Thursday, April 1, 2010

Altogether different bleat

Today's mail brought our census forms. We answered all the questions, checked all the appropriate boxes. Five humans, sixteen chickens, six cats (indoor and out) and two goats. Well, maybe we didn't put all of that down. But I wanted to.

Late this afternoon I walked outside with a bucket of kitchen scraps for the chickens. I was halfway to the coop when I heard Eve bleating at me from the barn. I bleated back. Then I heard another bleat. An altogether different bleat -- high-pitched and squeaky, like a goat had suddenly sucked in air from a helium balloon. I stopped dead in my tracks, frozen to a standstill, holding my breath. I heard it again, that altogether different bleat, and I knew what it meant.

It meant that one of my goats had just given birth.

I drop the bucket and run to the door of the barn. Hoping, hoping, hoping to see a healthy goat and a healthy kid inside. I look through the doorway and see Dawn, mucus trailing from her backside, and a teeny tiny dark brown body next to her.

He was unsteady on his legs, but he was definite standing. And bleating loudly. Dawn was licking licking licking his wet fur, cleaning off her babe. A huge wave of relief comes over me. It seems the birth had been an easy one for both mom and kid.

Then I hear another bleat. Smaller, and somewhat muffled. And coming from a pile of hay.

I walk in and drop down on my knees. I crawl forward, carefully moving hay, hoping hoping hoping. Soon I uncover another tiny brown wet body. Wet and slimy, still covered from the goo of birth. I reach in and pull her out. I place her in front of her mother, hoping hoping hoping Dawn will recognize her as her own. She does, quickly nudging her babe and licking licking licking. The kid stands, wobbly. Another wave of relief.

After a few moments of wondrous watching, I pop into frantic mode. This is the first live birth on our farm (not counting kittens), the first new generation of livestock we have been witness to. I am unprepared. Yes, I know what I should be doing, I have all of the necessities, but I still feel frantic. I run back to the house and walk right into the family room still wearing my muck boots. The boys are scattered about, playing with games and toys. My husband looks up at me from the chair. I wave my hands and mouth, 'baby goats!'

We all rush outside. I run an electric cord to the kidding pen where Dawn and her babes will spend the next two days, bonding and gaining strength. I set up a lamp to help keep the babes warm. I fill the buckets in the pen with water and grain. I spread extra hay on the floor for a thicker bedding. I go out into the goat pen and carefully scoop the two new lives up and carry them into the pen. Then I go gather Dawn and lead her inside.

I make a spot for myself in a corner. I ask hubby to give me a cup and the iodine, and I dip the babe's umbilical cords. I ask hubby to make a couple bottles of colostrum replacer, just in case. I work at stripping the first few squirts of milk from Dawn, and trying to get the kids to nurse. After a few minutes the milk begins to drip out. I try to show the kids the teats, but they will have none of it. I decide to let them figure it out for themselves, but I resolve not to leave until I have seen them both nursing.

The little doeling figures it out first, and gets a good feed in while her brother is still bumbling about. Ten minutes later he catches on. They nurse vigorously. I see the doeling pass meconium. They both urinate. Another wave of relief passes through me.

Dawn is eating and drinking well. Her ears are warm and her eyes are clear. She passes the afterbirth easily. It may be my imagination, but she seems pleased by my presence. She is a good mother, licking licking licking, stepping carefully and raising her leg when they wish to nurse at an odd angle. After a long while I decide to leave her alone with her babes.

I go inside the house and see the time -- 8 :15 pm. More than three hours have passed since I first heard that altogether different bleat.

I go back out at 11 pm, and everything is fine. Dawn licks my hand when I reach in to pat her neck. The doeling is sleeping in the hay and the buckling is exploring the walls of the kidding pen. Outside, Eve bleats a question and Dawn answers her.

Now it is after midnight and I am tired. The initial shock, the initial frantic has started to wear off. My body is tired but my brain is still rolling, running with thoughts and hope and wonder. Two new lives have just been born. Two completely, utterly new lives. On our farm. I am able to say 'our farm' now, without that pang of doubt. I have always wondered, what makes a farm? Now I know. This makes a farm.

We must change our census forms: five humans, sixteen chickens, six cats (indoor and out), and FOUR GOATS!


Erin said...

Congratulations! Your post was awesome, thanks for the pictures and narrative, I had tears in my eyes reading about your discovery, LOL! Yes, you definitely have a farm, way to go! I am sure the kids (human kind) are so thrilled!

Conny said...

That's so awesome! Glad you were able to be part of it. They look so cute: little ones with perms. :>) L.o.v.e. the curly fur.

Leigh said...

Excellent post Jo. I was able to enjoy emotion with you, from surprise to relief, to joy. Beautiful kids, I am truly happy for you.

jenny said...

Congratulations!! I SO enjoyed reading this post about the about the new babies!! Love the pictures! Those little babies sure do melt the heart don't they?! Glad the birth went well and momma and babies are fine.

Mama Pea said...

I think baby goats and lambs are about the cutest baby animals ever. And with their curly locks, your goat kids almost look like lambs! A double whammie.

Thanks for including all of us through your post. You'll probably always remember the first animals born on your farm. I know I do.

Jo said...

Hey Erin -- Thank you! Those first three hours went so quickly, when I went inside and saw it was after 8, I couldn't believe it!

Hi Connie! Perms -- Lol!

Howdy Liz -- Yes, they are VERY cute. Cuteness incarnate!

Hi Leigh -- Thanks! We are pretty pleased too. Just gotta think of names now!

Hello Jenny! Glad you enjoyed reading about our new babies. Eve is due to birth next week, I hope hers goes as well.

Hey Mama Pea! Oh, I agree! Their little tails go a mile a minute when they are nursing, it is the cutest thing ever.

Jessika said...

Oh, what cute little curly babies! Congratulations!

Jim Wilkins said...

Congratulations on the additions to the family. Great Story telling....