So we knew ‘we’ were expecting 23 kids sometime between the end of January and March, but aside from Tiggy and Gloria who were attended to by our own boy Emperor, we had no dates – excellent 🙄
Many hours were spent staring at what we call ‘foofs’ (the lady parts) for signs of gloop, tails were wagged to gauge floppiness, udders were inspected to see if they had ‘bagged up’, and any slight groan had us on tenterhooks. It was our own phoney war. Luckily tech boy Dave had set up the barn with a web cam so we could watch from bed and avoid disturbing the poor girls through the night.
Gemini (a first timer.. great!) was the first to show signs – udder bagging, generally pacing and a plug of mucous…and then nothing for 2 days.
As the saying goes, a watched kettle (or foof 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. 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. 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.
We were almost as besotted as Mum Gemini and couldn’t wait for the next one. But life has a habit of smacking you round the face with a big dose of reality sometimes – Judy (JuJu) gave birth next, a lovely lively boy followed by his stillborn brother. There was nothing obviously wrong with the poor little chap and he was fully formed, it just wasn’t meant to be.
After that Mother Nature was very kind to us – gorgeous twins for Nesta and then our AN Boer X mums Toffee and Caramel each calmly delivered beautiful triplets and we started to relax a little. Sister’s Jemima and Jade safely delivered respective triplets and twins and then we were down to our last two – our ‘home served’ girls. Emperor’s first kids were a set of stunning triplets courtesy of Tiggy and then it was Gloria’s turn. We had learnt that she had quads previously and sadly lost one so we’d braced ourselves for a not so happy outcome. Well bless me if Glorious Gloria didn’t produce 4 perfectly healthy babes! With four sets of triplets and one set of quads we really thought we might be in a fair bit of bottle feeding but, other than a few messy and unsuccessful attempts to top up a couple of Gloria’s quads, all of the mums successfully reared them on their own – way to go girls!
Since then we’ve had five kiddings. Sometimes I think it was perhaps easier with the first kidding as we only knew the basics, ignorance is bliss I guess. Over the kiddings we’ve had some odd presentations – three hooves trying to come out at once was a head scratcher! Dave had to hold me back in the early days as I was terrible for diving in, convinced assistance was required – I think it goes back to our stillborn baby and how we constantly question our actions – should we have tried for longer, was there something more we could have done. Now I am a lot calmer, I think I can spot where there is really a problem – generally it’s a case of re-positioning feet or gently drawing a leg down and, as with our dairy girl Leaf, when to call the vet in. Dave does the paperwork, but I think we’ve had something like 80 kids now – I don’t think I will ever get over the magic or encouraging a doe to breathe or telling a doe ‘one last push’ – which is a generally a lie and I’m a complete fraud having never given birth myself!
!!Cuteness Overload Warning!!
Now I did warn you – lots of kid pictures attached – they are a mix of some of our kids over the five kiddings and I dedicate this little montage to the three kids we’ve sadly lost and our beautiful boys who have since gone on to serve their purpose.
Next Instalment – Your opportunity to have a good laugh at our (many) c**k ups!