….I spluttered in disbelief.
It was a quiet, balmy afternoon; & I was busy unloading heavy sacks of feed into the big metal bins in the Dairy Complex. All was quiet & peaceful; the goats placidly ruminating on Life, the Universe & Everything as they masticated great gobbets of cud (lovely) like a group of gum-chewing American teenagers lounging around with a few beers by the pool on a hot afternoon.
I was certainly working up a sweat, myself (or should I technically say, a ‘glow’ – as I’m advised that horses sweat; gentlemen perspire; & ladies glow…!). Whatever; I had to drag back-breaking sack-after-sack out of the bowels of our trusty farm truck following the weekly trip to the local feed merchant.
There was around a ton of fodder to shift, dispense, & record; so no lightweight task. And thus with all my grunting & groaning I’d already missed part of the forthcoming action….but out of the corner of my eye, I detected the slightest skywards stretch of a caprine neck; & recognising the telltale signs immediately dropped what I was doing, to investigate further.
To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting any kids for at least another week or so. Although I’d accurately recorded the date we’d persuaded our lovely Senior Stud Male – hirsute, milk chocolate-coloured Merson – he should start to woo his ladies, he’d initially proved remarkably polite; & rather than getting ‘straight down to business’ had apparently preferred the ‘fine wines & Belgian chocolates’ approach, studiously courting each potential paramour before putting in any sort of masculine ‘performance’.
So I’d been pretty sanguine; & had a week of marketing workshops, Food Safety seminars & sales promotions mapped out as a precursor to dusting off my midwifery skills. And today – as it turned out – I really needed the latter option.
Pudding had propped herself in an empty corner of the pen & was already quietly but clearly, straining. A brief examination suggested that all was apparently well; so distracting the other goats with a little afternoon snack (as I knew they’d otherwise rush the newly-opened gate, en masse) I gently persuaded her into the peace, quiet & fresh, clean straw of the readily-prepared Maternity Unit. A little more straining; the water bag broke. “Any minute now…” I thought hopefully to myself.
Last year, Pudding had produced a single female kid; a little girl we dubbed ‘Bryana’ after her big bruiser of a relative, Wether Brian, who is currently lodging with us until the family moves to Portugal. The birth (her first) had proved easy; so I felt fairly relaxed about today’s anticipatedly happy event.
However, after another 45 minutes, things still weren’t really progressing; & Pudding clearly wasn’t enjoying the experience. She’d gone from cuddling up to me & licking my hands (which they do, when seeking friendly reassurance) to looking decidedly stressed; with glazed, staring eyes & increasingly feeble attempts to push. Slipping my sterilised & lubricated hand gently into the birth canal, I found everything – apparently- as it should be: a head; & legs, correctly presented. But something clearly wasn’t right as a gentle & then more determined tug, soon made apparent – the kid just wasn’t going to come out. I needed help – & fast…..
Almost stumbling over myself in my haste I hurried to the house & jabbed the ’emergency hotline’ button, for the vet: Angus’ soothing tones swiftly becoming more abrupt as I explained the problem.
“I’ll be right over.”
The veterinary receiver abruptly replaced in its’ cradle, I raced back across the yard to reassure poor Pudding. She was still straining; but clearly in considerable distress, bellowing & moaning with the pain of the obstruction trying to force its’ way out. I cradled her head in my arms, massaged her shoulders, & promised her that Help was on its Way.
A brief etetnity later a dramatic wheelspin at the door of the Dairy Complex (of which any TV cop would’ve been singularly proud) heralded Angus’ determined entrance. Getting straight down to business, he too found the apparently neat equation “head+toes=normal presentation”; affixed a lambing rope, & pulled. And pulled….& Pudding BAAAWLED!
“Something’s not right, here….” Angus muttered to himself. Another careful – but this time more detailed, more invasive, exploration: “OMG. This head does not belong to these legs…these two are making a race for the finish-line!”
Despite his eternally jovial, jocular attitude, Angus’ forehead was creased with concern. The jammed kids had to be pushed right back down into Pudding’s womb – & then the tangled jumble of limbs & lives had to be carefully yet swiftly sorted – if anyone was to survive….
It wasn’t an easy job. Poor, darling, Pudding licked off almost an entire layer of my skin (from hand to elbow) during this painful process; but the upshot was, Angus at least managed to deliver this robust Mum of two kids….albeit we had to take the painful decision that the firstborn little lad was just too weak, to have any honest chance of survival.
But the elegant little ivory slippers which had appeared simultaneously but accidentally with her brother’s big, bruising head, have transpired to belong to an exquisite little lady-kid whom we’ve named Celynen; such a pretty girl & so very special – the first to welcome Lovespoon’s Next Generation Milkforce, into this challenging World.
I can’t wait…..
I finally sneaked out of the Maternity Unit at around 04:30 on 24th Feb 09 as by now I really did need a little snooze before tackling another day’s new challenges. But not before stealing a whispered kiss “Good Night”, to 2009’s first beautiful baby…..