Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Alba's birth and a mantra for milking a goat

We made it through another successful kidding season. The does are reaching peak production and the kitchen is full with the sounds of sudsy water sloshing and the gentle rattle of glass bottles boiling for most of the morning.

This year our Sannen does were bred to a mini LaMancha. For most of the herd white coat and gopher ears were dominant.

Our girl, Alba, had a surprise for us. She was the last to kid and had two mostly black bucklings. She is the only doe with wattles, so I’m curious if this had something to do with the genetic roll of the dice.

Here she is in early labor with gentle contractions.

These get more forceful over the next fifteen minutes.

The does like to have us close while they're in labor. They occasionally reach over to lick us on the cheek between contractions.

This year my older daughter was able to help more. She now has a basic understanding of the birthing process. This knowledge applies to most mammals, so she's ready to help in a variety of situations.

If you would like to see a more detailed account of kidding look here.


After we clear the airways and help dry the kids, we observe as they struggle to get on their feet. In my experience, this usually happens within 20 minutes. The doe coaxes them toward the teat and we watch to make sure they get to the colostrum. This is important and we’ll have to step in and help if it doesn’t happen quickly enough.

The new babies spend the day bonding with their mom in this smaller kidding pen. The next day they join the herd. Within 24 hours they are frisking around with the rest of the kids.

During these busy days, I writepaintsculpt in my head. I’ve gotten pretty good at making detailed “notes” as I milk and feed....trim hooves... I call on them later in the afternoon when I have some time in my workspace. Following the natural rhythms around me has been a lesson in how I create. I am able to honor parts of the process that are valuable, but often get overlooked. I’m more patient (a little more) and I settle down through daily tasks. My mantra is: there is an abundance of time for the things that are important. If I bring a nervous energy to the milking stand, I’ll get a kicked bucket in my lap. It has happened.

The Zen of milking a goat.


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