Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Still waiting

The blizzard finally arrived, but the kids haven't. I'm spending almost all of my time outside, even though Sherri's tail ligaments are not completely gone, and she's not hollow looking, and her udder isn't completely full. She moans sometimes when she's eating. I suppose the poor girl is just miserable. I worry that her kids are getting too big or that she has too many. The more they have, the smaller they tend to be. Although it might seem exciting to have five or six, usually there's a runt or two that doesn't survive when there are that many.

I'm hoping she'll have her usual three or four. I'm hoping I've learned enough in the last four years that I won't miss her birth again. It was Sherri's first kidding on Antiquity Oaks that brought us our second kid with hypothermia, because we missed the birth. Luckily, we were able to save the doeling, but I know we were very close to losing her. I felt so incompetent. The doeling looked dead, but Katherine insisted she felt a heartbeat, so I brought her to the house and put her in a sink filled with warm water. Finally, I felt the heartbeat with my fingers on her chest. Finally, she started to move. I get this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it now, and I want to run through the knee-deep drifts back to the barn, although I was just there 30 minutes ago. Sherri was laying in the straw, chewing her cud and looking exactly the same as she has looked for the past few days. But it is 11 degrees F this afternoon, and tomorrow's high is predicted to be -1 degree.

Sherri is the first of eight goats that will kid within the next month. Carmen is due next Tuesday. I remind myself that it is good that our goats kid without difficulty or assistance. That is how it should be. Now if I could just teach them to use a blow dryer or a towel or to give birth directly under the heat lamp, I'd be able to relax. In the meantime, I've given the two-legged kids directions for making dinner and taking care of the house, and I'm heading back to the barn to my little office.


Lisa French said...

I enjoy your blog very much, and I am learning so much in hopes to have a few goats one day in the next couple of years. I am wondering if you purposefully breed them to kid this time of year, or if they are mixed with the male goats and breed at will. Is there a best time of year to have them kid, and should they only kid once a year? Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you!

clink said...

Oh, good luck! We are to have a low of -23 below tonight with a high of -10. I'm glad you are a little warmer.

I remember my father dealing with pulling calves at those awful temps! He was a large animal vet.

Take care of Sherri ..... and yourself.

Deborah said...

Lisa -- welcome to the blog! Glad you enjoy it. We breed for year-round kidding so we have a pretty steady supply of milk. The other thing is that people who are buying kids for show are usually shopping this time of year, so it's easier to sell kids now than in summer and fall. People in other parts of the country say it doesn't matter, but in Illinois these kids seem to sell fastest. I have three people interested in Sherri's kids.

Yes, they should just kid once a year, IMO. Some people breed them more often, but if you want milk, you don't need to breed them more often than once a year, and we're experimenting to see how long we can keep goats in milk without re-breeding. We have one that's been milking since last March now. Our other current milker kidded in June. With so many goats kidding now, we will have a surplus of milk in the spring and summer, and we'll use it to make cheeses that can either be frozen (mozarella) or aged (cheddar, gouda, parmesan).

Clink -- I got goosebumps when I read about your father pulling calves at below zero temps!!! I don't normally wear gloves when I'm catching kids, but I was just thinking that I should pull out the latex gloves so my hands don't get wet. They'll feel fine as I'm handling the kid the moment it pops out, but I know my hands will be cold really fast if they're wet! They say frost bite can happen in 10 minutes at these temps with dry skin, so I don't want to think about how fast you'd get it if you're wet!


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