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 ♥

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My First Solo Kidding; Jemimah and Iscah

Hooves at ready!
I finished the last post and thought, "I really want to try to grab a nap today. Maybe I should go lay down for a bit now." But, Freddie would need his bottle in another half hour. I need some real rest, not a cat nap. I warmed his bottle a little early with the intention of feeding him, checking everyone else and coming back inside. I was greeted in the secondary main doe stall with Jemimah laying on her side and one perfect hoof sticking out her hind end.

"Not now!" I thought. Sean is working today. I am exhausted and alone. This is Jemimah's first kidding. Flashbacks of the last week and its complications and horrors started playing in full color through my brain. I went back inside the house, grabbed the kidding kit with a quick call of, "Can one of you girls come help me? Jem is kidding!" and raced back to the barn.

I dropped to my knees to survey what I was seeing. Both front hooves were presenting, no nose yet. I watched as Jemimah had one contraction, then another, and another. Nothing was moving along. Jemimah called with every contraction, frantic. "You're doing a good job, Momma. Keep pushing, Sweetheart." I repeated over and over again- mostly for the comfort of simply hearing a voice. With the next contraction, I tried applying steady pressure to the kid's legs to see if I could get any kind of traction. Nothing. "Okay." I pushed on the legs to move them back inside, just peeking out the opening. Gently, I felt to see if there was a nose at ready. There was. "Ok. Good."

Meaghan reached the barn. "Please, go to the mudroom. Find the black crate with the hose in it. I need the crate." Bending over and pulling puts my back in enormous pain. I will do it when necessary, but if I can sit instead or kneel, that is better for me. Meaghan returned with the crate. "I need a towel from the kit- two would be great." She handed them over. "Go into the house and get the vegetable oil on Uncle Oscar's hutch." I directed. (We used the last of the lubricant in our vet bag with other kiddings and I hadn't had time to get to a store to pick up more.) When she returned, I poured a generous amount over my hands in preparation to feel inside Jemimah to try to determine the hold up. I could not push inside with the hooves in the way, so I gently pulled them straight again. Carefully, I slipped my hand inside. I could feel the kid's head right at the entrance. I glided my hand over its head towards its ears, visualizing what I was feeling. Everything felt right. I could feel the head past the cervix. The legs were free. "What is holding this up?"

The kid began kicking its legs frantically. I will not lie. I lost my calm. I know that so long as the kid is still attached by its umilicus, it is getting oxygen. That doesn't change that in that moment, all I could think was, "Oh God! It's suffocating. I was not fast enough. I am doing it all wrong." When the kids legs stopped moving, my tears started to flow. "Not again!" I thought. "Meaghan, go into the house. My phone is charging by the sink. Call Shea." "Why didn't I call her immediately. Why did I try to assist this kid alone?" ran through my head, a litany of every past mistake I had ever made, like nails in a coffin.

Wet, tired, and just born.
With the next contraction, a nose peeked out and a tiny tongue moved. "Alive! Still alive! Okay. You have to do this. Think!" I pushed the hooves back into the birth canal once more. My hope was that the little bit of movement I was making, would allow more room for the head to emerge. I slipped my hand back inside and could feel the whole head in the birth canal. It seemed to only thing holding it up was skin. "Could I ease the skin around the head without tearing it?" I pushed my right hand down at the base of the tail, where you check for soft ligaments and with my left hand, I gently pushed back the skin around the kid's head. That seemed to work a little. I grasped both hooves in my right hand and pulled steadily down, adding traction to the kids head, too. And, just as Shea drove in the driveway, the kid slid into the world, a slick blob of black fur and fluids. Happy doesn't begin to cover it. I was overwhelmed with relief and thankfulness. We did it.

Jemimah was confused. She spent a great deal of time sorting her tail end out, giving this new life an occasional lick. I removed most of the mucus and fluids, but not all of them. I tried to balance getting the kid dry and warm with encouraging Jem to care for her youngster. Then, it was business as usual. I dipped the cord, helped the kid to latch on for her first sips of colostrum, gave Jem a helping of grain and took pictures.

