Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Death by quad does not become me!

There is a general theory if you can ride a push bike and drive a manual car then there is a good chance you also have the skills to learn how to ride a motorbike.  

So what's wrong with me? I drive a manual car, I can ride a push bike but I can’t get the idea of balance and power on the motor bike. I need training wheels!

My husband and son both have dirt bikes. They do a lot of trail riding.  I fervently wished I could go with them. I was so jealous.   I tried to talk my husband into doubling me but he wasn’t up for it. Finally he bought me a small quad.  I timidly rode it around the flat part of the paddock. With four wheels on the ground, it felt good and stable.  On the third day of owning it we decided we would try a trail ride.

All was going well; I was not doing anything beyond my capabilities. My husband was following along behind me, staying close. Then that yellow devil on four wheels bucked me down into a six foot deep gully!

I see a devil bug looking back at me, perhaps it is possessed.

OK, I will admit it was driver error.  We were heading down hill. I felt I was going too fast so I applied the hand brake. Turns out I actually pulled in the clutch so instead of slowing, the quad gained downhill momentum in neutral.  

It was flying. 
I was terrified. 
I had no control of the quad. 
It happened so quickly. 

Next thing the front wheels hit a rut on a bend beside the gully. 
I was airborne.  
I watched in horror as the bottom of the gully come rushing up at my face. 

The quad landed on top of me, I was pinned under it with my head just inches from the water in the gully.  My poor husband thought I was dead until I started screaming to get the quad off me.  The exhaust pipe was burning me through my jeans. 

I was very lucky to be able to walk away, albeit I had burns from the exhaust pipe, lots of skin off from shoulders to shins and bruises all over my body. I was a hobbling array of bruise colours and have never been so sore in all my life.  I provided a soft landing for the quad – all it suffered was a broken light switch. 

The most recent study of quad related deaths in Australia was conducted in 2013. There were 21 deaths reported; of these over half were rollover incidents where the rider was crushed by the machine and asphyxiated.   

Much to my husband’s angst I insisted on riding the horrid yellow devil home.   I am stubborn.  I applied the old saying “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on”, mind you, I sniveled all the way and drove it so slowly I may as well have walked (had I been able to). 

So I figure if I can do this much damage with a quad what would I do on a motor bike; maybe I will just leave the two wheels to the boys.  

These days I have a larger quad to get around the farm on, not a huge monster but lovely and stable and big enough for me to pull a wonderful little all purpose trailer my husband built for me. I really couldn’t do without my quad but I ride it with lots of respect.
 Coffee the goat rider

Thursday, 15 October 2015

You've got to be kidding!

An up date on baby #1. 
I am so happy to report after three days she has her sight.  With gaining her sight she began lifting her head which strengthened the neck muscles and in turn helped the hunched shoulders and straightened her sway back.  She is now romping around my kitchen as a normal kid would do. 

I must say those few days were very demanding. I carried her everywhere I went, if I didn’t she would yell the place down needing to know where I was. We were doing the four hourly feeds, I didn’t need to set my alarm to get up and feed her, her yelling woke the entire farm. Now I am sure any new mother would be green with envy to learn she is 4 days old and last night slept 10 hours straight!  
So I will have to find a name for her.  Sometimes a name will come to me straight away other times I have to ruminate on it.  Well she was sitting in my lap a few minutes ago and the name ‘Xanthe’ popped into my head, so Xanthe it is.  I can just imagine my family rolling their eyes at that one. Ah well, with animals we can get away with naming them something a little unusual.


I remember now what it is like being a new mother.  Dishes stacked in the sink, bed unmade, and the house desperately needs a vacuum, hair un-brushed; did I remember to brush my teeth this morning? Same clothes on for the past...hmm is it three days, they are covered in some interesting stains.  So damned tired I can hardly think straight.

It is not just having a new baby to care for but all the other demands on the farm which snowball all at once.  My quad decided to die in the driveway so to move things around for the goats I don’t have the quad trailer; I now have to push a wheelbarrow over all terrain.  Yesterday afternoon a silly doe decided to jump into it as I was moving hay for them, she broke the legs on the barrow. I can still wheel it but not put it down as everything in it topples out.

