The kitchen was full of activity when I came downstairs for dinner – kids running around with plates, forks, and drinks, Emery pulling the enchiladas out of the oven, and running underneath it all, a sense of urgency. I grabbed my plate and served myself, wondering why everyone was so excited.
Dad’s phone rang and all movement stopped for a moment while he answered it. When he didn’t immediately say something, everyone went back to what they were doing, even faster than before, if that was possible. I suddenly realized what was going on – Mom had called from the barn, where Fashion, who had been in the kidding pen all day, was probably getting ready to have her babies. “Do we need to go to the barn?” I asked when Dad hung up.
“No, not yet,” he said, loading his plate with enchiladas. “Soon.”
I shoveled my food in my mouth, finishing seconds behind some of my siblings, and we quickly loaded our dishes into the dishwasher. There was a race to get into the locker room, and everyone started suiting up. Coveralls, hats, big jackets, gloves, and boots were pulled on, and one by one, the locker room emptied as we raced out the front door.
Running to the barn when you’re wearing coveralls and big boots is not easy, and yet, we all did it.
I stopped in the tool room for the camera and grabbed a stack of towels. When I reached the kidding stall where Fashion was, I set the towels down and turned the camera on to get a picture of Fashion.
The camera was out of battery.
“Hey Colter, wanna do me a favor?” I said with a big, cheesy smile. “Pretty please?”
He shook his head. I looked at who else was in the pen – Fletcher, Greyden, and Hewitt.
“Hey Hewitt, wanna do me a favor?” I asked with the same cheesy grin. He sighed, but looked at me expectantly. “Can you run to the house, find the camera bag, and get me the other camera battery?” If I had to run to the house myself, I was going to miss the whole birth. I was still wheezing from running out to the barn the first time.
Hewitt went running, and I thanked God for little brothers who would do that for me as I set the camera down and grabbed a towel instead. Dad came into the pen, in his coveralls, shirt sleeves rolled up, hands still wet from scrubbing them.
“She’s been pushing way too hard to have nothing happening,” Mom said. “Something should have happened by now.”
Dad started investigating, and Hewitt came running back in, carrying the whole camera bag. “I couldn’t know what the battery looked like, so I brought the whole bag,” he said, handing to me. He dashed past me into the the stall and almost tripped over Jason, one of our barn cats, who was super excited by all of the Jonases in one place. Jason loves kidding season – it means a time where everyone’s in the barn, and he can get unlimited people time. I swapped the batteries out, making a mental note to charge the dead one, and entered the stall again. I pulled my hair up with the hair band I kept on my wrist – an essential item to carry during Kidding Season.
Dad was still trying to figure out what was going on. “I’ve got the feet, I think,” he was saying, “but I don’t know where the head is.”
It turned out that the head was stuck back by the baby’s shoulder. It took several – very long – minutes for Dad to turn the head around, and several more for Fashion to gather her energy and start pushing.
Somewhere in those minutes I gave the camera to Mom and grabbed a towel, preparing to catch the baby. The hooves came out, followed by a head, followed by a super long neck, and I lunged forward to catch the body in my towel as it slid towards the floor.
It was too limp. It wasn’t moving.
Please, God, I thought as I frantically rubbed the chest of the baby. Greyden was beside me clearing the mucus out of the mouth and nose, while Dad was rubbing off the butt so we could see if it was a boy or girl.
“It’s a girl,” he announced.
“And it’s not moving,” I said, still rubbing my towel back and forth. Sometimes with non-responsive babies, you can get them to become responsive by stimulating them.
Mom came over with a towel and took over, saying, “no, she’ll be fine.”
I shook my head. It was too limp and hadn’t moved once.
Mom didn’t give up, continuing to stimulate and rub, finally stopping to check for a heartbeat.
She shook her head, and went back to rubbing. She checked again, and shook her head again.
“You know, I really didn’t anticipate starting Kidding Season with a dead baby,” she said sadly.
Fashion was licking the baby, and had started to realize that it wasn’t going to wake up. You could hear it in the noises she made as she tried to clean it off, and Mom couldn’t take it anymore. “Colter, get the baby out,” she said.
Colter and Greyden carried the limp body – still in the towels – out of the stall.
“We really did not need that,” Mom said, pushing some hair out of her face with her elbow.
A couple minutes later, we had a normally presenting baby ready, so I grabbed a fresh towel and got ready to catch. Dad and I chased Fashion around the stall for a little while, while she tried to decide where she felt most comfortable. When she finally settled down, the hooves were already out, and Dad was ready to pull this baby out.
I settled into my crouch, leaning forward to catch as Dad pulled. I had my towel positioned right where the baby should land, and Dad started pulling– and the baby threw its body as far out of my reach as it could.
Dad caught it as it went a good five inches away from where it was supposed to land, and I lunged forward to catch it before he dropped it. It flopped off the towel and I reached behind me for another one, rolling it back onto the towels and dragging the towels across the hay to the center of the stall.
My siblings descended on it, attacking it with towels, making sure that it could breathe, before most of them backed off. “It’s alive!” someone exclaimed triumphantly and I laughed. I could have told you that, after it launched itself away from me.
“Girl!” someone said.
Before we could decide on a name for her, the third baby was coming out, and I caught this one – successfully – and carried it into the middle of the stall. It was another girl! This was the first time we’d had triplet doelings since Zuzu had Zaphire, Zenith, and Zipporah!
We dried both of them off and brought them into the milk room (where it’s warm) to take care of them. The boys brought Fashion her molasses water and some grain, while the girls, Greyden and I finished drying off the babies, got them their collars, weighed them, and filled out the paperwork. Mom came into the milk room and we decided that the first one would be named Fallen, the second one Felicity, and the last one Fickle.
Then it was time to love on them and take pictures while we waited for the colostrum to get to us. Colostrum is the first milk that a mama goat makes, and it’s very important for the babies.
Jason came into the milkroom to meet the newest babies.
And Hewitt took over the camera to get some personal shots of Felicity and Fickle.
But then he handed it back to me and asked me to take pictures of him and Greyden with them.
And the little girls jumped in when Mom took a picture to put on our facebook page.
By that time it was after 8:00, and everyone started drifting off to go to bed. Some of us had a night of goat shifts, and the rest of us had been on a shift that morning and wanted to sleep! But the next day, we were back out in the barn loving on them.
Welcome to the farm, Felicity and Fickle!