Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold: Bitter, Brutal Cold

Cold has been described as brutal and bitter. Sometimes, I think people exaggerate and overuse these expressions. The last two days have actually earned the designation, especially since we're still experiencing the miracle of birth in the goat maternity barn.

Yesterday morning, just as I was finally leaving the maternity barn after attending four mothers who'd kidded overnight, my husband asked me if I'd like to witness yet another miracle in the other barn. I actually watched the birth sac begin to freeze on the emerging head of the newest kid. The young doe was in labor in one of the draftier spots. It was about 10 degrees, with a wind chill of 1 degree F. That is a brutal way to come into the world. I sat down in the hay with a towel which I placed under where the baby was sliding. The doe seemed completely out of it, so I quickly dried the baby off and wrapped it in the towel. We whisked mother and baby to a more sheltered stall, where she had the second kid. Although she glanced over to where they were placed in one of the little kid caves, she never even licked them off. If we hadn't been there, there would have been two frozen newborns on the barn floor.

I think the numbing cold just left her mind numb as well. My hands were numb, as my gloves had gotten wet. The hair dryer we use to warm kids was giving out air which actually felt cold in the barn. Later that afternoon, when they were dry, we wrapped them up and took them to the maternity barn, where does are having to double up due to numbers. Those kids slept in the warming bed overnight. The mother sort of recognizes them today, but they don't quite understand that she has milk for them. They are being bottle fed and all I can do is keep milking and hoping for the best.

I dressed many of the kids in funny little warm-up suits made from woolen socks and fleece last night.

It's 35+ degrees this afternoon, and it feels so much better.

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