Above is Avalon's two kids. First though my husband has kindly reminded me that I promised a story of Zinnia's kidding. For a week before Zinnia kidded, I thought she was so close I didn't feel comfortable leaving the house. By the time I was absolutely positive she was in labor (for the third time), I was already sleep deprived. The few nights before she went into labor I was getting up and going down to the barn and sitting with her every couple hours. I felt like I had a newborn that week. I don't do well with sleep deprivation. On Wednesday night about eleven p.m. I saw her back and tale arching in definite contractions. So I went to sleep and our schedule went something like this; D checks on her at one a.m., I check on her at three a.m., then four a.m. before deciding that she was close enough that I shouldn't go back to sleep.
Thank goodness for our goat security camera which is wired into our television as I was able to lay on the couch and watch her in labor. And I watched and watched, she got up and stretched, pawed, contraction, laid back down, up, turn, paw, contraction, laid down again and so it went. By the time I realized I could probably sleep some more I had been drinking some caffeinated tea and eating chocolate chip cookies - oops, but at least I had a really good book to read by headlamp. Before I knew it, it was dawn and the kids were stirring and still no goat babies. And so the day went. Zinnia in labor, slowly progressing, but never getting to that pushing stage.
Now, if you read about goat labor there is always debate; but generally people agree that you wait until the goat is visibly pushing and then you want to see a hoof within a half hour or forty-five minutes. What no one discusses enough is what you do when the goat never gets to the pushing stage. Most people would say that if the doe is getting visibly worn out or looking weaker or going down hill that something is wrong and you go in. I'm beginning to think that if you notice that, you've probably waited too long already. In Zinnia's case, she looked fine, she was just doing her thing and did not seem to be overly agitated or distressed. One concern that I had was that this reminded me of her labor last year and I was hoping that this isn't a pattern. Last year we sat up with her all night and into the next day. When I finally "went in", her doelings were in the correct position, but they weren't close to coming out. I went ahead and pulled them out, but in looking back I thought I must have jumped the gun, or intervened unnecessarily as doe and kids were both strong and healthy.
My girlfriend Becca was sitting with me and I asked her how long she could stay. She said she needed to leave by ten p.m., and I believe it was about eight thirty p.m. So I decided to see what was going on. I dipped my gloved hand into diluted everclear, then into warm water with J Lube, and carefully worked my way in, one finger at a time until I was up to my elbow. Becca works the front end with her arm around Zinnias neck, cooing and encouraging her. I had to go way in, so again the kids were not coming out anytime soon if ever. She was dialated though, which means that they should have been. Closing my eyes I found one leg and then another and I clasped them both in my right hand, but also felt around and I thought I felt a head between them, so I started to pull him out, (pulling with her contractions and once the legs come out pulling down towards her hocks). Once the legs were out I realized that he was either upside down or backwards. I decided to try and pull it out as it was and ended up being rash and just really pulling with all my might not caring if the kid made it or not at this point. When the kid came out, I realized why he hadn't been coming out, his head was turned back on himself instead of facing forward. Oops, poor mama. Most goat people would agree that this is the most difficult presentation when the head is turned, because the head is used to being turned and wants to go back into that position with every contraction. The usual recommended procedure is to use a kid puller or sterilize a piece of baling twine. You work that in behind their head and under their jaw and then hold tight to keep the head in position while pulling on the front legs.
The first buckling was pretty much unresponsive and completely limp and floppy. I felt a faint heartbeat but really couldn't take the time to work on him. I set him off to the side. I put on another glove, re-sanitized, re-lubed and went back in to find another kid. Again I found two legs, this time I didn't feel a head so again I thought I had the back two legs. This kid came out easier, but again when he came out he was upside down with his neck turned. He was also unresponsive but had a faint heart beat. I rubbed him briefly before going back in. I was pretty sure there was going to be one more kid in there and there was. This time I grabbed small legs and easily pulled out a doeling. The doeling was in the correct position and in decent shape. We quickly put her in front of her dam who was very happy to see here and took off licking and talking to her immediately, despite how awful she must have felt.
We started rubbing the second buckling. I wish I'd had cayenne tincture to put on his gums and chest. Instead I had dried cayenne which I rubbed into his gums. From now on I'll keep the tincture in my kidding kit. It is a heart starter and one of the most recommended emergency herbs for this sort of situation. We tried a little CPR on the guy, but he didn't make it either. Fortunately Zinnia has a daughter to love and care for. We quickly got the boys out of the barn, hoping she wouldn't be too sad.
After a couple hours of drying off the doeling and getting her to nurse we finally headed inside where we could watch dam and doeling on the t.v. I headed back down before going to bed to see if I could get the doeling to nurse one more time. While I was down there I noticed that Avalon was in labor. She is a first timer, so I was pretty sure I had time for some sleep.
Avalon didn't really get going until the next afternoon. After a labor like Zinnia's I was extra alert, worried that Avalon was taking too long to progress, not wanting to jump the gun but not wanting to make the same mistake twice of not going in soon enough. Early afternoon I lubed up and went in a little to see if she was dilated and she wasn't, so I worked her cervix a bit and backed out. I sat with her for another couple hours before she finally began to push. She was close to pushing a kid out and I was getting worried that she might push out a big head first and then I'd have a hard time getting the legs, so I called Dustin down to help hold her. I lubed up and went in and sure enough there was a head right there about to come out. I reached down the right side, following his neck and felt the front of his left leg folded back underneath itself and I got a couple fingers underneath and pulled his leg forward. Then I went down the other side of his neck and that leg was completely flat against his body so again I reached back till I could get fingers under his leg and pull it out. Then I had both front hooves and I slowly pulled as she pushed. He was a good size buckling so it took her a while to push him out. But we just took it slow and steady till he made it. He was a healthy normal kid, so we cleared his nostrils and began to dry him off. We set him in front of his mom, but she was pretty distracted and we figured there was another one coming. I lubed up and went back in and there was a doeling in the correct position who came out easily. She too was healthy and in good shape. And here are some pictures.
Doeling is black and brown on left, buckling is more tan and black with some white, right.
Avalon's kids were so healthy. These were the first kids that we've had that stayed up on their feet for several hours before laying down to rest. Avalon is a very attentive mom, and fortunately for us she is not too overly protective like Zinnia, who is a bit on the vicious side- I've almost been bit in the face a few times. Zinnia's doeling is named Wild Roots Clary Sage, nick named Clary, after both the herb and one of my favorite heroines from this winter's reading. Avalon's daughter is named Wild Roots Camelot, nick named Camy or Cameo. They are both very sweet and enjoy being held and loved on. Both will be for sale. The buckling will not be named unless he is registered as a buck - because you don't name animals you might eat. :)
Our next doe due is Zuri. She is due the second week of May. Rose and Bluebell may be due in August. And now, I am past due to milk some goats.