He's Making Me Look Bad

I was planning to whine a little. You see I got back from Maryland and I was really, really tired. Got up at 4am after a late night to get to the train the first night. Four hours sleep the second night, because I was (you pity me, right?) drinking wine with Dmitry Orlov, Megan Bachman, John Michael Greer and other cool people until the wee hours. Then my train pulled into NYC close to midnight and I didn't get to bed at the Hotel In-Law until the wee hours again. Up at dawn to catch the next leg of the train up to home, with guests coming a couple hours later. So I was most definitely planning to milk it a little bit - after all, I was totally exhausted from my hard, important work on energy depletion and poverty issues.

Until we pulled into the driveway and I learned that my beloved had pulled all-nighter to deliver not one but five goat kids - two beautiful doelings from Maia at 4am (Marshmallow and Licorice) and then triplets (two bucks and a doe named Goldenrod, Basil and Calendula) at 8 from Bast. And he'd cleaned for our coming guest, bathed all four kids, given a reading lesson, a Hebrew lesson and supervised piano practice, cooked lunch for 8 and was planning on cooking dinner for 13, along with doing all the routine chores and child care. Oh, and without me even saying anything, when I said "you must be exhausted" he said "oh, but I'm sure you are too.

Okay, guess that's a big old no on the pity card. And boy am I lucky woman - even if my husband does regularly make me look more than a bit trifling.


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You are an incredibly fortunate woman. I wish my life was half as rich as yours(I don't say that lightly). I've been an avid reader for about eight months. I always enjoy your take on things. Thank you!

Not sure why you place emphasis on "delivering" kids. In my experience they were usually born at night and the doe had no trouble giving birth. My wife or I would go out in the morning to milk and there the new kids would be. Even when we were present for the births we usually just watched and didn't interfere with the process. Our attention just made the doe nervous. You almost make it sound like every caprine birth is a complicated obstetrical event.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 09 Aug 2010 #permalink

Fair enough, DD, although he'd never been in charge of any goat birth by himself before (which I've only mentioned on this blog about 3 times), so maybe cut him a little slack? Moreover, we do supervise, and haven't noticed any nervousness from it - that way if there is an issue, we won't fail to notice and end up with dead kids or dead moms. The major issue being that you don't know in advance if help will be needed.

I gave birth to four children wholly successfully, and although I'd really rather not have, only one really required the intervention of a midwife. The problem being, of course, that you didn't know which one that would be until it happened.


How ironic that you teach preservation and have a husband who is a "keeper". :-)

Um yeah all that does make you look bad:) Way to go Eric and hope your trip was fun!


I was kind of wondering about this myself.

Unless you are dealing with an over bred variety like pygmies you shouldn't be doing a reenactment of "The Story of the Weeping Camel" every time, but the goat breeder forums have everybody running around with rolls of paper towels, scissors and playing it off as if every birth is breech, fold foot or tangled twins.

I think kidding would be a lot less traumatic if breeders would refrain from doing an impression of Ma Kettle delivering the Dionne quintuplets.


I guess that's what's in style.

When I was a sprout, goat midwifery consisted of standing around with your boot on the bottom rung of the pen and trying not to fall asleep.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 09 Aug 2010 #permalink

You know, even when I did all the work of giving birth, the midwife said she delivered me ;-). The point is, that she showed up and had there been a problem, was there. I guess I never thought to begrudge her the credit for getting out of a nice warm bed and wiping up a bloody mess - seems petty to me, but whatever floats your boat.

I think if you are willing to absorb the occasional unnecessary kid loss, you can go to bed and get up and see what happened in the pen in the morning. We don't have enough goats to be able to do that - the economic loss isn't something we're prepared to bear. Otherwise, the work of sitting up when normal people are sleeping, wiping off the mess, making sure that the babies are up and nursing and that the placenta is delivered appropriately qualifies as "delivery" just as heroics would have. It does in humans, it does in goats.


OK, how about if I offer sympathy to both you and Eric? ;-) Sounds like an exhausting weekend on all sides. Exhausting in a good way, at least. So to both of you, get a good rest and take care of yourselves!

I, too, prefer to present for the birth of the kids. Even though one doe popped one out before I checked on her and the other while I was putting on warm clothes. And my does seem to like the company-I brace feet for pushing, I scratch backs between contractions, and I have had to rearrange two kids or else they and the doe would have died. Shoulder first just isn't going to come out on it's own. And I had to tell one doe that 'rolling on your back and screaming isn't really going to get the baby out faster'.

I live among beef cattle breeders who have the attitude that calves just appear or not-and ever since I found one cow who had a prolapsed uterus(the guy showed up a couple of hours later-the cow didn't make it) I'd rather be there just to nip any complications in the bud. Or preferably, admire the new babies and tell mom good job.

I would like to express my gratitude to Darwinsdog and Prometheus for what I do believe is the absolute and unquestionably most bizarre trolling I have ever experienced. I thought that the breast-feeding trolling (which was experienced online and off with Youngest who was formula fed because of medical issues) was strange. I thought that praise/ignore parenting trolling was really odd. I thought potty training by example trolling was possibly the strangest. Then I witnessed home-birth trolling and thought that had to be the penultimate.

