Monday, May 28, 2012

Holy Smokes - It's Triplets!

We've nicely incorporated goat kid Gaffer into our daily routine.  We'd been watching Mabel closely, knowing her time was coming shortly.  Goat mommas release a mucous plug, much like human mommas, and when we spotted it in the afternoon we knew we'd have at least one more baby within twenty four hours or a bit more.  We put Mabel in the 'bonding suite' and checked her regularly.  Farmer Man was taking the early shift and checked on her at midnight.  She was restless, but not showing the signs we've read about like pawing at the ground, making a nest, looking a little wild-eyed, bearing down.  He returned a mere forty five minutes later to find three tiny babies in the straw!  They seemed quite still or a little shivering, unlike Gaffer's first moments.  Momma Mabel was standing away in a corner, looking a little wild, and the babies hadn't been cleaned or anything.  Farmer Man brought the kids under the heat lamp, started to dry them and then came and woke me up.  Waking up to the words 'We've got triplets. They need our help' really gets one going....
So wee and quiet when I first saw the kids!

Back in the bonding suite, getting the babies under the heat lamp and cleaning them with the towels we'd left at hand stimulated them enough to get movement and wee cries.  Noses, eyes and mouths were wiped clean, umbilical cords tied off and dipped in iodine.  Momma Mabel wanted nothing to do with this squirmy pile; she continued to stand in the far corner looking stressed.  We gathered up a nearby large galvanized tub, lined it with clean towels and got the babies under the heat lamp.  They were much smaller than Gaffer, one was very tiny.  Now getting colustrum, the first mother's milk, is very important for the babies' health.  Not only first nutrition, but colustrum shares the momma's antibodies to illness and disease that are present in the environment.  It's critical for the babies health.  We tried to encourage Mabel to come to the tub, to meet her babies, to perhaps help clean them up.  She was not even slightly interested.  I gently took a baby to her and she moved away repeatedly.  I tried to put one to her to nurse and she bolted into the opposite corner.  We were going to have a problem here....

We needed to milk the colustrum and get it into the babies.  This was going to be interesting.  Momma Mabel was a bloody mess and still stressed.  She did not like having her udder cleaned with a warm, damp cloth as I tried to get ready to milk.  We gave her a special treat of some of her grain ration with a handful of raisins and, as she began to eat, I managed to get her wiped clean, disinfected and got the Henry Milker on one teat.  A good dose of very golden yellow milk was collected.  Farmer Man got it into the waiting milk bottle and tried to feed the now crying babies.  The kids didn't know what to do with this bright red nipple coming at them!  Baby goats have to nurse with their heads up to make sure the milk goes to the right tummy.  We, with little experience bottle feeding, squirted a lot of milk at the babies and on ourselves getting used to the bottles and the angles!  Farmer Man continued to try to feed the kids while I re-cleaned Mabel, re-disinfected and collected colustrum from the second teat.  Thank heavens for the Henry Milker, which collects the milk right from the teat into a jar.  Chasing Mabel around with a milking bucket would have been wild and the milk might have been tainted with straw, dust, afterbirth - who knows!

Farmer Man was getting some colustrum into the babies; they were looking stronger and were, actually, all falling asleep.  We were both splattered with bits of milk as well as straw, iodine and assorted other 'barn birthing' debris.  It was now well after 3:00 AM and Farmer Man hadn't been to sleep yet.  We collected milk again from Mabel and Farmer Man headed to bed.  I took the second shift and was quite wide awake, even with just a few hours sleep!  We'd both been running to the house to sterilize and get things we'd forgotten, jogging to the shed for treats, crawling after Momma Mabel -  I think the adrenaline had kicked in!  I sat up through the early morning, a bottle of milk tucked under my clothes to keep it warm!  The babies woke up crying after just an hour and I tried to get more milk in them.  It was a cold, rainy night and I was thankful for the heat lamp.  I kept encouraging Mabel to come to the tub and check out her babies but she stayed off in her corner.

