|This is Bella. She is awfully hard to photograph, as she keeps trying to eat the camera!|
Then, on Tuesday night, after Miya's 6th birthday party, I noticed that Elsie was showing some early signs of labour. I kept an eye on her during the dinner/bath/bed routine and as soon as the (human) kids were in bed it was evident that this baby goat was arriving - and soon! I called a couple of friends of mine who have goats and have had experience with goats birthing and we settled in with a torch and waited. This was Elsie's first birth and she wasn't sure what was going on, and it was obvious that the kid was a large one. We let her push for half an hour or so then once the front hooves and nose were out, my friend held then and on the next contraction gave a gentle pull and helped the kid out. Elsie's instincts took over completely and she set about cleaning the kid's face, then her body, and it wasn't long before the kid was trying to stand and looking for her first drink. We woke the girls up to come and meet the baby and moved mama and baby into the shed, stopping to check the kid's gender (a girl!) and watched to make sure the kid would suckle. We had nothing to worry about, Elsie is a wonderful first time mother, doing everything completely right. Miya named the kid Rosie.
Rosie is a three quarter Boer goat, and already shows signs of being a lovely stocky goat. Nath is salivating already, as it is likely that Rosie will end up in our pot! We can't keep three goats, and as Elsie is a proven mother, we will use her to breed, hopefully with a milking breed buck. Bella will also be a milker. The (human) kids aren't too happy about eating Rosie, but we are breeding goats for our own dairy and meat requirements, to avoid the awful meat and dairy industry and guarantee that the animals we eat have led a healthy and humane life. It's a hard lesson, but a necessary one, I feel.
For now, Rosie will remain suckling on Elsie for a few weeks, then we will separate them at night so that we can milk Elsie in the morning. We have been needing to milk Elsie in the afternoons a bit anyway, as she is producing ore milk than Rosie can drink and was looking like she may have been developing mastitis. Her milk is incredibly creamy, and raw, cold, fresh goats milk is beautiful!
We are all absolutely loving being goat owners! It has long been a dream of mine and I can't begin to explain how lovely it is to watch my three children playing with the goats, learning about animal husbandry and developing an understanding of what it means to be a mindful consumer of meat in this age where animals are merely commodities, bred for the greed of humans without much concern for their welfare.