So Monday morning arrived and I was as ready as I could be to face my 7th graders. Of course, this morning was going to be tougher than usual considering the news I had to share. I waited for someone to ask about the baby goats, but no one did. I quietly announced that we had some “new kids on the block.” That’s when the questions started rolling out. I mentioned that we’d had two sets of twins, and I was going to show them a video. I heard one little girl whisper under her breath, “I only see two; where are the others?” I let them read the essay I had written about my experience that weekend. I think I cried four separate times as I talked to four different classes. It was a quiet day in my room.
We still had one pregnant goat left in the pasture. I tried not to let the loss of the two babies diminish my enthusiasm for the impending birth of Blackie’s offspring. Blackie had already had one baby while with us: Baby Brown. She had been a good mother, and the weather was getting warmer, so that was going to be good for the new babies and for me when I videoed her birth. Of course, I was “in town” when she gave birth on a Sunday afternoon. Could the goats had known my documentary plan?
A call from Greg revealed that Blackie had given birth to two healthy little girls. One of them was white with all the brown markings of a typical Boer goat, white body and brown head. The other goat was the brown of our Red Dirt Chronicles shirts. Really, that’s the only way I know to describe it, and she had a black stripe down her back and black feet. I tried to envision them as Greg described them. The babies were curled up together in the corner of the shed and already as big as small dogs. I guess their mom had not had time to warn them that I would be wanting to pick them up and hold them, so they were extremely trusting when I made my way to them to touch them and cuddle them one at a time.
We enjoyed watching our four new babies grow as the week turned into the weekend, and finally, Greg mentioned something about one of Blackie’s babies having the same “hangy downy things” as her mother. I had not really noticed the “wattles” on either side of Blackie’s neck or on her baby’s neck. I also did not know they were called “wattles” until I typed in a search for “what are the hangy downy things on either side of my goats neck.” One of the most reliable web sites revealed that wattles are common…. in DAIRY GOATS. Blackie is a dairy goat! Continue reading Meanwhile Back at The Ranch: It’s Not Always Blue Skies and Butterflies: Part Two→
For weeks I’ve gone to the goat shed to feed, and I’ve had my eye on a couple of goats that were pregnant. My mind was made up that I was going to make a documentary of them having the babies if I was home when they were delivered. I even looked up all the pictures that I could find on the Internet to see if I could handle what I was actually going to witness when a goat gave birth. How was I going to create something that did not have the feel of either Paranormal Activity or The Office? As it turns out, I missed all three deliveries. Yep, three. I was not prepared for the aftermath.
I had used my pregnant goats as a lure to teach my kids how great research could be. One student asked me how I knew a goat was pregnant. My reply was that it looked like a chair was sideways in its stomach. It was “just a feeling.” At the end of the lesson I showed them all a picture of the suspect. They agreed that I was probably right. For two weeks every day my students asked me if my kids had arrived. They hadn’t. The momentum was dying down and I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen. It was about then that I realized there were three pregnant females on the premises. My students were so excited. I even got emails from parents inquiring about the event!
One Saturday I took off for an evening with some friends and left Greg at home to feed. Not thirty-five minutes after I left home, he called me to say that one of the goats had just given birth to twins. I’d missed it! This was compounded by the fact that the other one looked like she would give birth within twenty-four hours. A few hours later I called to make sure Greg had set up the heat lamps at the shed, and he informed me that we already had another set of twins!
The next morning I bundled up to head out into the below freezing weather to check on our new additions. Even though I’d missed the birth, I was armed with my camera. I was also carrying some compost pile material, so I separated from my husband to head in that direction first. I was not expecting the sound of distress that came out of his mouth, but when I looked in his direction, I understood. Maybe three feet from a heat lamp lay one of new baby’s lifeless little bodies. It was small and deflated as if Life had spent little time there. I could barely even see it. He hurried past it to the next pen where he found the same haunting image: one of the twins from the other doe, just a few feet away from warmth, was also dead.