But I think that kid birthing trolling has become the new height of bizarre. Especially doing a fiver on the first solo run.

Sharon, while I am mostly happy being me, your husband is the sort of man that I strive to be (Though I could have managed most of that list, not so much without sleep). Though I can honestly say that I would rather not emulate the whole goat birthing end of things. While I expect that I would manage if it became necessary, I am not terribly keen on livestock.

Though maybe goats are rather easier cows, which is most of my experience...Grrr...And that damned homicidal rooster - though I got him in the end (single shot to the head, before coffee - or indeed getting dressed - it attacked during my morning wee). I don't know though. All the goats I have known seem to be all to good at escaping, then getting into places they shouldn't.

In any case, you have a remarkable husband - who I am sure doesn't perceive you as the least bit trifling.

Sad, off-topic news to report....

NORTH HAVEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The Knox County Sheriff's Department says Matthew Simmons, the founder of the Ocean Energy Institute, drowned at his house on North Haven late Sunday night.

Simmons was a leading investment banker for the energy industry and had recently retired to work full time on the new Ocean Energy Institute.

He was a leading proponent of offshore wind power and had started raising money to develop and build offshore turbines.

He and his family had also bought and rebuilt the Old Strand Theater in downtown Rockland.


By Stephen B. (not verified) on 09 Aug 2010 #permalink

Without a doubt, I saved two tiny doelings this spring by attending to their needs as soon as they were born. It takes 5 months' gestation to get a baby goat, and the opportunity won't come around for another year or so; they're not chickens, after all. It is well worth a few hours of lost sleep to do what one can to keep mama and babies alive and healthy.

Sharon, congratulations on the births! How exciting! When do we get to see pictures?

We had many goats kid for the 11 years my daughter was in 4H and rarely had a problem. However, when we did it was a good thing someone was there or we would have lost the doe, kids or both. When the goats seem close to kidding we put a baby monitor out in the barn and pretty much ended up with a decent night's sleep until the main event. We also used the monitor to catch a persistent possum who was getting into our old chicken coop and killing chickens.

Having studied midwifery of the human kind, I won't quibble about how much help, if any, goats need, I would however hope to see some cute baby goat pictures!!

BTW...um.... does your husband have any siblings? just askin' ;)

The only time I lost a doe & kid due to dystocia was when a single buck kid was simply too big for the small young doe to give birth to. He wasn't malpresented but no amount of pulling on his forelegs & snout would budge him. I've posted elsewhere about the unsuccessful caesarean delivery I attempted, so won't here. My only point is that this attended birth went badly and wouldn't have gone any worse had it been unattended. At all other times during the years my wife & I kept goats, births went well whether any humans were in attendance or not.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 09 Aug 2010 #permalink

We've only had one birth that required an intervention - but then that was true of the delivery of my children as well. In fact, Eric did the catching with Simon and Asher, so the midwife didn't even do that. I still think you get delivery credit whether there is much or little needed.

Pix coming, I promise!


It was a long time ago, but I don't recall any of my nannies having difficulty giving birth out in the pasture. I had angoras and some Spanish goats. I wonder if your birthing concerns are due to breed or maybe due to nutrition. It sounds like you are trying to get by on less nutrition than I used. My goats stayed out in the pasture and got supplimentary cottonseed cake, and sometimes alfalfa or peanut hay, starting about January. A little later we would get them up for kidding, and feed cake and hay. they were out in a smaller pasture and spent nights in a goat shed. We also kept them up for a few days after the spring shearing as well. Goats can freeze after being sheared, or congregate in a pile and suffocate some if we would get a late norther.

My uncle was involved with goat herds of 10,000 goats. He looked at taking care of goats a lot different than I did, with 75 goats maximum. So it is reasonable that you should be more concerned individually about four or five goats than I was.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 11 Aug 2010 #permalink

For the record, we've had exactly one birth requiring assistance, and in that case she almost certainly would have kidded successfully, although she might have gotten fairly torn up doing it. In that case the major problem was a fault in husbandry - ie, my fault - I thought she was secure in a fence she could jump out of, and she got knocked up at 5months, which is really too young. All the other goats have kidded wholly successfully and without us. Most other people we know with this breed haven't had problems. But at the same time, our time and attention is a fairly low cost for ensuring that we don't lose a year's work on a breeding. It isn't that we expect problems, it is that we see our own labor as a cheap input for peace of mind.

Our present attitude also may change as our herd builds up to the stable levels we're hoping to achieve - right now, the loss of a doe kid would be a major setback, and while there's no reason to believe that that's likely to happen, there's no reason to risk it, just for a couple of hours of sleep.


I think I would give everyone from the does to the children, and right on up the organizational tree, a golds star for training and enabling. That sounds like a well disciplined and respectful home.

Congrats to all.