This afternoon I noticed some unusual noises coming from outside. Because of the way the hills roll its often hard to tell where sound is coming from, so at first I thought I was just hearing the neighbors children at play but then I realized that it is too early in the day- they should still be at school. So I went out to investigate and look what I found!
We weren’t positive that Ivy was even bred this year because the only male she was exposed to last fall was very young. But lately she had been putting on more weight than seemed likely just from the spring pasture coming in and her udder was getting swollen. Its harder to tell than you’d think, though, because all goats look pudgy in the belly when the spring grass starts to grow and after a couple of seasons as a mom and milking goat Ivy’s udder never really shrinks back up to its original size…
One of the little guys is kind of skinny and was laying on the ground to the side when I found them. I picked him up and rubbed him briskly and he started to holler and fuss which I take as a good sign. Both kids are wobbly on their long, skinny legs – they always are the first day- but they can stand up, lay down and get back up again and- most importantly- nurse.
Of course, nursing isn’t as easy as you’d think, at least not on the first day. They have the instinct to root and suck but actually getting their wobbly bodies positioned right and finding a teat can be a challenge. On the first day, they seem to spend more time trying to nurse from arm pits and necks than actually at the udder.
Thankfully they always seem to get the hang of it after a little while and Ivy is a patient mother. I did check her bag and she has an udder full of rich, yellowish colostrum cream. We will wait about a week before we begin milking her for ourselves since the milk she is producing right now, while great for newborn kids, isn’t really what humans want to drink!
Ivy is a great mom and has never had any trouble kidding or taking care of her kids once they are born. The only thing I’ve found I really need to do to help is to carry the kids to the barn once she has them cleaned up so that the new family can bond for the first 24hrs in the privacy and safety of a closed stall. The biggest problem we have with newborn kids and lambs is that when they come in pairs it is easy for the weaker one to get separated and lost if they are out in the pasture. They are also vulnerable to being attacked by a wild animal or simply pestered by the rest of the flock. So the three of them are now safely tucked into the barn with fresh water and hay and a llama anxiously watching over the gate. I’ll check on them occasionally to make sure that they continue to get steadier on their feet and are managing to get some milk in their bellies- not just mouthfulls of hair- but otherwise as long as everything proceeds as normal I’ll try to stay out of the way for the next day or two. Ivy doesn’t get overly protective of her kids when I handle them, but she is more relaxed if left alone right now.