Wednesday, April 12, 2017

GRAPHIC VIDEO: Final Kidding of the Season~ Lydia's Delivery

We have been on final kid watch since late Thursday night when Lydia's ligaments softened and disappeared. On Friday morning, her udder swelled and she started showing signs of discomfort. She spent hours calling softly, pawing the ground, staring off into space, standing and sitting intermittently determined to get comfortable despite her burgeoning belly. I checked on her through the day and evening hours while Sean was working. Her timing couldn't have been worse. Sean had made plans to spend time with a friend who is moving to Florida. I urged him to keep his plans with the understanding that I would call as soon as Lydia passed her mucus plug and labor began in earnest. Lydia is 14 months old- and though vigorous and strong, she is smaller than we would like. With Becca's terrible kidding the week before fresh in my mind, I was not looking forward to this final one.

First hoof!
Sean got home at 10:30 pm and split the night watch with Kristen. They were up every 90 minutes, then hourly, and finally every 30 minutes for kid watch. It was a long, long night that didn't need to be. Lydia started labor in earnest at 6:30 am. By 7 am, she had progressed to strong contractions. Sean handled the morning milk chores alone while I spent time petting Lydia, talking to her, and preparing for kidding. While not a completely textbook perfect kidding, Lydia was pretty close. I took pictures and captured video as I could, but one-handed and alone, that was not the priority. Within 30 minutes of the bubble forming, Lydia began pushing hard with contractions. One little hoof peeked out. I know to let nature do its thing, but I was so worried for her, I went ahead and checked for a nose. It was right at the entrance, just on top of the hoof. That's good. We hit the 30 minute mark, but only the tip of the kid's nose joined the hoof outside of Lydia. I squirted on lots of lubricant gel before gently checking for the 2nd hoof. It was right where it should be. Everything was in the right place. It was just a matter of Lydia pushing that baby free.


Lydia was dilated, but she was not as large as I would like. I wasn't concerned that she had "Ring Womb"- where a doe fails to dilate though she is in labor. (Read about that HERE.)  Time was passing, but neither Momma nor kid was in distress. The pressure from the kid's head helps expand the opening so a kid can be born. Pulling a kid before the doe is ready to birth it can cause tearing and trauma. Letting a delivery go longer than it should can exhaust a Mother and kid and cause other problems. I waited another 10 minutes to see if there would be any more progress. When there wasn't a marked change, I thought that rather than trying to pull the kid at this point, I would try to gently add massaging pressure with just my finger tips to help ease Lydia further open. It took about 5 minutes of good, progressive contractions, but the kid's second hoof eased close enough to push against my finger tips. It was too slippery to grab well. I kept gentle pressure with two fingers of my left hand near the nose that was poking out and with my other hand, I provided gentle traction to the second hoof. Then, everything slid into place and head and shoulders were born. I stopped assisting at this point.



The rest of the delivery should be relatively easy and it was. Lydia started sniffing her kid within a couple minutes of its little cries. Then, she began cleaning it. She delivered the smallest kid we have ever had born on the farm- a 2 pound, perfect lamancha doe kid. :) It took about an hour for little girl to get her legs under control and attempt to nurse, but she got the hang of it in no time. Both Lydia and Senorita Brigitta are doing great. They are separate from the rest of the herd to bond and get a good start together. Though Lydia is developing a good sized udder- we probably won't milk her this season. We generally give first time Mothers the year to get used to their new role. Since parasites tend to bloom shortly after birth, and can contribute to difficulties, we prefer not to add any pressure to first time Mommas, other than caring for their young. That can be challenging enough!
Photo Shoot Models. Kristen, Brianna, and Meaghan with Brigitta. :)
If cute sells, we should be out of jewelry real quick! :)

In the couple days since Brigitta's arrival, she has gotten her feet under her and is thriving. Today we had a bit of a photo shoot with Krissy, Meg and our friends, Brianna and Benny in and around the yard. Brigitta was in the thick of things. Lydia roamed by herself for a bit. When breaking into the chicken yard to steal some cracked corn failed, she came looking for her offspring. Brigitta was happy to see her mother and get a drink, too.

That is what is happening in our neck of the woods. We're making progress slow and steady. Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're glad you're here.

~Sean and Sonja ♥

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bangor Daily News Article

We were happy to welcome reporter, Lauren Abbate and photographer, Ashley Conti to our homestead a couple weeks ago. It was a pleasure to meet them and talk about our goats. You can read the article on Bangor Daily News. There is a video, too!

Thanks for visiting with us, friends!
~Sonja and Sean ♥

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Visit with Lumiwa Farm


Sean explaining proper looking hooves to Lucy 
After the hard start to the weekend, Sean and I needed a day to spend together. We decided to spend part of Sunday visiting the good folks of Lumiwa Farm in Milbridge. Lucy and Mitja adopted our Miss Haddie, MacKenzie and Bryce and little Moses in the beginning of March. They are doing so well in their new home. It gives me a happy glow to see goats we've delivered, raised and loved settling into a new home and family.

