Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have been birthing so many babies all within a week of each other. During the fall of 2018 we agreed on a buck to bring home to breed with Sage and Lavender, the two does who had not conceived in the spring. Let me remind you bucks are smelly creatures, they snort and spit and pee all over their face to spread their scent everywhere and bring all the ladies to his yard. So I drove out to my mentors house and brought back the very manly Fortune. My whole car smelled of buck by the time we arrived home, and he was a shy boy so I wasn’t all that prepared for the onslaught of goat mating I would soon be witness to.
I’m not sure if the girls knew he was there by his scent or what was going on, but when I got out of the truck and opened the back end I could already hear the girls calling. I swear I thought Fortune would rip my arm right off with how hard he was pulling. He was peeing on his face and spitting before he could even see the ladies. Bucks are so gross! Anyway, we made our way back to the pen where Sage and Lavender were separated and waiting for their rendezvous with Fortune. Goats in heat are very loud and Sage was making it known that she was ready for everything Fortune was about to give her. He made quick work as well, one sniff and a mount later he had already gotten it in. But bucks are in no way a one and done kind of mating. He continued to smell and mount her repeatedly over the next 2 days. For me I wasn’t worried about if he was making contact like with the last attempt, it was very clear he made contact several times. Next up was Lavender a few days later, she went into heat and over the course of the next couple days he had bred her many times. I was finally convinced that we had been successful this round and made plans for him to return home within the next couple days.
Little did I know, he wasn’t done and my other girls were waiting for their turn. I had no intention of letting the other girls get pregnant but I guess nature had other ideas. I was taking hay into the pen with the other girls and Lemon raced through my legs and in the time it took me to put the hay down and close the gate and turn around he had already mounted her. In shock at what had happened I picked her up and returned her to the other side of the gate praying that one encounter wasn’t enough to actually get her pregnant. Then theres Clover, she had triplets in June and I had been getting help taking her out of the pen by lifting her over the fence to the Mr, for her milking time. Well the night before Fortune was set to go back home, I had no help, so I leashed her up and brought her through the first gate attempting to keep her close. Well Fortune was already planning his attack, he literally knocked me out of the way and almost on my rear, I couldn’t get the gate locked and was fighting with that, trying to hold him off with my foot, never had I been so happy for all my years of gymnastics and flexibility but it really didn’t matter, he was determined like hornet wanting a honey bun. I was no match for his will and strength and once again the horny B made contact. Fortune went home the next morning and I had never been so grateful to return anyone home.
So here I am, its November and I had 4 does who were all bred within a week. I worked out the math and knew that if none went into heat before the end of the month I was screwed and the first week of April would forever be known as Farm Hell week. Apparently fate was laughing at my weak attempts to wish and pray away the extra pregnancies because by the end of November, no one had gone into heat. Just my luck, in the spring only 1 got pregnant and then in the fall all 4 were. What the heck was I going to do. It took a while before my friend called to my attention the potential for up to 16 babies being born, I think I turned white and there was so many swear words coming out in a string like a sentence. I told myself to suck it up buttercup and put my big girl pants on, it was time to plan. And plan I did. I made arrangements for the next 2 tons of hay to be brought in, planned a temporary addition to the goat pen for the additional babies as well as getting the entire yard in order to allow everyone daily exercise time. I can toot my own horn now because I was on fire.
