Our younger goat, Molly was due today, but went into labor last evening around 5 PM. She’s relatively new to mothering, last year was her first birthing year, so we’re still feeling out what to expect with her. She had two boys and a girl for her first litter, and together they formed a miniature gang that terrorized the lambs in epic battles of king of the mountain.
This year Molly was in labor for over 4 hours. The first one out was a little girl, a spitting image of Molly herself. Two hours of waiting and a massive cheer-leading effort by the farm crew saw the birth of her second kid, a stout brown boy, quickly followed by another small boy. All were born healthy, though goat kids are much more fragile than lambs, so today they are still learning the art of walking.
As a new mother, Molly needs a little bit of coaching, and the kids all need encouragement to nurse, so we’re checking in on them often to make sure they’re warm and getting plenty to drink.
Birth on the farm brings to light one truth of farming: nothing is certain. Books about rearing goats will often tout the hardiness of goat mothers, the ease of birth and low incidence of complications. We have found that each goat is different. While our elder goat, Tilia, tends to have very easy births, Molly struggles a bit and tends to take much longer. She has also had three every time, while Tilia has only ever had one kid at a time. The hours of waiting for Molly’s second kid were tense for sure, but we had patience and trust, and her last two came without difficulty.
In the moments of birthing, there is no book that will overcome the powers of intuition and experience, and most often a farmer must rely on his or her ‘gut feeling’ about what is the best course of action.
It certainly keeps us on our toes.