Kidding Season Part II: Chickadee
Our friend Louise knew that kidding season had started on our farm in February with a difficult birthing that required veterinary assistance. “Y’all deserved an easy birth,” she said, when she heard that our goat, Chickadee, had just had an uneventful kidding. An easy birth means the doe had a few hours of early labor (stand up, lie down, stand up, lie down; stretch head to one side to talk to babies; stare off glassy-eyed into some mysterious maternal ether; tear up the nice clean stall by pawing through the straw in order to make a nest…then tear up the nest…etc.). Then she went into hard labor for about twenty minutes before we saw the purplish bubble that signaled a baby headed toward earth-living. Then the best part: we saw two little white hooves, and resting on them, right where it ought to be, a head. Grunt, grunt, grunt, and the first baby was out, breathing, and ready for clean up. Hooray, a doeling! Chickadee went right to work, even trying to eat the umbilical cord right off her kid, so we swept the baby up, tied off the umbilical with dental floss, dipped it in Iodine solution and returned her to her mom. Within a few minutes, the baby had discovered the mother lode and was suckling like a pro. Whew, another hurdle passed! We have had times when we spent hours just trying to help a kid take those first few swigs of colostrum. This kidding was a breeze!
The baby was born at 7:00 p.m. We kept watch, expecting at least one more. At 8:30, Chickadee expelled a big gloppy blob of afterbirth, which Chuck quickly scooped into a trash bag. Finished. One doeling. We gave thanks for a smooth kidding and heated soup for dinner around 9:00. We named the baby Wren.
Three days later Chickadee stood lethargically leaning her head against a wall. She looked depressed. She had no milk in her udder. And she would not eat. Suspecting something seriously wrong, we whisked her off to our vet, who wasted no time reaching a latex-gloved hand into Chickadee’s vagina. “She has a dead baby in there,” she said. “And she’s septic. I’ll have to do a C-section right now to get the baby out. She can die, though.” (We learned later that the kid was poorly positioned and could not enter the birth canal.) As Chickadee was prepped for surgery, an assistant handed me a pen and a document for my signature. I didn’t read it before signing. I knew what it said: She can die.
An hour or so later, we loaded Chickadee into the trailer, but not before we were reminded once more that she could die if the antibiotics did not counter the sepsis. And if she lived, her milk could dry up.
Once home, we returned her to her private stall with Wren, who immediately lunged for a teat, reminding her that she was a mother. For two days, Chickadee would not lie down. We force-fed her with an energy blend, but her body had become skeletal. Still, she stood patiently when Wren nursed.
I am a goat farmer, not a goat psychologist, but I know sometimes it takes more than medicine for a suffering creature to hang in this world. Chickadee was in too much pain to lie down and too sick to eat. But somehow she produced milk for her baby and nuzzled her lovingly. Wren never received the first clue that she was not the center of the world.
Chickadee did not die. Slowly, she recovered and started eating…and she is the best mother a kid could have!
To learn more about the goats at Moores Pond Farm, visit http://moorespondfarm.com.