I've read about it, the fact that kidding season is a total roller coaster. My understanding is that whether you're talking sheep or goats, this is the case. For me, it's goats.
My herd is still a small one; we only had three does scheduled to kid. Despite the dates calculated based on the last observed breeding, my girls' bodies were telling me their time was close, so I put then in the kidding pens a little early, just in case.
As mentioned in my last post, Snickers kicked it off for us with a beautiful set of twins. The girl was obviously the weaker of the two at birth, but she rebounded pretty quickly. Which made it all the harder when she took a turn for the worse. We did everything we could, but by midnight that night, she was gone. It seems so cruel that something so little and perfect should die.
Maybe I'm imagining it, but Snickers hasn't been herself ever since. She soaks up attention (even more than usual) and is a little indifferent to the remaining buckling - even testy at times. Forest (the buckling) is a skinny little thing, and I'm a bit concerned about him. Maybe it's just because we lost his sister. Maybe something really is off. Either way, I'll be keeping a pretty close eye on Snickers and her son.
The night the doeling died, I collapsed with exhaustion about 1 a.m. About 5 a.m., something inside me said, "Wake up!" I went out to check on the goats and heard the plaintive cries of a new baby. Cinnamon had given birth to one little one and was mid-way through the second. Baby #1 cold and weak. I ran to wake up my oldest son, who helped round up towels. We moved fast, getting babies dried off so we didn't lose another one to the weather. We were careful to do all of this in a way that let Cinnamon keep cleaning them, though. I don't ever want to interfere with the mother/baby bond.
Happily, both babies are doing well. The buckling is a little weaker, so we're keeping a close eye on him. He's also just about the cutest thing on the planet. I'm pretty much in love and doubt I'll be able to sell him. I've named him Rolo. His sister doesn't have a name because I'm fairly certain she's already sold to a friend and neighbor, so I'm trying not to get too attached. She has enough spunk to be the heroine in one of my novels, though. It's hard not to admire her pizzazz.
I have to say I'm really impressed with Cinnamon. It's her first time to have babies, but she's doing an amazing job so far.
Last night, I joked on Facebook that if Porsche, our full-sized dairy doe, wanted to wait a couple of days to give birth, that would be cool with me. When I checked her last night before bed, I knew it wouldn't happen.
She went into labor at 4 this morning. My husband heard her and tried to wake me up, but I wouldn't budge. Luckily, she didn't need me. By the time I got out there, she'd given birth to three healthy boys.
While I'm dismayed they're boys because I'd planned to retain her doelings, I'm thrilled with how beautiful and healthy they are. She cleaned them up on her own, though Adam and I did help her finish drying them so they didn't catch a chill. Babies this beautiful make me want to be a crazy goat lady and keep them all.
Here's where it's obvious Porsche is my experienced mama: when the other two young moms had something go wrong with their babies, they just frantically licked them. It was all they instinctively knew to do. They would look at me with eyes that visibly said "help me."
Porsche, on the other hand, has things well in hand. She corrals her three boys with ease and her eagle eye instantly spotted that one had a weak back leg. In response, she has started exercising him. For the first hour or so, she let him nurse whenever he wanted. Now when he wants to nurse, she faces him and backs down the length of the pen, then turns and backs the other way. He follows her like a donkey following a carrot, dragging that little leg behind. After a lap, he gets to nurse. Then they do another lap. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and it's working. Every time I check them, he is stronger.
This goat has seriously earned my respect this week. When we bought her, her previous owners told us she likes babies. I would say that not only does she like babies (all babies, not just hers), she is a phenomenal mother.
I know other farmers with much longer kidding seasons than ours. I'm not sure how they do it. I guess, like in all things, we'll work our way up to it. I'm a little sad there aren't more babies this year, but I'm not sure I would have physically withstood many more!
I can't stop laughing about the number of bucklings this year. It's a bit reminiscent of my ultrasound with my youngest. They told me he was a boy and I giggled about it for days. I'm destined to be surrounded by handsome men, I guess.
I don't mind having all boys, but when it comes to goats, the boys are hard to milk. Maybe next season we'll do better with our doeling/buckling ratio. Someone told me it depends on when the does breed, where they are in their cycle. A question for next year, I guess.
In the meantime, it's back to working on the next book for me - assuming I can force myself to stop checking on baby goats, that is.
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.