Never in my life have I
spent as much time on personal daily hygiene as I've spent lately
grooming our pregnant goat. My goal isn't really to make her look
pretty, though. Instead, I have a couple of more constructive points on my daily agenda.
The first is to keep
myself occupied while Artemesia eats her morning and evening ration at a
snail's pace. I realized a few weeks ago that Abigail was getting the
lion's share of Artie's food (as well as all of her own) since our
horned goat eats at lightning speed then bullies our smaller, hornless
goat away from the rest of her dinner. So now I lock Abigail out of the
goat shed while Artemesia nibbles on her alfalfa pellets and roots.
And even though it sometimes seems like a long time to wait on a busy
morning, I'm actually glad Artie is a slow eater. That trait means I
won't have to overfeed the doe just to keep her occupied while milking
the way I did with Abigail.
So I brush our goat to
keep myself from getting bored while Artie eats, right? Well, not
entirely. I'm also trying to get her used to being touched all over long
before the kid(s) arrive. I have a feeling that if I'd done this with
Abigail, it wouldn't have been such a hassle (especially at first) to drawn down her milk.
Of course, Artemesia is
much more malleable and people-oriented than her herd mate already. But
even she flinched and tried to tuck her hindquarters the first few times
I gently felt at her expanding udder. After a couple of weeks of
personal attention, though, she's still not entirely thrilled at being
felt up but she accepts it as a necessary part of eating her daily carrots.
While I'm messing around
down there, I also press up gently on Artemesia's belly. About 90% of
the time, Aurora (or her brother) kicks back. I have a feeling that if I
was more experienced, I'd be able to guess how many kids are in there
using this push test, but I can never seem to remember exactly where the
last kick happened well enough to know if more than one kid is nudging
its mother's insides.
If I run out of goat to
brush and prod, I move on to giving our darling a pedicure. I'm very
glad to see that her hooves are suddenly growing a rate more
commensurate with her food intake --- a good sign that the wormer
might have licked her parasite problem. The insides of her eyelids
might also be getting a little pinker, but that's harder to tell since
my camera tends to misread colors in closeups of Artie's dark face.
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As you can tell, though,
I'm not entirely teaching our first freshener good habits. Once she's
done with the food in the stanchion, she moves on to licking out the
bowl. Oh well --- a beloved goat needs to be at least a little bit