Being present at a kidding is an awesome experience. You are there right at the moment
when a whole new little goat being is coming into the world. The emotions, the excitement,
the anticipation, the worry if things will go well, just fill your whole person as you watch.
Well, yeah, I know, if they come out right they are either in a thin clear balloon with a
bunch of water, or if that balloon has burst and they are the slimiest little dickens youíve
ever seen. But still, the idea is that itís going to be one cute little kid.
One thing you must have control of at each kidding is your stomach. No weak stomachs
allowed. You are not much help if you are over in the corner tossing your cookies. You
have a new kid to help in, to him, a very cold world. Forget about the slime, the umbilical
cord, the blood, cleaning the slime out of the mouth and off the nose, the mother licking the
slime. Uh, wait a minute. Iíve got to go find a salty cracker to settle my stomach.
Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, new kid on the block, I mean in the barn. After he has slid
effortlessly out (effortlessly to him, not his mother), itís important to stick around to make
sure he gets that first drink of colostrum. Without that colostrum, preferably within the first
hour and at least within the first six hours, heís going to be one dead kid.
Our does like to kid when itís six below zero or a sizzling 8 degrees Fahrenheit. They skip
those days when itís thirty or forty degrees. Not only is it important to be there during a
very cold kidding, to dry the little kid off with a couple of towels or a blow dryer, but itís
extremely important to get that colostrum in him immediately to make him even want to
live in such cold conditions.
He has popped out soaking wet, no matter the amount of licking mom does, and at those
temperatures he becomes an almost instant popsicle. Heís laying there shivering saying,
"Who wanted me to be here when itís so cold? Oh, I know. Itís that HUMAN! That
HUMAN wanted me to be here for ITís convenience!"
So, getting that colostrum in that kid (after youíve dried him off and stuck him under a heat
lamp) becomes your prime importance, especially in cold weather. Okay, itís also after
youíve cut the cord closer and dipped it in iodine while the kid is so addled from being born
that he doesnít realize a raw wound has just been dipped in strong iodine. If nothing perks
him up, that will.
Getting that kid to nurse immediately after being born in cold weather is when you start
learning the different personalities of newborn kids. You find out if you have the compliant
kid, the stubborn kid, the "I give up kid", the "Whatís a teat?" kid, the always hungry kid,
the "I insist, the teatís over here" kid, the "You want me to do what?" kid, the "This sure is
a nasty way to get milk" kid, the "Get out of my way and let me at um" kid, and the list
Iíve had them where they have just slid out of mom, either while mom is lying down or
insisting on standing and landing the kid on itís head, be lying there with their eyes closed,
and sucking up a storm on air. They are rearing to nurse but canít get their bodies up to
follow their lips. After a few minutes they usually stagger up and start looking for the milk
You have them where they are born naturals and know where to go. Then you have the
kids that insist on nursing on momís chest and eventually follow their lips back to the
udder. Some just stay a while on momís leg or chest and need a gentle nudge to get them
back in the right direction.
Iíve had them where they had the right idea, but just kept insisting that their lips shouldnít
part any larger then what a tiny wisp of hay would fit in and strongly insist that the teat
should fit through that tiny opening. The idea that the teat is bigger then that is downright
repulsive to them. After a bit, hunger makes them open their lips to take on larger objects,
such as your hand, your boot, the water bucket, until you finally guide them back to the
It always happens that on the very coldest day or night, you get the really stubborn ones.
When you need to get the colostrum in that kid fast, he wants to take a long siesta, or just
stares mesmerized at you, saying, "What in tarnation are you? Were you in there with me?"
We had one first time Angora have a big single. He was a beaut, big and curly. Looked like
a large poodle standing there. He was so large that he kept insisting that the teat should be
higher up, close to the back. He would get hold of one of his momís long curls of hair and
go to sucking and then spit it out. Then he would go to the next ringlet of hair and spit it
out, all up near her back.
I patiently bent his little knees to put him lower and pushed his head back to the udder. He
came out of there roaring mad. How dare I bend his knees! How dare I push him under his
mom! I was to stop such nonsense immediately. I worked and worked. He fought and
fought. I waited an hour, then two hours, and he still fought the idea of getting down on his
knees and going underneath to nurse.
It started getting colder and colder and later and later. In desperation I went and got a clean
butter container, got down on my knees, stuck my head way down and with two fingers on
my right hand, I started milking his little mom. It was like milking a mouse. She was such a
good girl. She just patiently stood there.
The whole time the kid watched me. I told him, "You know what? You are one dumb kid.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. In fact, your name from now on is Curly Dumb." He just looked at
me haughtily, as if to say, "Oh yeah? Well, Iím not the one down on my knees, now am I?
And, we canít even print what I think of you."
When I got enough milk I put it in a bottle and offered it to him. He slurped it right down. I
found myself several times a day, down on my knees, milking that little Angora, putting it
in a bottle, and feeding her kid. Finally, after about a week, his big appetite overcame his
pride and he pushed me out of the way while I was milking and went to nursing like he had
been doing it all his life. He became such a big handsome fellow; I finally relented and
shortened his name to Curly D.
You can get kids that have been fed so well in their moms that they just donít come out
hungry. We had one this year. He came out rolling in fat. His belly was so full and tight, he
couldnít have got another ounce in it. Naturally it was five degrees Fahrenheit. Lee and I
took turns trying to get him to eat and he absolutely refused. He was not interested. So I
wrapped him in a towel, sat him on my lap closer to the heat lamp, and we sat there. And
we sat there. And we sat there. I looked down at him. "Do you know what your name is?
Itís Stu. You know what Stu is short for? Stupid. Thatís what itís short for. Stupid." He
just cocked a lazy eye up at me and snuggled deeper in my lap.
Finally, an hour and a half later, he struggled to get down. I put him down and he marched
over and started nursing on mom. I shook my head and went to the house to thaw out.
Nothing like new kids on the block, er, barn.