There was no cherry chapstick. There was no fireworks.
There were trembling knees, and an emotional rollercoaster.
Our kidding season is significantly longer than it should be this year. We were having problems getting our working girls bred last fall (or so we thought). This meant that we were desperately trying to get enough girls in milk to fulfill out cheesemaking needs for the year …and since many of them were just hussies trying to get more dates, the result is more babies than we intended and a never-ending kidding season.
Last night was out next to last kidding for 2012, we hope.
I was in the cheeseroom preparing cheese for today’s market and tending cheese that we had placed in the brine earlier in the day. Tom was out in the parlor milking the goats. I heard his voice through the walls, he was talking to someone but surely at that hour of night it couldn’t be a person. When I went out and checked, he had been trying to get Whisper to stop pounding on every other goat in the pen. Apparently she was in labor and did not want any gawkers.
I took off the apron and the hairnet and in my ‘people’ clothes I rushed into the pen to calm her.
Once she was comforted she got down to business. One big contraction later and there was a rather large nose and a pink tongue with black spots. A quick check let me know that things weren’t right. There were no hooves. Head first doesn’t work for goats, they need to dive out.
This was a big baby too. The next 20 minutes was spent trying to keep it from being crushed in the birth canal and keep it breathing (it was already breathing so I couldn’t push it back in to rearrange it). I was desperately trying to reach past its neck, without stopping his air or blood flow, to get a shoulder or a leg. I knew pulling it by the head would end up with a dead kid. This kid wasn’t dead. It was breathing, it was looking at me. It needed help.
I assumed from the beginning that it was a boy. They always seem to be directionally challenged and don’t follow directions. Dive out boys, front hooves then nose. Not sideways, not head first. Toes and nose.
Finally, after way too long, some big contractions and a few fingers on a shoulder blade we were able to deliver the boy. He lay lifeless on feedbag we delivered him onto. We all worked too hard to bring this little life to the farm. I rubbed him vigorously hoping to stimulate him to life. Still nothing.
Seconds passed. When to my husband’s surprise (and perhaps horror?), I picked the kid up, wrapped his muzzle with my lips and gave 3 short quick breaths. I laid the baby down, continued rubbing him and yelled “Now BREATHE dammit!!”
Like a good boy he did. At first deep sporadic breaths, then some shallow pants, then a steady rhythm.
First tears, then nausea as the tingling on my lips let me know he was still covered in birth fluid when I took my “heroic” measures. Blech! Ack! Blech!! I needed a toothbrush and some mouthwash STAT!
He was exhausted from his whole birth experience so it took almost 2 hours before he was ready to eat. When he did eat, he ate greedily and perked immediately. Already walking he is progressing just as any other healthy big baby goat.
So the end result? A big healthy boy… and a goat kissing experience I’ll never forget, and hopefully never need to repeat.
A special thanks to all my goat friends on my various goat groups that had talked about mouth-to-mouth with goats enough for the idea to be somewhere in the back of my mind, so I didn’t need to think about what I could do to save this kid. I just reacted, and the baby responded. I am grateful for the combined knowledge from this crazy and marvelous goat community.