Archive for August, 2010

Welcoming the next generation

You can find in one of my earlier entries that I find it easier to garden by getting in sync the lunar cycles for planting and harvesting. This same wisdom also works well for our animals and birds here on the farm. You can learn much, kind of like having a sixth sense, when you are able to tap into the moon’s rhythm. It has served me well over all these years, and if nothing else, may help you out in being able to predict just when certain things are most likely to happen.

July 26, 2010 brought the full moon in Capricorn. This was the Buck Moon for the Algonquin tribe. It is a good moon for achieving a goal. Earth sign Moons are excellent for labor, especially physical labor, including birthing. This sign is feminine, receptive and watery. Also, goats come under the rule of the Capricorn influence. This is what made me check on the nursery pen just one more time before going to bed on the 26th.

Flashlight in hand, I did a sweep around the pen, and noticed my doe Kitty standing there staring at me with “that look” in her eyes. I turned right around and made a run for the birthing kit and a stack of towels and my camera. I knocked on Christy’s door to tell her the good news and we headed back for the goat shed together. Kitty was already having close contractions but it was her first birthing so I did not know what to expect from her. The moon was full, but not up over the mountain top, so we were definately in need of more light. I left Christy to watch and went out to string a long power cord from the greenhouse all the way back to the goat shed so I could get the light working. I told Christy to just holler out if things started to change. In a few minutes she called out that she could see the birth sack and I called back for her to let me know if she spotted the hoofs. A few more minutes passed and she said she could see the hoofs and then a nose. I put down the cord I was still untangling, and returned to the shed. Yep, two front feet and a little nose presented just right, but the mom was straining a bit hard. We would have to do this one by flashlight. I gently pulled the 2 front feet forward so as to give the head just a little more room to pass, and in just one more contraction, the kid slid right out. There is always that terrifying moment until you know if the newborn is passing air. We held our breath and said a silent prayer as I “swung” the kid (more about that later) until we heard that first tiny little squeak from the babe. It was a fairly cold night for July, but we had a nice thick stack of towels, and started to dry the new baby off. A girl! Yeah!
At this point, the new mom, not really knowing what to make of the whole thing, got up and wandered out of the shed. I left the newborn with Christy and resumed getting the light hooked up. Christy was texting her family a play by play description of the event. Techno farmers! I finally got the power cord untangled and the light on, and there was time for Christy to get a chair and make some nice hot tea for us – it would be a long night. After what seemed like forever, the doe came back into the shed and we put the towel-dried kid down in front of her so she could begin to bond with her new daughter. They squeaked and nickered their little sounds to each other in a language that only goats can understand.

Another while went by and the doe started to get restless again as her labor resumed. The second kid was much smaller and slid out rather quickly still encased in the birth sack. In this situation you have to quickly break the sack and get the fluid out of the nose and mouth or the kid will drown. Ok, no breath happening – this is where knowing how to “swing” a kid really comes in handy. It might seem like a harsh thing to do to something just entering the world, but it is harmless, and it works very well to quickly clear the fluid from the nose, mouth and lungs if any is restricting the airways. Your left hand goes under chest, right hand gets a good grip on those very slippery hind legs, and you stand up and literally swing the kid from the ground to up about your waist level. The centrifugal force clears the fluid out. Most first time witnesses to this procedure have been momentarily horrified, but then come to understand the necessity of the process. After about four swings, I could start to hear a sputtering sound and stopped to check. Yes! the kid was moving air on her own! I could feel a strong heart beat as she continued to cough and sputter up fluid. Another girl! We let out a cheer! Back to the mommy to get bonded and dried off completely.

The doe was not too sure of herself with the whole nursing thing, so I milked out the colostrum (first milk, very important for the kids to get) and fed both kids with a syringe. It was now getting to be the wee hours of the morning but we had to wait for another hour or so until the doe passed the afterbirth. When she did, and upon inspection it was complete, we moved the whole new little family to the nursery pen. We closed them in for the night so the new mom and kids could bond without any outside interruptions after their long night. Exhausted, cold, but smiling ear to ear from the miracle we had just witnessed, we trailed back to our respective homes. I crawled into a steaming hot shower then passed out right away in bed, still with that smile on my face, and the blessing of new life bestowed to the farm.