On Monday night after taking the kids to Piano Lessons and Boy Scouts, I came home and Hope and I are discussing little Violet, who is one of our younger goats and is pregnant. We have been watching her over the past few months grow and grow after our Veterinarian Dr. Slone was out and confirmed she was indeed pregnant and the ultrasound showed two goat fetuses. Yes, they have portable ultrasounds for this kind of thing. It is not unusual for Hope to ask me while she is at work in Frankfort (she took a winter position with the General Assembly just during session) how is Violet? I know what this means, I say no change, she hasn’t bagged up and her “Who Who” isn’t doing anything. “Who Who” is a term for a female’s private parts that our daughter uses and we use with her. Hope being the proper Central KY Girl she is, likes these more cordial, delicate terms for reproductive anatomy. Bagged up is referring to her udder and whether she has come into milk and checking her “Who Who” is a daily thing for us goat farmers while they are preganant as they will show various signs of approaching labor.
I don’t know how graphic you want me to get, but it involves discharge and swollen vulva which means she is dilating, to just give you a preview. Well, I guess that was pretty graphic. I can guarantee you that I never thought I would be looking at a goat’s “Who Who” on a daily basis when I graduated from the Horticulture Program at the University of Kentucky. I am supposed to be a plant guy, what happened here.
I noticed early that day that indeed these signs were starting to show, and Hope called our good friend Joy who is a long time goat breeder and has been a wealth of knowledge for us. Joy said she would stop by and check her out and she confirmed that she was indeed dilated but not in labor yet, as there were no contractions, but it wouldn’t be long.
So back to our dinner conversation about Violet, and what to do with her. We both felt with the returning Polar Vortex that it would be best to move her in. If she has the kids in this kind of cold, they will certainly get hypothermia and freeze. So after thinking I was finished for the night having fed and watered all of our menagerie earlier before piano lessons and boy scouts, I put on my Carharts and ventured back outside.
At 8:00 it was 13 degrees with a wind chill of 0. I couldn’t just move her into the garage. I had to build a pin of some sort as there are all kinds of organic fertilizers, among other things, that she doesn’t need to be getting into. So with my trusty light, a Christmas present from my brother Chris, which I was truly excited about. Yes, these are the kinds of things I get excited about. A light that I can use outside while doing these sort of crazy farm chores in the pitch dark and freezing cold. Hope reminded me that there were some extra cattle panels that I could use in the goat pin. For those of you who do not know, a cattle panel is a strong wired fence panel, that is extremely tough and versatile. I had to cut down 2 -16′ cattle panels where I had them wired up on a wall. Then I proceeded to cut the 16′ section in half (with bolt cutters, these are thick wire) and bring those inside to create an 8′ x 8′ pin that she could safely be inside of. It backs up to our John Deere Gator, which served as a good stabilizer.
I then had to get a water bowl, something for food and then hiked out to our barn (former coal house for heating old greenhouses) to get some hay for her to eat and use as bedding. I set up a heat lamp and even ran a space heater for a little while when I was in there. I didn’t run it all night, I know what a fire hazard these are, especially around some hay! Finally, I got a lead line and went out to fetch Violet. Great thing about Violet is that she is such a sweet goat and loves people, so she was easy to get on the lead line and bring out of the goat yard. Once we started getting close to the garage, she started wondering what I was doing with her but didn’t put up too much of a fight. I got her in and settled and I have to say it was quite a nice little area. Unfortunately, as soon as I left the garage, she starts her crying out ” Bahh, Bahh, Bahh!!” She is just like one of our children who wants us to sleep with her. She makes you feel horrible for leaving her, but eventually she calms down. I called Hope on the phone and she suggested I turn on the radio for her to keep her company. So I plugged in the radio and turned it on to WFPL, our local NPR affiliate. After listening to this all night, Violet would be up on world affairs and be able to discuss politics at length. Hope came over and sat with her for awhile and eventually snuck out. I think we both knew she probably wouldn’t give birth that night, which she didn’t, but it made us feel better having her in there.
So now, flash ahead to today, Friday 31st and she has still not gone into labor. Yesterday afternoon I was feeling bad about her being by herself and since it was warmer I moved her outside. She spent the night out there with the other goats and seems to be a lot happier. I went out in the middle of the night to check on her, but still no change. I will keep you posted.