Our visit had a purpose. Haddie's hooves needed to be trimmed. Sean demonstrated how to trim all the goats' hooves. We also checked eye lids for anemia from spring time parasites and talked through the benefits of deworming the herd. And, everyone except Moses provided us with a fecal to get tested. MacKenzie seems to have a case of mites that will be handled with injections of Ivomectin. Overall, the herd is looking fantastic. Sean and I just couldn't be happier or more thankful for the good care they are receiving.

Throwing an extra bale encourages the girls to venture into the pasture and onto the play gear. 
On Monday evening, Sean and I took advantage of the seasonable evening to spend some time in the pasture with our own herd. Earlier in the day, I cut branches of spruce and pine for a treat. When Sean joined us, he distributed an extra bale of hay along the play equipment in the main pasture. Since it was the first time we would have Benny, Captain, and Frankincense in the pasture, we hoped keeping the big girls busy munching on hay would be advantageous. For the most part, it kept them busy. My soul needs the weather to finally change over into Spring. Spending time with the herd, watching their antics, gives me such a profound feeling of inner peace. As the weather tempers, we'll spend more time outside.

I captured some footage of the day for you to enjoy with us. A side note: Becca is doing very well. She has milk because she gave birth. We will not be milking her this season, but to help wean her milk supply, we let other kids nurse from her a little bit, from time to time. It has the benefit of lessening some of the discomfort of an engorged udder, but she is not being nursed regularly, so her milk supply should peter out quickly.


In typical Maine fashion, it snowed 3 inches overnight on Tuesday so the ground is coated with a blanket of cold, wet snow again. I am so very done with that! It shouldn't be much longer until warmth returns to our lives. The days are lengthening daily. Unmistakable signs are all around us. The hens are giving us around 2 dozen eggs each day. Miss Jordan (turkey yearling) is sitting on her first nest in the secondary doe stall's auxiliary hay manger inside the barn. She is not picky about which eggs she'll sit upon; we have to remove hen's eggs daily from her clutch. A broody hen has made a nest in an empty goat stall and is sitting on a mixture of 10 eggs donated from an assortment of hens willing to generously give to her cause. It is earlier than I would plan for chicks or poults to hatch, but they seem so intent, I haven't the heart to stop them. We'll see what comes of it.
Our chives are visible in the herb garden. I can't wait to be able to harvest some to season our chevre. Life is renewing.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Friday, March 31, 2017

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Complications During Goat Kidding: Becca's Delivery

Kidding season is awful. It just... is. For every three stories of it all going textbook perfect, you have one that goes sideways. Maybe only a little; a kid who needs a little help getting started with nursing. I live in dread of the big problems; the kids stuck in a birth canal and the necessity of a Cesarean, a kid presenting poorly and someone needs to pull the kid, a mother who doesn't make it. So many things can go wrong. I hate the feeling of inadequacy, the hind-sight of if only I had done... I like order and predictability. Goats throw well-laid plans out the window when they aren't kidding. A pregnant doe is about as predictable as the wind. Every respectable doe knows The Doe Code of Honor (read link) and lives by it. We have assisted or been present at more than 50 goat kiddings over the past 6 years. Though the vast majority of the kiddings went relatively smoothly, those that didn't, haunt me. And while I appreciate that each tragedy has taught me lessons, I would vastly prefer to live in a world that these things don't happen.

This year has been rough emotionally. We had a run of 10 births with no complications or slight issues that were easily fixed and both Mother and kid thrived. But, then we started the season losing Salome because her kid died while it was inside her and caused an infection that shut down her system. Even with the help from Shea from Knotty Goat Soapery and our veterinarian's assistance, we lost both Mom and kid. Salome's daughter, Ruth, went into labor about a month early. Ruth survived kidding, but we lost her kid. He wasn't viable that premature. Chloe's kidding was the first time we had a kid present with one leg and head and the other leg pinned straight back across his body. He survived the birth, but we lost our sweet Chloe to kidding complications a week after. Becca's kidding was the first time we had a kid present with its head twisted backwards and upside-down. Becca survived, but we lost her kid. All in all, 15 does were pregnant this season (Lydia has yet to kid- that should happen this coming week.); we lost two Mothers due to complications with kidding. We had 17 kids born to us this season; we lost Salome's kid with her, Ruth had her son prematurely, Becca's was twisted in the wrong position and died during the delivery, and Naomi kidded her baby in the night in the field alone. In addition to these heart-breaks, Bailey contracted mastitis after kidding and her son, Franklin was treated for pneumonia. Phoebe rejected her daughter, Benny, in favor of adopting Chloe's son, Captain, so we had our first bottle baby that needed to be raised inside our home this season, too. Another first, Cassie- the doe I was most hoping for kids from- was covered by Asher in October. I was there. She was in heat. Love was in the air. My expectations ran high. Cassie gained weight. She looked and acted pregnant. Right on schedule, 150 days later, her water broke... only there was no kid. There was no pregnancy. Cassie was our first case of pseudo-pregnancy. There is a good article about it HERE. So, no Cassie babies this year. Each year presents new and different challenges. This year has been a rough, terrible season of "firsts".

