First off let me say that we hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! For us here at Redd Homestead we had a very good day, quietly here at home, and enjoying the family time. It was quaint, but as a family of 4 we had a very good day.
We also had a bit of a taxing day as we discovered one of our favorite does in our herd, Miss Prudence, was down and not being herself. I should note that it appears Prudence is heavily pregnant and should be heading towards a birth soon. Her appetite is very good, she is alert and happy but those legs are tired of carrying all this weight around. Can’t blame her, the girl is HUGE! Anyway, realizing she was having a tough time, we made multiple trips out to visit her yesterday, encouraged and help her up, gave her some treatment and overall saw improvement by the evening. Being that she should be close to labor, and noticing another doe’s udder had enlarged, we made the decision last night to section off the double horse stall to allow the girls inside the big barn to start getting ready for the kidding process.
Being that goats are herd animals, we didn’t just move Prudence in there by herself. We brought along her friends, Rosie, Jade, and Daphne (the big udder girl). Everyone was warm and snuggled into fresh bedded hay, warm dinner, lots of water and overall comfort when we said goodnight. This morning we were in for what I would consider the hardest part of a farm life and having breeding livestock. You’re probably thinking Prudence, right? I won’t lie I was nervous walking into the barn this morning at 7am.
We walked in and found Prudence was still laying down, though in a new spot, and 2 of her buddies had joined her to stay warm. We helped encourage her up, and she was able to pretty much get up on her own. Then we heard a little cry, and found 2 premature babies on the ground. One had already passed, one was barely hanging on. But they weren’t Prudence’s babies. During the early morning hours, Rosie had delivered early. She didn’t even look pregnant, and hadn’t even developed an udder or any of the other normal warning signs. We rushed the still alive baby into the house and did our best to warm it and revive it, but the ending was not the outcome we wanted. We lost 2 little baby girls this morning. Rosie tried her best to be a good first-time Mom. She had cleaned them the best she could and curled up to them to warm them. It was the coldest night we’ve had, and wet babies get chilled quickly. I held onto the one, wrapped snuggly in a towel, until she had quietly passed, so that she was at least warm at that moment. It was heartbreaking. Like all baby goats, they were adorable, probably no more than a couple weeks early.
Rosie is doing pretty good for her loss. She is up and eating, staying curled up to keep Prudence company. She is enjoying the extra alfalfa and grain, and appears to be recovering from the delivery well. She wasn’t stressed last night about staying inside, and isn’t stressed this morning either. The boys are out prepping me a milking stand as her udder is now filling up. We will milk out the precious colostrum to save in case anyone else needs help and to give her some relief, and then will help her out as much as we can.
We love living on our small farm, having the animals we have. Our livestock is as much of pets as they are traditional livestock…ok probably more towards the pet side. I’ve always said that our sons get to see a side a life that so many other youth of their age don’t. They see and understand the life and death cycle. They were both there the whole time close by watching to see if the baby would survive this morning. They understand that not every single baby can make it, whether it be a chick, a goat kid, or whatever lands on our property. They understand we just have to do the best we can when the time arrives, and we have to make the best and humane decision for the animal we care for. It’s not always easy, its always heartbreaking to lose babies.
It will be quiet around here today, no doubt. But we are now all on baby watch for whoever decides to kid next. When the next one arrives, hopefully strong and healthy and bouncing all over the place, we will be smiling and thankful for it’s life. Knowing us, it will probably even end up in a diaper in the house at some point (we’ve done this before too). So for now, we just wait for a better day to come along.