All four of our kidding stalls are already filled. To give her space and privacy, I temporarily screwed a pallet across the opening of the stall Jemimah was in and put down fresh hay for her to bed down in until Sean could help with a more permanent solution. Satisfied that Momma was caring for the little one and no one else was going to gift me with another kid, I went back inside.

I have never been so happy to skip a nap in my life! The adrenaline has worn off and in its wake exhaustion is back. Rest will come later. For now, Sean just walked in the door. I have some news to share with him.

I am very pleased to introduce our latest kid, Iscah (pronounced Iss-cah). She is just beautiful. And, our third Lamancha doe born this season.

~Sonja ♥

Goat Kids are Here!

Kidding season is a roller coaster of emotions. Some years there are more highs than lows. It will take many highs to even out the lows of this one. But, we have a beginning...

I have been praying incessantly for wisdom and guidance to do what is best, for grace to accept the outcomes I didn't desire, and in thanks for all that we have been blessed to receive. Even in the moments of heartbreak, there is always something to be thankful for if you look. I don't know that the three kiddings yesterday were an answer to my prayer. I don't know that it works that way, but they were a balm for the exposed nerves of my soul.

Sean has been taking the midnight and 3 am feedings for Fredrick. It is a kind and loving thing for him to do. The alarm Sean sets rarely wakes me, but the missing familiar warmth when he goes usually does. I wait for him to return and inquire, "Is everyone alright?"

"Yes, they look good. Resting. Chewing their cud or sleeping." Sean replies.

"Okay" I murmur and drift back to sleep for the next 3 hour window.

Happy, proud Momma ♥
Last night, I waited for Sean to come back to bed. When he didn't, I got up to see what was amiss. It was raining. The weather turned from hovering around either side of 1* for the past couple of days to a balmy 30* night and brought with it rain. I saw the light from the barn and in its glow, Sean scooping rain water pooling outside of the kidding stall door. I watched him for a bit. His rhythmic scoops and body language said nothing was wrong with the animals, just repair work that needed to be attended to. My mind was awake, so I wandered back into the kitchen for a glass of orange juice. Our dinner dishes sat accusing me from the kitchen sink. I was awake and didn't want to go back to bed alone, so I washed them. Then, I turned my attention to cutting some cotton for the Bee's Wax Wraps I planned to make in between routine chores or emergencies. When Sean still hadn't come inside, I ventured back to the studio to see what what amiss.

Warm, dry and sweatered!
I saw him inside the kidding stall. From the corner of my eye, I noticed our kidding kit was not by the door. Strange. I flashed the outside light to get Sean's attention and watched his movements as he came back toward the house for any sign of distress or sadness in his step. What I saw was a man, tired but at peace. "We have a girl. She's perfect. Keziah kidded."

"You didn't wake me! You didn't need my help?" I asked more sharply than I intended from concern for the animals and alarm that something happened without me.

"You needed some sleep. And, it was done before I got there. Keziah kidded, cleaned and dried without me, too. I wanted to let you sleep until morning and show you then." I paused pulling on my barn boots. "Go ahead. You're not going to sleep until you do anyway." Sean laughed. Together we walked back into the rainy night to the cozy warmth of the barn.

Getting Colostrum
Sean was absolutely right. She was perfect. While Keziah stood eating fresh hay and watching us, I wrapped the kid in a towel and sat with her on my lap. She was the slightest bit damp, but warm and fluffy. The towel was for my piece of mind. That, and to catch any meconium that might unexpectedly emerge. I sat for an hour in the quiet, breathing in the scents of hay and new baby, praying my thankful appreciation for this gift my soul so badly needed. Sean, bone-tired and barely standing, gathered the rest of the kidding kit, looked over the rest of our herd and then led me back to the house.

In the kitchen, I began setting out souffle cups to pour 50 new scent tarts. At 5:30 am, my brain was still too awake to sleep. Besides, if I got started on them now, by the time Bethany came to work, they would be cooled and ready to label. And, I could pour another 50. "I have to close my eyes for a bit, Babe." Sean said. "Of course. I am not staying up, either. I just want to do this and I'll come back to bed, too. (Pause) What time do you want to get up- just in case I get on a roll?" I asked.

