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Artemesia's twins

Artemesia's twins

If you've been following along, you'll recall that I began Friday morning checking on my very pregnant goat before dawn. A second check at 8 am and a third check at 10 am showed her much the same. But after hiving a swarm of bees, the 11:30 am check presented a very different picture:

Nesting goat

Some goats may lie like this normally. But, to me, the visual was an obvious sign of labor. Artemesia had made a little nest in the new hay I'd laid down the night before, and her hind legs were stretched out rather than tucked underneath. Then, as I watched, she experienced a minor contraction. The time had come at last.

Goat in labor

Goat birth sacSo I rushed back to the trailer and grabbed the bare minimum birthing kit --- two old towels, a watch, a notebook, and a bite of lunch for me. I'd offered Artemesia a portion of Nutri-Drench that morning mixed with molasses and oats just to be on the safe side and she'd only eaten half of it, so I knew I had some emergency sustenance on hand for the mother-to-be.

When I returned to the goat barn, it felt like Artemesia had been waiting for me. Her contractions came closer and closer together as she began to push out what looked like a scary big, dark thing...but which was actually a liquid-filled membrane.

Goat delivering a kid

The beginning part of her labor was a bit slow, giving me plenty of time to second-guess everything up to and including getting my favorite goat knocked up in the first place. But she didn't appear to be in pain (although she was obviously working).

Then, right at noon, Artemesia began pushing in earnest. She cried a couple of times...and out popped kid number one. I didn't know at the time, but this was a baby girl.

Mother goat licking off kid

I only had time to pull the doeling's nose out of the sac of liquid (which hadn't entirely burst) before Artemesia was licking her...and pushing out kid number two (a boy) at the same time.

Drying off a baby goat

Goat placentaArtemesia proved to be the world's best mother immediately. She licked and licked and licked at those kids, not even taking the time to stand up and get the placenta the rest of the way out for quite a while. (It had mostly passed and clung to her butt for about an hour anyway, so I guess there was no hurry.)

I helped her out by drying the kid she wasn't currently working on, then swapping them around so each got a bit of towel action and a bit of motherly TLC. That's when I took the time to peer at the Newborn doelingkids' privates and discover that the first kid --- a little paler in color with a subtle dark streak down the middle of her back --- was a girl. The redder kid who turned out to be a bit more adventurous was a boy. Maybe you can tell that the boy is the one in my lap in the photo above while the girl is shown to the left?

Goat learning to nurse

Ungainly baby goatsFinally, Artemesia decided she could lick just as well standing up as lying down, and I began pushing kids toward her teats. Unlike Abigail, Artemesia wasn't averse to the idea of having her teats tugged on, but she was so intent on licking that she didn't give the kids much opportunity to drink. The youngsters also had a little trouble figuring out how to push those tremendous teats into their tiny mouths.

But after a short while, I'd seen milk go down both kids' gullets. I breathed a big sigh of relief --- my job was pretty much done.

Mother goat pick me up

Actually, I planned to go home and rest for a while. I'd woken at 5:30 a.m. worried about my herd and now I felt like I'd been through the wringer even though Artemesia was the one who did all the work. Plus, my hands were covered with goop and I wanted to bring the new mother some molasses water to round out the Nutri-Drench, alfalfa pellets, and hay she'd immediately started glomming down once the kids were licked dry.

But my darling doe didn't want me to go. She'd barely made a peep during the entire birth episode, but as soon as I headed to the door she began to cry. "Don't leave me!" (Yes, her sentence was entirely understandable even if she didn't use words.)

I plugged my ears and left anyway, though, and Artemesia figured it was worth it when I returned five minutes later with that after-birth pick-me-up. And, speaking of after-birth, the placenta had fallen away from her rear end while I was gone, allowing me to scoop it out to Lucy...who'd been waiting patiently in the wings the entire time.

Mother goat

I sat with our new family for about another hour while everyone slowly got to know each other and then finally succumbed to exhaustion.

Goat cuddle pile

And once the cuddle pile was fully formed, Artemesia let me leave without crying. She and her twins were ready for a good long nap.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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What a lovely little family. They look so big already compared to Artemesia. Is Abigail still there? How is she taking these new developments in the herd? Good luck with the babies! Congrats.
Comment by Kris Mon Apr 25 07:51:05 2016

Kris --- I know --- it's a bit crazy how goat kids turn into bouncing miniature adults in no time.

We took Abigail to the butcher this morning. Sad and difficult, but the right choice in my opinion. She'd been living in the pasture next door because I didn't trust her around Artemesia in late pregnancy, and Artemesia didn't trust her around the kids. Abigail had a pretty awesome life, and now we'll move on to a herd that's hopefully a bit less willful.

Comment by anna Mon Apr 25 10:02:09 2016

I gotta say, the baby goats are almost too precious.

If you do end up giving a name to the little fella I suggest sticking to the alliteration and theme of herd. Perhaps Apollo?

Comment by Matthew B Mon Apr 25 13:29:18 2016
Comment by Jennifer Mon Apr 25 17:08:45 2016
Aww, lovely story and pictures of the new family. Sorry for Abigail, but I understand why the decision had to be made.
Comment by Chris Mon Apr 25 21:45:59 2016

Matthew --- I really like that name! I'll check with the potential owner and see if he likes it as much.

Jennifer --- I know! :-)

Chris --- Thanks for understanding the Abigail decision. I'm fully expecting to be bombarded by angry readers....

Comment by anna Tue Apr 26 10:29:10 2016
So cute!!!!!! :D
Comment by Emily Tue Apr 26 12:27:34 2016
Congrats! It is good to have this big hurdle over and done safely and happily! I cant remember, was the buck a Nigerian Dwarf? They are cute as anything. Our doe kidded last week, after days of watching (on my part) she delivered two healthy boys (sigh) with no problems. They both look like her, tri-color with white patches. Now I am looking for a second doe. Home grown dairy, finally!
Comment by Deb Thu Apr 28 06:43:32 2016

Deb --- Yep, the buck is a Nigerian dwarf, so these guys are 3/4 Nigerian.

I'm so glad to hear your doe kidded safely, even though I'm sure you were disappointed in two boys. Is she your only goat? I'm surprised she hasn't been lonely. You might use what had been our backup plan --- wether one of the boys to keep as her buddy.

Comment by anna Sat Apr 30 15:08:23 2016

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