Kidding-Season Tragedy

Reader Contribution by Maggie Bonham
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As usual, everything is last minute when it comes to preparing. That’s usually because I’m so darn busy doing everything else that by the time I’m thinking about the kids, I’ve realize that the pen I had the does kid in last season is housing waterfowl because a skunk killed three ducks and my best goose. My husband moved the waterfowl in that pen while we planned to live-trap the skunk.

The trapping never happened because to top everything else off, we had three feet of snow in the last snow event that lasted about a week. Then, the weather warmed up where we were seeing 40s and 50s. That has made for some very unstable snow and a terrible mess. Everything around my place is mud and the snow ripped the woodstove chimney off my barn. We got off lucky, however. We’ve had several avalanches in my area including the one that tore through a house in Missoula.

The only pen my husband and I could seriously consider using as a kid pen was the tom turkey pen. So, we butchered one tom and moved the other two with the young turkey hens today. My husband had fed the critters in the morning and I checked on the girls in the afternoon. Everyone looked ready to pop, but no one really showed signs of it. I had fed the critters the night before and noted that one of my Boer mix girls, named Blaze, laid down and looked a bit uncomfortable. I checked her and made note that she wasn’t showing signs of labor so I just decided to keep an eye on her.

So, when I fed the girls at night, I was doing my checks and noticed something odd with Blaze. Something triangular was sticking out of her. I grabbed her and brought her in the barn. I wasn’t exactly sure what part of the baby it was, but I knew it was a baby. So I reached in and felt around.

Oddly, Blaze had a small birth canal. For a big goat like a Boer mix who was easily close to 200 pounds, I had just enough room for my hand and not much else. Although I’m not sure what Blaze was mixed with, she sounded quite a bit like a Nubian goat the way she screamed as I felt around. The hard thing was the baby’s hock. The kid was breech and tangled. So, I had to reach in and grab the other back leg and pull. After much screaming and tugging, a huge baby buckling appeared.

I was not surprised that he wasn’t breathing. What did surprise me though was his malformed head. He had no eyes and his jaw was crooked. I suspect that he was probably stillborn with these problems and never had a chance even if he hadn’t been malpresented. I have no idea why this happened but I felt that maybe this was for the best. I would hate to have to put down the little guy if he was born alive.

Not knowing if that was her only baby, I put Blaze in the pen and gave her food and water. I checked on the other does and found Annie had no ligaments left in her tail – a sure sign she’s kidding tonight or tomorrow.

I’m going to be busy. It’s midnight and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to check on Blaze and Annie. I suspect it’s going to be a long night.