Time sped by as we worked to prepare everything, the additional space was added, the tiny hut we built the previous year was demo’d and we added a new roof addition with an enclosed space for extra sleeping space. Before we knew it, we were approaching the end of March and everything was ready. The vet was on notice that babies were coming and I had everything prepared in my first aid and delivery kit. I was ready and waiting. My waiting ended sooner than I thought. Ahead of schedule, Sage was showing all the signs 5 days early. Goats are pretty easy to predict of an upcoming labor, they make nests, they stretch and you can even feel the babies drop into the birth canal so you know they are coming. So on March 26th I was fairly certain we were going to have babies. Sage had already gone through 2 unsuccessful pregnancies so this was her first time delivering babies. The hours ticked by and we were wondering why there was no active labor. Apparently all Sage needed was her mama to stay with her. I decided that I would stay with her for the remaining time until she delivered. I grabbed all the supplies I would need and blankets to sit on and keep warm in the goat pen and settled down. Sage spent the following 3 hours being restless and unwilling to settle, until almost midnight when she finally laid down and began to have real active contractions. My previous experiences with birthing had shown me what normal labor looked like, so I was prepared for that but an abnormal labor I still wasn’t sure about. We reached a hour of active pushing when nothing was progressing, I will admit I had already been panicking for half as long and so I began making the calls. I called the vet who was asleep, called my mentor who was able to get back to me. She explained that I was going to have to go in to get the kid if our vet wasn’t able to come, she was able to calm me and explain that my only job was to keep sage calm because she was already getting worn out. After that I was able to get the vet on the phone and she was able to head our way. Another 20 minutes later and the vet arrived and got herself ready to go in and get the baby. For all my talk of being so ready for babies, I had never seen an assisted delivery and I was totally freaking out inside. Our vet is one of those people who isn’t just a vet of the animals, she cares about the owners just as much and helped calm me and explained exactly what she was going to do and showed me step by step the process. Sure enough, our vet found the first baby, his head was positioned down and Sage was unable to get him out in that position, so his little head was lifted up into the correct nose first position and then she was able to quickly progress to delivery. A beautiful little boy was born without much further issues. Sage quickly began to clean and dry him off, but it was only a few minutes until another baby was coming, however we didnt see front feet or a nose, back legs were coming first, so there was another assisted delivery because poor mama just didn’t want to do much pushing. Baby boy number 2 was not moving so with some work we got him to take a breath and squeak. Sage took that one too and began to clean. the next break was a bit longer, we could see her contractions but she wasn’t willing to push. Finally a few more minutes passed and she was pushing again, this time a tiny little girl came effortlessly and Sage accepted her as well. First time mom had triplets just like her twin did. I was feeling so bad for my beautiful sweet mama because she was so tired and her babies were exhausted. Usually right after birth the mamas are up and letting their kids attempt nursing but Sage couldn’t get up. It was 2am, cold outside and she wasn’t ready to get up yet, she actually laid her head down on my legs to pin me to the ground, so like any other crazy goat mama, I threw a blanket over us and scooped the babies in between us to nap for a couple hours until she had the strength to get up and allow them to nurse. Sleeping with 3 babies is no easy task, every few minutes I was woke up by babies trying to nurse on my face, mama stirring or just plain discomfort, but it was all worth it. By 4:30 in the morning she was up and letting them try to nurse. Huge sigh of relief.
The next few days were significantly less eventful. Sage had gotten such a jump on delivering that there was a full 5 days before the next mama, Lavender began showing signs that labor was coming. Now Lavender is a whole different story. She had already delivered twins in her first kidding so we knew that she knew what she was doing. For the 2 days before her kidding, she was behaving like she would drop her babies at any moment, but I’m just so impatient and didn’t want to sleep and miss it. I was so exhausted by April 2nd that I did almost miss it. Lavender is such a funny goat, she is so needy most of the time and always wants me around, but when she’s having babies she wants everyone to leave her alone. She was standoffish and didn’t want her mama, and considering i’m use to her being my shadow that was just the most odd behavior. So I went to take a nap in the afternoon thinking she was waiting for me to go inside. Sure enough, as soon as I close my eyes, she began to scream the sound of contractions. She was so ready to have her babies that she was a very fast delivery. So fast in fact that I ran outside, saw her contracting and could see the bulge of the head already showing. I literally got gloves half on, didn’t even try to open the gate, instead I jumped the 2 four foot fences and got to her just in time to catch that first baby as she was hitting the ground. She was the fastest and easiest delivery I’ve ever seen, and she had a big freaking baby! But it wasn’t stopping there, just as fast as the first came, the second was coming just as quickly, However once again with the second baby, there were little back hooves coming out, so I had to assist her with delivering another backwards baby, so I grabbed the baby and helped pull during her contractions, and bam just like that flopped out another baby. Wouldn’t you know it, then came a 3rd baby! yes she also had triplets and that baby came flying out as fast as the first. All 3 of the babies were literally 3lbs each. I was astonished that she delivered her babies all within 10 minutes, they were so big and yet all alive and healthy. She was standing minutes later, delivered her placenta and was allowing all the babies to nurse before they were even dry. She is a rock star mama.
