Our 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:
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.):
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.
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 ...
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.)