Friday, February 24, 2006

Twins ... with a twist

Katherine and I were at the 4-H meeting this afternoon when I called home to ask Margaret a question. Mike answered the phone and said he'd be happy to ask her, but she was outside helping Fannie. "What? Is she in labor?" Yes, Fannie was in labor. I told Katherine, and we went rushing out of the meeting.

By the time we got home, Margaret had dried off two little kids: a buck and a doe. The little buck is gold and white, and the doe is a pattern called chamoisee: chocolate with a black stripe down her spine and black legs. Apparently Fannie had a little trouble and was pushing for quite some time with the first kid. Finally Margaret realized the problem when a hind leg popped out. The baby was breech ... and in the world of breech births, there are easy breeches and difficult breeches, and rear hooves first is pretty tough. Margaret grabbed the hooves and helped pull while Fannie pushed, and together, they got the little guy birthed.

Our excitement was short lived though. When they were about an hour old, Margaret was examining the little doe, whom she was planning to keep. When she checked the teats, she realized that the little girl has not just two teats like a normal goat, but FOUR! The little buck also has an extra teat. Oh my! This was not a planned breeding, but another of Mercury's follies when he jumped the fence five months ago. We didn't even know Fannie was pregnant until we noticed she was developing an udder in January. Since the only escape we'd had was Mercury at the end of September, we assumed he did it -- and apparently he did, as Fannie gave birth on the due date!

The teat defects also make sense if he's the father. When Star had a kid with a teat defect last year, we started doing some pedigree research and discovered that Star's grandfather and great grandfather had a nasty habit of throwing teat defects. These two goats are also in Fannie's pedigree, meaning that a cross between Star's son and Fannie is a line-breeding, and traits of the common animals might be exagerated -- that's something that breeders do on purpose when you have a really great goat, but it's something to be avoided when you have a goat who has a negative attribute like the tendency to throw teat defects. So, both of these babies will be sold as pets without papers, because teat defects are a disqualifying trait in the show ring. It's disappointing for Margaret, who is Fannie's owner, but at least she'll be able to show Fannie at the fairs this year.

Another bonus for us is that we will be able to milk Fannie to get milk for Star's doe whom we're bottle-feeding. Star and Sherri are both feeding three babies already, and since Fannie only has two to feed, we should be able to get extra milk from her for little Stella. I don't think I mentioned that we decided to name Star's baby Antiquity Oaks Constellation, because her black spots look like a constellation of stars, according to Katherine. I didn't like it at first because the only nickname I could think of was Connie, but then when I thought of Stella as a nickname, I was agreeable to naming her Constellation. Then, we can name all of her babies after constellations when she grows up!

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