Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Goats in Diapers

It has begun.

At the start of evening chores last night, Sean swept inside to greet my friend, Cherrie and I with a newly delivered, wet heap of limp fur. The lump was very cold from its abrupt entrance into the world from the warmth of its mother's body. It had been licked mostly clean and the cord cared for. Naomi was standing with the little one in the barn, interested in this new life.

"Whose?" I asked Sean.

"I think the red dwarf's. She was standing with the kid and protecting it. I looked around quickly for others, but I'll head back out in a second to check Mom and see if we're done or expecting another." Sean replied as he headed for the bathroom to run some warm water and I went to fetch a towel.

"Boy or girl?" I asked.

"I didn't take the time to look. It was cold. I just scooped and headed inside." Sean answered.

"But, there weren't any others out there?" I worried.

"Not yet. I am headed back out to check out Mom. Just want to get her wrapped up first." Sean assured me.

"Well, Zach gave us a lovely gift." I paused looking the kid over. "It doesn't look like Naomi or Zach, though, does it? All black with some white spots. And, the size is wrong. Too big to be a dwarf kid. That is Asher's kid. Look, Lamancha ears. Are you sure that's Naomi's kid? It's a he, not a she, by the way." I rattled off.

"I'll take him." Cherrie offered and settled with the kid on her lap.

Sean went back to the barn, while Cherrie and I petted the new buckling. I named him Samson. Molly was very interested in this new addition. She stood sniffing him, desperate to see if it was either edible or chase-able. Each time the kid let out a little "meh..." Molly jumped to attention, barking and wiggling, determined to investigate and possibly eat this new thing. So exciting!

Molly was not to be deterred from an introduction. Her barking was loud and startling to the kid. I did not want to put her in another room, though. We are in the very beginning of her bonding with us as her pack. And, we are hoping that Molly is going to be a working dog on our farm.

So, I took Samson, sleepy, but warm and sat with him on the floor to begin the careful first introductions.
"What is this new thing?" Molly wonders.
"Smells delicious from top to bottom!"
"How 'bout a little taste?" Molly wanted to nip so badly and
pounce, but she did really well for a first meeting with just
sniffing and licking.
Sean returned inside to reveal that Samson's mother is, in fact, Ellie's daughter, Abigail born to us April 1, 2012. (Read about Abigail HERE.) Our first doe kid born on our homestead had her first kid last night. That's kind of cool. Abigail was doing fine physically and only birthed the one kid. Since Samson was warmed and dry, Sean and I decided to return him to his mother and move the pair of them to the milking room with some fresh hay to bed in, near the rest of the herd, but safe from accidental trampling.

Abigail was easily coaxed away from the herd with an extra serving of grain. But, that is where the ease ended. She wanted nothing to do with her kid. Each time Samson tried to get close to her, she either stepped on him in an effort to escape or lowered her head and rammed him forcefully with her horns. Maybe, she was just scared? After all, this is all new to her. She just gave birth. Abigail was probably a bit unnerved by the experience and more than a little sore! We decided to bring Ellie into the same stall to see if she would accept Samson and show Abigail that it was alright.

We wanted to make sure there was no plug formed in Abby's udder to prevent nursing. Sean held Abigail gently, petting her while I attempted to massage her udder to get some colostrum to flow. After a minute or two of no success, we switched places. Abigail had not yet bagged up, so her udder was really small and hard to hold, but Sean was able to get colostrum from both sides. We attempted to encourage Samson to nurse, but he was disinclined, wanting only to sleep. I was hopeful that the physical relief of nursing coupled with the endorphines and hormones released by nursing would help Abigail to accept her son. But, no one was cooperating and it was getting late. We decided to leave Ellie, Abby, and Sam to rest. We'd check them again in a few hours.

