As the daylight hours extend toward spring, a sense of anticipation engulfs us at Almosta Farm. The tip of a daffodil peeking through the often frozen earth, the harvest of spinach that has wintered over in a raised bed hoop house and a snap dragon that spent the long dark days of winter in the green house and is now in full bloom. The children are already talking about harvesting corn and green beans, although we haven’t planted a single seed!
But mostly expectation surrounds the imminent arrival of our baby Nigerian Dwarf goats. Today is day 143 since the herd matriarch, Copper Penny, was “exposed” to our buck, Stonewall Jackson. The typical gestation period for small breed goats is 145 days and can be slightly over 150 days. As I think about the past 20 weeks, much of it has been in expectancy of something. We were able to confirm pregnancy on three of our five does and blindly assumed all five would be kidding by early March.
We have spent the last month preparing for the birth. Updating birthing stalls to accommodate more does, building kidding boxes, washing and sorting tiny dog sweaters that we believe will soon be worn by bouncing healthy kid goats. These tasks have occupied our hands and perhaps kept me from dwelling on the upcoming births, which while very exciting are also very stressful, so much can go wrong and we have so little experience.
Now that we are in the last 48 hours of the “typical gestation period” I find myself spending much more time with the does, looking for the tell “tail” signs that any of them are in labor. I watch their lady parts and ask myself does that look swollen, is it looser than it was last time I was here, is it giggly when she walks? Is her udder filling up? Have the kids dropped? Do her tail ligaments feel different than
last time I checked? Honestly, I don’t even know what half of that means but I read they are all signs that your doe is in labor. What I do know is this, as I go to bed this evening, I do not see any sign that any of our does will kid in the next 24 hours so for now I am anticipating a good nights sleep as it may be the last one for a few weeks to come.