Sunday, February 26, 2017


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
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 ♥