It is easy to dwell on the terrible things and all the "What ifs..." But, I cannot live that way for long. Flipping the stats around: We had 13 does who survived kidding season in good health and we have 13 kids who are thriving, bouncing balls of energy. According to our most recent fecal examinations, the barberpole worms that have plagued us in year's past are being managed well. Our bucks have all been moved out of the barn and away from the does completely, which means we have some hope that next year's breeding season will be more in our control. (It's okay to laugh at that sentence. But, I can hope.)

Image from Goat Vet Corner on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/goatvetcorner/
I recorded a video this morning in my studio about what happened with Becca's delivery. It is unedited and unscripted, so understand that my wording is not as precise it would be otherwise. I want to clarify the 30-30-30 rule I share in the video: Once the 2nd stage of labor has started (water breaks and pushing starts), you wait 30 minutes before intervening- unless something is obviously wrong. This is a rule of thumb, not absolute law. If there is something obviously wrong, get help. If 30 minutes passes and there is no progress, it is time to check internally for problems. Gloves on, lots of lubrication and gently try to feel out the situation. Keep your fingers together. You want to feel hooves and head. Use the chart I shared to visualize what you are feeling. (I have that chart saved to every device I own.) Once one kid is delivered, you wait 30 minutes for any other kids. Do not immediately try to pull the kid. If it can be born on its own, that is preferred. The Goat Vet Corner Group on facebook is invaluable. In this group you ask a question, and veterinarians answer the questions. While it is no substitute for a good relationship with your personal vet, I have learned so much there. There are many threads that deal with complications during delivery and explain the 30-30-30 rule better than I have. :)
After delivery, Becca felt weak, but with a good appetite.

Secondly, I want to be clear and candid. Becca's kid was alive when labor started. My misreading the situation contributed to her death. If I had gotten things right, I could have maybe pushed the kid back into the uterus to reposition the head and get it facing forward. If I had gone with my gut after the initial 30 minutes passed without progress and taken her to Dr. Tanja, she might have survived. (I changed my mind about going because there seemed to be progress after that. I saw and felt the hoof. Also, I was still waiting for a call back to see if she was home and available.) If I had called Shea sooner, she might have been able to turn the kid. I blame myself for getting it wrong. And that is just. Sean said, "Sonja, you know that there is no guarantee that anyone else pulling the kid would have changed the outcome. Sometimes it goes wrong." Shea consoled me with, "You will never forget what that feels like, Sonja. If you ever come across that again, you will know it." They are an amazing support system. But, they are wrong in this. This one was on me. I was not good enough this time. If I had understood the presentation properly, I would have known to push the kid back in to try to turn the head. I may not have been successful. It is a very tight space and the head was behind the pelvic bone, but I would have failed doing the right thing and not because I made a mistake. The one thing that is true is that I did my best. Doing nothing was a certain death sentence on both Becca and her kid. I called Dr. Tanja and left a couple messages. Time ran out and something had to be done. I did what I thought was the right thing. I was wrong and it cost Becca's kid her life. But, it saved Becca's life, too. And, Shea is partially right: I will never forget any of it.





Becca is recovering well and we hope for a complete recovery for her. The image on the left is a close up of the placenta still unpassed. We need to watch for a retained placenta and the complications that that would add. We are milking her several times each day to stimulate contractions to help with it's expulsion.

Becca is active this morning.
We are almost finished with kidding season. Only Lydia is left to kid. I am looking forward to putting another season behind us. Spring and summer have never looked so good.


Thank you for visiting with us. The road is not always an easy one, but I appreciate your sharing it with us.

~Sean & Sonja

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bee's Wax Wraps Give Away


Y'all it's been a little bit since I have had the time to write. And, I have a ton of things to fill you in on, but not the time to do them justice today, either. Today, I want to talk with you about the cool things happening to us in the land of retail. Sean and I and our friend, Benny participated in a BIG wholesale show in Pennsylvania at the beginning on February. It was awesome and exciting. We learned some and won some. We are happy to say that you can find our products now in 17 shops across the United States. Our goal is to grow to 50 shops by the end of the year. It is a reachable goal, but one that takes time to achieve.



I am going to spend a little time introducing you to the shops where you can find us. I thought a fun way to do that was to host a GIVE-AWAY. This first one will feature our Lally Broch Farm Bee's Wax Wraps. Our wraps are created from 100% cotton and Bee's Wax. I use them every day. No joke. I preserve left-overs from meals in bowls and cover them with wraps. I wrap up cheese and snacks in them. Sean's lunch sandwiches get wrapped in one. Because the bee's wax has permeated the cotton, whether I send him with tuna fish, buffalo chicken or PB&J, any mess rinses clean and I can reuse them the next day. Easy Peasy. I love them and I think you will, too. If you haven't tried them, now is your chance to win a set of six: two large 12x12 wraps and four small 9x9 wraps. If you have a set and love them, now is your chance to win yourself another one.

