I mentioned I had pulled out the Barn Journal to reminisce of years past on the farm. In reading back I am amazed at how things and I myself have changed over the years.
At one point in the beginning an old country vet told me that I had no business raising livestock. My asking for oral medication for one of the goats that needed medication prompted his comment.
It went something like…
Vet – You need to give goat this (hands me a bottle of liquid).
Me – Orally?
Vet – Nope, never. Can’t give goats any medication orally, has to be injections Girly.
Me – There are no oral medications for goats? I really really can’t give shots.
Vet - You need to learn Girly. You are going to have to if you want to raise livestock.
Me - But I can't.
Vet - You have no business living on a farm raising animals Girly.
Better Half – I can give their shots Doc.
First off, I really can’t give shots. Secondly, goats can be and are given oral medications. Thirdly, I strive to keep all our animals healthy so they do not require medical attention. Lastly, Girly fired the vet.
Here's another improvement...I can now pick up afterbirth. Don’t laugh, it’s a big step for me, I couldn’t do it before. I just have to think of it as snot. After all being a mother I have wiped many snotty noses in my time.
In the beginning the better half and I also established we would not criticize the other for their shortcomings. I would do what I was able to do, he would pick up the slack. I can handle the "3 P’s in life" (puke, pee & pooh) without any problem (he can’t). I am most excellent at feeding, petting and comforting. I can wake during the night to tend to animals, can sleep in the barn on baby watch or with a sick animal if needed (he can’t). He has no problems handling the shots, dressing wounds, etc. (I can’t). We compliment each other and have worked out a good system.
We are also blessed to have family willing to lend a helping hand with the animals on the farm, a BIL that is a paramedic; a mother who is a retired nurse and a neighbor (I call her the goat midwife) who can glove up and go in without batting an eyelash. They are my support system while the better half is gone on the road.
Kidding season remains a stressful time for me, panic still sets in, but now I am able to collect myself, breathe deeply and try to work through it. That's another marked improvement. Yes really, BIL, Mom and others have stated they never thought I would have lasted this long.
I have learned some kidding lessons over the years I thought I would share.
*I wish someone had told me to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. Most would just say not to panic though none ever said to be prepared. I suppose the preparedness comes with experience, to prepare for a variety of events that could happen. Not always bad things, just things.
*To have a small kidding area set up a good two weeks if not longer ahead of time because due dates can be iffy.
First time freshners (mothers) can and sometimes will walk off from the kids. Having them in a small holding area will basically force them to stay and care for their kids.
*Have all the supplies handy and organized close to if not already in the kidding area, blankets, towels, med bag, etc. You can't be in two places at one time when you are alone.
*How to help dispel an afterbirth that just won't release.
Called 2 vets for help with this, one said leave alone it will get stuck on a fence or tree and pull out. OMG. One said give a shot of oxcytocyin(sp?)...no help there, back to the I can't give a shot issue. Goat mentor said lightly bounce under belly and rub belly a few times. You know it worked like a charm! The afterbirth dropped within about 20 minutes after lightly bouncing. Also if you start milking the doe, her hormones should kick in and will help release the afterbirth. It does works.
*What items to have on hand if the mums milk doesn't come in or the mum won't accept the kid. Do you have colostrum (fresh) or colostrum powder mix ?
Ever heard of rubbing afterbirth from one kid she accepted onto the kid she won't or grinding feed up to rub on the kid so the mum will clean it?
If you happen to be kidding a rather wild doe, if you rub some of the afterbirth on your hand or arm (another tip from goat mentor but I can’t seem to bring myself to do yet ICK!) allow her to lick/clean you this may help her bond with you and calm down.
*Be prepared to bottlefeed and have those supplies on hand before time.
There are times that the mums milk may not come in or let down, you may have an udder issue or weak kid that won’t nurse.
*Have a goat medicine bag, stock it with all items that will help with the "could happen" things. Better safe than sorry.
I’ll get a list of what we keep on hand and post it later on.
*Have your vet lined up, a goat mentor, neighbor or someone who can help you if you are alone and the goat is in distress.
*If you are going to be milking the mum, have a plan before hand. Decide if you will remove the babies completely, milk her out, then bottle feed. Or are you leaving them on to nurse, milk once a day, etc. Have the bottles and pails ready to go.
*Be prepared to bring them in house.
Many folks will bulk at this. (I have no problems with different views of caring for animals, each to their own.) But for me, I have found myself out in the dead of winter, freezing temperatures, with chilled or weak kids. For my comfort as well as theirs I bring them in the house if needed. I have two playpens and a large dog crate that will house the kids while they are getting up on their little hooves. Newborns also require a bottle every two hours or so, easy to do in the house also.
This book, I call it our barn bible, if you have goats, it is a good reference to have in your home library.