I want to write down this funny little story about our LGD’s before I forget about it. Last Sunday when we came home from the goat show in Greeley we were greeted by two unexpected things: One was Pluto with his face and mouth full of porcupine quills, which I was able to remove with a bit of patience and a pair of pliers (hopefully he learned a valuable lesson!). The other was a pure white dove. I saw it hanging around on the hillside behind our house and when I approached it, it only walked away just out of reach. It was clearly domestic but I was surprised my dogs had allowed it to hang around. Pluto is notorious for chasing crows and magpies and has even killed a few of them. When I tried to catch the bird it flew up to the roof of our house, but an hour later it was back down in our backyard. Every time I went outside the bird was there and one or both of the dogs was guarding it.
The bird was still there the next day and the dogs were still standing guard so I went out with a bed sheet and caught it. I was afraid it wasn’t getting enough to eat or drink on that barren slope so I put it on our back patio and gave it grain and water. It ate and drank before going back out into the yard where it hung out near Pluto. We had a hellacious wind on Monday night and I was sure the bird would be gone by next morning, but it was still there. It was not until we had five cars full of noisy homeschoolers over to our house later Tuesday morning that the bird finally disappeared along with Pluto, who hightailed it to an undisclosed location the second those rowdy kids stepped out of their vehicles. Pluto eventually came back an hour or so after the crowds left, but the white dove hasn’t returned. Some folks have told me it was probably released at a memorial service. I have not ceased to be amazed at the instincts of these amazing dogs. How do they know that a creature is domesticated and needs to be protected? They would not have allowed a wild bird to hang around like that, and they certainly wouldn’t have guarded it.
We took these photos almost two weeks ago and I’d better post them now before they get any more outdated! We were snowed in that day so we brought the triplets into the house to play on the couch and watch a movie with us. We’re snowed in again today so I actually have time to post these!
Last Tuesday my sister-in-law came with her kids and a whole bunch of other homeschool families from Salida to see the baby goats. There were about 15 kids under ten years old running around our basement. At one point we had everyone sit down on and around the basement couch so I could teach them a few things about goats. We let the babies into the basement so the kids could hold, pet, and play. The baby goats went wild with all the excitement and jumped in everyone’s laps, chewed on their hair, and generally raced around from one person to the next for attention. Human and goat kids alike got a huge kick out of the experience.
Delilah went out to forage with the other goats this morning and left her babies alone in the shed. Pluto was concerned and went in the pen with me to check on them. He is totally enamored with these kids and spent time gently licking each of them. When one jumped on him, he collapsed onto the ground and rolled over. At one point he had three babies crawling around on his belly. I went inside and left him with them. I wanted to see how he’d act while “unsupervised”. Unbeknownst to Pluto, I had him on the Goatoscope.
I enjoy watching him interact with the kids, but he is definitely still a puppy in training and not to be totally trusted with them. I kept an eye on him in the monitor, and after 10 minutes or so the kids began to annoy him by clambering onto his face. His response was a very light “snap” to push them away. That might be acceptable discipline for puppies, but not for kids! I opened the window, waited for him to do it again, then hollered at him the second he opened his mouth. He jumped like he’d been stung and immediately slunk out of the pen with his tail between his legs. I want him to enjoy the kids, but he must learn that they cannot be treated like puppies. I’ve read that these dogs do not really leave the puppy stage until they are a good two years old. Pluto is not quite a year and I think he’s making very good progress. It looks like he will mature into a very good LGD once he learns a few “do’s” and “don’ts”.
We had a good two feet of heavy, wet snow over the weekend, so the Nubian boys, having only recently come from the much warmer climate in Pueblo West, needed a little extra protection. I found some fleece fabric, doubled it over, and with a few safety pins I managed to make them some little jammies.
We’ve had so much fun with all these babies! We spent the afternoon yesterday with all five snuggled up on the basement couch with us while we watched a silly movie. We’ve named them and the girl is Oakley, the white boy with spots is Crockett, and the big oreo boy is Boone.
Today was the triplets’ first day in the wide world. I took them out of the shelter to run free in the pen. I put Rambo and Rocky in the pen as well so they could play with their new friends. It was their first day allowed off the back patio unsupervised. Everyone learned about electric fences which always makes me feel bad, but they also learned about jumping on logs and rocks and hiding behind objects. Delilah hates the two Nubians and doesn’t want them near her three perfect darlings. I’m sure she thinks her babies will be contaminated by the long-eared motherless freaks. She kept growling and stamping her feet at Rocky and Rambo, but she never got aggressive enough to worry me. Besides, they were too quick for her and it didn’t take them long to start teasing. She’d chase them around one side of the shed and they’d run from the other side and approach her kids from behind her back. Delilah didn’t know what to do when her kids got separated and she couldn’t guard all of them at once. She kept waddling back and forth between them in a fruitless attempt to keep the Nubians away. It didn’t help when her own kids started toddling away from her to follow bad company. I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s tired enough that she won’t care who her kids play with as long as they stop bothering her!
We’ve decided to call this feisty little dude “Rocky”. Nubbin isn’t going to adopt these babies, but she’s got no problem standing for them to nurse on the stanchion, and they already take to her udder better than to the bottles they were raised on.
