Spoiler alert, it's a boy!!!
Penelope went into labor Sunday Apr 25th. We could tell it was her time because her udder filled up and got tight and she started being more vocal, pawing the ground, pacing, wouldn’t settle down and chew her cud, and was generally upset. Poor Penelope, she didn’t know what was happening. I had everything all set up in the barn for her and we kept a close eye on her throughout the day and evening. Initially the girls said they were going to sleep in the barn and they got out and blew up the air mattress and got out their sleeping bags and bedding. Last minute, though, Emma decided she did not want to sleep in the barn and then Cecilee didn’t either.
Although she continued to have labor signs, she did not appear any closer when we went to bed at 11:30 pm. I am all for my comfy bed. I wasn’t sleeping in the barn! I set my alarm for 1 hour, and promptly passed out. It had been a really busy weekend, and I am not as young as I once was!!! Before I knew it, the alarm went off, and I huffed and puffed out of bed, into some clothes, glasses and boots out to the barn. Nothing. One hour later, I repeated this process. This time I watched Penelope for about 5 minutes, but she had laid down and was chewing her cud, not pushing or looking in any distress. I came back to the house and said to myself, “I need at least 90 min to get a full REM cycle in and that goat looks like she is not even going to have babies tonight!” So I set my alarm for 2 hours. About 1 ½ hrs later, Josh got up, and asked me if I would like to have him go check. Knowing that my alarm was going to go off in another 30 min and that if nothing was happening I could avoid this wake up for another 2 hours, I said yes. So he got his clothes and glasses and boots on and huffed and puffed out to the barn.
About 30 seconds later, I heard him running back to the house. I don’t know if I have gotten out of bed so fast since the last time a chicken was getting eaten by a raccoon in the middle of the night. “Honey, there is a baby on the ground! It is breathing and looks good but she is still pushing! Hurry!”
Faster than this Mama ever moves, I got out to the barn, and sure enough there was a perfect little black and white…buckling…sigh. We of course instantly fell in love with each other. And he was up and moving, strong, nursing and bleating before we knew it.
Alas, he was a single. Penelope got so fat with her pregnancy, we just knew she was having at least twins, maybe triplets. Cosmos was a good sized little boy-about 6lb 5oz, but by no means huge. Penelope definitely lost her girlish figure during the pregnancy and she sure fooled us!
After Penelope and her baby had had time to bond, I blew dry Cosmos’ ears, tummy and all the other little parts that stay damp in a 45 degree barn in March, dipped his umbilical cord and counted his fingers and toes. I made sure he nursed and got a good amount of colostrum. Penelope needed just a little coaching but she caught on pretty fast. Then, we took about 1000 pictures of Penelope and her baby, only about 10 of which turned out.
By then it was about 5:30 AM and we left mama and baby to rest. We, too climbed back into our beds and caught a few more hours of sleep.
And that was the start of kidding season!!
It’s Here!!!! Baby Goat Season!
Remember all that stress about getting our goats bred back in the fall? Well, time marches on, our wait has paid off and babies are coming!!
Mini-Nubians tend to birth 145-155 days after breeding, with most of the unofficial polls I have seen indicating that 147-152 is by far the most common. Today is day 144 for Penelope.
She doesn’t look quite ready yet, which is good because I am not quite ready either!
The birthing stall is cleaned out but still needs lime and hay spread. I will do that today. The rest of the barn also needs swept and tidied. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to hang out somewhere with a laboring goat for several hours, I really prefer to do it in a semi-clean and comfortable environment, so we need to also add a few chairs and a heater to the “waiting area”.
3 weeks ago Penelope and Maple both got a BOSE shot (we live in a selenium deficient part of the country), and their CDT booster (you want to give this about 2-4 weeks before birth). These things should help the kids come out with strong muscles and protected from the risk of getting enterotoxemia and tetanus for the first several weeks of their lives until they can get their own vaccines.
Our birthing kit is 70 percent pulled together. I need to add a few things still and will pick up the last few today when I go to the store. I have been waiting for Wilco’s one day sale today with 20-30% off! Love me a good sale, guys!