It is super easy to enter. All I ask you to do is visit the Facebook pages of the shops that are stocking our wraps. Give them a "like" if you haven't already. Write them a comment about why you want to try the wraps or how you like yours if you already own some. Or, just give them a friendly, "Hello." Lastly, please share the chance to win with your friends and family by sharing the give-away on your fb page. EVERY FB page you like and comment on is another entry to win. I am giving away 10 sets of wraps- one for each shop that carries them. The give-away ends on Saturday night at Midnight and we'll draw for winners on Sunday afternoon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't have FB, you can enter by visiting our Etsy Shop and clicking the "Favorite Shop" button. Please, leave us a comment on this post so we'll know to manually add you to the drawing list. :)

Thanks for visiting, Friends. So glad you're here. ♥
Sean and Sonja 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

GRAPHIC IMAGES: GOAT KIDDING COMPLICATIONS~ Three Assisted Goat Kiddings


What a couple of days!

Just as I feared, our next round of goats kidding happened while Sean was away at work. It is not that I feared handling kidding and potential complications on my own. I think I feel as comfortable as I ever will; I am calm during a crisis. (It is afterwards, as the effects of adrenaline are felt, that any tears flow.) I know what is normal for our does and what isn't. I am capable of calling in help if things go pear-shaped. It is more that Sean's presence is a steadying force for me- someone to talk things through, strong hands and an intelligent mind. Superman. Sean had 4 days off last week in the wake of Snowmaggedon. I had hoped that kidding would happen then, but it was not to be.

The girls and I have been taking turns in feeding Freddie his bottles and doing goat check. It was Meaghan who discovered Nyota in her stall with a hoof presenting from her tail end on Tuesday afternoon. I grabbed my goat kit and Meg and I headed to the barn.

Nyota is a beautiful yearling. She is one of last year's does that will be offered for sale this season. We did not intend to breed her until fall. She and one of the boys (I strongly suspect Eli) had other plans. She is smaller than I'd like, only 70 pounds, but healthy and in good condition. I was worried about possible complications of a too narrow pelvis, a too large kid, or another undesirable combination, but I was hopeful that her kidding would go well. Both her mother and grandmother kid easily and mother well. She comes from one of our best lines.


Before I got to the barn, I could hear Nyota screaming. While disconcerting, I realized that this is on par for Nyota. She's a very vocal goat. And, while I know birth is no picnic, she did not seem to be in imminent danger. In the stall, I could see a nose poking out on top of one long front leg. The other hoof was not in sight. This is not a perfect presentation, but it is not necessarily terrible. I weighed the risks of entering the birth canal with my hand against letting the delivery continue unassisted. I let 2 good contractions pass and decided the risk was necessary. Meaghan squirted a good amount of lubricant on my clean hand and I carefully inserted my fingers to feel for the missing hoof. It was right at the entrance, easy to loop and carefully pull through. Once the hoof was in its proper position, Nyota delivered her kid without further assistance from me.

Maternal instincts kicked in and Nyota cleaned her daughter vigorously. In sticking with our "Sound of Music" naming theme for those kids born that will not remain here on the homestead, we dubbed her Gretl. She is gorgeous. All kids are cute, but this lass is a beauty. She has her Mother's highlighted ears and an inky black coat. I suspect her father is Eli. This makes her mostly Lamancha with a smidge of Sanaan in her. Eli has given us 3 naturally polled (horns won't grow) kids this season. It is too early to see if Gretl is another one, but it is a possibility. Unfortunately for us, she has the gene for the Sanaan ears, which means she'll be offered for sale. On the bright side, they will be sold together and we will find a perfect home for these special ladies. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Nyota took to milking like a pro. We collected fresh Colostrum to freeze without a kick or mis-step. Nyota felt our hand on her udder and squatted for us to milk what we needed without grain or any kind of fuss.



Eve has been sharing a stall with Nyota during her confinement. They are cousins born the same time last year. We've been treating Eve for parasites. She wasn't in bad condition, but she is small and more timid than some of the bossy girls in the main doe stalls. I was worried she wasn't eating her share of the hay. Nyota had been loudly protesting her separation from the herd into a private kidding stall, so a good solution was to pen them together. And, that worked great... until Nyota kidded. Those maternal instincts, y'all!

I moved Eve into the adjoining stall with Jem and Iscah. They are still in isolation for the same reason. Jem is so docile that I was worried she wouldn't get enough hay to eat in general population and I worried that she wouldn't defend her kid from the bigger does. She had no problem defending Iscah from Eve. She gave her a hard body check into a wall that rattled me. "Well, that is not going to work." I asked Meg to bring Eve back to the main doe stall with her mother until I could rearrange the goats while I watched the new family to make certain that Gretl was going to nurse.

