Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Katherine pulled forward and stopped the car. We ran into the house. "I have to change clothes," I hollered as I was running upstairs. I was not going to attend a goat birth wearing beige pants. Jonathan yelled that Margaret needed towels.
When I entered the kidding barn a few minutes later, wearing farm clothes and carrying a stack of goat towels, Margaret and I started talking about the end of her semester and what had been happening on the farm lately. Katherine gave the bottle brats their afternoon bottle and went back to the house to get her new camera to take pictures of the birth.
The three of us sat in the pen with Lizzie as she screamed during contractions, sometimes nearly rolling onto her back. She would lean against one of us, then stand up and move to another person for the next contraction.
"Shouldn't we have seen some progress by now?" I don't remember who was the first to voice a concern, but we all agreed that we should be seeing something by now. Margaret looked at her watch. Half an hour had passed since Lizzie started screaming through contractions, and her back end was completely unchanged. There was no bulging, no thinning skin, and definitely no sign of a nose or hoof. One of the girls said, "Someone needs to stick a finger in there and see what's up."
I remember a time when the two of them would fight over whose turn it was to deliver a goat's babies. Now it was obvious that "someone" meant me. "Okay, fine, I'll go get gloves."
I squirted iodine on the glove and attempted to figure out what was where. The first thing I felt was a joint with two thin bones attached to it, but then it was gone. "That felt like a hock, but it can't be a hock." Okay, yes, I know it could have been a hock, but I really did not want it to be a hock. It is amazing how much a nose and a goat's butt can feel similar when you can't see them. I convinced myself it was a nose, and since it was still three inches inside the goat, I had nothing to grab easily, so I decided to wait a few more minutes.
The girls and I continued talking, and 20 minutes later, someone commented that there was still no visible change, although Lizzie was getting tired. Her body felt hot and sweaty. I checked again to find that the kid was in exactly the same place as it had been 20 minutes earlier. I realized that I'd have to put my whole hand inside her to be able to grab the kid and pull it out, so I went to the other barn to get the kidding box.
The kidding box is a plastic tool box that we rarely need. It contains the emergency stuff -- the kid puller, the shoulder-length gloves, the bulb syringe, and stuff like that. The shoulder-length gloves have been in there for six or seven years, and Margaret used one five years ago. That is how seldom these goats have problems with kidding.
As I pulled the giant glove over my hand and up to my shoulder, I said, "These things are made for men pulling calves." And one of the girls said, "They're made for fat men." I laughed.
Saying that I put my hand inside her and pulled the kid out makes it sound so easy. It wasn't easy -- not for me and certainly not for Lizzie. In addition to being breech, it was also posterior, meaning that it was butt first and instead of the kid's spine being against the mama's spine, it was the other way around. Once the kid was out, I started wiping off the mucous. I felt no movement beneath my hands. Someone asked, "Is it alive?"
I shook my head and said, "I don't think so." Lizzie was already pushing to birth another kid, so I handed the kid to Margaret and said, "Here, keep working on him. Rub him like this." I demonstrated by rubbing briskly up and down his body, even though Margaret has delivered plenty of goats on her own.
"He's alive! I felt him move!" Margaret said. "He's trying to breathe, but he's mucousy. Where's the sucker thingy?" Lizzie's contraction had ended, so I pulled the bulb syringe out of the kidding box and started to suction the kid's throat and nose. He was very mucousy. After I'd suctioned his nostrils and throat several times each, Lizzie started another contraction, so I handed the bulb syringe to Margaret and turned back to Lizzie just in time to catch the second baby. As he wiggled and kicked and bobbed his head up and down, I realized the first kid was still quite weak. As soon as I had the nose clean, I placed the second kid next to Lizzie, so she could start cleaning him up.
A couple minutes later, the third kid flew out like a torpedo, and the moment I had cleaned her nose and mouth, she was kicking and screaming. "That's what I like to hear!" I laughed. Within ten minutes, she was hoisting her back end up in the air and trying to stand. Kid number two followed suit. In little time, the two of them were wobbling around and bopping on Lizzie's chin, looking for dinner. When Lizzie stood, the little doe was nursing before we even realized she was trying.
I'd like to say that everyone lived happily ever after, but Sunday morning, the white buckling was dead. He was the second one born, so we are all wondering what happened to him. He looked like he was sleeping peacefully. It's been a few years since we've had a newborn die unexpectedly like that, so I guess it's just one of those weird things that happens. Lizzie's udder was quite full that morning, so it's obvious that her supply had already increased to meet the demand of three hungry kids.
This is our last kidding until the end of August or early September. Although I love newborn goats, it is time to start focusing on the garden and making cheese. I will keep you updated on the progress of the kids!