Butterfly continues to have a good appetite and is starting to scoot around better. She got up on her own 3-4 times today, which was a huge struggle each time, but she did it! She scooted all over the yard this afternoon and even climbed a hill! We’re very pleased she’s doing so well and we think there’s a good chance this little gal is going to make a full recovery. Can’t wait to post photos and some video I took, but it’s getting late.
The day that started off brilliantly with Rita’s new babies to greet the morning ended up in tragedy. Phil and I took our daily walk at 1:30 or so and we brought Butterfly and George along. The kids couldn’t keep up on their own so Phil and I carried them most of the way. We were almost back to the house and the goats seemed to be settling down to graze under some shady trees in the pasture. I decided to leave Skeeter and her kids with the herd in this safe, pleasant spot because mama was stressed from having to babysit away from her mates all the time, and Butterfly seemed anxious to be away from the boring old goat enclosure. I had just a couple of things to do in the house and I’d be back out to supervise shortly so I thought it would be okay to leave them.
When I came back out at 2:45, the goats had moved across the driveway to the horse pasture–not a place I expected them to go, and certainly not a safe place for babies! Skeeter was upset and her kids were nowhere to be found but I was not worried. Losing babies is not unusual. The kids lay down for a nap under a bush, the herd moves off, mama can’t find them, and she gets frantic. I hadn’t left them for very long so they couldn’t have gone too far. I started hunting around and soon found George curled up next to the house. He was by himself. That was unusual and it made me worried. Siblings nearly always stay together. I went to the horse pasture where the goat herd had been when I first came outside.
And there I found my poor broken Butterfly lying like a rag doll in the dirt. She’d been trampled. Whether she was trampled by a horse, or whether the horses chased the herd and the big goats trampled her I couldn’t tell. Either way, she was clearly hurt and in shock. But she was alive. I took her straight to her mother, hoping desperately that it was not serious. I stood her up next to Skeeter and her hind end flopped uselessly over into the dirt. She couldn’t use her back legs. I carefully felt them and bent all the joints. They were not broken. My heart dropped. This looked like a spinal injury. I took her into the house and gave her medication for pain and inflammation. Swelling in the spine can lead to paralysis but can heal if the swelling doesn’t progress. She immediately started to feel better but she still couldn’t use her legs. I canceled my afternoon riding lesson and headed straight out the door to the vet, stopping only to let Butterfly nurse for a few minutes. She was hungry and ate eagerly, which was an encouraging sign. At least she was no longer in shock.
X-rays at the vet showed that her spine was ok, but it looked like she might have a broken pelvis. The soft little bones and many growth plates made the x-rays hard to read, but her pelvis looked off-kilter. The most immediate concern was that the vet couldn’t find her bladder on the x-ray and he worried that it might have ruptured. All I could do was take her home, make her a comfortable enclosure in the house with good footing, and see if she could still pass water. A couple of hours later she made us very happy in that regard. But she still couldn’t use her hind legs.
At this point it is a waiting game. So far little Butterfly is still with us and she’s got a good appetite. She is already regaining use of her hindquarters and can walk around feebly if I stand her on her feet. She can also occasionally stand up if she pulls herself up by her front legs, but this is difficult. Her little bottom is quite swollen and I’m applying bags of frozen corn. I’m hoping that at her young age there is a good chance she’ll make a full recovery if we can get her past these first few days. We’re praying that this little Butterfly will fly again soon.
This afternoon she spent time exploring the top of the stairs and made friends with one of our resident monsters. She was intrigued by his large pink flower but was disappointed to find it is not edible.
And just so you know what Butterfly’s new, goofy friend looks like…
Please keep our little gal in your prayers. A broken pelvis is a grim prospect but we hope she makes a spectacular recovery. If any little goat is able to heal from such a thing, it’s this one!