"I'd love to sleep until 7:30 am." he replied. I finished the tarts and made my way back to bed around 6:30 am, but I couldn't sleep. In the dark, I went over the things that would need to happen during the day. The projects that must be finished, the wonder of a new kid, the relief of fresh colostrum for any new kids who might need that, the thankfulness for Freddie having fresh milk available... so much to consider.

At 7:30 am, Sean woke as planned and set out the the barn to check on the kids and collect 6 ounces of colostrum from Keziah. She has a ton of it. He ended up filling an 8 oz bottle from one side without taking even half of what she was producing. We'd repeat this milking every few hours to collect what Freddie needs to thrive and grow. You may wonder, "Why not just see if Keziah would adopt Freddie?" That seems logical. It would mean so much less effort and work on our part. And, we could do. Except there is Lily to consider. She carried this kid. She birthed him and cleaned him. She is bonded to her lad. Would it be best for her to foster her son? Weighed in the balance of convenience for us or what is best for her, she wins. Every time. No contest. So, we collect milk from Keziah into a bottle and immediately feed it warm to Freddie- every 3-4 hours, around the clock.

Jane and Ja'el
I planned on joining Sean in the barn for morning chores. I had my work clothes on and was getting my camera ready to snap more images when Sean came back into the house. "Grab the kit. Jane has a kid in her stall. It's clean and mostly dry. Looks like she had her just after we left the barn this morning." That got me moving! What???? Yes, we know the does are all due now, but seriously, we were in the barn for a couple hours in the middle of the night. She was not in any labor at that time. We checked very carefully. Jane usually kids multiples, so we were prepared to assist should there be a need.

It turns out, there wasn't a need. One single, perfect, chamois-colored, lamancha-eared doeling was her gift to us this season. We cleaned up the placenta and helped finish drying this newest addition. She has lungs! Most kids are pretty quiet after being born. This lass made all sorts of noise every time we picked her up and she lost sight of Jane. Not pain, just annoyance at being handled. "She is going to be trouble!" Sean predicted. I think he is going to be right. She wasn't more than an a couple hours old, but she had mastered using her feet and getting milk down like a pro. I couldn't be happier with her addition. Two girls! Finally, things are feeling like they are headed in the right direction.

We fed Freddie his morning bottle, got the newest Mom and daughter situated with hay, grain, fresh water and fresh bedding. We hayed all the manger stalls for the other does who were awake and wondering where their breakfast was. Filled water buckets. Snapped some pictures. Looked over the other does due for any sign of labor and went inside to grab our breakfast.

After breakfast, Sean spent time in the barn reorganizing his wood-making tools and cleaning out additional kidding stalls. With both Rachel and Abigail due any time, we wanted to get them moved over into private stalls and since Sean was home for the day, it was a good time to make that all happen. Around noon, another bottle was collected for Freddie.  Everyone looked in good order. Sean left to buy more hay. Bethany and I worked on Bee's Wax Wraps. Sean was gone about 90 minutes.

Upon his return, he checked the barn again to discover that Abigail kidded twin boys, passed her placenta and was eating hay like nothing happened. Bethany and I went out to help towel them dry, dip umbilical cords, remove the soiled hay and take pictures. The kidding stall available for Abigail had started to puddle water in it. The kids couldn't stay there. The weather was predicting lots of rain over the next 24 hours. Those puddles would only grow. Wet babies and cold nights is a recipe for disaster. Sean jumped into action and quickly built a raised floor from pallets and OSB. Bethany and I kept Abigail and her lads safely away from the rest of the herd while Sean prepared the new floor for their stall. In an hour, we had them moved back, safe and dry.

