All the best laid plans of mice and men
That's Ruffles on top, her daughter Heddar below. They are both pregnant in the picture. Preggers as my wife might say. Ruffles has been ready to pop for a little while. As I alluded to before, I have been sleeping in the goat house for a while. As it turns out, I had the breeding date wrong. I was twelve days early. And it took me ten nights out in the goat house to go re check my notes. I started sleeping out in the goat house again as the new date approached. Another four nights. Mostly in the rain. As of this morning, no mucus plug, no nesting behavior, no braying, nothing. I checked again at about 10:30 AM, again nothing. I went out at just before noon to give the pregnant does their grain snack. From a distance Ruffles looked like she had some pink showing through the leg hair. "Does she have leg mites I didn't notice?" I thought to myself. Then I noticed the umbilical cord hanging down. Hmm, and umbilical cord, I wonder were that came from?....
After all those nights sleeping in the goat house. Mentally preparing myself for "Reachen In". Wondering if I had enough light out there. Trying to schedule my work around this unpredictable event. She went and had the kids without me. Two healthy doelings, just what we wanted. Ruffles is eight and we might only get one more pregnancy from her. She is by far the best producing doe and we were really hoping to have more does from her line. And we really wanted to get more does from her.
The doelings needed a little help finding and holding a teat. It doesn't help that Ruffles has not nursed kids before. In the past, we have always hand raised (bottle fed) Ruffles' kids. Part of the idea is the kids view the person who feeds them as a member of their herd, maybe their mother and are less skittish with them. And the Doe views the one milking them as their kid. Last year, with a different doe, we decided to try allowing the kids to nurse on the doe. We let the kids nurse freely for the first two weeks. After that, we separate the kids from the doe at night to allow her to build up some milk for a morning milking. Then the kids nurse during the day. At about two months, we separate the doe from the kids (which she was ever so grateful for). Allowing the Doe to nurse the Kids gets us off the hook for a lot of midnight feedings. It also gets the doe off the hook for an engorged udder for those first couple weeks where her production demands milking twice a day. I do have to work hard to get a good imprint with the kids since I am not bottle feeding them. I'll still sleep out in the goat house for a few more nights. But that makes it easy to ensure they are getting enough to eat and are staying warm at night. It also means we have to teach ruffles to be a good mother. She's never done it before, and so far, I am not so sure she is interested in learning. Sparky figured it out last year, so I imagine Ruffles will to.
Either that or we move back to the old model for her....
A little later the same day:
Ruffles wasn't real thrilled with this whole motherhood thing. I think I heard her say something about great grandmothers shouldn't have to breast feed. Or put up with infants. Here I am using my arms locked into a peice of stock panel to get her to hold still long enough for the kids to nurse. While I was doing it alone two hours later, I thought to myself, ya right, this is easier than bottle feeding... But the kids will be up and agile soon enough. They'll be running her ragged wanting to nurse.