Easy Girl, our yearling first-freshener, kidded at 3:40AM on 4/6
Running a small Maine dairy goat farm is often exhausting. Kidding season has added to the spring mayhem this year. Easy’s long labor ending in the early morning hours and a few hours before preparing for our once-weekly open farm day. Snow and Noel are due this Friday. I’m crossing my fingers the labor and birth won’t be a repeat.
Through the few hours before Little Lucy my amazing husband Kevin kept us company, brought backup lighting and a towel. Eventually he grew tired and headed back to the house. Within a minute she bore down with her first real hard push. I called him back before he got there.
The kid came out all wrong. First a hoof made its way out all crooked and then a sideways mouth with a tongue sticking out the side appeared. I immediately cleared the kid’s airways while Easy kept bearing down. It became obvious she was tiring since having gone into labor at 1:00PM the day before.
After the half-born kid struggled for air I became worried for them both. I used two fingers to probe around the opening as she pushed to feel the other front hoof—nowhere. On the next push I reached in and held the base of the neck and grabbed the front leg. I pulled gently, firm and gradually working with her contraction. Just like that, the kid was free.
Snap decisions in the weeee morning hours
For only having sat through one birth before, I was somehow able to make quick choices. That I was able to keep them both healthy and shine through a stressful situation without a wave of anxiety is a miracle in itself. Just entering a grocery store or sitting in a waiting room about kills me.
For example, I was in a waiting room just last week to have blood drawn at 7AM. I might run a small Maine dairy goat farm but I am not a morning person and rely on coffee for moral support. Cups of Coffee don’t judge. The man next to me was picking at his teeth. The oral echoing sound click-tick-tick of his fingernail digging into the heart of his molars sent me into warp-nine near flip-out range.
Seconds felt like eons.
Luckily for this completely self-unaware dude who was living life to the oral fullest, they called him in. I was two eons short of pulling the dudes teeth out. Just before I embarrassed my husband sitting on the other side of me. That’s about how time passed after three hours on the barn floor with Easy.
Back to the kidding. After the little one had her fill of colostrum I brought her in to sleep in a plastic bin by the fire wrapped in a soft blanket. My forehead was spotted with blood when I looked in the mirror. Back out I trotted to the barnyard shortly after to milk Easy and check her over one last time. I washed up and managed to sneak in two hours of sleep before milking, cleaning two coops and hosting open farm day.
It took weeks for me to choose names for our first two kids. Easy’s girls’ name came to me the very next day. While teaching her to latch onto a baby’s bottle I named her Lucy (seen in the orange vest). Just like that.
On a side note, my last child didn’t have a name for three days. The hospital didn’t know what to do about it. There was no protocol for sending a nameless baby home. What it came down to was that they couldn’t force me to and I left.
Back to the farm. I finally decided on naming the other two doelings (seen on the log) Ruby and Pearl. We are keeping Ruby (left), but selling Pearl (right). I don’t want to keep any full sibling pairs with the long-term diversity of our herd in mind.
Right now we have two unrelated bucks (one is ‘leased’ through September). Two of our does, Snow White and Noel are three-year-old half-sisters and both due to kid in just a few days. We have a younger doe, Klassy, who will be a year old in late June who is completely unrelated to the rest of our herd. She will be bred for the first time this fall. Apple, who had the twins Ruby and Pearl, is unrelated to the rest of our herd as well.
Unless Apple’s milk production increases to reach eight-pounds daily in the next few weeks we will sell her after weaning the kids. She has the least prestigious lines in our herd and we are keeping one of her doelings sired by Fireball. Easy’s twin-brother is Fireball. So she was bred to Oreo, our leased buck. We will are keeping Little Lucy. If Snow and Noel have doelings we will be hard-pressed to choose just one.
We are considering keeping a buckling this year unrelated to ours. It would make the most sense to keep a buck from Snow or Noel (seen in the photo above). They are half-sisters bought bred from another small Maine dairy goat farm complete with service memos for their kids’ registration.
Lucy is doing wonderfully and is out Apple’s twins and Easy’s kid Lucy. Kevin made them a pen in the garage. It abuts the rear garage door and opens out to a fenced pen. We can open the garage door just a couple of feet to let them out and still give them shelter from the wind. He even rolled a huge two-foot-wide, wood stove length log he was planning to split for firewood out in their yard for them to jump on.
Lucy moved in once she could withstand the unheated garage temperature and getting climbed, jumped and laid on. The goats enjoyed the snow and even helped my youngest make a snowman.
We need a better spring kid situation here but that comes with time when building a homestead with a small Maine dairy goat farm from scratch. We are slowly working on building, improving and finding innovative creative ideas to get us by… until I get my big dream barn!
Sugar, our 10-month-old Flemish Giant doe, kindled on 3/29
Sugar has seven beautiful kits growing nicely. As of 4/19 they were opening their little sealed eyes and thinking about venturing out of the nest. By 4/23 they are beginning to hop, are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as the so-true saying goes. They hop out only to burrow back in under their siblings.
It’s hard to say for sure the colors of the kits with all the wiggling and Sugar being the most protective mother here yet. So far it looks like two sandy, two steel, and two black kits. Their fur is still coming in.
Both Coffee and Foxy Lady have not kindled. Both were placed with a buck the last two days and will be again today. I need to ensure the deed is done, and done, and done again. If they continue to have failed litters I will have to seriously consider closing the rabbitry. That branch of our farm threatens to sink the ship and has yet to turn a profit. As a bustling small Maine dairy goat farm also juggling a hatchery and massive heirloom gardens, it’s time to evaluate the possibility.
At some point all farmers need to take a step back and reexamine their business plan. This is something I’m reviewing now as the imminent spring crunch comes to a head. We have had rabbits for three years with lots of ups and downs. Coffee and Foxy Lady have both had successful litters in the past and were bred by different bucks. A strange coincidence indeed.