Otis has Urinary calculi again, there is a lot of blood in his urine, I am extremely concerned for my gorgeous boy, anti-inflammatory, steroids and anitbiotics don’t appear to be helping much this time. 
I have to keep checking a doe is feeding her babies, I think she would prefer I do it for her so she can go off shopping all day.

Jasmine’s little girl has a turned lower eyelid which I treat twice a day; another kid’s eye needs looking at as well.  They do insist on playing in the dirt.

I am still waiting on this last doe to kid.  The other night at 9pm she was breathing strangely, a little like panting, I thought she may have been in the early stages of labour. I checked her at 11pm, 1am; 3am; 5am; 7am.  No, she just wanted to keep me up all night!

Never in ten years have I had such a trying kidding season.  It is full on with hardly a break before I am needed for the next birth. 

Did my Does not read the Boer Goat Manual?  Quote” Normally kidding is a hands off situation with no need for assistance. Rarely do Boer goats give birth at night” unquote.

So far I have had to assist 7 of the 15 pregnant does due to abnormal kid positions. Front feet first babies, Please!!!  Or the amniotic sac has not broken by itself therefore if I do not break it baby would drown after being born in what kept it safe inside. If I had been aware of 2 other does being in labour I may have 3 more live babies.  

Assisting means going in with my hand – Oh Yes – the mothers love that and are so co operative – Not. While my girls are generally quiet in nature they become untrusting she devils in labour.

This is the scene from the first delivery this year.  Keep in mind I only had to assist twice before in ten years of kidding at our place and never at night.

My doe has been in labour too long, straining for at least two hours.  It is 9.30pm. I have to grab her by a horn, use the other hand to get a dog collar and lead on her all while she is pulling and twisting to get away from me. Then I literally drag her to a tree to secure her to. Ever tried to drag a 50kg + goat someplace they don’t want to go?  This one had me skidding on my bum! 

Now I can go exploring gently up her ‘whatsit’ to my wrist to figure out baby’s position.  I have a head lamp on, another torch illuminating the puffy end.  In I go.   Is that a head? Where the hell are the legs? What is that squishy thing I am feeling?   I need to find legs to gentle draw them forward so baby can be born with ease.   No Legs, now I am panicking, how do I help this doe?

Thankfully my good friend is a far more experienced goat midwife than I am.  She is on speed dial.  Mobile phone on loud speaker and for once actually in a spot it can pick up reception here in “Black spot for all technology land’.  It is now 10pm. I wail to her I have no idea what I am feeling; I simply can’t make it out.  My friend talks me through what I am feeling.  She makes me laugh, she tells me she is miming what she is telling me to do while on the other end of the line.  I have to try to find shoulders then ease my hand around them until I find a foot.  Well finally young “Prince Harry” was born.  Yeah I know, I shouldn’t name the boys but this little guy just reminds me of Prince Harry.   His sister is born five minutes later with no help from me, phew!

Prince Harry

Warning:  Explicit photos of a goat giving birth follow.

This is my beautiful Missy, She was thoughtful enough to need help with her babies during daylight hours and as you can see from the last photo quite thankful.

The first baby has both legs backwards

You have a son Missy

Second one on the way

A girl this time

 Aren't I clever?  Yes Missy very clever.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Call The Midwife! - Hell, not her!

I thought you may be interested in a glimpse of my evening last night here at Somerset Farm.

I was still waiting on two does to kid. Before bed I checked their rear ends for tell tale signs that something interesting may be about to happen.  All safe, bed here I come.

At 10.30pm a ferocious wind came up. I could hear things banging and rattling around so I got up to secure outdoor chairs and the kidding pen door.  Suddenly I heard a goat yelling in pain. A quick check and yes my biggest ‘fatty’ was missing.  She was way down the back corner of the paddock in labour.

My torch picked up another movement down by her.  It was a fox waiting to snatch the newborn, if it hadn’t already taken one.  I ran down there but couldn’t see evidence of a previous birth, so Foxy was outa luck. 

Why the hell do all these goats insist on giving birth in the dirtiest patch of ground they can find?   She needed help.   In my PJ’s I dropped down into the dirt with her and went exploring with my hand.  The kid was stuck in her pelvis. I didn’t have time to get my birthing kit with restraints, gloves etc. Fortunately when you insert a hand into the doe she drops down on the ground and doesn’t try to get away.  I had no choice but to help pull the baby out.  Poor darling, it must have hurt like hell, she was bellowing, but once we had the baby out she was off like a rocket; she sure didn’t want anything to do with me.  So I am sitting in what was now amniotic wet dirt, covered in fluids, mucus and blood, trying to clear baby’s mouth and nose with my hand. Then with the slimy baby clutched to my chest I am running after mum trying to show her the baby so she could lick and bond with it.  This is all done with just a torch.

