Stinky, smelly, gag-inducing custard puss… That was my life for a couple of days.
Each morning, I would wake up, wrestle a pregnant bleating goat into the milkstand, and start squeezing puss.
Each evening, after I got home from work, I’d wrestle her back into the milkstand, and start squeezing puss.
Each night, before I went to bed, I’d wrestle her back into the milkstand again, and start sqeezing puss.
At the end of each pussing session, I would flush out both teats with an antiseptic solution, disinfect the entire milkstand (which, considering the fact that I built it from scratch only a couple of days ago, has seen an inordinate amount of use), and then I would spend the next 5 or 10 minutes petting and apologizing to poor Vin before putting her back in the pasture.
Yup. That was my daily routine ever since I discovered the poor girl had mastitis last Tuesday.
Fortunately, after exuding buckets of puss (and getting kicked more times than I care to keep track of), the infection finally seemed to be abating. As expected, the scar tissue from the infection had rendered the right side of her udder totally useless — but at least the poor girl wasn’t feverish anymore.
Just in time, too…
After a lovely morning pussing session, in which Vin only expelled a small amount clear, watery liquid (a very good sign), I headed off to work, with hopes that we were finally in the clear. I’d only been in the office for a few hours when I got a phone call from Lindsey, informing me that Vin had given birth — to TWINS!
Talk about a surprise!
I was all smiles while Lindsey described the cute little things to me. In my mind’s eye, I was imagining their waggly little tails and soft, floppy ears, when Lindsey cut off for a second and said:
“Oh no! That poor little thing! Vin just head-butted the white one!”
We’re still not sure why, but that silly mother goat of ours ended up rejecting both twins — running away from Skunk, and repeatedly head-butting Edelweiss.
I ended up leaving work a few hours early that day to pick up some lamb nipples and milk replacer at the feed store.
Now, I should probably confess to you right now that I know nothing about goats. In fact, I pretty much know nothing about ANYTHING. I’m just flying by the seat of my pants here and doing the best I can.
That being said, I didn’t know if Vin’s colostrum would be any good, given the fact that she’d just had mastitis on one side. So while I was at the feed store, I bought a bag of colostrum replacer too. Just in case. (And I also kinda, mighta, sorta got distracted and purchased some horseradish starts for the garden, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. But that’s totally beside the point!)
By the time I got home, both kids were dried off and wobbling around the pasture on their own — and that sweet little wild-child of ours had completely fallen in love with them! My proud papa heart still beams every time I think about her hugging, petting, and “kissing” those cute little baby goats.
Vin, however, wanted nothing to do with them; I guess she was just too busy eating her placenta… So I scooped ’em both up, mixed a warm bottle of thick, yellow colostrum, and painstakingly tried to get the kids to suck. Just like feeding Rump a year ago, it took them awhile to figure it out, but eventually, they both drank about 1/4 cup.
When they’d finished eating, I packed the dog crate full of fresh straw, hauled it into the warm(ish) garage, and the two little kids nestled right in and went to sleep. Talk about a couple of little angels!
While those little sweeties were busy snoozing, I got to work: milking out Vin’s left teat, heating the fresh colostrum over the stove (to hopefully kill any baddies), and feverishly reading everything Google had to offer on raising bottle kids — because, like I said before, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing here!
Four hours later, it was time to feed ’em again (at least that’s what the instructions on the back of the colostrum bag said to do), but those finicky little kiddos were having none of it!
They’d suck your fingers just fine. But try and stick a rubber nipple in their mouths, and all they’d do is lick it. Or chew it. Or spit it right out.
After trying and trying and trying to get them to suck (to no avail), I finally just concluded that they weren’t really hungry — and I decided I’d try again in 2 hours.
The problem is, 2 hours later, they STILL didn’t want to suck. So I tried again 2 hours later. And 2 hours after that. And 2 hours after that…
I was up pretty much all night long, coaxing, begging, pleading, and praying that those silly little goats would get with the program. Every 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Sure, I was probably over-reacting a little; they probably would have been fine going 6 or 8 hours between feedings. But as a first-time caprine foster parent, I just wanted to make sure they were getting the proper nourishment, especially with that colostrum.
Eventually, when 5:30am rolled around, I resorted to somewhat desperate measures and pulled out a syringe and force-fed those little goats about 1/4 cup more colostrum — then “tucked them in bed,” ate some breakfast of my own, hurriedly milked their mother, jumped in the shower, and rushed out the door to go to work.
I have to admit, my eyelids felt pretty heavy throughout the day, and my mind wasn’t totally “with it” while I was at work (especially considering the fact that it was Friday), but looking back, it was good preparation for the drama to come…
But that’s a story for another day.
Stay tuned for Part III of our 2017 goat drama!