Our first baby goats

Our first baby goats

Nothing prepared me for this hobby farm adventure as well as becoming a mother. Long before I was spreading goat poop in my garden, shoveling chicken poop into the compost heap, or tracking the heat cycles of a doe (yeah, dwell on that one for a minute), I was wiping secondary boogers out of my hair, cleaning vomit from my bra, and changing pee sheets in the middle of the night. The days of reading a book in a park and getting my nails done were long gone before I found myself breaking an amniotic sac and freeing a baby goat.

Which I did. 99.9% of the nation was watching the Seahawks lose the Super Bowl and I was given a reprieve by the arrival of the two tiniest, most perfect baby bucklings I’ve ever seen.

I’m getting ahead of the narrative a bit. Per the previous prep post, Ella was in the garage pen and we were ready. The night before her due date I spent a few dawn hours with her in what I can only equate to the caprine version of Braxton Hicks. Faker. Going into Sunday morning, February 1st, the birthing accoutrement was prepped, I had a nice pile of animal husbandring clothes ready, and we had a set schedule of checking Ella every hour on the hour. And then the stupid game started and family arrived four doors down for the party.

Who can guess where this is going?

1 pm – Ella obviously stretching but not otherwise uncomfortable.
2 pm – Ella still stretching, tail erect, visible tightening but nothing too intense.
3 pm – Checking on my own kids, making sure they are fed and fine, visiting with family and friends; Gabe is on his way home from errands and promises to stop by the house to call in an update.
3:20 pm – A call comes in to my parents’ house. My dad answers. All we hear is Gabe yelling “Baby goat! Baby goat!”

I race home and there in the hay is our little Finn, being cleaned up by his mama.

All this prep and I’d missed it! But joy — another one is headed out! Appropriate clothing be damned, it’s me in yoga pants and a sweater, body-deep in bloody hay, breaking open an intact amniotic sac and wiping fluid from our little Archie’s nose and mouth before placing him in front of his mama. Ella was a champ, delivering quickly and efficiently on her due date.

Then, it was time to teach them how to nurse. A quick aside for humans and goats — this is not a process that every animal just naturally knows how to do and takes it up with aplomb on the first try. I may be anthropomorphizing, but Ella’s expression was an easily readable “WTF?!” as I made her stand and subject herself to the head-butting and weak attempts at suckling exhibited by her babies. Gotta say, after two rough starts of my own, I was pretty patient during this potentially frustrating process. Babies and new moms are so dumb!

We took some extra time with Finn because he was so much smaller (1 lb, 10.1 oz to Archie’s 3 lb, 1.9 oz), but even he eventually made his way from Ella’s collar to her udder and got the hang of it.

We finally gave Ella some molasses water and grain, put iodine on the babies’ umbilical cords, and then left the new family to get to know each other without the presence of our paparazzi. Superbowl schmuperbowl, it’s Pare Down for the win.

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