I know mum will have a second baby, she was too big not to.  Doe #74 finally realised the mewling, wet object was her baby and let me put it down with her.   Straight away mum went into her licky, talky, protective mode with the kid. I took the chance the fox had been scared off, I left the torch to give the fox even more thought about its safety and ran up to the house for my birthing kit.  Both the doe and kids need an antibiotic injection because of the intervention and risk of infection.

My birthing kit
Well we sit there for 30 minutes with the wind raging around us while mum fluffs about the baby and waiting for #2 to arrive. I am getting concerned.  Baby is getting a cold mouth and hasn’t stood to have a drink from her mother. She appears to become weaker.

Finally another amniotic sac shows but it keeps disappearing back inside.  Peek-a-boo!  I think mum was stressed with me there, even though I was sitting a good distance away, she wouldn’t let labour take hold.

Enough!!  At this rate the second baby could be still born. I tied her to a tree.  Next time the sac plays peek-a-boo the little feet are visible.  A bit longer......No, I will have to help a little.  Out slides baby #2.  This one is stronger.

After 20 more minutes I am really worried about kid #1. She is lying on her side and not attempting to get up.  Not good, death lurks.   I have to move them to warmth and safety from Foxy Loxy.

Fortunately when I collected the birthing kit I had the forethought to bring my washing basket lined with towels.  Both babies were warmly wrapped and put into the basket.   The move to the kidding enclosure 250 odd metres away was a slow arduous trek. I had to take five steps put the basket down, shine the torch on it, wiggle the stronger kid so it would make a noise for mum to hear and continue following me.  Half way there the mother ran back to where she gave birth, looking for them.  Boy was I frustrated.  I called Doe #74 a number of choice names.

By this time the alarm was singing on our inverter, telling me I was about to lose solar power to the house.  Great!   Forget mum for the moment. Put babies in front of the heater, put kettle on for the hot water bottle to try to warm baby #1, she was dying. Ran outside to put the generator on.  

Needed to wash my hands of ooey gooey. Damn I had to turn the water back on for the house; we drain the water heater and pipes each night so they don’t freeze and burst in case we hit the minus degrees.  

Mean while I have left a trail of blood and goo on everything I have touched, like a scene of carnage.  Make what you will of that forensics!

OK, babe #1 now has hot water bottle under her and I’m rubbing her like crazy to keep her alive and she is responding.

It’s time to leave her in front of the heater and find her mother.  Baby #2 is the lure.  Out we go with dog lead.  Mum has at least come back to the half way point.  Gently prod baby to ‘talk’. Mum comes running to her.  Grab doe #74 by the horn. Horns are the most wonderful handle! Snap the dog lead on her.  Five steps put baby down, shine torch on baby.  Sometimes mum runs straight to her, other times she is confused and I have to drag her the five steps.  By the time we get to the kidding yard I’m exhausted.  It is now after midnight.

In the pen I battle, and I do mean battle, with doe #74 to milk off some colostrum. She wants no part of her udder being touched by me or her other baby.  She stamps, dances and kicks.  Baby #1 needs colostrum desperately.  It is the elixir of life. I’m more determined than #74 and get my milk!  It was amazing how quickly kid #1 became animated and perked up after her drink.

I went to check on kid #2 and mother to find another bubble sac emerging from mum’s nether region. OMG a third kid and it’s over two hours since the first was born.  I had no idea if it would be dead after such a long time between labours and moving the family to the safe kidding area.  No wonder mum was not happy.  Success a live boy. 

Now she is calmer, allowing the babies to suckle.  How traumatic all this must have been for her.
Doe #74 = 3.  Fox = nil.

Towels!  How can there be that many towels? I survey my kitchen at 2am and have bloody, mucusy birth towels everywhere, and ugg my PJ’s are disgusting even though at some point I changed into my jeans, which are just as bad.  My heavy jacket will need washing as well.  I trudge around; find buckets to soak everything in.  Hit bed at 2.09am.

