Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cicada's quads

Six days after Vera kidded, it was Cicada's turn. Unfortunately, she was not as thoughtful as Vera, who gave birth in the late afternoon. Around 4 a.m. February 8, I woke up to see Mike getting dressed. I wondered if it was morning already and asked why he was up. He said, "Listen." The video monitor was on because we thought Cicada might give birth during the night, but I had not heard any screams. I listened carefully and heard a faint moan coming from the television. Mike headed outside while I got dressed. I took my time because it didn't seem like Cicada was in the middle of actually pushing out a kid. 

I arrived in the barn a few minutes before she gave birth to the first kid -- a buckling that weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces! Yeah, that's big for a Nigerian! She took about a fifteen minute break and helped us clean off the kid. Then she plopped down and three kids -- all doelings -- shot out only about a minute apart. Two of them weighed 3 pounds 12 ounces, and one weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces, which are all excellent sized kids -- and pretty unbelievable sizes for quads! Cicada had been as big as Vera and Agnes, which both had quintuplets, but their kids didn't weigh as much as Cicada's. When you add up the weights, they were all actually carrying about the same number of pounds of kids.

Cicada is one of our top milkers and has successfully raised quads in the past, so we were not worried about leaving all four of the kids with her. Since they were all big and healthy, I wasn't worried about everyone getting their fair share, and they are all doing really well.

We will be keeping one of the doelings because Cicada is 8 years old, and I've never kept a doeling from her, which has been a terrible oversight, especially considering what an excellent milker she is. Time flies! It's hard to believe that she is already 8, and she is a third-generation Antiquity Oaks goat. 

Unfortunately I don't have any other photos for you because I upgraded my computer with the newest operating system and now Photoshop doesn't work. Hopefully I can get that fixed before more kids are born. I'll be telling you about Victoria's kids within the next couple of days -- they were born the day after Cicada's. 

Now we are waiting for four more does to kid -- yep, right now. I don't think anyone will kid within the next few hours, but they are due now, so we'll have more kids within the next few days. From the looks of it, there will be some more multiples. We're hoping that four is the most anyone has, and I'd be happy with triplets, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A second set of quintuplets!

I'd been thinking that Vera was carrying quintuplets for the past three months. I can now still say with total accuracy that whenever a goat looks pregnant at two months, she is carrying five kids because it's happened five times now. And when I say that a goat looks pregnant at two months, I'm not saying that you look at her and think that maybe she is pregnant. Nope, I mean that they look like they could actually give birth tomorrow! The picture on the right was taken on November 10. I have goats that are due in two weeks that look like that.

Agnes looked just as big as Vera at two months, but I was dismissing the possibility of her carrying quints because no one else in her line has done that. However, I had not looked far enough back in her pedigree. Her great-great grandmother is Vera's great grandmother -- a goat that had quads several times and then had six once!

On February 2, Vera gave birth about 38 hours after Agnes, and she also had quints. I am really enjoying our video monitor because I got to the barn about ten minutes before Vera actually gave birth, which was especially nice since it was 14 degrees out! I am grateful for every minute that I do not have to spend out there. I'm also grateful that my camera recorded the times the photos were taken because it verifies the fact that Vera torpedoed those kids into the world at light speed ...

At 5:03 p.m. she was pushing ...

By 5:14, two had already been born ...

I had no time to take pictures of the third and fourth ones as they were born because by 5:18, five had been born ...

And then she scared the daylights of me because she gave another big push only a minute after the fifth one was born. I screamed, "Oh, no!" as a big bubble emerged. "You are NOT having six!" Nope, she wasn't. It was just a big bubble of water, and I was so relieved when I discovered that there was nothing in that bag other than water.

Final tally was three bucks and two does.

We brought two inside to bottle-feed -- the little doe that weighed only 1 pound, 12.4 ounces and the buckling that was 2 pounds, 1.2 ounces. The three that we left with mom weighed 3 pounds, 5.2 ounces; 2 pounds, 15.1 ounce; and 2 pounds, 8.2 ounces. That was a lot of babies for Vera to be carrying around!

Here is a picture of the four bottle babies today. The two on the left are Agnes's, and the two on the right are Vera's ...

And now we're waiting for Cicada to give birth. She is as big as Vera and Agnes were, but I don't recall thinking that she looked pregnant at two months, so I'm hoping she only has four in there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Agnes had FIVE!

Yesterday I had a speaking engagement about an hour from home, and there was a snow storm in the forecast. It started raining as I was heading home at 3:30, and I watched nervously as the thermometer on my car went from 37 to 34 degrees. I was very happy to pull into the driveway before the roads started to freeze. Mike told me that Agnes had been in early labor for a good chunk of the day, so I came into the house and changed into my farm clothes and went out and checked on her. Yep, early labor. 

