You’ll have to forgive me if I make any gross spelling, grammar or editing mistakes in this post, I have not had a great deal of sleep in the last few days.
My status on Facebook sums it up as follows:
“Brief outline of my last 24hrs… up until 4am with a difficult kidding, up again at 5.30am to make sure kids had colostrum, up again at 8.30am to milk and feed everyone else. Short nap around midday before a trip to the vet with Meredith who convinced me she was dying but had miraculously recovered upon arrival at the clinic. Antibiotics dispensed and administered, home again, feed everyone, quick trip to the supermarket for Panadol and tissues (after Ambika knocked the box of tissues into a water bucket around 2.30am). I am now warm, full of ham and cheese toasties and no longer smell like a combination of molasses, milk and the inside of a goat. Hooray for kidding time.”
The first kids for the season were due last Monday, and Meredith kicked things off with a fabulous pair of twin does. This was the first time I have actually seen Meredith give birth. She has a history of quietly slipping out large doe kids without much noise or fuss. This year was no different, I saw the first kid born via the baby monitor while I was waiting for my toast to cook. I only saw the second kid being born because I was out investigating the first one.
Meredith is a big doe, and her kids have all been over 4kg at birth. She has them up and feeding in no time and is a wonderfully attentive mother.
Juno was due the day after Meredith, but managed to have me checking her twice a night for the entire week. Finally, Friday night, ligaments gone and signs of labour.
Ideally, Anglo Nubian does shouldn’t kid until they are close to 24 months old. Juno was what goat breeders refer to as a ‘child bride’, a doe who finds herself in kid in her first breeding season and kids as a young goatling around her first birthday. Those who say that animals live up to their names would argue that I was asking for trouble giving a goat the same name as a movie about a pregnant teenager.
I was very keen to be on hand to supervise Juno’s kidding. My little dot had accidentally got pregnant on my watch, and I had decided to let that pregnancy continue. It was my duty, my responsibility to make sure that she gave birth as safely as possible.
A doe who labours for too long without making any progress is at risk of a ruptured uterus. Even if she gets the kid out without being injured herself, kids may not survive protracted labours. I watched Juno work very hard for about an hour before she got her kid to the point where I could see its feet when she pushed.
And that was as far as it would go. It was time to intervene. I was about to go inside to get some soap and water and scrub my hands when I was struck by inspiration. As Juno gave a particularly strong push, I was able to grab the kid by the front feet.
The next few minutes were intense. Juno shouted the house down as Matt held her front end in a bear hug and I pulled the kid’s front legs down towards the ground. For a terrifying moment there was no progress and I was afraid that we would never get that kid out, or that I would injure it if I pulled any harder. But then suddenly it yielded to my efforts and the kid slipped out onto the ground.
I left the pen to get towels from the feed room, and by the time I got back Juno was tentatively cleaning her baby. Kids are excessively gooey when they are born, but a good doe will have them clean and dry in no time. Juno did a pretty good job, and I left her to it for a little while. The kid was vigorous and talkative, both good signs. It had great broad shoulders and a clunky Nubian head, which made me think it was a little buck. Child brides are notorious for producing very nice single buck kids.
Finally I picked up the kid to put it under the heat lamp – it was all of three degrees in the barn – and I checked under the tail. A little doe! I was pleasantly surprised. Matt went inside to get a bottle and teat so that I could make sure the kid got some colostrum before we left the new mother and baby to figure out feeding.
Before he got back, Juno lay down and quickly produced another kid. She got this one out on her own, and this one was a buck. My diminutive one-year-old doe, who can’t weigh much more than 35kg herself, produced not one, but two, strong and healthy kids each weighing around 3.5kg.
By the time the sun had come up, little Juno had figured out how to feed her little family and the three of them were comfortably ensconced under the heat lamp.
Juno’s daughter has been named Elcarim Elizabeth. Being a double cross to my Tasmanian-bred senior buck Capricorn Cottage Tazzy, we named her after the main street of Hobart. We have one other doe who is line-bred to Tazzy, that being Elcarim Victoria, so it is fitting that these two girls are named after queens.
The little buck has been named Abel (as in Tasman), and he has a home waiting as a pet wether with another of Tazzy’s sons, Ajay, the offspring of last year’s child bride, Tylden Park Ambika. Ambika is due to kid on September 2nd this year, and she has grown into a tall and stylish young doe. And yes, she was the one who knocked the box of tissues into the water bucket, due to her complete inability to mind her own business, and my currently persistent runny nose.
Victoria is due to kid in three days, and thankfully she doesn’t look like she is ready yet. Matt has surgery scheduled for the day after tomorrow so there will be nobody home all of that day to keep an eye on her. After last year’s wacky shenanigans of Rianna kidding while I was in hospital and Sienna producing triplets the night after my pacemaker replacement I am not confident in the capacity of my does to kid at times that are convenient to their human food slaves and midwives.