Exactly one week after our goat Rosie gave birth to Posie, we witnessed another more dramatic birth. Jody, our four-year-old Nubian milk goat, had triplets! She was in labor and heading for the woods. The new-born pen/milking parlor still had Rosie’s and Posie’s bedding in it, so we quickly cleaned it out and put down fresh hay. Then we walked laboring Jody from the woods to the pen.
During lunch I sent our 12-year-old daughter out to check on her again, and she came hollering back that Jody was delivering. Lunch was abandoned as we all scampered out to watch. The first kid had already made its entrance, and it came backwards, according to our daughter who witnessed it. Fortunately it was very tiny, so the position didn’t cause trouble. I wiped mucous from its nose so it could breathe better, and was amazed at how tiny it was.
Kid number two presented itself correctly and slipped out with no problem. But the sack was still mostly intact over the kid’s head and it struggled, unable to breathe. I pulled back the sack and wiped mucous off the little nose (a few of our younger kiddos thought this was gross) and saw it take its first breath! It was a pretty little thing, all black, brown, and white, but definitely bigger than the first kid.
We wondered if Jody was done, or if there were more. Soon another contraction hit and it was obvious another was coming. But after a few contractions it still wasn’t coming out. Oh dear! I looked at my fingernails and realized that if I needed to help things along I wasn’t really prepared. I have rarely needed to do anything invasive, so it hadn’t crossed my mind.
I asked some of the children to run for a fingernail clipper and a clean rag towel. By the time I had two fingernails off the kid was half way out but the contraction was ending and the kid started retracting back into Jody. She was obviously in distress, so I dropped the fingernail clipper and carefully helped pull that kid out while Jody pushed as best she could (the same few younger kiddos thought this was REALLY gross). That wasn’t terribly invasive, but more than what is usually necessary.
Kid number three seemed twice as big as the first! No wonder Jody had trouble, after pushing out two, and then a giant! And the sack was still unbroken and the kid wasn’t moving much. Again I gently tore open the sack and cleared mucous from the nose so it could breath. Jody was faithfully licking away at her kids, but it may have taken several minutes before she got to the big one. I’m thankful we were there to help.
We have memories years ago of finding a perfectly formed newborn kid, dead. We weren’t present at the birth, but felt that probably with multiple kids the mama may not have been able to clear mucous away on time and it suffocated. So sad.
Of course everyone wanted to know how many girls and how many boys. Jody appeared to be done so I checked and announced that the first two were girls (yay, because it’s more likely that they’re keepers) and the “giant” was a boy!
It seemed the whole barnyard had turned out for the event (poor Jody). Tess, our Arabian mare, hung her head over the gate. Laddie, our Australian Shepherd, kept trying to reach under the gate to help with the licking. A chicken even broke in and was immediately ushered back out. Rosie, our other mama goat, stood on the other side of the chicken coop answering the cries of the newborns. And of course our six kiddos and I were present. What a party!
I was concerned about the first tiny kid. In fifteen years of raising goats I have never seen such a tiny one born to a larger breed like Nubians (we used to have Pygmy goats and their kids are super tiny). It had protruding ribs and looked nothing but skin and bones. I held it up to Mama and helped her latch on as quickly as possible. She was quite spunky and took to nursing quickly. She ended up being the first to stand on her own, and the first to find the teats and nurse independently. What a little cutie she is!
Our oldest daughter is the name queen around here, and after a general discussion it was agreed the triplets would be named Evenstar (the tiny one), Luthien (the colorful one), and Beren (the “giant”). If you recognize those names it’s because you also have been reading too much Tolkien.
By bedtime the two little girls, Evenstar and Luthien, were nursing fairly well on their own, but Beren could still barely stand up. I am thinking these kids are a bit premature (Jody was bred “accidentally” by our young buck and we didn’t find out when). That would explain the extra help they have needed to nurse. By yesterday Beren (one day old) was finally standing on his own but still couldn’t latch on without help. I told him if he wants to be a good billy goat he will have to get a little more spunk!
This morning Evenstar is filled out and Beren is doing great, latching on and not letting his legs buckle anymore. Up till now his left hind leg kept bending the wrong way at the knee, but now he holds it properly. It is very unusual for a kid to need this much help, and I keep wondering if I made it worse by pulling him out. But I really think they were preemies, because Luthien was slower to stand up and nurse on her own as well. And Beren took long enough coming out that he may have been a bit oxygen deprived.
For the record, Beren WAS twice as big as Evenstar! He weighed in at 7 lbs, but Evenstar was barely 3.5 lbs! And that was after she had a good drink! Luthien was 5 lbs, so their weights were quite varied. It’s a good thing Evenstar was the one who came out backwards. If it had been Beren and he would have gotten stuck I’m afraid it would have been beyond my skill. And we could easily have lost all four goats by the time a vet got here (don’t think about it). So we thank the Lord for again blessing us with a smooth delivery.
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