Two kids on the lap and two sleepy dogs...
When we first started raising goats, we spent alot of time with local farmers who raise goats to learn the ins and the outs. I remember saying to one of our farmer friends how excited we were about kidding season and was positively filled with anticipation and excitement in my voice as I talked to her. She turned to me and said, "Believe me kid, you'll be happy when it's over". The interaction took the wind out of my sails. Now, in the thick of our 7th kidding season since we started raising goats, I am reminded, yet again, of her infinite wisdom.
A few weeks ago we wrote about our first two kids that were born this season. As I write this we now have 9 happy kids in the barn jumping around (one who is slightly less happy with a goopy eye) and 2 sitting on my lap as I write this. There are many mothers that have yet to kid and we are thankful for this brief break in between kid crops! The low temps have been hard on the kids and the moms, but we keep moving forward. We brought the 2 kids that are on my lap into the house last night and this morning as it was becoming clearer by the minute that they were not drinking enough and needed some help. After a warm bath, some time by the fire and some warm milk, they are perking up, running around the living room and creating anxiety in our dogs - a good sign! This is one of the happy stories!
As with most seasons though, there are always sad stories to tell as well. Yesterday, a sad story presented itself at a very inconvenient time- reminding all of us that no matter how romantic farming can be, it can sometimes slap you in the face too. One of our very loyal customers and friends stopped by for a planned visit to see the kids. She was with her sister and brother in law and they had a Christmas tree to donate to the goat feed pile and wanted to meet the babies. Slightly before their arrival, I had noticed one of the mothers struggling with labor. By the time our visitors had arrived I was becoming convinced that maybe she was experiencing prolapse, but we hadn't seen that condition in years since we stopped feeding grain and I was baffled. Shortly after we headed into the barn, it was clear she was having trouble pushing. So, I got our visitors all set up with some kids to hold and play with and tried to keep a close eye on the mom. At some point, I realized she was giving birth to a stillborn and she needed help. So, as all good goat midwives do, I got one knee down on the barn floor and started to help her pull out the kid while she pushed. It was clear that the goat was also baffled. She wasn't crying and I could sense she just wanted it all to be over. When the kid came out, I immediatley wrapped it up in a blanket and let it lay by her side. Sometimes when we remove the kids too quickly (for whatever reason) it causes alot of stress to the mothers. She stood silent for a little while and we thought maybe she had another kid in her. After a short while, she sniffed at her kid and then she shook it off and headed out to the hay bin for a meal. T'is the life of a goat.
And so it goes, and so it goes and so it goes. I could tell that our visitors felt the sadness just as much as I and the goats and the dogs did, but we all just moved on from it for the sake of the afternoon. In some ways, it was nice not to be alone throughout it all as it is always sad to lose part of our goat family and although we were silently mourning this without discussing it, it is always nice not to mourn alone. On the other hand, I was sad they had to see that when they were likely expecting a much more entertaining afternoon. Not to mention, seeing a live birth is truly a wonderful thing to be a part of and it's too bad it turned out the way it did. Alas, these are the downs that balance out the wonderful ups of farming. I was relaying the situation to a good friend who is a dairy farmer that stopped by later that afternoon and how horrible I had felt that it happened in front of our guests. He said, "You know the old saying...When you have livestock, you have deadstock". And however hard it is, he's right. It's a reality - a harsh one, but a reality nonetheless. As it should, I always feel affected by a situation like this, but overall each time we have a loss, we become a little wiser.
And so, we started out this day on a hard note as we pondered the events of yesterday and then we spent this afternoon looking for a little inspiration! We cleaned the kidding pens and we finally got the kids tagged (ID tag in their ear) and let them out of the pens. Within minutes, they were jumping around the barn (the scene I had written about in November - an experience that can right any bad day...the experience our visitors were looking for one day late) and we took another step forward in our goat lives.
To our visitors, thanks for being a part of our farm yesterday and for being understanding that sometimes downs are part of the bigger picture. We owe you one!
Enjoy the snow everyone!
Laura and Jay Young
Young American Growers