Kidding season is both a wonderful and stressful time.
Rarely have I been described as a patient person. This year the universe is teaching me to cool it. Stay calm and wait. Patiently. Seemingly forever.
We had set the first possible due date for the ladies 145 days from the first witnessed breeding up in Oregon where four of the girls and I stayed for just over a week. Three of them came into heat and had a LOT of action during that week. They came home pregnant which we confirmed one month later with a blood test. Leading up to kidding is exciting. We wonder how many they will have, what they will look like, if they will have waddles, elf ears(if they are a cross), if there will be any girls….. Watching the pregnant ladies grow more and more round as you close in on the final 6 weeks is so much fun. They start to waddle and sway as they walk.
It has been a week since the first potential due date and still no babies. Let me share my experience so that you may be able to benefit from my lack of patience.
To begin with, there are many ways to gauge how close the ladies are to kidding. Their ligaments right beneath their tail soften to a point where you can no longer find them. Their udders fill up a couple of days prior. Their rump angle (from their hip bones to tail) will drop to a steeper angle. The lady bits(that’s P.C., right?) will stretch out very long vertically. As things progress further, you’ll notice contractions. What does that look like? I’m glad you asked. Their tail will suddenly stick straight up in the air, their ears will go back like wings on their heads and they will have that “deer in headlights” look in their eyes. Mommy talk will begin which is a softer noise that is undoubtedly different and much more sweet than their normal singing/yelling voice. They may get very licky and start trying to lick anything in front of them including your face.
From my interning experience and training with a pro, when the ligaments are completely mush, it is time to move them into the kidding pen where the kids should be born within about 12 hours. IF they are completely mush. Learning how to feel for this can be tricky if you are as excited about babies as I am. Your fingers feel the slightest hint of a ligament but your brain says, “BABIES BABIES BABIES!!!!!” With Nutella, her ligaments were smush so I put her in the barn and Scott(my wonderful husband) volunteered to stay the night with her, agreeing to call me at the first sign of baby time. The night came and went. No babies. The next morning, I determined that I could still feel her ligaments and put her back in with the rest of the herd. That night, the same thing happened but I stayed with her this time.
I found that sleeping in the bark yielded a better night’s rest. In the house, I’d be awake all night wondering if I should go and check on her. In the barn, I would wake and hear her still chewing cud and know she was fine. Then I’d drift back off to dream-land.
P.S. Straw makes a VERY comfortable bed with proper blanketing. I’ll gladly be doing it again in April with the next girls if need be.
Any normal person would notice that one of the determining factors (though it wasn’t completely there) isn’t enough to assume that it is, in fact, baby time. The fact that she was still acting so normal (chewing cud, moving around, eating, etc.) means that PROBABLY nothing is wrong. However, your mind starts to wander and does crazy things to your sanity.
It is one week past the first due date and we still have no babies. I am certain (though I was before, too) that Nova will have her kids today. Her udder was full as of yesterday morning, the ligaments are if not completely gone, VERY VERY soft, and I’ve seen a couple of undeniable contractions. We will keep you posted. The countdown to cuteness begins NOW!