Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You've got to be kidding!

Pearl was pacing the fence line calling a little more stridently than usual. When I appear the goats often call out in the hope of encouraging me to deliver them some Lucerne or sheep nuts, but this was a little more persistent. She was looking pretty broad in the backside and her tail was up. If I had been observant enough I could have checked whether there was a hollow either side of her tailbone which can indicate that the kid or kids are beginning to move.
It crossed my mind that she was showing signs of labour but it still seemed too early. We have had false alarms before, locked up does to keep an eye on them and still waited weeks for the birth. I checked my calendar of matches and I had predicted that she would give birth in the first week of August. I was wrong. Goats are pretty consistent and have a gestation period of five months give or take only a couple of days so she must have had her tryst with Cedric in mid February.
So the next time I looked over to the goat paddock our number had risen by one. A small white doe with a brown head and one brown splodge on her front was wobbling next to Pearl. The afterbirth was out and already eaten. Pearl was fine and doing her mothering duties. This is at least her fourth cycle of kids as we gained her with kid three years ago.

The next day we returned from a night at our other property and Pearl was sitting up with the other goats. No kid in sight. A scan of the paddock revealed no splodge of white. It seemed that there was good visibility everywhere in the six acres or so. What had happened while we were away? Had the kid been taken by a wild dog? Drowned in the dam? Been trampled by the bull?
I set out to try to solve the mystery. As I walked the southern boundary to check the farthest camp where a few trees could shelter a kid or hide a carcass, Tonto the bull decided to charge at me. Apparently he wanted me to know that he was the boss of this paddock. While I stood my ground the sight of a albeit small Dexter bull charging at me was still very unnerving. He came within a metre or so and then shook his head at me. Once he had stopped I climbed over a fence and continued my search from the outside.
After distracting the bull with some hay to chew on I resumed my search. By now I expected the worst. I figured that if it was alive it would be calling out and Pearl would respond. She seemed unfazed as I checked carefully around the edges of the dams and along any place in the fence where a dog could have dragged a small kid.
Then I saw a white shape curled in the grass in the very middle of the paddock. On approach I still thought that we had lost the kid. I should have remembered how carefully goat mothers hide their babies and how hard it is to see them when there are curled up. It was simply asleep after having a good feed. With no need to nibble grass it had nothing better to do than have a kip and digest the colostrum.
When I brought the kid to Pearl she did not want to know it. I couldn't tell whether she was rejecting it or that she knew that it already had a gutful, so I put them both in the shed to ensure bonding.
The first kid off the block - Spring is getting nearer with four more does and nine ewes still to come.

Pearl and little Sausage

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