Then at exactly 2.15am that damn Willy Wag Tail decided to sit in the tree outside the house and starts its “Rikka-tikka-tikka-tik’ every 30 seconds. It is like torture. After 15 minutes of trying not to hear its mating call I went out there like the sleep deprived, crazed woman I am and shook every branch I could reach while yelling at it.  The Willy Wag Tail departed for a quieter tree.

Willy =0. Kerrie = 1.

As per usual I am awake at 5.30 am to scare crows off, check all babies are accounted for and make sure the last pregnant doe hasn’t decided to go into labour.

All quiet on the Somerset Farm front.

Doe #74 and two of her babies are safe in the pen. 

The next morning I notice the boy is standing on his pastern rather than his hoof, probably caused from how he had to share his living quarters for the past five months with his sisters.  Cod Liver Oil (Vitamin A) is brilliant for helping with this.
It is littlest #1 I am concerned about; there is something very wrong with her.  Her body demeanour suggests perhaps brain damage, or a spinal problem, and then I discover she is blind. 

Birth blindness can happen from prolonged difficult labour but usually it’s temporary, rectifying itself within three days.  I am hoping this is all it is.  Time will tell.

I decided Cod Liver oil is good for the eyes too, so just for good measure (and in desperation) all three kids were given CLO now I stink like rank fish.  The smell is awful and will not wash away.

I have become #1’s mother.  Even if her mum could feed three kids on our poor native grasses this little one can’t find her mum’s teat.  Her mum knows I have her. She can hear her baby ‘talking’ in the kitchen. Just that one night of bonding mother and baby know each other’s voices and can find each other across the paddocks just by calling to one another. 

#74 has stationed herself and her other two kids at the back yard fence. She keeps calling to the little one and bellows at me every time I appear; it doesn’t help that #1 calls back to her from the kitchen.  Noisy and stressful for all concerned. 

I can only imagine how terrifying it would be for an animal to be blind to what is going on around it, sight is their survival.  Unlike human babies a kid is fairly independent from the second day, running off to play and explore then catching up with mum for a drink.  This little girl needs reassurance I am nearby, so I talk to her a lot.

I won’t name her for the moment. It would be too heartbreaking to do that, becoming too attached, especially if this body demeanour of head hanging turns out to be more than birth blindness. I have saved kids in the past that should not have been saved only to have them die at a young age of whatever complication caused them to be abandoned by their mothers in the first place. 

All going well, an appropriate name for #1 will surface as time rolls on.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Mean Girls

If you think some girls from school were bullies I can tell you pregnant does hold the trophy of being nasty, spiteful females.

Put a bunch of hormonal does together and you can be assured of a bitch fest. Instead of words they use their heads.  Copow!  A good head butt to the side of that one simply because she is in another’s space. How the unborn kids survive this punishment just proves how tough goats are.

The herd heavies can sniff out a more timid vulnerable doe in a second and intimidate her to the extent she is too scared to even try to come to the feed trough. If she does make it that far she is constantly on the lookout for the full on head butt to the side of the body, racing in and out of the melee at the food bar, trying to grab a bite to eat but maintain her safety. would think these girls are starving.  I take my life in my hands when I feed them morning and afternoon. 

The scene is quite manic.  Before I can even empty the grain into the troughs I am being pushed and jostled from all sides, a tangle of their horns, head and bodies shoving between my legs to get to the food first.  My thighs are constantly horn bruised. Keeping my balance is simply a miracle.

Once the food is out the silly girls run in a frenzy from one trough to another, just in case they are missing out on something better over there. 

I seem to be always saying to them, “Girls a little decorum please, you are pregnant.’

Clover is queen of the hay feeder.  She will jump into the middle of the feeder dominating from above, making sure she has the royal share of the hay.

These two girls are clever.  They scramble under the bale holder to eat from underneath where they can’t be attacked or run off by stand over girl Jasmine.

"No Closer Blondie!"

Bella certainly puts ‘B’ into bully and bitch.  She will wallop into any goat too close to her, no provocation needed.

It gets no better after kidding.  If a little babe mistakes a doe for its mum, or gets too close to her, the doe will use a slightly more gentle head swipe to push it away.  I am quite horrified at the meanness towards the innocent kids. 

"Outa my space kid, you don't belong to me"
Watching this carry on I wonder what happened to my usually sweet natured girls.