The rest of this story is like a one-woman Three Stooges skit. I heard a loud bang and a cry from the main doe area. Loud enough it caused me to hop the fencing and race around the barn to see what happened. As I approached, I spotted Sarah upside-down with her feet sticking up and her head craned back, stuffed inside the large red family cooler we use for water. I thought she was dead. It looked that bad. I jumped the fence and pulled her free. Sarah stood up, shook herself off and walked to the hay manger to grab a mouthful of hay. Her back end was dripping wet, but otherwise she seemed unfazed. I called the house for Meaghan to bring me more towels. While I was watching Sarah for any signs of trouble, I witnessed Lily bash into Eve, sending her sprawling. I think Lily probably gave Sarah a good hit and caught her just right to trip her inside the container. Crazy! I gathered Eve and Sarah into a private stall along with Leah, Eve's Mom. But, there was about 3 inches of soiled hay built up around the door, so I couldn't close it. (Snowmaggedon the day after we returned from our business trip + Sean working a full week + Sonja neck injury flair up = no barn clean out in about a week.) I kicked the heavy hay out of my way until I could close the door and latch it, ignoring my protesting neck and shoulder muscles and mentally kicking myself for waiting for the weekend to ask Superman to tackle this chore.

My sigh of relief was cut short by a BANG ten feet away. Haddie rammed the door between herself and Anna forcefully. Anna took offense and retaliated by hitting her side of the door, hard enough to break the latch. A second hit from Anna opened the door enough so that a curious Liesl could put her head and shoulders through. No!!!! If Haddie, MacKenzie, or Bryce hit their side, the kid could be severely injured or killed. I jumped the gate, opened the door to the outside and freed Haddie's family group to the yard. I could not secure the door without clearing the stall, so I freed Anna and Liesl to the yard and got to work cleaning the stalls and repairing the latch as best as I could. Superman would not be pleased that I was mucking an entire stall of heavy hay and shavings, but it had to be done. He pulled in just as I finished spreading new shavings. He took one look at me covered in placenta, blood and poo and wisely said nothing more than, "Let's get you into the shower, Babe. Are you giving your part tonight at the meeting or should I offer to substitute?"

In the end, we both showered and I did my Bible study demonstration part at our meeting for worship. Then, I collapsed with some good muscle relaxers and a heating pad.

Image from Goat Vet Corner on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/goatvetcorner/
Benny and Captain
On Wednesday, I made plans to be away from home preaching in the morning with Kristen and in the afternoon with Meaghan with our friend and homestead helper, Benny. I checked the animals before I left. Meg would keep an eye out while I was gone in the morning and Krissy would watch them in the afternoon. We dropped Kristen back home just before 1 pm and picked up Meg, excited for an afternoon of spiritual activity. Kristen called at 1 pm- "Chloe is kidding. Come home quick." Change in gears and plans.

Benny grabbed her street clothes from her trunk while Meg and I changed into barn clothes. I grabbed the kit and headed to the barn. "I think it is too late, Mom. The kid is dead." Kristen said as I went past. Chloe presented with her kid's head fully delivered, sac broken, no hooves visible.  The kid was alive, but I could understand why Kristen thought it wasn't. It's tongue was split and bleeding from the prolonged pressure. It's face was swollen. But, it was alive. It wouldn't suffocate while it was still attached to the umbilical, but both the kid and Chloe were in trouble. Meaghan squirted lubricant on my hands and I eased one inside to check for hooves. I could feel one bent back just at the opening. I looped two fingers around it and brought it forward and out. "Okay. One leg and a head delivered. Now to find the other hoof." I thought. I felt along the other side of the kids body. Nothing. I felt under it. Nothing. I closed my eyes, visualizing what I was feeling. I could feel the birth canal and the pelvis bones further back. I could not breach my hand past the pelvis. "Should I try to push the kid back inside and reposition?" I looked over and caught sight of Phoebe. "That looks like a contraction... Could I provide enough traction to free the trapped shoulder?... Yes, Phoebe is definitely also starting labor.... One thing at a time..." I tried in vain for 10 minutes or so to pull the kid free. This kid was not budging. "Okay. Breathe. Think. In or out?"  I slathered on more lubrication, shot Phoebe another glance, then inserted my hand again feeling for any change, any sign of that other hoof. It just wasn't there. "Maybe Meg's smaller hand can reach further in?"


Assisting a difficult delivery is no fun for anyone involved.

"Your hand are smaller than mine. Do you want to try feeling for the other hoof?" I asked Meg.

"I'll try." She replied. I advised her to keep all her fingers together and move them as a single unit.

"Can you feel the difference between the kid and the mother?" I asked. "Wait to feel a contraction. When it stops, try to slowly, but firmly push forward a little to feel for where the kid meets the back wall. Very carefully, Meg. Keep your fingers together." I guided.

"I'm not sure." Meg had four fingers inside up to the finger joint. "I can't go any further. It's too hard."

