Kidding season is the time for all of us to become even more addled than usual. A bit tetched in the head from lack of sleep, overwork, and downright feeling “Duh”. You tend to lose all tract of time because all the focus is on the kidding does and their sweet little babies, making sure everyone survives winter kidding. Well, for that matter, any time kidding, even if you do it in the spring, summer, or fall. Each season has its own problems to overcome to have successful kidding.
During winter kidding season your pregnant does rule. Whether you have baby monitors up like us or you have a whole security system with all the gizmos to keep an eye on every corner of the barn, you still find yourself spending a great deal of time, night or day, checking things out at the barn that look odd to you. Asking yourself questions, “Is that grunt meaning she's kidding? Was that the sound of a newborn kid? What on earth is she doing?” And, you go flying down to the barn to check it out. This greatly gets in the way of anything called sleep or rest. Soon, you find yourself staggering along, trying to remember what you are to do next in the way of chores, whether for the house or for the farm.
I find that if I take a big piece of paper and with black magic marker, write down what I am suppose to do next, like phone in feed order, don't forget groceries, etc. and then tape it so it hangs down from the kitchen doorway where my head will hit it as I go in and out, I can then keep up with most things after one or two hours of sleep a night for a week or two or even longer.
You find yourself many times asking what day it is, or what month is it? You get that tired. "Just from waiting on does to kid or being with them while they kid" you ask? Yes to both. Does don't just kid... like pop them out and that's it. Some start getting ready to kid by staring at the wall and really concentrating and taking up to 12 hours before finally kidding. So, you are running back and forth keeping an eye on her.
When she gets to the point where she actually has some sticky stuff hanging out of her, she may start kidding right then or it may be another couple of hours. More running back and forth checking on her. When she finally gets down to labor, she may be so excited over that first kid, she may have to talk to it, clean it, for next half hour to an hour before she even starts to have the second one. And, shell have to play with this one too, before you even know if she might be having a third or fourth one. Some kids get too impatient with this and after the first one, they pop out like popcorn. So, when she has first started actually pushing to have the first kid, and by the time you help get everyone dried off, iodine on their navels, and they have eaten, it may have been three hours before you can finally stagger off to bed, or to the couch, or to the easy chair. Then you are still on call to go down and check and make sure all the kids are under the heat lamp still and not off in a corner getting chilled and dying on you.
And, if it is really cold in the barn, even though you are using a heat lamp and you have dried that kid off with a towel, it seems a big kid will sull up on you and refuse to nurse. This is when you try a bottle, either of moms milk or, to speed things along because I have a lot of girls getting ready to kid, I use whole milk with colostrum powder in it and offer 3-4 ounces and a lot of times they easily slurp it down. When you check on them in an hour, they are up tottering along trying to nurse off mom. With a little assistance, they finally get the teat. Each kid can be so different, you have to keep an eye on them to see exactly what is going on or you can lose a kid.
Sometimes you have to bottle feed when a particularly stubborn kid refuses to get down to nurse off mom. He thinks the teat should be high up on her side somewhere. You end up bottle feeding him for a day or two, leaving him with mom, and then miracle of miracles, he starts nursing by watching his brother or sister.
We had a particularly tough case when an experienced mom kidded only one kid. This threw her off, where were the others, she asked. She kept wanting to keep the one kid under her neck to keep an eye on him, probably for fear of losing the one, because after all, something had obviously taken the others that she usually had. Well, this was fine with him because he thought the teat should be at the base of her neck anyway. No amount of sweet talking could convince the two to shape up and act right, so he had to be bottle fed while he was with him mom as she supervised. This went on for three days and Lee and I were even getting up at 2 a.m. to make sure he got his bottle down at the barn, and Lee was milking the doe after the first day to give the milk to the baby and finally the kid caught on. He just smelled the milk while Lee was milking the doe and went wild. "So, that's where that comes from!" He never looked back, he was on the teat almost all the time after that.
I always buy and keep on hand a paste tube of colostrum in case I have a kid that will not nurse and will not accept a bottle. Once in a while this happens and it can last a whole day. Some people tube the kid, but we had a bad experience with that and don't do that anymore. We squirt some paste colostrum into their mouths until finally we get all things sorted out and the kid is nursing like a normal kid should. Its always seems to be something extra than just kidding to keep you up at all hours and not giving you any chance of rest. But, this is kidding, so you accept it and learn and go on.
One thing you do learn is you never put on your jamies at night to go to bed during kidding season. A doe starts hollering over the baby monitor in the middle of the night and just how fast are you to getting in your barn clothes? Oh, you are simply going to throw on a coat over your pajamas and just run down, huh? Think again, its winter, kidding is never over in a few minutes, it could be a couple of hours minimum before you get back into the warmth of the house.
What do I do? I go to bed wearing thick fleecy sweat pants, sweat shirt, wool socks, and sleep on top the covers to be ready to be up in a minute. Then, when I hear something, I throw on a heavy warm coat, insulated barn boots, warm toboggan, and go flying down to the barn in seconds flat. Hey, it doesn't take long to teach me that wearing pajamas, bunny slippers, and a light coat down in a 20 degree barn for a couple of hours is no fun.
Well, now I have to get back to work and do ...? What day did we say it was?