Sean checked them through the evening hours. Each time, Abigail was nowhere near her offspring. Ellie was willing to lay next to him, but without that maternal bond, she was just as likely to wander to another spot in the hay and leave Samson all alone in the cold. As the temperature dropped to 2* and finding Samson alone and cold to the touch on his last visit to the barn for the evening, Sean decided that it was safer to bring Samson inside for the night. Which explains how we retired to sleep with a goat kid wearing a diaper, laying in the crook of my arm. Sean cradling Molly in his arm and neither of us were very hopeful of getting much sleep. As it turned out, Sean slept like a log. I awoke to Molly laying across my chest, snuggling under my chin, snoring softly, wrapped in one arm and Samson wrapped securely in my other arm on the other side. Oh, the glamorous life of a farm wife!

Still, everyone survived their first night and now that morning had dawned, I was hopeful that Abigail would be in a better frame of mind to accept her kid. I have zero interest in bottle feeding a goat kid. I do not believe it is what is best for the kid. As a very last resort, I will do it, but thankfully, I have never had to. Even when we have a rough start, our does have always come around to care for their kids. I was worried that Samson seemed too weak to stand for any length of time and he was not showing any signs of wanting to nurse. In my experience, most goat kids will attempt to suckle fingers. Samson was not interested.

Sean and I ventured to the barn to greet Abigail and Ellie and feed them some grain. While Abigail was busy eating, Sean held her collar gently, lest she decide to kick or bolt and I attempted to coax Samson to try to eat. I was very encouraged and relieved when Samson perked up and wiggled his way around his mothers underside searching for milk. Abigail was not happy with the proceedings and stamped her feet in agitation. I started each nipple so that the colostrum flowed easily and helped Samson to latch on. He drank for a few minutes before losing his place and tried to nurse from Abigail's leg. I helped him latch on a couple more times. Abigail was very upset. She refused to eat her grain, she stepped into her water bucket, kicked over her grain bucket, and moved away or attempted to kick Samson repeatedly. This was not promising. I prayed some quick petitions asking for help. I do not want to bottle feed this kid! I feel terribly inadequate to the task and I am daunted by the thought of having to milk several times a day to collect enough milk for Sam. And, I will confess that I just don't want to have to find the time in my schedule to baby a goat kid, too! All in all, it would be much better for everyone, especially Samson, for Abigail to be the Momma. It is best for him to have full access to his herd to socialize and learn to be a goat, to have all his mother's milk to himself for a few weeks. It is best for our schedule to milk once a day- just in the mornings- beginning in March. Obviously, if it is necessary, I will do it, I just don't want to!

After 2 hours of watching and hoping, Sean decided it was safest and best to bring Samson back inside with us. Abigail is not only uninterested, she is actively attempting to injure Sam. Sean hand-milked Abigail and we filled one of the kidding bottles with it. I offered it to Sam, but he did not want to drink from it. I am hoping he got enough while outside with Abigail and he was just tired and ready to nap. I'll try again in a little while. We are not giving up. When Sean returns for lunch, we'll bring Samson back outside and try to hold Abigail steady for Sam to nurse. Maybe, if Abigail bags up and feels the relief of nursing, she'll be better inclined to allow it. I am still praying for that outcome.

Thankfully, I am not alone in caring for this new one. Miss Meaghan was kind enough to kid-sit for me while I wrote this, washed the floor, showered and got ready to work. Kristen and my niece, Micayla will take their turns, too.

Sean came home for lunch and held Abigail steady so Samson could nurse. The girls tried to use the bottle to feed him mid-afternoon, but he could not get the hang of it. He was able to drink about an ounce from a bowl, which was promising. Then, at 5 pm, Sean brought Sam outside to nurse again and Abigail let down much quicker and allowed him to nurse a little before walking away. We are still hoping and praying she'll accept him in the days to come.

In the meantime, I am very pleased to announce the birth of Samson to our farm. The first of the 2014 kids has arrived. He is a beauty and will make a fine addition to grow someone's Lamancha herd in the years to come. His dam and sire are unregistered with the ADGA, but both could be. I'll be searching for a good home for him in the months to come.

Thanks for visiting, friends. We're glad you stopped by.

Sonja ♥

And the winner to our drawing is: Heather Browning Dugas. Please, PM me on FB with your address and choice of soap scent. :) If I do not hear from you by 5 pm EST Feb 19, 2014, a new winner will be chosen. 

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