It was a day of triumph and tragedy. We’ll start with the triumph. Lovely Rita, “meter maid” is now our “meter matron.” She delivered two beautiful kids all by herself at around 2:00 a.m. My friend Diana peeked at the Goat-O-Scope in the wee hours and saw a wet new kid wriggling in the straw. Diana watched for fifteen minutes or so and another kid popped out. My mother checked the Goat-O-Scope at 3:00 and saw two fresh, new babies just barely toddling on unsteady legs. I woke up around 3:20 a.m. and almost didn’t check the Goat-O-Scope because I was so groggy, but then I felt guilty and changed my mind. I saw two mostly dry babies getting their first drink. I woke Phil and we watched for about half an hour before curiosity overtook us and we had to go out and see what we had. It was a girl and a boy! We did not weigh these two, but we dunked their navels, dried off the few remaining bits that Rita had missed, and then went back to bed. Their mom had the situation well in hand and didn’t particularly appreciate our help.
We waited for daylight to take pictures. What beautiful babies! The first kid out is a little tri-colored girl colored who looks a lot like Finn. The second is a big, strapping two-tone chamoisee boy with a white face. Rita is very proud and definitely a little overprotective. We hope she settles down soon.
Here is Finn’s female doppleganger. What a gorgeous little cutie!
These little guys were fixated on the left side of the udder. It was completely drained while the other half was still bulging with milk. I had to milk Rita down and do a little kid training that evening. Can’t have lopsided mamas!
Skeeter and her kids were very comfortable in the next shed over.
It turns out our little Butterfly is a real live wire! This gal won’t sit still for anything. She hopped over the lip of the shed this morning, which might be a new record for goats this young. Once out, she not only refused to go back in, but she refused to stay in when I put her back. Her mother was rather unhappy for most of the morning and early afternoon because Butterfly and George were separated. Butterfly flitted gleefully all over the pen while lonely little George cried for his sister. He couldn’t seem to figure out how to negotiate that ledge and he wasn’t motivated to try very hard. So George cried and Skeeter hollered while Butterfly gleefully explored her surroundings, completely oblivious to the hysteria around her.
I eventually liberated George from the shed so he and mom could calm down. It made Skeeter happy when both her kids followed her out of the pen so she could graze with her watchful eye on them. Unfortunately, this happy scene was short-lived. George quickly discovered Pluto’s doghouse and disappeared inside for a nap while Butterfly opted to continue exploring the yard and trying out her new legs.
Skeeter tried in vain to lead her wayward daughter back toward George. Instead, Skeeter had to abandon George so she could follow Butterfly all over the yard. Luckily George felt safe in the doghouse and was content to nap quietly while his sister explored.
She had to step in for a closer look…
After this I put Butterfly into the doghouse with George and by then she was tired enough to stay there so Skeeter could get a break. With both her babies napping in one spot and the dogs keeping watch, Skeeter finally settled down, stopped yelling, and went foraging with the herd for the rest of the afternoon. She’ll get the hang of these babies soon!
Skeeter was due Sunday, May 3rd and she did not disappoint! On Sunday morning her udder was much bigger than the day before and she was restless. Skeeter and Rita had Tigerlily, our somewhat aggressive herd queen, backed against a wall. Tigerlily was on the defence as Rita and Skeeter pounded some fear into her. “We’re going to be mamas now and you need to respect us!”
On Sunday afternoon I could see that Skeeter was separating herself from the herd and pawing nests into the dirt. Around 4:00 I went outside and Finn came up to the porch and baa-aa-ed at Phil and I with an intense look on his face. I decided I’d better go look for Skeeter. The entire herd was gathered on top of the hill behind our house, staring down into the scrub oak. It was like an amphitheater. All those goats needed was a bucket of popcorn!
Skeeter had picked a hidden spot under the oak brush and her caprine audience was transfixed. Sputnik, Skeeter’s older brother, had distanced himself from the other goats and was standing watch lower down where he was closer and could see her better. Phil went to check on Skeeter while I went to fetch the kidding box. When Phil came out of the scrub oak to inform me of Skeeter’s progress, TinCup followed Phil, baa-ing worriedly as if to say, “You can’t just leave her there! She’s about to have a baby!”
