Today was finally Sassy’s kidding day. After giving me signs for about ten days, making me think over and over “surely she will kid within the next 24 hours!” and fooling me each time, she finally pulled out all the stops and gave the final signs. And now that Sassy girl had convinced me I had NO idea about goat kidding signs, I really WAS pretty sure she would kid within hours.
Her ligaments were very hard to find yesterday, but this morning I couldn’t feel them at all. Now, I’d been told when I was first looking for goat kidding signs that “when you can touch your finger around her tail, the ligaments are gone and she’ll kid soon.” That didn’t really work for me. Instead, what worked for me was to find the ligaments beforehand, and monitor them, and when they become so soft you can no longer feel them, that is a sign the goat will kid soon. They are easy enough to find (fiasco farms has a good diagram here) and are a bit hard, about the size of pencils, running from the sides of the doe’s spine in a “V” shape toward her pin bones. Of course, Sassy-girl managed to throw me off, performing the trick some goats will do. She lost her ligaments, only to have them harden back up.
Since talented goats like Sassy can fake it, I found a good sign that can tell you if the ligaments are TRULY gone. The doe’s back legs start to look “posty” … they become straight like posts with very little bend to them. This is a sign that the ligaments are really “gone” and not just playing hide and seek.
Another finally unmistakeble goat kidding sign – Sassy’s udder finally became truly stretched. It had been filling out for some time (and she’s a first freshener – or first timer) and had gotten quite large and full, but the skin was not truly stretched until this morning. It was not easy to determine this, since she skittered away each time I tried to touch it. The skin becomes more shiny when it does become stretched.
Sassy had been teasing me with goat kidding signs for over a week. She had been showing mucous off and on for over a week, even streaming briefly once (almost a week ago). Her behavior had changed from being normally friendly, to super clingy, to “stay AWAY from me” over the course of a couple of weeks. Her udder had ballooned up. I found her stretching, rubbing her sides, scratching her sides. She would lie down and stretch her bead back, or roll on the ground. Her ligaments would disappear, then come back. In short, she had me thinking over and over that she would kid any day, and I lost a lot of sleep checking her all through the night every night. She seemed so large, I was afraid it was a huge kid, and she is still not yet a year old. (In fact, I hadn’t wanted her bred, but she was such an amazingly strong kid and had grown SO well, when she was accidentally bred, I decided she would probably be ok.)
Still, I really wanted to be there for her when she kidded, just in case.
So I figured it really HAD to be today, and finally, I was right. I checked her at least once an hour, and I finally noticed her lying down, when before she had been eating, eating, eating with never a break. So I washed my hands, put on my boots, grabbed my things, and headed for the pasture.
When I neared the place she had been lying, I saw her standing up through the screen of the trees. And beside her … TWO wriggling shapes stumbling toward her. It was TWINS, for which I am so thankful, and one was a doeling! A beautiful little girl, dark brown, with white markings on her sides, and black, brown, and tan legs, a pretty striped face … absolutely gorgeous! And after all that, I missed the kidding, and Sassy Girl hadn’t needed me after all. She had the kids almost completely dry and both were nursing.
I noticed the doeling shivering, and it was cool in the shade with the wind blowing. I wanted to move them into the barn. Sassy got upset … she wasn’t quite finished cleaning up the goo, and as I tried to get her and the kids to the barn, she transferred her attention to the clover and started eating as if her life depended on it. I think because she had been working on the goo. For a minute I thought I might not be able to get her into the barn, and I finally had to drag her in there. I was also afraid she might reject the kids, because then she set to digging in the hay, and ignored the kids, and even knocked them around a bit when they got in the way of her digging. But she had not delivered the afterbirth yet, and that’s what her behavior was about. Once it was gone, she settled down and lay down next to the buckling, and the little doeling climbed on her back. So sweet … *smile*
Soon she was up and they were nursing, and all was well in the goat shed. Only two does bred this year, and I have three bucklings and a doeling. And after all that close monitoring, I ended up missing BOTH kiddings, I was wrong about who kidded first, and neither of the does needed me the least little bit. Which is a relief — I’m very interested in having does that deliver kids easily and kids that enter the world with every possible advantage.
Kidding season — keeps you on your toes! Now … I’m going to get some rest — finally!