Posts Tagged ‘birthing’

Little Orphan Phoebe

It was a first birth for Claire and I was frankly surprised it went so rough. Her mom had always had an easy time getting her kids on the ground, and some of the time did it without any help. I was sure she would follow in her mother’s footsteps. This time I was wrong. It was Monday morning and I noticed that her udder was quickly bagging up (of course she was not going to do it over the weekend, when I had time off work- doe’s code of honor). She started to get “that look” in her eyes and I knew her time was drawing near. I called in to the office to let them know I would be late, and started my watch. By noon she was picking at her food and talking to her side- it should not be long now. By 2 pm she was down on her side pushing, but by 2:30 she was not making any progress. I got out the gloves and the lube. There was a tiny pair of feet in the birth canal but not a head to be felt. Not good. I let another ten minuets go by and still no progress. I have done this enough to know when it is time to call the vet. Dr. Bailey was not in the office but I did have his cell number. He was only a few minutes away and came right over. He could feel the feet as well, but not the head with them. He tried to turn the kid, and then only had the head, but no front feet.
There just did not seem to be a way to get this baby into the proper position. “Well” I said at last “Just bring the kid out head first.” Dr. Bailey always likes to have the feet as well, but decided to deliver the kid without then this time. After some pushing, and a few screams from the doe, a tiny doe kid was pulled into the world. Dr. Bailey was surprised to see she was still alive. He handed her off to me and reached back in for the next one. Again after much pushing and pulling, a tiny buck kid was retrieved, weak and sputtering, but alive. He weighed in at only 1 lb 6 oz, and she just under 2 pounds. I am not sure if it was the traumatic birth or just Claire’s take on being a new mom, but the doe did not seem to want to have anything to do with these newborns.  As Dr Bailey looked down at the two tiny, struggling babes on the blanket, he looked at me and said that I now had my work cut out for me. I think it was his kind way of saying these kids really did not have much of a chance at this point. If I could get them past the first 48 hours they might have a chance.

Newborn Phoebe

For the rest of the afternoon, I milked out the colostrum from the VERY uncooperative mother, and fed the kids with an eyedropper. I followed the doe around with the babes, hoping she would bond with them. Not only did she not want them anywhere near her- she actually turned around and butted them away, hard!
By that evening the night air began to chill, and I had no choice but to go to “plan B”, and bring the poor little things into the house. I found a large cardboard box, lined it with a plastic trash bag, and covered the floor with newspapers. Next I put down a heating pad, and then some large towels. this would keep them snuggley and warm. Both were too weak to suck on a bottle, so I fed them every 4 hours with the eyedropper throughout the night.
By the next morning, the little doe was strong enough to stand a bit, and I once again took her out and tried to introduce her to her mom. This time Clair knocked her for six, so I took her right back into the house. I came to the sad reallity that I would now be raising my very first pair of orphan kids.
The first 3 days were very tedious, keeping up with the feedings every 4 hours around the clock. By day 4, the little doe was finally able to latch onto the nipple of the bottle, but the little buck kid continued to grow weak, and he left us that same afternoon. It was touch and go every day with the doe. She did not gain much weight, and chilled easily. She was not able to stand up very well, and seemed weak in her front legs. Sometimes she did not want to eat at all, and I had to revert back to the eyedropper. I bought some Pedilite to keep her hydrated, and put a few drops of Red Cell in her milk at each feeding. Still she struggled.
I remembered when one of our goats had been anemic the year before, and we had given her injections of B-12, so I began to give the little doe 1cc of the B-12 every 12 hours.
At 1 week of age, she seemed unable to walk altogether, and was still not gaining any weight. I would hold her in my lap and move her little legs for her, so her muscles would not atrophy. This went on all through the second week of her life, until I noticed she was sometimes able to stand for a few minuets. I began to get behind her and just scoot her along so she would have to take small steps. I slept on the couch with her curled up in my arms to keep warm.
By week 3 she was taking more steps on her own, but was all but lame in the right front leg. I began to feed her a few teaspoons of greek yogurt every day, and continued the B-12 shots. She began to walk a bit more. Then one day I found her in her box laying stiff on her side. It looked she had seizured. She was still alive, so I got her upright and got her moving again. At one month old, I gave her 1cc of CDT and prayed. She still weighed a good pound less then the set of twins that were born a week after her. Her right front leg still buckled out in front of her, causing a limp.
More shots, more bottles, more prayer – day after day. I never even did name her, for fear every day that she would not live. Then the day came at last when she took a turn for the better. Her legs became stronger, she started to walk with ease, and then she delighted me one day when she jumped up the porch steps. At 5 weeks I tapered the B-12 down to 1 cc every other day, and then tapered off of it. We named her Phoebe, and she is now doing quite well. She downs 4 cups of milk replacer everyday, has gained weight, grown, and has started to nibble at some hay.

Our healthy, happy girl.

Now, at 6 weeks old, we go in back and have “play dates” in the nursery pen with the other moms and babies. We then race each other back down the driveway and into the kitchen. I marvel at her sweet but spunky personaility and try not to think back on those hard days we had together. Each day now she is less and less dependent on me, and goes off to explore her world more and more without me, but that’s ok. That is as it should be. As much as I enjoy the special bond we share I will be glad for the day when she will be able to go out and join the tribe.
For now I will just enjoy the last few weeks of the bottles, and the cuddling, and the sweet goat murmurs she whispers in my ears.
All the worry has been worth it, and it reminds me that I am indeed a goatherd, and to always be humble before God’s creatures.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Daylight Savings Time and Ready for Spring

I have always liked the concept of daylight savings time, but when it actually comes around it always messes me up for a few days. First, I always have to remember the “spring forward, fall back” thing, to be able to remember which way to turn the clock. Then I have to fight with the VCR, microwave, clock in my dashboard and my cell phone- I am really bad with all things tech, so this is a problem for me every year. It always takes a few days for my body to adjust to the “extra” or “missing” hour-but I never did understand why they say we gain or lose an hour, when there are still 24 hours in a day. We did not “gain” an hour in our lives-if that really happened we could just give ourselves more hours in time and at some point I think it would cause some time warp in the universe. I guess it is just something that the government cooked up so we would not have to drive to work in the dark in the winter months when the days are shorter. Anyway, to me it just feels like jet lag, but without getting to go on vacation. I do like getting home and being able to get a couple of things done in the goat yard before it gets dark though.

