The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Another round of "Is she? Isn't she?"

Grazing goats

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A week ago, the internet informed me that goats can actually go into heat one last time 21 days after they get pregnant, which made me wonder whether Lamb Chop might have knocked up our little girl on May 21 rather than during the lesser heat she exhibited three weeks later. So I pushed Mark to finish the kidding stall ASAP...and I watched our doeling with an eagle eye.

Nothing happened. And in the interim I was peering so closely at Artemesia that I began to doubt whether she was even pregnant in the first place. After all, her belly doesn't actually appear very big unless she's gorging on hay (quite usual for a goat whether she's pregnant or not), and Lamb Chop was only three months old when he would have done the deed. Plus, I haven't noticed any of the prekidding signs on Artemesia that I saw on Abigail this past spring. In case you're curious, here's the summary of my notes from our first goat home birth:

Day before kidding
Notes
-42
First obvious change noticed in vulva (pooch test)
-27
Ligaments seem to start loosening and a few drops of milk freeze onto ends of teats. (Ligaments later appeared to tighten back up, then loosen again repeatedly...suggesting that I'm terrible at discerning ligament changes.)
-26
Slight bagging up of udder
-24
Abigail suddenly looks thinner as baby drops into a different position
-9
Cloudy discharge on vulva
-6
Ripples across belly. (This might have been me overreacting to random movements.)
-5
Whitish mucous on vulva
-2
Vulva sunken in, udder bags up more
-1
Vulva puffy and damp
0
Lamb Chop is born!
+9
A trickle of bloody discharge
+15 - 16
Another round of bloody discharge


As a result of my confusion, I started pondering official goat-pregnancy tests. But after a moderate amount of research, Mark and I decided that all of the options are really too invasive to learn something we'll know one way or another in three short weeks.

If we had more goats, taking Artemesia to get an ultrasound wouldn't be a big deal since our doeling likes the car and the vet is only half an hour away. But Abigail would have a fit being left alone for the afternoon and I would have to carry a possibly pregnant goat across the creek. The other option --- taking a blood sample and mailing it to a lab --- also seems excessively scary since you're supposed to draw blood from your goat's neck. Why can't they make pee-on-a-stick pregnancy tests for goats?!

Goat pooch test

So I asked Mark to make an executive decision, and he said "Wait." With the decision made, I can now resolve to pamper our darling doeling for another three weeks. Then, if she really isn't pregnant, we'll cross the breeding bridge in early November, better late than never!



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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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