Monday, March 7, 2011

Lizzie's twins and Caboose's homecoming

In our last episode: Deborah delivered Viola's twins and jumped in the car to head down to Urbana to pick up Caboose following her c-section. She left Lizzie in labor, in Katherine's capable hands.

Lizzie's twins at one week
More than 90 minutes after leaving home, I took the exit off I-74, annoyed that no one had called me from home to tell me about Lizzie's kids. Surely she had delivered them by now. Knowing that the cell phone signal inside the vet hospital was terrible, I decided to call home for an update before I arrived at the university. Nothing. That is what had happened since I left home. The description of Lizzie's labor reminded me of Caboose's the day before. She was pushing, but the contractions were too far apart to be doing anything.

Why was this happening? I asked the vet when I arrived at the hospital, and he started to tell me that pygmies have lots of problems giving birth. I corrected him and said that I have Nigerian dwarf goats, and he shook his head, saying, "all of those little goats." I tried to tell him that I knew pygmies have lots of birthing problems -- I know several breeders, including a vet, who have quit raising pygmies because they got tired of pulling kids and doing c-sections -- but Nigerians are easy birthers. He insisted that it was the breed, even though this is my first c-section in nine years, which gives us a c-section rate of less than one percent. I was worried that perhaps there was a nutritional issue that was suddenly causing the problems, but it became obvious that I wasn't going to get any information about that possibility.

We loaded Caboose and her kids into the car, and I headed home as the sun was setting. It was a tense drive. Although the kids slept peacefully, every time I slowed down or turned a corner, Caboose would grind her teeth, a sign that she was in pain. I felt terrible and tried to drive as gently as possible, apologizing every time I heard her grinding. The sound is similar to nails on a chalkboard, only worse, because you know when you hear it, a goat is in pain.

About halfway home, I got a phone call from Katherine, saying that she had finally checked Lizzie, and she wasn't fully dilated. I wanted to scream! I explained to Katherine how to manually dilate the cervix, as I had attempted to do with Caboose the previous day. After hanging up the phone, I looked at the clock, realizing I was still 45 minutes from home and thinking that as soon as I arrived, we'd unload Caboose and her kids and load up Lizzie to head back to U of I. The vet had explained that once a goat is in hard labor, the placenta will start to separate after two or three hours, which is why one of Caboose's kids was born dead, and one died shortly after birth. Although it appears that a goat has only one placenta, it has a different point of attachment for each kid. This is why the little doe was in such great shape -- she was attached to the end that was still securely attached to mom. Katherine had called me from the barn, and I could hear Lizzie screaming. She was definitely in hard labor. If the manual dilation had not worked by the time I got home, we might be able to save the kids if we put her in the car and headed straight for U of I.

I was so deep in thought that I almost missed my turn. I slammed on the brakes, swerved into the left lane, and took the turn too fast. "I'm sorry Caboose," I said as I heard her grinding her teeth. The phone rang. I hit the button on my steering wheel to answer. It was Mike.

"I just wanted to tell you that Katherine got the first kid out! It's a huge buck! Katherine thinks he's probably five pounds."

I was able to relax for the rest of the drive home. As soon as I stopped the car in front of the barn, I jumped out and ran in to see Lizzie. She had buck-doe twins. I weighed the little buck, and he was 5.1 pounds! He was by far the biggest Nigerian kid ever born on our farm. It was shaping up to be a record-breaking years in a lot of ways -- and I wasn't really happy about any of the records we were breaking -- four sets of quadruplets, our first c-section, and our first five-pound kid. And at that moment, I had no idea what a record-breaking day was ahead of me.

9 comments:

rachel whetzel said...

MORE!!!! We need MORE!!!

Nancy K. said...

I think I'll stick with my Shetlands!

I could NOT handle that kind of stress...

Michelle said...

Talk about a cliffhanger... :)

bko43 said...

You can't leave us like this!!! Not fair!

LindaG said...

Hopefully some goat forum somewhere in the internet can answer your questions.

Congratulations on all the additions.

I think we'll stick to renting goats if we need some. ;-)

Mama Pea said...

I think if I were you, I would approach next year's kidding season by getting an ulcer. Good grief!

Nickie said...

Ok, I'm at the edge of my seat!!! I want the rest of the story...

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Everyone keeps commenting about your beautiful kids but I have some serious BARN envy !

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Nancy K., my second year with Shetlands was almost this bad, maybe worse in some ways. Out of five ewes, four had problems. One had a retained placenta for a week. One ran around the pasture screaming for 45 minutes with a head hanging out of her. One gave birth to a lamb with no anus, which started having seizures, and we had to put him down. And one got bagged up like a Jersey, and her lambs couldn't get her humongous teats in their mouth to nurse, so we milked her for a few days and fed the lambs with a bottle. I think most of those problems were caused by the fact that I fed grain to the ewes at the end of pregnancy. Never did that again, and never had another lambing problem in the last six or seven years -- knock on wood!

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