TinCup was right–we couldn’t leave Skeeter there. It was a terrible place to have kids! Not only could I not help her if she needed it, but I could just envision myself crawling out of there on hands and knees with a wet kid under each arm. That wasn’t going to work. Instead I crawled in there and hauled Skeeter out by the collar while she dragged and protested the entire way. She was actually starting to push a kid out when I fetched her! Labor stalled for a few minutes while Phil pulled and I pushed all the way across the driveway to the goat pen. We shut her in the pen, much to the frustration of Skeeter, who thought she had found the perfect place, and to the dogs, who had appointed themselves unwanted midwives. Just as I slipped in through the gate with the kidding box, the first little hooves made their appearance!
First out was a little black and white (cou clair) girl! A few minutes later she was joined by a black sundgau brother–two classic Alpine goat colors. The kids were 8.5 and 10 lbs. respectively and both were active and healthy from the get-go. Skeeter went straight into mama mode and cleaned them up expertly. She also did something I haven’t seen many does do. She reached back and suckled on herself to make sure her milk was flowing. Sometimes kids have trouble getting the first milk because of the plugs blocking the ends of the teats. Skeeter wasn’t going to let that happen to her kids!
First drink. These kids were up and at it in no time! I’m so proud of this beautiful, capable new mama. She did everything by herself with no fuss or nonsense and she’s attentive without being overprotective. But she learned from the best. Petunia was an outstanding mama, and Skeeter reminds me so much of her. In fact, ever since Sunday I keep slipping up and calling her Petunia and Phil keeps correcting me. “Sorry, Skeeter. Just take it as a compliment!”
Emma takes riding lessons with me and I called her mom just as the kids were being born. I was hoping they could be there in time for the birth, but Skeeter was too quick for them. She was almost too quick for me! But Emma was able to help dry the kids off.
Another name idea for this little gal is “Firebird.” Her face marking is taking on more of a phoenix or firebird shape now that it’s dry. We’ll try some names out over the next few days and see what sticks.
Once Phil and I showed up, the rest of the goats quickly lost interest in the proceedings. They had more important things to do–like graze this glorious spring grass and bask in the sunshine. Skeeter picked the perfect day to bring her little family into the world. It could not have been more beautiful.
My faithful readers will recall how FAT Nubbin was in the photo taken a few days before her due date. The poor girl could hardly waddle about. You know how it looks when someone tries to push a wide, heavy table across a carpet by themselves, rocking it back and forth and lifting one leg at a time to sort of shuffle it along? That’s how Nubbin looked when she walked. Carole and I measured her that night and she was 64″ around!
Because she’d been induced, we expected labor to begin no later than Wednesday night. But Nubbin wasn’t going to be that easy. She spent a ridiculously long time in pre-labor and was unfortunately getting weaker and more exhausted by the hour. Carole and I spent the night in the barn with her. Sometime around 2:00 a.m. we were startled awake when Nubbin lumbered over and started pawing Carole’s legs. She was trying to make a nest in on Carole’s sleeping bag. I reached over to shoo Nubbin away so she shuffled off to an even better position–right on top of Carole’s head! Carole was trapped on the floor with Nubbin’s front feet tangled in her hair. I struggled out of my sleeping bag to rescue Carole before that enormous goat sat on her face!
The rest of the night passed fairly uneventfully. Nubbin got up, pawed, shuffled around, and laid back down quite a few times, and occasionally she gave a push, but it wasn’t until around 7:00 that she finally started labor. It wasn’t a very strong labor. Nubbin just didn’t have much “push” in her and I had to help deliver all of the kids.
The first little gal was a hard delivery. Nubbin pushed as hard as she was able while I pulled as hard as I dared. She wasn’t a big baby, but the lack of proper contractions meant Nubbin wasn’t as well dilated as she should have been so it was a tight fit. But we got her out and were delighted to see a pretty little chestnut!
