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