I collected another bottle for Freddie and checked the current herd of kids and their mothers, and gave Rachel a thorough once-over. She is heavily pregnant. Those kids should be here any time. We'll be watching her closely- for what that is worth. I think that in typical goat fashion, yesterday's does waited until we were out of sight and worked double time to kid those babies before we returned. I can imagine them saying something along the lines of, "The humans have left for the moment. This is not a drill! Drop those kids! Now!!" Kristen thinks they are gremlin-goats; they got wet and multiplied. It is as good a theory as any.

Keziah and Atarah
So, as promised, this is a post full of sweet, new baby goats to admire. We have named Keziah's lass, Atarah; pronounced At'-a-rah. The occurrence of this name is briefly mentioned in 1 Chronicles. She was the 2nd wife of Jerameel, of the tribe of Judah. The name means Crown. It is a lovely name and apt. Miss Atarah sports a lovely crown like marking around her head.

Jane's girl has been named, Ja'el. She is the heroine who killed Sisera and with that, delivered the Israelites from King Jabin. Our little lass is full of spirit. Sisera would not stand a chance. Plus, Ja'el literally means "wild or mountain goat".

Abigail's lads bear the names, Thunder and Lightning. Lightning has a blaze resembling his name across his forehead. Thunder has white storm clouds on his hind end and the name seemed like an obvious compliment. Both are 100% Lamancha. As lovely as these lads are, they will be offered for sale once their mother has weaned them.

We plan on breeding 8 mothers per season- so long as those on the list are in good health and are willing to cooperate. The animals have their own thoughts on this. The most prevalent one being, they all want to breed. All. The. Time. *Sigh* We are hoping and praying that by moving the big bucks to a completely separate enclosure in a completely separate part of the homestead, backed up by an electric fence and soon to be installed roll-bars, that maybe- just maybe, we will be more in control of this aspect of our homestead. (A spring post with our new layout will be posted. If we have good success, you are certainly welcome to modify our plans to help contain your lads.)

As for this season, we are still anxiously awaiting new kids from Rachel and Bailey and Jemimah's first kid(s). These could come any time now. Additionally, we suspect that Haddassah, Phoebe, Naomi, Anna, Chloe, and Cassie are all pregnant. We'll keep you updated.

Thank you for visiting with us, friends. Today it is a pleasure to invite you into our world. ♥

~Sean and Sonja ♥

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Premature Goat Kid Born to Ruth

We have never had a start to kidding season like this one. One complication after another- all different, all horrible. We are running on 9 hours of sleep spread over 3 days and it just seems so senseless and dismal. I am tired of crying. I am tired of everything.

Ruth is Salome's first and only kid. Tracing back, all the does of this line, kid with serious complications. Knowing the family history, we were extremely concerned about how Ruth would handle kidding~ even if she should handle this well, we would not intentionally breed Ruth. It could go either way really; Ruth could end up without any difficulties with kidding or she could have her Mother's narrow pelvis and the trouble that entailed. We were prepared to get veterinary assistance immediately if things looked to be going badly.

Obviously premature hoof presenting.
Ruth had steady contractions for about 30 minutes with no progress- no hooves or nose presenting. I cleaned my hands, slathered on some lubrication and gingerly felt inside. Right at the entrance, I felt what I thought was a nose, no hooves. With the horror of Salome's ordeal fresh in my mind, I texted Shea from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm to come out... again. Sean called Dr. Arena. This was getting to be a regular occurrence- one I was quite sick of! The thing is, we are decently comfortable assisting with most kidding situations. We can pull kids should we need to. These two back~to~back, complicated kiddings (where kids are already dead inside the mother and stuck there) are more than we feel comfortable tackling on our own. There are just too many things that can go sideways. We want live, healthy kids. We want live, healthy Mommas. We needed more experienced hands!

