October 10th, 2011


A life gained, a life lost

For months, one of our goats, Josephine, has been getting fatter and fatter.  She was clearly very pregnant, and we were surprised at just how long it was taking.

Saturday she finally gave birth while we were out.  She had an astounding four babies (the norm for goats is two).  Alas, three of the babies were stillborn.  They were very small and underdeveloped; one didn't even have eyes.  But the fourth baby was healthy and appears normal.

Unfortunately, things did not go well for the mother.  The next morning, we saw that the baby was wandering around on his own.  We finally found the mother hiding inside one of the old dog houses.  She was clearly not her normal self, and she wouldn't (or couldn't) stand up to feed the baby.  After a while, we brought the kid inside and cleaned him up.  We found an old package of multi-species milk replacer, mixed up a small batch and fed it to the kid with an eye dropper.  My SO and I took turns holding him wrapped up in a towel for warmth.  Then we emptied the feed out of one of the large plastic bins, lined it with old towels, and placed him in it for the night.

This morning I went out and bought a fresh bag of goat milk replacer and a couple nipples.  Meanwhile, my SO tended to the kid and discovered he will drink milk from a small bowl like a dog.  That will make feeding a bit easier.

He seems to be doing well.  He's feeding, pooping and peeing (he peed on my bed last night), and when we set him down, he ran and leaped about the kitchen.  He's curious about everything, occasionally tried to headbutt my hand, and likes standing underneath people, all healthy, normal responses for a baby goat.

His mother passed away this afternoon.  I guess the strain of giving birth to that many babies was too much for her.

We've named the goat Ruthven (pronounced like "riven").  Ruthven is the protagonist in the opera Ruddigore, keeping with the theme of naming our goats after Gilbert & Sullivan characters.  It's also a bit of a play on words, albeit a sad one;  "Riven" means "torn apart", and little Ruthven has been torn from his mother.

Little Ruthven and one of his two mommies.