Friday, January 5, 2007

Farmgirls in waiting

We have two goats due to kid on Sunday, but the tail ligaments are gone on both of them, which means they are likely to kid within 24 hours. When Katherine went out to the barn 45 minutes ago to check on them, it looked like Sherri had a contraction. She pushed her legs out in front of her, and she curled her lip. Katherine came running back to the house, and we both went running out there with towels. Sherri has a history of surprising people with her babies.

She was born on a farm in Michigan, and she had her first babies there. They were born in the pasture because by the time her owner noticed she was in labor and went to clean a pen for her, it was too late. Sherri's first kids here were born in the pasture. Her daughter, Shirley, nearly died from exposure. Sherri always has triplets, and typically when goats have three, the last one or two come out really fast, which means the mama may not have time to clean off all of them. Such was the case with Shirley. We found her in the pasture, looking dead and soaking wet. Both her siblings were nursing. My son reached her first and picked her up. He screamed, "It's alive." I grabbed the kid from him, not knowing if it was a boy or a girl, and not completely believing his proclamation that it was indeed alive. As I ran for the house, I screamed back, "Are you sure?" I felt no movement, saw no movement. When I reached the house, I filled the sink with water that felt like it was around 100 degrees. I plunged the little baby in the water, keeping its head up, and I began briskly rubbing its body. When I was still, I felt the chest expand with a breath. I looked under the tail and saw that it was a girl. "Don't get your hopes up on this one," I said to my daughter when she came into the kitchen. I put my finger in the kid's mouth. It felt like ice water. "Her body temperature is really low. We may have found her too late." Ten minutes later, she started to move a little. I dried her off and moved her to a heating pad on the couch. An hour later, she was taking milk from a bottle, and a year later, she was eating the bark off my apple trees!

Last year, Sherri almost surprised us again. I woke up at 1 a.m. to go to the bathroom. While I was sitting on the toilet, I thought I heard a noise over the baby monitor, but I wasn't sure. I picked it up and held it to my ear. I played with the volume, higher, lower, higher -- finally, I was sure that I did hear something. Not wanting to wake anyone because I wasn't certain that it was "the real thing," I put on my clothes and went out to the barn. Just as I walked up to the stall and looked inside, a head started to come out of Sherri. "Oh my!" I was glad that I had grabbed some towels. I sat down next to her and welcomed her three beautiful babies.

With the loss of Venus's babies still painfully fresh in everyone's mind, we can't miss any births. Margaret is in town buying a baby monitor as I type. Katherine is headed back to the barn with a walkie-talkie, so she can call me if anything happens. I'm not convinced that it's going to happen tonight. I spent about half an hour in the barn, and I didn't see Sherri do anything that looked like birth was close, but we don't want to take any chances.

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