Shea arrived within a few minutes of our call. Gloved and lubricated, Shea felt inside to see what the situation was. We called Dr. Tanja and left a message about what was happening. We needed more help. When either Dr. Tanja or Dr. Arena called back, someone needed to come out as soon as possible. Shea explains, "When I first felt into the birth canal, it took me a little while to figure out what I was feeling. You have to kind of walk your fingers around different body parts until you can identify them. When I finally figured out what I was feeling, initially, I thought that it was simply poor positioning. The kid had one hoof positioned right near its forehead with the elbow tucked back. It was trying to be born 'top of the head' first. Its nose was tucked down, with its chin to its chest. The first thing I did was pull gently on the leg to straighten it out. My hope was that it would free up some space in the birth canal and the kid would be able to be delivered. As soon as we saw the tiny, hairless leg, we knew it was premature and not viable. With our recent experience with Meme, I assumed it was dead. Next, I tried to get underneath the kid's chin to move its nose into position but I couldn't reach far enough in to do that. I attempted to get a thin rope around the kid's head to pull it out. I was also unable to do that. Because I could feel that the skull was past the birth canal, I wasn't sure why the kid wasn't coming out. I worried that I was feeling the head of one kid but I was pulling on the leg of a second kid. While you were on the phone with Dr. Tanja, I thought that, if I couldn't get the kid out, we may be looking at needing a c-section. Still assuming the kid to be dead, I decided to see what would happen if I pulled harder. So, I took the leg and very slowly started pulling. For whatever reason, the kid started emerging more this time (It wasn't moving by itself). As you were talking with Dr. Tanja about her coming out to help, the kid finally emerged." 

We recognized two things simultaneously as the kid slid onto the towel. 1- It was terribly premature by about 6 weeks give or take 2 weeks in either direction. 2- He was born alive. He couldn't live statistically. As perfectly formed as he was, he needed longer to develop. His eyelids were still fused closed. He was completely hairless. His ears weren't fully formed. No teeth. He weighed less than 2 pounds. Sean wrapped him in a towel and warm heating pad and handed him to me while he dealt with Ruth. I held him while Dr. Tanja walked us through checking for any other kids and getting Ruth settled as comfortably as possible. Devastated, freezing cold and in shock myself, I took the little guy into the house to hold him until he passed. He was not in pain. He never gained consciousness. I held him warm in my arms, talking nonsense, crying for the life he would not have. And for Salome and her unborn kid. And for a million other reasons. He passed quietly into sleep about an hour after he was born.

Sweet baby needed more time to develop. :(
What happened? It is impossible to say. Ruth's pelvis is too small for her to kid safely. Had the kid grown to full-size there is no way it would have been able to be born without medical intervention. Did her body know that somehow and reject this kid? Did she get hit by one of the other does in the barn? She wasn't in a kidding stall because she was nowhere near ready to kid. It is possible. Honestly, we'll never know. We can be fairly sure that this trend is not caused by a disease causing miscarriage. We have never had a history of that kind of thing, but we will be on the watch just in case.

We are watching Ruth for signs of infection. We are monitoring Lily for signs of mastitis. We are watching Freddie for signs of failure to thrive. We are watching the rest of the does for signs that complications are lurking, waiting to rear its ugly head. I feel... lost. Tired, but unable to sleep. Defeated. I always take it personally when I lose an animal, regardless of the cause. Perhaps that is my own vanity- the feeling that I am personally responsible for every chance that befalls any life on this homestead. I do, though. I know Sean feels similarly. He consoles me with the words, "You can do everything right and sometimes things still go wrong. You can only do your best."

Keziah and Atara. Both doing GREAT!
In the column of things going right, Lily finally passed her placenta. That means that she won't need any treatment unless she spikes a fever. Freddie is eating well and behaving normally. And, at 3 am this morning, Keziah presented us with a perfect lamancha doeling in a textbook kidding, free of any complications. This birth means no more frozen milk for Freddie. We now have a source of fresh milk ready for his every meal. And, I have a couple other good bits to share tomorrow. Be sure to check back in. You'll be glad you did. ♥

~Sean and Sonja ♥

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fredrick is Born

I promised this post for yesterday, but bottle feeding a kid and checking to see if his Momma had passed her placenta broke up my day into bits. Writing did not make it into a bit until now.

