After spending a very long spring morning & afternoon working around the farm, I went in for break. This is when I stop to drink vast quantities of herbal tea, fill my hours empty belly with nourishing food & give myself at least an hour of downtime, usually spent reading while eating. While trying to relax, my cats alerted me that I had a wee visitor in my wood stoves fire box. Looking at me through the glass from behind a crumpled paper bag was a silent Starling. Well, no emergency there. These birds are a yearly spring pain in the backside. No matter what we do, they always manage to put a nest in our chimney. We have tossed out their nests, & they build another. John put mesh over the top of the chimney, they still find a way in to make another nest & raise their young. With this comes the joy of having them fly down the chimney pipe & getting trapped in the fire box. Sometimes the baby birds fall out of the nest & into the house because the 1700's chimney bottom is open. Our wood stove pipe runs inside our chimney. In no hurry to remove the oddly silent creature, I finished my break in peace, well sort of. The cats were pretty excited about their bird TV.
Once I finished eating, I opened up the wood stove door to remove the Starling. Naturally, it exploded out of the fire box to promptly bash itself all through the houses windows & doors, much to the cats delight. When I finally caught the still silent pest & was putting it outside, I heard one of the goats crying. This wasn't a normal cry. This sounded like the goat was being killed. I immediately hurried to the girls barn to find June Bug laying on her side in the pasture. She was panting & screaming her head off. It was horrible. I laid down on the grass with her to assist in the birthing process should it be necessary. With each shove her lips curled back from her teeth & she bleated an agonizing cry. Her mother would bleat to her in answer. Her labor was as disturbing as any labor can be, seeing the female body shift & expand to bring new life into the world.
June Bug stood up after a bit. She stopped yelling & looked around. After a few minutes she lay back down on her side & started the pushing & screaming all over again. This was my first time being present at a kidding, so I had no idea if any of this was normal having no experience to fall back on. Should I try to intervene? I wasn't sure. With each mighty push, I could see something through the membrane. Hooves? Wait, no! It's a nose! Is that the right way? What did I read in all those goat books? Can't remember, this is too awful & wonderful to think clearly. Before my thoughts can travel to additional worrisome thoughts, June Bug gives another huge heave & blood curdling scream, & just like that, the baby slides nearly all of the way out. June Bug put her head on the ground & was quiet.
I knew that the mother had to lick away the membrane from the nose & mouth so the kid could breath. In a bit of a panic because she wasn't doing this immediately I wiped the membrane away from the kids face. The little brown kid made a wet snotty breathing sound & started to try to move. With each second it became more animated & emitted a tiny bleat. The horror of the birthing process forgotten, I nearly cried as I watched this little bundle of spindly legs & fur come into the world. That tiny bleat was all it took to get June Bug back on her feet. The kid slid the rest of the way out as June Bug stood. June Bug turned around & started to gently lick & nibble at the kid to get it clean all the while softly speaking to it. Still sitting on the bloody pasture, I took a peek to see more of this new gift & discovered June Bug gave us another little girl to love.
I waited to see if June Bug would birth another as twins are common, but after a while I concluded that this wasn't likely to happen. She still had birthing matter attached to her & I knew she need to pass it, but again, with no previous experience in such matters, I had no idea how soon this should happen. I decided to let her get cleaned up & spend time alone away from the other does & kids to be with her doeling. June Bug was an accidental breeding. I planned to breed her this year, not give birth this year. I can only guess that her having one kid is due to how young she was when she was accidentally bred.
I checked up on June Bug & her doeling (whom I decided to name Butterscotch thanks to her color) about every 10 - 15 minutes. I spent an equal amount of time with them at each visit. Finally at one of my visits, June Bug squatted very low & proceeded to expel the placenta. She then started to eat it. I though the birthing process was disturbing, this is much more so. I already knew they will eat the placenta, so this wasn't a surprise, but watching a herbivore consume raw bloody flesh is stomach churning. The speed at which she was accomplishing this was pretty amazing. While she was busy, I took pictures of Butterscotch & cuddled & talked to her. I laughed as she would constantly loose her balance & tumble over. She'd lay there splay legged then finally get up on wobbly legs to toddle as fast as she could over to me or June Bug looking to nurse. Even with her mouth full, June Bug continuously spoke to Butterscotch & Butterscotch to her.
Suddenly things took a change for the worse. June Bug let loose a horrible strangled cry. She was gurgling & taking wet gasping breaths. Her eyes were huge & panicked. She flung her head frantically from side to side while the placenta cord swung to & fro from her mouth. She's choking! I rushed over to her to grab the wet slippery cord. My hands slid through the blood as I pulled, it started to move only to suddenly snap & break. I frantically grabbed for the section that was still hanging out of her mouth while she tossed her head about, crying & gurgling. I grabbed as firmly as possible in a near panic & pulled, it started to come, I continued to pull & pull as the cord slowly came out of her body. She took in gasps of breath. I dropped the cord & watched her to be sure she was indeed okay. She was. Okay enough in fact to start to try to clean up the mess I just managed to remove. I once again had to grab the cords & toss them far from her reach. Covered in blood & birthing matter we all, mother doe, baby goat & I, spent time in the pasture grateful for the gift of life.
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