Last Friday I noticed April bleating now and then while I was milking Matilda. This isn’t unusual – often the goats will stand around and bleat piteously at me in hopes that I will realize how sad and deprived they are and move the entire container of milking ration over for them to gobble up. But April is quiet and shy. She didn’t sound upset or urgent. I studied her for awhile, noticing the spacing between bleats.
“I think April is in labor,” I told Ethan, when Matilda was milked out and had been hauled out of the milking area. When I let them out to their hay, they all ran over, even April. Dusk was falling, and my hopes of being there for the birth were falling as well. If she was kidding, it was certainly going to be awhile yet.
The next day we went out early. We had wanted to arrive even earlier than we did, but it had been pouring all day and we kept hoping for a break in the clouds. It was a true summer storm, with buckets of water coming down, and lightening and thunder cracking around the sky. And sure enough, there was a baby goat huddled under a pine tree in the pasture.
I ran up to check on them, but our presence disturbed April. She is not very friendly, and Ethan scares her. She began bleating in distress and trying to get the kid to follow, but it was so little and new, and quite comfortable under the tree, so we left them. Ethan and I got the little tarp shelter in the weaning paddock close by more comfortable with fresh dry hay and a new tarp. I kicked the rest of the goats out to graze the back pasture, and I lured April and the baby over with a treat.
The kid (which is a girl – a little doeling!) snuggled happily down into the fresh, dry hay, but April was restless. She didn’t like being separated from the rest of the herd. Her constant walking along the fence and bleating was making the baby worried. So in the driving rain I called them all back and watched nervously as they crowded in, and the new kid wobbled between pairs of legs, nibbled at David’s belly, and got kicked trying to nurse on Twilight Sparkle.
Soon they all settled down under the shelter, the baby in the middle of everything.