When it is all done, here is what the kit will contain:
Trash bags (we use old feed bags for this purpose)
Chlorahexidine (for scrubbing hands and arms if needed to assist with birth)
Witch Hazel (for sore or torn mama hineys)
Head lamp and flash light (a head lamp is nice because then you are hands free)
Wet wipes (we get unscented because we want to interfere with the mama's smelling her babies as little as possible)
Chucks or puppy pads (I always find these at places like Goodwill, but I am sure you can get them at a regular store)
Sterilized (as best you can, I soaked mine in alcohol for 30 min) scissors
Heavy thread or non waxed floss
OB whole arm gloves
My kidding positions diagram to help with kidding mal-presentation, should that occur
Surgical lube-if you can find a sterilized one, that is better
Bulb syringe. I got a 4 pack off of amazon for around 4 dollars
Iodine to dip or spray on navel and hooves (in years past I have had this in a container to “dip” or pour, this year we are trying a spray bottle)
Clean bottle and nipple
Clean metal bucket to milk mom if needed
Feeding tube-one of those things you hope you never need, but if you do you do, so good to have on hand, and a syringe to use it with (make sure the end will connect to the tube, I like to use a human urinary catheter for my tube and a 2 oz syringe with a catheter tip on it. They are made to work together)
Karo Syrup-for rubbing on gums of weak babies
Baby goat sweaters (because they are so cute! But only use if you must as putting a sweater on a baby can increase the risk of the mom rejecting the baby. I also have been storing mine in the same cabinet that I use to store dog and cat food, so I need to wash them with some vinegar to make sure there is no lingering dog/cat smell to them to get them ready)
Warm Molasses water for mom (I have a quart jar with 1 cup of molasses in it and a lid in my birthing kit ready to go. When she births, I add hot water, shake it up, then add to a larger volume of cooler water. It is more than she needs but this way she can drink as much as she likes.
Grain for mama
My own “Mother’s Milk” blend herbs to add to my goats grain to help boost production.
A little shepherd’s purse tincture for any post birth hemorrhaging
Post birth worming medicine if needed (Doesn’t need done immediately, but I like having all my stuff in one place so I don’t forget in the excitement of cute little babies). Some people prefer to use an herbal. I do use herbal worming medicine I get from Molly’s Herbals as a preventative all year, but just after birth I use conventional wormers if I am at all concerned about mama’s condition, because it takes a lot of energy to make all that milk and mama needs as much help as she can get!
Energy-for me this comes in the form of lots of coffee!
So wish us luck, guys!! Hopefully the next post will be full of happy healthy little baby goats!!!
I heard the other day that this last February was the 7th coldest February on record for our area. I can well believe it. While cold and snow are an inconvenience anywhere, on a farm they can spell disaster if one is not prepared. Usually the weather here where we live is pretty temperate over all. Sometimes by early March we already have trees budding out and flowering. I think by the end of last February my evergreen clematis and the quince in all the yards were already blooming, and my gardenia was not far behind.
This year, for the most part, the tree buds are still tightly furled and the daffodils are late in showing their faces. I don’t mind waiting on the flowers, as much as I look forward to them every year, but I am becoming worried for my goat babies that are due in a few weeks. Believe it or not, goat babies usually do just fine in the cold weather after the first few days. I don’t know why it is, but I have heard over and over on different goat forums I am a part of, that the babies born in the cold end up the hardiest and grow the best long term. The caveat is “long term”. For the first few hours to few days after birth, they are susceptible to getting hypothermia, and if not caught early enough, they can get sick or die.
An experienced doe will clean her babies and dry them thoroughly. She will also make sure they eat within the first hour after birth (obviously, as best as she can). Last year Petunia, our first freshener doe, did a good job licking her babies, but mostly just on the tops of their backs and their butts. She did not clean off their heads, ears, legs or bellies, though, and even though it was only 40 degrees in the barn I noticed after about a half an hour that her babies were laying or standing hunched and not as spunky. I felt inside their mouths and their mouths were cold. A goat baby’s temperature needs to be a minimum of 100 degrees in order for them to eat. If they are colder it is they don’t eat within an hour blood glucose can get low and this is very dangerous. So I took them and rubbed a little Karo syrup on their gums (you never want to feed them if their temp is lower than 100, but that is a quick way to boost their blood sugar), and I got towels and the blow dryer and blow dried them the rest of the way dry. Once they were dry and warmed up they were able to nurse.
Then, at 2 am Josh and I were out in the barn trying to fashion some type of shelter for them to be able to retain some warmth. We propped up a board against a wall, making a “Teepee” with the two boards, and a third board raised up off the ground enough for them to crawl under. It was up against the wire side of the pen. As scared as I am of barn fires, I refused to use a heat lamp and we got an oil radiant heater instead that we parked just on the outside side of their shelter on concrete to radiate warmth and warm it a little bit. They slept in there for the first few months, even though I turned off the heater after a few weeks. Petunia would stick her head in to cuddle them when they were sleeping in there.
This year, I have 3 first freshening does, 2 of which are young mamas. Young mamas sometimes have less instinctual knowledge of what to do to take care of their babies. I want to make some warming shelters to have available to put in with the babies as our weather is not showing any signs of improvement. Not that our boards were a total flop, but I am going to make a warming barrel for our babies this week. I will show you all the finished product once I am done with it!
I also bought some baby goat sweaters…BABY GOAT SWEATERS, GUYS!!!!! I have heard that sweaters can make the mom reject her babies if they smell weird, but we are at least going to get some pictures with them. Stay tuned for cuteness!!!