Sunday, February 16, 2014
Thursday, February 6 proved to be quite an exciting day as I learned that my biopsy for thyroid cancer was negative. Feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I ran errands that I had put off for weeks, and getting home took me far longer than it should have. I had left for the doctor's office before 7:00 that morning and didn't get home until almost 3:00. Having awakened at 4:30 a.m., then driving three hours round trip to the doctor and having run quite a few errands, I was really tired by the time I got home and was ready for a nap. As I was about to lay down, I remembered that Scarlet was due soon, so I turned on the video monitor.
I don't think my eyes were closed for more than about thirty seconds when I heard that familiar sound of a goat that's in labor. No, that's impossible, I thought. What are the odds that she would go into labor at just this very moment? And then I heard it again ... maaaaaa-aa-aa-a-a! "Really? Really, Scarlet?" I said as I threw off the covers and got out of bed.
No one else was home, so there was no one who could go check to see if Scarlet was really in labor. I grabbed an armful of clean towels, put on my insulated overalls, coat, scarf, hat, and gloves, and headed outside. I glanced at the thermometer, and it was -1, which meant I really needed to be there when the kids were born or we could have frozen goatcicles in short order.
It's all a bit of blur what happened after I got to the barn. Scarlet gave birth to two kids fairly quickly. I was toweling them off and sticking them under the blow dryer as fast as one person could possibly be expected to dry kids. I couldn't help but notice that Scarlet still looked very pregnant. Although she only had twins last year, she was one of quads herself, so three or four kids could certainly be a possibility. At the moment, however, I was simply thankful that she had not given birth to another kid.
Then she let out a scream and ... plop! ... kid number three was born. A couple minutes later, another scream, and another kid. I grabbed my last dry towel and said, "Okay, Scarlet, you better be done!" I looked at her back end and saw about a foot of membranes hanging out, which usually means the placenta will be next.
It took me about an hour to get all four of them dry, and by then it was evening chore time, which was entirely my job that night because no one else would be coming home anytime soon. Because I was racing against the sun to get all of the outside animals fed, I couldn't spend any time helping the kids get started with nursing and just hoped that most of them would figure it out by the time I came back.
About an hour later, the three larger kids had started nursing, but the smallest kid had not. He also was not at all happy about my attempts to help him nurse. I milked Scarlet and gave him a little colostrum in a bottle then left them for a couple more hours while I went inside for dinner. I went back outside close to 9:00, which was almost six hours after the kids had been born, and the smallest kid still had not started nursing yet. I put my finger in his mouth to discover that he was quite chilled and had no sucking reflex, so I brought him into the house.
I put him on a heating pad in my lap and held him until he was warm and his sucking reflex returned. He took a bottle with his mom's colostrum, and although he seemed to be in good shape, I decided to keep him inside for the night because it was so cold (already several degrees below zero and falling), and he was only 2 pounds, 2 ounces. Friday morning, I took him back to the barn, where he and his mother were happily reunited, and he immediately started nursing like a pro.
Because we had six kids due over the weekend, our daughter Katherine came home from the University of Illinois on Friday afternoon when she was done with classes. When she went out to the barn on Saturday morning to check on the goats, she discovered that the little buckling was again chilled and lethargic, so she brought him into the house. We were back to square one, as the little guy had no sucking reflex and wouldn't swallow the milk if I put a bottle in his mouth. So, he went back on my lap with the heating pad to get warmed up, and I realized he was just too small to be able to survive sub-zero temperatures, so he would have to stay inside until he got bigger or the weather improved.