This is Part Two of Violet’s maternity story and a follow up to my introduction to Rufus. These events actually occurred on December 17, 2014.
Well here we go again, and a little early at that, at least for birthin’ goat babies. “Miss Scarlet I don’t know nothin’ about birthin no babies.” Actually, I guess we cannot plead ignorance anymore, as with these most recent births, we have now been part of bringing eleven goats into the world although the goats of course do all of the work.
We had been watching Violet for a little over a week and believed she would give birth any day now. She has gotten very large and rotund and her udder has bagged up nicely, which means she has lots of nutrient rich goat milk ready for her babies.
We decided a while ago to move crazy Rufus, our Billy Goat, back up with the girls. It is all about timing with raising these goats and Hope (my wife) and I thought we had it mastered but I guess not. We were trying to time the mating period so that Violet and the other girls would have their babies in March when it wasn’t so cold. They have a 151-day gestation period so keeping Rufus away from them was our goal as he is one horny Billy Goat.
We think Violet got pregnant one day back in the summer during a brief period when Hope was in the middle of giving a school group a tour of the farm, and Rufus busted out of his pen. I had to wrestle with him in front of the kids, trying to keep my cussing and straining quietly to myself all while smiling and saying, “I got him, it’s ok!” I put him in with the girls just until the tour was over and we could fix his door, and this was just long enough for the Rufus “magic” to happen.
As I said we knew she was close, heck we were worried enough about it that Hope put me to work before I left town for my annual Duck Hunting Trip preparing the maternity ward of the goat yard. We fence off a separate area so she can be partitioned off from the other goats and have her babies and tend to them in peace. We didn’t like the idea of Violet being in with all of the other girls and again with crazy Rufus, who is in the middle of everything and always primed for trouble. For more about Rufus and his Billy goat behavior, and his helping me build the maternity ward, see Part One of this post. I’m beginning to think his goal was sabotage from the get go.
I made a little enclosure for our very pregnant Violet and moved her and Daphne, her daughter from a year ago in with her. We figured she could keep her company and be a good companion right until the birth came and then we would move her out.
They had been in their safe little pen next to the other goats for two weeks and by this time we realized that we had jumped the gun because there were still no babies. Early one morning, after battling my 30-second commute to work, I got settled in my office and had my morning meeting with the landscape crews. During the meeting, I receive a text from Hope asking me to check Violet. Reluctantly, I went out into the dark, winter morning and saw that she was fine with no babies yet, however I could sense something was different. First, she was wide-awake and standing at attention, even greeting me with a gentle “mahh.” All of the other goats looked up but soon put their heads back down as a sleeping child would, and resumed their snuggling and sleeping in their warm “goat pile.”
I texted Hope back that she was fine, with a no baby report, however she was up, wide awake, talking and her bag (udder) was huge. Hope said, “It is going to be soon. We need to keep a close eye on her today.”
I left Violet and went on about my business and took a crew to start at a new landscape job and Hope came back from dropping the kids off at school and fed the animals, and the day went on from there. After having lunch at our favorite restaurant in Crestwood, The Red Pepper, Hope had to run our youngest child to the doctor’s office and I came back to the garden center. I went into the office, checked email, sent off some invoices and tended to general business. As I walked out the door and was headed to the bank and post office Hope’s voice popped into my head. “We need to keep an eye on her today.”
I silently cussed to myself that I had to stop what I was doing and backtrack, but I did. I retraced my steps and walked out the back and as I approached the goat yard, just like earlier in the morning I felt that something was different, and low and behold, it was. There sat Violet with two new baby kids. They were healthy, beautiful, standing and already able to walk around. I was petting on one of them and felt behind the ears that they were still wet, exhibiting exactly what “wet behind the ears” means. Mama Violet had cleaned them off completely; they were dry but shivering from the cold. This rude awaking is common for goat babies with the timing of the birth and leaving mama’s womb in the middle of winter.
I texted Hope and told her that we had two new kids, one girl and one boy. Of course, after she waited weeks for these guys to come, they are born when she is not even on the property, the audacity of them! Quite frankly though, as long as things go as they are supposed to, these are sometimes the best births, because nature just takes over and we are not there to worry and try to do our human micromanage thing showing us that we are no better than God. I couldn’t tell if they were nursing yet but Hope reminded me that was normal, “they will figure it out,” she said. I told her to run by Feeders Supply and grab two small dog sweaters or jackets, as these little kids were cold. They were fine for now but definitely would need something to wear thru the night to help keep them warm.
After Hope got home with our children, we had a big trip outside to visit the new babies. There is nothing more fun and rewarding than sharing this experience with your own children and the excitement they get when we have new babies on the property. Hope had gotten two little puffy, ski vests (for little dogs), one pink and one blue of course.
We struggled a little to get the vests on, they seemed to fit perfectly but as soon as we got the one on the little girl, she would just fall over on her side. It was so pitiful but funny as she would fall down, we would stand her back up and then she would fall down again. We repeated this process at least five times with the same results, her falling over like an AD-AT Walker from Stars Wars or an actual Fainting Goat, which she is not! She didn’t like it all and would just give up, lying there crying for us to get it off. “Mawwmmm, Maawwwmmm!!” If you have ever heard a baby goat cry out, it sounds just like they are saying mom in an exaggerated, high pitched tone.
This was not going to work, they had to have something to keep warm, but if they couldn’t stand to nurse and get the invaluable colostrum from their mother they wouldn’t make it thru the night. So I ran back to out to Feeder’s Supply, by now it was after 7:30 on a school night and we needed to feed our kids (as in the human ones that we are responsible for!)
As I am driving to the store, my best friend Kit called me and said “What’s up?” I had to admit “I’m driving to Feeder’s Supply to buy two miniature dog sweaters for our newborn baby goats.” He laughed at this statement, so I replied “I’m serious.” He said, “I know you are, I do not doubt that, I have come to expect this kind of thing from you.”
When I returned to the farm, Hope had fed our children and we ran back outside to put the new sweaters on. These softer, wool style sweaters were much easier for the little goats to maneuver in and I must say quite stylish, like something from the LL Bean catalog. Of course the rest of the night, we barely got any sleep worrying about the babies and whether they were warm enough, getting enough food from Mama, and so on and on and on.
The next morning we woke up to happy healthy but cold babies. They seemed to be doing fine but the coming night was going to be even colder. We needed to decide whether we should run a bunch of extension cords to heat lamps and worry about burning the place down, or spend hours cleaning out an office that we were using for storage and move the goats inside. Well, we decided on the office and luckily it did not take hours to prepare. Violet was used to this hotel treatment as we did it last year, fashioning an indoor goat pen in the garden center offices with our kids old pack and play. It worked out great, and everyone seemed much happier right away.
Things were going swimmingly when we started to notice that Violet was rejecting the little girl. It got so bad that as one point she head butted her with her horns and flipped her in midair, throwing her. Nature can be so cruel and we knew we were going to have to do something and do it quick for the baby girl to survive. To be continued…