The last few weeks have been pretty busy here. This is why:
On nice days, the biggest ones go outside with the herd. They run and play...
and make new friends. They're learning all kinds of new skills, like grazing and drinking water.
Many, many more baby goat pics, and a dramatic story, after the jump.
Because of my off-the-farm job, I missed almost all the births this year. They were pretty uneventful, except for one. That's the one I attended. Things are going to get a bit graphic here, so if you want to skip the drama, just scroll right down to the baby pictures.
I knew on the morning of April 24th that Violet would give birth. The ligaments around her tail had relaxed, a sign of impending labor, and she was acting a little distant. I checked in with Farmer Fin throughout the day, and was pleased that she seemed to be waiting for me to come home. At around four in the afternoon, it looked like labor was beginning.
We were sure she'd be in full labor by the time we came up to milk Juniper, Jade, and Petunia at six, but no dice. We moved Violet into the smallest shed to give her some peace and quiet. Around sunset, we returned. Still nothing, although she seemed like she was getting closer.
When we went up at 10:00 or so, she was finally in labor. Something didn't seem right, though. Violet usually gives birth quickly, with a few mighty contractions accompanied by a strident bellow or two. This time, she was hardly contracting at all, even though I could see the kid's hoof and face poking out. When I tried to get her to change positions, which will sometimes get things going, she lurched wildly from one corner of the shed to another and then sort of collapsed. Thinking maybe the kid's hoof was stuck, I put on gloves and lubed up to check. The hoof was bent back, so I straightened it out, and finally, with a few feeble contractions and some gentle pulling, the first kid, a big one, entered the world.
Violet started to clean him off, but something was definitely wrong. She seemed very weak now. The second kid's hooves were also bent back, so we helped her deliver that one too. After she cleaned him off, she lurched to the other side of the barn again. The first kid was up by then, and had nursed. We tried to get the second kid nursing, but Violet looked like she just wanted to go to sleep.
We sat in the barn waiting for her to pass the placenta. It was unusually cold that night, below freezing. We waited, Violet alarmingly listless and still. Then we noticed what looked like another hoof poking out of Vi's hindquarters. It had been over an hour since the last kid had come out, and our hopes for this one were low. We saw two hooves and a face, perfect presentation. Violet was barely contracting at all, but each time she did, I pulled a little on the kid's hooves. Soon the face was all the way out.
Then I saw the kid's mouth open for its first breath. Unbelievably, it was alive. Unlike the first two, this one was tiny, but it was up and yelling for food within minutes.
We bottle fed the three kids, and brought the first two, both boys, down to the nursery. The last one, a girl, we fed and left with her mother.
At 2:00, I went down to try to catch a few hours of sleep. Farmer Fin stayed out with Violet. When he crawled into bed at 3:30 or so, chilled to the bone, I hadn't really fallen asleep yet. Violet was looking bad, he reported. We drifted off for a couple hours before morning chores.
Violet was practically comatose in the morning. When I called Fin from work at 9:30, he was on his way to the vet to pick up medicine. It's a good thing he went when he did. Violet, the vet suspected, had milk fever, or parturient paresis, an extreme calcium deficiency that can be fatal. Fast action was crucial. She gave Fin four loaded syringes: calcium, antibiotics, and oxytocin to encourage expulsion of the placenta. I should mention that I am usually the giver of shots on this farm; tattooed lady that I am, I'm not really needle-shy. Fin was nervous and queasy, but he bravely did what had to be done. As soon as he administered the injections, he said, Violet started to look a little better.
When I came home on the afternoon, she was able to stand again, was eating a bit, and was affectionate to us. The vet came out at 9:00, gave Violet another calcium injection, and said she was cautiously optimistic. The next day Violet ate a little grain, and the day after that she went out for some grazing in the sunshine. Now, two weeks later, she's pretty much back to her old self. The vet said this sort of thing is common in dairy animals who are especially high producers, which certainly applies to Violet. As far as I'm concerned, she can give it a rest for a while, but she hasn't really gotten that memo.
Violet's third kid is named Victory. She is still the hungriest little thing.
And now, the littles:
|Veronica's Boys, When They Were Just a Few Days Old|
|Petunia's Boy and Victory, Violet's Daughter|
|Juniper's Kids, Loving the Great Outdoors|