And this tough little fellow is called “Rambo”. I put the boys out in the backyard with Delilah and her new kids this afternoon. The boys love the new arrivals. I can’t wait till we have all five bouncing around like ping-pong balls! I know it’s old hat for some of you, but we’ve never had more than three!
They were covered in so much nasty orange filth that we decided to bring them inside and give them all a bath. They loved soaking up the heat from the stove afterwards.
We had a nice surprise at 4:00 this morning! I rolled over during a very deep sleep and sort of vaguely thought to myself that I should check the goat-o-scope. I almost was too sleepy. The iPad on the nightstand seemed miles away. But my curiosity overcame my drowsiness and I gave the iPad a click. I could see Delilah’s back end in the camera view and it looked like nothing had happened. She was still fat and laying down like she was when we went to bed four hours ago. I began to put the iPad away but then decided that since I already had it out I might as well pan over to her head and see if she was making faces. My heart did a backflip when this happy sight greeted me!
She was cleaning them off and they were both standing and bleating in such a healthy way that I thought about turning over to finish off the night’s sleep and just see them in the morning. But when I panned over to her water bucket I noticed it was empty, so out into the dark I went, flashlight in hand. I’m glad I went out. Not only had she drunk all the water, but the kids had not been able to nurse. One teat had bloody little teeth marks where a kid had tried and failed to get any milk out. The teats were solidly plugged with wax and it took quite a bit of effort before I could get milk out. The kids also were less dry than they’d looked on the camera.
So with Phil’s help I dried the kids off better, helped them nurse, and dunked their umbilical cords. Mama looked comfortable and content between licking her kids and eating hay so I almost went back to bed. But then I remembered to bump her belly just in case there was another. I’m so glad I did! A solid, heavy object bounced back at me! But Delilah did not look like trying to push it out any time soon. I waited around for a long time and nothing happened. Every so often she would lay down and stretch and grunt a little, but she never pushed. I had a quick feel and there was nothing in the birth canal. With baby still completely inside the womb I felt ok leaving it there to see if Delilah would deliver on her own. Phil even suggested that we leave for a while since we might have interrupted her labor (after all, she didn’t want us there in the first place!). So we went back inside and monitored her on the camera for another half hour.
By 6:00 I figured it must have been close to three hours since she’d delivered the first two. It was time to go in and see what was holding things up. I scrubbed up and went in, and there at the edge of the birth canal was, first of all, movement (huge sigh of relief!), but also something I’d never felt before. I thought it was a head with no legs presented. But no, that wasn’t right. There was no mouth and no ears. I reached a little further and felt something pointed and bony like a hoof but not a hoof. Then I felt a crook in it. It was a hind leg and I had hold of the hock. The bony thing I’d thought was a head was a bottom! All the kids I’d delivered before were presented head first, so I was in unfamiliar territory as I broke into the sac and brought the hind legs around one at a time into the birth canal. Once I had both hind legs out Delilah began to push, and with several good pulls I was able to work those pointy little hocks and hips into the outside world. The rest of the kid soon followed and we had one more healthy, wriggling little (or should I say big) brother. Delilah had saved the biggest for last.
I was overjoyed that this last little one made it out alive. I’d been praying he was ok in there. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not to intervene, but I asked God to keep him safe. God not only protected the last little one, He made a celebration for his birth.
So now we have two boys and a girl. The girl is the smallest and looks exactly like her aunt Jezebel. The middle-sized boy is white with black spots and looks almost identical to his cousin Tigerlily. The third and largest is a bold black and white boy with white blaze face. I’ll get proper photos later today after we get them cleaned up better. These are our first purebred babies. They are all registered Alpines.
Well, we jumped the gun on kidding season this year! Today we went and bought two purebred Nubian bottle babies to be suitors for our Alpine girls this fall. I’m tired of trucking all over the countryside for a driveway breeding, only to discover that the doe went out of heat on the way to meet her boyfriend. We’ve had some good luck with driveway breedings, but we’ve also had our fair share of repeats and disappointments. This year we’ll have our own bucks! These cute little guys have no idea how important they’ll be come fall. As they say, the buck is half the herd.
The other goats were very interested in the new arrivals. Nubbin was especially enamored with the little brown boy who looks just like the ones she lost two years ago. She mourned for them terribly and I think she still remembers them because as soon as she saw that little guy she went right for him.
I let Nubbin into the enclosure and she gently followed him and kept nosing his bottom. I put her on the stanchion and she did not protest when I taught him to suckle from a real teat instead of a bottle. She was not so sure about the black one and did some kicking when I offered him a teat. But with some persistence I was able to get her to stand and get him to take the teat. I doubt it will happen, but I would love it if Nubbin adopted these two. It would make transition into my herd so much quicker and easier if they had a “mommy” to look after them and show them the ropes. In the meantime, they are cozily ensconced in a doghouse in the patio enclosure.
In other news, Delilah is spending her first night by herself in the kidding shed. I don’t think she’ll pop tonight, but she went through enough changes today that I think it’s time she had a room to herself “just in case”. I think she’s enjoying the privacy, and we get to keep an eye on her through the “goat-o-scope.”