Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baby Goats!

We've got babies!

It has been a tiring couple of days with little sleep overnight while we wait for baby goats to show up. It started on Wednesday with Cinnamon going into labor.

"It's time!"

I called Abigail, from Cloud 9 Farms, over to help, and wouldn't you know it...nothing happened. (Except that I spilled my emotional garbage at that poor girls feet and wouldn't be surprised if she never came back.) That was around four pm. I continued to check on Cinnamon throughout the evening, expecting something.

After I got my kids to bed, I went and sat with mama goat, and eventually the labor began. Richard and I sat in the barn until 2:30 am waiting for the babies. We got one little girl at 12:30...and that was it. Cinnamon labored and labored and no more babies came, so we though she was done and was waiting to expel the afterbirth.
It's a girl!

She looks a little like her Mama.
We decided to go in the house and take the baby with us, letting Cinnamon finish up on her own.We were exhausted and cold. The barn is not that comfortable after 6 hours. Richard named the little girl own spice girls.

Ginger in a basket
Up again at 5:30 am and out to check on Cinnamon by 6:30. She was up and walking around. She nursed the baby and went out with the other girls for morning hay. Maybe she ate the afterbirth? Not unheard of.

It wasn't until later that afternoon, after Richard went to work (of course) that I noticed something was amiss. Cinnamon was back on the floor, laboring and straining. That wasn't right. I figured she was done a long time ago. I couldn't have been more wrong, and knew this was more than I could deal with, so Richard and I decided to call the vet, who told us to bring her in right away. 

That was interesting. Richard was still working, and I had to load two human kids, an ailing mama goat who didn't want to get  up, let alone walk into a trailer, and a wee newborn doe. And fast. Richard called off from work and made it out to help as I was pulling a goat down the hill, carrying her baby in my free arm.

Richard stayed with the kids (all three) in the car and I stayed with my favorite goat.

It was a nightmare. The vet took one look at her and told me she had another one in there, and after an exam with the stethoscope told me it was already dead. No, no, no. She also told me it was not going to be pretty and the baby might come out in pieces. Cinnamon is bleating away now and the vet and assistant give her an epidermal, which numbs her back legs. I'm holding her head and talking softly to her as the vet goes in to retrieve the stuck baby. It's sideways, she says, it's spine is coming first. She had to turn it and pull it out. No easy feat. It seemed to take forever.

I'm crying and my goat is yelling and my legs are cramping from the constant squat. There was a chain involved and it was absolutely horrible, but finally it's out. And the vet says she's going back in to make sure it's all clean. "There's another one," she says. "This one is breach too," she confirms. Now there are things she ties to its feet and pulls it out too.

I'm absolutely bawling and my goat. One girl and one boy. Two dead babies. I should have known. I should have called the vet at 2 in the morning.Without really meaning to, I'm sure, everything the vet said made me feel worse. "See how big she was when she came in? And now she looks hollow. Now she's done."

My poor Cinnamon. I feel like I have single handedly murdered her children in my ignorance. Could I get past this?

"And sometimes, you can be an expert and know how to do everything and still lose them," the doctor told me. She lost her own foal a couple weeks ago. That doesn't make me feel better.

I cried and replayed the night in my head, wondering what I could have done? Could I have called that vet at 2 in the morning, having never met her before and not even knowing if she doctored goats? We had made an appointment earlier that week to bring in the llamas to get gelded, but that was still a week or so away. Could I have delivered those babies myself? Probably not, as twisted up as they were inside mama. I screwed up. I knew it. I felt responsible for all of it. 

It's too much, I decided. I can't do this myself. I can't give the goats the undivided attention they need while in labor and still run a household and take care of my human kids too. When Richard goes to work, it's just me, trying to keep everything running smoothly, and sometimes I come up short.

When we got Cinnamon home, she laid down in the barn and refused to look at me, but even worse, she refused to have anything to do with her living baby girl. Great. So now I've got to bottle feed the baby. The vet suggested sleeping in the barn to keep an eye on both goats. Really? Maybe she didn't notice my toddler children...I guess not, they were in the car the whole time. So, we finally get the baby to eat something, I put her to bed in an old playpen I've been holding onto, and I set my alarm for two hours later. I will get up and feed the baby and Richard will check on Cinnamon every couple of hours. The previous nights four hours of sleep was a luxury.

Cinnamon is depressed, and rightly so. I'm afraid she isn't going to make it through the night. Richard thought to dose all three mama goats with a vitamin supplement at bedtime, and I think that may have made a difference.

In the morning, Cinnamon is a new goat. I suggest that Richard milk her because I'm in short supply of milk for the newborn. We decide to take Ginger up, to see what Cinnamon will do. It's worth a shot, right? And, miracle of miracles, she starts licking the baby and lets her nurse! And, she lets me pet her head too. Maybe we could get past this.

Good news. 

Today will be busy too. I eye the other pregnant goats with suspicion, not ready to deal with any of it anymore. I have to head into town to pick up the syringes the vet forgot to give me for Cinnamon's medicines. I also need more goat birthing supplies. Joe, from Westcliffe, was coming to help Richard with the Earthbag barn. Another big day on our little farm.

I'm trying to think of how to get help. I research the WWoofer program online. Maybe we could get a farm intern. Good idea. No time to write up the farm info and submit it.

I run errands and wash up the towels from the birthing the night before, and check on Cinnamon and baby often. Tres and Amelia are lounging in the sun in the goat yard. Everything is fine...until, I hear Richard yelling..."We've got a baby!"

What? Amelia? "Who?" I yell back, grabbing fresh towels and locking the kids in the living room with a movie.

It's Tres, and she's just given birth to a big healthy boy in the middle of the yard. No trouble, no noise, and no warning at all. She didn't look like she was going to pop...not at all. We weren't even sure she was pregnant. I guess she was.
Baby goat born in the dirt
So we grab the baby and the mama and take them into the barn. Thank the gods for the extra hands on this day. Richard and Joe tie off the umbilical cord and dry the baby.

Joe and Richard take care of the new boy

Wow! Crazy days! What are we going to call this little guy? "Surprise," suggests Joe, and so his name is given.
Later that evening, after all the mamas are settled with their babies, we get an e-mail from the lady who bought Penny and Yvette. Penny has just given birth to triplets of her own. Can you imagine? And when I go up to check on my goats, Amelia is showing the first signs of going into labor. we go again?

Richard and I take our camp chairs, a space heater, a book, the phone and prepare for a long night. but once again, nothing after several hours, and we decide to go to bed in the house. Same old story. I set the alarm for every couple of hours and check on Amelia. Nothing. Nothing today either. I'm so tired I can hardly function. Richard went back to work. The kids just went to bed and I'm trying to get everything ready for the class tomorrow. 

Now, I'm on my way back up to the goat barn to see what's up with my girls tonight. I think I may have burnt the pumpkin bread I was making for tomorrow. Another long night in store. 

Still looking for a farm intern...

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