They say if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. I'll be honest, I don't remember how it came in because it seems like it has been an absolute whirlwind of activity these past couple of weeks. We have had a couple of does kid since the first main round, but over the past maybe week, week and a half we have seen the majority of does in the bottom field group kid out, and this has been one of those seasons where it seems we have had a new problem to deal with every day. Some of them have been the weather's fault, some of them may have been the goats fault or maybe the dog's fault, and some, as always, have been our fault. Then there have been a couple that really weren't anyone's fault, but are just part and parcel of kidding goats and a reminder that the process of having a baby is one of the most dangerous times in the life of both doe and kid.
Let me first put out there a few of the lessons we have learned through this, because they may be helpful to someone else. When Aggie kidded (a second timer) the birth itself was unusual only in that one twin was fine and the other had developed abnormally and was nonviable. That was a disappointment, because she is Annalee's goat and a good mother. We were happy enough with the kid that survived, even though he is a buck and we had specifically asked her to provide us some does. To be honest, we had asked all the does to produce more does, and it has become painfully clear they don't care even a little bit what we say. I think we are at about 80% bucks in this round as of right now. Anyway, this buck is a good looking buck, nicely balanced and strongly built. Aggie began taking good care of him right away, but about two days after his birth, it became apparent she was having some health problems of her own. As usual, I got the text in the middle of the night from Chuck telling me what was going on, and that she was off feed and looking depressed, and asking what to do. Not knowing what to tell him, and wondering if she had retained afterbirth, I asked him to take her temperature. It was slightly elevated - 104.9. We had some LA200 on hand so I suggested he give her that.
Since her milk supply seemed down somewhat, although the milk he expressed did look clean and normal, he grabbed another doe who had lost her kids when they wandered out into the cold field one night, and had the little buck nurse from her. We figured it would maybe help the doe dry off more gradually and preserve her udder health, and it would of course help the buck. When Aggie was still miserable the next day, Chuck called a couple of vet friends of ours and got their over the phone opinions, and called our local vet out for a hands on assessment. She found no sign of frank infection, and thought Aggie was in severe pain from either a uterine tear or a bad bruise. About all we could do would be to offer her supportive care. Over the next couple of days, we continued the LA200 in case an infection was trying to brew, and I added in a couple of things because Aggie was scouring about this time as well. Just in case a bacteria for which it contains antibodies was involved, we gave her some Bovi Sera, and also some B-12, just because I think it is helpful for anyone feeling poorly. Chuck pulled out the tub of Fibrevive as she was off feed, and we wanted to keep something soothing in her rumen. He made some "patties" of Fibrevive with slippery elm in it, mixed with water. The slippery elm is another one of those things that is generally healthy on the gut, so we figured it couldn't hurt. She would not take it on her own, but when he put some in her mouth, she would chew it up and swallow it. She drank water readily, thank goodness, and was down for a couple of days. Over the past day or two she has started wandering around picking at the grass and eating on her own, and yesterday when Chuck put a new round bale in the feeder she attacked it with gusto. I know goats well enough to not say she is out of the woods, but she seems to be on the mend, and her kid is still nursing her and growing alright. One side of her udder had started to get hard and warm during all this, so Chuck stripped it and stripped it with some peppermint and clove oil udder creme, and now, her milk looks clear again and her buck is nursing both sides. When she was so ill, she took such comfort in that baby, as you can see in this picture of the two of them. It is hard not to relate to that, as a mother.
The second thing I would like to offer up is our very first experience with a doe rejecting her kids. Chuck has been going back and forth to the farm, night and day, and one day when he came home for a couple of hours and then drove back up he found two little black kids in the field, nice and dry, but with no mom around. Using process of elimination, he found their mom, who was much deflated but showed none of the normal post birth crudd on her hind end. I think it was about two am when I got the text about this one. I suggested he smear the kids across the goo that should have been on her so she could recognize them, because we guessed that maybe the dogs had cleaned these guys off and the doe decided they must not have been hers after all. Well, the only problem with this was the fact that there was no goo to be had. Chuck struggled and fought with her and got the kids to nurse, but he kept texting me that she acted not like a mom looking for her kids, but like one that had no kids at all. Hmmm. This was a new twist.
He locked her in a shed with the kids and decided to check on them in the morning. The next day, she still was all a-stomp when the kids tried to nurse, and again he held her still so they could get colostrum. She looked like a horse trying to kick a horsefly off its belly, and every now and then she would connect and launch a kid. We had another doe kid the next day, and Chuck watched as one kid came out fine, but the other came out with what acted like something foreign plugging its airway. He tried to pat it out, sling it out, massage it out, and fingersweep it out, but was unable to save it. A friend of mine has since told us he could have tried to "suck" it out and spit really quick, and something tells me if he sees this again he will try it because that was a bad feeling, not to be able to help when the kid was right there. Well, we figured here was an opportunity. The recent kidder was a second timer, and would have plenty of milk, so Chuck took the smaller buck from the other doe and smeared it with new doe goo. She turned around and cleaned it off and started trying to get it to nurse and he was amazed at how easy that had been.
Since this is us, and nothing is ever easy, as fate would have it the kid had some diarrhea the next day and the new doe now wanted nothing to do with him. I suppose the smell of the original doe had come back and the new doe said, "hey - this one ain't mine." In the meantime, the doe that had originally rejected both her kids had decided she liked the one she kept, and she was beginning to mother him as she should have from the beginning. I noticed she would look at "the reject" from time to time and talk to him, and of course he was so confused he wouldn't talk back, and then she would come over, smell him, then decide he wasn't hers and walk off. The kid would then start following us around. I guess he figured he'd take any port in a storm. He follows the stroller quite nicely. We decided we had screwed up so we would try again getting him back with his real mother, so Chuck held her for him to nurse and they went back in the shed together. This was just yesterday, and as of today she still was pretty angry about the whole situation. When Chuck went to hold her today, she bit his sunglasses and hat off his head and slung them across the shed. She also bit him on the arm a couple of times, just for good measure. But Oliver got to nurse, and we will see if Oliver makes it and if, like with his brother, she decides to accept him. I guess I should mention that I was at Target recently, and found a kid version of Dickens' "Oliver Twist" in the dollar bin. I am a huge Dickens fan, so even though it has none of the language of the original story, it at least will familiarize the human kids with the story. Chip actually took it to school with him a couple of times. This poor little sort of orphan kid, following us with a look on his face that said, More? Can I please have some more, sir?" brought Oliver Twist to mind, and so he became Oliver for as long as he's on this earth. His brother already makes two of him, so he may make it, he may not, but we are trying. The lesson we have learned from this little adventure is that if you want a doe to accept kids, it takes time. Not just a day or so, but maybe several days, but it can happen. I know that this doe needed the mothering experience to have a chance next year (she gets one more chance since the dogs may have screwed her up) and we also didn't want her udder to have problems. Now if she blows it next year, she's out of here, and as a pet or weedeater - not breeding stock. With all the kicking and silliness with her nursing, I also wonder if she had a particularly sensitive udder. I hope a season of being nursed works that out. We have her mother, ironically bought at the same sale but not as a pair, and she has given us two sets of twins without a hitch.
We have four more does to kid, and we are hoping we get some doelings in this group. Right now we are going to be painfully light on does, but boy, if you need a black buck, do we have a selection for you to choose from!
Now, I will further say that this is the only sort of March Madness on which I will make comment. I'm a Duke girl, you see.