Friday, March 11, 2011

Maple syrup and Vera Wang's triplets

 Vera's doeling
It took us a few days to get out of the woods with Coco's two bucklings, and then I tried to catch my breath and got eight hours of sleep for a couple of nights. In the midst of all the kidding, we were continuing to make maple syrup on the days when the sap ran. And that was somewhat disastrous at times. We boiled down the sap to nothing but black charcoal on three separate occasions. My big canning pot is ruined. The enamel cracked. Mike is still scrubbing the ten-gallon evaporator, but it looks like it will eventually be usable again. And thankfully he did manage to scrub off all the charred remains of sap from the five-quart Dutch oven that we were using. We've been a little distracted, I guess. In spite of our failures, we've managed to make more than two gallons of syrup so far, which is already more than we made last year.

Vera's buckling (l) and doeling (r)
Tuesday, March 8 -- Vera was at day 146 and looking huge. She's a yearling, and I was thinking that she would have at least two, maybe three kids. The thought of her having one absolutely terrified me, because it would have to be a monster-sized kid. When I went out to do chores Tuesday morning, I checked ligaments on Vera, Anne, and Scandal, the three goats that are due this week. Vera's were gone. I got a phone call while I was in the barn, and as I was talking, I was watching her. She was pushing, but not too seriously. Considering what I've seen the last couple weeks, I suppose I've been numbed to "normal" goat labor. After all, she wasn't even making any noise with her pushes.

I continued doing chores, and at one point when I was in the other barn, I sat down on the ground and started playing with baby goats. Jonathan walked past, and we chatted a bit about his role in an upcoming play at the college. He left, and I continued to cuddle Lizzie's little doeling. Then I heard five short, rapid bleats. There was no doubt in my mind that was the sound of a goat seriously pushing. I put down Lizzie's doeling and ran next door.

Vera was standing there, looking at me, and there was a head hanging out of her back end. There was also a kid laying on the ground, still completely covered with an amniotic sac. I ran into the pen and dropped to my knees, pulled the sac off the kid, and started squeegeeing the mucous from the kid's nose. I didn't feel any movement, but I kept trying to wipe off the nose, holding the kid with its head down to help the mucous and fluid drain. Then I remembered that there was a head hanging out of Vera -- still! She wasn't even pushing, so I laid down the first kid and moved around to her back end on my knees, took hold of the kid by its head and front feet and pulled. It easily slid out. I broke the amniotic sac and tried to clean the kid as much as I could, although I didn't even have a towel.

I was pretty sure the other kid was dead. I ran into the office, grabbed the only towel in there, as well as the bulb syringe and the cordless phone. I called Jonathan's cell and told him I needed towels. The second kid was very much alive and shaking its head. I started suctioning the nose of the kid on the ground, but it was still not moving. I felt a heartbeat, but the kid was clearly leaving us. I briefly wished that I had the drugs that they have at the U of I vet hospital -- the ones they used to save little Marshall Dillon -- but then I remembered that the vet said we were lucky that he turned out normal. He said sometimes when a kid is oxygen deprived, they save it, but the kid is brain dead and has to be put down anyway. I lifted its leg and saw that it was a doeling. Jonathan arrived with the towels, and I cleaned up the second kid, a buckling. I had stuck him in front of Vera as soon as he was born, and she immediately started to lick him. Unfortunately, as a first time mom, she didn't know that she was supposed to do that with the kid that magically showed up at her back end before I arrived.

A few minutes later, she bleated briefly and pushed out another beautiful little doeling. And then Vera proceeded to spend the next hour or two licking and licking and licking. I had never seen a doe so bent on cleaning up her kids. They couldn't even nurse, because she would follow them with her mouth, licking and licking whenever they moved. If one would start to move towards her udder while she was cleaning the other one, she would immediately stop licking the other one as soon as she felt movement against her udder, then turn around and start licking that one. When I tried to help by moving a kid towards her udder, she would walk backwards so she could continue licking it. I know it sounds crazy, but it occurred to me that maybe she was trying to make up for not cleaning the first one.

I thought for sure that a pan of grain would take her mind off licking the kids, but it didn't. She took a few bites, but as soon as I got the little buckling latched on, she walked backwards and started licking him again. But as with everything else, patience and persistence finally paid off. Close to two hours after they were born, they finally nursed. I continued to worry about them and checked on them frequently all day. I had not tube fed a kid in six years before having to tube feed two of Coco's boys last week, and I'd be perfectly happy if I could go another six years -- or ten or twelve -- before I have to do it again. So, I was not going to take any chances on these kids falling behind with nursing.

They're doing great now, bouncing around, nursing and playing. And I just have to wait for Anne and Scandal to give birth. Anne is at day 148, and Scandal is at day 146, so it will be any day now. And the two heifers are also due any day now -- Molly was actually due Sunday, according to an online cow gestation calculator -- so we should soon have calves joining the other babies on Antiquity Oaks.

13 comments:

LindaG said...

I hope the rest go well for you. ♥

Michelle said...

I've totally lost count...how many baby goats do you have at this point? It feels like it must be DOZENS! :)

Mama Pea said...

The only thing that would make your life more complicated and busy right now is if YOU were about to deliver twins! You must be EXHAUSTED!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Good guess, Michelle! I didn't really want to count, but since you asked -- 37, so we've broken three dozen, including the three that Anne just had today.

Michelle said...

Wow...I thought I was exaggerating the number! I can't even imagine...I don't suppose you could coordinate a group photo, could you? :)

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

I might be able to pull off a group photo at some point in the next month or so. Right now, they're all over the barn. I'm putting only four mamas with babies in each stall.

And, oh dear! I just realized I forgot four in that last count -- my mini manchas! I just looked at the ND kidding list on my website. So, +4 mini manchas = 41 babies! And five goats left to kid now.

Kathy ~ Cackles and Berries said...

wow wee- thats a lot of sap to make that much syrup. How do you store it to keep it from spoiling?

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

We don't store the sap for more than a few hours. We start boiling, and we boil and boil and boil until it's all gone. Because we rarely have two days in a row where the weather is perfect for sap, we are usually able to keep up by boiling 24 hours a day. We could definitely use a bigger evaporator though. And we only have 10 taps!

Jane said...

sounds like you all are going to be very very busy. Take care with the babies. Blessings jane

Sheila said...

Thanks for answering Michelle's question on how many babies. I knew I was running out of fingers. When it's all over we will need a final count of boys & girls. Enjoy all the babies. Have a great weekend!

Nancy K. said...

I don't know if you've ever tried this, Deborah but sometimes it can help a non-responsive, newborn lamb to drop it from a couple of feet above the ground (head first) or even swing it by it's hind legs. The theory being that it helps clear the mucus that may be blocking the breathing passages.

Your babies are SO adorable!!! I don't know how you keep on going. I'm exhausted, just reading about it all...

Kathy ~ Cackles and Berries said...

Deborah, I should have clearified better- I was wondering how you store your the Syrup after you make it? Do you freeze it? Can you process it like canned goods?

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Nancy -- I've heard of swinging kids, but I've never done it. I figured that using my bulb syringe did the same thing. Maybe I'll try swinging though when I face the same situation again.

Kathy -- We put the syrup in canning jars and put canning lids on them, which seal as the temperature of the syrup drops. I should do a whole post on the finer points of making maple syrup. As long as you have boiled it down far enough, it will store fine at room temperature.

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