Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Goldie's (and Our) First Baby!

This is not the post for you if you are not comfortable with frank discussions of birth, bodily functions and such!  There will be some (mildly) graphic details and pictures!

Aagaard Farms is pleased-as-punch to announce the arrival of Gafferty, a wee buck kid born about 4:00 PM on Sunday, May 20th (nobody had a watch on so the time is unofficial)!  The son of Goldie, our 75% Nubian doe, and Randi, our purebred Nubian buck, Gafferty, henceforth known as Gaffer, is doing fine!  It was the first baby for Goldie and for us, so it's been an exciting weekend!  Farmer Man decided, rather on the fly, that the kids' names should start with the first letter of their Mom's name; as the little buck was floundering around, Farmer Man called him a 'little gaffer', and the name stuck!

We do like things kind of natural around here: no chemicals on the gardens, no chemicals or antibiotics in the critters food, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.  We did not intend to be so natural that Goldie would have her baby outside, in the pasture, but that's what happened!  We have done extensive reading on goat birth, watched YouTube videos, haunted some of our favorite websites like Fias Co Farms; nothing prepares you like the real thing! We've been watching our does for a few weeks, looking for signs and symptoms of impending birth.  We knew the udders were filling, we could see the body signs, we had read about the ligaments along her tail bones 'softening' when birth is near but we're still not exactly sure about that sign.  The does either think we're nuts or they enjoyed the 'massages' along their spine and down by their tail!  The goats had gotten their usual grain ration shortly after 1:30 PM and everything seemed normal: the little herd was together, they all came and partook of their treat, everything seemed good.  I angled around to get a look at all the girls rear ends: two of the first signs of imminent birthing, after the softening of the ligaments, is the doe releases a white, waxy looking plug from her vagina, then she goes off by herself.  Most goat keepers would have her in a separate pen a week or so before birth but it was a lovely day and we hadn't (didn't think) we had the softening of the ligaments, or the release of the plug......

About half an hour later I cruised back by the goat pasture, just to have a look.  Goldie was off under the spruces with a glob of yellow birth fluid hanging from her vagina.  Yikes!  This is happening NOW!  I ran to the house, grabbed the prepared birthing kit, the camera (like a good blogger) and yelled for Farmer Man!  Goldie stubbornly refused to walk to the barn at this point, so we grabbed some empty feed sacks to keep the baby from hitting the ground.  There was something I needed from the house so I ran back, and made a quick call to pal Deb, who had wanted to know when babies were coming.  I think I yelled something into the phone like: "Having a baby goat, gotta go!"   Deb appeared shortly after and a third pair of hands was a great help!
A wee, little hoof presents itself!

For about an hour and a half, we watched and encouraged Goldie, pulling the empty feed sacks after her as she moved around.  Farmer Man was at her head, keeping her steady and calm.  She'd push, a little hoof would appear, then recede.  She'd push again and we'd see a little hoof, then a tip of a little nose and a little pink tongue!  This might stay out, then disappear.  We still couldn't see the second hoof!  I was running through my mind everything I'd read about assisting in the birth, but it was too soon for that.  Finally, after almost two hours, Goldie lay down and began to really push hard, making funny little noises!  I intruded into her vagina, just a tad, and found the second hoof, just inside the entrance.  On the next big push, I got it between two fingers and pulled lightly along with Goldie's push.  A few minutes later, a little wet, gooey baby came sliding out!  As we were outside on a breezy day, Auntie Deb and I were ready with puppy pads to clean the baby, then old towels to keep the baby warm.  We tied off the umbilical cord with dental floss and slid the feed sack with baby up to Goldie for her to do some cleaning and bonding!

How does this work, again?
Farmer Man got some grain, Deb took the baby, all wrapped in a fresh towel, to a sunny spot just by the barn doors.  With a rest and a bit of grain, we got Goldie up and slowly made our way to the clean baby stall in the barn.  We put them in together, and turned on the waiting heat lamp.  Momma Goldie seemed interested, and did some more cleaning of her baby.  Getting the baby up to nurse and getting Goldie to stand still to nurse was a bit more of a challenge.  The rest of the evening, and the next morning were consumed by watching, encouraging Mom to nurse, using treats and brushing to get her to stand for the baby.  We actually put into action our milking machine - The Henry Milker!  Love this thing, highly recommend it!  We milked Goldie, had the waiting baby bottle and nipple and tried to make sure little Gaffer had colostrum and a good feed!  The worry and frustration when the baby didn't want the bottle!  Fortunately, shortly after Momma Goldie let him get a good drink and we could all relax!

Our plan now is to let little Gaffer feed during the day, then we will milk Goldie out in the evening.  I must say, fresh goat milk is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing!  Creamy, smooth and no, absolutely no, goaty flavor!  I've got a small stash for our first batch of soap, and that supply will grow every day!  Hopefully, we'll be making soap next week!  In the meantime, we're playing with Gaffer, congratulating Goldie and we are watching and waiting for Mabel and Chocolate to have their babies!

1 comment:

  1. oh my goodness, what a day that must have been. As much as I love baby animals when I read the reality I know I couldn't be sticking my hands up there to pull. Good for you for not thinking twice and just getting in there to help.