Still attached by umbilicus. Hoping Mom would begin
cleaning and care.
"Okay. I'll try again. Good job, Meg." I dried my hands and tried providing traction again to pull the kid free. Nothing. This kid was not budging. "It's hung up on that shoulder," I thought. "I have to try to ease it past the pelvis." I added more lubrication and carefully slipped my hand back inside. I waited through a contraction. I tried moving the kid to the side to try to free the shoulder. Nothing. at this point about 20 minutes had passed. Everything I did was hurting Chloe and I didn't know how much more either of them could take. Deep breath. I got a good grip behind the kid's head and around the shoulder that was free. With the next contraction, I pulled as hard as I dared and there was movement. The shoulder cleared the birth canal. I could see that the missing leg was straight out, pinned back along its body. With the kid delivered up to its navel, I stopped helping and let the rest of the delivery happen.

Within a few more minutes, the kid was completely born. It was alive. Its tongue was so swollen it couldn't fit inside its mouth. But, it wasn't suffocating. I turned my attention to Chloe. She was weak and obviously in pain. The girls had spent the time rubbing her head and encouraging her while she was in labor. The next step was to get her some quick energy reserves and evaluate the potential issues. I tried to introduce her kid to her. My thought was that the effort of cleaning her kid, might perk her up. She was not interested in this terrible thing that just emerged. I tried for a little while to introduce them, but that was not happening. Even on a nice day, 40* is big trouble to a wet kid. I started to clean the kid off and get it dry. And, we moved to a private stall. Meaghan grabbed a bucket of grain laced with molasses. Kristen fetched fresh water and hay. Chloe took a mouthful of the grain before returning to her trance-like stare into nowhere. One of the girls plugged in the heating pad for me. While I dealt with cleaning the kid and dipping its cord, Benny focused on talking soothingly to Chloe and petting her.

Wrapped in heating pad. Checking for suck response.
My biggest concern for Chloe was the amount of blood lost- more than I am used to, the risk of infection, and the fear that I had damaged her internally with my interference. I know that nursing releases hormones that help Moms to bond with their young and helps contract the uterus. I carefully milked a small amount from both sides. It was dirty and not suitable for the kid, but it might help Chloe. "If she was bleeding internally, there was not a whole lot anyone could do. An infection would take some time to show itself. I have antibiotics on hand- that's an easy injection. A shot of Vitamin B wouldn't hurt. And, 5 CCs of Propylene Glycol might help perk her up. Should I risk Banamine?" I left the kid wrapped with one of the girls and went inside to gather the medicines I thought I needed- including the Banamine. Chloe's eyelids had turned a pale whitish-pink. My fear was that if she had internal bleeding, the Banamine could exacerbate that problem. On the other hand, goats can and do die from pain. I would decide when I got another look at her. My plan was to get the Vitamin B and Glycol into her and give her a little time. If she was still unresponsive, I decided I would risk the Banamine.

Back in the stall, Chloe showed no interest in her kid. She actively ran from him and butted him away when he got too close. While it was hard to see her reject this kid, it showed more energy than she'd had just minutes before. I decided to wait on the Banamine. Meaghan grabbed a flake of second cut hay and Chloe began eating slowly, but methodically. "Okay. She's not out of the woods, but on to Problem Number 2: This kid needed to be able to suck or I was going to have to tube feed him." New kids have a short window in which to gain the antibodies they need from their mother's colostrum. This kid was alert and walking unsteadily, but it had no rooting instinct or suck reflex. I had time, but I worried that the swelling would not recede as quickly as I needed it to. 'First things first. Warm the kid. Then, feed the kid." We needed to focus on getting him completely dried and warm. Kristen took the kid inside to warm him on the heating pad while I checked on Phoebe and moved her into the stall with Chloe. I had to watch both of them and this was the best way to do that.

Phoebe was in labor. Contractions came every 5 minutes. She strained with each one, throwing back her head and calling in pain. I wasn't worried. Phoebe has kidded well in the past. I didn't think she'd have trouble this time. An hour passed with no bubble or wetness. The contractions were coming steadily and were hard on her. My gut said something was not right. I poured on some lubrication and carefully slipped a couple fingers inside to see if I could feel a kid in the birth canal. Nothing was there. When Sean called to check in, I asked him to call the vet, fill her in on Chloe's situation and ask her to be ready to come out if Phoebe's kidding went badly. A second hour past with no progress. Phoebe looked like she was pushing with each contraction, but without the standard "bubble" and no wetness, I wasn't sure if she was in active labor or the pre-labor was harder on her than before. And, then, a gush of water and that beautiful "bubble" I had been awaiting! "Okay. That is more like it!" 
Captain could not retract his tongue fully.
It was too swollen.
Meaghan returned to the stall with some cocoa for Benny. "Kristen wants to know if we can take the kid now. She is afraid he is going to die with her. He is drooling a lot."

"Yes. If he is warm and dry, you can bring him back to us." I replied.

When Meaghan returned, Phoebe took an immediate interest in the rejected kid. She licked him and nuzzled him between contractions. "Good!" I thought. "We might have a solution to this problem, too. That tongue is still a concern, but if he can drink and Phoebe wants to adopt him, that would be best for everyone."

