The gestation period for a goat is 150 days...which is great if you know the serve date (i.e., when a mummy and daddy love each other very much, yar de yar..) We only had month approximations for the small herd we bought from Norfolk and even then it was the month the buck was first put in with the ladies - they don't of course always conceive on their first 'date'. So, we've been on standby for our first two does (Gemini and JuJu) for a month, looking for physical indicators which include a floppy tail, bagging up (udder filling), calling, restlessness and mucus from what Dave calls the 'bottom bottom' but I think we'll go with 'Hoo Hoo'!
Gemini started to bag up about 4 days ago but her Hoo Hoo remained steadfastly dry, despite being avidly stared at by both of us whenever we went to check - yes, we are the people who stare at goat's bottoms! 2 days ago there was a little trickle...PANIC STATIONS...then nothing again - could possibly have been the mucus plug. By Friday her udder looked fit to bursting and she was indeed very restless so we penned her and spent a sleepless night watching her on the web cam as she paced about, by morning...NOTHING!
As the saying goes, a watched kettle (or Hoo Hoo in this case) never boils, so after morning feeding we turned our attention to general chores. I had just gathered up empty bottles for recycling, when Dave came crashing into the kitchen - "She's in labour!"
When you're 'in the moment' there really isn't time for panic and within minutes of Dave's call to arms Gemini's first kid was well on his way, assuming a text book birthing position of feet first and head forward. A very gentle assist for his head and Adam arrived into the world shouting his head off! Ding, my mobile alerted and a congratulations message from our friend Neil - he and his 2 year old daughter happened to be watching 'Goat Cam'!
11 minutes later, Eve arrived - bum first! Unlike other animals and indeed humans, this birthing position is ok for goats and Gemini needed no assistance from me.
Instinct kicked in and our first time Mum was immediately attending to her babies - thank you Gemini for delivering a text book birth - the sleepless nights, worrying and waiting are forgiven.
In my excitement I rushed out to announce the good news to our builders. In hindsight, probably not the wisest of moves as one of them was balanced precariously on the barn roof apex at the time.
Later on we moved the new family to a postnatal pen which is set up with a heat lamp. Then we started to worry - they weren't feeding from Mum, we tried a bottle but that didn't work either, we thought they looked weak and unsteady - PANIC.
Meg to the rescue - she was straight round to take a look, showed us how to encourage the kids to suckle (by tickling their bums) and bingo, feeding fest at the milk bar.
All seemed fine during the night and the kids had instinctively settled under the heat lamp. Adam started shouting at 06:45 but a quick check confirmed that he was absolutely fine, I think he was just annoying his sister.
More pics will be posted when they become a little more mobile but here is the best sight for me - both kids having breakfast whilst Mum cleans them up.
Oh go on...just a few more..
And so we are back to staring at bottoms - come on JuJu!