I am the happy owner of a 28 year old spotted saddle horse who, despite being somewhat unsound, is still an active member of my herd and can put on quite a burst of speed if the mood takes her. 'If' being the key word.
Therefore, when I glance out of the barn during morning feeds and see she is missing, and I can see all the others, I immediately fear the worst. I never assume she's just down at the pond, sheltering in the woods, whatever. I guess it's just my personality.
Anyways, on the morning of Jan 8, when we had unexpectedly had around 3" of snow overnight, my little lady was nowhere to be found. Paranoid as always, I sent my husband down the pasture to look for her while I started the milking.
Two minutes later my phone rang. "You better come down here. It's Treasure, there's something wrong with her!"
Treasure is our Saanen doe, who I bought for Steven as Christmas gift three years ago. I had bought her bred, but she had stillborn triplets the following March and had refused to become bred every year since, despite repeated attempts with various bucks. This was something of a blow as she was an excellent milking doe, but we had long since given up hope and she simply lived rent free as a pasture ormament.
Well, apparently she'd made plans to change that. As I ran down the field (as fast as I can run given the snow, the slope of the field, heavy yard boots and my lack of disposition towards running), only to meet Treasure ambling her way up the pasture towards the barn, trailing a long string of mucus behind her. I stood for a moment, my brain not quite comprehending what my eyes were seeing, then I caught her by the collar and led her slowly to the kidding stall, pausing a couple of times for her to stretch and curl her upper lip, and nuzzle at her side, chattering.
Steven and I stood in the dim red light of the kidding stall, watching her circle and dig. I had seen her cycling back in the summer and, in a fit of hope and desperation, had thrown her out with my four bucks, figuring it couldn't hurt. But, having done the same thing for two years previously, I hadn't held out much hope and the possibility that she was pregnant hadn't even really landed on my radar. Yay, go me, the ever-attentive goat keeper. Fortunately, about a month previously, she'd had her CD&T and BoSe shots, so no worries there. I was more concerned about the fact I didn't know how long she'd been in labor, and whether baby number one was, as last time, stuck.
But fear not. Within 30 minutes she had decided that this heated stall was a better place than a snow drift to bring her babies into the world, and she began to push. Baby One appeared quickly, followed by babies two and three. Number two was sadly stillborn, but one was huge and ready to nurse right away. Three was small, and I made the unusual (for me) decision to pull her from her mother right away, and bring her in the house to warm and feed. The good news was, she took a bottle right away and guzzled colostrum.
She rallied, and was up on her feet within a couple hours. It took her a few days to be able to walk, but she figured it and now is rapidly catching up with her sister in size. She has remained a bottle baby, as I always feel nervous re-grafting them onto their mamas after several days have passed, but I also needed a companion for a retained Nigerian doeling, Cici.
Yes, that's a baby goat in the house, in front of a hot air heater, wearing an outgrown onesie and a diaper. Don't judge me. A farm girl's gotta do what she's gotta do. And besides, you're not a real goat farmer 'til you've wrestled a baby goat into a diaper.
"So who's the daddy?" you may ask. Treasure had been turned out with four of my bucks: a black angora, a red angora, a buckskin Nigerian and a broken buckskin blue eyed Nigerian. Well, from assessing the (enormous) babies, I deduce them to belong to my red Angora, Tipp. They are both curly haired, so clearly angora, and Baby One, named Cashmere by my friend Shannon, has a distinct pink tinge to her. I'm hanging on to them for now to see what the fiber situation is; I'm a huge fan of Pygoras and I want to see what these turn out like! I don't know what I'd refer to them as... 'Saa-goras'? 'Ang-aanens'?
Jewel (Baby three) is a precious little diva, as many bottle babies are, and she lives a charmed life with milk delivered to her several times a day. Her sister is somewhat more independent, and thinks nothing of drifting from her mama during the day to catch a little sun and nibble a little hay.
I can't wait to see how they grow up, and most of all I can't wait until they're weaned and I have ALL the saanen milk to turn into cheese!