Labor progressed swiftly, but Phoebe's kid was also presenting with her head and only one hoof. The other hoof was easy to find and bring forward and delivery happened without complications. Phoebe turned to give her newly delivered kid a couple token licks before moving back to the adopted kid. "Oh no!" I encouraged her to pay attention to her own kid. "Phoebe, look... this is your baby." I coerced. Phoebe was unimpressed. She refused to clean the kid. We waited as long as we could and then, we toweled the newly born doeling ourselves. I tried rubbing the adopted kid on Phoebe and the newly delivered kid so that the scents might be similar. She was not moved. I took the doe and rubbed her all over Chloe's placenta hoping that they might smell similar. Phoebe wasn't fooled. While she would allow the adopted kid to nurse from her, she pushed away her own kid. We tried over the next hour with no success. Phoebe graduated from disinterest in her kid to open hostility.


"Okay. She got the first kid warm and dry, maybe we repeat those steps and see if that will work." The girls took the new girl into the house to finish drying her off and warm her with the heating pad. Sean kidnapped the adopted kid from Phoebe, too. We hoped that Phoebe would be missing her kid to the point that she might better accept the girl when we brought her back outside. We left the boy inside and reintroduced only her own kid. Phoebe used her horns to toss her kid aside, calling frantically for her adopted kid. "You've got to be kidding me! C'mon!" 

We hold Phoebe steady to allow Brigitta to drink milk
in between bottle feedings of the same.
Sean brought Phoebe's adopted kid to the stall. Immediately, she raced to greet her lad, calling and cleaning him briskly. Despite the swollen tongue, he latched on and drank with gusto. This ending is bitter sweet. I am choosing to remember this: no matter how we slice it, one of these kids was rejected. The one needing extra support, has been adopted by a deeply, possessive doe with a strong maternal instinct. Phoebe is one of the does we planned on selling this season. The kid she has adopted is not related to her and when he is grown, would make either a great wethered companion for her or a decent stud for the herd Phoebe is adopted into someday. Phoebe's abandoned doeling will be easy to find a good home for when the time comes. In accord with this year's "Sound of Music" naming theme, Phoebe's doeling has been named Brigitta. Her adopted buckling is called Captain.

Chloe was administered an antibiotic with a repeat planned for 48 hours and a shot of Banamine at night and again in the morning as recommended by our veterinarian. She felt the benefits outweighed the risks. Chloe passed her placenta and is acting normally. We'll give her some time before putting her back in general population. This will allow us to make sure that she getting enough hay without having to compete for food while her body resolves the anemia and fights off any potential infection.

Phoebe passed her placenta this morning and is caring for Captain beautifully. Captain's swelling is all but gone. If I didn't know to look for it, I would not notice it at all. He is drinking normally and behaving perfectly.

Nyota and Gretl are in good health and condition. We expect them to continue to thrive.


Brigitta with Gretl
Miss Brigitta is living in a playpen inside the house for the moment. We bring her outside to drink directly from her mother a couple times each day. We have to hold Phoebe still and protect Brigitta from her aggression. Though it is unlikely, we have hope that Phoebe might in time accept her daughter. Since it is impossible to know how much nutrition Brigitta is getting in these outings, we are also milking Phoebe and bottle-feeding Brigitta through the day, too. Brigitta is fed every 3 hours around the clock. It is inconvenient and exhausting, but that is what is best for her. Because she is alone, we take turns bringing Captain and Gretl for an hour at a time visit with her. In this way, she will be able to play with other goats and learn some goat behavior. Being raised by humans sets her at a disadvantage in learning goat things and being part of the herd. It is unavoidable at this time. Our plan is that as soon as she is big enough, she will start to spend the night outside with the other kids in their separate pen, returning inside for the daytime hours. Whenever we go to the barn, we bring her with us to get her used to other goats. We'll continue to plan supervised barn and pasture times until the weather changes and she grows large enough to rejoin her herd full time. She has a long road ahead of her.

Three other kids were born on the farm at the end of last month into the beginning of February that I did not tell you about in detail yet. I wanted to get this down before I forgot the details. When I can, I will add the births of Liesl to Anna and Franklin and Kurt to Bailey. :) We think we have our final two kiddings of the season coming in the next couple weeks. Naomi looks to be pregnant (again!). She was one that I hoped would rest this year. She and one of those bucks had other ideas. She kids easily, is a wonderful mother, and is in good condition, so I am not overly worried about this one. Cassie is pregnant for the first time. She is a 3 year old beauty that we have been looking forward to breeding. We know she mated with Asher in October. I have high hopes for this pairing, but I am worried because I don't know how she'll do.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends.
Sean and Sonja ♥

Sunday, January 15, 2017

GRAPHIC: Live Goat Kidding: Rachel Gives Birth to Twins!