Two down and two mamas still to go. There was no waiting between the next two mamas though. Clover was up next and at 6am on April 3rd, a very exhausted goat lady almost missed yet another birth by trying to sleep. Clover had another similar delivery to Lavender, it was easy for her to give birth to the first baby, but again the second was not positioned correctly, its hooves were not coming out and the baby was stuck with both legs facing back. I gloved up and reached in, felt the head with my fingers, followed the shoulders back until i could find the legs and pull them up and forward. Once the hooves were headed out, baby two came out as easily as the first and then again with a 3rd baby. 3 for 3 with triplets. I’m so excited we didn’t have a dozen already but I was seriously wondering if we would make that dozen kid mark with the final delivery. We already know Clover was an amazing mama, she is so patient and calm with her babies and allowing them to nurse right away, she even had a tiny 1lb baby who wasn’t ready to get up and walk around so Clover stood over her and let her nurse while laying down. The instincts of these mamas are nothing short of amazing.
Ok, final mama goat Lemon. Lemon had a single with her first but we were certain there was more than 1 in there, because she was so much bigger than the first pregnancy. Lemon is an interesting goat, she still has her daughter with her from last year, Pepper. They always cuddle and Pepper still behaves like she is mamas baby. April 4th at 11:30pm I heard that lovely sound again that alerted me to babies being on the way. But what happened next scared the crap out of me. I’m a strong freaking woman and I’m usually not quick to panic when it comes to my animals, I mean I’ve been dealing with my oldest dog and her seizures for years, so I have a tolerance for the crazy, not with little Lemon though. I went out and found her standing and laboring, with the placenta already mostly delivered. Hello!!! that wasn’t correct. I had a bit of a panic before slapping some sense back into myself. I gloved up and Lemon laid down, I had no idea what to expect or if the babies were going to be ok. She was laboring hard, i could see the head coming and the water broke, and I could see his little tongue moving so I cleared his airway and waited for the baby to come but his head just stayed there. Thats when I realized the baby was too big. she was pushing so hard all her legs were straight as she was straining and the baby just wouldn’t budge. I acted the only way I knew to, I went in after him. I found his feet and hooked around his shoulders as best as i could with a little slippery body, when she pushed again i pulled as much as I could, it was enough to get his head delivered and then on the next push she was able to get him out the rest of the way. He was about 3lbs, and to give reference Pepper was only 1lb and some change. Hello big boy baby! She didn’t get any time to rest before her next baby was coming out, luckily it was another 1lb little girl who just came out with the easy of her taking a poo. Yes thats gross but it was so easy for her compared to the boy. We thought for sure she was about to have a 3rd baby when we saw her contracting again, thankfully she just delivered the other half of the placenta. Dude I was in shock! A set of twins after having 3 sets of triplets!
It was finally over, 11 goat kids by 4 mamas, 6 boys and 5 girls all beautiful and healthy and I was more wiped out than I had ever been before. 8 sleepless nights and daytime naps. 4 assisted deliveries, but It was finally done and I could sleep. To say the days ahead would be easy is just wishful thinking. Once all the babies were up and nursing and happy, they got their spirit and I have one word to describe 11 babies, 4 mamas and 1 teenager. SHENANIGANS!!!! Babies popping from mama to mama because all teets look alike. Mamas getting frustrated with nursing different babies. Everyone getting upset with the wild and jealous teen goat. We had to section off 4 separate areas to give everyone their space and have a chance to connect with their kids on their own.
So there it is, the craziest most hellish week we’ve had here. I can say this, I will never let 4 goats get bred at the same time again. New security measures will be taken for the future, I’m so not going down that path again. Babies have already found homes and many have gone to be bottle babies. Everyone is happy again and the hormones are slowly returning to normal. Oh and did I mention there are 4 giant milk bags just waiting for me to milk twice a day every day for the next year….what the heck was crazy lady thinking!
To all my friends and followers from here to the east coast, thank you for your time and support, listening and reading, baring through all my crazy. I wouldn’t be able to do all this without the support of my people.
much love, Nicole