Well, it’s about time I shared about the other goats that were born, don’t you think? Mama Solstice gave birth in March. Her birth didn’t go as quickly and smoothly as Oak’s did. It turned out that the first baby that was born was breech, so that explained why things were harder for her and progressing more slowly. Thankfully, once that first baby was born, the next two came out more easily. We celebrated triplets! Three, just like Oak had. Two girls and one boy, just like Oak had. Or so we thought…
The story of Dot…
As much as I wanted to be, I wasn’t there for the entire time Solstice was giving birth. I had seen her eating some afterbirth. (I know that doesn’t sound pleasant, but it’s a really important part of the process to keep the mamas healthy. Animals in nature know what’s good for them!) I assumed she had passed the placenta, but didn’t know for sure. She gave birth in the afternoon and I was out there for hours, making sure she was doing well, and her three little ones were doing well. The babies were smaller than Oak’s had been when they were born and I wondered aloud to Jeff and B if there was another baby in there, but when nothing else happened we figured that was it. We kept checking on them, and then I checked on her again that evening, before going to bed.
The next morning was a surprise when we went out to the goat house. Another baby! Only, it wasn’t doing well. I was shocked because I couldn’t believe that so much time could pass between births- how was that possible? The fourth baby was so tiny that it startled me. A little girl, and so beautiful. It didn’t have the strength to stand, but used the last of it’s energy to call to it’s mom. Solstice had clearly given up on it, not being able to feed the tiny thing when it couldn’t stand up. I knew she had tried to care for it, though, because it had been all cleaned off by her. At that point Solstice had sadness in her eyes and knew there was nothing she could do. But the other three kept her very busy!
We didn’t know if we could save the fourth goat kid. Jeff brought her inside and put her on a heating mat, holding her and trickling milk down her throat so slowly until she had the strength to start swallowing. Bit by bit, she started drinking. Then later in the day she was able to sit up! Then she was able to stand! If you had seen the state she was in when we first found her, you would have been as amazed as I was- Jeff had worked a miracle. We were so delighted. We officially had a “house goat” and were busy giving it around the clock care. We brought her everywhere, she was always with one of us. We took turns getting up in the night to feed her and check on her, and I was so tired and sleep deprived like caring for a newborn again.
With hope starting to grow, I brought her out to the goat house each day so her mama could see her, and so she could interact with her siblings, in case we were able to reintroduce her to the herd when she got stronger. I named her Dot, because she was such a little thing. Sadly, though, little Dot didn’t make it. It was sad for the three of us, we all loved her so much and had tried so hard to save her, but we had known from the beginning that her chances were not good of surviving. She had survived for a few days, and we took the best care of her we could in that time. When Dot died, we dug a hole for her and we set her gently in it, then our son picked flowers and surrounded her in flowers and flower petals. She looked so peaceful laying there, like she was sleeping in a flower bed. We appreciated our time with her.
We learned a lot throughout the experience. When the goat passes the placenta, it typically shows the conclusion of the birth process, but there can be multiple placentas and they can be delivered between kids. Be sure to have a bottle on hand in case you need it (more on that soon.) My goat friend said it’s important for goat kids to get colostrum within an hour or so, (and that they can’t digest food unless their temperature is at least 101.) There is so much to learn in the world of goats!
At first I didn’t want to overshadow the joy of Solstice’s new babies here by having this entire post be about Dot, but I want to share the sad stories here too, the heartbreaking parts of homesteading. Over the years, we’ve lost chickens, we’ve lost quail, we’ve lost dogs, we’ve lost cats, we’ve lost ducks, and we’ve lost goats. That is a part of raising animals. I think we can easily have the tendency to want to shelter our children from the hard parts of life, protect them from heartbreak, but I’ve watched farm kids who have been more comfortable with the experience of loss than some of the adults around them because they grew up with loss being a natural part of the cycle of life. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes it’s a chick you’ve had for a few days, and other times it’s a dog who has been an irreplaceable part of your family for years.
And Solstice’s other three? Well, they’ve been as busy as goat kids are- jumping everywhere, and being adorable. They’ve grown since these pictures were taken, and I will share another post to introduce you to them, but first this was the story that needed to be told.