About 7:30 AM Farmer Man relieved me from duty and I headed to bed.  Just a few, short hours later I awoke to the sound of little cries.  I got up to find a tub of kids in my living room!  Farmer Man had made the decision to bring them in out of the cold and to be closer to the stashed milk and ways to warm it up.  Plus, Mabel seemed a little aggressive.  So, we started caring for kids in the house.  Some good pals had wanted to know about the birthing and, shortly after sending a text, our pal Nancy arrived, with cookies, and experience in bottle feeding kittens.  Having an extra set of hands and a patient, nurturing 'Aunty' was just fantastic!  It left Farmer Man to go about the usual chores while Nancy and I warmed milk and fed the now squirmy bunch of babies.  We had thought, in the barn, that we had two girls and a boy, but as we handled and observed them we realized we had two boys and a girl.  What we think was the first born and the largest, a boy, was named Marty.  The second, with spotted ears like Mabel, was named Marble and the little, tiny runt, originally named Myrtle, is named Myrvan.  Marty looks a lot like his Daddy, Randi, while Marble and Myrvan have a caramel color, darker than Mabel and Goldie. So cute!
Someone always managed to get off the paper!
 More little doggy coats in action!

The next five or six hours are somewhat of a blur - Farmer Man and I were both very tired.  It involved milking, feeding, cleaning - over and over.  The babies were slow to take to the bottle and we were so worried about the littlest, Myrvan.  Nancy held him for a long time, trying to get him to take to the bottle.  Even though we tried to get newspapers down and towels around, we and the room were slowly becoming splattered with milk and there were 'accidents' on the carpet.  But, the important thing was that everything seemed to be going well - all the babies were getting fed, and proceeding with bodily functions as they should!  Feed, pee, poop, sleep, pee, poop, feed, pee, poop, became a rhythm.  About mid-afternoon pal Deb arrived when she got off work; another set of hands and new energy was greatly needed!  Farmer Man got a wee nap in his easy chair with Marble sleeping on his chest!  When he got mobile again I lay down for a little over an hour!  Thank you, Aunties, for all you help!

The new, cozy crib in the barn!
When the ladies had both left in the evening the babies were sleeping in their tub.  Farmer Man and I went out to milk and finish the evening chores.  Eggs had only been sporadically collected: there was lots of little things to do!  We came in to a squirming, crying bunch of kids and performed another feeding, which was going much better now.  Farmer Man had retrieved a large rubber tote and cleaned it and we put the now drowsy babies in with fresh towels, moved it beside the bed and we all largely slept through the night, until 5:00 AM when the babies started to cry again.  The cycle started again.  By mid-afternoon yesterday, Farmer Man had organized a 'crib' pen in the barn with the heat lamp and in the babies went.  We had a succession of visitors in the afternoon - baby goats are very popular!  I was glad to see poor Gaffer get some attention; our first little baby was somewhat neglected for a day after being the centre of so much attention!  Sunday saw us settling into a bit more of a routine, and everyone seems to be thriving and feeding well!  We did spend some time trying to get Momma Mabel to accept her kids, but no luck; we're resigning ourselves to having three bottle babies.  And added to the 'to-do' list: steaming cleaning the livingroom carpet - soon!


  1. When we had sheep and had to bring the lambs into the poarch to bottle feed, i used to put them in an old play pen that I picked up at a garage sale. I put towels in the bottom. A lot easier washing towels than the carpet! The babies are a lot of fun but a lot of work at the start!

    1. We thought of a play pen a little late! We did get a bit hip and got an old plastic shower curtain down under all the newspaper! Still, we'll have to steam clean the carpet, but we learned our lesson!

  2. What a weekend! Thank goodness you were there to find them quickly and save them. and had extra hands on deck. What utterly adorable coats although i'm sure you must be happy to have them out of the house now.