Look at that SMILE!!!
Yesterday, Sean and I and our awesome farm helper, Bethany, were greeted at 6 am with a damp and cold, (but not critically so) goat kid in the main doe stall. Lily kidded before Abigail. (At this rate, I suspect Abigail is going for the world's longest gestation... ) Lily kidded before Rachel and Keziah. This was the WORST possible scenerio, barring the loss of life. Lily can produce milk, but there is no way for it to get to her kid because of a genetic anomaly or scar tissue from an early injury. There is no way to know. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that whenever Lily decides to have kids, she runs the elevated risk of mastitis and/or a retained placenta. Both of these conditions are serious, though not necessarily immediately life-threatening. Additionally, anyone who has nursed an infant can understand the pain involved in being engorged without relief. This is not an ideal situation. Had any doe kidded in the past week, we would have had freshly frozen colostrum on hand and a ready source of warm milk for the necessary bottle feedings. We did not.

Nothing there, lad. :( 
While Bethany and I warmed the kid inside with a heating pad and towel, dipped his umbilicus and finished cleaning him up, Sean gave the rest of the herd a once over to check for any likely candidates to donate the precious colostrum needed to pass on antibodies. Why is this important? According to Michigan State University Extension, "The antibodies found in colostrum are absorbed whole by the kids and lambs through the lining of the stomach. However, the efficiency with which a newborn can absorb these antibodies declines within just one hour after birth. The ability to absorb antibodies drastically decreases after 12 hours and is essentially gone by 24 hours of age. Therefore, if a newborn doesn’t get colostrum within the first 24 hours of birth, its chances of survival are very slim." After the first 24 hours, the colostrum still has nutritional value as food, but if the antibodies have not been transferred before then, kids can fail to thrive and die. The failure of getting sufficient colostrum is called Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT). Sean discovered that Abigail had colostrum. Easy fix, right? Just use hers. Wrong. If we were to milk Abigail regularly to supplement Fredrick, Abigail could switch over to milk and her own kids~ whenever they show themselves~ would be in danger. We compromised. Sean milked 2 oz of colostrum from Abigail in the morning and afternoon. And, I supplemented that with an additional two 4 oz bottles of Bovine IgG Colostrum Replacement for Kid Goats and Lambs (click for product view). Between the two sources, we feel that Fredrick should have gotten the necessary antibodies. With the last 2 bottles, I added two ounces of warmed goat's milk from the freezer to his feeding before switching him to straight goat's milk for his regular bottles. We are feeding him 4 ounces of milk every 3 hours. By the 4th bottle, Freddie had it down and is drinking with gusto and no confusion. We'll increase the amount of each feeding commiserate with his weight gain.

Lily is a wonderful Mother.
Lily is not out of danger. We watched her through the night, but by this morning, she still had not passed the placenta. That is a HUGE problem. It means that we probably will need to use Oxytocin and possibly treat her with an antibiotic. We're monitoring her temperature and waiting to hear back for assistance from Dr. Tanja. She is fantastic about getting back to us and answering questions.

If all of this were not enough, Ruth went into premature labor this morning and there were complications with that kidding, too. I'll write about that shortly. I just need to catch my breath for a minute in between. Even though the does are the ones dealing with these problems, it sometimes feels like everything is against us. It feels like no matter how hard we try, it doesn't matter. The hits keep coming. It would be easy to dwell on the sad times, but I won't. For now and for this post, it is healthier to focus on some sweet, healthy goat kid pictures.

Thanks for visiting with us this morning. We're glad you're here.

~Sean and Sonja ♥

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Salome March 17, 2013- Dec. 31, 2016

Salome 2015 with Sean
I am having a rough time right now. I waited a few days debating on whether to write or not, but eventually I decided to do it- if only to get it out for myself (whether or not I decide to push the "publish" button that allows you all into our world remains to be seen.)

Friday night, Sean excitedly pronounced that Abby, Rachel, Keziah and Lily were all bagged up (Their udders were full of milk.) and Abby had some mucus show. I changed into barn clothes, grabbed the kidding kit and headed to meet him in the barn. I anticipated our first round of kidding to happen around the first of the year. This was slightly earlier than what I had thought, but since we had no solid breed date for them, it was certainly possible. In the kidding stall, Abby was showing a tinge of mucus, pawing the ground, and pressing her head against the wall off and on. She laid down only to immediately get up again. Looked like labor signs to me.

