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Flinder is one of our very favorite does, and the one who has taken us on the biggest roller coaster ride. After her first kidding she showed us a beautiful udder, and after settling down on the stand, became my husband’s favorite goat. We retained one of her doelings because we were so impressed with her overall.
After a few months, Flinder came down with a systemic infection that caused a bit of neurological damage. It was a slow road to recovery, but eventually Flinder was pretty much back to her old self, just with an off gait.
We held off on breeding her again, and focused on getting her as healthy as possibly. Eventually the vet said she was doing great and gave her the green light to breed her. And so we tried. And tried some more. She did not want to settle, and we worried. Finally, after more than a year of trying, Flinder settled and had a great pregnancy.
Since Flinder had short cycled and was bred twice within 5 days, we weren’t positive on the due dates, so we moved her into a kidding stall and waited. On Friday, my husband swore she was showing signs of going into labor, so we stayed up until midnight, and checked the monitor on and off all night. Nothing. On Saturday morning I was convinced she still wasn’t doing anything and decided to do my full errand run, as well as a visit to another farm.
When I returned in the afternoon and checked in on Flinder, she was streaming mucus heavily and preparing to push. I notified the rest of the house and we moved into position to witness the labor.
Flinder pushed, but not much, and not hard. We watched the clock and began to get anxious. Eventually there was a gush of fluids that indicates a sac breaking, and our anxiousness increased as her efforts to push remained lackluster. Finally I decided I needed to go in and check to make sure there wasn’t an issue. After gloving up, I could feel a head, but no legs presenting, and the head appeared to be hung up on the pelvis. I had a hard time finding something to grip, and so I settled on the tiny jaw I could feel and worked with contractions to get the baby out. A small buckskin doeling.
We gave Flinder a few minutes to collect herself, as we knew there were more kids to come, but the minutes stretched on with no more signs of pushing. I decided to give her a check, and could feel an intact sac right in the birth canal. I felt around a bit to make sure everything was ok, and not finding any complications, we waited. Still no signs of pushing . Then another burst of fluid. I went in again to see if I could stimulate stronger contractions or pushing. Soon after, a teeny tiny buckling presented its self. We worked on getting him dry and moving due to the cold, and Flinder remained laying down.
I knew there was at least one more kid inside Flinder, so I stood her up and bumped her, and sure enough, felt a hard lump near the birth canal. Because I was already anxious, I went inside her to check, but could only feel the edges of an intact sac presenting far back in the birth canal. I was hesitant to go in and pull the kid because the sac appeared intact, and it was further back than I was comfortable going in for. After a phone call to an experienced goat friend, we decided to give her some time to regain some energy and work the baby out on her own. I went inside to fix Flinder some warm oatmeal while my husband and daughter kept watch.
While waiting for the water to boil, my husband and daughter came into the house with little buckling, saying his temp was low and they needed to warm him up. They said it looked like Finder was pushing on baby #3 and I needed to get out there to assist. I rushed outside to check on Flinder.
When I reached the barn, Flinder was pushing, and soon I saw a head present, still in the sac. I breathed a sigh of relief, glad we had waited. The rest of the baby passed easily, although it was clearly much larger then the first two kids. Since it was still in the sac, I tore it open and cleared it’s face of mucus. And it didn’t move. I rubbed its face some more and watched for a breath. No movement. I quickly picked it up and wiped it off, rubbing it vigorously. Nothing. I screamed for help, hoping someone in the house would hear me. No one came. I put my mouth over it’s muzzle and breathed into it short and fast. Nothing. I hung it upside down and swung it, trying to clear mucus, trying to get blood flowing. It remained limp in my arms. I held it close to be and could see it’s eyes were filmed over.
And I sobbed as I held it close. I sobbed because I had failed. I sobbed because I didn’t know why I had failed. I sobbed because my heart was broken over this tiny life and because I felt so very helpless. My daughter had come out to see how things were going, and I worked to pull myself together. We found a small box, and before wrapping it’s body up in the towel I was holding it in, I had to check. A buckling. A “he”.
The rest of the day was a struggle. The other little buckling was struggling to stay warm and we couldn’t get him to take a bottle. We syringed him colostrum and worked on stabilizing him. Eventually we new if he was going to pull through, he needed to be with mom, as that’s the only way he would eat. Sure enough, as soon as we put him back with Flinder, he nursed enthusiastically. But we were in the middle of a serious cold snap and we knew the tiny boy was in trouble with the cold. So we broke a cardinal rule in our barn – we put a heat lamp and a pig warming mat in the stall to keep the babies warm. I didn’t sleep for the three days it was out there, both out of fear the buckling would back slide, and fear that my barn would burn down. I’m happy to report that neither of those things happen.
While this was a tough one for us all around, I try to bear in mind the sobering and sage words of my goat mentor – Did mom live? Do you have live babies? Then that’s not a bad barn day, that’s a good barn day. Here’s to better good barn days.