A New Addition to the Herd

This spring has been extremely busy. There are days when I feel like a dozen energies are pulling me in the same number of directions. I rise in the morning wondering how many things I can get done before the day is exhausted.

Then there was Friday. I was up early, getting the tasks needing to be done completed because my Toggenburg doe, Willow, was due to kid, and my focus had to be on her.

Experience has taught me every birth is different. Some are easy, some are interesting, some are entertaining and some (like Sigma’s a few years ago) have me holding down back legs and being splattered with blood while a vet forces a uterus back into a screaming goat.

Knowing all this, I go into each birth with an open mind. I hope for easy, kid on the ground when I open the barn door in the morning, and the mother cleaning up the afterbirth coating the kid’s hair. Yet, we’re ready with plastic gloves that go to our armpit, clean rags to help clean off kids and the vet’s number on speed dial.

The journey started on November 23, 2021, when I bred Willow to Chippy, a Nigerian Dwarf buck. We’re getting out of Togs (Toggenburgs) and switching to Nigerian Dwarf. We have many reasons, but that’s not what this post is about.

Since Willow is a Tog and twice the size of a dwarf, I assumed the kid would be smaller than a Tog kid. We had a half-breed born last year with another Tog doe, and it was smaller, and the colouration was grey-white. Pearl is a year old now and smallish, but she still has three years to grow to reveal what the cross-breeding will produce.

By Friday noon, mucus was leaking out of Willow’s vulva (that’s the out door for kids). I worked around, checking on Willow every hour. Suppertime came, and still nothing. Day births are preferred, but…

The sun was low in the sky and I fed the other animals and locked them up. Willow was showing more mucus and had mild contractions, but nothing more. She picked at the hay instead of devouring it as she normally did. I moved her to the pen she’d stay in after the birth, where there was plenty of light since the sun had set.

Time slowed. Every thirty minutes, I checked on her. By midnight, contractions were more intense. By 12:30, she was panting, pushing and contractions were closer. More mucus came and fell, but no great shot of ‘water’, the sign the kid is coming next.

I needed a second opinion, so woke my daughter, who is in her early 20s and who has attended most of the births on the homestead, to see what she thought. She confirmed my suspicion that it would be between 12 and 14 hours after that first show of mucus before the kid arrived. No big deal. She went back to bed.

We were nearing the 14 hour mark but not there yet, so I sat in a lawn chair and waited. Around 2:00 am, Willow was pushing hard, getting up, laying down, getting up again. Finally, I saw the nose. And that’s all I saw for 10 minutes. The tongue was sticking out slightly, and the face looked large. I woke my daughter, and we decided to give it 30 minutes more. If nothing happened, we’d move in.

We’ve learned stepping in too quickly can cause more problems than if we didn’t. I’ve seen vets hurry the birth along and take the kids when time would have done that easier. After all, the majority of animals on Earth give birth without a human hand.

More of the face emerged, and we were surprised by the size. The real problem seemed to be the feet. The front hooves were supposed to be together beneath the chin. We should have been seeing the white tips, but we couldn’t. This meant the shoulders were back, and a harder delivery for Willow.

A few more minutes passed, and the head emerged fully. Another push, and the front hooves came out. They were crossed, so I straightened them and held on. Willow took a breather, then on the next big push, I gently pulled, freeing the front legs. After another short break, Willow pushed the rest of the kid out.

First Photo of Willow and the Kid

We breathed a sigh of relief. We had one very much alive kid laying in a puddle of goo. Willow immediately began licking it – an excellent sign. She was going to be a good mom. This was her first kid, and she knew what to do.

We watched for another 20 minutes, but no second kid came. That was fine for us. I wanted only one, and this kid was large. It also had the colouration of a Tog. And it was a doe! Bonus.

My daughter went to bed, and I stayed for another hour to make sure Willow was fine, the kid was up and walking and taking its first drinks of milk from the teat.

On Saturday afternoon, I took Willow and the kid (not yet 24 hours old) out of a walk on the grass. Willow wasn’t interested in eating the spring grass. Shocker. She only wanted to make sure the kid was safe. She’s going to be an excellent mom.

While I had her on a line to ensure she didn’t run off to the pasture, I didn’t have to worry. She went where the kid went. When it hollered, she began licking it.

I’m not sure what to call the kid, but I’m toying with the idea of Morrigan.

Morgan le Fay of King Arthur legend was a shapeshifter, a woman of two faces. She is connected with Morrigan, the Celtic Goddess. I’ve been searching for Morrigan, seeing her in different forms over the past year. Given her two-faced story, I think the name suits this kid of two breeds.

I seldom name a kid before a week has passed, so I’ll make the decision next week.


7 thoughts on “A New Addition to the Herd

    1. I had to look up that word. Yes. I guess I am a goat doula. I’ve nursed many back to health and comforted them in labour and birth. I’ve even held two as they passed from this world into the next.

      I’ve decided to call this kid Half-pint, after Laura Ingalls of “Little House on the Prairie”, one of my favourite TV shows when I was a kid. I thought Morrigan was a little too heavy for this bouncing little gal.

      Liked by 1 person

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