In the opening and closing of stall doors, Salome, Ruth, and Sarah all escaped the barn. There was nowhere for them to go, so we allowed them to wander around the front yard, picking at the twigs in my herb garden and sniffing about the wood pile. They finally settled for grabbing a mouthful of cracked corn from the dregs in the chicken feeder in the coop's yard. In one of his trips back to Abby's stall, he took a minute to recapture them and ushered them back into the main stall. (This may seem random, but it is foreshadowing.)

Abby kids like a dream every time. We had very little concern that anything would be amiss. With that in mind, Sean "went live" on Facebook, hoping to bring you all into our barn with us, to watch a live kidding- our first attempt at that sort of thing. Phone signal in the country is not great and the video skipped several times before blinking out completely. I was a little disappointed, but ultimately our focus is on the animals here, capturing video live or otherwise is fairly low on the list. We posted that once labor began in earnest, we would try it out again. We waited. Abby laid down and took a nap. We looked everyone else over and discussed the need to save some colostrum for Lily, since she was clearly pregnant and is unable to be milked. (Why? Read about that here.) We waited another hour before deciding that we should grab dinner while we could. The rest of the night, Sean set his alarm and checked Abby every hour. All. Night. Long. By morning, the mucus show was gone and Abby acted completely normally. Sean checked her ligaments. He thought they were soft, but he was checking too far down the tail. They were still there. We had more time than we originally thought. (I hadn't checked ligaments Friday night. That would have saved a lot of effort checking on her through the night!) Without the worry of imminent kidding, we asked our daughters to check on the goats through the day. We asked our neighbor, Shea, from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm if she was available as back up, just in case. With all our ducks in rows, we went to sell our wares at the Farmer's Market.

When we returned from market, Sean checked the goats and found Salome laying down, straining. She had no udder formed, but there was a distinct little nose peeking out from her back end. He checked Salome. She was weak and barely responsive. He checked the kid. It was clearly dead already. He quickly moved Salome into a private stall and ran inside to wash his hands. He called to me, "Salome is kidding... The kid is dead... She isn't okay... Call Abby!" I grabbed my boots, coat and phone and ran for the barn after him. Well lubricated, Sean attempted to push the kids nose back in a little so he could maneuver his hand inside, grab a hoof and shift things into the proper position. I phoned Dr. Abby Arena and left a message. I texted Shea for back up. She grabbed her kit and rushed to help. Sean's hands were too large to fit past the nose no matter where he tried. My hands are smaller, but with Shea only minutes away, we decided to wait for her more experienced ones, rather than to add to Salome's distress; with the kid already dead, Salome was our only focus. Instead, I pulled the penicillin to warm and drew Vitamin B and Banamine. We dosed Salome with a shot of Banamine to help with the pain and the Vitamin B for a boost in energy. Shea arrived and immediately tried to pull the kid. It's head was turned completely upside down. There was nowhere to grasp other than the lower jaw. The nose, eyes and mouth were all past the pelvis, but the rest of the head was stuck, leaving no place to maneuver. We needed a veterinarian.

Shea's vet, Dr. Tanja Ebel from Apple Creek Equine Medicine was off that day, but made a farm call anyway. Seriously. In answer to the throes of awful happening, she stopped what she was doing and came to help us. She advised us to try dexamethasone and gave us the proper dosage. It wouldn't work immediately, but would help to soften the cervix to allow us to try to pull the kid. We did not have a lot of hope for Salome at this point. But, we couldn't let her suffer. So many thoughts! "If Salome was going to die, we had to ease her passing as much as we could. At what point should we be prepared to make that decision? Wait until Tanja comes. One kid is clearly dead. Does she have another viable kid inside? Would a C-section help? Salome's previous kidding 2 years ago had to be veterinarian assisted. (Story here.) She should never be bred again should she live. Once is a fluke, twice is a pattern. I hope she will live! What she lacked in intelligence, she made up for in sweetness. Her sister is always into mischief; Salome is usually standing quietly somewhere, often with her head in a fence. She never did figure that out. But, sweet! She is the friendliest girl, great Mother. I hope she lives."

