You all know how much I love to talk about the goats, and every single goat that has entered my life has had at least one story, so I’m going to do my best to write a few of them down for you folks to enjoy!
I’m starting with one I promised to share, a story that shows so clearly that no matter how experienced you are, goats can still fool you.
We were in the middle of kidding season, and Apple Blossom was sick. The delicate La Mancha doe had bad scours, an upset rumen, and a fever. I was thankful that she had obviously slipped her pregnancy early on – not only did her teats cling straight to her belly with no bag full of colostrum between them, but she was so thin she could have slid through the slats on a wooden pallet.
Not to mention that I had personally palpated her, placing one hand in front of her under and pressing upward, searching for that heavy uterus, filled with fluids and kids. After years and handling hundreds of pregnancies, I was confident in my ability to discern a pregnant doe from an open one – at least most of the time.
However, goats love to knock us down a peg or two when we grow too arrogant in our skills, and Apple Blossom took this opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson about assuming.
It was quite a beautiful afternoon, and I was in my usual place, on my knees beside a laboring doe, sleeves rolled up and hair tied back. Crown Royal was faithfully pushing out twin bucklings with nary a grunt and I was mostly spectating, when I heard a sound behind me.
I turned, not overly concerned – this time of the year, it was not unusual for several does to kid at once, and some of my most amused memories are of running from one to the other to ensure that all were progressing normally. But what I didn’t expect was to see Apple Blossom, down on her side, with two forelegs sticking out!
I raced over and grabbed hold, too concerned about Apple Blossom to stop and marvel at this turn of events, and assisted with the birth of a black doeling. I had to pause to wipe away foul smelling scours off all three of us, hurrying to the hose to wash my hands the best I could before returning to check Apple Blossom for any more kids.
I didn’t need to – I returned to find a second doeling, just as pitch black as the first, writhing in the hay. I stripped the amniotic sack from her and started to rub them both down as Apple Blossom lay unhappily in the bedding next to us. Realizing that she needed immediate attention, I scooped up both doelings, who were now attempting to walk and find a place to nurse, and took them to my house, where I settled them in a warm spot to dry.
I returned to poor Apple Blossom and gave her everything I could to keep her comfortable, warm, and help her regain her energy after the surprise birthing. Before I finished, however, I stopped by Crown Royal, not only to check on her and her two healthy bucklings, but to fill a bottle with her abundant rich colostrum, that golden liquid that the doelings desperately needed if they were to grow up healthy. When I had done everything I could and separated Apple Blossom to a private warm place to recuperate, I returned to inspect these unexpected doelings.
I was shocked to see that both were absolutely one hundred percent healthy normal sized La Mancha kids. I would never have believed that a doe as ill and thin as poor Apple Blossom could have carried and delivered kids that looked as good as these. She must have given every bit she had to them, to bring them into the world.
I finished cleaning them up and fed them the warm colostrum, which both drank greedily, tails wagging. It wasn’t long at all before they were bouncing around my house, gleeful at being alive. Apple Blossom recovered well from the birthing, and though she had no milk, we returned the doelings to her and she was happy to mother them and clean their little bottoms as we bottle fed them.
I was able to place all three of them, along with some of their friends, in a wonderful home, where Apple Blossom thrived away from the hubbub of a large dairy herd, and her doelings grew into beautiful does. It does my heart good to know that they are doing well, and to see pictures of them as they grow. What more can any breeder ask for – even when the kids are a surprise!
Apple Blossom and her two daughters (now named Pansy and Petunia) taught me that one can never know what will happen next, and you can see why this is one of my favorite stories.
Special thanks to Jana Wayne for providing updated pictures of Apple Blossom and her daughters.