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Monday, April 04 2016

All ranchers should choose potential spouses based on whether or not they can back a gooseneck trailer and how big their hands are. That said, it is now mandatory that the grandchildren stay with us for the entire kidding and lambing season next year. They don't have a lot of experience, but they have little hands that fit into dark, tight places, and we can give them the experience. We've already figured out how to put a Beany Baby animal in a box with a hole in it so they can practice. Yes, ranchers think of that kind of stuff.

Kidding season started with a bang. Actually it was a scream. We live in the barn and so it's easy enough for me to check on the goats. I just walk across the breezeway and peek into their stalls. I knew some of my girls were due, but the one due first was showing absolutely no signs that birthing was eminent. I had turn the dogs out into the dark in the wee hours of the morning, peeked at the goats in their little goat huddle, and noted nothing unusual. So I went inside to fix myself some coffee. I was doing dishes when I heard the scream.

Goats can be real drama queens but this was not a 'she stepped on my ear' scream. This sound raced across the hallway and traveled into the kitchen like a bolt of lightning. I ran outside and peeped into the stall again. Everything looked normal in the dim glow of the night light. The goats were still lying in a huddle like a pile of puppies. Then I saw a little head poking out of Lacey's butt. Holy crap on a cracker!

I ran inside to find the head of a cold, unresponsive kid sticking out of a first time mother who had shown no signs of going into labor hours earlier. I roared into the house like a tornado and screamed at Other Half who was snoring into his pillow. Like a fireman, a rancher must be able to shoot from zero to Code 1 as soon as he steps out of bed. Okay, he wasn't as fast as a fireman but he was fast.

So I then ran back outside and began throwing the other goats out of the stall. Normally I would have had a birthing mother in the stall with just one companion, but then again, she didn't look like she was going into labor the night before, so the joke was on me. As it was, I found myself trying to shove sleepy, confused goats into the barn aisle while a panicked first time mother screamed with each contraction. Holding the little baby's head up, I tried to steady the mother and assess the situation. It was bad. It was really bad. Clearly they had been at this a while. I just didn't notice earlier because she was pressed into the goat huddle.

The baby was presented head first. In goats and sheep, and cows, and horses, and other long-legged critters, the front feet should be born first. Ideally the baby is presented like a diver leaping out of the birth canal. Legs complicate things. This baby had been presented head first. Normally we would poke the head back inside, and reached around in there until we found front legs. In his case, the head had been out so long that it was swollen and was NOT going to fit back inside. The baby looked dead. Then I felt a tiny reflexive swallow as his throat lay across my palm.  He was alive but if mother and baby were to survive they'd need more help than we could provide.

I thought about this as I made a pass through the house for towels. When life suckerpunches you, hit your knees. Prayer doesn't take long and a 911 call to God can get help on the way while you're trying to figure out what to do. We'd already seen this kind of scene play out at the vet twice and it was ugly both times. In one case the baby died, in the other case, the baby and the mother died. We had nothing to lose by trying because if we didn't try, they'd both end up dead anyway.

So we did. There was a lot of grunting and screaming from all three of us, but eventually, a slimy baby buckling emerged. But would he live? He laid there on the towel, giving no signs of life. Other Half started cleaning him up, rubbing hard on him, and blowing in his lungs. He objected to the assault. Good. It was a start. We pulled him over to his mother's face and she begin licking him. Even if he died, after a birthing like that, she deserved to see her baby. Her attentions stimulated him and encouraged us.

Other Half set up a heat lamp while I cleaned the stall and Lacey groomed her new bundle of joy. His head was really swollen but his eyes were opening. Things were looking better.

Because he was too weak to attempt to nurse on his own, we milked her and presented him with a bottle. Warm mother's milk is like chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It just cures everything. With milk in his belly and a heat lamp over his back, he was feeling a little better after his rocky birth.  There was definitely turbulence in that landing, but hey! We're on the ground now!

It was time to breathe. It was time for a shower. Other Half may not have any social skills, but boy is he handy during an emergency. Girls, think about that when you are selecting a spouse. Can he drive a real truck? Can he back a cattle trailer? Can he shoot a snake? And can he deliver a baby goat, or lamb, or calf without fainting?

An hour and a half later the baby was nursing on his own shaky legs.

By the next day the swelling was down and he was bouncing around the stall. Because his father is Arrow, we named him Archer. He is a little miracle, and a reminder to me that even in the midst of an emergency, take a moment to give God a 911 call. Miracles happen every day. It's up to us ask for one, and to recognize it when you get it.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 05:56 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Thanks for helping make my Monday morning something special.
Posted by Andrea on 04/04/2016 - 11:00 AM
Archer sure is a cutie!
Posted by Patty on 04/04/2016 - 09:02 PM
Thank you! Archer is doing well and growing into a normal baby goat. Lacey appears none the worse for her ordeal and is an excellent mother.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 04/11/2016 - 11:36 AM

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