Finally in March we were down to six yearling girls to kid and one older doe. Then we would be through until October kidding. So far, four of the yearlings had kidded and not given us a bit of trouble. With first time kidders, you always wonder what will happen. This is a whole new ballgame for them and they will either hesitantly or gleefully accept their brand new kids, or refuse one or all of their kids. Now the next time they kid, they would be old hands at having and rearing kids, but first timers you have to watch.
The fifth girl due to kid was one of our wild ones. She never would settle down and accept humans. Step into the field and she watched you like a hawk. You had to trick her or crowd her into a corner to catch her. I really wondered how this would work when she kidded and I stepped in to check the baby and help.
All the girls were in separate kidding stalls, separated by hog panels. They could see each other and not be upset about being alone. The hog panels worked great this way, but you had to watch out for the girls that got confused and thought the kids in the other pen beside them were trying to get near their babies and they would constantly attack that strange baby or they thought one of their own was a kid that belonged to another doe and they would have nothing to do with it or would attack it. Sometimes this would happen and it is something to keep in mind when you are kidding and using the hog panels.
But, right now, the wild girl was happy being able to see her buddies, even if they had new little strangers in with them. When she started kidding, I held off going into her stall until the baby was on the ground. She had stood to kid so the sack broke open for the kid to breathe, but the kid still had a lot of mucus around itís head. Cautiously, I stepped into her pen and took the towel I had lying across the hog panel and wiped the kidís head.
I had left my towel and a sitting bucket, and my kidding bucket with itís supplies in her pen to get her use to them. She wheeled around to see what I was doing and just froze. I fully expected her to run off, bouncing from the rafters, and leave her kid, either because of me being there or because this was a new thing that had just happened or both.
She just stiffly stood there and watched as I wiped the kid clean, iodined itís navel, and gave it a squirt of Kid Kare in itís mouth. She popped out the second kid, and stiffly just stood there, frozen. I brought the newest kid around to lie beside the first born kid. Still she just stood there, eyes looking wild, but her body stiff as a board. I wiped that kid off and iodined the navel and gave it a squirt of Kid Kare in its mouth, and then I just backed up and sat on the bucket to watch what would happen between her and her new kids.
She dropped her head and gave each a quick lick and then just stiffly waited. Her teats had to be checked to make sure the milk plug was out and the kids could nurse. It was cold out and I would usually help the kid to get to the teat and nurse. Warm colostrum quickly put in a kidís belly sure helps on survival rates in winter.
I hesitantly moved towards my wild little doe, picked up one of her kids and moved to the udder with him. She stiffly stood there, not moving, giving the remaining kid another lick. This wild doe let me milk out the milk plug and put a cold, squirmy kid up to her udder and let him nurse. When he was through, I put him back in front of her, and picked up the other and went to the other teat and repeated the process.
She stood there, stock still, eyes wildly darting around, watching me, but not moving. What strange behavior, but I was thankful she was not flying around the stall, swinging from the rafters like she would have normally done any other time.
I backed out of the stall and stood back and watched. She cautiously lowered her head again and gave each a single lick and stood over them. She definitely didnít like what they tasted like, but stood by them. They staggered around, trying to nurse on her knee and then made it back to the udder and started nursing.
It occurred to me while watching her, she had given every indication she would be the one to refuse her kids. I thought for sure she would fly around the stall and have nothing to do with them. Watching the hesitant mother I suddenly had a revelation. This girl was terrified of me and in spite of being a first timer and not really knowing how to lick the kids off when they arrived, she stood her ground when I came in to help.
As scared as she was of me, she would not leave. She took hold of her nerves, clamped down with an iron will, and stayed by her babies, even though she wasnít quite sure what to do with them. Instead of thinking of her as a wild silly creature, I started seeing a very courageous young creature who would not leave her kids.
Much to her agitation, that iron will of herís was going to be tested. Her handsome boys adored people. They were like happy, friendly little puppies around your feet all the time. She suffered greatly over their love of me and any human, but she stood by her kids at all times. Courageous little doe. Oh, and what did I name her boys? Well, Iron and Will , of course.