Weasel in the Henhouse and "Oops" Babies

| 11/23/2016 11:26:00 AM

Tags: Jean Silver, raising chickens, raising dairy goats, predation,

Jean SilverThings have been unusually quiet and mild in the Northwoods. We didn’t have our first snow until November 19, and it really didn’t cover the ground. I haven’t started barley sprouts for the animals yet because there’s still green grass for them to eat. However, yesterday was blustery and cold. I’m looking out at what may be the last of the lengthy fall season.

The week has been rather unusual in more ways than just the weather. About three weeks ago, Fiona, my favorite Nigerian dwarf goat, suddenly had an udder. She’s always been very consistent in her pregnancies; two and a half to three weeks before kidding, her udder becomes obvious. I’ve read about goats that don’t develop an udder until the babies are here, but all of mine have been more accommodating and showed they were ready and producing milk.

It was pretty clear I was going to have a November baby or two fairly soon.

I had to be out of town part of that time, so I was sweating it. Laura, our critter sitter, was born and raised on a farm and knows more about the animals than I ever will, so I knew she could take care of absolutely anything. It’s just that I always want to be here anytime one of my animals gives birth. As I described before, Bambi probably wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t been here. But Laura updated me periodically, and Fiona stayed out of labor until after I was home.

Since the weather has been gorgeous and the grass and browsing so plentiful, I didn’t want to keep Fiona in the barn unless I had to. Therefore, I was checking her ligaments and eyeballing her morning and night, but letting her out with the others during the day. Then I put her and a companion in at night. By Wednesday morning, her tail was up and she had a heavy discharge. I had to be at work, though, so I couldn’t stay. I gave her fresh bedding, got her a lot of hay and water, turned on the nanny cam (appropriate name, isn’t it?) and waited. By afternoon, it was pretty clear she was in labor. She’d lie down, stand up, push her head against the wall, and talk to her abdomen. I was in a meeting — sneaking peeks at her progress — when I saw the first baby appear. It was pretty hard to keep my mind on work the rest of the day, but somehow I made it through.

In honor of the circumstances of their birth, I’ve named my new babies “Oops” and “Allie.” I’ve heard some experts say there’s no excuse for an unexpected kidding, however I simply don’t know when Fiona got out or the buck got in. Maybe they mated through the fence. None of the rest of the does looks very pregnant, so I really don’t know what happened. Regardless, I have a pair of twins, a boy and a girl, to add to my menagerie for the winter.

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