Backstory: I saw one of the Boer does butt Jadzia a few days before her due date, so I started keeping her in the yard when the others went out to graze, and I put her away in the dairy shelter before they came in. I kept her mom, Bon Bon, with her for company.
I checked Jadzia every few hours as her big day, November 5, approached. Early in the afternoon on the 3rd, I went out to find Jadzia and Bon Bon sequestered in the dairy-goat shelter. Jadzia’s ears were sticking out to the sides (“Flying Nun ears”), a sure sign she was having early contractions. I hustled around and put everything in order. Birthing kit? Check. Extra bedding? Check. Bach Rescue Remedy for me and Jadzia? Double check. All systems were “go.”
Flying Nun ears mean labor has begun.
Yawning is another sign of imminent birth.
And a good thing they were. Instead of pacing, pawing, lying down and getting up again, and generally taking her time, there was no holding Jadzia back. In less than half an hour she was down and pushing. Hard.
Jadzia rides out a hard contraction.
Meanwhile, dear old Mom evidently decided she’d had enough drama. She stood by the gate and screamed. I let her out; then it was just Jadzia and me.
Two little hooves appeared, toes up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Unless its head was turned back (and I couldn’t tell that yet), baby was in the normal, diving position. But Jadzia pushed and pushed and couldn’t get that baby to budge. I set down the camera, grabbed the lube, and checked to make certain the kid’s head was properly positioned (it was). Then I gently pulled while Jadzia pushed. Out popped a small black kid. Biscuit! I stripped the goo from its nostrils, quickly toweled it off, and took a peek. Biscuit was a boy.
Jadzia was staring into the distance (wondering, no doubt, what that was all about) when I plopped the tyke under her nose. Her eyes widened, and she took a sniff; then she smiled and dove right in to cleaning her new kid.
Meanwhile, two more sets of toes were protruding from her vulva. When the next hard contraction hit, Jadzia grunted, and out it popped, backward, so quickly that I didn’t have time to assist.
Strip. Wipe. Check the plumbing (another boy: Bijou). Plop this much larger kid in front of Jadzia. Two babies! She was delighted. So was I.
Jadzia cleans her newborn twins, Biscuit and Bijou.
The first night Jadzia had the shelter to herself, as I’d farmed out the other dairy goats to other pens. I could hardly wait to introduce Bon Bon to her grandkids! But when I did, both does stuck their ears out to the sides, up came their hackles, and they began bashing heads really hard! After 5 minutes of mayhem, I chucked Bon Bon in the goat tote (it’s set up in the dairy shelter because the goats like to sleep on and in it) and shut the door. She and Jadzia glowered at one another through the mesh. The next morning when I brought Bon Bon back out, Jadzia raised her hackles, but Bon Bon stuck up her nose and said, “Humph!” So much for family unity. I’ll reintroduce Bon Bon and the others when Jadzia’s kids are big enough and fast enough to stay out of the way.
On Sunday we loaded Jadzia and her kids in the back of our van and took them to my friend, Emily Dixon of Ozark Jewels, to have the kids disbudded. Disbudding is the act of destroying a tiny kid’s horn buds by quickly burning them with a red-hot iron. It’s not for the faint of heart, and I’m lucky to know someone who is fast and good at this traumatic but necessary task because I couldn’t do it myself. Disbudding is essentially necessary with dairy goats because goats with horns aggressively hook at one another. A dairy goat’s udder is a delicate thing and easily ripped, so hooking must be prevented. Though it obviously hurts, it’s more humane to disbud kids than dehorn adult goats. So John sat in the van with Jadzia, I cringed, and Emily neatly burned the boys’ horns.
Bijou naps after being disbudded.
Now comes the fun part: playing with these mischievous souls as they grow up and are integrated into our herd. The first kid, Biscuit, has facial stripes and a cream underbelly like Bon Bon’s triplets born earlier this year. A perfect match! Am I skillful enough to train a four-up of goats to pull a goat-size wagon? We’ll see. In any case, these cute little guys are keepers.
It's cold outside, so day-old Biscuit and Bijou wear lambie jammies.
On their first outdoor excursion,
Bijou discovers it's fun to run.
Bijou discovers it's fun to run.
Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including The Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, The Appaloosa News, The Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and The Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and Get Your Goat! to be published in 2010. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.