Our two Alpine goats, Tosca and Desdemona (Desi), just had their kids. One each. Tosca threw a black and white doeling, and Desi, a very large white buckling. We named them Betty and George.
Neither Jen nor I had ever witnessed any kind of birth before, so we got on the Internet and spent many hours reading about goats and kidding and studying diagrams that showed proper presentation – head resting on two front hooves in a diving position – and those that showed what to do if one leg or even the head was bent backward or the rear hooves appeared first. Just in case, I memorized all of the diagrams and how to assist with a birth to correct an improper presentation. I really didn’t expect to have to do anything – nature would surely take its course – but I like to be prepared.
Desi went into labor on Thursday morning around 9am. We had our birthing kit ready: towels to dry the kid off, iodine in which to dip the kid’s cord, molasses water to give Desi after the birth and rubber gloves and a lubricant (just in case!). About 20 minutes after the mucus plug was discharged, we saw the first hoove appear, miraculousy clad in a little white dissolvable boot so it wouldn’t damage the birth canal (Nature never ceases to amaze me). Anxiously, we waited for the second hoove to appear. It never did. Instead the head was starting to push out. Sure enough, George’s other front leg was bent backward.
I snapped on my gloves, made sure they were lubed up and carefully entered Desi, sliding my hand underneath the kid searching for the other leg, while Jen held onto to Desi. I could see the diagram in my mind, but what I wasn’t prepared for was Desi’s bawling. It was horrible. My heart was pounding, but fortunately I was able to follow Jen’s calm voice directing me to slide my hand down along the kid’s body and locate the leg. I cupped my hand around the bent-back hoove and pulled gently. Once out, George’s body slipped out easily, and Desi relaxed.
Desi had a hard time of it, poor girl. But she had lots of babying and extra special herbs and compresses all weekend, and she’s doing great! Tosca went into labor three days later on Saturday morning. Betty presented normally and dove right out.
In hindsight, both Jen and I like the fact that the first kidding presented a problem that we had to deal with. The experience made us realize that – like many of the farmers who have gone before us – we are capable of handling crises that can arise in dealing with livestock without having to run to a vet. It’s amazing what you can do when you give yourself permission.