Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Farrier & Midwife

White Billy
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Remember that little white goat whose momma had a problem with one of her teats? Well, that's him now. Without a reference it is hard to tell, but he's nearly as big as his momma, and she's not small goat. Since we've always had Nubian crosses, and he has no Nubian in him, he looks funny to me, so goatful. Anyway, he is intact and I guess we'll keep him. And the other billy who is black too? We'll see. Or if somebody needs a billy . . .

Speaking of billies (or not), last week in the cold snap and between the birthday party and the visitors, we killed a wether goat. I think this is the first wether we've killed and eaten. He became tamales mostly, and last night some soup. And we ate the ribs BBQ'd the day we killed him. Anyway, the meat really was milder. But then, we've eaten some wooly billies who would announce their goatness a mile ahead of them before.

So, anyway, yesterday I decided to trim the donkey again. His hooves got a little bad and I'm trying to trim them every week to 10 days until I can get them back in shape. I've been doing the big horse too, which is a huge challenge to my back. Just a little at a time, just a little shaping, it doesn't have to be perfect, and it works out pretty well. The goat herd was on the hill but the two most pregnant girls weren't so I knew something was up. We've been checking a couple times a day for more than a week now.

1st Two Babies
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

Remember the goat that was sick back in December and in the house? Well, that's her. She kidded first and had them dry and standing (well, one was still wobbling) when we found them. Both boys -- they'll be wethered. So cute. This is her first batch and her bag is HUGE. We may well go ahead and milk her. Although gosh darned I don't know what we need the milk for. We usually let them just nurse with their first kidding. As with so many things, we'll see what ends up happening.

We left her to look for the other missing goat. We knew she was in the woods. I could tell she was in labor (as if I didn't know just from her not being with the herd) but her contractions were not close together. They were hard though. Being part midwife myself, I stayed with her. "With" being about 50 feet away that is. Really, birth needs to be let happen. Because it does happen. A daughter joined me and we just sat, observing. At first when she had a contraction (and she was pushing), the bag would bulge. Then she laid down. She faced away from us so we couldn't see, but I could tell the fore waters broke. Next time she pushed I could see just a bit of white so I knew that was hooves.

Then she went forever without having another contraction. Forever. More than half an hour. But we sat pat. See, goats are very nearly wild animals and they birth fine. All this advice to interfere, to "get in there" and "see what's going on", to drug and pull and treat and poke and prod, all that is advice from people trying to make themselves feel better rather than the goats. Women are like that too. We've birthed 99% fine for millions of years and now 1/3 of babies have to be cut out? I don't think so. We sat on the hill and waited.

Finally, right at sunset, in one big laying down push, she had the first one. I left the kids watching and went on back home to milk the cow and almost before I could get home, she'd had the second one.

Baby Goats framed by Hen
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The one that's a little lighter is a girl. I love that photo, framed by that hen. I also love that momma goat's horns. She's still got a little afterbirth hanging but we'll just keep an eye on her. She's not bleeding, there is nothing to treat. Goats (and women) birth fine.

(I'm suddenly trying to imagine us "helping" chickens lay eggs! and I'm laughing!)


kathleen said...

I just found your blog and love it. I'm knitter and a gardener and a goat herd that's now in a tiny flat in Lima, Peru, and miss my garden, but I'm a firm believer that everyone needs to know how to grow their own food, preserve their own food, make a garment of some kind, and keep themselves healthy. Nourish themselves and their families.

Your goats are beautiful.

Teri said...

If you use a burdizzo, you can neuter them at an older age than with the bands. We did our current ones at 3 months old and had to re-do one side of one at five months. It just crushes the cords, so can be done as long as you can hold them.