We got by … with a little help from our friends

Yes, we’ve been busy and blessed with 5 new kids!  4 girls and one boy.  Moms are doing well also.  Maybe we can get some sleep soon.  Our plans for once a day milking and raising kids “naturally” have gone.  They would not have made it.

Genka started into labor at about 10 PM.  The coldest night of the spring.  It was freezing in the barn.   We were hoping it would be an easier start for us since Genka was much smaller than Geneva, who was due in 2 days. We called the vet after a disconcerting bloody discharge, and waited for a more typical start of labor. After about 4 hours, with a normal presentation, she delivered a 3.2 pound weakling that wasn’t breathing.  As I’m trying to revive her, she drops 2 more very small kids in fairly quick successon and Connie and I have our hands full.  Ken continued working on the smallest triplet who was non-responsive, and finally she begins to respond.  After about an hour of trying to convince ourselves that something is wrong with Genka and her weak babies, we call our friend Mark, who comes with goat sweaters, and a jug of collostrum.  Shortly after Mark arrives we call the vet and Genka “delivers” an unformed fetus and goes into shock. It was just too much for a first time mother.

Our vet is a great asset.  House calls, and early in the morning? No problem.  He helps Genka get stabilized, gives the kids some shots, and then says  ” don’t name the kids”.   We’ve got 3 small doelings in our hands.

The kids have to go into the house to keep warm, the mom was not interested in them at all, and had no more colostrum/milk to give. We nurse them to relative health and then Geneva shows signs of labor.

Geneva’s labor, on the other hand, went pretty much by the book.  Some friends and my sister stopped over to wait with us.  Geneva finally started to deliver and sure enough, seems like she is in deep trouble, with an assist required by Connie.  She then goes on delivers two beautiful and healthy kids.  A boy and a girl.  Geneva seemed kind of interested in her twins, she had no colostrum, and we were trying to decide whether to leave them in the barn with Geneva, or take them in the house with the triplets and feed them some colostrum that we have milked out from Genka earlier. Well, the house it is.  Our hope for dam raised kids is gone for now and we have a full house on our hands.

We can’t help but wonder where this woudl have ended up on a large dairy farm or “in nature”. Would a first time freshener like Genka made it?  Would Violet, the first triplet, have had any chance?  Could the farmer invest the time and money to nurse along week kids and mother?  Would that have taken time and talents away from the rest of the herd?   Would “natural selection have resulted in the death of a least 2 kids and potentially one mother.  Perhaps dairy farming has interrupted this process and allowed for selection based upon other factors.   Was Genka highly desired for her ability to give 3 kid girls at a young age, or would she be  selected out of the herd as a problem?

As for us, we’re greatly blessed. Dinners, goat-sitting so we can ‘attend’ our day jobs, encouragement…. We’ve had lots of help, and our friends and family are continuing to provide support as we try and balance a life on and off the farm.  Yes, with a little help from our friends …

Ready, Set, … Goat

So, what’s the guess?  How soon, and how many?  We’re hours (or maybe 2 days ) away from Kidding.  Geneva’s really huge, bigger than Genka. My guess is triplets.   Genka’s  due date is Thursday ,and looks like she might be first. Twins.   Check back for some pictures and videos. 

The supplies are in,  first aid, towels, a clean stall, a kidding pen, supplements ( does anyone have a french tube and a stripping cup we can use?)  , and hopefully everything else we need.  But we certainly have no experience, and frankly, I’m hoping Connie’s ready to go!  Sure, let’s assume they won’t need any help.   Our vet is on speed dial, and he knows we’re due anytime now. 

It’s gonna be Thursday.  Want to know the signs?  

So, what’s the big deal.  Natural for them right?  As farm animals, they have been bred over the years to have a co-dependent relationship with the farmer.  And for dairy goats, I think much more so.  Many/most dairy goats get separated from the kids very early.  The farmer and goat develop necessarily strong bonds as the farmer will be milking the goat and they need to bond.  Often the  kids get hand fed/raised by the farmer.  This close relationship allows for maximum milk production, and extends all the way back into the birthing process.

We’ve been in contact with an excellent cooperative extension agent, Tatiana who has suggested a hybrid type approach to raising the kids and milking.  What will be interesting to see, and what will determine our success, is the ability of our goats to allow us to milk them, after being exposed to the kids, and our willingness to stick to the plan.  Stay tuned.