Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three breech bucks

My diligence finally paid off, and I'm glad I was so paranoid. Shortly before 11:00, Mike and I were out in the office, and I decided I wanted to clean up the pump room, which is connected. After about 15 minutes, I thought I should look in on Sherri, even though she hadn't made a sound. When I looked out the window, I could only see her back end, but I knew immediately that she was pushing. I told Mike to get the girls. I put two towels under my coat so they'd stay warm, put on latex gloves under my mittens, and went to Sherri.

Shortly after the girls arrived, Sherri screamed. Margaret laughed and said, "That's what you usually hear from your bedroom in the middle of the night, right?" I said, "Yep, that's it, so we should see a kid soon." But there was no kid. Instead there was another contraction and another scream. After another contraction, I said, "Gee, I didn't think it took me that long to get dressed and get out here normally." Sherri is so stoic, she normally doesn't make a noise until the first kid's head is being born, and by the time I open the barn door, that kid is already screaming. After a couple more contractions, Katherine said she saw a hoof.

Sherri is six years old and has never had any trouble kidding, so as long as the kid was lined up straight, she should be able to get it out. I was hoping we'd see a nose soon, since sometimes, the nose is just little bit behind the first hoof. Nope, no nose. Margaret crawled around to Sherri's back end and said, "That's a tail." Katherine argued, "No, it's a hoof." And they went back and forth. Finally, I crawled through the straw to Sherri's back end and said, "Well, unless there is hair growing on the hoof, it's a tail, because I see hair." As Sherri pushed, it became obvious that it was indeed a tail. The kid emerged slowly, inch by inch, as we commented on how big it was. Finally, it was born. "It's a buck," Katherine said, as I was trying to dry it. Then I handed him to Margaret, who was sitting near Sherri's head, so she could blow dry it while Sherri licked it.

I realized that the latex gloves really provided no protection for my hands, as they were rapidly going numb, so I pulled them off and said I needed to get a dry pair. It was only slightly better than having my hands wet. When I ran into the office to grab more gloves, Katherine yelled that the second kid was presenting. As I headed back out, she said, "It's a hoof." When I got there, I realized that the hoof was upside-down. I was worried that it was front hooves, which would mean that the kid was posterior and possibly had its head turned to face its tail. Katherine thought it was the back hooves. I'm glad she was right, because it was much easier for Sherri than the alternative. And it was another buck.

We were barely able to start drying off the second kid when the third one was sticking his little butt into the world. "Another breech?" I screeched. But that one slipped out with little effort on Sherri's part -- at least it didn't appear to take much effort.

Of course, Sherri just had to give birth in the corner opposite where the heat lamp was hanging. I tried to get her to walk over to the heat lamp before the first kid was born, but she wouldn't budge. After the kids were born, we knew we had to get them over there because the blow dryer wasn't working fast enough for three kids to get dry and stay warm. The girls carried the three kids to the lamp, hoping Sherri would follow, but she didn't. I picked up a kid and took it back to her and let her lick it, then took a step away, so she'd have to take a step to lick it again. Eventually we got her to the heat lamp.

We thought we had the kids dry, but a few minutes later, Margaret said one of the kid's ears was frozen. I checked the other two kids and found another one with a frozen ear. "That's frostbite! It's when your extremities freeze!" Everything I knew (or had forgotten) about frostbite was rushing through my head -- warm up quickly? don't warm up too quickly? Crap! Not knowing whether I was right or wrong, I decided to hold the kid's ear between my fingers and rub it, then started to think that rubbing was wrong, so I just held it. Within a couple minutes it started to feel flexible again.

The kids seemed to have no idea they should nurse, so I decided to give them some Nutri-Drench, which is this stuff that is mostly molasses. When Sherri saw it, she started licking the syringe and then started sucking on it. She had been shivering badly and didn't seem to be helped by the two towels we had draped over her, so I thought the sugar might help her and let her suck down several syringes of the sticky brown liquid. I wished I had my 60 cc syringe, which is the recommended dosage for adults, but I kept refilling the tiny 3 cc syringe for her. Shortly, it seemed that the sugar had affected the little guys, and all three were standing and more alert. I told Katherine to try and help them nurse while I ran into the house and tried to find the little goat coats we'd made for kids a couple years earlier.

Although unable to find anything for the kids to wear, I did find the remains of the sweatshirt that I had used to make the kid coats, and it occurred to me that it might fit Sherri, so I took it back outside and put it on her. She didn't object to being dressed, and eventually her shivering diminished. Then I noticed steam rising off the kids under the heat lamp, and when I felt them, the tips of their hair were frozen. Obviously, "dry" has a different definition at 4 below 0, so I grabbed the hair dryer and started blowing on their coats again. I had to hold it a couple inches from them, because the hot air would not travel any farther than that. At some point, we also put a heating pad out there for them to lie on.

Two hours after they were born, we were eventually convinced they were dry and warm. Two of the three kids had nursed, and Sherri had passed her placenta, so we felt we could come inside for lunch. Katherine just went out there to check on them and discovered one of the boy's ears felt frozen again, so she warmed them up until they felt flexible. I'm not sure what to do about the ears. It's 3 below 0 now and supposed to get colder tonight. It feels like a continuing battle until the temperatures go up again in a few days.


SkippyMom said...

I am SO happy for Shirley and y'all....nicely done!

Keep warm

Claire said...

Oh my goodness, such excitement, I only hope mine are going to come out OK like yours did. (much nail biting going on here)

Gizmo said...

Congratulations to both you and Sherri. I think you can only hope the ears will be alright.
So happy for all of you!

Nancy K. said...

Congratulations to an awesome Shepherd! Or would that be 'goatherd'? Not sure of the term. Whatever! You done good, lady! Thank God you took such good care of your girl and her babies. May they all blossom and thrive for you.

What the heck were you breeding for January babies for, anyway???


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Wow, that is labor-intensive livestock management, and it doesn't sound like you're finished yet! I hope all thrive, and your temperatures moderate soon.

Holly said...

I don't know if you're close to a big box pet store (or if this would be in enough time) but have you ever tried those plastic 'frizbees'? They are marketed for older pets, they're hard plastic discs about dinner plate size, and they have a gel inside. You stick them into a microwave for 5-7 minutes and they stay 120F for a couple of hours and then about 80F for about 10 more hours. You can put them under blankets or straw and they might keep some warmth. Of course, that wouldn't help the ears. Hmmm, maybe some small knitted goat ear warmers? OK, how cute would that be!

(I think the Foster & Smith catalog might have the heat discs, I got mine at PetSmart years ago)

pedalpower said...

Congratulations! She picked one of the coldest days!

Meg said...

Wow, what an ordeal! We're supposed to "warm up" to the teens tomorrow, so I hope that means warm weather is on it's way for you, too. Congrats on the little guys, and stay warm!

Deborah said...

Thanks, everyone!

Michelle -- "labor-intensive livestock management" You've given me something to think about, since I usually say that I don't do high-maintenance livestock.

We usually have Sherri kid in January, but there hasn't been weather like this in Illinois since 1996, according to the weather pros. I am rethinking my kidding schedule. We normally kid Jan to June, but maybe I'll switch that to March to August. I don't know how I'd have done it yesterday without the girls' help.

MaskedMan said...

Yay! The vigil is over!

Bummer about the frostbite, but it sounds like you've got things under control.


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