Monday, January 9, 2012

Ranch Choices.

Everyday comes with choices and decisions. Each choice will effect the outcome of the day, some more drastically than others. Sometimes the choices that need to made here at the ranch are heartbreaking. I don't write about them often, as I'm a highly emotional person and tears tend to short out the keyboard.

I have a lot of goats. Some goats are used for meat, some for milk and some others are just for my enjoyment. Most of my Nigerian Dwarfs fall under the enjoyment heading. They live in the backyard, landscape in the summer, give kisses and beg for Fritos. I don't breed them on a regular basis like the other goats. With any pregnancy there are risks. I've lost goats from birthing kids and we've lost kids as well. Such is ranch life. I take precautions, I vaccinate and deworm. My animals are healthy. Things just sometimes go wrong.

Awhile back I met a new friend and fellow goat lover when I purchased a little blue eyed buckling from her. Gaston has since grown up and put on the perfume. He spent days singing to the girls at the fence. Eventually the lip flapping and buck musk was too much for me to handle. I picked out a doe in heat and got them a romantic spot over a few flakes of alfalfa. Pocahontas or Poky was at first thrilled at the prospect of being a new mom but as the pregnancy progressed she became more and more irritable. She had finally had it and demanded her own fluffly pile of straw in which to kid. I had moved her out of the goat yard on several occasions as she has shown nesting behavior. This past Friday was her limit. I moved her to labor and delivery, she arranged the new straw and laid down for her last real nap before the babies arrived.

About 45 minutes later as I was attempting to make bread, she screamed. I ran down to find her contracting and pushing out a bubble. Soon came feet but the feet were not the front feet of the baby they were back feet. Most times it's not a problem, the baby just comes out backwards. Things looked like they were going to be just fine. Poky was seeming to push a lot with only a little bit of progress, but progress is progress. Soon the shoulders of the kid emerged and then with a big scream and a huge push a head came out. The only problem was the head did not belong to the kid with legs and body out. I have no idea how she managed to get the body of one kid and the head of another through the birth canal but there we were. At this point I knew there was not good option. I had come to one of those choices that I dread so much. The head began to bleat and spit. I flicked the body of the other kid and got no response. I then raced down to the ranch for OB wire and Shelly. I found Shelly and told her I needed help and she raced back to the house with me. I told her en route of the problem and my purposed solution. I could think of no way to save all three. I told Shelly the only positive solution I could come up with is to separate the body from the head one of the babies. Shelly looked at me with horror. She didn't think that was an option until she saw what we were dealing with. Poky was continuing to push with each contraction which may have been instinctual but not helping our situation. Shelly took a look and then gave me the go ahead to do whatever I felt needed to be done. The baby with the head out was visibly alive, although it was gasping for air. I thumped the feet and body of the other kid again with no response so I chose to sacrifice that kid. I'll leave out the details. Safe to say it was the right choice. After I had separated the two parts, Poky was able to deliver the other baby with one push and I was able to retrieve the head of the separated kid too. Poky flopped down exhausted but immediately got to her feet, turned and began licking the baby when it squealed.

The kid was a bit lethargic at first, as anyone would be I suppose. She soon pepped up and started trying to get up and look for that first meal. We took both girls into the house and they've been living up with room service ever since.

The little girl charmed her way into a brand new home the very next day. She's been named Rigatoni and will be off to a paradise all her own in ten short weeks. Poky is proving to be an outstanding mama, fending off curious cats and playful ferrets.

So heartbreaking as it was, we did the right thing. I'm now busy giggling at Rigatoni's bouncing and Poky is feeling pretty spoiled.


  1. Wow! Thanks for this story. Its good to mentally prepare us for what could be.

    So far (knock on wood) we've had pretty safe deliveries for the goats. My snow storm death was a different situation. I've only once had to even intervene a bit and I think it was lack of patience anyway.

    Sorry for the loss but what a charmer you have there.

  2. That is horrific. I'm so sorry you had to go through that experience, but obviously, your quick thinking and willingness to make such a difficult choice and then follow through saved both mama and baby. Hugs to you...