Dr. Tanja arrived and her exam brought grim news. The kid was dead. Probably had been for days. Salome's stomach was sloshing, full of fluid- no other kid felt. Her eyelids deadly white. Internal temperature cold. She never bagged up, never showed any signs of labor. She was in shock. Without a necropsy, there is no way to say for sure, but based on her history (read here) and her current state, it looked like Salome probably had some kind of malformation that made kidding more dangerous than normal.

"If she survives somehow, you are looking at months of continuous care and she might never return to normal." Dr. Tanja advised.

I am a numbers-thinker. "What do you think? 20%-25% chance she could make it?" I asked.

"Not even. I would say, maybe 10% and it would be a long, hard road for that." was her kindly spoken reply.

Sean and I looked at each other. "Ok. Let's end it."

Dr. Tanja took some time to look over the rest of our herd afterwards. She agreed to be our back-up veterinary. We talked about our anticipated challenges with Lily kidding and the possibility of using copper bolus to assist with parasite management. I like her. I like her manner, her ease and her candor. I appreciate her dedication. Anyone who would come out on an emergency call on New Year's Eve to a farm she had never visited is the kind of veterinary I want to work with. Clearly, she loves animals as much as I do.

I have played the blame game for several days. Whenever we lose an animal, it happens. True or not, I feel inadequate; like a bad animal keeper. The facts in this case are these:

Salome with Ruth 2015
(1) Salome showed no signs of trouble until it was too late and she was in shock. We did everything we could to help her. Had Salome shown ANY signs of being in labor, we would have watched her closely and called our veterinary immediately. She didn't. We were in the barn hourly all the previous night. She had been walking around outside with her daughter, perfectly normally, the night before. When we checked over all the goats, she gave no sign AT ALL that she was in distress of any kind.

(2) She chose to breed with Asher without our consent. We do our VERY BEST to control breeding, but goats in season will go through walls, 2x6 boards and anything else in their way to get what they want. We are hopeful our recent move of the big bucks to the back yard will help, but who knows. Nothing is 100% perfect. We do the best we can and make changes when needed. We had not planned to breed Salome for several reasons. (a) Oberhausli is not the goat breed we've chosen to focus on. We try not to breed the ones who live here. (b) She did not have a good supply of milk with her last kidding. (c) Her only previous kidding needed a veterinarian's assistance. Though that kidding ended well with a living kid and healthy momma, it was severe enough that we would have called in a Veterinarian as soon as she showed signs of kidding- as we did in this case. (d) And, as sweet and lovely as she was, she was not all there in the head. We loved her, but we did not want to pass on those genes.

Nut looks like she will pull through.
(3) The more animals you care for, the greater the chance of seeing something out of the norm; crop surgery with super glue, udders with internal malformations, dystocia during kidding, broken horns, meningeal worms, parasites, emergency c-sections, tube-feeding kids and more. You learn as much as you can and then, something new happens and you learn some more. We didn't think Salome was one of the does pregnant this season. We were wrong. Perhaps we should do blood draws on our does and send out to confirm pregnancy. We could spay those does who should never get bred. There is a significant cost involved with this and risk, but perhaps it would be worth it? We could rehome does that shouldn't breed to homesteads without any bucks. But, out of our hands, those farms could get bucks. They could sell the does to unsuitable homes. We could dose does who should not be pregnant with Lute. But, there can be complications there, too. Ultimately, you can only do your best. Sometimes it works and that is a good day. Sometimes it doesn't and you kick yourself for the failure. It is never easy.

Salome born March 17, 2013
I want to have something positive to say about the hope of kids being born to us over the coming months. I hope this is the bad spot for this season and the rest is all joy. I hope. That is all I can do. I can't leave you with this, though. It is a horrible ending. Instead, follow the link to read about Salome's beginning: Salome and Hadassah are born.

Thank you for visiting with us today, friends. We appreciate your company.

~Sonja ♥