After our meeting for worship this morning and a Bible Study this afternoon, animal chores were a collective effort. Our plan for the day included Sean clearing out some of the upstairs in the barn- sorting that which still serves a purpose from that which needs to find a new home among the things that have been collecting dust (and barn swallow droppings- ew!) over the past couple years. The girls had the day to do whatever they wanted. And, I had high hopes of making a couple batches of soap, creating 100 scent tarts and painting some new eggshell jewelry in preparation for the regional trade show we just got accepted to- in February (Yikes!!!!) [I am super excited about this opportunity and will post all about our preparation for it in another post.]

Rachel had other ideas~ it was time to have those kids!


We attempted a "Go Live" Facebook feed with Abigail, but we were unable to finish it when she decided to wait several days before having her lads. Sean was in the barn working and saw Rachel go into labor. Since she has historically been an easy kidder, she was a perfect candidate to attempt a live feed of her kids' birth. You can find the video on our Lally Broch Farm Facebook Page. (<--- Click link) The birth went beautifully, though my shaky cell phone video leaves a lot to be desired. Holding a phone in one hand and attempting to dry kids, dip umbilical cords and attend to Momma goat is nearly impossible. Add to that, we live in a rural area with terrible cell phone coverage- so the video gets spotty in places. What I can say for it is this: It is real. This is what happened start to finish. We are happy to welcome you to our world. Please recognize it for what it is- and bear with us. :)

A couple people asked some questions about how we managed this kidding. Since more of you might be interested in the answers, I'll share them here, too.

Why did you allow other goats present at the birth? Each of our goat does has different preferences. Jane, Abigail, and Lily never want another goat in sight. Even their own kids from past seasons are seen as threats and driven away. Rachel and Keziah are different. When Rachel and Keziah kidded last time, Rachel stood protectively over her daughter, licking her from time to time, calling softly while Keziah was in labor. When the kids came, Rachel and Keziah shared child-rearing duties. They cleaned the new kids together and allowed the kids to nurse from either of them. With that in mind, we housed the ladies in a kidding stall together. Keziah kidded first this time and Rachel was there to help. If at any time either doe showed signs of stress, we would have separated them.

What do we use to clean the umbilical cords? We use a solution of iodine and water. Many people use iodine straight. We don't because we think that a slightly diluted mixture is less harsh on the tender skin. You should talk to your veterinarian about what they suggest and do what works best for you.

Why did you not pull on the placenta to help clean it off? The placenta should pass on its own within 24-48 hours. We'll watch closely for it to do so. As the kids nurse, the mother's uterus will contract. The mild contractions will help the placenta to pass naturally. While it may seem cleaner than allowing the membranes to drag on the stall floor or spread bloody goo across the kids' heads, pulling on it is very dangerous. It can cause Placental Abruption which can cause serious hemhorraging and lead to death. Never try to detach the placenta. If you are worried about Retained Placenta, get expert advice from your veterinarian. Also, it may look gross, but the placenta and its fluids leave scent on the kids. This helps with bonding between mother and offspring.

Why did you remove the towels with the amniotic sacks? I thought the does would eat that? Does can and will eat the amniotic membranes and placentas. They are rich in nutrients and won't harm the mothers. Because it was 15* outside when these kids were born and Rachel was more interested in cleaning up the mess than getting her kids immediately dried off, we removed the distraction. It would not have hurt to leave it all alone. Another time, we might leave things alone. It is a case by case thing.

These coats are a little large, but with easy off
velcro fasteners, they won't pose a problem if they come loose.
Why did Sean help pull on the 2nd kid? From your vantage point, you may not have been able to see clearly, but as Rachel pushed, the second kid's head was completely delivered with one hoof tucked under the chin. Rachel may very well have been able to continue pushing to deliver that kid all on her own, but it would have added to the time she was in discomfort. Or, she may have struggled since both hooves were not exactly as they should have been. Sean straightened the one hoof he could see. That relieved enough pressure that the kid delivered smoothly. Since Rachel was standing, he kept a hand on the kid to ease the kid to the ground. Kids are resilient and mothers frequently allow them to plop onto the ground at birth. Out of concern for some viewer's sensibilities, he didn't let that happen.

If you have other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Though some practices are universally agreed upon, there is room for many "styles" of goat-keeping. For example, our friend, Shea disbuds her kids, we don't. (Disbudding is the practice of removing a goat's horns, usually by burning the horn buds as a kid.) Though we handle this differently, both of our choices are thoughtfully made. We agree that banding is barbaric. (Sean disagrees with the verbage, "barbaric". I, however maintain vehemently that wrapping a rubber band around a goat kid's testicles until they rot off is the very definition of a barbaric act. If you would not allow it done to your dog or cat- don't do it to your livestock.) Wethering goat kids should be done by a veterinarian under anesthesia and with pain medication administered after, too. Whether we handle a matter the same or differently, we respect each other, learn from each other, and are always willing to consider a better way of caring for our animals.

Thanks for spending time with us tonight, friends. We love your company.

~Sean and Sonja ♥