Thursday, January 12, 2017

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 ♥

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