Nubbin spent time cleaning the kid and took a 45-minute break before she was ready to deliver the second baby. This baby was upside-down at first and it scared me to death, but she was very much alive and kicking. Every time I grabbed her front legs, she pulled them right back out of my hand! She did that 3-4 times, but somewhere in all that tug-o-war she managed to flip herself over and come out the proper way. And then there were two baby girls: A pretty chestnut and a stunning bay!
The third baby made me nervous. When I reached in to get her she wasn’t moving and I told Carole I wasn’t sure if this one was still alive. But when I pulled her out she gave a couple of convulsive gasps and and showed us she’d made it. The third kid was black so now we had three different colors!
Kid number four was easy. I had to reach far down to retrieve her but she gave no trouble. She was also noticeably bigger than the other three and I was sure we had a buck. But no, it was another girl! Another beautiful bay like her mother and sister.
We took the four kidlets out into the sunshine while we heated up a bottle to feed them because Nubbin was too exhausted to stand up and nurse them. It was hot day so we laid them on the cool porch to nap.
Kid #3: Doeling, 6.75#, black with white belt and one white leg. This little gal did not want to eat all day and we worried about her because she seemed weak compared to the others. Luckily she did perk up during the night and finally started eating. Phew!
Carole was drinking a Guinness and I had her take some out to Nubbin who looked like she needed a beer more than anyone. She slurped it right down and wanted more. I told Carole that Nubbin could have as much as she wanted. She’d earned it!
We estimate that Nubbin was carrying a total of 30 lbs. of kids and at least that much in fluids for a total 60+ lbs. of extra weight. No wonder she could hardly walk! For the last month she could not lay down comfortably and I’m sure she wasn’t sleeping well. She should feel much better now that she’s back down to a normal weight.
It’s too late to relay the saga tonight, but after Carole and I waited up with her through the night, Nubbin finally delivered quadruplets this morning around 8:00! Four GIRLS!!! Carole is over the moon.
Please say a little prayer for Nubbin who is totally exhausted by the ordeal and currently wants nothing to do with her babies, and say another little prayer for the little black kidlet who is not thriving like the other three.
The first baby goats are due in less than a week and the girls are taking their rest time pretty seriously these days. We’ve had some very nice weather this week so the grass is coming in thick and green just in time to welcome the new arrivals.
Coral and Sadie are due three weeks later on May 24th. Coral looks like she’s carrying triplets while Sadie does not look pregnant at all. I know she is because of the changes to her udder, but her belly sure isn’t giving her away! I’m guessing three for Coral and one little tiny kidlet for Sadie.
Last of all is Tigerlily. She’s due on May 25th and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for twins this year. She has a history of very large singles. I don’t like large singles. Tigerlily is bigger this year than she’s been in the past so maybe she’ll up her game this year and have two.
Snowball is such a little princess! It will be interesting to see what she thinks of having a younger sibling or two. I wonder how Tigerlily will take it. Some mothers suddenly reject their kids from the previous year for a time while others welcome them right in.
…She sits AROUND the house!!
I went out to visit Nubbin this afternoon. The poor girl has been huge for a month and can barely heave herself up, but she can’t get comfortable laying down either. She’s due this weekend but her owner induced this morning so she should have kids sometime tonight or tomorrow. With a belly this big I’m expecting quadruplets. Here’s hoping it all goes very smoothly!
Carole is Nubbin’s owner and loves her big, sweet girl!
We had to have our cistern dug up yesterday to replace the pump. No sooner did the contractor drive up than Finn claimed his trailer. Finn stayed in this spot for the entire morning even when the other goats left. I’m sure he was just waiting to see this backhoe in action. Sadly, we were all disappointed on that front. Our cistern isn’t buried real deep so the guys found the manhole cover with nothing more than couple of shovels.