It was Charles Dickens who wrote in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. That is what I am feeling today as our one and only goat doe prepares for her first kidding. On the one hand, we are excited to finally have a kid (or kids) after the trials of raising goats for the last 18 months. On the other hand, the weather forecast for this weekend uses words like “arctic”, “ice”, “snow” and “wintry mix. And, the overnight lows on both days of this weekend are forecast to be around 7F (-14C). In other words, lousy conditions to bring babies into the world.
Because our doe and buck are together all the time, I did not see a mating occur, so had no idea of due dates. Two months or so ago, I noticed that the doe was looking rounder, but wasn’t sure how much to attribute to pregnancy and how much to putting on some winter weight. However around Thanksgiving she started to develop an udder, which was the first clue that she was closer to delivery than we had hoped. The udder development can begin up to six weeks before birth, so over the last few weeks we have been keeping a close eye on her, but other than slowly growing larger, she wasn’t giving away too many more clues.
Then, two days ago her udder suddenly swelled to dairy goat proportions and we realized that delivery was close at hand. Here is how she looked that morning:
And this morning it was obvious that she had lost her “plug”. As birth typically occurs within about 12 hours of losing the plug, we are on high alert today, checking every hour for any sign that active labor has begun. So far though, she has spent her day much like any other: wandering out to graze with the sheep, calmly munching on hay from the hay walls, and snoozing. However the discharge continues, and she has also “dropped”, indicating that things are moving slowly forward.