Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
“Goat Baby Alert! Goat Baby Alert!” I woke up to my husband’s shouts.
“Which one?” I asked, but he disappeared and hurried back down to the barn. Just as I barely finished dressing, he had brought two very wet, shivering kids with their umbilical cords still dragging into the house.
“It’s Lulu,” my husband said.
“Lulu?” My pregnant Sable doe hadn’t looked that pregnant. In fact, I wouldn’t have guessed that she was pregnant except her udder had filled a few days before. Two kids – two big, healthy, heavy kids – wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Where in the heck did she hide them?
We brought the kids into another room away from the dogs, grabbed the towels, a ceramic space heater, and we both set to work on the two. The big brown kid proved to be a doeling; the white one that looked like Lulu was actually a buckling.
“Uh, I better call the buyer and warn him there’s two on the ground.”
Lisa and Lulu
I had bought Lulu and her sister, Lisa, from a rancher whom I had met through the Farmer’s Market. We both loved goats and he had two doelings a couple of years ago that he had no room for. I sold him Lisa’s daughter last year. This year, he contacted me with the story of the misfortune of his daughters’ 4-H project. Their prize Saanen had caught herself in a fence and strangled herself. I agreed to bring both Lisa and Lulu so he and his family could see them and decide if they wanted to buy them back. I had warned him both does were pregnant and due any time.
So, on the day he and his family were seeing the does, Lulu kidded. Typical.
With the kids dry, we brought them back to Lulu who took them immediately and let them nurse. We moved them all to the kid pen. A little later, I went down to the barn to get the girls ready to meet the potential buyer. As I was going to get Lulu’s kids, I heard a small “maaaaa!” in the main goat pen.
I closed the kid pen and went outside to the main goat pen. I was met by a small LaMancha newborn with a number of very concerned does looking at it. Obviously, this was Belle’s kid, but Belle didn’t look all that concerned about it. The kid was fairly dry. I moved Lulu and her kids out of the kid pen, and moved Belle and her kid into the pen.
Lisa and Lulu and her kids charmed the rancher and his family, so I had four goats leave. I knew I’d miss them, but I also knew they were going to a terrific home. I then focused on Belle and her buckling (as I found out) kid. Belle kept moving away from the buckling and refused to stand still for him to nurse.
So, I put her in the milking stand, called a stanchion, in the hopes that the little guy would give her the right idea and nurse on her. I did that twice and kept Belle and the buckling separated from the herd inside the barn in the hopes she would take care of him. At night, I saw the buckling lay down and Belle laid down as well. I figured he’d cuddle up to her in the night.
The next day, my husband told me that the little buckling was cold. “She won’t keep him warm.”
I sighed. We had a bottle baby again. Not my choice, but then it never is. Despite being a lousy mama, Belle was my best milker now that Lisa and Lulu were gone. Of all my milk goats, Belle, Annie, and Lisa were my best producers. So now I had to keep the baby inside until he was tough enough to handle the cold weather without having someone to keep him warm. Either that or hope for warmer weather. In March, that’s hit or miss in Montana.
I was wrong when I thought Annie would kid next. Sigh. But I do have three very pregnant does still ready to give birth. They’re huge and their udders are filling. Should be any time now.