Grit Blogs > Terra Dei Farm - A Life of Stewardship

Winter Kidding Season: Part 1

 Alexandra head shotOur spring kidding season starts in about 3 weeks.  This, of course, is cause to reflect on our December kiddings.  For the past two years our does have been divided into a March kidding group and a December kidding group.  It has worked well for us.  Winter kidding obviously has its trials and is a bit more labor intensive (we’re in Missouri, so the winters could definitely be worse but are still below freezing) but the flip side is that we have kids reaching market weight right before Easter.  So we can sell when the market is at it’s peak in this area, which is no little thing to consider. 

Here is a glimpse of the amusement that these last kiddings brought to our farm:
 4wk Kids
Anyway, our December kiddings were overall a success, but started on a trying note.  Our first doe to kid was Ruth, a young first timer who went about a week early.  Luckily we happened to be out in the barn checking on things when she delivered twin bucklings.  One was 99% dead at birth, we managed to resuscitate it but it slipped away again a short time later.  

This is Ruth (Though mostly wild, apparently she is a ham for the camera...see following pictures.):

 Ruth 

The second kid was loudly letting us know that it was alive, hungry and deeply offended at being brought out into this cold world.  But he was weak, barely able to lift his head and nowhere near trying to stand.  And, his mother wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

(Please note, I do not like goats in the house and firmly believe that they should stay in the barn with other goats whenever possible so that they don’t forget that they are goats.  However, there is one thing I despise worse than goats in the house and that is: COLD.  Especially at 1am.)   Therefore, after both my husband and I, the doe and the goat kid had all reached a suitable level of frustration I simply milked colostrum from the doe and we brought the kid to the house to warm up and gain strength.

 Still Ruth
After a successful round of tube feeding I fell asleep on the basement couch thinking, “Isn’t this the life?” - with my then 3 month old human baby in a bassinet on one side and a baby goat in an old playpen on the other.  Needless to say, between the two babies, there wasn’t much sleep for me to have that night ...
 Ruth still refusing to get out of the camera
I remember making a comment after the first buckling died (the one that we had briefly resuscitated.)  It went something like this: One of the things that I really appreciate about working with animals/farming/nature is how they keep you humble and realistic.  There is a lot of self-empowering talk in society today about how “Anything you dream, you can achieve” and “You can be anything you want to be!”  I’m all about setting goals, having dreams, and working hard to see them come true - but I also think we have to be practical.  As a somewhat slight built 5'4" female, I’m probably never going to be an NFL football player no matter how much it may be my dream and I may want to do it.  (And no, that isn’t actually a dream of mine.)   But sometimes dreams and desires just don’t align with real life (or “whole life” as our 3 year old calls it.)  So, no matter how much, for example, I wanted that goat kid to survive - he didn’t.  I worked hard, did everything I know to do, hoped, prayed, willed him to survive, begged, poured everything I had into that tiny creature for the short time I had with him....I wanted him to live.  And he didn’t.  Which brings me back to my point: Nature keeps us grounded.  It’s hard, it hurts and usually it downright sucks, but generally it does us good to be reminded that we are not masters of the universe - not even our own universe.

Stay tuned for the 2nd installation of the kidding saga.  (And, in Ruth's defense, we were able to graft the kid back onto her a day later when he was able to stand and she has been a great mother since then.)
 

alexandra reel
2/27/2012 3:26:12 PM

Wendy - exactly! We lost a bred doe this winter also (You'll be able to read about her in the soon to be posted Winter Kidding - Part 2.) I sometimes feel like doctoring goats, or any animal, is a lot like doctoring children - they can't just tell you what is wrong and where it hurts. So, as you said, we do what we can.


alexandra reel
2/27/2012 3:22:58 PM

Marc- Thanks! Goats are definitely amusing to have around. If you aren't interested in the daily chore of milking then meat goats would be a good option. We raise Boers and Boer x Kiko. We enjoy them, but if you are just looking for pets then you might be able to find some pygmys for a bit less money. Good luck with your search!


marc austin
2/26/2012 10:20:49 PM

Nice story and Great pics! I was wondering what breed you raise. I've loved goats since i was about 2 years old but only now have the facilities to raise some. My (livestock mentor) said "meat goats" were the easiest to come by. I'm not interested in commercializing them in any way - just want 6 or 7 to hang around and amuse me. Could you recommend some options? Thanks from El Dorado - KS .


wendy mckenzie
2/25/2012 3:38:13 PM

Congrats on the kidding. We just had our first 2 does kid the day you wrote this, twins at 11:00am and triplets at 1:30 pm, crazy busy. The VERY windy day also required additional draft prevention on their shed in the midst of all that. The first baby was a 12 pounder so we had to help pull him out, his sister was 10 pounds! the others did we unassisted. I never knew that GOATS having babies could be so tiring to the HUMANS;) It is great being on the farm and raising livestock and I agree that the challenges of "do what you can, but you get what you get" are something city people living the American hype of "your way, right away" don't understand. We lost a bred doe 4 weeks before kidding, not what we planned, did everything possible, have a very large goat pharmacy now, but couldn't save her. You can plan to expand your herd too, and end up with all bucklings, so we all "get what we get, and don't throw a fit". Thanks for sharing, and good luck in the spring kidding, may they all be healthy and kid during the day!


nebraska dave
2/25/2012 2:49:27 PM

Alexandra, birthing time on the homestead is always a very little sleep time. I hope that all your next birthing kids will be less troublesome and be healthy from the beginning of their lives. We had milk cows in my high school years and Spring was always a time for watching, waiting, and making sure everything happened in the proper way. I wasn't much involved with the process but Dad was an expert at knowing just what was needed and when to intervene to help the process along. Spring is my favorite time as new life begins in both the animal world and the plant world. It's a very busy time but always enjoyable for me. I have much planned to do this Spring. Probably way more than I will ever get accomplished but there's always next year if it doesn't get done this year. Have a great Spring kidding day.