Baby Goats, 2018


I had intended to post this sooner, but I was exhausted. Mama goat Candy started showing signs of being ready to give birth late in the evening on March 28th: her udder was filling, her ligaments were soft, her back end was swollen, and she generally had that “faraway” stare all day long. I figured surely she’d freshen within a day of her due date.

So, I spent four long days and three sleepless nights checking on her in her kidding stall. I’m pretty sure she spent three nights laughing to herself about the stupid human that kept trudging out to the barn all night through the rain and mud.

She held on to those kids till Easter day. Apparently she wanted to make a show of it so all of our company would get to enjoy a holiday meal AND give she and her babies all the attention for the day!

Saturday night I could tell she was finally going into labor. She was breathing heavily and was obviously very uncomfortable. I only got about three or four hours of sleep that night, but come Sunday morning — still no babies. Around noon I had to give up and start getting ready for our guests. I got cleaned up, changed out of my barn clothes, and started cooking Easter dinner. I got the ham in the roaster and some home made mac and cheese started in the the slow cooker.

By then it was about 1 in the afternoon, and I thought I should probably check on Candy one more time before our guests started arriving because I knew I’d be distracted at that point. I tossed on my boots and went out to the barn, and as I was walking through the door I could hear the distinct high-pitched short bleats of baby goats. I rushed in and opened the pen, and sure enough there was a goopy, just-born kid on the ground and a second, slightly drier one standing by Candy’s head.


Once again, I had missed the whole birthing process, but I was still thrilled to have two babies and a healthy mama who was already busying herself licking and cleaning them. I texted Mike to hurry out to the barn and I turned on a Facebook live stream to share the moment with all our friends who have been following along and anticipating babies too.

The first born was a dark buckskin boy that has a white mark on his head and on his side. He looks a lot like his older half-sisters Reese and Maizey. The second born was a light buckskin girl that is a nice mix of her mom and dad.

The glamorous life of a goat farmer: laying in straw, goat arse in your face, making sure newborn kids are latching properly.

We hadn’t planned on retaining any kids this year, but we fell for the little girl pretty hard almost instantly. I have a sneaking suspicion she may be staying after all. The boy will be available for sale in a few weeks.

Reese was due this year on April 3. Unlike her mom, Reese wasn’t that big and didn’t show any signs that she would kid near her due date, apart from a very slightly swollen udder. In the morning on April 3, I checked her ligaments and they seemed firm, so I let her out to run with the herd rather than keeping her in her kidding pen. Being a first freshener, I thought she might take a few more days. Plus, she wasn’t nearly as big as her mother, and she’d been exposed to the buck over a few weeks, so I thought perhaps I didn’t have her due date exactly correct either.

I checked on everyone again at lunch time, and all was well. Candy was nursing her kids in her pen, and the rest of the herd was lazing about.

That evening, Ben had a homework assignment to measure the height of 5 members of his household. Because we’re only a family of four, he decided to measure one of the goats for his fifth “family member”, so he accompanied me out to the barn to do my last barn-check of the day. I got to the barn first, and found it curiously quiet. Usually when the goats hear me come into the workshop attached to the barn, they start hollering and banging around, anticipating their evening feeding. That night, it was silent. I skipped the grain buckets and rushed into the barn to see what was amiss. I walked into a circle of goats surrounding a fluffy, dark little baby goat.

My immediate thought was that Candy’s buckling had escaped her pen and couldn’t figure out how to get back in, so I scooped up the kid quick as I could, fearing he’d get stepped on. That’s when I noticed the afterbirth still hanging on to Reese’s back side. I started yelling for Ben to hurry to the barn while I held the baby away from the bigger goats.

Once Ben got to the barn, he was able to help me get Reese and her newborn boy into her kidding stall away from the others. Ben worked on settling them in while I fed the other goats and got everyone settled for the night.

I feel so bad for poor little Reese. It was her first time giving birth, and she had to do it with her half-sister and two crazy full grown LaManchas pestering her. I’m so grateful the other goats were gentle with her and the baby, and that she did such a good job for a first freshener. Lesson learned: signs or not, keep a much closer eye on goats near their due dates!

Reese only had one buckling, a chamoise that Ben has named “Memphis”. He’l be available for sale in a few weeks along with our other little buckling.

So our spring 2018 kidding season is over, with two bucklings and one doeling this year. There’s a small chance one of the LaManchas may have been successfully bred back in February. If that’s the case, we might have Mini-LaManchas in July, but I’m not confident about that breeding. If our Maizey, who turns one on May 1st, comes into heat, we may breed her for a fall kidding, but we are waiting to see on that. For now, we’ll be enjoying these three bundles of joy, and looking forward to goat milk (and cheese!) in the coming months.

Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.