I am ready for spring. We have had over 2 1/2 months of freezing temps every night and no rain (and remember, we get to complain because this is Southern California.) Everything has been brown and crunchy for a long time. I am starting to see little signs that spring is trying to peek out in a few places, hoping that the freeze is over. The last frost date for our area is April 9th – so we may still get hit with some low temps again, but it has been 38 degrees and above for the last 4 mornings in a row. So this gives me hope that the worst is already over. The plum tree has put out a timid row of blossoms and the mulberry tree has broken bud. I planted out some artichokes that we started in the greenhouse a few months back, and put down very heavy layers of mulch to protect them. I also put some rose clones into the ground that had been hardening off outside near the house, and have moved more from the greenhouse to the front garden to get them used to the outside temps. I have tomato starts that I am chomping at the bit to plant out but I know full well I will have to drag out the Wall-O-Waters and keep a close eye on them if I do.

I have been eying the boxes of seed packets on the kitchen shelves that I have earmarked for this planting season but I don’t want to jump the gun. I will not let myself be seduced by their glossy photos and promises of days to harvest. I know the ground is still too inhospitable to plant warm weather veggies, no matter how tempting it becomes. It will only end in heartbreak otherwise.

We are on the dark side of the moon cycle this week, so I will spend this week battling weeds, pruning the last of the frostbitten canes and branches and putting up bean poles and trellises.

The incubator is now full of eggs that are set to hatch the week before Easter and the fertility is up in all of the breeding pens now. I got the first turkey egg of the season yesterday so I am sure the other game birds will follow along soon. I have been keeping an eye on the nursery pen, and have my birthing kit cleaned up and organized, and a stack of clean towels at the ready.

Spring is always a crazy time on the farm, but I am ready!

Quinn’s Twins!

Buckling #1

Buckling #2

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.

Welcome Nala!

Yes it finely happened! The thing we have all been waiting for all of these weeks! Our Bella had her kids at 8 a.m. the morning the 24th. The good news is, we have a lovely little light caramel doe kid, who was up and running about 10 minutes after she was born. The bad news is,  there were 2 others that we could not save in the birth process, another doe, and a buck. The lesson is – some things we just have no control over in this life. We have hundreds of births and hatchings here every year, but in each and every one of them, there is always “that” moment. That beautiful, terrifying, all determining moment in each and every new life, right when something is born, and just before it takes its first breath that is absolutely out of anyone’s control, except God’s, so it is in His hand that I leave this.  I will spend my energy enjoying and getting to know our newest member of the tribe “Nala” (and yes, we all now have that song stuck in out heads!) as we welcome her with open hearts and arms, and congratulate our Bella on her new daughter. She is our bright little rainbow after the storm, and we love her already!

Watching and waiting…

We are in the throws of anticipation, as one of the does, Bella, is showing all the signs of impending birth. Her full name is Bella Luna because she was born here by the light of a beautiful full Libra moon. She is the doe I predicted would kid first this season. We have been able to feel the babies moving for about a week now. She kept walking herself into the kidding pen and taking her afternoon naps in it, as if she knows. Animals have such great instincts. Bella is a very good mother who has kidded many times before, so she is an old hand at it. She, like all of my does, has always had multiple kids, always twins except for two winters ago when she surprised all of us and probably even herself by presenting us with quads! 3 boys and 1 girl. All of her other births thus far were uneventful, but that one night she was screaming her head off in the yard at about 10:30 on a very cold dark night (right before Christmas), and that behavior is just not like her. Upon investigation we discovered a trail of four little squirming bodies along about a 20 foot path. Bella was a very confused and concerned doe, running back and forth between all of them, and trying to get our attention all at the same time. We collected the tiny, cold bodies and quickly brought them into the house. We filled the sink with warm water (normal blood temperature for a goat is 102-104 degrees) and submerged the tiny babies up to their necks.

The quads warming up in the sink

Once their core temperature was back to normal each one had a session with towels and the hair dryer set on low. When fully dry we made sure each one nursed from their mother before leaving the new family alone in a in a clean dry stall. Bella was very organized in raising them, having a very specific place she would have each one sleep, and then she would call two of them at a time to her to nurse. She had it down to a science! We did have to supplement the two smaller ones with bottles so they could catch up in size after the first week or so.
That was the same year that, within 48 hours and right up to Christmas Eve, we had a succession of 10 baby goats born. It started a set of twins, followed by a set of triplets, followed by the quads and then finally one more kid born right on Christmas Eve. It was so great that year – I had a group of 4-H girls visiting the farm that afternoon when the doe went into labor. After a few phone calls, the leader decided to stay with the girls so they could watch. A few other neighbors came over for the event as well.
As far as I am concerned, there really is nothing quit like witnessing a birth in a manger amid the sounds and smells of the animals and the straw, mixed with the anticipation and then the beauty of new life taking its first breaths. Having this happen right on Christmas Eve added a divine energy and just made it perfect. It was something I’m sure the people who were there that day will never forget. I know that’s true for me. For now though, I just hope Bella has a nice set of twins and all goes as it should, as we watch and wait……..