Agnes is a Sherri granddaughter, and all of the Sherri does are very stoic until the first kid is actually being born, so there have been many mad dashes to the barn in the middle of the night when we heard a scream over the monitor. We've had a video monitor for the past couple of years, but that doesn't help you when your eyes are closed. I decided to go to bed last night at 9:30, assuming I'd be awaked at midnight or so. When I woke up at 2 a.m. from a hot flash, I started to worry that Agnes had not kidded yet.

I sat on the bed and watched her on the monitor. I could see her stretching her legs out in front of her body as she was silently pushing. Then she'd stand, turn around, lay down, and push her legs out in front of herself again. Yep, she's pushing. But after 30 minutes, I started to wonder if maybe she was just uncomfortable. It really didn't seem that she'd be silently pushing for that long simply because the Sherri does usually have pretty short labors. So, then my brain switched back to worry mode. But then I reminded myself of my mantra -- if the doe's happy, I'm happy. And Agnes was clearly not unhappy. If I had just walked in on the situation, I wouldn't be worried in the least. Then she stood up, turned around, and stuck her nose into the straw. Ah, ha! She's licking up fluid! Her water broke! About that time, Mike woke up, and I told him I was headed out to the barn.

As soon as I walked into the kidding pen, I could see a bubble sticking out from under Agnes's tail. Agnes bleated when she saw me. A minute later, I could see a black nose in that bubble! I grabbed the towels, and within five minutes of arriving in the barn, I was drying off the first kid! I placed it on a towel in front of Agnes, and she started licking it while softly bleating.

Just as I snapped this picture, she gave a little push, and I saw another bubble sticking out from under her tail. Less than one minute after the first kid was born, kid number two made its entrance into the world! The shiny black blob that Agnes is licking in the picture below is the second kid. Sorry the picture quality is so terrible, but I only managed to snap two pictures before I realized that kid number three was about to make her appearance!

I covered the three kids because it was happening so fast that I couldn't adequately dry each one before the next one was presenting. I didn't know it at the time, but after downloading my pictures on my computer I could see that the first picture was taken at 3:01, and the one with three kids (below) was taken at 3:04!

And then a fourth kid.

And then a fifth kid! As soon as the fifth kid was born, Agnes stood up to continue licking the kids. 

That was when I realized I was going to need some help. There was no way I could get five kids nursing on my own. I had been having enough trouble simply getting the kids dried off. In past years, I was out there crawling around on my hands and knees drying off kids as they were born, but my right knee, which was injured last March and has grade four arthritis, was not willing to let me do that. It doesn't bend completely any longer, and simply trying to make it bend that far is quite painful. I quickly realized I was limited to either sitting in the straw or laying on my stomach. So, I called over the monitor to Mike, asking him to come help.

We eventually ended up milking Agnes and giving each kid 3 ccs of colostrum in a syringe to try and get them interested in nursing. The two smallest ones -- a buck at 1 pound, 15.6 ounces and a doe at 1 pound, 15.1 ounces -- just wanted to go to sleep. The three larger does, between 2 pounds, 9 ounces and 2 pounds, 13 ounces, were alert but not showing any interest in nursing, so I told Mike that I was going to take the two smaller ones into the house and bottle-feed them. I don't usually make the decision that quickly, but the two smaller ones were clearly having more trouble than the larger ones, probably because their smaller body mass made them more susceptible to hypothermia. So, I took the two little ones in the house with some colostrum from Agnes. Mike stayed in the barn trying to get the other three to nurse.

Once the kids got warmed up in the house, they took to the bottle like ducks to water. I put the nipple in the little buck's mouth, and he immediately started to suck. When he finally let go of the nipple, I looked at the markings on the side of the bottle to see that he had consumed 2 ounces. Then the little doeling did the same thing, only faster!

I still had two ounces of colostrum left, so I went back to the barn. One of the doelings still had not nursed, so I gave her the last two ounces, so that Mike and I could come back into the house and go to bed. By then it was almost 6 a.m.

Here are a couple of pictures of the two kids taking their bottles this morning ...

Did I mention that the snow storm did hit. And now it has turned into a real blizzard. And Vera is at day 148. Mike went out to the barn an hour ago and said that he couldn't find Vera's ligaments. I really hope that's because of his inexperience. The temperature is falling into the single digits tonight, so I'd really prefer to stay in my bed all night! 

And Vera looks like she has four or five kids in there again this year, so it's going to be a production when she does kid.


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