|Gustav and Gypsy, Class of 2012|
It’s a Boy! And a Girl!
I can’t begin to tell you how long I was waiting for those words, or something similar.
For the past two years, my pretty Nubian goat, Faith, has been a picky breeder. The first year on the farm (three years ago), she declined the buck’s invitation and gave herself the season off. I could live with that; after all, she had just arrived at the farm and needed to adjust to life with Toggenburgs, having come from a purely Nubian environment. I chalked her reticence up to culture shock, and gave her the grace of a year off.
Last year, in a fit of pique, I decided to return her to her birthplace to be bred by a registered buck for purebred babies. In October, when the rest of our herd came into heat, we packed her into the backseat of the truck and gave her a lift to see her fella, a beautiful Nubian buck named Jolt Cola. Well, Faith and Jolt enjoyed each other’s company for nearly a month before they consummated their relationship. My girl apparently believes in long courtships. Happily, her month-long date eventually resulted in the most beautiful triplets you’ve ever seen; two girls and a boy, all born toward the end of the three week long March birthing period at the farm. The fees associated with her breeding and upkeep during that time really stacked up, though the babies were adorable. She was a terrible mother though, having never experienced the joys of nursing her own babies; the one she had before coming to the farm was taken as a bottle baby.
|Fiona and Fauni Dell (Class of 2011, Bottle Babies)|
This year, we’re planning on sending Miss Faith to live with a dear friend in Virginia in a month or two; my life circumstances are changing, and I won’t be able to spend as much time on the farm as I did in the past. She was a mediocre milker last year, and her newest babies were destined to stay on the farm, though last year’s Nubian kids will join her in Virginia. Since the farm is a dairy farm in addition to being an agricultural education center, we chose to breed her to one of the house bucks, an award winning Toggenburg whose daughters have superior udders. Well. Faith had different ideas.
Once again, Miss Faith played hard-to get for nearly a month. The day before the bucks were removed from the breeding pasture, she finally succumbed to one of the boy’s charms; I suspect her courtship required dinner and dancing before he could be successful. Miss Faith is the barn diva, after all. She’s special. With her Nubian intelligence and charm, she is fully aware of her feminine wiles and powers of persuasion. Apparently Herve (or George, we’re not sure) was persuasive in his own right, because Faith finally ended up pregnant.
Twenty goats delivered before her. Twins, triplets; the place was overrun with playful kids, milky mommas, and happy visitors. Faith stayed pregnant. The last Toggenburg delivered a week ago; Faith was too round to sleep well anymore, groaning when she breathed. Her knees began to click. She gave me the stink eye whenever I lifted her tail. Everyone who came to visit gave her a pep-talk: “What are you waiting for, Faith? Squeeeeezzzzzeeeee!” She held out. A Diva, even gravidly pregnant.
Yesterday was the first day I milked the goats this year. The boys had gone to market, a difficult day for everyone, and the new season of milking began. It was a good feeling though, spending time with my girls again. My body ached from being out of practice, but even so, the warm round bellies and happy munching of grain brought back sweet memories. I mourned Daisy, who we lost after a difficult delivery. I brought Faith to the stand for some grain (and practice), even though she wasn’t showing any sign of giving birth. Another pep-talk ensued.
When I was finished, I had about an hour between milking and the beginning of our monthly board meeting, so I went out for a burger and a beer, and returned to the farm. No dice. Faith chewed her cud and smiled like the Mona Lisa. I went to the meeting.
A few hours later, on my way out, I stopped by for one last look, and there it was: the first tell-tale mucous. Kathy checked her out, and proclaimed an imminent birth, so we waited…and waited. I tried to nap in her guest room. Couldn’t do it. Went outside to check on her, and found Julie, another board member, sitting in the birthing stall with her. I sacked out in the stall awhile; nothing. Julie and I watched her vulva like nervous aunties.
Finally, at midnight, with my 5:30 am wake-up time looming and Faith looking inscrutable, I gave up and headed home. Kathy was sleeping next to the baby monitor, and Faith wasn’t cooperating. I needed to sleep. It was so hard to leave, but I knew she was in the best hands; Kathy is an experienced dairy woman and a human midwife. Who better to assist the Baroness of the Barn?
Well, on the way to school this morning, I got the call: a baby boy had been born! Faith was cleaning him. All was well. NURSING? Miss Faith, the Diva, must have learned a thing or two from her herd-mates. 10 more minutes, and her daughter was born with a little help from Kathy. The calls kept coming until my first class arrived, and all was well.
Faith, the Prettiest Girl in the Barn, has found her maternal side; it becomes her.