It is almost time! Ever since we bred the goats this past October, I've been counting down to their due dates. The anticipation has increased many fold since drying them off early in January. For the past few months our schedule has been wildly different than our previous days on the farm. My twice a day treks out into the pasture to collect the herd and intimate one-on-one milking time with each goat has been reduced to our once daily visit when we check on the herd, give fresh water, and feed hay, sprouted grains and minerals. The luxury of drinking the milk from our own herd and eating the cheese we make from it has been suspended until our goats are back in milk this Spring. The return of these enjoyable pieces of our farm life will be accompanied by something I'm looking forward to just as much as the milk (maybe more) - baby goats!
By mid April we should have anywhere from 5 to 16 kids bounding around the farm. You may be thinking "5 to 16? Huh?". Well... While we bred 8 of our adult does, we're not exactly sure that all of them are pregnant. We waited until they were in standing heat and then sent them on a little "date" with one of our two bucks. We even stayed and watched to make sure the deed was done. We have our fingers crossed that nature took it's course, but, well, you never know! There's no easy at-home pregnancy test for goats (and the human ones don't work because goat growth hormones are not human growth hormones) and they won't start to get their "baby bump(s)" until very close to the end of their pregnancy. Some goats will barely show at all! You can confirm pregnancy with a blood test or an ultrasound, but we decided to forgo the extra fees and wait it out. Back to the seemingly random numbers - goats most commonly have twins, but triplets and even quads aren't uncommon. A singleton is also a possibility, especially for first fresheners (dairy speak for first time mammas). So, considering the unknowns of how many goats are pregnant and how many kids each goat will have, we have guesstimated 5 to 16.
At the end of this week, we observed some exciting developments. A few of our goats have finally started to fill out (like Tenjune in the first photo of the post) and the udders of our first timers have started to puff up a bit, beginning to ready themselves for lactation. Today I actually felt a few of the kids kick! If you put your hand on the right side of a pregnant goat's belly, just above her udder, you can feel her kids kick. That is, if you can get her to stand still for long enough. Our kidding season is officially slated to begin in less than 3 weeks with Tijeras and Bridget due on the 22nd. Preparations have officially begun - we'll keep you posted!