and hooves getting ready to greet the world. Larger than I would like to see in a goat of her size, which made me think she probably had only a singleton coming. I HATE singleton births. In my experience, 9 out of 10 times, a single kid is larger than kids born as twins. As such, they often require assistance. Sometimes that assistance is not enough and the kid or the mother is lost.  

First Milk.
Still, Becca is a pro at this and I was aware of the potential risk, but I wasn't overly concerned. Within an hour, and with very little help from us, Becca delivered a strapping, healthy son. Like Tabby's son, Riker- he was a monster in size and was quickly able to stand, walk, and nurse. 

Julia in labor
Just as Becca was finishing her delivery, Julia went into labor. Julia is a two-year-old, first freshener. (A first freshener means that this is her first pregnancy.) First pregnancies always make me nervous. Complications can happen to any goat, but I always worry more the first time through. I think it has to do with (1) the uncertainty of what might happen and (2) past bad experiences with unproven does. Does tend to follow trends, like whether their milk comes in early or later or how long they labor. With record keeping, (and barring fluke occurrances) you can almost map out a delivery. As to the second point, our worst experiences seem to come from young, inexperienced does. Julia worried me so much more than Becca. Would she have ring womb (failure to dilate)? Would she have kids in bad positions for delivery? 

My gut felt wrong. We messaged our local group of goat folks and asked neighbor, Shea Rolnick from @Knotty Goat Soapery to be on stand by. Sean called our veterinarian, Dr Caputo of Belfast Veterinary Hospital to let her know we might have a problem. Then, we waited. 

The first stage of labor can take some time. Does will sit and stand- seemingly unable to find a comfortable spot (I remember this well from my own pregnancies!), stare off into space, may want to eat or go off food. Until they start actively pushing, there isn't a lot to do. We try to keep the doe as comfortable as possible and wait with her. Around noon, Julia was still in the first stage and seemed to be making slow progress; her vulva was opening and a small stream of mucus started.  Knowing we could still be hours away, Sean and I went inside for breakfast and to warm hands and feet. We continued to check on her every few minutes. 

Around 1:30, Julia began to really dilate and actively push. We could just see a hoof. It was big. Too big really, but we weren't overly concerned yet. 30 minutes later, we messaged Shea asking her to come out. Julia continued pushing to no progress. I gloved up, slathered on lots of lubricant and carefully felt inside to feel what the situation was. I felt the right front hoof and head just above that. I slipped fingers along the other side, but couldn't feel the second hoof. Not perfect, but still maybe workable. I was most concerned with the kid's size. Normally, I would begin attempting to pull a kid, if I can, but concerned about the size, not wanting to put Julia through unnecessary pain if she was going to need a C-section at the vet, and knowing that a second opinion was only minutes from arriving, I decided to wait. 

Shea arrived and repeated my exam. She was also concerned with the size of the kid presenting. She attempted to pull the kid very gently, just trying to see if there was any wiggle room and quickly ascertained there wasn't. We were Veterinarian bound. 

At the Veterinarian
We carried Julia to Sean's van and drove the 20 minutes to Belfast. They took her in immediately. We waited in the parking lot. We explained we were willing to pay for a C-section if needed. About 40 minutes later we got the call telling us that the kid did not survive, but Julia thankfully did. 

Julia was sent home with pain meds, an antibiotic and instructions for watchful care over the next 72 hours. Back in the barn, Julia settled into her private stall and ate grain and hay with a decent appetite, but not her normally voracious vigor. That is to be expected with the pain meds she was given. 

It is always heartbreaking when we lose an animal- even one we hadn't truly met. We'll spend the night examining all the decisions we made; it is easy to second guess each one. And, we'll balance that with visiting with sweet, healthy kids and our beloved herd. 

Becca & Healthy Son
For those keeping track. We have had seven healthy kids born to five mothers; and one mother with a lost kid. By our count, we have ten more deliveries for 2021 before we can breathe easy. I hope the rest of them are as easy as the first five were. 

Thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. 
Sean & Sonja